Baptism for the Dead
The Rays of Living Light series of pamphlets were created in the early 20th century as missionary tracts.
This pamphlet was typed by Christoph Dorion. We extend our gratitude to him for his work.
For The Dead
A New Testament Doctrine
“Else what shall
they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?
Why are they then baptized for the dead?” 1
This was an argument used by the Apostle Paul with the Corinthians,
who doubted the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.
It is evident that they were familiar with baptism for the dead. For, the apostle was reasoning with them from what they knew.
The influence of Greed philosophy affected the minds of the Saints
at Corinth, and the apostle found it necessary to write to them his
splendid treatise, to convince them that as Christ was actually raised
from the dead, so all mankind should be brought forth from their graves,
as the Savior himself declared. And
appealing to their good sense, he asked the question why they were
baptized for the dead, if, as some among them maintained, there was to be
no resurrection of the dead.
Not Understood in Modern Times
This doctrine, that
the living could be baptized in behalf of the dead, has not been
understood in the so-called Christian world for many hundreds of years. It was known to the early fathers, but became obsolete when
the authority held by the apostles and their associates was taken from the
earth and spiritual darkness settled upon the world.
Yet, if that was part of the doctrine of Christ in the Apostolic
age, it is part of it now. But
who among all the sects of the age teaches it?
Who has authority to administer it?
Who knows anything of the manner in which the ordinance should be
solemnized? It is because of
the profound ignor-
of modern teachers of religion on this important subject that they
endeavor, whenever the text given above is quoted, either to cover it with
a cloud of meaningless explanation, or treat it as unworthy of attention,
or to set it aside as something “done away.”
New Revelation On The Subject
In the revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ anew in the present age, baptism for the dead was made known to the Prophet Joseph Smith as a necessary part of the doctrine of Christ. Its purpose, the form of the ordinance, who should administer it, who should receive it, how it would affect both the living and dead and everything to render it acceptable to God and efficacious to the departed, was made known to the Prophet of the nineteenth century.
Outward Ordinance To Be Performed On Earth
has already been demonstrated, in previous tracts, that the Gospel
preached by our Savior and his apostles to the living was also preached to
the dead, that is, to spirits of those who had once dwelt in the body on
earth. Also that such persons
are capable of receiving the truth, of faith, of repentance, of obedience
and reform. It has been
further shown that baptism for the remission of sins and the reception of
the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, both ordinances to be
administered by actual divine authority, are essential to salvation.
But it will be evident to the thoughtful reader that while the
internal or spiritual requirements of the Gospel can be compiled with by
disembodied persons, the outward and material ceremonies are of the body,
and can only be performed on the earth.
Water is an earthly element or composition of material elements,
and pertains to this mundane sphere.
It is for this reason that the living must be baptized for the
dead. If those who died
unbaptized are to obtain salvation the necessary ordinances will have to
be attended to by proxy.
Salvation By Proxy
any professing Christian objects to the idea of salvation by proxy, the
all-important fact that the entire plan of salvation hinges on that
principle should be sufficient to sweep away the objection entirely and
forever. “The wages of sin
is death.” “All have sinned and come short of the glory of
God.” Jesus of Nazareth
died instead of sinners. The just was offered for the unjust. The innocent Christ was a substitute for guilty men.
The whole doctrine of the atonement rests upon the principle of
salvation by proxy. Jesus is
called the Captain of our salvation. He is the head of the host of the army of saviors.
It was predicted by Obadiah the prophet that “Saviors shall come
up on Mount Zion” in the last days, and “the kingdom shall be the
And the inspired writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, speaking of
those worthies who through faith performed great wonders and prevailed and
obtained witness from God in olden times, declared, “These all, having
obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having
provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made
Thus the work of human redemption is to be carried on until all the
people of the earth shall be judged according to the Gospel, every soul having had an
opportunity of receiving or rejecting it, either in the body or in the
spirit state, and of obeying they ordinances thereof, either in person or
vicariously, the living acting for the dead.
Beauties of the Doctrine
the first glance, this doctrine may strike the modern Christian mind as
new and dangerous, but the more it is investigated in all its bearings,
the clearer its truth is made apparent, and the more glorious it becomes.
The thought that those who receive and obey the Gospel of Christ in
while in the flesh, can aid in the work of redemption for the ancestors
who are in the spirit world, is most delightful to the reverent soul.
It shows the value of those genealogies which Israel, the covenant
people of God, were moved upon in olden times to preserve.
It stimulates the faithful in Christ to good works that they may
become “saviors on Mount Zion.” It
explains how the nations composed of millions upon millions of souls that
never heard the Gospel or the name of Christ Jesus, many ultimately be
redeemed and made heirs of salvation.
