Hastening Family History and Temple Work

7/17/2016 02:42:00 PM

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From a BYU speech by Monte J. Brough in 1996:

“After Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, they began to till the fields and have dominion over the beasts of the fields. They were directed, as are we, to eat by the sweat of their labor. Among other commandments, they were directed to build an altar and to offer sacrifice unto the Lord. The account reads:
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. [Moses 5:6–7]
Thus, the law of sacrifice was introduced as an important set of instructions by which Adam and Eve could come to personally understand and know the Lord Jesus Christ...As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that the law of sacrifice is an important element in each of our lives. Our doctrine is that the very purpose of life is to come unto Christ and to live His commandments.”
Quote 1: Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught: “We are still commanded to sacrifice, but not by shedding blood of animals. Our highest sense of sacrifice is achieved as we make ourselves more sacred or holy. This we do by our obedience to the commandments of God. Thus, the laws of obedience and sacrifice are indelibly intertwined...In fact, the word sacrifice means literally “to make sacred”.
Quote 2: Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: “Real personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed!”

Continuing on with Elder Brough’s talk he said: “How is it we show the Lord that we have symbolically put ourselves upon today’s sacrificial altar? We show Him by living the first great commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37)....One of the best ways to be sure we are keeping the first great commandment is to keep the second great commandment. The Master Himself taught that “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40) and that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). Sacrifice is a demonstration of pure love. The degree of our love for the Lord and for our fellow man can be measured by what we are willing to sacrifice for them.”

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the temple, the place where we gain our most important spiritual instruction, and where we perform work that President Hinckley said: “more nearly approaches the vicarious sacrifice of the Son of God...than any other work of which I am aware,” often requires the most sacrifice to attend. Going to the temple out here where it’s about an hour away means if my husband and I are going to do endowments we need to plan to be gone about six hours. When you have young kids, finding a babysitter for that amount of time and paying the babysitter for that amount of time is a big sacrifice. When you have a demanding job, making time in your schedule is a sacrifice. We could go over a myriad of situations and all them would require some sort of sacrifice, whether big or small. But if I understand the law of sacrifice correctly, that’s the whole point. Sacrifice and the trials which accompany it is not an inconvenient byproduct of a fallen world, it is designed to help us understand the very nature of God, whom we are to emulate. The only way to come to know Christ is to walk a mile in his shoes so to speak. To sacrifice as he did, to love others as he did. Many of us might gladly die for the gospel, but can we say we live each day with the same sense of conviction?

This doesn’t mean that we need to be living every God given law to perfection every second of every hour. The important thing is we keep trying. But I feel like I was prompted to speak about this subject in relation to family history work specifically, and I want you to ask yourself in all honesty if you could be sacrificing just a little more of your time to attend the temple or to research your ancestors, or both. If we enjoyed doing everything that God asked us to do, then nothing would be a sacrifice, and we couldn’t be refined in the same way.

Quote 3: President Hunter said: “...did not Christ say to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5)? Yet we know that many people have died without the ordinances of baptism, and thus, according to Christ’s statement to Nicodemus, they would be eliminated from entering into the kingdom of God. This raises the question, is God just?”

Quote 4: “The answer is, of course God is just. It is evident that the Savior’s statement to Nicodemus presupposes that baptisms may be done for those who have died who have not been baptized. Latter-day prophets have told us that baptism is an earthly ordinance that can be performed only by the living. How then can those who are dead be baptized if only the living can perform the ordinance?”

Obviously, through you and me, doing temple work on their behalf. President Hunter goes on to say: “Perhaps the greatest example of vicarious work for the dead is the Master himself. He gave his life as a vicarious atonement, that all who die shall live again and have life everlasting. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. In a similar way we can perform ordinances for those who did not have the opportunity to do them in their lifetime.”

Do you realize what an incredible privilege we’ve been given? This gift to be vicarious saviors for our ancestors! If you are at a stage in your life where you feel you can only do one or the other, attend the temple or do research, then understand that is wonderful. You are doing something so important and so beautiful and you are being blessed because of it. But the reason our leaders keep encouraging us so often to do both is not just because we are suppose to, but more because they know the indescribable joy and blessings that come from doing both. Family history and temple work, though often separated in our minds are one in the same.

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander explains: “Family history research provides the emotional bridge between the generations. Temple ordinances provide the priesthood bridge. Temple ordinances are the priesthood ratification of the connection that we have already established in our hearts.”

Quote 5: President Hunter said: “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.”
I can testify of the joy and the difference that comes from doing both halves of the work. I have been in a position where getting to the temple happened very little but I continued to do family history research and submit names. It brought me happiness. But I can’t adequately describe the difference that taking the name of a person I’ve researched, makes.  Someone who I have fought to find record of and scoured internet pages trying to find any little detail about who they were. Being able to come to know that person and then take their name to the temple, and think about them as I do their work can invite a connection that is felt strongly within those walls. I have felt the joy of ancestors for whom I have done work. I have felt their gratitude. Doing your own research provides a temple experience that is often much more sacred and beautiful.

Right now I want to emphasize more the blessings directly associated with doing research on your family. They are incredible. Those who are waiting to have their work done will do whatever it is they are allowed to guide you in finding what you need to get them to the temple. And that is not the only blessing. Brother John A. Widtsoe once stated that: “Those who give themselves with all their might and main to this work...receive help from the other side, and not merely in gathering genealogies. Whosoever seeks to help those on the other side receives help in return in all the affairs of life.”

It is not only our hearts as children on earth that have been turned to our ancestors. The prophecy states that the hearts of our fathers, our ancestors who came before, will turn toward us. We may not know exactly how things operate in the spirit world but I can testify to you that sons and daughters of God over there are working just as hard as we are to save souls. President Exra Taft Benson taught us that “On the other side of the veil, the righteous are taught their duties preparatory to the time when they will return with the Son of Man to earth when He comes again...These righteous spirits are close by us.” Have you ever felt the presence of spirits beyond the Holy Ghost? Specific individuals? I have. We know that the spirit world is here, all around us and we are all engaged in one great work, on both sides of the veil, trying to unite the whole family of God both in love and through priesthood power.

Quote 6: “President Hinckley said: “Now, I’d like to submit to you that when all is said and done, the work and the mission of this Church is to save. It’s just that simple and just that profound...to save people. That’s the whole purpose of what we are doing. That’s why we have home teachers. That’s why we have visiting teachers. That’s why we have classes. That’s why we have sacrament meeting. That’s why we build temples, to save the living and the dead. That’s our work.”