Article Categories

Review of Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 13: Priceless Blessings of the House of the Lord

Chapter 13: Priceless Blessings of the House of the Lord

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, (2014), 167–78

During 2015, LDS members will be studying the latest manual published by their church, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson. We will evaluate this book regularly, chapter by chapter, by showing interesting quotes and providing an Evangelical Christian take on this manual. The text that is underlined is from the manual, with our comments following.

“It is in the temples that we obtain God’s greatest blessings pertaining to eternal life. Temples are really the gateways to heaven.”

From the very beginning, we get a hint of what is to come:

“Temples are really the gateway to heaven.”

What an incredible statement. This is a place that Mormons believe they must attend and do work so they can have a chance to enter the celestial kingdom. As we will discover in this chapter, temples are not necessary for the salvation of Christians. In fact, the very idea of a temple post-apostolic era is not biblical.

Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson

Temples are symbols of all we hold dear.

To me, the cross—something scorned in Mormonism—has a much clearer and spiritually significant symbol. First Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” This is a much more powerful symbol than the temple.

The temple is the nearest place to heaven on mortal earth.

“The nearest place to heaven”? Seriously. Perhaps someone could have made this claim before the time of Jesus, but isn’t being in the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit the nearest place to heaven.

[The] temple will be a light to all in [the] area—a symbol of all we hold dear.

John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

The temple is an ever-present reminder that God intends the family to be eternal.

In biblical days the temple was an “ever-present reminder” that people were sinners in need of forgiveness. The sacrifice of animals temporarily atoned for the sins of people in light of the forgiveness that would eventually become available with the New Covenant. Jesus fulfilled the temple by becoming a priest and having his blood shed for His people’s sins, according to the book of Hebrews. For example:

  1. Jesus is our high priest (4:14-5:10)
  2. Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek (7)
  3. Jesus is the priest of a higher covenant (8)
  4. There is redemption through the blood of Christ (9:11-28)
  5. Christ’s sacrifice is once for all (10:1-18)

[The temple is] a constant, visible symbol that God has not left man to grope in darkness. It is a place of revelation. Though we live in a fallen world—a wicked world—holy places are set apart and consecrated so that worthy men and women can learn the order of heaven and obey God’s will.

The temple certainly served a purpose before Christ. Today the temple is not needed because the purpose of the temple has been fulfilled, as recorded in the book of Hebrews.

May [the temple] be a constant reminder that life is eternal and that covenants made by us in mortality can be everlasting.

We need temple ordinances and covenants in order to enter into the fulness of the priesthood and prepare to regain God’s presence.

Before a Mormon can go into a temple, he or she must be deemed “worthy.” The Gospel Principleschurch manual says,

Before we can go to the temple, we must be active, worthy members of the Church for at least one year. Men must hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. We must be interviewed by the branch president or bishop. If he finds us worthy, he will give us a temple recommend. If we are not worthy, he will counsel with us and help us set goals to become worthy to go to the temple.

The same manual claims that “the Church today teaches the same principles and performs the same ordinances as were performed in the days of Jesus”(p. 98). However, it also quotes the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 19:19–20) to show that “sacrifice of blood was ended” after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70 and that God now “requires a different kind of offering.” So while the offering of blood sacrifices of animals was one of the main functions of biblical priests, the manual states that committed followers of God should become, as Paul said in Romans 12:1, “living sacrifices.” And it adds, “If we are to be a living sacrifice, we must be willing to give everything we have for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (p. 151).

If the LDS religion is truly a restoration of biblical Christianity, it would make sense that today’s temple rites should be similar to what took place in ancient Israel. Yet there are many differences, including the following:

• The Jews recognized only one temple located in Jerusalem, while the LDS Church has dozens of temples scattered across the globe.

• The primary activity at the Jerusalem temple was the sacrifice of animals as atonement for the sins of the people. Worshippers in ancient Israel went to the temple with an attitude of unworthiness before an all-holy God. They approached His temple with humility as they looked to have their sins covered. In stark contrast, Mormons enter their temples with a positive sense of worthiness. A person cannot enter a Mormon temple (after it is dedicated) unless he or she is considered “worthy.”

• The priests officiating in the Jerusalem temple had to be from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron. This was commanded in Numbers 3:6–10. The LDS Church ignores such commands and allows its “temple-worthy” members who have no such background to officiate in its temples.

