Family History and Temple Worship
Scott L. Vanatter, May 18, 2014, Chantilly Ward
#A1. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
As a convert, Nauvoo the city Joseph Smith founded and named in 1839, has always held a special place in my mind and heart. I have been fascinated and inspired by Nauvoo -- the name, its Hebrew meaning, even its sound, its history, and more importantly, the doctrine revealed there -- the ultimate in Mormon theology. The ennobling doctrine that we can be sealed to our loved ones in the Temple as part of God’s whole family in heaven. ##1
Sacred Experience (Nauvoo Temple)
We were fortunate to be able to serve as patrons in the Nauvoo Temple the very first week it opened in 2002. I had several Vanatter family names with me so we could do all aspects of temple ordinances, from baptisms for the dead, confirmations, and ordinations, to initiatory, endowment, and sealings -- sealings of spouses, and sealing of children to parents. Actually, it was my mother and one of my sisters – who are not members of the church – who did the careful and loving genealogical research and shared their extensive labor of love with us so we could perform the temple ordinances. My wife had introduced them to genealogical research over 30 years ago, and they have really taken to this great labor and have done extensive work.
So for two days in the Nauvoo Temple my wife and I performed ordinances for several of my ancestors, including my very first ancestors to arrive in upstate New York from Holland in the 1650s. . . .
Near the end of the day, we sealed my father’s father to my father’s grandparents. NOTE: My father’s father died when by dad was just a boy of six. More on this in a minute. . . .
As we were sealing sons to their parents, I was acting on behalf of the various sons in all these generations. ##2 After several sealing ordinances were performed . . . I lifted my hand, paused and said to the sealer, “That was my dad’s dad. He died when my dad was six.” The sealer looked right at me, then slowly and calmly said, “He’s here, right now.” He paused, and then repeated, more slowly, “He’s here. Right now.” Needless to say, this was a sacred experience.
Sacred Experience (Kitchen Table)
Four months later our youngest daughter returned from her mission . . . . The whole family gathered for her homecoming talk. My parents and sisters, none of them are members of the Church, traveled to Virginia for this mini family reunion -- as did our oldest daughter and her husband.
After sacrament meeting I gathered them all around our kitchen table and shared with them my testimony. My father sat immediately to my left, my mother across the table from me next to my wife.
I began by sharing with them my witness that it was my sincere belief that our loved ones – our ancestors and our friends -- really are there on the other side of the veil, in what we call the Spirit World. That it is my personal opinion -- and firm belief -- that there is not one person we know that ultimately will not want to be together forever, after the option is presented to them in the spirit world -- no matter how hard their family circumstances here on the earth. Further, that we will all clearly see there that it is Jesus that offers this opportunity to everyone to be together forever. I shared with them that I sincerely believe that we will all meet each other there, and we will all want to be together -- forever. “Every one around this table,” I said. I shared with them my confidence that one day we will all be reunited as an extended family with our loved ones and ancestors in Heaven. That Heaven wouldn’t be Heaven if it were otherwise. Not to us. Not even to God. I bore to them my testimony that God was a loving God of mercy and not one of vengeance.
I told my Dad that I was confident that he would see and know and enjoy the close association with his Dad once again—someday in Heaven. ##3
I then related the sacred experience my wife and I had in the Nauvoo Temple where we sealed together forever my Dad’s father to my Dad’s grandparents. I looked at my father and shared with him that the sealer looked right at me and said, “He’s here, right now. He’s here. Right now.”
Things got very quiet. All of the sudden Dad quickly and forcibly reached over with his right hand and grabbed hold of my left forearm which was resting on the table. He held it very tight – in love and affection. For a few more moments no words were spoken. I felt his love and saw his eyes well up with tears. (Tears, on his part, had previously been very, VERY rare.) He then rose from the table, excused himself, and went straight into the bathroom to have a good cry in private. Around the table it was silent and still. No one spoke. My angel Mother appropriately broke the silence reminding us how much my Dad loved and missed his Dad. My sister said, “Well, that makes it all worth it.” (Meaning, the genealogy work.) Almost simultaneously, my Mom echoed her words.
