Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Temples and Family History

                    Temple work and family history help us to obtain and keep eternal perspectives.  Eternity is plainly shown when we stand before the mirrors in our temples.  The mirrors on opposite walls reflect images back and forth into what seems like eternity.  By looking into the mirror in front of us, we are reminded of all the generations of our posterity following us.  When we turn around and look in the other mirror, we are reminded of all our ancestors who preceded us.

                    In the October 1902 General Conference, Joseph F. Smith, then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expressed the hope that one day we would "have temples built in the various parts of the [world] where they are needed for the convenience of the people." 

The hope of President Smith and other prophets is currently being fulfilled because temples now dot the earth.  The Church now has 134 temples operating throughout the world with more in the planning and building process.  Every temple has the same functions and identical ordinances and blessings.  Each one is a house of God.

President Thomas S. Monson reported in the April 2011 General Conference that "Eighty-five percent of the membership of the Church now live within 200 miles (320 km) of a temple, and for a great many of us, that distance is much shorter" (Ensign, May 2011, p. 92).
He also said, "Temples are more than stone and mortar. They are filled with faith and fasting.  They are built of trials and testimonies. They are sanctified by sacrifice and service."

I remember when President Spencer W. Kimball encouraged parents to plant the love of temples in the hearts of their children.  He said, "It seems to me it would be a fine thing if every set of parents would have in every bedroom in their house a picture of the temple so the boy or girl from the time he is an infant could look at the picture every day and it becomes a part of his life.  When he reaches the age that he needs to make this very important decision, it will have already been made" (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 301).

We teach our children from the time they are babies that temples are important and sacred buildings.  Our Primary children sing about temples.  The following song was written by Janice Kapp Perry, "I Love to See the Temple," Children's Songbook, 95).

I love to see the temple.
I'll go inside someday.
I'll cov'nant with my Father;
I'll promise to obey.

                    The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that we have a Heavenly Father who wants all of His children to return to His presence.  The gospel also teaches that the Atonement of Jesus Christ provides the means to be resurrected and to live forever with our families in God’s presence.  In order to put the Atonement into effect in our lives, we must obey all that the Savior commands.  His commandments include being baptized and confirmed as well as receiving the temple ordinances.

                    Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have each been baptized and confirmed by one holding proper priesthood authority. Each adult member also may go into the temple to receive the saving priesthood ordinances performed there.

                    Many people have lived on the earth that did not have these same opportunities.  They did not live at a time or in a place when the gospel was available to them.  Because Heavenly Father loves all of His children and wants all of us to return to live with Him, He provided a way for those who have died without baptism or the temple ordinances to receive them.  Members of the Church act as proxies to perform temple ordinances for our ancestors.

                    Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are special buildings built and dedicated to the Lord. Worthy Church members have the opportunity to go inside the temples to receive sacred ordinances and to make covenants with God.  These ordinances and covenants, like baptism, are necessary for our salvation and must be performed in the temples of the Lord.

                    Part of the temple experience is instruction about Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  Visitors to the temple gain better understanding of our purpose in life and our relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  There we learn about our life before we came to earth, why we are here, and what life after death is like.

                    All temple ordinances are performed by the power of the priesthood.  Ordinances performed on earth by this power are sealed, or bound, in heaven as the Savior taught His Apostles, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

                    The temple is the only place where families can be sealed together forever.  Baptism and all other ordinances prepare us for marriage in the temple where a man and a woman are joined as husband and wife for eternity if they honor their covenants.

                    When a man and a woman are married in the temple, any children born after the sealing are automatically part of their eternal family.  Couples who were previously married by civil authority can receive these same blessings by preparing themselves and their children to go to the temple and be sealed to each other.  Parents who legally adopt children may have those children sealed to them.

                    Many of our ancestors died without the opportunity to hear the gospel on earth and now live in the spirit world where they are taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Those who accept the gospel there in the spirit world are waiting for the temple ordinances to be performed for them here on earth.  We can feel the joy of our ancestors as we perform these temple ordinances for them.

                    In order to do temple work for our ancestors, we must identify them by doing family history.  When we have sufficient information, we can take the names of our ancestors to the temple to be sealed into the family relationship.  The experience of doing temple work for an ancestor is a special and sacred experience.

                   Families can be together forever when they are sealed together by temple ordinances.  Becoming a forever family is not easy, but it is worthwhile.  "Together Forever" tells how to become eternal families.

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