The Lord has entrusted all the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the sacred responsibility of turning the hearts of the children to the fathers. “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.” (Malachi 4:5–6) Joseph Smith made these verses much more meaningful when he said, “now, the word turn here should be translated bind, or seal” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 472). This commandment comes with promises meant to bless us and bind us more closely to the Savior.
One of those blessings is joy. President Howard W. Hunter said, “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, “A Temple-Motivated People,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 4–5).
Family history work will also bless our posterity. Bruce Feiler in an article for the New York Times, summarized a study about the resilience of children: “The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.” Understanding where they came from “turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness” (“The Stories That Bind Us,” New York Times, March 15, 2013). This is a powerful blessing that can be ours.
“The Lord is hastening His work to gather Israel. That gathering is the most important thing taking place on earth today.”Russell M. Nelson
I would like to recommend thinking about two simple ideas as we contemplate the importance of temple work.
Gathering Israel is a commandment. President Russell M. Nelson, our beloved prophet, has powerfully emphasized that our unique responsibility is to help gather scattered Israel and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He invited us to help gather Israel and said that it is “the most important thing taking place on earth today” (Russell M. Nelson and Wendy W. Nelson, “Hope of Israel” [worldwide youth devotional, June 3, 2018], supplement to the New Era and Ensign, 3, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Obedience is a heavenly principle and when we join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are invited to obey the Lord with all our “might, mind, and strength” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:5). As we engage ourselves in temple and family history work, we are sustaining our living prophet and the Lord. As Christ has said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). As we do this, we can trust that the Lord will lead and bless us.
Family history work is a way to honor our parents. Based on the commandment of honoring our fathers and our mothers, I would like to recommend that every time you think of your ancestors, think about the blessings and honor that you can bring to each of them by doing the temple and family history work in their behalf. Gather their stories because everyone has a story to tell, and these stories bless and strengthen our lives. We get to learn from their virtues and sacrifices, their rich legacies, and heritages. As we honor our parents through righteous and respectful living, we feel their love and receive many blessings from following their counsel. As we honor our family name, we receive an identity from our ancestors, and we in turn give an identity to the future generations. And we honor our ancestors the most when we make sure that they receive the blessings of the temples.
As we pray and think about turning our hearts to our ancestors, to the temple and Savior, we know we are in HIS service. Elder Bednar taught, “Acting in accordance with the teachings of the Savior invites spiritual power into our lives—power to hear and heed, power to discern, and power to persevere. Devoted discipleship is the best and only answer to every question and challenge” (David A. Bednar, “Faithful Parents and Wayward Children,” Ensign, Mar. 2014, 16-22).
I want to testify that this is His kingdom, and His purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I know that the Lord lives and loves every one of us and He wants us to return to Him and live. I love doing temple and family history work and know that this work will bind us to our fathers and make us more devoted disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ.