The whole plan of salvation, as presented to us by our Father in Heaven, is geared around uniting us once again as an eternal family. Once we left His presence we were cut off from ever seeing his face again, unless we were willing to submit to the Savior’s atoning sacrifice to receive forgiveness for our sins. It is only through the ordinances of the priesthood found in the temples of our Lord that we can once again be sealed back into the family of God.
When we talk about the sealing power and the spirit of Elijah, what are we really talking about? In the early dispensations of this earth the prophets all looked forward. Their hearts were turned to their posterity yet to come. Adam prophesied of every generation yet to be born, and Enoch yearned for the posterity yet to come and received promises from the Lord about the salvation that awaited them. Abraham received promises about his posterity that would be born thousands of years after he died, and the New Testament apostles prophesied about the redemption of Israel’s posterity in the future.
We are that posterity. We are living in that very future they talked about in the scriptures. Because we are in the end time, the last dispensation, our view is reversed from that of every other dispensation since the world began. This is the dispensation when all the promises made to every prophet of old is to be fulfilled. But how is that to be done? How will all the nations of the earth be blessed because of Abraham’s priesthood and because of his posterity?
Abraham’s posterity was scattered among all the nations of the earth because of their disobedience to God. But that disobedience has been turned to good like only the Lord can perform. Because He has scattered them physically among the nations, they have been mixing their genes into the populations of the earth. These genes help them spiritually recognize the call of the Lord when the missionaries bring the message of salvation. This is how they are being gathered out of the four corners of the globe.
But what about the dead?
The Lord knew that because of the disobedience of those of His children who would have His gospel on earth He would have to have another way to provide the promised salvation from eternal separation from the family. The principle of vicarious works is a major component of the plan of salvation. Christ did for us what we could not do for ourselves, and now, in the last dispensation of time, it is our responsibility to do for those who cannot do for themselves. This is the purpose of the temples, to offer that promised salvation to our family members who died without the gospel of Christ.
The Savior’s work will not be complete until every child of God has had the ordinances promised to them performed for them. They must still accept them and live up to their covenants, if they make them, but it is up to this generation to perform the ordinances in their behalf.
No other generation in the history of the world has had this work of being saviors on Mount Zion. This is a calling unique to those of us who have been held back for this day and age. The focus of our worship is on the temple and the ordinances that are performed within their walls. This is why the Church has begun to build smaller temples, taking the ability to worship as we ought to be worshiping closer to the people.
The spirit of Elijah
We have been promised that this turning of our hearts, this yearning for the welfare of those who have come before us, will begin to possess us as we begin to put forth the effort to serve our family members who have already passed into eternity. Have you experienced this yearning? If you have, how have you benefited from it? How has it changed your life?
The prophets teach us that there is no more Christlike service we can render than that which is rendered in the temples. It is here that we serve without any thought of recompense. It is service in its pure form. As we serve as Christ serves, the Lord changes our hearts and our dispositions. He strengthens our resolve to be obedient to the commandments we have been given, and He helps us develop greater faith in His chosen servants.
Yes, those for whom we labor are richly blessed because of our service, but who is more richly blessed, the recipient or the one providing the service? There are those who will contest that we who give selflessly of our time and labor receive a bountiful harvest of blessings that are to be had in no other way.
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“No work is more of a protection to this church than temple work and the genealogical research
that supports it. No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power” (“The
Holy Temple,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 36).
What has to be done?
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve said: “In the work of redeeming the dead there are many tasks to be performed, and … all members should participate by prayerfully selecting those ways that fit their personal circumstances at a particular time. … Our effort is not to compel everyone to do everything, but to encourage everyone to do something” (“Family History: ‘In Wisdom and Order,’” Ensign, June 1989, 6).
There is so much to be done for so many people. Where do we start? Like President Packer said, we can’t expect everyone to do everything. There is just too much that needs doing. The important thing is that we do something. After all, this is the focus of our responsibilities as saints of the latter day. We cannot be faithful to our religion and not do anything on a regular basis to help our Father in Heaven gather in His children to the embrace of the family.
Here are some of the ways we can each participate in this great work. What we choose to do, and when we choose to do it will depend, of course, on what is going on in our lives, our responsibilities outside of the Church, and how closely we are following the Spirit each day.
Some of us don’t live next door to those of other faiths. Some of us don’t have another member of the Church within 30 miles of us. Our opportunities to do missionary work differ greatly. But what is missionary work but serving as Christ served. It is being kind, being truthful, respectful, and representing the Christlike virtues to all we interact with.
When we live this way we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. We are able to receive strength from the Spirit to open our mouths and speak a kind word and do a kind deed, and invite others to do likewise. This includes participating with us in our worship and fellowshipping activities.
I can tell you firsthand that indexing is addictive. There are times when you struggle with a document that is difficult to read, but when you have your spiritual eyes opened and can suddenly read what a moment before was unreadable, it changes your life.
Indexing can be done from almost anywhere and from almost any smart device. The batches are rated from easy to difficult, and you get to choose your level of difficulty so you feel comfortable with what you work on. Because the batches are small, you can do them at your convenience. Indexing as a family activity is a great way to participate in the salvation of others with those you love. And it is a great way to point your children towards the temple. It is also a great way to help new members stay focused on their goal of staying temple worthy during their early years in the Church.
This is a big topic. There is the genealogical research that needs to be done, the posting of source materials on the web so others can verify their information, histories to be found, collected, and written, and of course there are our own journals that need to be written.
Many of us have difficulty with the concept that anyone would find interest in our daily lives. Most of us live relatively uneventful lives. But if you have ever read one of your ancestor’s journals, I’ll wager they thought the same thing about their lives. Yet it is through these journal entries we come to know our kindred dead as friends. We see in them what we see within our own families, and we begin to sense how it is we belong.
Remember that when writing a journal it is important not to let it be a place where you vent. If you vent in your journal you will not want others to read it. That defeats the whole point of the journal. If you need to write your frustrations and negative feelings, do that in another place and plan on destroying it before you die. Remember the advice that criticism should always be given verbally so you can communicate your love and tenderness to the person. Praise should always be written, because we tend to believe what is written, and it cements our good opinion of someone when their praise is written down.
Have a temple recommend
Even if you don’t have a temple nearby, a temple recommend is the evidence that you have been making an effort to be ready and worthy to enter the Lord’s house at any time. The prophets have asked each worthy member of the Church to have a current recommend at all times. Looking and thinking about our recommend should be a periodic activity for all of us to remind us of our latter-day responsibilities.
But of course, the main reason for the recommend is to get us into the temple to do the work for others. Regular temple attendance should be as much a part of our lives as going to Church is.
Before coming to earth we were a united family. In the celestial world everyone is united. There are no divisions and contentions. Now that we have left our Father’s presence and have been cut off from Him, we need to turn to our Savior’s atoning sacrifice and seek to be forgiven of our sins so we can once again return to live with our heavenly family.
But living as a family, which is the celestial way of things, can’t be done without our brothers and sisters beside us. We don’t remember them now, but we have been charged with their safety. By searching them out, either in mortality through missionary work or finding them through family history work, we offer them the promised blessings of being reunited with the family of God through God’s priesthood power.
There is so much that needs to be done, and for so many people. It is the task for each of us to decide what we can do at this time of our life and in our current circumstances to help further this work. The gospel in the latter days is not just about worshiping on Sunday, it is all about fulfilling the promises the Father made to all our ancestors from Adam to the present. Our job is to turn our hearts to them so that through us we can save them, and because of them we can be saved. It is a package deal. Neither of us can be saved alone.