Material for this lesson can be found in Teachings of the Presidents of the Church:... (the old Priesthood/Relief Society manuals) in Brigham Young Chapter 39 and in Harold B. Lee Chapter 24. These can be found by going to the new “lds.org” then click on “Go to Classic LDS.org” (lower left corner), then click on “Gospel Library” then “Lessons” then “Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society.” The manuals are all found at the bottom of this page.
As with the last few lesson Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual Chapter 32 and 33 are wonderful resources for this lesson. It is available online at “institute.lds.org” then click on “Course Catalog” on the top bar. There are many references that could be given for the lesson title, but we will confine this blog to the subjects found in the sections of this lesson.
1 - - Judgments of God
In this section, a question is asked, “What are some different judgments that come before the final judgment?” (p. 269). This is a great discussion question. At least three that might be important to understand are premortal existence, baptism and death. First, the premortal decision of whether to follow Jesus or Lucifer resulted in a final judgment, since those who followed Lucifer will never have a body or any kingdom of glory. President Lee indicated that we also were judged as to our ability to reign with the Savior (see Chapter 44 in this blog):
We have the right to become kings and rulers because of the roles we played in the spirit world before we came here (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 15).
Second, baptism is a partial judgment and is discussed in the third paragraph of this section. It will also be dealt with fully in the next and final Chapter of this blog.
Third, death is a partial judgment and is dealt with in the fourth paragraph. The “state of happiness or misery” mentioned there, is of course going to either paradise or spirit prison as result of our actions here (see Chapter 41 of this blog).
The judgment discussed in the second paragraph of this section was defined as just by Brigham Young:
Death levels the most powerful monarch with the poorest starving mendicant [beggar]; and both must stand before the judgment seat of Christ to answer for the deeds done in the body (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 285).
The fairness of this judgment was taught by President Lee:
The judgment we shall face will be before the Righteous Judge who will take into account our capacities and our limitations, our opportunities and our handicaps. One who sins and repents and thereafter fills his life with purposeful effort may not lose as much in that day of righteous judgment as one who, though not committing serious sin, falls down miserably by omitting to do that which he had capacity and opportunity to do but would not (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 229).
President Lee also talked of suffering we will have if we fall short of what we know possible:
The greatest hell that one can suffer is the burning of one’s conscience. The scriptures say his thoughts will condemn him, he’ll have a bright recollection of all his life (see Alma 12:14; 11:43)…. Now, when we fail of that highest degree of glory and realize what we’ve lost, there will be a burning of the conscience that will be worse than any physical kind of fire that I assume one could suffer (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 227-8).
2 - - Our Words, Works, and Thoughts Are Used to Judge Us
A word that does not appear in the title of this section, but very well should is “hearts”. This word appears two times in the whole lesson. The first time is in the first section in a scripture, “We will also be judged “according to the desire of [our] hearts” (D&C 137:9; see also Alma 41:3)” (p. 269). The second time is in this section, “As we repent of our sins, giving up every impure thought and act, the Holy Ghost will change our hearts so we no longer have even the desire to sin (see Mosiah 5:2)” (p. 270).
In a conference talk, Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained how “desires” play a crucial part in our behavior:
I have chosen to talk about the importance of desire. I hope each of us will search our hearts to determine what we really desire and how we rank our most important desires.
Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming (April conference, 2011).
It is important for us to understand the relationship between “thoughts” and the “words” or “works” by which we will be judged. What is in our “hearts” or “thoughts” is crucial to what we do. This connection is illustrated in the scriptures.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).
Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart (D&C 8:2).
This connection between “thoughts” and “hearts” was discussed by President Brigham Young:
I have come to the conclusion that we shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body and according to the thoughts and intents of the heart (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 285).
Another principle which may be a great help in understanding the judgment, especially when it comes down to “thoughts” and what is in our “hearts” and “desires” is that of the omniscience of God. President John Taylor explained:
We may deceive one another, and, in some circumstances, as counterfeit coin passes for that which is considered true and valuable among men. But God searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men. He knows our thoughts and comprehends our desires and feelings; he knows our acts and the motives which prompt us to perform them. He is acquainted with all the doings and operations of the human family, and all the secret thoughts and acts of the children of men are open and naked before him, and for them he will bring them to judgment (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 89).
