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to bear the marks of the cruel piercings received on Calvary; and He shall say: "These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God." (Doctrine and Covenants 45:52.)
The Eternal Father is likewise a Spirit tabernacled in an immortalized "body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's." (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22.)
So shall it be with every one of God's spirit-children who has been born in flesh; he shall be resurrected in flesh; for, through the infinite Atonement, physical death is but a temporary separation of spirit from body.
But though a fulness of joy eternal is possible only to resurrected beings, not all shall find that ineffable happiness. To the contrary, many shall be consigned to anguish and remorse unspeakable, because of their misdeeds in the body and their unrepentant state during the period of disembodiment.
The resurrection from the dead was inaugurated by Christ, who had power over death, and who laid down His body and took it up again as and when He willed. (John 10:17-18.) Other resurrections of the righteous dead followed. (Matt. 27:52-53; and Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 23:9-10.) This, the first resurrection, or that of the just, has been in operation since. John the Baptist, and both Peter and James, each of whom met a martyr's death, have severally appeared upon the earth and ministered in their resurrected bodies in these latter times. (Doctrine and Covenants 13; and 27:8-13.) In this circumstance the continuance of service in the Holy Priesthood, through both mortal and resurrected beings, is profoundly exemplified.
Moroni, a Nephite prophet who died about 420 A. D.,
appeared as a resurrected man to Joseph Smith in 1823, and at later times, and committed to the latter-day prophet the original record from which the Book of Mormon has been translated. (See Pearl of Great Price, p. 88.)
Christ affirmed that there would be a resurrection of the just and a later resurrection of the unjust, or resurrection unto life and damnation, respectively. (John 5:29.) Apostolic Scriptures are definite in segregating individual resurrections, in that every man shall come forth "in his own order" according to worthiness. (1 Cor. 15:20-23; Rev. 20:4-6.)
The imminent but yet future advent of Jesus Christ is to be accompanied by a general resurrection of the just, while the yet unregenerate dead shall remain in their unrepentant state of duress until the Lord's blessed reign of a thousand years on earth shall have passed. Then, in a period following shall come the resurrection of the wicked.
The Book of Mormon makes plain that the resurrection of both just and wicked shall precede the last judg ment: "And they [the dead] shall come forth, both small and great, and all shall stand before his bar, being redeemed and loosed from this eternal band of death, which death is a temporal death. And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them." (Mormon 9:13-14.)
No spirit shall remain disembodied longer than he deserves, or than is requisite to accomplish the just and merciful purposes of God. The resurrection of the just began with Christ; it has been in process and shall continue till the Lord comes in glory, and thence onward through the Millennium. The final resurrection, or that of the wicked, the resurrection to condemnation, is to be yet later.
"Lest We Forget"
HE Latter-day Saints are deeply concerned in the identification of their dead, back through the generations to the remotest extent possible. This is exemplified by the persistent ardor of the people in the compilation and preservation of genealogical records, the collating of items of lineage, and the formulation of true family pedigrees, by which the facts as to the relationship of ancestors to posterity may be determined.
In this specific activity the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not working alone; for it is a notable fact that during the last seven or eight decades, interest in genealogical matters has developed to a degree theretofore unknown in modern history. The living are reaching backward to learn of their dead. And in this movement, as in many other distinguishing features of particular epochs, a power superior to man's unguided purpose is operative.
The immediate motive in such undertakings may vary with the individual. Many, doubtless, are eager to trace their pedigree to an illustrious source according to human estimate of eminence; and of these some find disappointment. As literature attests, many spurious pedigrees have been fabricated. It was probably against such that Paul inveighed in his terse admonition to both Timothy (1 Tim. 1:4) and Titus (3:9) and through them to the Church, to eschew fables and endless genealogies, from the discussion of which only contention would result.
The Latter-day Saints have a specific, and, indeed, unique purpose in genealogical investigation. They seek not nobility nor aristocracy of ancestry, but the facts, let the line lead where it may; and the shadow of falsification would be fatal to their object.
Every believer in individual existence beyond the grave and everybody believes in or fears the certainty of such a state hopes and yearns for the blessed condition we call salvation. On the authority of Scripture the Church proclaims that "through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel"; and conversely, that without compliance with the laws and ordinances prescribed by Jesus Christ no man can have place in the Kingdom of God.
Who can doubt this basal and portentous truth in the light of the Savior's definite and unqualified affirmation to the learned Jew, Nicodemus, respecting baptism by water and of the Spirit (see John 3:5), which requirements are among the fundamental laws and ordinances of the Gospel?
In His comprehensive declaration our Lord made no discrimination of classes, drew no distinction between the living and the dead. But what of the unnumbered hosts who have lived and died without a knowledge of the indispensability of baptism, or, though they knew yet never had opportunity to be baptized by one holding the authority of the Holy Priesthood to so administer? Are they irrecoverably lost? A frightful thought!
When Death is reaping so rank a harvest through war, pestilence, and famine, can we bear to believe it?
What of those beloved fathers, husbands, brothers, sons -yours or some others'-who have fallen on the blooddrenched fields beyond the seas-are they, because unbaptized, to be forever shut out from the Kingdom of God,
even though they have died martyrs to the cause of the Divine purpose in the vindication of the liberties of mankind?
Verily, No! The living may be baptized for the dead, as they were in earlier dispensations. Ponder the profound significance of Paul's climacteric question relating to the actuality of the resurrection: "Else what shall they dc which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29.)
Those still in the flesh may officiate vicariously for their departed progenitors; but for this service the genealogy of the dead is indispensable. Furthermore, vicarious ordinances are administered only in sacred Temples, reared, dedicated, and maintained for this ministry; for so the Lord has directed.
Hence the Latter-day Saints are diligently seeking out the records of their dead and are ministering for them in holy Temples. This we hold to be the bounden duty of the living in behalf of the departed, the discharge of which is as truly essential to our exaltation as to theirs.
"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." (Doctrine and Covenants 128:15; see also Hebrews 11:40.)