Ordinances, How Administered
The ordinances for the dead, as revealed from heaven to the Prophet Joseph Smith, must be attended to in the way provided by the Lord of they will not be accepted of him. They must be administered in sacred places, built according to a heavenly pattern, and administered by those who have authority to loose on earth and it shall be loosed in heaven, to seal on earth and it shall be sealed in heaven. Persons who have themselves complied with the requirements of the Gospel may be baptized and administered to in other necessary ordinances for and in behalf of their line of progenitors can be ascertained. This work must be attended to in Zion. This necessitates the gathering of the Saints, “the elect of God,” from all parts of the earth. They are commanded of the Lord to come out of Babylon, that they be not partakers of her sins, and that they receive not of her plagues. 4 In compliance with this requirement they are gathering from all nations, to the mountain of the house of the Lord, in the tops of the mountains, where they can learn of his ways and walk in his paths, and build up Zion, where they can officiate as saviors and prepare for the coming of the Great King.5
gathering of Judah is also to be accomplished in this dispensation of the
fullness of times. Their
gathering place is Jerusalem. They
will return to the land of their fore-fathers chiefly in unbelief. A few of the race will begin to believe that Jesus of
Nazareth is the Christ, but the masses of that people will not receive him
in that light until he comes and “his feet shall stand again on the
Mount of Olives.” He will
then appear as the Deliverer from the hosts that will assemble against
them for a spoil and a prey. They
will then look upon him whom their forefathers have pierced, and beholding
the scars of the wounds he received when “he came to his own and his own
received him not,” but him upon the cross, will come to the
understanding that Jesus is indeed the Son of God as well as the Son of
David, and is their Messiah, their Redeemer, and their King.
They will then receive his Gospel, the only plan of salvation: “a
nation will be born in a day unto the Lord”; and in the Temple that will
be reared to his name they will officiate for their dead until all the
links in the chain of ancestry, back to the time when the Gospel was on
the earth previous to the enunciation of the Mosaic code, the law of
carnal commandments, are made complete.
All the promises made to Israel and Judah through their prophets
will be fulfilled and Christ will “reign in Mount Zion and Jerusalem”
and fill the earth with his glory! 6
of the Dispersed of Israel
descendants of the House of Israel which was scattered and dispersed among
the nations, will gather as the elect of God to the latter-day Zion upon
the land of Joseph in the top of the mountains, where the house of God is
“exalted above the hills,” and where the revelation of his
Zechariah 14: 8-23; Jeremiah
23: 3-8; 32: 37-44;
Ezekiel 34: 13-16; 38: 8-23; 39;
are made known and the ordinances of his house for the living and the dead
can be administered. The
blood of Israel, though mixed with that of the Gentiles, is counted as the
seed of Abraham to whom the promises of old were made, and not one of them
will fail. The gathering
place is on “the land shadowing with wings” which Isaiah saw in vision
“beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,” where the Lord has “lifted up an
ensign on the mountains,” and from which his “swift messengers” are
now going forth as “ambassadors” of the great King and are bringing
Israel from afar to “the place of the name of the Lord of Hosts, the
Mount Zion.” 7
There, in the Temple, built to his name according to the pattern he
has revealed, baptisms and all the ordinances necessary on earth in the
work of salvation for the living and the dead, are performed by divine
authority, and there the Spirit of God is poured out in rich effusion,
bearing witness to the humble of heart and contrite of spirit that they
and their labors of love are accepted of him and sealed and recorded in
Desert Shall Blossom as the Rose
“the wilderness and the solitary place have been made glad because of
them. The parched ground and
the thirsty land have brought forth the springs of water, the desert is
made “to blossom as the rose.” There
the ransomed of the Lord have come to Zion with songs of everlasting joy. “The place of their defense is the munition of rocks,”
and they are looking for the time, which is near at hand, when they shall
behold “the King is his beauty.” 8
From the foregoing it will be seen that our Heavenly Father is not bound
by the small notions and narrow creeds
modern religious sects and teachers.
“His ways are not as man’s ways, not his thoughts as their
thoughts.” “As high as
the heavens are above the earth,” so is his plan of salvation above the
inventions of the worldly wise. The
Gospel is to be preached to every responsible and accountable creature.
They who do not hear it while in the body will hear it in the
Work Now in Progress
glorious work for the salvation of the human family is now in progress
under the revelation and authority of the Most High, and no matter how
much it may be opposed by ignorance or malice, by Satan or foolish men, it
will go on to complete and glorious victory.
Evil will be overcome, darkness dispersed, Satan and his hosts be
bound, the earth and its inhabitants be redeemed, the earth will be
renewed, Christ will reign ad King, the Tabernacle of God will be with
men, and all things above, beneath, and around, will sing praises to the
Most High, to whom be glory and dominion forever.
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