One of the great tragedies of Joseph Smith's life was the death of his brother Alvin. His loss set Joseph on a course to understand the principles relating to the salvation of the dead. In January 1836, Joseph received a revelation in the Kirtland Temple, in which he saw Alvin in the celestial kingdom. I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof. I saw my brother, Alvin, and marveled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins. Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying--All who have died without a knowledge of this Gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God. It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings, anointings, etc. One of the ordinances of the house of the Lord is baptism for the dead. God decreed before the foundation of the world that that ordinance should be administered in a font prepared for that purpose in the house of the Lord. In September of 1842, Joseph wrote a letter to the members of the Church, instructing them on the principle of the ordinance work for our kindred dead. At the end of the writing, he stated prophetically: Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? 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.

Ministry of Joseph Smith: Temples

Joseph Smith establishes temple work as an essential purpose for the Saints of God.

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