If any need further understanding of the omniscience of God, a review of the Topical Guide in the Bible will greatly help. There are two places to check out, “God, Foreknowledge of” (p. 174) and “God, Omniscience of” (pp. 178-9).
An additional subject which could be added to this section and for which we will be judged is outlined by Brigham Young:
Time and ability to labor are the capital stock of the whole world of mankind, and we are all indebted to God for the ability to use time to advantage, and he will require of us a strict account of the disposition we make of this ability (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 286).
3 - - We Will Be Judged by Records
In a wonderful conference talk (the whole talk really is terrific) Elder Russell M. Nelson
While temple and family history work has the power to bless those beyond the veil, it has an equal power to bless the living. It has a refining influence on those who are engaged in it. They are literally helping to exalt their families.
We are exalted when we can dwell together with our extended families in the presence of Almighty God. The Prophet Joseph Smith foresaw our duty: “The great day of the Lord is at hand…” he said. “Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple … a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation” [D&C 128:24].
The preparation of that record is our individual and collective responsibility. As we work together, we can make it worthy of all acceptation by the Lord. That record enables ordinances to be performed for and accepted by our deceased ancestors, as they may choose. Those ordinances can bring liberty to captives on the other side of the veil [See Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; D&C 138:18, 31, 42] (April Conference 2011).
It is clear from this statement why we will be judged by temple records. This is a great way to build on our understanding of the importance of Chapter 40 “Temple Work and Family History” in this manual, as well as in this blog.
In the fourth paragraph of this section we are taught, “The Apostle John taught that ‘the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son’” (John 5:22) (p. 271). President Lee dispelled an old myth:
Contrary to the usual concept of religionists, that the Apostle Peter is the keeper of the gateway to the life beyond this, we are told that “the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there (2 Nephi 9:41.) (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 227).
In the fourth paragraph of this section we are also taught, “Son, in turn, will call upon others to assist in the Judgment (p. 271). The duty of the Twelve as judges is then outlined. This could be expanded to more judges the Lord has called. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:
…in modern revelation the Lord appointed the bishop to be a “judge in Israel” to judge over property and transgressions (D&C 58:17; D&C 107:72) (Ensign, Aug. 1999, 7).
In this section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord explains this duty of the Bishop as a judge:
Wherefore, the office of a bishop…
And also to be a judge in Israel, to do the business of the church, to sit in judgment upon transgressors upon testimony as it shall be laid before him according to the laws, by the assistance of his counselors, whom he has chosen or will choose among the elders of the church.
Thus shall he be a judge, even a common judge among the inhabitants of Zion, or in a stake of Zion, or in any branch of the church where he shall be set apart unto this ministry… (D&C 107:68, 72, 74).
President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled bishops further:
You cannot compromise your qualifications to sit as a common judge in Israel. It is a fearsome and awesome responsibility to stand as a judge of the people. You must be their judge in some instances as to worthiness to hold membership in the Church, worthiness to enter the house of the Lord, worthiness to be baptized, worthiness to receive the priesthood, worthiness to serve missions, worthiness to teach and to serve as officers in the organizations. You must be the judge of their eligibility in times of distress to receive help from the fast offerings of the people and commodities from the storehouse of the Lord (Ensign, Nov. 2003, 60).
4 - - Inheriting a Place in a Kingdom of Glory
Here is a wonderful account of how Joseph learned of the “Kingdoms of Glory”:
Joseph Smith’s work on the translation of the Bible led to a most remarkable vision of life in the eternities. On February 16, 1832, the Prophet was at work in the home of John Johnson in Hiram, Ohio, with Sidney Rigdon serving as his scribe. He was translating the Gospel of John. “From sundry revelations which had been received,” the Prophet later said, “it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled. It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body, the term ‘Heaven,’ as intended for the Saints’ eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one.”
The Prophet translated John 5:29, which describes how all “shall come forth” in the resurrection—“they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” As he and Sidney pondered this scripture, a marvelous vision was opened to them. As the Prophet recorded: “By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God—even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning” (D&C 76:12–13).
In this glorious vision, the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon saw the Son of God at the right hand of the Father and “received of his fulness” (D&C 76:20). They saw the three kingdoms of glory that God has prepared for His children and learned who will inherit these kingdoms. They also saw Satan thrust out of the presence of God and the sufferings of those who allow themselves to be overcome by Satan.