It was a moment we will not soon forget, a sacred experience for our family. ##4
Dad’s Temple Work
A few years later my dad died. After we returned home from his funeral, my dear Mother (again, not a member of the church) called and asked whether and when we were going to do Dad’s temple work. With her permission -- and urging -- I performed by proxy his temple ordinances, including sealing him to his own parents here in the DC Temple. ##5
The theme of my talk today is Family History and Temple Work, with a special focus on the important part the Youth of today will play -- and the blessings which flow to them. So, to the youth of the ward please listen for the next few minutes how far-reaching are these great and glorious promises associated with temple work, or in other words, Temple Worship.
Ancient prophets spoke of the highest promises of God being planted in our hearts. These promises apply to you, your ancestors, and your posterity. Later, I will remind you of specific promises of protection made especially to you by modern apostles. ##6
An Agreement with the Almighty
Elder John A. Widtsoe explained that before we came to earth we were participants in the Council in Heaven. Quote. “In our [pre-mortal] state, in the day of the great council, we made an . . . agreement with the Almighty. The Lord proposed a plan. . . . We accepted it. Since the plan is intended for all [people], we became parties to the salvation of every person under that plan. We agreed, right then and there, to [help save] the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father’s work, and the Savior’s work, but also our work. The least of us, the humblest, is in partnership with the Almighty in achieving the purpose of the eternal plan of salvation. That places us in a very responsible attitude towards the human race. By that doctrine, with the Lord at the head, we become saviors on Mount Zion, all committed to the great plan of offering salvation to the untold numbers of spirits. To do this is the Lord’s self-imposed duty, this great labor, his highest glory. Likewise, it is man’s duty, self-imposed, his pleasure and joy, his labor, and ultimately his glory.” End quote. (“The Worth of Souls,” The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Oct. 1934, p. 189) – Elder David B. Haight, Ensign, November 1990, p. 59) ##7
The Whole Human Race
Joseph Smith said that, “A [person] filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing [their] family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.”
Among the very first things Moroni taught Joseph Smith included the foundational truths having to do with the everlasting promises made to the fathers. Moroni told Joseph that God would “reveal . . . the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet . . . . And [that God] shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children [would] turn to their fathers.” (D&C 2)
Commenting on this almost twenty years later Joseph said: “It is sufficiently plain . . . to know . . . that . . . there is a welding link . . . between the fathers and the children . . . . And . . . what is that [link]? It is . . . baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect . . . . It is necessary . . . that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of . . . keys, and powers, and glories should take place . . . . (DC 128:18) “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.” End quote. (DC 128:15)
Joseph Smith summarized: “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead. The apostle says, ‘They without us cannot be made perfect’ . . . It is necessary that those who are going before and those who come after us should have salvation in common with us; and thus hath God made it obligatory upon man. ”
Before they even arrived in the Great Basin, Brigham Young instructed the saints on the purpose of temple ordinances. He said: “The Apostle Paul, while speaking of the Fathers & the Ancients, said that they without us could not be made perfect. . . . [and] Joseph said [it is] an item of the celestial law [that they are] not perfect without us. [Not] until our children rise up in the last days and attend to all the ordinances [of the temple]…. [None] of us can get any glory alone. We must finish our work together, and so with the whole human family. . . . ##8 The Chain of [the] Priesthood [has been] restored. . . . Suffice it to say that [we] must be linked [in] …the Chain of the Priesthood . . . [and we will] as soon I can get a temple built. I have heard Elders say they were not dependent upon any man. . . . [But,] I consider that we are all dependant one upon another for our exaltation and that our interest is inseparably connected. . . . If men are not saved together, they cannot be saved at all. . . . The business of this Church [is] to [bring the] blessings of the Priesthood to all that have lived . . . ##9 Neither can you without me, nor I without you be made perfect. . . . This applies to the whole Human family.” End quote. (Brigham Young, Mormon History, Tuesday, Feb 16, 1847)
A Day Contemplated by Prophets
Joseph Smith challenged: “Let every man, woman and child realize the importance of the work, and act as if success depended on [their] individual exertion alone; let all feel an interest in it, and then consider they live in a day, the contemplation of which animated the bosoms of kings, Prophets, and righteous men thousands of years ago.” End quote. (History of the Church, 4:214.)
