“As members of Christ’s restored Church, we have the covenant responsibility to search out our ancestors and provide for them the saving ordinances of the gospel,” Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. He quoted two scriptures: “They without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40). And “neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15).
“For these reasons we do family history research, build temples, and perform vicarious ordinances. For these reasons Elijah was sent to restore the sealing authority that binds on earth and in heaven. We are the Lord’s agents in the work of salvation and exaltation that will prevent ‘the whole earth [from being] smitten with a curse’ (D&C 110:15) when He returns again. This is our duty and great blessing.”
Elder Bednar shared this message at the October 2011 general conference, teaching members of the Church about the importance of doing temple work for the dead. Today’s prophets and apostles have often testified of the necessity of temple work and of the influence of the Spirit of Elijah.
A Revealed Ordinance
For example, President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles confirmed that temple work is an ordinance that has been integral to Christ’s Church in every age. “In the earliest days of the Church the Prophet was given direction through revelation that work should commence on the building of a temple, akin to the temples that had been constructed anciently. There was revealed ordinance work to be performed there for the salvation of mankind. . . . With proper authority an individual could be baptized for and in behalf of someone who had never had the opportunity. That individual would then accept or reject the baptism, according to his own desire,” he said.
“The purpose of Elijah’s mission was the restoration of the sealing power to bind on earth that which will be bound in the eternities to come, thus making operative on earth the ability to perform the ordinances of the gospel for both the living and the dead. This made it possible for the eternal linking of families together,” Elder Perry said.
“I have always marveled how the Spirit of Elijah works on men and women when they understand the blessings of an eternal unit. It even spreads to those who do not understand this doctrine. Genealogy, they tell me, has become the number-one hobby in the nation. The Spirit of Elijah almost becomes a contagion among the people as it moves to unite family units together. It is only natural that our thoughts are turned to the history of our families and the sacrifices they made to embrace the gospel of our Lord and Savior.”
Blessings for All
And Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “While temple and family history work has the power to bless those beyond the veil, it has an equal power to bless the living. It has a refining influence on those who are engaged in it. They are literally helping to exalt their families.”
A Work for Youth
In his conference talk, Elder Bednar especially encouraged the youth of the Church to experience the Spirit of Elijah and get involved in family history work. “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.”
Elder Bednar promised that as youth participate in family research and prepare for the temple they will be filled with love for the work and for their ancestors. He also promised, “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.”