• Wedding ceremonies did not take place in the Jerusalem temple, while this is a common practice in modern LDS temples.

• While there were no marriages performed in the Jerusalem temple, many Mormon families have been “sealed” for time and eternity in LDS temples.

• While it was not a practice ever performed in the Jerusalem temple, proxy baptism for the dead by living members of the LDS Church is the most common activity in Mormon temples.

If Benson is correct and the temple is vital for today, it seems strange that there are so many differences between the temple from biblical times and the temple as set up by the Mormon Church.

When our Heavenly Father placed Adam and Eve on this earth, He did so with the purpose in mind of teaching them how to regain His presence. Our Father promised a Savior to redeem them from their fallen condition. He gave to them the plan of salvation and told them to teach their children faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. Further, Adam and his posterity were commanded by God to be baptized, to receive the Holy Ghost, and to enter into the order of the Son of God.

First of all, there is no biblical evidence that God told Adam and Eve about “a Savior” or that their children should have faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving of the Holy Ghost, and the “order of the Son of God.” All of these terms are New Testament vocabulary. There is absolutely no evidence that Adam and Eve knew about any of these things. It is merely an argument from silence on Benson’s part to say they did.

To enter into the order of the Son of God is the equivalent today of entering into the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is only received in the house of the Lord.

Melchizedek came well after Adam and Eve, so they had never even heard of this name or the priesthood supposedly attributed to him. They also had no knowledge of any temple of God.

Because Adam and Eve had complied with these requirements, God said to them, “Thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity.” (Moses 6:67.)

Again, even if the book of Moses ought to be considered a true scriptural text (and Christians don’t hold this as true), this statement by God to Adam and Eve would have been very confusing to them. They wouldn’t have known what God was trying to say.

Three years before Adam’s death, a great event occurred. He took his son Seth, his grandson Enos, and other high priests who were his direct-line descendants, with others of his righteous posterity, into a valley called Adam-ondi-Ahman. There Adam gave to these righteous descendants his last blessing.

What many Mormons don’t know is that, according to Mormonism, Adam-ondi-Ahman supposedly existed in modern-day Missouri. At least that is the teaching of Joseph Smith. For more information on this topic, click here.

The Lord then appeared to them [see D&C 107:53–56]. …

This is true according to Joseph Smith and “latter-day revelation.” Yet how can we know, for sure, that Smith really wrote down what God commanded. In fact, it is necessary to trust in Smith as much as Muslims must trust in Muhammad, FLDS members must trust in Warren Jeffs, and a thousand people who committed suicide in the jungles of Guyana in 1978 must have trusted in Jim Jones. Perhaps someone is offended by such comparisons. Yet the point is very clear that, when you wander away from God’s Word, it’s easy to have someone deceive you.

How did Adam bring his descendants into the presence of the Lord?

The answer: Adam and his descendants entered into the priesthood order of God. Today we would say they went to the House of the Lord and received their blessings.

This makes absolutely no sense at all. The priesthood did not come into existence until it was established by God through Aaron, Moses’ brother. Check out this blog to see how the Old Testament priests were set apart for God.

The order of priesthood spoken of in the scriptures is sometimes referred to as the patriarchal order because it came down from father to son. But this order is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government where a man and woman enter into a covenant with God—just as did Adam and Eve—to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality.

There is no scriptural support for such a view. It is entirely made up by Ezra Taft Benson.

If a couple are true to their covenants, they are entitled to the blessing of the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. These covenants today can only be entered into by going to the House of the Lord.

“Celestial marriages” of LDS couples for “time and eternity” take place in the temples. This is an important teaching, since “only in the temple can we be sealed together forever as families”(Gospel Principles, p. 98). At the October 2008 general conference, Apostle Russell M. Nelson said,

To qualify for eternal life, we must make an eternal and everlasting covenant with our Heavenly Father. This means that a temple marriage is not only between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God (Ensign, November 2008, p. 93).

