Posts Tagged 'Sealing Power'

2 Kings Chapter 2

Elijah was a prophet in Israel during the reign of Ahab. He had performed miracles, showing that the Lord was God of Israel. Israel was in a state of wickedness, and they worshiped false gods, in particular Baal. Many of the prophets of the Lord had been destroyed by the hands of the leaders in Israel. Elijah had done a great amount of work for the Lord, and had been told through the spirit, that Elisha was to be called to follow after him. When Elijah found him, he cast his mantle on him, and Elisha joined Elijah and walked with him for a time.

1 And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el.
3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

The time came for Elijah to be taken up by the Lord, and Elijah and Elisha were traveling together. Elijah told him to stay where they were, but Elisha was committed to stay with him, so they both travelled to Beth-el. The prophets in Beth-el went to Elisha and asked if he knew that the Lord was about to take Elijah from him, and Elisha told them not to worry because he already knew that. Elijah prepared to continue on to Jericho and told Elisha to stay in Beth-el, but Elisha would not leave him. They went to Jericho and the prophets there asked if Elisha knew that the Lord would take Elijah. Again, he told them not to worry because he knew it. Elijah told Elisha to stay in Jericho, because he had been told to go to the Jordan, but Elisha would not leave him. They went together to the Jordan. Fifty prophets watched from afar, as Elijah and Elisha went to the water of the Jordan. Elijah smote the waters with him mantle, and they divided. Then, Elijah and Elisha traveled on the dry ground.

Elisha is a good example of devotion and dedication. He had given up his own wants when he had willingly followed after Elijah. Then, here in this chapter, he was given every opportunity to let Elijah go on his own, but he would not leave him. He had committed to be his companion in the work of the Lord, and remained faithful to Elijah as he journeyed. The Lord prepared Elisha for his own calling as a prophet, by inspiring the prophets of Beth-el and Jericho to tell Elisha that Elijah was about to leave him. Elisha knew the time was coming, and decided that he would continue with Elijah, further preparing himself for his own call. He never turned from following after the prophet. We are currently living in a time much like Elisha. Not that anyone would want to say it, but it is clear that our living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, is growing weary and may not be with us for much longer. We can follow the example of Elisha, by remaining faithfully devoted and dedicated to our prophet, dear. Now is not the time to turn away from him. It is important for disciples of Christ, to continue to listen and heed his words, for he will be the mouth-piece for the Lord, for as long as he lives.

What would be the purpose of repeating the miracle of dividing the waters, as Moses had done, and as Joshua had done with the Jordan as well? It might have been done as a witness to those who watched from afar. That they would know that Elijah was indeed prophet of the Lord.
Furthermore, it stood as a witness to Elijah and Elisha, that they were doing what God desired for them, because the power to do this miracle was in fact given by God. Additionally, it was a reminder that these men were true men of God, to be heeded and followed just as the people of Israel had followed Moses and Joshua. Another possible reason, is that they were doing was God was commanding Elijah to do, and as mortal men they needed a way to get to the other side of the Jordan. As Nephi teaches in 1 Nephi 3:7, “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” The Lord prepared a way for Elijah to go where he had been told to go. The Lord will always prepare a way for us to go and do those things He commands.

9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Once they were on the other side of the Jordan, Elijah told Elisha if there was anything he wanted to ask of him before he was taken away from him. Elisha asked that he have a double portion of the spirit that was with Elijah to be with him. A double portion was how the people of ancient times referred to the inheritance of the firstborn son. It is like Elisha was asking him to bless him as a firstborn son, in the things of the spirit rather than with physical things. Elijah told him, that it would happen, if Elisha witnessed him being taken away by the Lord. If he did not see him, it would not happen for him. They walked and talked together, when a chariot of fire went between them and Elijah was taken by a whirlwind into heaven.

It may have been possible for Elijah to tell Elisha that his desire was fulfilled, but doing things this way, gave an added witness to Elisha that the Lord was there for him in his service. Also, Elijah was not going to do anything contrary to the will of the Lord, and so he left this miracle to the Lord. This way of performing miracles, was why the Lord could trust Elijah with the sealing power he held. Only those who would not do anything contrary to the will of God, would be authorized to have the sealing power and use it among men on earth.

12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

Elisha did witness it and tore his own clothes as he mourned for Elijah. Elijah’s mantle had fallen, so Elisha picked up the mantle and went back to the waters of the Jordan. Then, Elisha used the mantle to part the waters of the Jordan as Elijah had. He crossed on the dry land and the prophets witnessed it. They recognized that the same spirit that had rested on Elijah, was with Elisha. The went to him and honored him as they had Elijah. The miracle of parting the waters could not have been done by a man alone. This is why it is such a spectacular event in the histories of the Israelites. Only a man, who has the power of the Lord with him, could do this thing. Both Elijah and Elisha were able to perform this miracle though the power of God.

When I think of the power to control the waters, I am reminded of a story in the life of the Savior. The story of being caught up in a horrible storm with his disciples. As he slept, they worried they were going to perish. When they woke him, He spoke and used His power to calm the waters and the wind. The men with him were amazed at this miracle, and wondered about the man Jesus (See Luke 8:22-25). Only with the power of God can things of nature be controlled in this way. A great lesson in this, is that with the power of God, things that seem impossible are possible. We can and should seek to have this spirit and power with us, just as Elisha did in his day.

16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.
17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.
18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?

The prophets told Elisha to send strong men to look for Elijah in case he had been moved to a mountain or valley some where, but Elisha refused. They continued to tell him to do this, until he gave in and told them to send men. The men looked for three days, but did not find him. They returned to Elisha in Jericho and he told them that this is why he had said not to send them.

19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.
20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.
21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.
22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.

The men of Jericho went to Elisha and told him that the city there was great, except that the waters were not good and the land was not producing. He told them to bring a jar or a bowl, with salt in it. They did and he went to the waters of Jericho and threw the salt into it. He told them that he had healed the water by the word of the Lord, and that the land would no longer be barren and the people would not die because of the waters. The waters were healed according to his words.

23 And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

Elisha left Jericho and went back to Beth-el. On the way, some youth came out of the city and mocked him because he was bald, meaning possibly that they saw him as old. It seems like this was much like a gang of youth, who would do this same type of thing today. These are the type of people who would try to instill shame or fear in others just for the sport of it. Elisha cursed them for mocking him, and two bears came and killed 42 of them. Elisha returned to Samaria, by way of Mount Carmel.

One of the things that this chapter causes me to reflect on, is the idea of a mantel in a calling. When a person is called and set apart by the Lord (through his servants), they have a spiritual mantel placed upon their shoulders. It is that thing, which gives them gifts of the spirit particular to the needs of that assignment. It is not something you can physically see, but I believe it can be seen with spiritual eyes. For example, just prior to the passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley, I watched Thomas S. Monson speak without sensing the mantel of his calling. Then, the first time he spoke after he became the new President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I had been praying for confirmation that he was called of God to be the prophet and president. When I saw him speak, my prayer was answered and I could see and feel, with my spiritual eyes, the mantel that was now upon his shoulders. It was a huge blessing to me, to know that he was called of God to lead the church. I am certain that President Monson feels the weight of the mantel upon his shoulders spiritually, just as Elisha would have physically felt the mantel of Elijha upon his own.

