“The ordinances are helps, symbols and requirements. Helps in that they establish milestones that memorialize passage from one stage of development to the next. Symbols in that they point to a deeper meaning or spiritual reality almost always grounded in the atonement of Jesus Christ. Requirements in that they mark the defined route taken by Christ as a mortal to fulfill all righteousness. The ordinances as symbols point to the real thing. The real thing is Jesus Christ and His Gospel.”1 Ordinances are the preliminary act, designed to bear testimony of the real event. They are not the real thing but are a “type” of the real thing. They must be seen through the eyes of faith (see Ether 5:3) to allow one to gain the faith necessary to obtain the real thing.2 Ordinances are instituted to bring one to the point where one inherits in body and spirit the great blessings of the Doctrine of Christ. “They prepare you. Their effect is to qualify you, instruct you, advance you toward this goal of receiving the blessings found in the Doctrine of Christ. Once ordinances have been adopted, it is then unlikely you can ignore them, and [then] receive what is promised by the Doctrine of Christ.”3 “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.”4 When the higher priesthood is present on the earth, everything done by it is an ordinance. God ordains by His power what is to happen. God ordains — and therefore, all He does is an ordinance, whether building up or taking down.5 Latter-day Saints think “ordinances” are required for everyone, and they can receive them ad hoc to be saved. Heaven does not have unorganized crowds milling about, arriving fresh from receiving and accepting vicarious ordinances and claiming the right to be rewarded by entering Celestial glory. If anyone enters the kingdom of God, she will be there as part of God’s family, not as a freelance believer. Those faithful who received the assurance before death that they would one day enjoy a glorious resurrection were unable to leave the spirit world with Christ, but remained behind to minister to others there. Mankind knows almost nothing, at this point, of the full scope of the original body of teachings, revelations, ordinances, and rites. Even all that came through Joseph is but a glimpse. Man is not worthy of the full view. The question is whether any will become meek and humble enough to endure giving it a hearing before they corrupt it with a flood of errors based on unbelief.6
1 “Godliness,” March 23, 2010, blog post.
2 “2 Nephi 31:5,” Aug. 23, 2010, blog post.
3 “2 Nephi 31:21,” Aug. 30, 2010, blog post.
4 TPJS, 308; WJS, 210; JSP, Journals Vol. 3:32 WWJ, 2:240.
5 Preserving the Restoration, 349.
6 “Plural Marriage,” March 22, 2015, Sandy UT, 33–34, paper.