Marriages performed outside of the temple are considered binding only “until death.” Gospel Principles states,

Only in the temple can we be sealed together forever as families. Marriage in the temple joins a man and woman as husband and wife eternally if they honor their covenants. Baptism and all other ordinances prepare us for this sacred event. When a man and woman are married in the temple, their children who are born thereafter also become part of their eternal family. (p. 235)

Children born to a couple married in the temple are automatically “sealed” (known as “born in the covenant”) to their parents for eternity. Those couples not married in the temple will not only lose the right to be together after death, but they have no “claim upon their children, for they have not been born under the covenant of eternal marriage” (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 229). Those not born “under the covenant” of celestial marriage must have their families sealed in a separate temple ceremony. President Howard W. Hunter wrote:

If children are born before the wife is sealed to her husband, there is a temple sealing ordinance that can seal these children to their parents for eternity, and so it is that children can be sealed vicariously to parents who have passed away (Ensign, February 1995, p. 2).

Although continued good works are essential, Mormonism teaches that a person must be married in the temple to have a chance at exaltation. Nelson said,

On occasion, I read in a newspaper obituary of an expectation that a recent death has reunited that person with a deceased spouse, when, in fact, they did not choose the eternal option. Instead, they opted for a marriage that was valid only as long as they both should live. Heavenly Father has offered them a supernatural gift, but they refused it. And in rejecting the gift, they rejected the Giver of the gift (Ensign, November 2008, p. 93).

Apostle Dallin H. Oaks agreed, saying,

Under the great plan of the living Creator, the mission of His Church is to help us achieve exaltation in the celestial kingdom, and that can be accomplished only through an eternal marriage between a man and a woman (Ensign, January 2011, pp. 25-26).

It is believed that there is a danger in “delaying marriage” since, as Kimball explained, “all normal people should plan their lives to include a proper temple marriage in their early life and to multiply and have their families in the years of their early maturity” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, p. 195).

However, the Mormon view does not sit well with biblical teaching. For example, in an account given in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus was approached by members of the Sadducees, the Jewish religious party that did not believe in a bodily resurrection from the dead (Matt. 22:23–33; Mark 12:18–27; Luke 20:27–38). Trying to trick Him, these leaders presented what appears to be a hypothetical situation involving seven brothers. When the oldest brother died, he left a wife and no children. According to the Mosaic law, the next oldest unmarried brother took the woman for his wife. However, the second brother died, as did the third through seventh brothers. Before they died, each of them had married the oldest brother’s wife, making her a widow seven times over.

In Mark 12:23 they asked, “In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” Jesus chastised His inquisitors in verse 24, saying they did not know the Scriptures. Verse 25 reads, “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

At face value and as it has been historically interpreted, Jesus appears to be saying that heaven will be much different from life as it is known on earth. While the gifts of sex and procreation are important parts of the earthly life, these will not be a part of the afterlife. The joys in store for the believer are incredibly more magnificent than the temporary pleasure of sexual or familial fulfillment. In addition, there will be no need to procreate in heaven. Thus, while it appears we will be able to recognize fellow believers in heaven, there is no indication from the Bible that we will be eternally paired with a particular mate. Historically, Christians view all believers as part of God’s great family rather than millions of smaller groups. However, Mormon leaders have interpreted this passage quite differently than the historic Christian view.  

Saying that this was not “the Lord’s final word on the subject,” David H. Yarn Jr., a former BYU professor of philosophy and religion, said, “The Lord did not say there would be no people in the married state in the resurrection but that there would be no marriages made in the resurrection” (A Sure Foundation, p. 115). Some Mormon leaders have read their own interpretations into this passage, explaining that the fictional wife in the parable had been eternally sealed to the first husband. While these explanations may sound good to a Mormon audience that cherishes the institution of marriage, the ability to read between the lines of Jesus’s teaching does not make a doctrine true. How many people would, on reading this Synoptic Gospel account alone in conjunction with the teachings of the Bible, exclaim, “Here’s evidence for the biblical principle of eternal marriage!”? Rather than supporting the view of eternal marriage, Jesus explained that the institution of marriage was for this life only and not the life to come. To assume anything more is biblically and exegetically unsound.

Adam followed this order and brought his posterity into the presence of God. …

… This order of priesthood can only be entered into when we comply with all the commandments of God and seek the blessings of the fathers as did Abraham [see Abraham 1:1–3] by going to our Father’s house. They are received in no other place on this earth!

… Go to the temple—our Father’s house—to receive the blessings of your fathers that you may be entitled to the highest blessings of the priesthood. “For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” (D&C 84:22.)