Tentacles of Divine Providence
Dear youth, please listen to how far reaching are these promises. President Hinckley cited the following quote several times during his presidency, and in a seminal address, his counselor President Faust explained the following blessing in detail in general conference. Quote. “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them . . . would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s [and mother’s] heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain.” End quote. (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110)
None of us will be satisfied if someone we love is not with us. The hope of Eternal Life which we receive at our baptism, becomes the promise of Eternal Life in our temples.
When? A Million Years
President Kimball observed that, quote: “The time will come when there will be a surrender of every person who has ever lived on this earth, who is now living, or who ever will live on this earth; and it will be an unforced surrender, an unconditional surrender. When will it be for you? Today? In twenty years? Two hundred years? Two thousand, or a million? When? Again, to you... I say, it is not if you will capitulate to the great truth; it is when, for I know that you cannot indefinitely resist the power and pressure of truth. Why not now? Much time has been lost.” End quote. (President Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Sept. 1978, p. 8)
This applies to all of us, all of our friends and neighbors, all of our ancestors, all of our posterity -- even and especially those who stray. ##10
Elder John A. Widtsoe beautifully described how temple ordinances are infused with symbolism. He said: “Mighty spiritual ordinances are carried on daily in [our] magnificent Temple[s]. [These ordinances are] a series of symbols of vast realities . . . . It is the meaning of things that counts in life. We live in a world of symbols. We know nothing except by symbols. . . . [When we are] endowed as [we] should be [we will see] beyond the symbol, the mighty realities for which the symbols stand.” End quote. (Elder John A. Widtsoe, Utah Genealogical Magazine, 12:62)
President Faust cited Joseph Smith’s King Follett discourse. “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” ##11
An emeritus Yale professor, and perhaps America’s preeminent literary scholar, Harold Bloom, has become an admirer of the doctrine of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Bloom who characterizes himself as a lapsed, Gnostic Jew, said that Joseph Smith was a “religion making genius.” It was his opinion that Joseph Smith created The American Religion. ##12
Of the many unique/former Christian doctrines restored through Joseph Smith, Bloom cites the doctrine of Baptism for the Dead as, perhaps, the most important – more than the Book of Mormon, more than the First Vision, as seminal as they are. He suggests that baptism for the dead succinctly captures the essence of the expansive and generous Plan of Salvation as understood in Mormon chapels, in Mormon Temples, and in the hearts of endless generations of Mormons. Bloom is describing the effects of the Spirit of Elijah.
In our temples is a marvelous power connecting the generations – making as one all of God’s children past, present, and future. Truly teaching the eternal implication of what President Hugh B. Brown spoke of as, The Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man.
Joseph Smith stated that even those without knowledge of -- or obedience to -- the Bible would be enfolded in the arms of mercy. Quote: “God hath made a provision that every spirit can be ferreted out in [the spirit] world.” End quote. Joseph’s was a generous vision.
Continued Duration for Completion
Joseph commented on the Vision of the degrees of glory in the heavens, thusly: “Nothing could be more pleasing to the Saints . . . than the light which burst upon the world through the foregoing vision. . . . . Every promise, every truth, and every point touching the destiny of man . . . go[es] to show the [the truth of the revelation] . . . . The sublimity of the ideas; . . . the scope for action; the continued duration for completion . . . are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every [honest] man is constrained to exclaim: ‘It came from God.’” (Joseph Smith, Feb., 1832. DHC 1:252-253.)
