Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
Lesson 40
Finding Joy in Temple and Family History Work


Lesson Highlights

A study of this lesson will help us see the many different ways we can participate in temple and family history work and to encourage us to prayerfully determine the ways we should participate now.

Scripture references for study:  Review Class Member Study Guide
    Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.

Lesson 40 Handout (PDF)


The Most Glorious of All Subjects

The last two verses of the Old Testament read: "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 5:6)

On the night of September 21, 1823, as Joseph Smith knelt in prayer, the ancient prophet Moroni appeared to Joseph. Among the messages that he imparted to the young Joseph was the prophecy of Malachi, though somewhat different than it reads in the Bible:  "Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.... 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. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming" (Joseph Smith-History 1:38-39). So important was this ancient prophecy that Moroni returned twice more that night and repeated it (along with other prophecies) and once more the following morning. Joseph was being prepared for the important work of eternity that would be revealed during the coming years.

Without question, the great work of temple and family history is among the most important things in which we should invest our time and effort.


Temple Work

President Howard W. Hunter:  "It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church be temple worthy. I would hope that every adult member would be worthy ofóand carryóa current temple recommend, even if proximity to a temple does not allow immediate or frequent use of it....
    "Let us go not only for our kindred dead, but let us also go for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety which is provided within those hallowed and consecrated walls." (Ensign, Jul 1994)

Relief Society General President Mary Ellen Smoot:  "I testify that much peace and joy can come into your life when you watch your children and grandchildren being baptized and then sealed to their families on behalf of your ancestors. I can only imagine the joy you will experience when you are greeted by your loved ones on the other side of the veil." (Ensign, Mar 1999)

Bishop H. David Burton:  "The season of opportunity that awaits us today, in temple service, is different from that of the past. We are not expected to pound nails, carve stone, mill lumber, pour concrete, or physically participate in the construction of temples. We are, however, extended a marvelous opportunity to faithfully pay our tithes so temple construction and the work of the Lord may go forward. We are also challenged to be worthy to offer ourselves in the service of providing sacred saving ordinances for those who have preceded us. Very simply stated, the great opportunity of Latter-day Saint families is to see that the lights of our temples burn early and late in the day. Perhaps we could create the need for them to burn all night as they do presently on weekends in several temples." (Ensign, Nov 1998)

President Gordon B. Hinckley:  "Take advantage of the blessings of the house of the Lord. What a privilege. Every man or woman who goes to the temple comes out of that building a better man or woman than he or she was when entering into it. Thatís something thatís remarkable that happens with all of us. Is life filled with cares for you? Do you have problems and concerns and worries? Do you want for peace in your heart and an opportunity to commune with the Lord and meditate upon His way? Go to the house of the Lord and there feel of His spirit and commune with Him and you will know a peace that you will find nowhere else. Take advantage of it. What a great and wonderful blessing it is." (Ensign, Apr 1996)

President Boyd K. Packer:  "Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people." (Ensign, Feb 1995)

"David Turley, a member of the Willow Canyon Eighth Ward, Sandy Utah East Stake, feels that because he was in the temple one evening, he received inspiration and understanding concerning an experience that had happened to him earlier that day. He had been driving home from work that afternoon in light traffic. As he neared a normally busy intersection, he felt a strong impression to stop at the green light. Almost immediately, a vehicle whose driver had ignored the opposite red light entered the intersection and swerved to avoid hitting Davidís pickup truck.
    "Grateful but shaken, David continued home. That evening, he and his wife, Sheri, attended the Jordan River Temple. While in the temple, David received an overwhelming impression that his life had been spared as an answer to his sonís prayer that morning. 'I thought back to the morning,' says David. 'As usual, we had gotten our three children out of bed early enough to have morning prayers together before I left for work. Our six-year-old son had offered the prayer and said, ĎBless Daddy as he drives to work and back.í I feel that I received this insight because I was in the temple. The next day, I told my children about the experience. For them, it was a testimony of the power of prayer and the blessings of temple attendance." (LaRene Gaunt, Ensign, Oct 1994)

We have been commanded to prepare ourselves and attend the temple, first for our own ordinances, then to redeem our kindred dead. However, like all commandments, when we comply we seem to be blessed far more than our investment of time and effort warrants. It is as if we are getting paid time-and-a-half for a regular day of labor.


