Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Finding Joy in Temple and Family History Work

**Scripture references have been highlighted in red and hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at and will open in a new window. Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue.  All References and videos have been hyperlinked at the end of the blog. 
Just click and it will take you there!

What's your story?  Who are you on this earth, where did you come from, who are your grandparents, great grandparents, what did they do?  Do your children and family know of your history or is there just a pile of pictures in a box on the top shelf of the closet? 

Your history is important! Important enough for the Lord to make your family a priority, not only in this life, but the next.  Because he has made family framework top priority, it is imperative that we accept the responsibility we agreed to before we came to earth, and turn our hearts to our fathers by finding joy in family history work. 

On April 3, 1836, the prophet Elijah came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. He conferred upon them the sealing power of the priesthood, making it possible for families to be sealed throughout the generations. In conferring this power, he fulfilled the prophecy that the Lord would send him “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers”

D&C 110:14–16
14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.

Malachi 4:5–6  
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Through family history work, you can participate in the continuing fulfillment of this prophecy. You can learn about your ancestors and increase your love for them. You can be inspired by their stories of courage and faith. You can pass that legacy on to your children.

These are lasting benefits that come from family history work, but they are not the principal reasons for the Church’s great effort to gather genealogical records. All of the Church’s family history endeavors are directed to the need to form a “welding link … between the fathers and the children” (D&C 128:18). This welding link is formed by the power of the priesthood, through sacred temple ordinances we receive in behalf of our ancestors.

18 I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.

Redeeming the Dead
Many of Heavenly Father’s children have died without having the opportunity to receive the fulness of the gospel. In His mercy and infinite love, the Lord has prepared a way for them to gain a testimony of the gospel and receive the saving ordinances of the priesthood.

In the spirit world, the gospel is “preached to those who [have] died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets. These [are] taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that [are] necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (D&C 138:32–34).

32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.
33 These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,
34 And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Many in the spirit world embrace the gospel. However, they cannot receive priesthood ordinances for themselves because they do not have physical bodies. In holy temples, we have the privilege of receiving ordinances in their behalf. These ordinances include baptism, confirmation, Melchizedek Priesthood ordination (for men), the endowment, the marriage sealing, and the sealing of children to parents. The Lord revealed this work to the Prophet Joseph Smith, restoring a practice that had been revealed to Christians shortly after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15:29).

29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

As you receive priesthood ordinances in behalf of those who have died, you become a savior on Mount Zion for them (Obadiah 1:21). Your effort approaches the spirit of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice—you perform a saving work for others that they cannot do for themselves.

21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.

Your Responsibilities in Family History Work

In family history work, you have three basic responsibilities:
  1. Receive the temple ordinances for yourself and help immediate family members receive them.
  2. Hold a current temple recommend and attend the temple as frequently as circumstances allow.
  3. Gather family history information so you can help your ancestors receive the blessings of the temple.
You can participate in temple and family history work, at least to some extent, regardless of where you live or what your circumstances are. While you probably will not be able to do everything, you can do something.  (True to the Faith Temple and Family History Work)

There are many ways to do family history work. For example, you could complete a family group record and put your generations in order.  You can submit the name of ancestors for temple work online and start your family tree.  You can attend the temple in person and even start or restart a journal or personal history for yourself and family members, and you can spend an evening teaching your children or grand children about different ancestors; there are many ways to do family history work.   

Along with making sure sacred ordinances are done for our ancestors, there are other facets to the work that also need to be done; such as putting your own personal history together for your posterity, keeping a current and correct record of the work you have been doing in the temple, as well as a current family tree.  

The following ideas may help you get started:

*Record important details about your own life. Record your birth date and birthplace and the dates of your baptism and confirmation. Keep a personal journal to record the highlights of your life, including personal experiences that will strengthen the faith of your children and other future generations.

*Learn about your ancestors. Begin by recording information from your memory and from accessible sources at home. Record the vital information you accurately remember or can find about siblings, parents, uncles and aunts, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Where possible, obtain copies of certificates or other documents that include this information. As you gather more information, you may want to search in other locations, such as public records. 

*Putting together picture albums at home or online and writing information in the album and on the back of pictures so your family will know who they are and where they come from.  Scrapbooks with photos and information are also wonderful; create your own family website or blog; the possibilities are limitless in preserving our ancestors and heritage. 