#D. YOUR ROLE
#D. YOUR ROLE
In our last general conference, Elder Cook discussed the importance of the role our youth will play. He said: “The First Presidency has encouraged members, especially youth and young single adults, to emphasize family history work and [temple] ordinances . . . . We need to be connected to both our roots and branches. . . . ##13
Rising Generation to Lead the Way
“The leadership of the Church has issued a clarion call to the rising generation to lead the way in the use of technology to experience the spirit of Elijah, to search out their ancestors, and to perform temple ordinances for them. Much of the heavy lifting in hastening the work of salvation for both the living and the dead will be done by you young people. ##14 Of course, the main objective is to determine what ordinances still need to be done and make assignments for the essential temple [ordinances]. . . .” This temple worship by our youth “will bless their entire family to experience the spirit of Elijah. Our precious roots and branches must be nourished. . . . End quote. (Elder Quentin L. Cook, April 2014 Conference, Roots and Branches)
Roots and Branches, Remembered
As Jacob said, “How merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and . . . as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (Jacob 6:4)
#E. PROMISE OF PROTECTION, PRESERVATION
In reviewing this theme with your bishop over the past few weeks, he desires that you young women and young men receive the specific blessings of protection promised by modern apostles and prophets. As you participate in this work he is confident you will “gain a deeper understanding of the commandment and doctrine of ‘honoring our fathers and mothers’ – ‘and that you’] will see doing family history and temple work in a whole new light.”
No Greater Protection
Elder Scott has spoken of the blessing of protection for our youth as they become involved in this work. He said: “Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple to stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. ##15 I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life.” (Elder Richard G. Scott, October 2012)
Question: How and why does this work? It works through the efficacy of Lord’s marvelous promises and power, in partnership with your inherent and refined ‘desires, appetites and passions.’
Conversion Deep and Abiding, and Protected
Elder Bednar has also promised specific blessings, including that of protection, for our youth. Quote. ##16 “I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. . . . And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories. . . . You are sons and daughters of God, children of the covenant, and builders of the kingdom. You need not wait until you reach an arbitrary age to . . . assist in the work of salvation for the human family. . . . ^ 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 . . . 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. Parents and leaders, please help your children and youth to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. But do not overly program this endeavor or provide too much detailed information or training. Invite young people to explore, to experiment, and to learn for themselves. . . .” ##17
In our last stake conference President Wheatley, commented on these promises, “Brothers and Sisters, if we would claim these promises of protection for our youth, let us obey the law upon which they are predicated. If we do, the promises are sure and are ours.”
President Boyd K. Packer has given wise counsel on improving behavior. He said, “True doctrine understood changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the Gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior . . . .” (Boyd K. Packer, “Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).
In Nauvoo, Joseph Smith was asked by a visitor to from the Illinois state government how he governs so many people so well. Joseph replied, “It’s easy.” The visitor asked, “How?” Joseph stated: “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”
#F. PRISONERS FREE
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus came out of the desert and entered into a synagogue. He opened the scriptures and read the following words from Isaiah. One might say that they form something of a mission statement for our Savior’s ministry.
Opening the Prison
Quoting Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound . . . . ” End quote.
Glad Tidings for the Dead
Last month Elder Cook cited the following soaring words from Joseph Smith’s beautiful letter to the Saints introducing the doctrine of baptism for the dead – which is also cited in D&C 128. “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. Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. . . . 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. . . . 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!” (D&C 128)
As Soon As
I bear my witness that there is now no spirit prison in the eternities -- or of one’s own making here on earth -- that can or will forever hold bound those who Jesus has already set free. They can walk out of the door anytime they want -- as soon as they will.
And I bear my witness that we have now the wherewithal and opportunity and obligation and vision and love to help secure their freedom -- as soon as we will.
