Wednesday, July 5, 2017

President Joseph Fielding Smith on sacred blessings of temple service

Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972) was the son of Joseph F. Smith, 6th president of the Church, and grandson of Hyrum Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph. He was called as an apostle in 1910, and served as the 10th president of the Church from 1970 until his death in 1972 at age 95.
"There is no work connected with the gospel that is of a more unselfish nature than the work in the House of the Lord, for our dead. Those who work for the dead do not expect to receive any earthly remuneration or reward. It is, above all, a work of love, which is begotten in the heart of man through faithful and constant labor in these saving ordinances. There are no financial returns, but there shall be great joy in heaven with those souls whom we have helped to their salvation. It is a work that enlarges the soul of man, broadens his views regarding the welfare of his fellowman, and plants in his heart a love for all the children of our Heavenly Father. There is no work equal to that in the temple for the dead in teaching a man to love his neighbor as himself. Jesus so loved the world that he was willing to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin that the world might be saved. We also have the privilege, in a small degree, of showing our great love for Him and our fellow beings by helping them to the blessings of the gospel which now they cannot receive without our assistance."
- Joseph Fielding Smith, “Salvation for the Dead,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1917, 362; see also Doctrines of Salvation, 2:144

President Smith had a remarkable season of service to the Lord in leadership roles. I remember him only in his very later years, including as a very aged Prophet. These insights were shared when he was much younger, a full century ago now. It's interesting to recognize how little the important truths of the Gospel have changed over that time. The nature of the service we perform in the temple is as critical today as it was then; the "work of love" continues on, greatly hastened but with the same spirit of pure love and sincere concern for the eternal welfare of the souls of those who have passed on. The work continues to "enlarge the soul of man" as we sacrifice other options of where we might use the time and resources we have in our lives to participate in it.

As others have noted, when we participate in family history and temple work, we unite with the Savior in the great work of salvation, helping to open the doors of eternity for those who have passed on. Those who have caught the vision of the work understand that "there shall be great joy in heaven with those souls whom we have helped to their salvation." The foretaste of that joy blesses us now.

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

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