President Harold B. Lee was born on 28 March 1899 in Clifton, Idaho. He became president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 7 July 1972 and died a little more than a year later on 26 December 1973. He is best known for his involvement in the Welfare Program and Church Correlation.
Here are some of the quotes from President Lee about Temples, Temple work and the salvation of the dead.
If the acceptance of the gospel is so essential to the welfare of man’s eternal soul, you may well ask what is to become of the millions who have died without a knowledge of the gospel or the Lord’s plan, by which the full effect of his atonement might be realized. If missionary work were to have been limited only to mortality, many souls would have been condemned without a hearing. Every one, good or bad, because of the atonement, will be resurrected, for “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22.) But only those who repent and are baptized for the remission of their sins will lay full claim to the redeeming blood of his atonement. … Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, the only means by which man can accept the gospel, is an earthly ordinance, and so in the Plan of Salvation, our Father, with equal consideration for all his children, has provided a way for all members of his Church and Kingdom on the earth to be “saviors on Mt. Zion” by performing a vicarious work in behalf of those in the world of spirits, “the prison house,” that they could not perform for themselves.
This work for the dead performed in holy temples by members of the Church does in reality make of them who do this work “saviors” to those who have died without a knowledge of the gospel, for thereby they may claim the complete gift of the Savior promised to all mankind through his atonement. Reference to that service that may be rendered for those in the spirit world, as it was undoubtedly being performed by the saints in the days of the Apostle Paul and which we can now perform for our own dead, was given by him as an argument in proof of the resurrection. Said he: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29.) Temples in this day have been built in which this work so essential to the work of salvation might again be performed. Decisions for Successful Living (1973), 118–19; paragraphing added.President Lee had this to say about our genealogical work;
[In our genealogical research] the Lord is not going to open any doors until we get as far as we can on our own. We have to go toward that blank wall and then we have to have enough faith to ask the Lord to help to make an opening so that we can take the next step. And there can be information given to you from sources that reveal the fact that heaven and earth are not far away.
Many of you have lived to a time in life where you have had loved ones who have gone on. You have had certainty of the nearness, sometimes, of those who have drawn very near to you. And sometimes they have brought to you information that you could not have otherwise had. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 584.
I have a conviction born of a little experience to which I bear testimony that there are forces beyond this life that are working with us. …
I have the simple faith that when you do everything you can, researching to the last of your opportunity, the Lord will help you to open doors to go further with your genealogies, and heaven will cooperate, I am sure. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 585.President Lee's comments continued about genealogy (family history):
If we were united in our temple work and in our genealogical research work, we would not be satisfied with the present temples only, but we would have sufficient work for temples yet to come, to the unlocking of the doors of opportunity to those beyond who are our own kin, and thus would ourselves become saviors on Mount Zion. Our failure to be united will be our failure to perpetuate our family homes in the eternity. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 584.