I think it is good to note also, that the Lord did not leave his people without a prophet to lead and guide them. There have been times when people did not have prophets because of their own transgressions and how they used their agency to kill the prophets, but at this time, the mantel was passed to another. We live in a time of continuing revelation. In order for revelation to continually come from God, we must continue to have prophets called to lead and guide his people. I feel that it is important to have a testimony of a newly called prophet in our modern times, and so I have taken to the habit of fasting and praying to know that a man has been called to lead and guide us as I mentioned above, before they are sustained by the vote of the church in conference. Since doing this, I have been blessed time and time again, by a witness of the spirit, that the new prophet or apostles are indeed called of God to do this work. This is the kind of experience that the men who watched had, as Elijah left and Elisha returned and parted the waters.

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The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn

A Family Tree

I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting, on the topic of the hearts of the children shall turn, based on the talk given by Elder David A. Bednar in the most recent general conference. We hear this phrase often in the church, and today I’m going to talk about what this means to me.

The work of God is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind (see Moses 1:39). This is brought about by our making and keeping sacred covenants with God. This work, is centered around families. Elder Russel M. Nelson said, “The earth was created and this church restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally. [Whenever scriptures warn that the “earth would be utterly wasted,” the warning is connected to the need for priesthood authority to seal families together in holy temples.]” (Russell M. Nelson, “Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Nov. 2008, 92-95.) As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to have a knowledge of the gospel and the blessings that come from the priesthood power and authority being available on the earth today. There are many who have gone before us without this knowledge and, at times, without the priesthood. If they do not have the same opportunity as we do, than the work of God would fall short. I cannot imagine this as a possibility and therefore, I believe in the priesthood authority and power to do work for the dead. This authority of the priesthood is on the earth today because of the work of Elijah, the prophet. In Joseph Smith History 1:38-39 we read the words of Malachi as spoken by the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith. “. . . Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (v. 38). . . . And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming (v. 39).” Elijah did come to the prophet, Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery, and he restored the sealing power to them. We read about that in Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-15. “After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said (v. 13): 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 (v. 14)—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 (v. 15)—”. Now is the time when the promises of the ancient prophets have been planted in our hearts and our hearts need to turn to our fathers.

How do we turn our hearts to our fathers? The prophet Joseph Smith explained that “. . . the word turn, here should be translated bind, or seal.” In other words, how do we bind or seal our hearts to our fathers? In his talk, Elder Bednar uses the words of Joseph Smith in telling how we, the saints, do this. He said, “By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah . . . .” (History of the Church, 4:569; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Mar. 27, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff).

Both Joseph Smith and Elder Bednar spoke of the chain that binds us to our ancestors. This image stuck out to me. When I think of it, I picture the master blacksmith, working hard with his hammer, to forge every link of our eternal chain, which binds our eternal family together forever. A strong chain needs each individual link to be shaped and bonded to the one before it. Likewise, in our eternal family chain, each individual must be prepared and forged to those who have come before them and then attached to those who come after, through the work of the master. This preparation for those who have gone before us, is family history work. We are blessed with the opportunity to assist the Master in His work, by doing family history work. President Brigham Young said: “We have a work to do just as important in its sphere as the Savior’s work was in its sphere. Our fathers cannot be made perfect without us; we cannot be made perfect without them. They have done their work and now sleep. We are now called upon to do ours; which is to be the greatest work man ever performed on the earth” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 406).

Family history work is for all of us. There is nothing in the scriptures or teachings of the prophets, which qualifies when we should be doing this work. In Elder Bednar’s talk he directed a lot of his words to the youth of the church and I think that those of us who are parents, leaders, and teachers of the youth, can do a lot to help the younger generation realize all that they can do to further this work. Doing family history work is something that I have enjoyed for years. I can remember as a young primary child, having the strong desire to find out about my own ancestors. I have been blessed to have a great-grandmother who was a world-renowned genealogist. She published many books during her lifetime. My parents had one of these books, which was a history of my family on my maternal grandfather’s side. I enjoyed reading through the stories in that book and learning about the things my family had experienced. Her example to me, gave me a strong desire to seek out my family for myself. I know that because family is central to God’s plan, there can be a desire in each and every one of His children, no matter the age we are, to be bound to their family eternally.

The incredible work that my great-grandmother did for our family, required hours of searching through physical records, countless trips to the libraries, frequent trips to other states and even to Washington D.C. to look through records in the national archives. But, just as new tools have replaced the blacksmith’s hammer in making chains, new tools have been provided for us to do family history work. The advances in computers have made this work so much easier for us to do. There is no longer the need to spend all our time traveling, digging through books, or scanning the micro-fiche for records. We have amazing tools, including newfamilysearch and familysearch. There are other great tools available online from the comfort of our own homes or at the family history library.

Before listening to Elder Bednar’s talk, I had not thought about getting my daughters involved in family history or on new familysearch, but after hearing what he said, I decided to go to lds.org to see what the church leaders had there for the youth and primary. The youth section of the site, has several videos which explain how to use new family search. There are sweet testimonies of young men and women who have started their own work. These examples are inspiring and motivating. I also looked on the primary section of lds.org, and they have a section titled “Family History 1-2-3“, which links directly to new family search. It is clear that the leaders of the church feel that children should be using newfamilysearch as well. Those of us who are older, should take the time to learn for ourselves how to do our own family history work, so that we can teach and guide our children in this work. Elder Bednar said, “It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord— not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.”

The Lord has blessed us with these tools, so that we can further His work. There are four things that we can and should be doing. First, we need to gather our family history. The least we should do, that has been suggested by church leaders, is four generations of our ancestors, but I think that you’ll find that as you do this work, you will gain the desire to go back even further. Find the records in your home. Ask your family for information. Go to newfamilysearch.org and start your family tree. Use the old family search site to find records of your family members. There are many other resources that can be helpful in this work as well. My parents and grandparents have done a great deal of family history work. I was struggling with where to begin, so I decided to compile the work that they have been doing. It’s been a fun thing to do. Last year, my grandfather passed away and I had the opportunity to gather information from several family members and to create a record of his life from their thoughts on him. It is something that I hold dear and I am so happy to be able to pass that on to my children.

Second, we need to record our own personal and family histories. This one is a big one for me. I’ve attended several family history workshops in the past ten years, and one of the things that has stuck with me the most is that each of us will most likely be forgotten after three generations. How many of us can say that we know all about our great-great-grandparents? What do you want your great-great-grandchildren to know about you? What can you do today, to make their work easier? How much easier would it be for you to have information from your life compiled for them? Keep a journal. Keep your physical records safe. Teach your children to keep journals as well. Keeping records of your living family as well as those who have passed away, is so important. If you question that statement, than I’d ask you to look to the example of Lehi’s family in the Book of Mormon. Lehi was commanded to send his sons back to Jerusalem to gather his family records. In 1 Nephi 3:2-4, we read, “And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem (v. 2). For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass (v. 3). Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness (v. 4).” Then in 1 Nephi 5:21 we read, “And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.” Royden G. Derrick, formerly of the Seventy said, “A personal history becomes a family treasure that enables children to emulate the virtues and personal characteristics of their forebears. Their forefathers become the David, the Samson, the Moses, and the Abraham of their lineage. Writing family and personal histories is becoming the popular thing to do. More and more people throughout the world are becoming interested in this exciting pastime to them, but sacred responsibility to us. The hearts of the children are indeed turning to the fathers.” (“The Heritage of Royal Families,” Ensign, May 1979, 26.) Preserve your own records, so that your life can be an example to those who come after you.

