Abstract of Stapley, Delbert L. “The Straight Gate–Repentance and Baptism.”

Stapley, Delbert L.  “The Straight Gate–Repentance and Baptism.”  Improvement Era 58 (June 1955): 416-18. [Mormon/Theology/Priesthood/Ritual/Liturgy/Worship]

The title of this sermon would not alert the reader that it contains a major insight into the teachings of Jesus Christ and his prophets about the importance of Temple ordinances and worship.  Thus, it is not surprising that in more than six years of study about the temple, I have not encountered a single reference or footnote to this wonderful sermon; in my view one of the more important ones for Latter-day Saints regarding the doctrine of the Temple.

This sermon is about much more than baptism and repentance.  It is an explication of the Savior’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew7:13-14 in which the Savior speaks of the “strait gate” and “narrow way.”  Stapley’s edited quotation is:  “Enter ye in at the strait gate ….  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  In an acute reading of this passage, Elder Stapley calls attention to a distinction between the “strait gate” and the “narrow way” and says that the latter “connotes additional requirements, rites, and ordinances for all who desire salvation and exaltation.”  But, he says, the Savior did not himself explicate these matters; rather he left them, as he so often did, to be explained by inspired prophets.

What constitutes the “gate” is the first question he asks.   In his analysis of an answer, he quotes Nephi and the D&C to show that baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost constitute the “strait Gate.”   He continues to cite Nephi who says that after we have passed through the gate and are on the path, all is not done.  Thus “the function of the Holy Ghost to those who have received its bestowal is to guide in the narrow way to an understanding of what is required for eternal life and glory.”

Continuing his analysis of “what the narrowness of the way signifies” he teaches the need for the temple ordinances of endowment and sealing.  To do this he turns to revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith, particularly Sections 131 and 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants.    After doing so he authoritatively admonishes the Saints “And now mark you” as he cites D&C 132:19-24 which directly connect the gate and the way with the teachings of Section 132 about the ordinance of marriage which “leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives.”  Elder Stapley explains, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, these conditions then meet the requirements of the narrowness of the way.  It involves receiving the temple ordinances and sealings, keeping all the commandments of God, remaining faithful and devoted to the end of mortal life, which then earns the great gift of eternal life.”  He concludes with “The narrow way can only be followed by obedience and faithfulness to all the sacred ordinances and requirements of the higher gospel plan, obtained in the holy temples of God.”

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