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  • 1. The Redemption of the Dead Chapter 31Introduction D. Latter-day Saints have the authority and the responsibility to perform temple ordinances in “Some of us have had occasion to wait for behalf of the dead.someone or something for a minute, an hour, a 1. Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith in the Kirtlandday, a week, or even a year. Can you imagine how Temple and restored the power to seal throughour progenitors must feel, some of whom have priesthood ordinances the fathers to the children,perhaps been waiting for decades and even both the living and the dead (see D&C 110:13–15;centuries for the temple work to be done for them? Malachi 4:5–6; D&C 2).I have tried, in my mind’s eye, to envision our 2. Latter-day Israel cannot be made perfect without doingprogenitors who are anxiously waiting for those the ordinance work for their dead, nor can the dead beof us who are their descendants and are members made perfect without this work having been done forof the Church on the earth to do our duty toward them (see D&C 128:15, 18, 22; Hebrews 11:40).them. I have also thought what a dreadful feeling 3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsit would be for us to see them in the hereafter and and its members have the responsibility to keep ahave to acknowledge that we had not been as record of the work done in behalf of the dead (seefaithful as we should have been here on earth in D&C 127:6–9; 128:24).performing these ordinances in their behalf”(Spencer W. Kimball, “The Things of Eternity— Supporting StatementsStand We in Jeopardy?” Ensign, Jan. 1977, 7). A. In accordance with the plan of salvation,Doctrinal Outline everyone will at some time hear the gospel. ■ “The Lord has made it known that his mercyA. In accordance with the plan of salvation, extends to the uttermost bounds and that every souleveryone will at some time hear the gospel. is entitled to hear the gospel plan, either in this lifeSee Doctrine and Covenants 1:2, 4; 90:11. or in the spirit world. All who hear and believe, repenting and receiving the gospel in its fulness,B. The way has been opened for those who die whether living or dead, are heirs of salvation in thewithout the gospel to receive it. celestial kingdom of God” (Joseph Fielding Smith,1. After His Crucifixion and before His Resurrection, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:133). the Savior preached the gospel to the righteous in the spirit world and sent messengers to preach to B. The way has been opened for those who die the spirits of the wicked (see 1 Peter 3:18–20; D&C without the gospel to receive it. 138:18–21, 27–30). ■ “Before the crucifixion of the Lord there was a2. The gospel is preached to the dead so that they can great gulf fixed separating the righteous dead from be judged by the same standard that will be used those who had not received the Gospel, and across to judge those who hear the gospel in mortality this gulf no man could pass. (Luke 16:26.) Christ (see 1 Peter 4:6; D&C 138:31–34, 57; 76:73). bridged that gulf and made it possible for the3. Those who would have received the gospel in this word of salvation to be taken to all corners of the life had the opportunity been given to them will kingdom of darkness. In this way the realms of inherit the celestial kingdom (see D&C 137:7–8). hell were invaded and the dead prepared for theC. Ordinances performed vicariously provide the ordinances of the Gospel which must be performeddead with the opportunity to receive full salvation. on earth since they pertain to the mortal probation” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, 165).1. Those who desire to enter the celestial kingdom must receive the essential ordinances of the gospel C. Ordinances performed vicariously provide the (see Articles of Faith 1:3; D&C 138:58; 132:4–6; 131:1–4). dead with the opportunity to receive full salvation.2. Ordinances performed in mortality by the power of ■ “And so we have two great churches, one in the priesthood are valid both here and in the spirit heaven, the other upon the earth. They are moving world (see D&C 128:8–9; 132:46; Matthew 16:19). along parallel lines, and the temple of God, it3. The Lord has commanded that vicarious baptisms appears to me, is the connecting link that connects be performed to enable those who receive the the heavens with the earth, because it is through the gospel in the spirit world to enter His kingdom temple that we will be able to reach our dead, and (see 1 Corinthians 15:29; D&C 128:1, 5; 138:32–33). not otherwise. To pray for the dead may not be of any real assistance to them. To actually help them we must do a work for them” (Rudger Clawson, in Conference Report, Apr. 1933, 77–78). 85