Third, we need to perform temple ordinances for our family members. We need to do this often. We need to do this now. I love serving in the temple, but nothing has ever been quite as meaningful and spiritual as doing work for family members. I’d like to share a very special experience for me. In fall of 2009 I prepared several names for a Stake Relief Society night of baptisms. One of these names was Maria Schmidlin. I performed the baptism for her as planned and then held on to the paperwork so that I could follow-up with more of her work. I had several names to do and this one kept going to the bottom of my stack. Finally, in February of this year, I felt the strong impression that I needed to go do a session. For 2 weeks, it seemed like everything I heard at church, from my visiting teachers, and so on, was pushing me to go do a session, so we made plans to go. I planned to do the work for Maria that night. Our drive was worst then usual, causing us to be a bit later than expected, so we started talking about just doing initiatories. Then, I had the impression that we needed to do a session, even if we had to wait longer. We decided to side with the feeling to do the session, and I know now why that feeling was so strong. As I prepared myself for the session, I said a silent prayer to Heavenly Father and I immediately felt the presence of Maria with me. I felt her joy throughout the entire session. I know she was there with me and I know that because I was willing, she was able to accept and receive the necessary ordinances to progress. I feel so privileged to have been able to do that for her. There are temples being built all around the world, which will are here specifically for this purpose. We need to be preparing ourselves for the work that we can do in the temples.

Fourth, we should help others to do this work. If you know how to do family history, take time to show others in your family, in the ward, or even friends who may not be members of the church. I had a great experience with this last year. I had a less-active family in our ward (a father, daughter and grand-daughter) who had heard me talk about family history work. We had a ward Relief Society temple night scheduled and had asked the sisters to prepare names to take for baptisms and confirmations. I was approached by this family to help them prepare to do the work for the father’s wife who had passed away, so that she could be baptized and confirmed. Helping them prepare the name was fairly simple and it gave me the opportunity to share my testimony of this great work. However, the best part of the entire experience, was helping the grand-daughter when she went to the temple the night of our temple trip. It was amazing to watch this young sister do work for her grandmother, and witness her own testimony grow through the process.

You can help others by locating records and other information for them or with them. This is a job that I think the younger generation would be great at. There are a lot of us, who may not be very savvy with the computer. Last year I went to my Mom’s family history library with her. She was serving as the assistant in the library at the time and was really excited to show me how to use the record search pilot, which was a tool to find ancestry documents that has since been added to family search. I’ve been blessed to marry a computer nerd, and he has helped me to learn a lot, so this was pretty simple for me. She got me started on the site and within less then a minute I had located a birth record for a family member that my Mom had not been able to find before. I helped our family by finding this one record. The record was made available because of volunteers giving their time. I know that we don’t all have a lot of extra time in our busy lives to be working on a lot of family history work. The church has a truly inspired way for the busiest of us to actively help others. It is called indexing. Indexing is what made my family record easy to find. Indexing is for anyone who knows how to read and enter data into a computer. You can spend as little as five minutes working on it at a time. In short, indexing is downloading a batch of records that have been scanned and prepared and then using the data entry form to type what you think the record says. Two different people with do the indexing for one record and then an arbitrator looks to see if things match and if their are any questions. Then that information will be made available for searching, and the records can be more easily found by family members. If you have any free moments in your days, I would highly suggest participating in indexing.

In closing, I’d like to quote Elder Bednar again. In addressing the youth he said, “As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. 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.” I know that this promise can apply to all of us no matter what our age. I am so grateful for the desire in my own life, to do family history work. I love that we can learn about the lives of those who have gone before, and I love knowing that I have the ability to leave a legacy for my own posterity. I am grateful for the blessings of the temple and for the love of a Father in Heaven who wants each and every one of us to be sealed forever as a part of His eternal Family chain.

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.

D&C Section 132 (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the previous post (D&C Section 132 – Part 1).

So far in this section we have learned about the new and everlasting covenant, which is made when one is married in the temple through the proper priesthood authority. There are blessings that will come to those who make this eternal covenant and then keep it for the rest of their lives. All others, will be halted in their progression at the time of the resurrection. Only those who abide this law perfectly (this means with the grace of Christ that comes from proper repentance for our mistakes), will be able to progress and have families forever. (As a note, for any who may read this who are not of the LDS faith, we do not practice plural marriages today. This practice was done away with a long time ago, because of the laws of the land. There are no faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who participate in plural marriages.) This section continues:

28 I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was.
29 Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.
30 Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph—which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.
31 This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.
32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.
33 But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.
34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.
35 Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it.
36 Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.
37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.
38 David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.
39 David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.

Culturally, the idea of plural marriage is not an acceptable thing, and has been legally done away. Personally, I cannot even begin to imagine living as one of many wives. But there was a time, when this was culturally acceptable, and as we learn from these scriptures, it was commanded of God. In following this commandment, the promises given to Abraham were being fulfilled. We can know, that these ancient prophets were still held in favor with God and were blessed, because having many wives was acceptable, as long as they were given in marriage by the proper authority. Abraham was a righteous man, who did all that the Lord commanded of him. We are not commanded to have plural marriage now, but we are still commanded to marry through proper authority, and to bring children up in righteousness. We should follow Abraham’s righteous example and follow the commandments that have been given to us.

40 I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee, my servant Joseph, an appointment, and restore all things. Ask what ye will, and it shall be given unto you according to my word.
41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.
42 If she be not in the new and everlasting covenant, and she be with another man, she has committed adultery.
43 And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery.
44 And if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many.
45 For I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time.
46 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven.
47 And again, verily I say, whomsoever you bless I will bless, and whomsoever you curse I will curse, saith the Lord; for I, the Lord, am thy God.

We learn hear, that as far as sins go, plural marriage done with the proper authority is not a sin. If however, there are plural relationships outside of the proper authority, or rather the authority of God, those involved are committing the sin of adultery. The prophet was instructed here, on the proper way to deal with these situations.

Joseph Smith, the prophet, was given the sealing power. This means that all things that he sealed in life would be sealed for eternity. He also holds the power to cancel sealings, when appropriate. This sealing power is given to each prophet and he has the authority to delegate certain responsibilities to others, such as those who are able to seal couples in the temples. These priesthood keys are part of the restoration of the gospel in its fullness.

48 And again, verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph, that whatsoever you give on earth, and to whomsoever you give any one on earth, by my word and according to my law, it shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord, and shall be without condemnation on earth and in heaven.
49 For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father.
50 Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac.

The Lord revealed to Joseph that his exaltation was sealed, meaning that his exaltation would be eternal. It must have been a touching experience to be told that the Lord would prepare a throne for the prophet, near father Abraham and in the kingdom of God. The prophet was truly blessed for his righteousness and was forgiven of his sins because he was obedient and faithful. I know that if I live worthy and faithful, I too will be able to receive great promised blessings in eternity.

51 Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.
52 And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.
53 For I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him.
54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.
55 But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds.
56 And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I, the Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her heart to rejoice.
57 And again, I say, let not my servant Joseph put his property out of his hands, lest an enemy come and destroy him; for Satan seeketh to destroy; for I am the Lord thy God, and he is my servant; and behold, and lo, I am with him, as I was with Abraham, thy father, even unto his exaltation and glory.

We don’t know what commandment had been given to Emma Smith prior to this, but the Lord reveals that it was given to test her or to prove her. We are given this life as a testing ground, to prove our faithfulness to God. Sometimes we are given commandments that we do not understand, but if we are going to prove ourselves, we must be obedient with faith in God. Emma was not told to follow that commandment any longer, but instead, she was to follow the commandments that had been given to the prophet. Emma was commanded to be loyal, true and faithful to her husband alone. She was also commanded to forgive him. We are told through out the scriptures that we must forgive others, in order to be forgiven ourselves. This is a pattern that we should all follow, especially with our spouses. Forgiveness from the Lord, will only come when we are forgiving. The degree of the judgement of our own personal righteousness, will depend on how we judge others. We need to pay more attention to our own faults and the corrections we need to make, and not so much on the corrections that others need to make, especially our loved ones.