In so doing, I testify that we -- and especially our youth -- can and will receive the promised blessings of connection with our ancestors, and protection from the adversary.
I pray we do so joyously and profitably sooner rather than later . . . in the powerful and merciful Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
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#A1. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
#B2. PROMISES BECOME REAL
#D. YOUR ROLE
#E. PROMISE OF PROTECTION, PRESERVATION
#F. PRISONERS FREE
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##1. SIDE NOTE: A large framed piece of art – an image of an old daguerreotype of the Nauvoo Temple -- hangs prominently near our front door. Before we moved to Virginia, the California license plate on my car was Nauvoo.
My wife Becky’s early Mormon ancestors lived in Kirtland, Far West, and Nauvoo. They trekked across the plains as pioneers. Some of them received their endowment and were sealed in the original Nauvoo Temple. I have felt adopted into Mormon history and her family lore as I have read and pondered her ancestors’ experiences. . . .
##2 We had invited a couple from Kansas (near where I was born) to help us by acting as proxy for the various sets of parents.
##3 (Remember, my dad’s dad died when my dad was six.)
##4 Reflection -- Years later our oldest daughter remarked, quote, “This was so significant to me, feeling the Spirit of Elijah in that room, and knowing my Grandma and Aunt have caught the Spirit of Elijah and accepted that day the beautiful happenings in the Temple with their family members. While they have not yet joined the church, I know that someday, all the pieces that they have felt and heard and seen over the years will all fit together and it will all instantly click for them.” End quote.
##5 To make that day even more special, my mission president in Australia in 1973-75 was then serving as the DC temple president. He performed the sealing -- two important men in my life brought together in different aspects of one sweet and eternal sealing ordinance.
##6 So, please open your minds and hearts as we consider what great things God has in store for us, and especially for you.
##7 A Sense of Relationship and Co-partnership -- President Hugh B. Brown also spoke on this idea of partnership. He said, “A sense of relationship and co-partnership with God involves the concept of universal brotherhood.” He said, “that [this sense] will help to develop intelligent tolerance, open-mindedness, and good-natured optimism.
##8 ‘Neither is man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.’
##9 This is another strong proof of the Apostle’s saying when he declared that, they without us could not be made perfect. [Neither we without them.]
##10 Jesus used the following words to set up the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We were all in the pre-mortal world, looking down on the happenings here on earth. Imagine being with your loved ones and friends when you heard Jesus say these words: “4 [Who among] you, having an hundred sheep, if [you] lose one of them, do [you] not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after [the one] which is lost, until [you] find it? 5 And when [you] [find] it, [you] lay… it on [your] shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when [you] come… home, [you] call… together [your] friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one . . . that repents…, more than over ninety and nine [who] need no repentance. “
One Vast and Grand Work -- President Kimball also said, “The more clearly we see eternity, the more obvious it becomes that the Lord’s work . . . is one vast and grand work with striking similarities on each side of the veil.” End quote. (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Jan. 1977, p. 3) ]]
Brigham Young also taught that: “The whole subject of the marriage relation . . . lays the foundation for worlds, for angels, and for the Gods; for intelligent beings to be crowned with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. In fact, it is the thread which runs from the beginning to the end of the Holy Gospel of Salvation -- of the Gospel of the Son of God; it is from eternity to eternity. When the vision of the mind is opened, you can see a great portion of it . . . . [which] we can see and understand . . . .” (JD 2:90)
##11 PROMISES BECOME REAL -- Question: How can these “vast realities” be apprehended?
