BYU religion professor Anthony Sweat discussed lessons from early church sources about the power of the endowment in a BYU Education Week presentation Monday, Aug. 21.
Sweat said the Doctrine and Covenants, not the Old Testament, is the best way to learn about the Endowment. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the doctrines of the endowment are gradually revealed to the early Saints.
Sweat said the first endowment was at the conference in June 1831, one year after the church was organized.
“He’s learning that there’s these great high priests who have power and capacity,” Sweat said of Joseph Smith as he translated the Bible.
Sweat said the high priests in the Bible know how to rend the veil and see God face-to-face.
“The word ‘endowment’ means you’re given some sort of a power or a capacity,” Sweat said.
Sweat said the power and capacity “endowment” refers to is the ability to rend the veil and see God. There are records of early Saints who saw Jesus Christ and God the Father during the first endowment.
Sweat said Heavenly Father continued to sanctify the people, giving them revelations through Joseph Smith, as they built the Kirtland Temple.
“The highest purpose — and the original purpose of the original meetings of the School of the Prophets — was to sanctify a group of men to give them the power and capacity to rend the veil and see God,” Sweat said.
The Lord revealed gradually more information about the endowment and how the members of the church could sanctify themselves, including the Word of Wisdom, according to Sweat. Sweat said early Church members had the opportunity to see God in the Newel K. Whitney store and in the Kirtland Temple.
After the early church members moved to Nauvoo the women had the opportunity to be sanctified and receive the endowment as, which was a revolutionary concept at the time, according to Sweat.
Joseph Smith told the Nauvoo Relief Society he “was going to make of this society a kingdom of priests.”
Sweat said through the ordinances of the temple, the women of the church are given power and capacity as priests equal to men to come into the presence of God.
Sweat advised LDS Church members to keep his instruction in mind next time they go to the temple.
“God is trying to teach me, male and female, how to become a priest invested with power and capacity to one day part the veil and come into his presence, face to face, and be taught by him and receive a fullness of his blessings,” Sweat said.