  • 2. Chapter 31■ “We have been authorized to perform baptisms “It matters not what else we have been calledvicariously so that when they hear the gospel to do, or what position we may occupy, or howpreached and desire to accept it, that essential faithfully in other ways we have labored in theordinance will have been performed. They need Church, none is exempt from this great obligation.not ask for any exemption from that essential It is required of the apostle as well as the humblestordinance. Indeed, the Lord Himself was not elder. Place, or distinction, or long service in theexempted from it” (Boyd K. Packer, in Conference Church, in the mission field, the stakes of Zion,Report, Oct. 1975, 147; or Ensign, Nov. 1975, 99). or where or how else it may have been, will not■ “We know by the scriptures that the gospel is entitle one to disregard the salvation of one’s dead.preached to the dead and the dead are to be “Some may feel that if they pay their tithing,judged according to men in the flesh and live attend their regular meetings and other duties, giveaccording to God in the spirit. Thus baptism is of their substance to the poor, perchance spend one,necessary for those who, during their lifetime, two, or more years preaching in the world, thathad not opportunity for this ordinance of baptism they are absolved from further duty. But theby immersion for the remission of sin” (N. Eldon greatest and grandest duty of all is to labor for theTanner, in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 1979, 20; dead” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:148–49).or Ensign, May 1979, 15). ■ “Those who are acquainted with Latter-day SaintD. Latter-day Saints have the authority and the scriptures and the process of genealogical researchresponsibility to perform temple ordinances in will recognize that the extraction program is but abehalf of the dead. first step in the overall program of preparing a■ “The third point included in the mission of the Church book of remembrance ‘worthy of . . .Church is our responsibility to redeem the dead acceptation.’” (Ezra Taft Benson, in Conferenceby performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel Report, Sept.–Oct. 1978, 41; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, 30). ■ “Our responsibility to compile our books offor those who have lived on the earth. “Our members need to be taught that it is not remembrance, including the submission of thesufficient for a husband and wife to be sealed in the names of our ancestors for at least the first fourtemple to guarantee their exaltation—they must generations, and to have the temple ordinancesalso be eternally linked with their progenitors and performed in their behalf has not changed” (Ezrasee that the work is done for those ancestors. ‘They Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct.without us,’ said the Apostle Paul, ‘cannot be made 1978, 41; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, 30). ■ “There are other things we can do collectivelyperfect—neither can we without our dead be madeperfect’ (D&C 128:15). Our members should as a church. We microfilm records worldwide.therefore understand that they have an individual We establish libraries for use of members andresponsibility to see that they are linked to their nonmembers. We build vaults to store records.progenitors” (Ezra Taft Benson, regional As a Church we develop forms and proceduresrepresentatives’ seminar, 3 Apr. 1981, 2). to help in research. We prepare research manuals.■ “Elijah! what would you do if you were here? We program conferences, meetings and seminarsWould you confine your work to the living alone? to motivate, instruct and inspire.No: I would refer you to the Scriptures, where the “Nevertheless genealogical and temple worksubject is manifest: that is, without us, they could are basically individual responsibilities” (Boyd K.not be made perfect, nor we without them; the Packer, The Holy Temple, 227). ■ “We know that the spirit world is filled withfathers without the children, nor the childrenwithout the fathers. the spirits of men who are waiting for you and “I wish you to understand this subject, for it me to get busy—waiting as the signers of theis important; and if you will receive it, this is the Declaration of Independence waited. ‘Why,’ theyspirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and asked President Wilford Woodruff, ‘why do youconnect ourselves with our fathers which are in keep us waiting?’ That question continues to beheaven, and seal up our dead to come forth in the asked of us also, by our own people.first resurrection; and here we want the power of “We wonder about our progenitors—Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-who dwell in heaven. This is the power of Elijah grandparents, etc. What do they think of youand the keys of the kingdom of Jehovah” (Joseph and me? We are their offspring. We have theSmith, History of the Church, 6:252). responsibility to do their temple work, and the■ “It is not only necessary that you should be beautiful temples of the Lord stand day after day,baptized for your dead, but you will have to go yet we do not fill them always. We have a gravethrough all the ordinances for them, the same as responsibility that we cannot avoid, and mayyou have gone through to save yourselves” stand in jeopardy if we fail to do this important(Smith, History of the Church, 6:365). work” (Kimball, “Things of Eternity,” 5).■ “The responsibility [of doing work for ourdead] rests with equal force on all, according toour individual ability and opportunities.86