The Purpose of Temple and Family History Work

“Temple and family history work is one work divided into two parts. They are connected together like the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

 

—Elder Richard G. Scott

 


The Mission of Elijah

“Many of your ancestors died never having the chance to accept the gospel and to receive the blessings and promises you have received. The Lord is fair and He is loving. And so He prepared for you and me a way for us to have the desire of our hearts to offer to our ancestors all the blessings He has offered us.

“The plan to make that possible has been in place from the beginning. The Lord gave promises to His children long ago. …

“'Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:

“'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' (Malachi 4:5-6).”

—Henry B. Eyring, “Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign, May 2005

Elijah restored to the earth the ability for us to participate in the work of saving our ancestors.

 

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Blessings for the Dead

“Many of your deceased ancestors will have received a testimony that the message of the missionaries is true. When you received that testimony you could ask the missionaries for baptism. But those who are in the spirit world cannot. The ordinances you so cherish are offered only in this world. Someone in this world must go to a holy temple and accept the covenants on behalf of the person in the spirit world. That is why we are under obligation to find the names of our ancestors and ensure that they are offered by us what they cannot receive there without our help. …

“Remember that the names which will be so difficult to find are of real people to whom you owe your existence in this world and whom you will meet again in the spirit world. When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope. Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom. In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment. Their hearts are bound to you. Their hope is in your hands. You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them.” 

—Henry B. Eyring, “Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign, May 2005

Member Story: Georgia Elias

 

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Blessings for the Living

“We must accomplish the priesthood temple ordinance work necessary for our own exaltation; then we must do the necessary work for those who did not have the opportunity to accept the gospel in life. Doing work for others is accomplished in two steps: first, by family history research to ascertain our progenitors; and second, by performing the temple ordinances to give them the same opportunities afforded to the living.

“Yet there are many members of the Church who have only limited access to the temples. They do the best they can. They pursue family history research and have the temple ordinance work done by others. Conversely, there are some members who engage in temple work but fail to do family history research on their own family lines. Although they perform a divine service in assisting others, they lose a blessing by not seeking their own kindred dead as divinely directed by latter-day prophets. …

“I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.”

—Howard W. Hunter, “A Temple-Motivated People,” Ensign, Feb. 1995


 

Learn to Save Our Own Dead

“Thousands of our faithful people seldom go to the temple, and of those who do go, most are not working on their own ancestral lines. They are not saving their own dead. They seem to believe they are fulfilling their responsibilities by merely attending the temple occasionally. This is simply not so.

“We all must learn that to save our own dead we must properly identify them so that we can then perform the work for them in the temples. …

“Saints in every temple district must be taught to provide their own names. Japanese people should provide the names for their own Tokyo temple. South American people should provide the names for their own Sao Paulo temple. Likewise in Mexico and Seattle and in every other established area. If they do so, then they will save their own dead. If they do not, and depend on Salt Lake City to send names…, they do not save their own dead, but instead they work on other people’s ancestry.”

—Spencer W. Kimball, regional representatives seminar, Sept. 30, 1976