Original Talk Given: June 23rd, 2013
Enable Salvation of the Dead: by qualifying myself and my family for the blessings of the temple and seeking out ancestors who are awaiting my assistance in this great work.
5 ¶Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
And then fulfillment to that prophesy in the Kirtland Temple on April 3rd, 1836
Doctrine and Covenants 110:13–16
13 … for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:
14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.
The work that we are involved in of Salvation of the Dead is a blessed work. It is a priority to our Heavenly Father, and as we perform whatever level of this work we do, we are NOT alone. There is the “Spirit of Elijah” with us, inspiring us, and (for those of you who have done this work you know) in many instances leading or revealing to us.
What is this “Spirit of Elijah” we always hear about?
Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that the Spirit of Elijah is “a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family” (“A New Harvest Time,” Ensign, May 1998, 34
Doctrine & Covenants Section 128 gives us some incredible instruction from Joseph Smith. As Joseph was in hiding he wrote this letter of revelations he had received specific to work for the dead. I share two of those verses to show the urgency of the work we do:
Doctrine & Covenants 128:15
15 And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.
18 … It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time …
I guess I’ve never looked at the work in this regard. This work isn’t just doing service for our ancestors but it is essential to my own salvation. To assist in this connection of the eternal family is our duty and responsibility. There is a TON of work we have been asked to do in relation Salvation for the dead:
Family History – documenting family history, finding family names, entering and extracting data in familysearch.org, ancestry.com
Indexing, Arbitrating, Researching
Temple Service – helping to perform all the different vicarious ordinances
Baptism, Anointing, Endowment, Sealing.
The Work in the Spirit World
So while we are performing temple work on this side of the veil. What is happening on the other side? We turn to section 138 which contains revelations given to Joseph F. Smith about this:
Doctrine and Covenants 138
29 And as I wondered, my eyes were opened, and my understanding quickened, and I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the wicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them;
30 But behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to fall the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.
31 And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel.
32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.
33 These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,
34 And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
So here we learn or are reminded that the work to teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the other side of the veil is moving forward at an intense pace. If “from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers”, think about some of the righteous that have gone before us. This is a powerful capable army working with those in the spirit world. I can’t help but think maybe they are a bit ahead of us in the work, and we have little catching up to do.
As I prepared for this talk, I had a bit of an excitement. In recent years I have done quite a bit to be involved in the salvation of the dead. I think the thing that really got me going was the Open House and Temple Dedications of the Oquirrh Mountain and the Draper Temples. To be able to participate in two of those in one year is what got me inspired to begin my own family’s work.
Temple Dedications, Open Houses
I’m sure most of us feel the same way when President Monson announces a new temple to be built. We hear the city and country and most of the time we think, ah that’s amazing… So and so will love having that temple so close, or wow, there are a lot of diligent Saints there. Occasionally, you’ll hear a location and the spirit testifies to you it’s time for that place to have a temple. Often times an area you are very familiar with or have lived is announced and you’re overwhelmed with joy and immediately start planning your trip to be at the open house. Of course others, you hear the location, and think… I don’t even know where that is, but yay! Another temple?
Regardless, we are a temple loving people. It is one of the most exciting things for us to hear the Lord has another house to poor out blessing to his saints in that corner of the globe.
Whenever possible my wife and I make it a point to get to temple open houses with our family. I’m sure many of us want that. It is not coincidence that each of us wants to see our whole family in the temple together. Obviously, making covenants and performing ordinances someday, but for today, to walk through the temple and see our children inside the temple with us is an incredible feeling. It feels much like a prelude of the future. Our family together in the presence of the Lord. Could we want for anything more? I look forward to a repeat of this as the Payson Temple and the Provo City Center Temples provide the same opportunities.
One memory I have of the Draper temple open house wasn’t as reverent as I would hope. As I turned to admire and look at some room.. I think it was an endowment room, my middle son, somehow got past the ropes keeping us away from a beautiful couch. He climbed up on the couch and for some reason actually bit the banister on the staircase behind. I was horrified! I share this to illustrate that if you’re ever frustrated that your temple experiences with your children don’t promote angel like behavior, I think that’s ok. It’s still a good place for us to be.
