Vicarious work for dead is pivotal part of gospel

Salvation for the dead is a pivotal part of the promised "restitution of all things," Elder Russell M. Nelson said in the Sunday afternoon session.

Elder Nelson of the Council of the Twelve said, "Basic to all Christian understanding is the timeless statement made by Jesus: `Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' (John 3:5.)Baptism for those who have died without the benefit of this ordinance is provided vicariously in the temples, Elder Nelson said. He then quoted President Howard W. Hunter, who said:

"Is there anything unreasonable about the living performing the baptisms for the dead? Perhaps the greatest example of vicarious work for the dead is the Master Himself. He gave His life as a vicarious atonement, that all who die shall live again and have life everlasting. . . .

"President Hunter's classic statement," Elder Nelson continued, "emphasizes the importance of temple work for our own families and helps us understand the Old Testament prophecy that `saviours shall come up on mount Zion.' (See Obad. 1:21.) This exalting service for others unseen is one of the most noble acts of human kindness.

"Some among us still have neither perceived the spirit of Elijah the prophet nor its power. Yet, we are bound by this warning: " `There are principles in relation to the dead and living that cannot be lightly passed over. . . . They without us cannot be made perfect - neither can we without our dead be made perfect.' " (D&C 128:15.)

Elder Nelson quoted President Wilford Woodruff, who in 1894 announced that members are to " `trace their genealogies as far as they can, and to be sealed to their fathers and mothers. Have children sealed to their parents and run this chain through as far as you can get it.' "

Following this announcement, the Genealogical Society of Utah was organized. Elder Nelson noted that in November, the society will be 100 years old.

"In the century since then, much has been accomplished," he said. "More and more people are becoming excited about discovering their roots, and the Church is doing its best to help them."

Elder Nelson then talked about the research and temple work that his own family is doing. "Service in the temple together is a sublime family activity for a family. It provides its own sustaining motivation and verification of the truth of this unique work.

"The daily building of happy memories in our families is an important part of making family history pleasant. . . ."

In closing, Elder Nelson declared, "No mortal mind could have conceived this divine work. It is evidence of the restoration of the gospel in its fulness and is sparked by the spirit of Elijah."

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