The Importance of Temple Work
It has been said that the story of temple work is a story of love
—the love of God for man, and of men for God and for each other.
Elder Franklin D. Richards (see full talk)

The Promise

Malachi 4:5–6 states, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

Compare this to 3 Nephi 25:5–6  and Doctrine and Covenants 2:1–3. Now look up
Doctrine and Covenants 27:9, Doctrine and Covenants 110:13–16, Doctrine and Covenants 128:17–18, Doctrine and Covenants 138:46-48, and Joseph Smith - History 1:38-39. The same statement is repeated or alluded to many times. What must that say about the importance of this promise that Heavenly Father would direct His servants to include it so many times in scriptures?

Understanding What This Has to Do with Temple Work
President Henry B. Eyring taught, "It is important to know why the Lord promised to send Elijah. Elijah was a great prophet with great power given him by God. He held the greatest power God gives to His children: he held the sealing power, the power to bind on earth and have it bound in heaven. God gave it to the Apostle Peter. And the Lord kept His promise to send Elijah. Elijah came to the Prophet Joseph Smith on April 3, 1836, just after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the first temple built after the Restoration of the gospel." (see full talk)

Elder Quentin L. Cook adds, "He declared he was fulfilling Malachi’s promise. He committed the priesthood keys for sealing families in this dispensation. Elijah’s mission is facilitated by what is sometimes called the spirit of Elijah, which, as Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught, is 'a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family'...Wilford Woodruff indicated that the Prophet Joseph Smith lived long enough to lay the foundation for temple work. By the last time he, Joseph Smith, ever met with the Quorum of the Twelve, he had given them their endowments.After the Prophet’s martyrdom, the Saints completed the Nauvoo Temple, and the sealing power was used to bless thousands of faithful members before the exodus to the Mountain West. Thirty years later, at the completion of the St. George Temple, President Brigham Young noted the eternal significance of saving ordinances finally being available for both the living and the dead." (see full talk)

Our Role
About family history and temple work, Elder David A. Bednar said, "You have been prepared for this day and to build up the kingdom of God. You are here upon the earth now to assist in this glorious work." (see full talk)

President Boyd K. Packer said, “The Lord will bless us as we attend to the sacred ordinance work of the temples. Blessings there will not be limited to our temple service. We will be blessed in all of our affairs. We will be eligible to have the Lord take an interest in our affairs both spiritual and temporal…
Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people." (The Holy Temple, 1980)

Our primary responsibility is to our own family. View the following brief e-learning course to learn more about this:

Course: Doctrine of Temple and Family History Work (published by Familysearch on

To further illustrate the importance of temple work and the blessings that both our dead and those of us who heed to call to seek out our dead and provide saving ordinances to them, I have gathered a samplings of quotes from the scriptures and Church leaders:
Blessings for Our Dead
...Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.

President Joseph F. Smith described the ministry of Jesus Christ in the spirit world between His death and His resurrection:
But behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead. And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel. Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets. These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage.
I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead. The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, and after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.

Temple and family history work is not just about us. Think of those on the other side of the veil waiting for the saving ordinances that would free them from the bondage of spirit prison. Prison is defined as “a state of confinement or captivity.” Those in captivity might be asking William Saroyan’s question: “Now what?”
Elder Quentin L. Cook (see full article)

There is never a time when the spirit is too old to approach God. All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, which hath no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. There is a way to release the spirits of the dead; that is by the power and authority of the Priesthood—by binding and loosing on earth. This doctrine appears glorious, inasmuch as it exhibits the greatness of divine compassion and benevolence in the extent of the plan of human salvation.
This glorious truth is well calculated to enlarge the understanding, and to sustain the soul under troubles, difficulties and distresses. For illustration, suppose the case of two men, brothers, equally intelligent, learned, virtuous and lovely, walking in uprightness and in all good conscience, so far as they have been able to discern duty from the muddy stream of tradition, or from the blotted page of the book of nature.
One dies and is buried, having never heard the Gospel of reconciliation; to the other the message of salvation is sent, he hears and embraces it, and is made the heir of eternal life. Shall the one become the partaker of glory and the other be consigned to hopeless perdition? Is there no chance for his escape? Sectarianism answers "none."…
This doctrine presents in a clear light the wisdom and mercy of God in preparing an ordinance for the salvation of the dead, being baptized by proxy, their names recorded in heaven and they judged according to the deeds done in the body. This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures. Those Saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation.
Joseph Smith (see more of his teachings on the subject)

Without the Atonement, there would be no immortality. Without the Atonement, there would be no return to the presence of the Father and no continuation of the family beyond the grave.
Because of the Atonement, these consummate blessings can be realized by each of God’s children who obey His eternal laws. Through the ages, many of His children have had access to the blessings of the gospel, but many more have not. Before the foundation of the world, our Heavenly Father instituted the ordinance of baptism for those who die without a knowledge of the gospel. He loves those children too.
Elder Russell M. Nelson (see full talk)

