The subject matter of chapter 10 of the Teachings of President Lorenzo Snow is LDS temples and the work that takes place within them. There are many statements in this chapter that I could comment on. But, as I read that chapter, the one thing that repeatedly troubled me was how Mormonism’s teaching about temple work contributes to its draining of much of the urgency for people to know the truth in this life. One of this chapter’s main emphases was on performing temple ordinances for the dead. That entire practice is based on the belief that people can accept the “truth” after this life. They can accept the truth but they can’t perform the necessary ordinances. Thus the need for performing these ordinances for them.
This idea that people can come to faith after they have died, an idea engrained in LDS members not only when they go to the temple but also when they do their family history work is not only wrong, it is deadly. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) (2 Corinthians 6:1-2). This lifetime, and only this lifetime, is when people can come to faith.
There is great urgency for people to believe – right now! None of us knows when our lives here on earth will end. There are no guarantees any of us will live to a ripe old age. And once we die, then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Now is the day of salvation. And it doesn’t continue after we die.
It is my fervent prayer that we all live with this sense of urgency. First, of all, for ourselves. May each one of us regularly check that we are placing all our hopes of being accepted by God on what Jesus has done for us and not on our own works. May we make it a high priority to regularly examine ourselves and root out any hint that we have done anything to be saved.
And then, moved by that sense of urgency, may we make use of every opportunity to tell others the wonderful news that eternal life is God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ. May we view every opportunity to talk with somebody the last opportunity we might have to talk to them. Only God knows, but it just might be.