58 Now, as touching the law of the priesthood, there are many things pertaining thereunto.
59 Verily, if a man be called of my Father, as was Aaron, by mine own voice, and by the voice of him that sent me, and I have endowed him with the keys of the power of this priesthood, if he do anything in my name, and according to my law and by my word, he will not commit sin, and I will justify him.
60 Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God.
61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.
63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.
64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.
65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.
66 And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you, hereafter; therefore, let this suffice for the present. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen.

The law of God, is that a man may be given in marriage to multiple wives, as long as first, it is allowed by the first wife, second, it is with a worthy woman who does not belong to another, and third, it is done through the proper authority. This law is eternal and supersedes any laws of the land. Those who lived with plural marriage, may not have been accepted by the land, but they were accepted by God. I think that it is good for the modern saints to understand this, so that we do not look down upon any who practiced worthy plural marriage in the early church, because it is now considered to be against the law. I believe that when the laws of the land are once again the laws of Christ, that marriages of the righteous will once again follow these same patterns. I am not sure personally, if I could be open enough to practice it in my own family, but I understand better now the reasons for it and why it was done then. I understand the eternal significance of faithful and worthy women being able to marry faithful and worthy men, so that all can enjoy the blessings of eternal families.

D&C Section 128

As with the previous section, this is one of the letters from the prophet, Joseph Smith, to the saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. He also wrote it in September of 1842, while he was in hiding due to threats against his life. The previous letter (section 127) told that more information would come to them regarding baptisms for the dead.

Baptism

First let me start off on this, by saying that I fully believe in performing sacred ordinances, such as baptisms, for those who have died. This ordinance is not new to the world in this dispensation, it was around anciently. It is my understanding, however, that the LDS church is the only church to believe and practice it today. We are the one church, which has the proper authority to do so. This church offers the opportunity for us to save all the souls who have come before us and did not know of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This section begins as follows:

1 As I stated to you in my letter before I left my place, that I would write to you from time to time and give you information in relation to many subjects, I now resume the subject of the baptism for the dead, as that subject seems to occupy my mind, and press itself upon my feelings the strongest, since I have been pursued by my enemies.
2 I wrote a few words of revelation to you concerning a recorder. I have had a few additional views in relation to this matter, which I now certify. That is, it was declared in my former letter that there should be a recorder, who should be eye-witness, and also to hear with his ears, that he might make a record of a truth before the Lord.
3 Now, in relation to this matter, it would be very difficult for one recorder to be present at all times, and to do all the business. To obviate this difficulty, there can be a recorder appointed in each ward of the city, who is well qualified for taking accurate minutes; and let him be very particular and precise in taking the whole proceedings, certifying in his record that he saw with his eyes, and heard with his ears, giving the date, and names, and so forth, and the history of the whole transaction; naming also some three individuals that are present, if there be any present, who can at any time when called upon certify to the same, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
4 Then, let there be a general recorder, to whom these other records can be handed, being attended with certificates over their own signatures, certifying that the record they have made is true. Then the general church recorder can enter the record on the general church book, with the certificates and all the attending witnesses, with his own statement that he verily believes the above statement and records to be true, from his knowledge of the general character and appointment of those men by the church. And when this is done on the general church book, the record shall be just as holy, and shall answer the ordinance just the same as if he had seen with his eyes and heard with his ears, and made a record of the same on the general church book.
5 You may think this order of things to be very particular; but let me tell you that it is only to answer the will of God, by conforming to the ordinance and preparation that the Lord ordained and prepared before the foundation of the world, for the salvation of the dead who should die without a knowledge of the gospel.

It makes sense to me, that we have important, eternal ordinances recorded. We should record them personally, as well as having them recorded in the church. I think that currently, the ward clerks are some of the recorders of these things. They are not always present for ordinances, but they have the witnesses who have certified that they saw and verified these things being doing in their proper order, so they can then record that they were done. There are many temples now, so there are recorders in the temple for the ordinances that are performed there as well. Many of the ordinances that were performed with the early saints, had to be performed again because they were not recorded properly. Our records are part of what makes our ordinances acceptable to the Lord. This is a great responsibility that I know is in line with the will of God.

6 And further, I want you to remember that John the Revelator was contemplating this very subject in relation to the dead, when he declared, as you will find recorded in Revelation 20:12—And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
7 You will discover in this quotation that the books were opened; and another book was opened, which was the book of life; but the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works; consequently, the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works, and refer to the records which are kept on the earth. And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven; the principle agreeing precisely with the doctrine which is commanded you in the revelation contained in the letter which I wrote to you previous to my leaving my place—that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven.
8 Now, the nature of this ordinance consists in the power of the priesthood, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Or, in other words, taking a different view of the translation, whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven; for out of the books shall your dead be judged, according to their own works, whether they themselves have attended to the ordinances in their own propria persona, or by the means of their own agents, according to the ordinance which God has prepared for their salvation from before the foundation of the world, according to the records which they have kept concerning their dead.
9 It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in authority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great Jehovah. This is a faithful saying. Who can hear it?

Here, the prophet gives an explanation of what is meant by the words of John. There is a record to be kept on earth, which we will be judged by. There is also a record in heaven. The records of the things we do on earth is very important to our reward in heaven. The prophet clarifies here that if it is not recorded on earth, it will not be recorded in heaven. The act of recording our ordinances, binds them so that they will be known for eternity. This gives me a greater sense of the value of family history work and all the records that the church has gathered together. These records that tell the ordinances of our loved ones who have died, will be part of what will be used to judge them. If they would have accepted these ordinances in their own life, had they had the opportunity, they will have the opportunity once we have done the physical ordinances for them. Our service in this is very important to the salvation of all the souls who have ever lived.

10 And again, for the precedent, Matthew 16:18, 19: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 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.
11 Now the great and grand secret of the whole matter, and the summum bonum of the whole subject that is lying before us, consists in obtaining the powers of the Holy Priesthood. For him to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the dead as for the living.
12 Herein is glory and honor, and immortality and eternal life—The ordinance of baptism by water, to be immersed therein in order to answer to the likeness of the dead, that one principle might accord with the other; to be immersed in the water and come forth out of the water is in the likeness of the resurrection of the dead in coming forth out of their graves; hence, this ordinance was instituted to form a relationship with the ordinance of baptism for the dead, being in likeness of the dead.
13 Consequently, the baptismal font was instituted as a similitude of the grave, and was commanded to be in a place underneath where the living are wont to assemble, to show forth the living and the dead, and that all things may have their likeness, and that they may accord one with another—that which is earthly conforming to that which is heavenly, as Paul hath declared, 1 Corinthians 15:46, 47, and 48:
14 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as are the records on the earth in relation to your dead, which are truly made out, so also are the records in heaven. This, therefore, is the sealing and binding power, and, in one sense of the word, the keys of the kingdom, which consist in the key of knowledge.

