As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have learned many things of importance over the years, one of which is the following: When a latter-day apostle speaks, we should pay attention to the divine truths he teaches. When other latter-day apostles testify of the same truths, we should sit up straight, not be distracted by the daily activities of life, accept what they have taught, and if necessary make prompt changes in our lives in order to be obedient to their inspired teachings.
The unified voice of multiple latter-day apostles is not something we should lightly disregard because it evidences that God is trying to get our attention in order that we might qualify to receive blessings from Him.
With that in mind, please consider the following recent teachings and promised blessings from latter-day apostles concerning the importance of being personally involved in family history and temple work:
“I encourage you to . . . search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead. . . . I promise you that you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary.” (David A. Bednar. “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn” General Conference October 2011)
“Do you . . . want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple and stand as proxy for them . . . I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life.” (Richard G. Scott, “The Joy of Redeeming the Dead” General Conference October 2012)
“I promise you protection for you and your family as you take this challenge to find as many names to take to the temple as ordinances you perform in the temple . . . . You’ll find not only protection from the temptation and ills of this world, but you’ll also find personal power, power to change, power to repent, power to learn, power to be sanctified, and power to turn the hearts of your family together and heal that which needs healing.” (Elder Dale A. Renlund, RootsTech 2016)
In the world in which we live, the adversary has great influence and many of our Father in Heaven’s children are choosing to “wander in strange roads” (1 Nephi 8:32). As a result, we should desire the promised protection from the adversary that comes from our yielding to the influence of the Spirit of Elijah, which is the Holy Ghost’s ability to focus us on the eternal principles associated with the family and in turn family history work.
It is the influence of the Spirit of Elijah that invites us to become “saviors on Mount Zion” by preparing family names to take to the temple. In so doing, we experience in a small way what the Savior experienced as He did for us that which we could not do for ourselves, namely satisfying the demands of justice and breaking the bands of death.
Family history work allows us to follow His example and do what our kindred dead cannot do for themselves, meaning to perform sacred ordinances for them in the temple that remove barriers to their spiritual progression. The clear consequence of our engaging in family history work is to become more Christlike.
The impact that preparing and taking family names to the temple has on our capacity to withstand the “fiery darts of the adversary” (1 Nephi 15:24) may in part be why the scriptures teach that “neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15). Perhaps the Prophet Joseph Smith also had that in mind when he testified to the early members of the Church that “[t]hose Saints who neglect [temple work] in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 471–72).
In the Philippines Area Plan, one of the ten goals that helps increase our faith in Jesus Christ is to “submit our ancestors’ names for temple ordinances.” An effort already has been made to encourage wards and stakes to set goals in that regard. But of even greater importance is the setting of personal goals to seek out and prepare the names of our ancestors for the temple.
As an Area Presidency, we encourage you to pray for the influence of the Spirit of Elijah and then act by setting a personal and specific numeric goal to find and prepare family names for temple ordinances prior to the end of 2016. I have set my personal goal and shared that goal with my wife and children. The sharing of our goals with others lends credibility and seriousness to such goals. My personal goal is substantially higher than what I have ever achieved in the past, but not impossible to achieve. It will make me stretch, as your goal should as well.
Many members of the Church in the Philippines already have felt the influence of the Spirit of Elijah and are submitting family names for temple work. We are humbled as an Area Presidency to see that so far this year the Philippines Area leads all other international areas in the number of family names submitted to the temple, in large part because of the faithfulness of our youth and young single adults. But we can do even better. And if we do, not only will we receive the promised blessing of protection from the adversary, but also the promise of a glorious reunion when we enter the spirit world and are greeted by those ancestors we have come to know, serve, and love through family history and temple work.