OPEN THE HEAVENS
This is part of a title of an article in this month’s Ensign (Oct. 2017). It was written by President Russell M. Nelson, the man next in line to become the living prophet of the LDS Church. The whole title is “Open the Heavens through Temple and Family History Work”. In the article, he and his wife, Wendy, encourage LDS members to do the work necessary to redeem the dead.
Redeeming the dead is one of the three main missions of the LDS Church. This, however, is not what I want to address here. Rather, I want to focus on the illuminating glimpse he gives us into how Mormons believe their deceased loved ones can appear to them.
Nelson describes, at some length, how his deceased great-grandfather visited his grandfather. His great-grandfather told his grandfather how he was busy preaching to the spirits in the spirit world. His grandfather then asked him if Mormonism was true. The great-grandfather replied that just as sure as the grandfather could see the picture hanging on his bedroom wall, he could be sure that Mormonism was true.
Visitations like this are not uncommon in Mormonism. Like everything else in Mormonism, they depend on a person’s worthiness. A woman told me how, after working through a long process of re-establishing her worthiness, she could again go to the temple. Her bishop said her daughter, who had died as a baby, would appear to her. She went eagerly. But her daughter didn’t appear to her. She was devastated. Her bishop’s response: she must not have been worthy.
I don’t know the source of such visitations. Do some people desire them so much that they imagine these visitations? Could they be demonic manifestations since the devil loves to masquerade as an angel of light (See 2 Cor. 11:14)? One thing we can definitely say is that they aren’t genuine. Jesus’ story of the rich man and poor Lazarus (Luke 16) rules this out. The messenger God sends is not a deceased individual – it is the Bible.
The biblical message is what we need to share with Mormons. It is what brought tremendous joy to the woman mentioned above. And it has brought tremendous joy to countless others once caught in Mormonism.
Whenever you can, wherever you are, share the wonderful message of the Bible. Talk about the difficult truth of how sin had totally corrupted all. But then, share God’s solution to sin, Jesus Christ. Emphasize how Jesus fulfilled all righteousness for us – how he gave us credit for his perfect law-keeping. Tell how he suffered and died for all sin so that our gigantic debt of sin no longer exists. Share God’s saving love. This message, and not one from a deceased relative, is what Mormons need to hear.