The principle that things can be bound both on earth and in heaven through the priesthood power, is repeated throughout the scriptures. I know that this is a true principle of the gospel and I have hope in the eternal blessings of the sealing power. I was interested in the phrase he uses here, “summum bonum of the whole subject” and what he meant by it. The phrase is defined as, “the supreme good in which all moral values are included or from which they are derived.” If I understand it correctly, the prophet was saying that all values are created from the priesthood power, which allows men to have a knowledge of the plan of salvation and the works for the dead. With the priesthood we learn the facts of the gospel principles. I think that this pertains mainly to the overwhelming amount of knowledge that can be gained in the temple of the Lord, which is only available to us because of the priesthood. I know that the priesthood is the power that will save us all. Without it, the sealing ordinances cannot be performed and none of us will be able to to escape from the suffering of hell, no matter how good we lived our lives.

The baptism is likened to the resurrection, and the font of baptism is likened to the grave that the dead will rise from at the time of the second coming. In my study, I read that the baptismal fonts in the temples are purposely placed below ground level to represent the grave and those who are dead, being raised from the grave. I think that with this in mind, the next time I perform baptisms for those who have died, I will imagine them being resurrected and rising out of the grave to eternal life. This is a very powerful image in my mind of a wondrous miracle that I look forward to witnessing. Our own baptisms should also remind us of being buried and rising into a new life committed to the work of the Lord. Such a beautiful ordinance that was established by God, for us to make sacred covenants with Him.

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.
16 And now, in relation to the baptism for the dead, I will give you another quotation of Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:29: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?
17 And again, in connection with this quotation I will give you a quotation from one of the prophets, who had his eye fixed on the restoration of the priesthood, the glories to be revealed in the last days, and in an especial manner this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, namely, the baptism for the dead; for Malachi says, last chapter, verses 5th and 6th: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 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.

A Family Tree

The prophet teaches us here, that our eternal destiny depends upon the salvation of our ancestors. I’m not sure that I have a real understanding of why that is, but I know that without our work here, they cannot be saved, so I understand that there is a literal and eternal connection needed between us and our ancestors. Joseph also teaches us that the work for the dead is the “most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel”. In particular baptism for the dead, allows the atonement to save those who choose to accept Christ after they have died. Without this, these souls would be lost in hell for eternity. The prophet also reminds us that Malachi said that unless the power to do this work was restored, the earth would be smitten with a curse. I believe that this is to say that the whole purpose of the earth in its mortal state, would have been wasted and the eternal bonds of families would never have been made. The earth is meant to be renewed into the state where those who inherit the celestial kingdom would gain their inheritance. If no one was able to be sealed to spouses, children, parents and so on, than we would not obtain the celestial glory and therefore the earth would be wasted.

18 I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. 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. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.
19 Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!
20 And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!
21 And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county, and at sundry times, and in divers places through all the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!

If the keys of the sealing power, which make the ordinances in the temple possible, had not been restored, then the prophesies regarding this final dispensation would not come to pass. This great restoration, is the culmination of all that the previous times of the earth and all the former prophets have worked towards. This should bring gladness and joy to the hearts of all mankind who learn of it. I know that I have a great sense of joy in this knowledge. The prophet showed his joy in these verses. I know that the priesthood keys were restored through the prophet Joseph Smith, in this dispensation, and for the purpose of saving all mankind. The prophets and apostles of all the dispensations before, came and passed on all that was needed for us to participate in this saving work. It truly is a time of great joy.

22 Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.
23 Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!
24 Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.
25 Brethren, I have many things to say to you on the subject; but shall now close for the present, and continue the subject another time. I am, as ever, your humble servant and never deviating friend,

Joseph Smith.

The sons of Levi are referring to all those who are ordained to do work in the temples. The Lord will give them the opportunities to grow and be purified so that they can be worthy to do the work in His holy house. Those of us who are worthy and able to do work in the temples, will be the ones to make the offering that was prophesied. We will offer the records from the temple, which will show the work for the dead has been finished and is worthy of acceptance from God.

The prophet had given all the amazing reasons to do the work that they had been called to do. The work of saving others is the duty of all those who have received the gospel and have made their own covenants with God. We are able to be partners with the Savior, Jesus Christ, who endured the greatest sacrifice that will ever be known to man. I hope that I can be an instrument in the Lord’s hands and also work along with him to help save the worthy and righteous people who are waiting for their chance to receive their rewards.

D&C Section 110

In April of 1836, the prophet, Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery received this vision after the saints had partaken of the sacrament and heard preaching from the brethren of the church. They were in the temple, where church meetings were held at the time, and I think that the rest of the saints had left for the day at this time. Joseph and Oliver knelt in prayer and afterwards this was what they both witnessed.

1 The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened.
2 We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.
3 His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
4 I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.
5 Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.
6 Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have, with their might, built this house to my name.
7 For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.
8 Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house.
9 Yea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house.
10 And the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands; and this is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people. Even so. Amen.

The Lord appeared to the prophet and Oliver Cowdery in the temple. This description of the Savior, is much like the previous descriptions that were given by the prophets, such as the description found in the first vision (See Joseph Smith-History), and the description found in Revelations (See Revelation 1). I think that this is the closest description that we as mortals could understand, but it probably comes no where near the actual brilliance of the Lord. I find that when I read these things, I become greatly excited within me for the day when I will be able to be a witness of Him in the flesh.

The prophet and Oliver were blessed with forgiveness for their sins. The Lord accepted the temple that the saints had built and dedicated to Him. I know that the reason the temple was accepted, was because it was done just as the Lord has required. Not only was it built to His design and for his purposes, but the saints had proven that they would sacrifice all that they had for it and would put it as their first priority over all other things. I wonder if I would be that strong and truly sacrifice the things that I have come to believe I need, even when I probably don’t need them.

Oliver and Joseph, were told that He, the Lord, would show himself to those who served in the temple, if they kept the temple holy with their righteousness and their works. The Kirtland temple, was just the beginning of the many temples that have now been built all over the world. With the building of the temple, many people have received the blessings of endowments from the Lord and have made sacred covenants as well. Because of the building of the Kirtland temple, the ordinances of God were revealed to men, and we are able to be blessed by them today.

11 After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.
12 After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.

Moses and Elias came to them, and restored the keys of the gathering of Israel, and the gospel of Abraham. This is the day, when the gathering officially began, because the proper authority of God had been restored to the earth once more. I believe that the day will come, when all of the tribes of Israel, will be gathered once more. It really is such an exciting era of man to live, in which all things are being restored to their proper place and eventually the second coming of the Savior will happen. Elias is what one is called who is sent by God to restore or prepare (see Elias in the Bible Dictionary). According to the manual I am studying, this Elias is Gabriel, also known as Noah. This is not told in the Bible Dictionary, but from a quote by President Joseph Feilding Smith. The gospel of Abraham that was restored, was the blessings and promises that were given to Abraham, that his seed should continue. The footnote references the Abrahamic Covenant, which also talks about an eternal increase, promised lands, and eternal inheritances. If we are faithful, the blessings that were promised to Abraham, can be ours. This is through the power of the priesthood and the keys that were restored on that day in the Kirtland temple.

13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; 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.

Elijah appeared to them and restored keys to the prophet and Oliver. In the footnotes, it says that the keys were those of the sealing power. From this point on, saints could be sealed to their loved ones for eternity. With these keys, all people who have ever lived have the opportunity to receive all the ordinances and covenants, including being sealed to their loved ones. This happens through the proxy work that is done for the dead, within the temples. It is the responsibility of worthy saints, who are able to do service in the temple, to do this work. It is a great work, and will continue through the time of the Millennium. The restoration of these keys was prophesied to happen close to happen before the second coming (see Malchi 4:5). In this vision in 1836, Elijah said that the second coming, which is the great and dreadful day of the Lord, is “at the doors”. This should teach us the urgency of the work and the importance of our own preparation.