To suggest that “no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live” without going to the temple is an idea that has no biblical precedence. If this were so important, why doesn’t Jesus talk about the importance of attending the temple? I don’t remember one time where he suggested temple work as necessary. Neither does Paul, Peter, nor any other New Testament author.

Our Father’s house is a house of order. We go to His house to enter into that order of priesthood which will entitle us to all that the Father hath, if we are faithful.

Again, only those from the line of Aaron can “enter into that order of priesthood.” Most Mormons I have met don’t believe they come from Aaron. How can this be reconciled?

Through temple ordinances and covenants, we can receive protection and God’s greatest blessings pertaining to eternal life.

Let’s get this straight. We “receive protection” and “God’s greatest blessings” through temple ordinances and covenants. Yet the ordinances have absolutely nothing to do with temple ordinances of biblical days. (If so, where does all the blood from the sacrifices go? Does OSHA know about this practice?) As far as covenants, aren’t these promises a Mormon makes to do the right things?

There are implications in making covenants with God. In a straightforward address given in theEnsign magazine titled “Understanding our Covenants with God,” readers were told:

A covenant is a two-way promise, the conditions of which are set by God. When we enter into a covenant with God, we promise to keep those conditions. He promises us certain blessings in return. When we receive these saving ordinances and keep the associated covenants, the Atonement of Jesus Christ becomes effective in our lives, and we can receive the great blessing God can give us—eternal life (see D&C 14:7). Because keeping our covenants is essential to our happiness now and to eventually receiving eternal life, it is important to understand what we have promised our Heavenly Father (July 2013).

A church manual reports,

Receiving ordinances and keeping covenants are essential to Heavenly Father’s plan. The scriptures often refer to His people as a “covenant people.” The Lord’s blessings exceed our mortal expectations. To live in the presence of our Heavenly Father, we must receive all of the necessary ordinances and keep all of the required covenants. (The Gospel and the Productive Life Student Manual 150, p. 98).

Some sacrament promises will always be broken.

The blessings of the house of the Lord are eternal. They are of the highest importance to us because it is in the temples that we obtain God’s greatest blessings pertaining to eternal life. Temples are really the gateways to heaven.

Funny, I have always thought Jesus was the “gateway to heaven,” for He said in John 10:9, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture” (NIV).

The Lord’s desire is for every adult man and woman in the Church to receive the ordinances of the temple. This means that they are to be endowed and that all married couples are to be sealed for eternity. These ordinances provide a protection and blessing to their marriage. Their children also are blessed to be born in the covenant. Birth in the covenant entitles those children to a birthright blessing which guarantees them eternal parentage regardless of what happens to the parents, so long as the children remain worthy of the blessings.

For those Mormons who fully expect to have their children with them in the celestial kingdom, consider this telling statement: “so long as the children remain worthy of the blessings.” In other words, family members cannot attain the celestial kingdom on the coattails of their relatives. How many families do you know where everyone in the family is living according to the celestial law?

Is it not significant to you that today the Saints are scattered over the face of the world and, in their scattered situation, temples are being provided for them? By the ordinances that they receive in holy places, they will be armed with righteousness and endowed with the power of God in great measure.

In the Bible, only one temple was needed, which was the one in Jerusalem. Any other temple, including the one in Samaria, were criticized as not being authentic. So where does God reside? In one temple? Or, as Mormonism teaches, in one of the more than 140 around the world?

There is a power associated with the ordinances of heaven—even the power of godliness—which can and will thwart the forces of evil if we will be worthy of those sacred blessings. [Our] community will be protected, our families will be protected, our children will be safeguarded as we live the gospel, visit the temple, and live close to the Lord. … God bless us as Saints to live worthy of the covenants and ordinances made in this sacred place.

Yet who can “live worthy”? Since we are unable to comply with all of God’s standards (Rom. 3:23; Gen. 8:21; Ps 51:5, 58:3; Eccles. 9:3; Jer. 17:9), all people deserve death because all good works by themselves are like “filthy rags” in the sight of God (Rom. 6:23; Isa. 64:6). But God Himself has provided the way through faith to allow believers to experience the fellowship of God and become righteous in His sight. As Christian theologian B. B. Warfield once said, “The works of a sinful man will, of course, be as sinful as he is, and nothing but condemnation can be built on them” (Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield 1:283)

One of the toughest concepts for anyone, especially Mormons, to understand is that faith, not works, justifies a person before God. A good example of justification by faith is the story of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16. Paul and Silas were incarcerated in Philippi when a miraculous earthquake opened their jail cell door. When the jailer saw that all of the prison cells were open as well, he prepared to commit suicide only to be stopped by Paul, who told him not to fear because no one had escaped.

