The Sealing Powers of the Priesthood, Lesson 48: Sections 2, 127–28

“The Sealing Powers of the Priesthood, Lesson 48: Sections 2, 127–28,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324–325 (1981), 95–96

“Lesson 48,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide, 95–96

The Sealing Powers of the Priesthood

Lesson 48

Sections 2, 127–28


The covenant members of the Church are responsible to do vicarious ordinance work for the dead.

Theme Analysis

  1. Elijah the prophet restored the keys of the priesthood which he held.

    1. The hearts of the children are to turn to the fathers.

    2. The world would be utterly wasted without the blessing of Elijah’s priesthood keys.

  2. The established order for vicarious baptisms was revealed.

    1. Witnesses are designated to certify the work performed.

    2. A recorder attests to the completed ordinance and makes a register of all work.

    3. Baptism is symbolic of death, burial, and resurrection.

  3. The salvation of covenant members hinges upon their fulfillment of vicarious ordinance work for their dead.

  4. Vicarious work for the dead was foreordained to be fully implemented in the dispensation of the fulness of times.

Study Sources

Student Manual

D&C 2, 127–28; Enrichment O, “Salvation for the Dead”

Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach each revelation in its historical context.

Standard Works

  • D&C 2, 127–28. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder these sections.

  • Hebrews 11:40. What is the responsibility of the living to the dead?

  • D&C 124:27–29. Where is the vicarious ordinance work for the dead to be performed?

  • D&C 124:36. At what places are these ordinance facilities to be located?

  • D&C 124:40–41. To which dispensation are the fulness of vicarious ordinances committed?

  • D&C 127:5–9. What is the procedure for certifying the completion of the ordinance work?

  • D&C 138:32–34. What are those in the spirit world taught concerning baptism?

  • 1 Corinthians 15:29. Have baptisms for the dead been performed in any other dispensation?

  • 1 Peter 4:6. Why is it so important for us to do vicarious work in behalf of the dead?

  • John 3:1–10. How essential is baptism? For additional references see topical guide, s.v. “Baptism for the Dead.”

Basic Library

  • Teachings, pp. 179–80. When was the doctrine of baptism for the dead first preached in this dispensation?

  • Teachings, p. 191. How do members of the Church become “saviors on Mount Zion”?

  • Teachings, p. 193. How does the work of vicarious ordinances fulfill the “burden of the scriptures”?

  • Teachings, p. 201. How does the Prophet Joseph Smith describe the work of baptism for the dead?

  • Teachings, pp. 221–22. Were these ordinances for the dead practiced anciently?

  • Teachings, p. 260. What is the importance of witnesses in baptism for the dead?

  • Teachings, p. 337. What is the “spirit, power, and calling of Elijah”?

  • Teachings, pp. 362–63. What is the purpose of temples for the fulfillment of the ordinances for the living and the dead?

  • Teachings, p. 330. Describe the relationship of the gathering, the works of Elijah, and temples.

  • Discourses, pp. 397–405. The importance of vicarious work.

  • DS, 2:111–12, 118–19. What priesthood keys were held by Elijah?

  • DS, 2:120–22. Why would the earth be cursed without Elijah’s coming?

  • DS, 2:161–66. How essential is baptism? To whom does it apply? When has baptism for the dead been practiced? DS, 2:323–28. How is baptism a symbolic ordinance?

  • Ezra Taft Benson, in CR, Oct. 1978, pp. 40–43. What is the record “worthy of all acceptation”?

  • Boyd K. Packer, in CR, Oct. 1975, pp. 145–49. What is the importance of vicarious work?

Additional Sources

  • James E. Talmage, House of the Lord, pp. 75–79. Significance of baptism for the dead treated.

  • Boyd K. Packer, Holy Temple, pp. 14–20. Is baptism for the dead a sign of Christ’s true Church?

  • Spencer W. Kimball, “The Things of Eternity-Stand We in Jeopardy?” Ensign, Jan. 1977, pp. 3–7. An excellent overview of the importance of vicarious work for the dead.

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

Baptism for the Dead (Transparency)

The teacher may want to help the students to see historically the unfolding of the doctrine of baptism for the dead in this dispensation. Transparency 25, “Historical Development of Baptism for the Dead,” contains a brief outline.

The teacher may then illustrate the temple work done today for the dead. (The annual statistical report presented every April in the Conference Report or the most recent Church Almanac will contain the data needed. See also Transparency 6C, “A Statistical Profile: Temple Ordinances.”)

Vicarious Work for the Dead beyond the Veil (Story)

Those for whom we work appreciate what we do and are anxious to help. The nature of divine help that can come to those who seek to do vicarious work for their forebearers is illustrated by the following story from Elder Melvin J. Ballard:

“I recall an incident in my own father’s experience. How we looked forward to the completion of the Logan Temple. It was about to be dedicated. My father had labored on that house from its very beginning and my earliest recollection was carrying his dinner each day as he brought the rock down from the quarry. How we looked forward to that great event! I remember how in the meantime father made every effort to obtain all the data and information he could concerning his relatives. It was the theme of his prayer night and morning that the Lord would open the way whereby he could get information concerning his dead.

“The day before the dedication while writing recommends to the members of his ward who were to be present at the first service, two elderly gentlemen walked down the streets of Logan, approached my two younger sisters, and, coming to the older one of the two placed in her hands a newspaper and said:

“ Take this to your father. Give it to no one else. Go quickly with it. Don’t lose it.’

“The child responded and when she met her mother, her mother wanted the paper. The child said, ‛No, I must give it to father and no one else.’

“She was admitted into the room and told her story. We looked in vain for these travelers. They were not to be see. No one else saw them. Then we turned to the paper. The newspaper, The Newbury Weekly News, was printed in my father’s old English home, Thursday, May 15th, 1884, and reached our hands May 18th, 1884, three days after its publication. We were astonished, for by no earthly means could it have reached us, so that our curiosity increased as we examined it. Then we discovered one page devoted to the writings of a reporter of the paper, who had gone on his vacation, and among other places had visited an old cemetery. The curious inscriptions led him to write what he found on the tombstones, including the verses. He also added the names, date of birth, death, etc., filling nearly an entire page.

“It was the old cemetery where the Ballerd family had been buried for generations and very many of my father’s immediate relatives and other initmate friends were mentioned.

“When the matter was presented to President Merrill of the Logan Temple he said, ‛You are authorized to do the work for those because you received it through messengers of the Lord.’

“There is no doubt but that the dead who had received the Gospel in the spirit world had put it into the heart of that reporter to write these things, and thus the way was prepared for my father to obtain the information he sought, and so with you who are earnest in this work, the way shall be opened and you will be able to gather data far beyond your expectations. I will tell you what will happen. When you have gone as far as you can go the names of your righteous dead who have embraced the Gospel in the spirit world will be given you through the instrumentality of your dead kindred. But only the names of those who have received the Gospel will be revealed.” (The Three Degrees of Glory, pp. 30–32.)