This vision was such an important part of the restoration of the gospel. The blessings that we can have because of the priesthood keys which were restored, are absolutely amazing. I know that we cannot even begin to understand the value of these things because we are not currently in the eternities, but I believe that they are great. I am so grateful for Joseph Smith. I am so glad that he was worthy enough to receive these things for us. I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven, who wants all of His children to have the opportunity to live with Him again some day. I have hope in this gospel truth and I am so excited to be a part of this gospel and this great work.

D&C Section 90

This revelation was regarding what would become the First Presidency of the church in 1833. Previous to this, Brother Gausse had held the position as a counselor to the president of the high priest, Joseph Smith. However, due to the lack of faithfulness on the part of Brother Gausse, he had been excommunicated from the church and the position was left open.

1 Thus saith the Lord, verily, verily I say unto you my son, thy sins are forgiven thee, according to thy petition, for thy prayers and the prayers of thy brethren have come up into my ears.
2 Therefore, thou art blessed from henceforth that bear the keys of the kingdom given unto you; which kingdom is coming forth for the last time.
3 Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come;
4 Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church.
5 And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.

This revelation was given to the prophet, Joseph Smith. In verse two we read that the keys of the kingdom were given to the prophet. Consequently, the keys were given to the church. The keys that were given to the prophet, were the keys of the sealing power of the priesthood. From these keys, ordinances could be performed which would seal things both on earth and in heaven. Through these keys, the great blessing of temple marriage and sealing for time and eternity, is a possibility for those who are worthy and able. Only the prophet holds all of these keys and is able to exercise all of them. The keys are held collectively in the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and can be passed on when necessary. The Lord teaches us in verse five, that these things are not to be taken lightly, but our of a serious and sacred nature.

6 And again, verily I say unto thy brethren, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, their sins are forgiven them also, and they are accounted as equal with thee in holding the keys of this last kingdom;
7 As also through your administration the keys of the school of the prophets, which I have commanded to be organized;

These two brethren had been called and were now going to be able to be set apart as counselors in the first presidency. The counselors were both worthy to hold all the keys of the kingdom. As equals to the prophet, they would hold the same keys, but they could only act with them through the direction of the prophet. I believe that this still holds true today.

8 That thereby they may be perfected in their ministry for the salvation of Zion, and of the nations of Israel, and of the Gentiles, as many as will believe;
9 That through your administration they may receive the word, and through their administration the word may go forth unto the ends of the earth, unto the Gentiles first, and then, behold, and lo, they shall turn unto the Jews.
10 And then cometh the day when the arm of the Lord shall be revealed in power in convincing the nations, the heathen nations, the house of Joseph, of the gospel of their salvation.
11 For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The school of the prophets was designed to help the elders of the church to minster and take the gospel to the people. The gospel was to go first to the gentiles and then to the Jews. This would continue until the time when all people would be able to hear the gospel throughout the world. It is amazing that so many young missionaries go out to the world, learn new languages, and are able to share the gospel with others in their own tongues. The gift of tongues definitely blesses the lives of many people all over the world.

12 And now, verily I say unto you, I give unto you a commandment that you continue in the ministry and presidency.
13 And when you have finished the translation of the prophets, you shall from thenceforth preside over the affairs of the church and the school;
14 And from time to time, as shall be manifested by the Comforter, receive revelations to unfold the mysteries of the kingdom;
15 And set in order the churches, and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.
16 And this shall be your business and mission in all your lives, to preside in council, and set in order all the affairs of this church and kingdom.
17 Be not ashamed, neither confounded; but be admonished in all your high-mindedness and pride, for it bringeth a snare upon your souls.
18 Set in order your houses; keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you.

The prophet and his counselors were told what they should do in their callings. They were to minister and preside over the church, finish translating the scriptures, preside over the school of the prophets, receive revelations and unfold mysteries of heaven, study and learn of all good things such as languages, council together and handle the affairs of the church, beware of pride and uncleanliness, and set their homes in order. The current first presidency is still responsible for these things.

The Lord went on to give direction regarding a few of the brethren specifically (see vv. 19-23). Then he instructed them all again.

24 Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.
25 Let your families be small, especially mine aged servant Joseph Smith’s, Sen., as pertaining to those who do not belong to your families;
26 That those things that are provided for you, to bring to pass my work, be not taken from you and given to those that are not worthy—
27 And thereby you be hindered in accomplishing those things which I have commanded you.

It could have been easy to take advantage of the generosity of the brethren of the church. They were trying their best to live a Christ-like life, which includes giving to those in need. This is still part of our lives today. However, we must always be watchful, that those we try to help do not take advantage of us. When our service to others becomes an expectation on the receiver’s part, it does not do either one any good. It will quickly wear the giver down, and the one who receives will become dependent on the other, and that is not good. Serving those who are truly in need, is good and will uplift all involved. We are just counseled to make sure that these things do not interfere with our duties to our families, or stop us from performing in our callings in an effective manner.

The Lord continued:

28 And again, verily I say unto you, it is my will that my handmaid Vienna Jaques should receive money to bear her expenses, and go up unto the land of Zion;
29 And the residue of the money may be consecrated unto me, and she be rewarded in mine own due time.
30 Verily I say unto you, that it is meet in mine eyes that she should go up unto the land of Zion, and receive an inheritance from the hand of the bishop;
31 That she may settle down in peace inasmuch as she is faithful, and not be idle in her days from thenceforth.

It is not often, that the Lord specifically mentioned the sisters in these revelations, but here he mentioned Vienna Jaques. Apparently, she was a woman who had given a lot of service to the prophet and other elders, and was now given the permission to go to Zion and receive her inheritance from the church according to her faithfulness. This was a blessing for her faithful service.

32 And behold, verily I say unto you, that ye shall write this commandment, and say unto your brethren in Zion, in love greeting, that I have called you also to preside over Zion in mine own due time.
33 Therefore, let them cease wearying me concerning this matter.
34 Behold, I say unto you that your brethren in Zion begin to repent, and the angels rejoice over them.
35 Nevertheless, I am not well pleased with many things; and I am not well pleased with my servant William E. McLellin, neither with my servant Sidney Gilbert; and the bishop also, and others have many things to repent of.
36 But verily I say unto you, that I, the Lord, will contend with Zion, and plead with her strong ones, and chasten her until she overcomes and is clean before me.
37 For she shall not be removed out of her place. I, the Lord, have spoken it. Amen.

Now that the first presidency was established, the Lord told the prophet to let the saints know that they should stop praying for this thing. This presidency is over the entire church, and because this is the way that the Lord has organized His church, it is the same all over the world. This is one of the greatest blessings we have, because no matter where we go in the world, the gospel and church are the same.

The Lord is pleased with us when we follow His commandments, but none of us is perfect and so we will continue to be called to repentance, just as these saints were in these verses. We can easily be removed from the church by the things that we choose to do, but the work of the Lord and His church, will continue even if we are not there. We are responsible for our own salvation. The church will not change to allow those who are not worthy the blessings from the Lord. I know that I am not perfect in many ways. I know that the church is there to help me become more like the Savior, Jesus Christ. I am glad that I have the opportunity to follow the prophet and become a better person. I am glad that the gospel teaches me how to be worthy of the blessings of the Lord. It is comforting to know that the church is a stable foundation of righteousness, and that I can depend on it leading me on the right path. I am so grateful for the First Presidency today. I love the prophet and his counselors. I know that they are righteous men who are true servants and disciples of Christ.

