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Scripture-Study List: The Work for the Dead


Mormons believe that when the Old-Testament prophet Malachi spoke of “turning the hearts of the children to their fathers” he was referring to the importance of performing vicarious ordinances in their behalf.

Malachi 4:5-6:

  • 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.

The apostle Peter taught that between Christ’s death and resurrection He visited and preached to the spirits in prison. “Prison” refers to the spirit-world experience of those who did not follow Christ in this life. (Note that the typical connotation of “prison” does not apply here. Many honest, sincere, wonderful people will find themselves in spirit “prison” simply because they never had the opportunity to learn of Christ’s true gospel or because they were sincerely dedicated to other belief systems.) Through the missionary work Christ initiated, as described in the verses below, many in the spirit world have chosen to accept Christ and now await baptism and other essential ordinances. Mormons perform these ordinances vicariously for their ancestors in LDS temples.

1 Peter 3:18-20:

  • For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
  • By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
  • Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
  • The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Peter taught that the gospel was preached to those that are dead on a separate occasion as well. Through this “preaching” many in the spirit world have chosen to accept Christ and now await baptism and other essential ordinances. Living Mormons perform these ordinances vicariously for their ancestors “that they might be judged according to men in the flesh.”

1 Peter 4:6:

  • For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

The apostle Paul mentioned the concept of “baptism for the dead.” This is but one of the essential ordinances that Mormons perform vicariously for their ancestors in LDS temples.

1 Corinthians 15:29:

  • Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

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