A few months ago my wife and I took some names of our kindred dead to the temple to do the work for them. I will never forget the experience I had as I was doing this work. The temple worker who was assisting me looked at one of the names I had and before we could go on with the ordinance the officiator said, 'Who is this?' I told him that this was my uncle and he went on to say 'He must be very happy that you are doing this for him'. Now this uncle of mine was very close to me and I had prayed so much that he would accept the work. This experience was so tender to me. I felt my uncle’s gratitude as his name was being called upon in the House of the Lord.
Recently while in Kigali 2nd Branch in Rwanda an investigator came to me with a question soon after the Sunday meetings were over. “Do you have a picture of the temple?” he asked. I pulled out my phone went online and then showed him pictures of several temples. He then asked, “What about the inside, what does it look like? I again showed him several pictures of the temple interior. One of the pictures was that of a baptismal font and so his next question was, “What are these which look like oxen?” I explained a bit and quickly turned to 2 Chronicles 4: 2- 4. With a big smile of satisfaction on his face, he asked, “How can I get there?” Before I could respond he posed a follow up question, “What do I need to do to get into the temple?”
His question, “What are these which look like oxen?” reminds me of the sacred work which goes on in baptismal fonts inside the temple. This is the part of the temple which can be accessed by the newest member in the church. New members of the church who take their own names to the temple within a few weeks after joining the church are more likely to remain active in the Church. Not only that, they are more likely to develop a strong testimony of temple and family history work and will more likely return to perform their own living ordinances soon after reaching the one year mark in their membership. They are also more likely to continue frequenting the temple throughout their life. It is therefore very essential that members and full time missionaries work collectively in helping new converts to get to the temple. They do not have to wait for a year before coming to the temple, those within reasonable distance to the temple should be invited, encouraged and helped to attend the temple and be baptized for their dead.
Prophets and apostles in our day have given us wonderful and glorious promises which are fulfilled in the lives of all those who engage in this work of redeeming the dead. Below are some of the promises:
1. Protection and Spiritual Refinement
“No work is more of a protection to this Church than temple work and the family history research that supports it. No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness. Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people.”[i]
2. Sacred Temple Experience and Greater Blessings
“Any work you do in the temple is time well spent, but receiving ordinances vicariously for one of your own ancestors will make the time in the temple more sacred, and even greater blessings will be received”[ii]
3. Greater Joy
- “As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ I leave my blessing upon you with a promise that if you look beyond the bonds of time and of mortality and help those who cannot help themselves, you will be blessed with more closeness and joy in your family, and with the divine protections afforded those who are faithful in his service.”[iii]
- “I invoke a special blessing on you parents, you youth, and you children that each of you will find joy and be blessed in every other aspect of your life as you fulfill the obligation that has been sent from heaven.”[iv]
4. Increased Power
- “You’ll find not only protection from the temptation and ills of this world, but you’ll also find personal power—power to change, power to repent, power to learn, power to be sanctified, and power to turn the hearts of your family together and heal that which needs healing.”[v]
- “Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding.”[vi]
5. Answers to prayer
“As you pursue family history work, you are going to find yourself running into roadblocks, and you are going to say to yourself, “There is nothing else I can do.” When you come to that point, get down on your knees and ask the Lord to open the way, and He will open the way for you. I testify that this is true.”[vii]
We need to claim these blessings ourselves and help others do the same. Elder Enrique Falabella of the Seventy reminded us that, “We cannot expect blessings to simply fall in our laps. Blessings don’t have feet! We must go to them.” Roots Tech Family Discovery Day 2015. This work allows us to partner with the Savior in His work and glory“ to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men”, (Moses 1:39). As we labor with Him, He refines us and help us to become more like Him.
[i] Boyd K. Parker, The Holy Temple,” Ensign, Oct. 2010, 35
[ii] Richard G. Scott, “The Joy of Redeeming the Dead,” October 2012 general conference.
[iii] Elder Quentin L. Cook, Roots Tech Family Discovery Day 2015.
[iv] Elder Quentin L. Cook, Roots Tech Family Discovery Day 2015.
[v] Elder Renlund, Roots Tech Family Discovery Day 2016
[vi] David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Oct. 2011 general conference.
[vii] President Thomas S. Monson, Hastening the Work, Ensign, June 2014.