D&C Section 77 (Part 2)

(This is a continuation of the previous post: D&C Section 77 Part 1)

Historical Background

While translating the Bible, the prophet, Joseph Smith, received this revelation regarding the book of St. John (or the book of Revelation). It is a guide to understanding parts of the revelation of John, that had been a great mystery to the saints before the prophet received this.

Four Angels Sent from God with Power to Save Life and to Destroy It

In Revelation 7:1 we read, “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.”

“Q. What are we to understand by the four angels, spoken of in the 7th chapter and 1st verse of Revelation? A. We are to understand that they are four angels sent forth from God, to whom is given power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to cast down to the regions of darkness (D&C 77:8 ).” The four angels that John saw will have the power to judge the wickedness of the world, and to cause for all things to be sealed to the heavens or to be held captive by darkness. I believe that there is and always has been order to the work of God, which involves the practice of delegation. These angels have been delegated a portion of the responsibility for bringing destruction to the wicked. The power to do this comes directly from the Lord.

What Is the Significance of the Angel from the East Sealing the Servants of God?

In Revelation 7:2-3 we read, “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea (v. 2), Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads (v. 3).”

“Q. What are we to understand by the angel ascending from the east, Revelation 7th chapter and 2nd verse? A. We are to understand that the angel ascending from the east is he to whom is given the seal of the living God over the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, he crieth unto the four angels having the everlasting gospel, saying: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And, if you will receive it, this is Elias which was to come to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things (D&C 77:9).” The servants of God are sealed by the everlasting covenant and will be protected when the destruction falls upon the wickedness of the world.

“Q. What time are the things spoken of in this chapter to be accomplished? A. They are to be accomplished in the sixth thousand years, or the opening of the sixth seal (D&C 77:10).” The destruction of the wickedness and the saving of those who are sealed by the everlasting covenant, will happen in the sixth thousand years of the earth’s life, before the thousand years of rest. This revelation through Joseph Smith, tells us that Elias will come to restore the sealing power that will save those who serve the Lord and are sealed by the everlasting covenant.

Who Are the 144,000?

In Revelations 7:4 we read, “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”

“Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel—twelve thousand out of every tribe? A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn (D&C 77:11).” The ordained high priests of God, are those 144,000 who are sealed and have the power to seal the everlasting gospel and covenant to those who are faithful. These 144,000 will gather the tribes of Israel and bring them to the gospel.

What Things Has Christ “Not Put into His Power”?

In Revelations 8 we read, “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour (v. 1). And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets (v. 2).”

“Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation? A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; . . . (D&C 77:12)”.

There will be a thousand years that will be the time when the world will be sanctified. All things will be redeemed by the Lord, except those things which “he hath not put into his power”. In D&C 76:41-43 we read, “That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness (v. 41); That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him (v. 42); Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him (v. 43).” At this time, all but the sons of perdition, will be redeemed.

What Is the Purpose for the Sounding of Trumpets by Seven Angels?

Revelations 8 continues, “And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound (v. 6). The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up (v. 7). And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood (v. 8 ); And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed (v. 9). And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters (v. 10); And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter (v. 11). And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise (v. 12). And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound (v. 13)!”

The rest of verse 12 in Doctrine and Covenants Section 77 reads, “. . . and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.” The seven angels with seven trumpets, will announce the coming of the Lord. During the last dispensation of the world, before the Savior comes again, these signs represented by the seven angels, will be given.

Revelation chapter 9, goes on to tell about the rest of the angels sounding their trumpets and awful things happening to those who do not repent. It also tells of things happening to those who have been sealed, but not ending in death. In D&C 77:13 we read, “Q. When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation? A. They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ.” These signs are proof to us that the second coming is near.

What Is the Symbolism of the Little Book Eaten by John

In Revelation chapter 10, John’s message continues about seeing another angel. “And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth (v. 2), And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices (v. 3).” John had more he was shown that he was to write, when he was told not to write them (v. 4). The angel told him there would be no more time, once the seventh angel days were here (v. 5-7). “And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth (v. 8 ). And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey (v. 9). And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter (v. 10). And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings (v. 11).”

In D&C 77:14 we read, “Q. What are we to understand by the little book which was eaten by John, as mentioned in the 10th chapter of Revelation? A. We are to understand that it was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel; behold, this is Elias, who, as it is written, must come and restore all things.” The little book was the words of God, to be shared with all people. By eating the book in his revelation, he was being ordained to his mission to bring this message “before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings”. Like the book, the message of God is sweet and we should rejoice in it, but the responsibility that comes with knowing of the word of the Lord, is that there will be judgements and they will be bitter for those who have not repented.

Are John the Revelator and the Angel Ascending from the East the Same Person?

We learned from modern-day revelation, that the angel from the East, was Elias (see D&C 77:9 above). Then here in verse 14, we read that John ate the book, or was to fulfill the mission of Elias. The mission is the same, to restore all things. Throughout the scriptures, there are many men who are given the title of Elias. This is because the restoration of all things came through many men. The prophet Moroni came and began the restoration through Joseph Smith. He was given the tools to translate, the Book of Mormon, and more. In D&C 13, John the Baptist came to restore the keys of the Aaronic priesthood. In D&C 110, Moses restored the keys of the gathering of Israel, Elias restored the gospel of Abraham, and Elijah restored the sealing powers. In D&C 128, the prophet speaks of Peter, James and John (the John who gave this revelation) restoring keys of this dispensation and the fullness of time, and of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael each with their keys of the priesthood. Elias is the title given to all those who would bring their keys to be restored in this final dispensation.

Who Are the Two Witnesses Referred to by John?

In Revelation chapter 11 we read, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth (v. 3). These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth (v. 4).” Two witnesses will prophesy with great powers of heaven, then they will be killed and after three days of the people rejoicing over their death, they will rise and be witnessed ascending to heaven.

In verse 15 of D&C 77 we read, “Q. What is to be understood by the two witnesses, in the eleventh chapter of Revelation? A. They are two prophets that are to be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the restoration, and to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers.” Just before the Lord comes again, a temple will be built in Jerusalem again, and as there is war in the city, two prophets who have been “raised up to the Jewish nation” (up to it and not from it), will prophesy. The manual I am studying goes on further to say that Elder Bruce R. McConkie said these prophets would be members of the Quorum of the Twelve or the First Presidency, who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I know that we are in the last dispensation of time, when all things have been restored just as was prophesied by John. The gathering of Israel has been started and many great and wonderful things have happened on this earth. I believe with all of my heart that all of these prophesies will be fulfilled. I do not fully understand the things that John saw in this revelation, and in fact it has taken me several days to read and re-read this section to even understand the smallest part of it. That being said, I know theses things are true. I know that there will be more great things to come and many awful and terrible things as well. The hope I have, is that after all these things happen, the Savior will come again and bring with Him the greatest joy and peace that man has ever known.

D&C Section 2

To preface, this section is the words of the angel Moroni, spoken to Joseph Smith in 1823. It is the message of Malachi. We believe this is the version of the words of Malachi, is true and written for a better understanding in these latter days.

What Priesthood Authority Was Elijah to Reveal or Restore to the Prophet Joseph Smith?

“BEHOLD, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (v. 1).” This was a prophecy, that the prophet Elijah would come to Joseph Smith, to give him priesthood power, before the second coming of the Lord. Elijah did eventually come in 1836 and gave the prophet the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood. This sealing power is used for the benefit of those on both sides of the veil, alive or dead.