Genealogy

We sometime fail to realize the importance of this work which is so vital to the salvation of those who have gone before. 

Elder Eldred G. Smith:  "We need to gather all the records of our ancestors that we possibly can. I do not mean just a half-hearted attempt. Seek diligently, constantly, and prayerfully. Do not wait for a convenient timeóa convenient time may never come. Do not put it off until old age when we are not able to do anything else. We never know what tomorrow will bring, and we must see that the work is done of completing the sealing of each family group. There is no one who can escape the responsibility of this work. We will not be excused because we thought an aunt or some other relative was doing the work.
    "One young lady, a genealogist, was asked the question, 'What if you find an undesirable character in your family tree, such as a pirate or convict or the like?' She answered, 'My responsibility does not concern how he lived, but just that he lived and died. After all, I owe my existence to him, and my only way of paying that debt is to do the baptism and sealing work for him. It will be up to him to accept it.'
    "This is a responsibility for each of us. Not one of us can be made perfect without this work. I doubt if the Lord will accept the excuse that we are so busy with other church work that we cannot spend a part of our time in genealogy. Any part of this we do not do, which we should do, must be done by someone else, for it must be done. If we shirk our responsibilities, how can we expect to receive the blessings?" (Ensign, Nov 1975)


Family History

We should also keep a journal or prepare a personal history or family history.  President Spencer W. Kimball: "On a number of occasions I have encouraged the Saints to keep personal journals and family records. I renew that admonition. We may think there is little of interest or importance in what we personally say or do, but it is remarkable how many of our families, as we pass on down the line, are interested in all that we do and all that we say.
    "Any Latter-day Saint family that has searched genealogical and historical records has fervently wished its ancestors had kept better and more complete records. On the other hand, some families possess some spiritual treasures because ancestors have recorded the events surrounding their conversion to the gospel and other happenings of interest, including many miraculous blessings and spiritual experiences."
(President Kimball Speaks Out, 54)

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander:  "Family history builds bridges between the generations of our families. Bridges between generations are not built by accident. Each member of this Church has the personal responsibility to be an eternal architect of this bridge for his or her own family. At one of our family gatherings this past Christmas, I watched my father, who is 89 years old, and our oldest grandchild, Ashlin, who is four and a half. They enjoyed being together. This was a bittersweet moment of realization for me. Though Ashlin will retain pleasant but fleeting memories of my father, he will have no memory of my mother, who passed away before his birth. Not one of my children has any recollection of my grandparents. If I want my children and grandchildren to know those who still live in my memory, then I must build the bridge between them. I alone am the link to the generations that stand on either side of me. It is my responsibility to knit their hearts together through love and respect, even though they may never have known each other personally. My grandchildren will have no knowledge of their familyís history if I do nothing to preserve it for them. That which I do not in some way record will be lost at my death, and that which I do not pass on to my posterity, they will never have. The work of gathering and sharing eternal family keepsakes is a personal responsibility. It cannot be passed off or given to another.
    "A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory. What a tragedy this can be in the history of a family. Knowledge of our ancestors shapes us and instills within us values that give direction and meaning to our lives....
    "Family history and temple work are the eternal family keepsakes that build bridges. They build bridges between the generations of our families, bridges to activity in the Church, and bridges to the temple. It is my desire that each of us will recognize the great keepsakes we have received from those who preceded us and our own personal responsibility to pass them on to future generations."
(Ensign, May 1999)


Gospel Doctrine Notebook

Record your thoughts on temple service and family history. Are you keeping a regular journal or writing a family history?


Resources Used In This Lesson

Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith.

Ensign.

President Kimball Speaks Out.

Website: Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Website: Judaism 101.


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