As we participate in this work, we gain a greater understanding of what it means to be part of an eternal family. Our hearts turn to our ancestors, their hearts turn to us, and the hearts of parents and children turn to one another, this is the great connecting force that comes from the spirit of Elijah, this is the purpose of the gospel; eternal life, eternal families.

The Spirit of Elijah is prompting people to turn their hearts to their ancestors
Latter-day Saints often talk about the Spirit of Elijah. This phrase refers to the desire people have to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers” (D&C 110:15).

15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse

We call it the Spirit of Elijah because Elijah restored the keys of the sealing power of the priesthood to Joseph Smith (D&C 110:13–16). Through this power, sealing ordinances can be performed that unite families for eternity.

13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:
14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.

What does the Spirit of Elijah influence members of the Church to do?  It prompts us to receive temple ordinances for ourselves, do family history research, and attend the temple to receive priesthood ordinances for the dead.

President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized: “All of our vast family history endeavor is directed to temple work. There is no other purpose for it. The temple ordinances become the crowning blessings the Church has to offer” (Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 115–16; or Ensign, May 1998, 88)

What are some things that the Spirit of Elijah is guiding people to do throughout the world?
Genealogy has become a popular hobby throughout the world  and even now is offered as a college program for degree.  Technological advances are making genealogy easier and more accessible with sights such as Family Search,, My Heritage, Find a Grave; there are even pages devoted to this on facebook, along with many others advances.  All one needs to do is google and it will take where you can find information and begin a family tree in a instant, we've made amazing breakthroughs compared to when Elijah returned and the desire began.  

What are some things you have done or are doing now to participate in temple and family history work?  Each member of the Church can participate in temple and family history work in some way throughout our lives.  

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve said: “In the work of redeeming the dead there are many tasks to be performed, and … all members should participate by prayerfully selecting those ways that fit their personal circumstances at a particular time. … Our effort is not to compel everyone to do everything, but to encourage everyone to do something” (“Family History: ‘In Wisdom and Order,’” Ensign, June 1989, 6)

Though I was avid in my younger years being taught by my non-member  grandmother the importance of family history and record keeping, in 2010 it really took hold and the spirit of Elijah hit me.  I took the information my grandmother had given me and with internet resources was able to expand my line on all sides even to biblical times.  This was a great effort, I worked daily not only online but putting records together and in order on paper for reference. I called family members and came together with them on websites and was able to get good documentation for an incredible number of names.  

I have family trees on  that made it easy to connect with member and non-member family members, we share photos and information that is very helpful.  I also have a tree on  On this site through you put your tree in order as well as prepare names for the temple, by submitting names, printing ordinance cards, or if you cannot attend the temple you may submit names online for proxy work to be done by temple workers and others that attend.  

I then began to help others and would take family trees from those needing help and fill in their gaps and teach them the things that I had learned so they too could complete work.  I also began indexing and one year after I began this wonderful ancestorial journey I was called as family history coordinator in my ward, and received training and information that was able to help me fill in the gaps and compete many of the open spaces left in my trees as well as generate that spirit through the ward and online with facebook and other avenues. 

After this I began attending the temple weekly to start doing the work and a few short months later was called as a Temple worker in the Dallas, Texas Temple and was able to do the work in person for ALL of the names I had researched and was able to make ready.  It was really a miracle and I am humbled everyday that the Lord made a way for me to be able to do so much work in such a short amount of time.  

Since that time I have put albums together with all of the temple cards that were completed as a record and now I work with photos putting them in order at home and online, and am currently writing information on the back and revising albums online for sharing.  I also have put books together with newspaper clippings, obituaries, and personal information and keepsakes from relatives.  This is my hobby, I feel a great need to have things in order and ready for the next generation.  

Have a current temple recommend and attend the temple regularly

One thing we can do to participate in temple and family history work is have a current temple recommend and attend the temple as often as circumstances allow. President Gordon B. Hinckley said:  “I urge our people everywhere, with all of the persuasiveness of which I am capable, to live worthy to hold a temple recommend, to secure one and regard it as a precious asset, and to make a greater effort to go to the house of the Lord and partake of the spirit and the blessings to be had therein. I am satisfied that every man or woman who goes to the temple in a spirit of sincerity and faith leaves the house of the Lord a better man or woman. There is need for constant improvement in all of our lives. There is need occasionally to leave the noise and the tumult of the world and step within the walls of a sacred house of God, there to feel His spirit in an environment of holiness and peace” (Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 72; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 53)

Even if our circumstances do not allow us to attend regularly, we should hold a temple recommend. President Howard W. Hunter said: “It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families” (Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 8; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8)

What blessings can we receive through holding a temple recommend and attending the temple?