Why Was Elijah the One Chosen to Restore the Sealing Powers of the Priesthood?

The manual explains that Elijah was chosen because he had been the last prophet to hold all of these keys. This was done this way, so that all things could be done in order of the priesthood.

Elijah’s Return Was to Precede the “Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord”

The second coming of the Lord is that great and dreadful day he is talking about. The second coming will be a time of dread for all those who have not prepared by repenting and following Christ. It will be a day of wonder and amazement for those who are doing all they can to do what is right. Before the Lord can come again, there needed to be a restoration of the sealing power. This was so that they work for the dead and the living could be done and souls could be saved.

Who Are the Fathers and Who Are the Children Referred to by Malachi?

“And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers (v. 2).” The fathers are those who are our ancestors. They are those who have gone before us. They are those who died without a knowledge of the gospel. The children are those of us who are living now. They are those who are working hard on family history work and performing ordinances for the dead in the temples of the Lord.

The restoring of these sealing powers by Elijah, plants the desire in our hearts to search for our ancestors and fulfill the promises made to them. These promises said that they would be able to have the same blessings that we have because of the gospel.

What Are the Promises “Made to the Fathers”?

In Genesis 17:1-2 we read, “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect (v. 1). And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly (v. 2).” This covenant to “walk before [the Lord]” and be perfect, meant to follow the commandments of the Lord and become perfected, or made whole, through Him. His promise was that he would multiply his seed and his seed would receive great blessings of exaltation. These blessings cannot be received without all mankind partaking of important ordinances, such as baptism. Part of Abraham’s blessing was that we, his ancestors, would work to bless all the souls who have gone before us.

Why Would the Earth Be Cursed and Utterly Wasted If the Sealing Powers Had Not Been Restored?

“If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming (v. 3).” In order for us to be exalted after this life, we must be sealed to our families for eternity. Without the sealing power being restored to the earth, we could not be doing this great work and sealing our families to us. All the work and the whole purpose of us coming to this earth, would be utterly wasted, if we did not have the opportunity to be exalted.

I am so grateful that I have the ability to do family history work. I absolutely love it. I also find it so rewarding to do the work for others in the temple. I have had wonderful experiences doing temple work and I can feel in my heart, that it pleases the Lord. I am glad that I could be born in this time, when these sealing powers have been restored. I am grateful that my family is sealed for time and all eternity. I hope to be able to continue to do the work for others.

D&C Section 1 (Part 1)

The Doctrine and Covenants Is a Voice of Warning unto All People

“HEARKEN, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men; yea, verily I say: Hearken ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together (v. 1).  For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated (v. 2).  And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed (v. 3).  And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days (v. 4).”  The Lord is telling us that this book should be used as a warning unto all people in these last days.  This is a book of revelations that will be used to judge all mankind and so the Doctrine and Covenants is meant for all people in the world, no matter where they are or what religion they may be.

It is the responsibility of members of the gospel, to make sure that all mankind is made aware of the warning found in the Doctrine and Covenants.  He says here, the disciples whom he has called.  There are those that are specifically called to proclaim the gospel, such as the full-time missionaries.  However, any person who has been baptized into the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is making a commitment to help the work of the Lord move forward.  We do this by teaching others the gospel.  It is commandment from God.  Not a commandment to convert, but a commandment to bring His word to every person.  Only the spirit of God has the power to convert the souls of men.  It is our duty to learn what the warning is for ourselves as well.  We need to search this book and apply these things to our lives.  We need to study and ask God if these things are true and ask for the guidance of His Spirit to convert our souls.  This book, the Doctrine and Covenants, is meant to bring joy and happiness.  If we follow the commandments and live righteously, we will find these things joyous.  If we do not follow the commandments of the Lord, these writings will be a warning of the misery and eternal sadness that come from living unrighteously.

The Lord Calls This Section His Preface

And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them (v. 5).  Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the book of my commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, O inhabitants of the earth (v. 6).  Wherefore, fear and tremble, O ye people, for what I the Lord have decreed in them shall be fulfilled (v. 7).”

A preface is typically an introduction to a book.  It typically will prepare a reader by giving a summary of what they will read in the remainder of the book.  The Lord called this first section of the Doctrine and Covenants and this particular revelation, the preface to the book of His commandments.   I like that this tells us that these writings are directly from the Lord and that they are commandments for us to follow.  We should not be using the Doctrine and Covenants as soft guidelines for our lives, but we should be strictly following the doctrine.  These verses warn us that all that is found in these pages will be fulfilled.  If we are not following them, we will receive the reward that we have worked for.

What Does It Mean to Seal the “Unbelieving and Rebellious”?

“And verily I say unto you, that they who go forth, bearing these tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth, to them is power given to seal both on earth and in heaven, the unbelieving and rebellious (v. 8 ); Yea, verily, to seal them up unto the day when the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the wicked without measure (v. 9)—Unto the day when the Lord shall come to recompense unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man (v. 10).”

There are many things in this life that will remain with the earth once we have passed on.  Only the things that are sealed to us eternally, can continue with us.  The manual I’m reading says that those who have been called of God and have received the sealing powers, have been given the power to seal people in a state of unbelief and rebellion.  This applies in particular to those who have already been baptized members of the church.  There are leaders that are able to excommunicate members from the church.  Members who have chosen to rebel against the Church, rebel against God.  The sealing power allows those who remain rebellious to be sealed to their reward eternally.

“Prepare Ye for That Which Is to Come”

“Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear (v. 11):  Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh (v. 12); And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth (v. 13).”  This is another indication that the Doctrine and Covenants is a warning to us.  The Lord’s second coming and millennium, is near and anyone who is rebelling against his commandments, will receive his anger.  I know that we are in the last days.  I believe that the Lord will come soon and I can see the wickedness of the last days building.  People are straying so far from the gospel.  I just head yesterday, that in order to avoid offending anyone, this nation will no longer have a national day of prayer.  Meaning no President will be able to call a day of prayer for any reason.  This is a sign of the times.  We as a nation are not allowed to band together in prayer to the Lord because someone who may not believe could possibly be offended.  We definitely need to be prepared for fulfillment of the prophecies of the Lord.

What is the Sword and the Arm of the Lord?

This section says that the sword of the Lord is “bathed in heaven” and will “fall upon the inhabitants of the earth” (v. 13).  “And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people (v. 14);”  When I read this, I am not exactly sure what is meant by the sword and arm of the Lord, but they are used often in scripture.  According to the manual the sword is meant to represent the destruction and judgments that come upon the wicked.  The are represents the strength of God or his power.  When I look at these verses again with this in mind, it says that the judgments of the Lord are in heaven and will come upon mankind.  And that his power will be revealed and all those who will not listen to the voice of the Lord in any way, will be cut off.

“They Who Will Not Hear . . . Shall Be Cut Off”

In verse 14, we are warned that we will be cut off if we do not listen to his words.  His words can be found in the scriptures as well as out of the mouths of his prophets.  We have a prophet on the earth today, and he speaks the words of the Lord.  He is the Lord’s mouthpiece on the earth today.  If we choose not to listen to the words of the prophet, will will be cut off as well.  I know that President Monson is the Lord’s prophet today and I know that we should listen to his counsel.  We have been given promise that the Lord will not allow the prophet to lead if he is not leading by His will, and so we need to do all that the prophet has told us to do.  This applies even when we may not understand the reasons for the counsel.

*** D&C Section 1 will be continued in the next post. ***


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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