Temple Work and Family History

I’ve been studying this topic a lot this week, because my husband and I have been asked to speak on it in Sacrament Meeting. I am grateful for the opportunity to study it, because I absolutely love doing temple work and the family history work that makes it possible. I know that it is an important topic for our area, because I live where a new temple has been announced and I know that we need to be prepared for the opportunity to serve there.

Why are temples important in our lives?

Temples are the key to our exaltation and eternal life with our families. All of the ordinances of God must be done after the manner which He has given us. In Doctrine and Covenants 22 we read the following:

1 Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.
2 Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works.
3 For it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me, even as in days of old.
4 Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate, as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God. Amen.

We must perform our ordinances to make covenants as He has commanded. There are certain ordinances which we can only receive in the temple, which has been dedicated for those purposes. These ordinances include washings and annointings, endowments, and sealings for the living and all necessary ordinances for the dead, including baptism and confirmation. If we did not have temples, these ordinances would not be able to be recognized and accepted by God, which means they would not be eternal. The temple is also the only place where we can gain a full understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are certain truths found in working in the temple, which cannot be found any where else in the world.

What does it mean to be sealed?

In Matthew 16:19 we read, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” To be sealed is to be bound on earth and in heaven. The kind of sealing that occurs in the temple, means bonded for eternity. It must be done in the temple and by the proper sealing power and authority of the priesthood. Families are bonded as families for eternity, when they make covenants in the holy temples. As eternal families, we are able to receive the blessings which were promised to the ancient prophets, including exaltation and the ability to progress through the eternities.

What must a couple do to make the sealing power effective in their marriage?

The way to make this power effective is to live worthy of the promised blessings. If we are living unrighteously, the blessings will not remain intact for our family. A couple needs to honor one another, continually strive to have the influence of the spirit in their home, seek for greater personal righteousness through prayer and scripture study, and mostly be completely faithful to one another. In Mark 10:9 we read, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” If anything other than God, meaning anything of man, is allowed to come before our spouse, the sealing power cannot remain effective.

What responsibilities do we have toward our ancestors who have died without receiving priesthood ordinances?

After our spirits pass from this life, we are no longer able to physically perform the ordinances necessary for our salvation. Therefore, anyone who has died without receiving these sacred ordinances is unable to progress any further. This would be a huge hinderance for the majority of mankind, if it weren’t for the ability to do work for the dead. The responsibility of acting as proxies for those who have died, rests with the faithful and worthy saints of these latter-days. In Doctrine and Covenants 128:15 we read, “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.” The salvation of our ancestors is dependent on our willingness to do the work for them. We in effect will act as Saviors for them by doing something for their salvation that they cannot do for themselves. In doing this service, we keep the sacred covenants we have made with God in the temple, and are therefore able to be saved. Our own salvation depends on our willingness to help others to be saved.

How does the doctrine of salvation for the dead show God’s justice, compassion, and mercy?

God gives us every opportunity in this life and the next to make the choices which will lead us back to Him. He is no respecter of persons. There is no discrimination in the eternal plan, which would prevent some from the blessings he has in store for all of His children. If our lives give us the opportunity to learn and choose while we are living, great. But if we do not have the opportunity because of the circumstances we are living in, we will still have the opportunity to learn and choose after this life. In 1 Peter 4:6 we read, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” God’s merciful plan allows those who are living to provide the way for the dead to progress no matter what the circumstances of their lives. In Doctrine and Covenants 138 we read the following:

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.

To me, this shows the beauty and glory of His plan for every individual who will have ever lived on the earth. It also stands as a great reminder to me that we are all His children and we all were given the same promises in the pre-mortal existence. We all have the opportunity to choose if we will believe or not, and if we want to follow Christ or not. I am very glad to have the knowledge of agency and the incredible power it gives each of us over our eternal destiny.

What experiences have you had doing temple work for your ancestors?

I have had some good experiences in doing temple work for my own ancestors. There is something completely different between doing work for someone who has died that we do not know, and doing the work for our own ancestor. I have literally felt the love and joy of others and I look forward to being able to reunite with them after this life. The joy that I have felt doing this work for others is beyond any joy I feel in the normal everyday life. It is truly amazing to assist God in His work.

A Family Tree

What are the basic steps of doing family history work?

I have been working on my own family history for a while now. It is such an exciting work for me, and a passion I hope to continue with for the rest of my life. The basic steps of this work are searching for our direct ancestors, finding out a bit about who they are and preparing their names for temple work if necessary, and then finally performing the work that is necessary for their salvation. I would highly suggest that there be more effort in coming to understand and learn about the life and experiences of those ancestors, because it makes the temple experience and our lives in general much more meaningful and joyful.

How has the Lord helped you or members of your family find information about your ancestors?

The most recent example I have of the Lord helping my family to find information about an ancestor, has to do with the work of indexing. Because countless individuals have volunteered their own time and energy to helping index records, I was able to find a birth document, which my family had not been able to locate before. I know that the indexing program has been inspired by God to further the work of salvation and I am very grateful for it.

What are some simple ways for someone with many other responsibilities to participate in family history work?

Like I mentioned above, there is a great program called indexing. If there are too many responsibilities in our own lives and we are unable to take the time to seriously look for our own ancestors, we can take 10 minutes or so every so often, to index for others. Also, a huge part of family history work is recording our own personal and family history. This is just as necessary as doing work for those who have died because our work will benefit our posterity. Writing a journal, recording important family events, taking pictures and so on should be simple enough for us to do with our own families. Another thing is to go to the temple to do work even if it is not for our own family members. I believe there is a season in life for everything, and family history is one of them. All faithful saints should be engaged in the work, but we all can find the part which works for us in our lives at this time.

I love the knowledge that we can help our family members who are the reason that we are born into the life we have. I am in awe of the strength and courage that my ancestors have had and I am so glad that I can learn and grow from their experiences. I am so grateful that I have had the experiences of serving them by doing work in the temple. I believe in eternal families. I believe that I will someday be able to be with my loved ones again and that we will all be able to rejoice together in the saving power of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the merciful and loving plan of our Heavenly Father and for the opportunities that I have to help in His great and marvelous work.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.


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