Many of your deceased ancestors will have received a testimony that the message of the missionaries is true. When you received that testimony you could ask the missionaries for baptism. But those who are in the spirit world cannot. The ordinances you so cherish are offered only in this world. Someone in this world must go to a holy temple and accept the covenants on behalf of the person in the spirit world. That is why we are under obligation to find the names of our ancestors and ensure that they are offered by us what they cannot receive there without our help.
President Henry B. Eyring (see full talk)
Blessings for Us
Don’t underestimate the influence of the deceased in assisting your efforts and the joy of ultimately meeting those you serve. The eternally significant blessing of uniting our own families is almost beyond comprehension.
Remember, we without our roots and branches cannot be saved.
Elder Quentin L. Cook (see full talk)

Perhaps if we would do our work in behalf of those of the unseen world who hunger and pray for the work we can do for them, the unseen world would in return give us help in this day of our urgent need. There are more in that other world than there are here. There is more power and strength there than we have here upon this earth.
Elder John A. Widtsoe

There is hardly any principle the Lord has revealed that I have rejoiced more in than in the redemption of our dead; that we will have our fathers, our mothers, our wives and our children with us in the family organization, in the morning of the first resurrection and in the Celestial Kingdom. These are grand principles. They are worth every sacrifice.
President Wilford Woodruff

A large part of the value of these occasions is the fact that we are doing something for someone that they cannot do for themselves. As we perform the endowment for someone who is dead, somehow we feel a little less hesitant to pray fervently to the Lord to assist us...There is something cleansing and clarifying about the spiritual atmosphere of the temple.
President Boyd K. Packer,
Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple

Spiritual connections…are formed…When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves.
Elder Russell M. Nelson (see full talk)

This past year I have needed and wanted to feel the love of the Lord more deeply, to receive personal revelation, to better understand my temple covenants, and to have my burdens lightened. As I have prayed specifically for these blessings, I have felt the Spirit directing me to go to the temple and listen more closely to each word of the blessings pronounced upon me. I testify that as I have listened more intently and tried to exercise my faith, the Lord has been merciful to me and has helped make my burdens light. He has helped me to feel great peace about prayers that have not yet been answered.
Sister Linda K. Reeves (see full talk)

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 of Church members has a refining, spiritualizing, tempering influence on those who are engaged in it. They understand that they are tying their family together, their living family here with those who have gone before. Family history work in one sense would justify itself even if one were not successful in clearing names for temple work. The process of searching, the means of going after those names, would be worth all the effort you could invest. The reason: You cannot find names without knowing that they represent people. You begin to find out things about people. When we research our own lines we become interested in more than just names or the number of names going through the temple. Our interest turns our hearts to our fathers—we seek to find them and to know them and to serve them. In doing so we store up treasures in heaven.
President Boyd K. Packer (see full article)

We must accomplish the priesthood temple ordinance work necessary for our own exaltation; then we must do the necessary work for those who did not have the opportunity to accept the gospel in life. Doing work for others is accomplished in two steps: first, by family history research to ascertain our progenitors; and second, by performing the temple ordinances to give them the same opportunities afforded to the living.
Yet there are many members of the Church who have only limited access to the temples. They do the best they can. They pursue family history research and have the temple ordinance work done by others. Conversely, there are some members who engage in temple work but fail to do family history research on their own family lines. Although they perform a divine service in assisting others, they lose a blessing by not seeking their own kindred dead as divinely directed by latter-day prophets...
I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.
Howard W. Hunter (see full article)

As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.
Elder David A. Bednar(see full talk)

For me, knowing that turns my heart not only to my ancestors who wait but to the missionaries who teach them. I will see those missionaries in the spirit world, and so will you. Think of a faithful missionary standing there with those he has loved and taught who are your ancestors. Picture as I do the smile on the face of that missionary as you walk up to him and your ancestors whom he converted but could not baptize or have sealed to family until you came to the rescue. I do not know what the protocol will be in such a place, but I imagine arms thrown around your neck and tears of gratitude.
If you can imagine the smile of the missionary and your ancestor, think of the Savior when you meet Him. You will have that interview. He paid the price of the sins of you and all of Heavenly Father’s spirit children. He is Jehovah. He sent Elijah. He conferred the powers of the priesthood to seal and to bless out of perfect love. And He has trusted you by letting you hear the gospel in your lifetime, giving you the chance to accept the obligation to offer it to those of your ancestors who did not have your priceless opportunity. Think of the gratitude He has for those who pay the price in work and faith to find the names of their ancestors and who love them and Him enough to offer them eternal life in families, the greatest of all the gifts of God. He offered them an infinite sacrifice. He will love and appreciate those who paid whatever price they could to allow their ancestors to choose His offer of eternal life.
President Henry B. Eyring (see full talk)

As you decide, 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. When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope. Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom. In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment. 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.
Henry B. Eyring

…Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.
Joseph Smith

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Last updated 10 Apr 2014
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