Seeing this to be true, the frightened jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” (v. 30). If Paul had been a good Mormon living in modern times, his response might have been, “Believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. Join the true church, don’t drink coffee or tea, pay a full tithe, receive the Melchizedek priesthood, be baptized for your dead relatives, perform your endowments, and make sure you are married for time and eternity. Do these, along with following the whole law, and thou shalt be saved.”

Instead, Paul and Silas merely answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (v. 31). It is important to note that Paul made no reference to following any set of rules or rigid standards. Rather, his message was simply, “Believe . . . and thou shalt be saved.” As a result of their saving faith, the new believers were immediately baptized.

The New Testament contains many examples of how belief alone, not one’s works, justifies a person before God. For instance, Jesus said in John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life.” He also said in John 6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”

Paul clearly communicated this truth in Ephesians 2:8–9 when he said faith, not works, justifies a person before God. He also declared in Titus 3:5–6 that Christians are saved, “not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Christian theologian F. F. Bruce expounded on the idea that faith, not one’s personal works, brings redemption:

If there is to be any salvation for either Jews or Gentiles, then, it must be based not on ethical achievement but on the grace of God. What Jews and Gentiles need alike, in fact, is to have their records blotted out by an act of divine amnesty and to have the assurance of acceptance by God for no merit of their own but by his spontaneous mercy. For this need God has made provision in Christ. Thanks to his redemptive work, men may find themselves “in the clear” before God. . . . The benefits of the atonement thus procured may be appropriated by faith—and only by faith. (Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, p. 328.

John 6:28-29 reports: “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” Belief is a provision of God and is not somethng we are able to provide for ourselves through our own efforts. Mormons who attend the temple make promises they can never keep and yet never know the benefits of having a personal relationship with Jesus. Until it is understood that this is possible and a person acts to give his/her life over to Christ, the Mormon—no matter how good he or she is—will never be set free.

The temple ceremony was given by a wise Heavenly Father to help us become more Christlike.

So, in other words, Mormonism says that God set up a system whereby people had to make promises that they would never be able to keep in order “to help us become more Christlike.” But if becoming more “Christlike” is impossible because it’s impossible to keep all the promises a person is supposed to make, then why even bother?

We will not be able to dwell in the company of celestial beings unless we are pure and holy. The laws and ordinances which cause men and women to come out of the world and become sanctified are administered only in these holy places. They were given by revelation and are comprehended by revelation. It is for this reason that one of the Brethren has referred to the temple as the “university of the Lord.”

If you are a Latter-day Saint, would you consider yourself “pure and holy”? If not, Benson said you cannot dwell in the celestial kingdom.

No member of the Church can be perfected without the ordinances of the temple. We have a mission to assist those who do not have these blessings to receive them.

The most often practiced ordinance in the Mormon temple is vicarious baptism for the dead. Since Christianity was said to be dead in apostasy from the time after the apostles until the early nineteenth century, members as young as twelve “can visit the temple to be baptized for their ancestors who have died without being baptized” (Special Temple Issue of the Ensign, October 2010, p. 77). This doctrine of baptism for the dead teaches that a Mormon can “become a savior on Mount Zion.”

Despite the emphasis on this doctrine, Christianity teaches that salvation is offered to the living. The Bible is very clear in Hebrews 9:27 that judgment follows this life. Further hope of attaining favor with God is lost at death. In fact, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:2 that “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Although Mormons like to reference 1 Corinthians 15:29 to support baptism for the dead, there is no evidence that Christians actually participated in a rite that is similar to that practiced by Mormons. While biblical scholars have noted that heretical groups such as the Cerinthians and Marcionites practiced a form of baptism for the dead, Paul separated himself from such as these when he said, “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?” If baptism for the dead was, as D&C 128:17 puts it, the “most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel,”it seems odd that Paul would not include himself as a participant; Paul neither condones nor condemns the practice, referring to it as nothing more than an illustration to support his point of resurrection of the body.

