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Joseph F. Smith's Vision of the Redemption of the Dead

Doctrine and Covenants 138

On October 4, 1918, at general conference, President Joseph F. Smith declared that he had received several divine communications during the previous months. At the time, people around the world were grieving the loss of loved ones. Because of the First World War and a global flu pandemic that spread in its wake, some 70 to 120 million people—roughly 5 percent of the world’s population—had died. President Smith had lost a son that year and had been ill himself.

Confronted with the mortality of so many people, he turned to scripture study and prayer. Among the revelatory experiences that followed was a vision of the spirit world in which he saw how the Savior organized missionary work among those who had passed away. He dictated an account of this vision immediately following the conference, and it is now canonized as Doctrine and Covenants 138.

In the hundred years since, Latter-day Saints have embraced the message of the vision. As President Russell M. Nelson has taught, “We help to gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil.” The following resources will help deepen your appreciation for President Smith’s monumental vision.