I had the wonderful opportunity today to take my daughter to the Salt Lake Temple to do baptisms for the dead. This was her first experience doing vicarious baptisms. Then as I got ready for bed, I opened my scriptures and found my bookmark at 2 Nephi 31. What an appropriate chapter to read.
As I watched the baptisms take place, I was filled with indescribable joy as I felt the presence of my ancestors eager to accept the work and enter the covenant with the Savior and our Heavenly Father. They have now passed through the gate and are on the straight and narrow path. They have covenanted with God to live his Gospel, and he has promised to bring them home!
Over the years as I've done family history work, I have come to appreciate the vital importance of the covenant of baptism. Today, however, I found a deeper appreciation of the fourth principle of the Gospel. When it came time to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost upon these individuals, I thought about my recent insights on the Holy Ghost and baptism by fire. I was struck by how important this ordinance is for them, too, even though they have already died.
Sometimes we think of individuals needing the gift of the Holy Ghost because we are living in a temporal world. The Holy Ghost can teach us things, even math; help us remember the things we have studied for that math test; comfort us when we are facing strange situations; warn us; reveal God's will for our choices, etc. These are all very great blessings, but they are used for our temporal needs in many instances. While I know that those who have died are still bound by time, the temporal aspects of their lives are greatly diminished (I think). As such, I've never really associated these kinds of needs with them.
However, as I participated in the temple work, I thought about the Holy Ghost as a sanctifier. Even those who have passed through the veil need to be sanctified. They need to become purified and be able to stand in the presence of God being holy. The bestowal of the Holy Ghost truly is an essential ordinance that changes them to become like God. It is not just an extension of baptism. It is not merely for our temporal help on this earth. Without the gift of the Holy Ghost which baptizes by fire, they, like me, cannot be sanctified and enter the Lord's presence.