Another interesting point comes from D. A. Carson, a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He wrote:

When something is mentioned only once, it cannot be given the same weight of importance as the central themes of Scripture. . . . When something is mentioned only once, there is more likelihood of misinterpreting it, whereas matters repeatedly discussed are clarified by their repetition in various contexts. (“Did Paul Baptize for the Dead?” Christianity Today, August 10, 1998, p. 63).

A powerful and often-quoted Book of Mormon passage that seems to deny vicarious work after death is Alma 34:32-35. It reads:

 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

Notice how the Book of Mormon states that this is the “final state of the wicked.” As BYU professor Charles R. Harrell points out:

There is no indication in the Book of Mormon that Christ introduced the doctrine of salvation for the dead during his visit to the Nephites—even though, according to LDS doctrine, he had just visited the spirits in prison and opened the door for their salvation. On the contrary, the Book of Mormon people were taught not to worry about those who die without having heard the gospel in this life since they are redeemed automatically through the Atonement. The whole notion of vicarious work for the dead seems incongruous with Book of Mormon theology (“This is My Doctrine,” p. 361).

We have the privilege of opening the doors of salvation to our ancestors.

Temples are built and dedicated so that, through the priesthood, parents can be sealed to their children and children can be sealed to their parents. These sealing ordinances apply to both the living and the dead. If we fail to be sealed to our progenitors and our posterity, the purpose of this earth, man’s exaltation, will be utterly wasted so far as we are concerned.

Where is the biblical evidence to support the case that “sealings” ever took place in the temple?

It is not sufficient for a husband and wife to be sealed in the temple to guarantee their exaltation—if they are faithful—they must also be eternally linked with their progenitors and see that the work is done for those ancestors. “They without us,” said the Apostle Paul, “cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15). Our members must therefore understand that they have an individual responsibility to see that they are linked to their progenitors—or, as sacred scripture designates, our “fathers.” This is the meaning of section 2, verse 2, in the Doctrine and Covenants when Moroni declared that Elijah “shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.”

Notice how Paul is supposedly quoted from the Doctrine and Covenants, not the New Testament. If this concept is true, certainly it would have been so noted in the Bible. It is necessary to trust Joseph Smith for anything found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

When I think of genealogy, I see people—people I love who are waiting for our family, their posterity, to help them gain exaltation in the celestial kingdom.

How is it possible for families to be together forever?

Ours is the privilege of opening the doors of salvation to those souls who may be imprisoned in darkness in the world of spirits, that they may receive the light of the gospel and be judged the same as we. Yes, “the works that I do”—proffering the saving ordinances of the gospel to others—“shall ye do also” [see John 14:12]. How many thousands of our kindred yet await these sealing ordinances?

John 14:12 has nothing to do with saving our ancestors who have already died.

It is well to ask, “Have I done all I can as an individual on this side of the veil? Will I be a savior to them—my own progenitors?”

Nobody can be a “savior”–for himself or anyone else–except Jesus Himself.

Without them, we cannot be made perfect! Exaltation is a family affair.

Exaltation is an “impossible” affair.

The veil is very thin. We are living in eternity. All is as with one day with God. I imagine that to the Lord there is no veil. It is all one great program. I am sure there is rejoicing in heaven as we meet [in the temple]. Our progenitors are rejoicing, and my hope and prayer is that we will take advantage of the opportunities now afforded us to come regularly to the temple.

Those of you who have worked at your genealogies, who realize the importance of the work and have felt the excitement that comes from tying families together and learning of your noble heritage, need to share that excitement with others. Help them to see the joy and fulfillment you see in the work. We need to proselyte more of our members into this work. There is much to be done, as you all know, and there are many, many members who could do the work and who would enjoy doing the work if some of us—all of you—would just ignite that spark in them through your enthusiasm, example, and devotion.

Genealogy is one of the ways the Mormon Church gets its membership so busy that they have time for nothing else.

Increased temple attendance leads to increased personal revelation.

I promise you that, with increased attendance in the temples of our God, you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your life as you bless those who have died.

If that “personal revelation” continues to be contrary to the Word of God (the Bible), then it does nobody any good.

Share this

Check out these related articles...