If all family history work will be completed in the millennium, why is it important that we do it now?
Family history is so much more than just finding names and linking them to a chain of ancestors. Family history also involves temple work to perform the ordinances needed by those who have already passed on and didn’t have the opportunity to do it while on earth. There are as many blessings for those that do this work for them as there are for those the work is being done for.
We have the promise of the Spirit of Elijah as found in the scriptures:
“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.” (D&C 2:2)
So what is the Spirit of Elijah? Elder David A. Bednar describes it this way:
“distinctive influence of the Holy Ghost[that] draws people to identify, document, and cherish their ancestors and family members—both past and present.” The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn
Elder Bednar also goes on to say this;
“For these reasons we do family history research, build temples, and perform vicarious ordinances. For these reasons Elijah was sent to restore the sealing authority that binds on earth and in heaven. We are the Lord’s agents in the work of salvation and exaltation that will prevent “the whole earth [from being] smitten with a curse” (D&C 110:15) when He returns again. This is our duty and great blessing.”
We cannot just sit around and wait for the millennium to do this work or just expect it to be done during that time. We have been given the responsibility to do the work now. If we don’t, we are being seen as thwarting the work of the Lord in bringing salvation to all who have ever lived. What a blessing to those who have been waiting for such a long time to finally have their work done for them.
I get a mental picture of those spirits who have passed on before us having been taught the gospel, have accepted it, but have yet to have someone actually do the work for them in the temple. The frustration they must feel as they wait.
Granted not all work will be able to be accomplished on the earth by those who are living. One example of that would be where records were not kept or were lost or destroyed. But we have the promise that all will be taken care of during the millennium. That by any stretch does not mean we should just wait until then. We need to be giving it our best endeavor to search out our ancestors and get the work done for them that they are so desperately waiting for.
Eldred G. Smith had this story to share:
The story is told that Satan called a council of his agents and asked how they would combat the forces of righteousness. One said, “I’ll go and tell them it isn’t true.” Satan said, “No, that wouldn’t do.” The second said, “I’ll tell them it’s only half true.” “No,” Satan said, “that’s not enough.” The third said, “I’ll go and tell them it’s all true, but there is no need to hurry.” “Go,” Satan said. “That will get them every time.” Lucifer cannot win. We must do the Lord’s work for our ancestors or the earth would be “wasted at his coming.” (JS—H 1:39.) It seems that the destiny of this earth depends on whether or not we get this temple work done. Do Not Procrastinate!
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared:
“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead. … 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. … Hence, God said, ‘I will send you Elijah the prophet’” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 475).
Allow me to relate a personal story of mine regarding temple work for an ancestor. My grandfather was not a member of the Church. Yet whenever I saw him, he would ask me question regarding our beliefs. My grandmother would have nothing to do with it. So to keep peace in the family he didn’t pursue learning more.
After he passed away, I was in the temple to perform those ordinances for him. Now mind you, my grandfather was not a very demonstrative person when it came to showing love or affection. We knew he loved us but he didn’t show it in any kind of a physical way. However, that day in the temple when I had completed standing as proxy and having his work done, I physically felt arms wrapped around me in an embrace. I knew it was my grandfather thanking me for having his work done for him. It’s an experience I will never forget.
Let me end by providing a couple of quotes that show blessings for those still on the earth who are diligent in this great work.
President Henry B. Eyring said;
“Remember that the names which will be so difficult to find are of real people to whom you owe your existence in this world and whom you will meet again in the spirit world. … Their hearts are bound to you. Their hope is in your hands. You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them” Hearts Bound Together
President Boyd K. Packer had this to say;
“family history work has the power to do something for the dead. It has an equal power to do something to the living. Family history work … has a refining, spiritualizing, tempering influence on those who are engaged in it” Your Family History
I hope this helps to answer your question as to the importance of doing family history and temple work for our ancestors now. Let’s not procrastinate and expect it to be done during the millennium. It is our responsibility here on earth.