Thursday, June 29, 2017

Elder John A. Widtsoe on our sacred partnership with the Lord

Elder John A. Widtsoe (1872-1952) was born in Norway. He was raised by his widowed mother who immigrated to Utah when John was 11. He was educated at Harvard and in Europe, and had formative roles in programs in several Utah universities including BYU. He served as an apostle from 1921 to his death in 1952.
"In our preexistent state, in the day of the great council, we made a certain agreement with the Almighty. The Lord proposed a plan, conceived by him. We accepted it. Since the plan is intended for all men, we become parties to the salvation of every person under that plan. We agreed, right then and there, to be not only saviors for ourselves, but measurably, saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father’s work, and the Savior’s work, but also our work. The least of us, the humblest, is in partnership with the Almighty in achieving the purpose of the eternal plan of salvation.
"That places us in a very responsible attitude towards the human race. By that doctrine, with the Lord at the head, we become saviors on Mount Zion, all committed to the great plan of offering salvation to the untold numbers of spirits. To do this is the Lord’s self-imposed duty, this great labor his highest glory. Likewise, it is man’s duty, self-imposed, his pleasure and joy, his labor, and ultimately his glory."
- John A. Widtsoe, “The Worth of Souls,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Oct. 1934, 189; or Millennial Star, March 1, 1934, 9:96:181
Click here to read the full article

Elder Widtsoe spoke and wrote insightfully about temple worship (see "John A. Widtsoe on the sacred blessings of the temple"). The current excerpt gives further insight to the work of the temples and the efforts we can make to provide saving ordinances for those who have passed on. Elder Widtsoe teaches us that we have a sacred obligation to work, in "partnership with the Lord," on behalf of our kindred dead:

I love the thought that we have a role as saviors for ourselves, but also "saviors for the whole human family." Through that great plan of salvation, the Father's work, the Savior's work, became our work. As we research our ancestors and then perform vicarious ordinances on their behalf, we truly do become saviors on Mount Zion on their behalf. And when a man or woman grasps the eternal significance of that work, it becomes, not just a duty, but "his pleasure and joy, his labor, and ultimately his glory."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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