Only by Experience, Gaze Five Minutes -- Joseph Smith cautioned that, simply, “Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.” End quote. (TPJS, p. 324; cf. HC 6:50)
Must Experience -- Brigham Young explained regarding the meaning of “the ordinances of the House of the Lord in their fullness” that, “to know, [one] must experience; and to experience, a Temple must be built.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.2, Pg.31, April 6, 1853)
You are to be Instruments -- Joseph Smith encouraged those who were embarking in this work – and this applies especially to our youth who are growing into powerful leaders. Quote. “Do not be discouraged on account of the greatness of the work; only be humble and faithful . . . Therefore, inasmuch as you are to be instrumental in this great work, He will endow you with power, wisdom, might, and intelligence, and every qualification necessary; while your minds will expand wider and wider, until you can circumscribe the earth and the heavens, reach forth into eternity, and contemplate the mighty acts of Jehovah in all their variety and glory.” End quote. (History of the Church, 4:128–29.)
In our last General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook said, “Our Father’s plan is about families. . . . The spirit of Elijah . . . as Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught, is ‘a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family.’ . . .
“On October 11, 1840, in Nauvoo, Vilate Kimball wrote a letter to her husband, Elder Heber C. Kimball, who with other members of the Twelve was serving a mission in Great Britain. The October general conference had been held a few days before. I quote from parts of Vilate’s personal letter: ‘We had the largest and most interesting conference that ever has been since the Church was organized. . . . President [Joseph] Smith has opened a new and glorious subject. . . . That is, being baptized for the dead. Paul speaks of it, in First Corinthians 15 . . . . Joseph has received a more full explanation of it by revelation. He says it is the privilege of [members of] this Church to be baptized for all their kinsfolk that have died before . . . . By so doing, we act as agents for them, and give them the privilege of coming forth in the First Resurrection. He says they will have the gospel preached to them in prison.’ Vilate added: ‘I want to be baptized for my mother. … Is not this a glorious doctrine?’” End quote. Indeed.
Vilate Kimball was right to exclaim that first month, “Is not this a glorious doctrine!”
##12 That what he taught was on par with that of Emerson, and other great American poets and thinkers.
##13 “Less than a year after President Thomas S. Monson was called as an Apostle, he dedicated the Los Angeles Temple Genealogical Library. . . .” [ NOTE: It was in this same Genealogical Library that my wife would go to do family history research once a month as I served as a veil worker in the L.A. Temple.
##14 “If the youth in each ward will not only go to the temple and do baptisms for their dead but also work with their families and other ward members to provide the family names for the ordinance work they perform, both they and the Church will be greatly blessed.
##15 As you grow older, you will be able to participate in receiving the other ordinances as well.
##16 “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. . . . The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation. . . . Our young people are excited to learn about the lives of family members—where they came from and how they lived. Many have had their hearts turned to the fathers. They love the stories and photos, and they have the technological expertise to scan and upload these stories and photos to Family Tree and connect source documents with ancestors to preserve these for all time.
##17 -- “My beloved young brothers and sisters, family history is not simply an interesting program or activity sponsored by the Church; rather, it is a vital part of the work of salvation and exaltation. You have been prepared for this day and to build up the kingdom of God. You are here upon the earth now to assist in this glorious work. . . . “I know the youth of the rising generation have a key role to play in this great endeavor. . . .” End quote.
As Elder Bednar said, doing family history and temple work (or, rather, we might say, Temple Worship) affords us promises of not only being preserved in this world of trials and tribulations, and protection from the adversary, but also a sweeter, more intimate relationship with God.
In order to receive these promised blessings and the associated beauties of the ordinances, we need to ponder the mysteries of Godliness, as revealed in the scriptures, the temple, and our own sincere prayers. Prayers can be thought of as an individual, personalized portal piercing this veil of tears and into the eternal realm where we can commune directly with the Divinity – with our Father in Heaven.
“Things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity -- thou must commune with God.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, Page 137)
Joseph Smith said, “This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I.
“I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know that it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more. . . . All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us…are revealed to us in the abstract . . . . (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse)
And he had this to say about how we grow over time into a more effective servant: “We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, . . . But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same.…” (Joseph Smith, Letter to the Brethren, January 22, 1834. Teachings, Page 47)
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