A Young Folks' History of the Church
God's goodness, mercy, and watch-care reach to all his children, whether they be white or
black, bond or free; whether they live now or lived thousands of years ago; yes, whether
they are alive or dead. Death is but a change from one sphere of action to another, and as
God is everywhere, it is not alone in this life that his loving care is manifested. The
gospel also is everlasting. It did not begin with this world, neither will it end with this
life, but its purifying, uplifting power is felt throughout all time and place.
Salvation is to get from under the powers of sin and death, and live forever in the
hereafter, growing in wisdom and in power, and becoming more and more like unto our
Great Father, God. This salvation is obtained by obeying the principles of the gospel and
performing the ordinances required therein. You all know what the first of these
principles and ordinances are. One of the ordinances is that a person must be baptized by
water for the remission of sin. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," said the
Savior. This must of course be performed here on earth, and by a servant of God having
authority to do so.
Now, by thinking about it a moment, you will know that there are a great many of the
human race who have not been baptized with this kind of baptism. Millions there are and
have been who never heard of the gospel or of Jesus Christ. Many others there are and
have been who have had a kind of baptism but not performed by one with authority.
What will then become of all these people?
Many religions of the day teach that there is no chance for people after they leave this
life; if they are not saved when they die, they never can be afterwards. Can you not see
what a cruel thought that is? Think of the millions who have not had a chance! Surely
God would not punish people for not doing something they had no chance to do
Now all this was made plain to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord told him that all
those who died without repentance and baptism would have a chance in the next world.
Christ, while his body lay three days in the tomb, went and preached to the spirits in
prison. Likewise, many of the servants of God have, and are now preaching the gospel to
the children of God in the spirit world. They can there believe and repent, but can not be
baptized. That must be done for them by someone on the earth. This ordinance can be
performed in any place that God directs, but he has commanded that holy buildings be
erected wherein baptisms for the dead can be performed. This, then, is one use of our
temples. Marriages, sealings and other holy ordinances are also performed in these
The first temple site was dedicated in Jackson county, Missouri, August 3, 1831, but, as
you have been told, no work was done to erect a building. The Kirtland temple you also
have been told about. After the Saints left Kirtland the building was neglected. Then it
came into the possession of the Reorganization or "Reorganites," as they are sometimes
called, a religious body founded, and built up for the most part by apostates from the
Church. The Kirtland temple is still standing.
Ground was dedicated for a temple at Far West July 3, 1837, but owing to the Saints
being driven away, no work other than digging the foundation was done.