How can parents teach their children about the importance of the temple?   Parents can attend the temple regularly or actively work toward attending, teach children about the temple and testify of the blessings we receive through temples, and take children 12 years of age and older to the temple to be baptized for the dead.

 Prepare to have ordinances performed for deceased relatives
Even if others in our families have worked on family history, we can often find deceased relatives who still need to have temple ordinances performed for them.

When you have gathered the necessary information about your ancestors who have died without receiving the gospel, ensure that temple work is performed for them. Even if you do not live near enough to a temple for you and your family members to be able to do the ordinance work, you can submit ancestors’ names to a temple online so others can do the work for them.

The Spirit, if we allow and welcome it, can be powerful in helping us identify and complete work for ancestors. As we exercise faith, names and information may come to us in unexpected ways and places.  I have had many dreams, while in the depths of research, seeing people that I did not know but came to talk to me about the work.  I have also had information just all into my lap as I prayed for help.  Along with that I have been very blessed to have help in having ordinances done.  Being the only member of my family able to attend the temple and do work, many others helped me with the incredible amount of names I had ready and I was through this wonderful blessing able to complete  all the ordinances for all the names I had prepared.  

One important thing that was very helpful for me was, as I learned  about my ancestors, I recorded the information on family history forms, such as pedigree charts and family group records.  We are encouraged though instruction from the church to learn about our ancestors, and record the information we find on family history forms.  If an ancestor received any priesthood ordinances before death, it is helpful to record the dates when those ordinances were performed so we can know which ones still need to be done.

Family history consultants in your ward, branch, or stake can help prepare the information that the temple will need before ordinances may be performed for ancestors. Church family history publications, local priesthood leaders, and temples should also have these instructions.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve counseled: “Arrange to participate for deceased ancestors in the sealing and other ordinances. … I find it helpful when receiving ordinances for another to try and relate to that person specifically. I think of him and pray that he will accept the ordinance and benefit from it. Do these things with a prayer in your heart that the Holy Spirit will enhance your understanding and enrich your life. Those worthy prayers will be answered” (Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 33; or Ensign, May 1999, 27).

Learn about ancestors’ lives

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy told of his responsibility to teach his children and grandchildren about their family’s history:

“Not one of my children has any recollection of my grandparents. If I want my children and grandchildren to know those who still live in my memory, then I must build the bridge between them. I alone am the link to the generations that stand on either side of me. It is my responsibility to knit their hearts together through love and respect, even though they may never have known each other personally. My grandchildren will have no knowledge of their family’s history if I do nothing to preserve it for them. That which I do not in some way record will be lost at my death, and that which I do not pass on to my posterity, they will never have. The work of gathering and sharing eternal family keepsakes is a personal responsibility. It cannot be passed off or given to another” (Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 109; or Ensign, May 1999, 83–84)

Keep a journal or prepare a personal history or family history
When you think about it, we would have no church history if there had not been those who had kept a journal.  It will be the same with our families.  If we do not keep a record of our days, our family, our history, no one will know.  Your story may be important not only to those you leave behind but to others who may read, no one knows what can touch the heart of another and cause the mustard seed to grow within them.  We as well as our  
descendants will be blessed for doing this, as well as turning hearts to family members.  

The Church provides many resources to help us participate in temple and family history work
The Church provides many resources to help us participate in temple and family history work, the following links will take you to church sites.  Here you will find many helpful links to get started or help you continue on and increase your efforts.  

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that there 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 … they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15). Through your participation in family history work, you and your ancestors progress toward salvation.

Heavenly Father loves all of his children. He made it possible for these people who died without the gospel to receive all of the sacred ordinances.  Baptism for the dead helps to link us eternally to our ancestors.  Our ancestors who die without the gospel cannot progress toward perfection until the saving ordinances of the gospel are performed for them, the salvation of our deceased ancestors is necessary and essential to our salvation.  

Further Scripture reading:

John 5:25 (The dead shall hear the voice of Jesus Christ.)
Hebrews 11:40 (They without us cannot be perfect.)
1 Peter 4:6 (The gospel is preached to the dead.)
3 Nephi 25:5–6 (Elijah will come to turn hearts.)
Doctrine and Covenants 124:93 (Ordinances sealed by authority of priesthood are binding after death.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Fall of Adam and Eve

  Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end...