I would like to address the work of salvation through family history.
Now before you roll your eyes and think “Not again…not another message about family history,” let me say that you are already doing better than you think you are. Many of you are having memorable experiences as families. You are writing letters, keeping journals, holding family councils, bringing the children together for weekly home evenings, and completing family work projects; you’re establishing traditions, attending the temple, and going on vacations.
Do you realize those things are all part of family history work? They are, along with all the blessings of the restored church of Jesus Christ. Our forefathers traveled across continents so that we could have the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ that we have today. With the abundance of these wonderful gifts, it is easy to become complacent. We have to be sure we do not fall asleep in our duty, and keep recording our lives for the future.
Moses was commanded to perform a great work. He was called to free the Israelites from 400 years of captivity. The Lord told Moses three things:
- I am God
- You are my son
- I have an important work for you to do
Knowing those three things, is there anything that Moses could not do?
The Lord has told us the same thing through living prophets. He has said the following:
- I am God your father
- You are my son or daughter
- And I have an important work for you to do
And we too can use the abundance of resources made available to those that participate in this work. But we have to be sure we do not forget our duty. The reason we do family history work is so that we can unite families in the Temples of God. As we search out our ancestors, take their names to the temples, perform ordinances in their names, and seal them to our families; the whole human family is bound together by eternal golden chains that can’t be broken. This is the work of salvation I’m referring to.
Each one of us is of great value in the eyes of the Lord.
Let’s review together one of His parables found in Doctrine & Covenants 101:
“The master of the vineyard instructed his servants to tend to his vineyard. He commanded them to plant his olive trees, build a hedge for protection, and erect a tower with watchmen. Now, the servants of the nobleman went and did as their lord commanded them, and planted the olive-trees, and built a hedge round about, and set watchmen, and began to build the tower.”
“And (the servants) consulted for a long time, saying among themselves: What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace?”
“Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things.”
“And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.”
“And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive trees.”
“Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, “Why! What is the cause of this great evil?”
“Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and—after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof—built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?”
“And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer.”
This is still the true church of Jesus Christ on earth. It contains the fullness of the gospel. Each one is a treasured olive tree (you are very precious).
Now you might be saying to yourself “I thought this message was supposed to be about family history.” It is.
Let’s consider together the following true story:
My niece shared a beautiful experience in a letter home during her mission. She said that one of the sisters was talking one week about the Holy Ghost. She was saying she had a hard time knowing if the Holy Ghost was with her and prompting her or not. The visiting authority, Elder Kopischke of the seventy responded “Sister, we live in a rainstorm,” meaning that the Spirit really is always with us pouring out promptings on us like great drops of rain in a rainstorm. We have only to recognize them. She then confided that she has been paying more attention to those little promptings, and she sees evidence every day that we truly are living in a rainstorm. The Spirit can be ever present in our lives.
It’s the same with family history work. The youth are already involved in Facebook, Instagram, social media, blogs, computers, and the wonderful miracles of life today. LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Familysearch.org, Ancestry.com, Findmypast, and MyHeritage – all at no cost. All these media help us capture our histories and testify of Christ. As we listen to and heed the promptings of the Spirit, we will become even more involved in family history work.
It takes faith to go on a mission. It takes faith to pay tithing. And it takes faith to attend the temple and do family history work. But the rewards are great, the satisfaction eternal, and the returns everlasting.
The parable I mentioned above applies remarkably well to family history work.
Family history work can be a hedge against the influences of the adversary and a protection to all those who participate -and their families. Perhaps other parables also have application as well. Consider the Good Samaritan (helping those who can’t help themselves), the Lost Sheep (finding those who have been forgotten), the Widow’s Mite (even small contributions have great value). Whatever you do is important and appreciated.
Reasons we do family history:
- We want to show appreciation to our forefathers, and do the work they can’t do for themselves.
- We want to share the gifts we have been given.
- We want to take part in the abundant blessings available to those who do family history work.
- We want protection to hedge up the way of the adversary for us, our children, and families.
- And we do it first and foremost because we love the Lord Jesus Christ, and it furthers his plan of happiness, which is the great work of salvation.
Just think for a moment that the majority of people who have ever lived on earth will receive the saving ordinances through family history and temple work. That’s huge! So what are our reasons we don’t do family history? We all have busy lives, but we show faith by serving a mission, by paying tithing and attending the temple…and we show faith when we do family history work.
As we make Christ the center of our lives, our fears will be replaced with the courage of our convictions – Thomas S Monson
This is the work of our Heavenly Father. As we complete our family history labors, we are engaged in the precious work of salvation.
According to Elder Richard G. Scott “Temple and family history work is one work divided into two parts. They are connected together like the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Let’s consider a favorite verse of scripture and its implications to family history work. In Matthew 25 is reads:
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
I bear witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel and pray that we may continue to enjoy the blessings of true discipleship as we quietly celebrate His work and our families, both the living and the dead.
As we follow the Savior by completing this important effort, we further the work of salvation and truly, humbly wield the title of Saviors on Mount Zion.
The Lord gets His work done through His people. And the Lord gets His people back home to Him through His work.
The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.
It’s our privilege to contribute to this great family history effort and reap the blessings now and throughout the eternities. They cannot do it for themselves. And we can’t be saved without them.
Yet we can all participate.
Here are some more inspiring little tidbits.
15 And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.
- For more information, contact the family history consultant in your local congregation
About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.