- My message focuses upon the ministry and Spirit of Elijah foretold by Moroni in his initial instructions to Joseph Smith.
The Ministry of Elijah
- “We learn from latter-day revelation that Elijah held the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood and was the last prophet to do so before the time of Jesus Christ” This sacred sealing authority is essential for priesthood ordinances to be valid and binding both on earth and in heaven. Elijah appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:3) and conferred this authority upon Peter, James, and John. Elijah appeared again with Moses and others on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple and conferred the same keys upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. The restoration of the sealing authority by Elijah in 1836 was necessary to prepare the world for the Savior’s Second Coming and initiated a greatly increased and worldwide interest in family history research.
The Spirit and Work of Elijah
- Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that the Spirit of Elijah is “a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family” (“A New Harvest Time,” Ensign, May 1998, 34). This distinctive influence of the Holy Ghost draws people to identify, document, and cherish their ancestors and family members—both past and present.
- The Spirit of Elijah affects people inside and outside of the Church. However, as members of Christ’s restored Church, we have the covenant responsibility to search out our ancestors and provide for them the saving ordinances of the gospel. For these reasons we do family history research, build temples, and perform vicarious ordinances. For these reasons Elijah was sent to restore the sealing authority that binds on earth and in heaven. We are the Lord’s agents in the work of salvation and exaltation that will prevent “the whole earth [from being] smitten with a curse” ( D&C 110:15) when He returns again. This is our duty and great blessing.
An Invitation to the Rising Generation
- Many of you may think family history work is to be performed primarily by older people. But I know of no age limit described in the scriptures or guidelines announced by Church leaders restricting this important service to mature adults. You are sons and daughters of God, children of the covenant, and builders of the kingdom. You need not wait until you reach an arbitrary age to fulfill your responsibility to assist in the work of salvation for the human family.
Elder Bednar speaks to the youth of the church and how they have come forth at this time to move the work of salvation forward.
- It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.
He offers an invitation to the young people of the church to get involved.
- I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories.
Elder Bednar closes with a reminder that this work is vital to the salvation and exaltation of our brothers and sisters. We have been sent her to earth at this time to move this work forward. We have been prepared for this, and need to assist in the work moving forward.
- My beloved young brothers and sisters, family history is not simply an interesting program or activity sponsored by the Church; rather, it is a vital part of the work of salvation and exaltation. You have been prepared for this day and to build up the kingdom of God. You are here upon the earth now to assist in this glorious work.
Family History work is a hobby to many. But it is also the means of bringing our Father in Heaven's children back to Him. Elijah had a specific purpose and his mission will not be fulfilled until all of the children of God have been linked to their ancestors and received the saving ordinances of salvation and exaltation. I have made it a goal in the coming weeks to receive some instruction on indexing names at the family history library and to attend the temple more often and participate in this sacred work. As I do, I know that my life will be blessed and I will find peace and happiness as I serve those that have gone before me.