I have often reflected on Doctrine and Covenants 128:18 which indicates that our own salvation, both temporal and physical, is dependent on the temple ordinance work that we do for our kindred dead. Joseph Smith wrote:
I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.
If there has been any time in history when there is an apparent curse on the world, then that time is now. At the same time, almost every day, I see wonders beyond wonders as records are made available and electronic devices and programs are developed that make the work of the salvation of the dead more immediately available. At the same time, I hear the "voice of warning" coming from God's disciples as is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants 1:4
And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.An explanation of this passage is contained in the following at page 1538.
Ludlow, Daniel H. 1992. Encyclopedia of mormonism. New York: Macmillan.
In modern time as in antiquity, a solemn responsibility envelops both the messengers and those to whom the message is delivered. The Lord informed Ezekiel, "I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth and give them warning from me" (Ezek. 3:17). Only those who hearken to the warning are spared the punishments and receive the blessings. The messengers who deliver the message also save their own souls; if they fail to deliver the message they acquire responsibility for those whom they failed to warn-"[their] blood will I require at thine hand" (Ezek. 3:18-21).
It is a covenant obligation of all who are baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ to "stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9). Once warned, "it becometh every man…to warn his neighbor" (D&C 88:81). The messengers who deliver the warning will be present at the day of judgment as witnesses (D&C 75:21; 2 Ne. 33:11; Moro. 10:34). The essence of missionary work is for each member of the Church to become a voice of warning to those who have not been warned (see DS 1:307-311). NEIL J. FLINDERSAs members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we often apply this principle to the missionary work for the living, but less frequently to the work for the salvation of the dead. Quoting from an article published in the Ensign for October 2014 written by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from an address given at the seminar for new mission presidents on June 25, 2013:
At a solemn assembly held in the Kirtland Temple on April 6, 1837, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”1
Almost precisely seven years later, on April 7, 1844, he declared: “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead. The apostle says, ‘They without us cannot be made perfect’ [see Hebrews 11:40]; for it is necessary that the sealing power should be in our hands to seal our children and our dead for the fulness of the dispensation of times—a dispensation to meet the promises made by Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world for the salvation of man.”2
Some individuals may wonder how both preaching the gospel and seeking after our dead can be simultaneously the greatest duties and responsibilities God has placed upon His children. My purpose is to suggest that these teachings highlight the unity and oneness of the latter-day work of salvation. Missionary work and family history and temple work are complementary and interrelated aspects of one great work, “that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:10).
I pray the power of the Holy Ghost will assist you and me as we consider together the marvelous latter-day work of salvation.Why is it then that I encounter such a high degree of resistance among my fellow members of the Church to becoming involved in the vast work for the dead?