This is my talk I gave in Sacrament. I learned a ton, and wanted to share it here.
About 19 years ago my grandma died. There was one thing she said before passing. She wanted to find her son, Dan, in the Spirit world, and help him. Dan was my uncle. I have good memories of him, but unfortunately, he didn’t live the gospel and he sadly committed suicide. But my grandma still had hope for him.
There’s a certain hope the gospel brings for Latter-day Saint parents for their children who have gone astray. Part of it lies in the fact that we believe people in the next life still have a chance of accepting the gospel.
Today’s topic is about the sealing power and how it brings my family to Christ. And I think this sealing power plays a major role in our hope for our family connections in the next life, and, for some of us, those who have gone astray.
While I think the sealing power covers a wide range of topics, when I look at my children, I think of being sealed to them for eternity. I wonder and worry whether they will live the gospel or not throughout their lives. So my talk focuses a bit more on this aspect of the sealing power.
Indeed, there are a ton of quotes about this topic. Look up the article on the Church’s website called, “Hope for Wayward Children” and you’ll find a lot of quotes by Church leaders about this. I’ll be sharing some of them here.
One of the most famous quotes is by Orson F. Whitney, and I’m paraphrasing this, he said:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service.., would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity… Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins…; but if it leads them at last… to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”
Elder Bednar commented about and clarified this quote,
“Though many subsequent Church leaders have differed in their emphasis on various aspects of the statements by Joseph Smith, Orson F. Whitney, and others, they agree on the fact that parents who honor temple covenants are in a position to exert great spiritual influence over time on their children. Faithful members of the Church can find comfort in knowing that they can lay claim to the promises of divine guidance and power, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and the privileges of the priesthood, in their efforts to help family members receive the blessings of salvation and exaltation.”
I’ve read a lot about the sealing power in preparation for this talk. And there’s a ton of quotes about how this sealing power can help families in the next life. Many of you already know these quotes, and I share a lot of them further below.
But I wanted to focus on something a bit different and simple.
There are two main things I’ve come to realize from my study. Although I don’t understand the details of the sealing power, or how it’ll affect us in the next life, I do know, better than before, that:
- It’s very important
- It’s very powerful.
More than we realize. And I hope to expound on this today, giving us a greater understanding. Perhaps understanding these basic ideas can help us understand all the quotes out there about this sealing power helping families in the next life.
First, let’s talk about the problem we all face. We all die. And in today’s news and headlines, this is a topic even more in our mind. What happens after we die? Are we separated from our loved ones? Will we ever see them again?
But we also get separated from loved ones in life as well, due to distance, work, school, and travel. Sometimes, families get in arguments, and families separate in bitterness or anger. And we may still wonder, will we ever see each other again. It’s a common worry we all have.
At its heart is a bigger problem. We may wonder if we will be alone and empty. Many of us have experienced loneliness, and possibly even depression. It’s not fun. And perhaps one of the biggest fears out there.
I think this is where the good news of the sealing power comes into play. The sealing power keeps us together through life and death. It keeps us connected. And what’s interesting to me is all the studies out there about how important it is to have social connections. Friends or family can help with depression and suicide rates. It seems to me that God values this power of social connection, so much so, that he’s provided a way to stay connected in the next life.
And the fact that there needs to be a connection or sealing at all, suggests that there is opposition to tear us apart. There’s something out there, in the life beyond, that would tear us apart, except for God and his sealing power.
One of my main outlooks on life is this. If we take an eternal perspective of our lives, there are millions, billions and trillions of years ahead of us (if we even count years in the after life). We could master every talent, and see every world, create every animal, and still be bored and lonely. What matters most will be our connections with others. There’s no joy unless we can experience it with others. And this is coming from one of the biggest introverts out there.
Perhaps (this is my speculation) one reason the sealing power is so important is because it gives purpose to eternity.
What is the sealing power?
Basically, from my understanding, it’s the power to seal things together beyond death. And it’s unbreakable, unless through our own sins.
Elder Henry B. Eyring said,
“There is nothing that has come or will come into your family as important as the sealing blessings.”
The following quote from Joseph Smith says a lot. It helps to know that Elijah was a biblical prophet with this sealing power and the one who Latter-day Saints believed restored it to Joseph Smith:
“What is this office and work of Elijah? It is one of the greatest and most important subjects that God has revealed…We will not finish our work until we have saved ourselves, and then not until we shall have saved all depending upon us; for we are to become saviors upon Mount Zion.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 337–38.)
This theme of the sealing power being used by us to save not just ourselves, but others as well, is prominent. The Book of Hebrews says, “They without us should not be made perfect” And the Doctrine and Covenants says, “neither can we without our dead be made perfect”. There’s something about the sealing power that affects us ALL in the after-life. We cannot save ourselves, unless we save our ancestors.
The sealing power has an ancient context to it too. The word seal appears many times in the Bible. The words “seal” and “loose” can also mean to “close” and to “open.”
