Redeeming the dead is part of the mission of the Church that helps bring us and others to Christ. Concerning the doctrine of redemption of the dead, the Prophet
Joseph Smith taught, “Let me assure you that these 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” ( D&C 128:15).
1. Turning Hearts (background): As a result of the revelations and temple ordinances received by the Prophet Joseph Smith, generations are united. He said to the Saints in 1842, “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” ( D&C 128:24). ( Genealogy, by Theodore Gorka.)
2. The First Vision (above): Joseph Smith’s First Vision in spring 1820 in western New York marked the beginning of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Heavenly Father introduced the Lord Jesus Christ with these words: “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” ( JS—H 1:17). Among the many truths the Prophet Joseph Smith learned for himself that day was that there was life beyond the grave. He later wrote, “Many other things did he [Christ] say unto me, which I cannot write at this time” ( JS—H 1:20). ( The First Vision, by Del Parson.)
3. Moroni Begins His Training of Joseph Smith (background): Each of the five times the angel Moroni appeared to 17-year-old Joseph Smith on 21–22 September 1823, he reviewed the teachings of the Old Testament prophet Malachi: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet. … And he 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” ( JS—H 1:38–39). ( Angel Moroni Appears to Joseph Smith, by Tom Lovell.)
4. The Kirtland Temple (above and right): On 3 April 1836 in the Kirtland Temple, Elijah appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. “Behold,” Elijah said, “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—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” ( D&C 110:14–15).
5. Special Priesthood Keys Restored (right): After Moses, Elias, and Elijah bestowed priesthood keys, Elijah told the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, “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” ( D&C 110:16). ( Elijah Restoring the Keys of the Sealing Power of the Priesthood, by Robert T. Barrett.)
6. The Nauvoo Temple (right): Portions of the Nauvoo Temple were dedicated and used as soon as they were finished. The baptistry was one of the first, allowing baptisms for the dead to be performed. At least 5,615 early Latter-day Saints received their temple endowments before the May 1846 dedication of the temple (James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints , 221).
7. Sealed in Family Units (background): During the April 1894 general conference, President Wilford Woodruff announced a revelation that we should be sealed to our father and mother and they to their parents and so on. He said the Lord asked, “Have you not a father?” and President Woodruff said, “Yes, I have.” The Lord said, “You should be bound to your father.” President Woodruff closed his conference talk with these words: “In my prayers the Lord revealed to me that it was my duty to say to all Israel … carry [out] this principle” (Collected Discourses Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, comp. Brian H. Stuy , 67–76). ( Wilford Woodruff, by Del Parson.)
8. TempleReady (above): Today, using TempleReady, Latter-day Saints work in thousands of Family History Centers to prepare the names of their deceased ancestors to receive temple ordinances by proxy. “For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect,” wrote the Prophet Joseph Smith ( D&C 128:18). (Photo by Jed Clark.)
9. Baptisms for Deceased Ancestors (top to bottom): In temples of the Lord, worthy Latter-day Saints as young as 12 may serve as proxies for deceased persons and perform baptismal ordinances. (Photo © Paul Chesley, Manila Philippines Temple; People Performing Baptisms for the Dead, by Douglas M. Fryer; photo by Tamra Hamblin, Vernal Utah Temple.)
10. The Endowment (above): Many Church members receive the temple endowment when they are preparing to serve a full-time mission or to be married or sealed in the temple. President Brigham Young taught: “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, … and gain your eternal exaltation” ( Discourses of Brigham Young, comp. John A. Widtsoe , 416). (Provo Utah Temple.)
11. Temple Marriage (background): The Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “If a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood, … they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever” ( D&C 132:19). (Photo by Craig Dimond, Laie Hawaii Temple.)
12. Providing Temple Ordinances by Proxy (above): “Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into His presence. … Once we have received them for ourselves and our families, we are obligated to provide these ordinances vicariously for our kindred dead, indeed for the whole human family” (Boyd K. Packer, “Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 24).