This message from President Joseph Fielding Smith was first printed in the Improvement Era in February, 1910 at page 352.
Do Latter-day Saints fully realize the importance of the mighty responsibility placed upon us in relation to the salvation of the world? We are doing a great deal in the attempt to convert and save a perverse and wicked generation; we are sending hundreds of missionaries into all parts of the earth and are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in this necessary labor. We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in the building of meetinghouses, Church schools, and other buildings, and in the education of the youth of Israel, in developing and improving our lands, building cities and increasing our communities, publishing periodicals and magazines, and in every way diligently striving to improve our own people and disseminate knowledge that will convert the world to the gospel. But what are we doing for the salvation of our dead?
Many there are, it is true, who comprehend this great work and are faithfully discharging their duties in the temples of the Lord. This is a good sign, showing the willingness and activity of the Saints. But this does not relieve the inactive, dilatory members who are doing nothing for their dead. These persons cannot expect to receive credit for what others may be doing; the responsibility rests with equal force on all, according to our individual ability and opportunities.The article goes on to state:
It matters not what else we have been called to do or what position we may occupy or how faithfully in other ways we have labored in the Church; none are exempt from this great obligation. It is required of the apostle as well as the humblest elder. Place, distinction, or long service in the cause of Zion in the mission field, the stakes of Zion, or elsewhere will not entitle one to disregard the salvation of one’s dead.
Some may feel that if they pay their tithing, attend their regular meetings and other duties, give of their substance to the poor, or perchance spend one, two, or more years preaching in the world, they are absolved from further duty. But the greatest and grandest duty of all is to labor for the dead. We may and should do all these other things, for which reward will be given, but if we neglect the weightier privilege and commandment, notwithstanding all other good works, we shall find ourselves under severe condemnation.
And why such condemnation? Because “the greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us, is to seek after our dead.” Because we cannot be saved without them, “it is necessary that those who have gone before and those who come after us should have salvation in common with us, and thus hath God made it obligatory to man,” says the Prophet Joseph Smith. (Times and Seasons 5:616.)If this was true back in 1910, is it still true today? We are presently blessed with many marvelous advantages and tools that were not imagined at the time President Smith wrote this article. Aren't we now under a greater obligation to seek after our dead than ever before?