This is why Elijah in the Bible used the sealing power to close or open the heavens and cause a drought. This is why Elijah used the sealing power to open up the gates of death and bring someone back to life. The sealing power is closely connected to the power of controlling the weather, bringing people back to life, closing or opening the doors of hell, and even the power of the resurrection.
I think it’s helpful to know that the sealing power can do a lot of things, such as the things I mentioned above. But sealing marriages and families is one of the most important things it does. This is why the sealing power is often mentioned in connections with “turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.”
So how important and powerful is this sealing power?
Well, it’s pretty much mentioned in all our Latter-day Saint standard works. It’s mentioned in the Old Testament in Malachi and the Book of Kings about Eljiah, one of the greatest prophets of all time. He’s the one who gave this power or keys to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple. And this power continues in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today.
It’s mentioned in the New Testament. Christ said to Peter, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Elijah was one of the angels that appeared at the Mount of Transfiguration. This shows how important this power is.
And all these details from the Bible show how important it is to God to have an actual prophet and organization to hold this power to bless others. It’s not just something we can wish for. God has actually set up a way to use it.
It’s mentioned in the Book of Mormon by Jesus himself. In fact, God the Father specifically commanded Jesus to give this scripture reference to the Nephites. 3 Nephi 26 says, “And Jesus saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.” It’s so important that even God the Father had Jesus share it to the Nephites!
It’s so important that the Angel Moroni repeated it several times to Joseph Smith the night he first appeared to him. It was one of the two main topics Moroni communicated to Joseph Smith that night. In a sense, this was one of Joseph Smith’s main roles as the prophet of the Restoration, to fulfill Moroni’s words.
Here’s an interesting detail from the Book of Mormon that I think demonstrates how important it was. It looks like the prophet Mormon crafted the story of Nephi (the son of Helaman) in the Book of Mormon, to match the story of Elijah from the Book of Kings.
Elijah caused a famine by sealing the heavens, Nephi caused a famine by sealing the heavens. They both experienced fire and earthquakes and hearing a still small voice from God. They both warn that the unrepentant will be eaten by dogs. They both have an experience where they stand before the Lord. They both say that the rain will cease according to their words. They both are taken by the Spirit from place to place. And they both have no record of their death or burial. The parallels are amazing. And it’s beyond something Joseph Smith could have made up or copied. It’s too intricate. Mormon or Nephi were likely so familiar and passionate about Elijah and this power, that they noticed the similarities and used it to tell a story demonstrating how important and powerful the sealing power is. It seals up the heavens. It brings people back to life. It controls the doors of hell.
I don’t fully understand the sealing power. How much will it aid in saving our family in the next life is unrevealed. How much it’ll help in the Spirit World and after Final Judgement is not known in detail, although I’ve collected a lot of quotes from church leaders about the possibility of progression after final judgement, and I suspect the sealing power might play a role here, if at all possible. But like I said, I don’t fully understand this, and it’s not fully revealed. And that’s not the point of this talk.
The point is that I do know, now more than ever, that it’s more important and powerful than we realize. And this helps, me at least, make sense of quotes from Church leaders about it helping our children who have wandered. Keep these things in mind that I’ve discussed, when reading the following quotes.
Brigham Young said,
“Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang”
Lorenzo Snow said,
“If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will, by the power of the Priesthood, work and labor, as the Son of God has, until you get all your sons and daughters in the path of exaltation and glory. This is just as sure as that the sun rose this morning over yonder mountains. Therefore, mourn not because all your sons and daughters do not follow in the path that you have marked out to them, or give heed to your counsels. Inasmuch as we succeed in securing eternal glory, and stand as saviors, and as kings and priests to our God, we will save our posterity”
Elder Bednar, trying to reconcile this power with the agency of others, said:
“a type of spiritual power, a heavenly pull or tug that entices a wandering child to return to the fold eventually. Such an influence cannot override the moral agency of a child but nonetheless can invite and beckon.”
Elder Faust also helped clarify:
“Perhaps in this life we are not given to fully understand how enduring the sealing cords of righteous parents are to their children. It may very well be that there are more helpful sources at work than we know. I believe there is a strong familial pull as the influence of beloved ancestors continues with us from the other side of the veil.”
It’s an influence or spiritual power that invites, beckons, and pulls. Joseph Fielding Smith said it “feels for” our loved ones and pulls them towards us. And, based on the examples I shared of how powerful and important the sealing power is, I think it’s a lot stronger than we might realize.
I think my grandmas wish, before her death about her son Dan, has more validity to it than I thought before.
I don’t know how things will work out in the end, but I do know this sealing power is more powerful and more important than we may realized. Not only for now, but especially for the next life. It gives me hope for my family and the trials we might face.
I hope that for now on, we will treasure this power more than ever before, and keep ourselves worthy of it, going to the temple where it is used the most, and by following Christ and his love that beckons us to him, as King Benjamin said, seals us to him, that we may be brought to heaven.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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