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ALLEN - Do we renew our own temple covenants when we do temple work for the dead?
JOEL - I think it depends on what our definition of the word "renew" is.
We have always been taught that we renew our baptismal covenants when we take the Sacrament.
In the same way some have been of the opinion that our work for the dead in the temple could also be considered a renewal of our temple covenants.
Here are a few opinions of some CHurch leaders and church scholars:
"The temple is a sanctuary from the world, a bit of heaven on earth, and one should continue to live worthily so that he can go to the temple often and renew his covenants."
(Some Things You Need to Know about the Temple
Elder ElRay L. Christiansen, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve and temple coordinator for the Church)
"The sealing of temple covenants is similar. When we are married at the altars of the temple, the Lord, from one point of view, gives us an empty jar. Then he instructs us to fill it with the wonderful fruits of righteous marriage. As we keep our covenants, returning often to renew them as we work for the dead, the jar begins to fill." (HOUSE OF GLORY: FINDING PERSONAL MEANING IN THE TEMPLE by S. Michael Wilcox)
"This is why we go back to the temple: to renew our covenants that we have made in those sacred halls and to remind ourselves of these covenants and obligations.
(Your Divine Heritage
By Elder Robert C. Oaks Of the Seventy)
"We remember and renew our covenants regularly through partaking of the sacrament and visiting the temple."
(Building Personal Testimony: “Lay Hold upon Every Good Thing”)
But is it really a renewal or just a reminder? After all, when we do work for the dead the ordinance is specifically for the dead; not for ourselves. But when we take the Sacrament that ordinance is for ourselves only. Others have said that the Sacrament is where we renew all covenants:
President Spencer W. Kimball:
“Remembering covenants prevents apostasy. That is the real purpose of the sacrament, to keep us from forgetting, to help us to remember … [that which we have] covenanted at the water’s edge or at the sacrament table and in the temple.” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball)
Elder Delbert L. Stapley:
“The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a covenant between God and his people. … When baptized by an authorized servant of God, we covenant to do God’s will and to obey his commandments. … By partaking of the Sacrament we renew all covenants entered into with the Lord and pledge ourselves to take upon us the name of his Son, to always remember him and keep his commandments” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, 14).
Victor L. Ludlow:
"In addition to the ordinances necessary for salvation and exaltation, many other ordinances and blessings are given through the power of the priesthood to comfort, console, and encourage. Among these edifying ordinances, some provide reminders of our covenant relationship with God and our service relationship with others, especially family members.
Of the edification-type ordinances, the sacrament service comes the closest to being a salvation-type ordinance, both because of its symbolic representation of Christ's atonement and also because it renews the covenant of the baptism and the temple vows."
(Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel, Victor L. Ludlow)
Elder M Russell Ballard explained,
“As you know, the sacrament is a renewal and a reminder of our covenants with the Lord. What a great time for introspection and reflection on our life during the past week! Make the sacrament a time to review your personal gospel chain and see if each link is equal to the task of anchoring you securely to the Church.”
(M. Russell Ballard, “Anchor to the Soul,” New Era, March 1993, 4)
When taking the sacrament we make a promise to obey God's commandments. Could that not include the commandments we agree to obey in the temple? I don't think there is any "official" teaching on this subject, but in my opinion all covenants are "renewed" when we take the Sacrament. We are "reminded" of our own temple covenants when we do work for the dead, although some may in their hearts and minds personally regard it as a renewal of those specific covenants.