Touch the Temple
Somewhere around this same time my wife and I heard this talk from President Monson: I’m pretty sure it was in a conference talk but it really had an impact on me.
President Monson related this story: “The late Elder Matthew Cowley, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, once recounted the Saturday afternoon experience of a grandfather as hand in hand he took his small granddaughter on a birthday visit—not to the zoo or to the movies but to the temple grounds. With permission of the groundskeeper, the two walked to the large doors of the temple. He suggested that she place her hand on the sturdy wall and then on the massive door. Tenderly he then said to her, “Remember that this day you touched the temple. One day you will go inside.” His gift to the little one was not candy or ice cream but an experience far more significant and everlasting—an appreciation of the house of the Lord. She had touched the temple, and the temple had touched her.
President Monson, ‘As we touch the temple, the temple will touch us.”
Having very young kids my wife and I thought this might be a good thing to do with our kids for family home evening, and then it branched out to something we looked forward to as we went on vacation. Please don’t think by some imagination it is this quite reverent stroll through the temple grounds. With three little boys, there is always someone trying to swing from a tree, swim in the fountain, pick a flower, or steal rocks and put them in their pocket. Each time we make the kids pose at the door of the temple and put their hand on it, and we take a picture. To date, we have done this at 18 different temples. The visit usually ends with someone getting yelled at in a hushed, whisper. But I have confidence in knowing that my children know the temple, and they know it’s important to our family. I hope this is a good start to a life-long love of the temple. I do have faith in President Monson’s promise that the “temple will touch them”.
100 Names in 100 Days
A few years ago the ward we belong to participated in an activity where we took 100 NEW names to the temple. I really felt the impression to begin my temple work. I wanted to have some names that were included in this batch we were working on. At the time I was in young men’s and we needed to come up with names anyway to take for our next temple assignment. Fortunately, the ward hosted a family history class during Sunday School. Our ward family history consultants patiently helped us navigate through the new.familysearch.org. After talking with my dad and an aunt I got started. My number one goal was to find where my Brown line came from. My father had traced it back five generations in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, but I didn’t know where it went from there. I traced the line back to New York… for now. But in the process, uncovered dozens and dozens of names. I became hooked!
How amazing it was to have the tools at my figure tips, in my home that I could do at any time. I encourage you all to just get in and try it. It will take a couple of hours to get your bearings and understand the landscape, but after that, each time you return you’re moving forward.
It has been such a wonderful feeling to connect to these ancestors I never knew. I have felt a special spirit as I do this work late at night. It’s kind of detective work in a way. I love to uncover forgotten names, or run across a mistake or something missed. I know I’m not alone in the work.
Madison to the Temple
The final thought I want to share with you about my maturing down the path of Salvation of the Dead involves my daughter Madison. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but the moment Madison turned 12 we made it a priority to get to the temple for the first time together. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Madison loves the temple. It has been so inspiring to hear her talk about the temple and see the importance it already has in her life. I know my testimony of the temple wasn’t anywhere near that level when I was Madison’s age. One Sunday afternoon Madison took some time to set up her new.familysearch.org. It took us a few hours, but she found six names we were able to take to the temple. I had to guide her for a little bit to get started, but it wasn’t long before she was correcting me and directing where I made mistakes or was being inefficient. The last time we did baptisms for the dead it was with these names. I testify that the spirit was very strong as I stood in the font with my daughter to perform these names. One of the workers pulled me aside afterwards and commented on the spirit he felt as well. I can’t help but think this was a welding link that we allowed to be put into place that day.
To conclude I wanted to share a few promises or blessing promised by our leaders of family history, temple work, and temple attendance:
Closeness to the Lord
Sense of purpose and peace
Will be able to bear every trial
Overcome each temptation
Receive Spiritual Perspective
The dust of distraction the haze seem to lift, we can see things that we were not able to see before and find a way through our troubles that we had not previously known.
Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection
Elder Bednar (October 2011 General Conference)
…Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.
Doing the work of Salvation of the Dead is challenging and rewarding. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity I have had to dig in just a little so far. I’m very humbled by the mini successes I have had and the spirit I have felt as I perform the work. I hope we each make the time to make the Temple more of a priority in our lives and be able to partake of the blessings that come because of it. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.