This vision later became section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Prophet explained: “Nothing could be more pleasing to the Saints upon the order of the kingdom of the Lord, than the light which burst upon the world through the foregoing vision. Every law, every commandment, every promise, every truth, and every point touching the destiny of man, from Genesis to Revelation, where the purity of the scriptures remains unsullied by the folly of men, … witnesses the fact that that document is a transcript from the records of the eternal world. The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action; the continued duration for completion, in order that the heirs of salvation may confess the Lord and bow the knee; the rewards for faithfulness, and the punishments for sins, are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every honest man is constrained to exclaim: ‘It came from God’” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 217-19).
In an address, Joseph later stated:
My text is on the resurrection of the dead, which you will find in the 14th chapter of John—‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’ [John 14:2.] It should be—‘In my Father’s kingdom are many kingdoms,’ in order that ye may be heirs of God and joint-heirs with me. … There are mansions for those who obey a celestial law, and there are other mansions for those who come short of the law, every man in his own order.
“But,’ says one, ‘I believe in one universal heaven and hell, where all go, and are all alike, and equally miserable or equally happy.”
What! where all are huddled together—the honorable, virtuous, and murderers, and whoremongers, when it is written that they shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body? (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 219-20).
A great question is asked at the beginning of this section, “How will our faithfulness during our life on earth influence our life in the eternities?” (p. 271). The rest of this lesson will cover the first idea in this question. It may be good to pause on the last phrase of the question, “our life in the eternities” and realize that to live forever is also a gift from God. Brigham Young declared:
This is the greatest gift that can be conferred on intelligent beings, to live forever and never be destroyed (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 89).
The most quoted scripture in conference states in part:
For behold, this is my work…to bring to pass the immortality…of man (Moses 1:39).
While we will deal with the rest of the scripture in the next (and last) lesson, this first “work” of the Savior is important. One of the two parts of the Atonement is to provide resurrection for all into a degree of glory (as well as a degree of non-glory). Brigham Young explained it this way:
Jesus will never cease his work until all are brought up to the enjoyment of a kingdom in the mansions of his Father, where there are many kingdoms and many glories, to suit the works and faithfulness of all men that have lived on the earth. Some will obey the celestial law and receive of its glory, some will abide the terrestrial and some the telestial, and others will receive no glory (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 52).
In this section we read, “We learn from this revelation that even members of the Church will inherit different kingdoms because they will not be equally faithful and valiant in their obedience to Christ” (p. 271). Brigham Young taught:
All these different glories are ordained to fit the capacities and conditions of men (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 288).
In preparation for the next part of this lesson, Joseph F. Smith taught:
We shall stand before the bar of God to be judged. So says the Bible, so says the Book of Mormon, and so say the revelations which have come direct to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith. And then those who have not been subject and obedient to the celestial law will not be quickened by the celestial glory. And those who have not been subject and obedient to the terrestrial law will not be quickened by the terrestrial glory. And those who have not been subject and obedient to the telestial law, will not be quickened by a telestial glory; but they will have a kingdom without glory (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 100).
President Harold B. Lee elaborated further:
Here and now in mortality, each one of us is having the opportunity of choosing the kind of laws we elect to obey. We are now living and obeying celestial laws that will make us candidates for celestial glory, or we are living terrestrial laws that will make us candidates for … terrestrial glory, or telestial law. The place we shall occupy in the eternal worlds will be determined by the obedience we yield to the laws of these various kingdoms during the time we have here in mortality upon the earth (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 230).
Elder James E. Talmage discussed one of the advantages of any of the Kingdoms of Glory:
…all who receive of any one of these orders of glory are at last saved, and upon them Satan will finally have no claim (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 91).
It is interesting that the degrees of glory all have varying degrees within them. Elder James E. Talmage explained:
The three kingdoms of widely differing glories are organized on an orderly plan of graduation. We have seen that the telestial kingdom comprises several subdivisions; this also is the case, we are told, with the celestial; and, by analogy, we conclude that a similar condition prevails in the terrestrial. Thus the innumerable degrees of merit amongst mankind are provided for in an infinity of graded glories (We Believe, 192).
4 (A) - - Celestial
President Lee clarified Our Father’s priority for us in the eternity:
There is only one objective so far as our Father’s work is concerned, and that is that in the end when we shall have finished our work here on earth, whether after a short space of time or a long, we too shall have overcome the world and have earned the right to that place called the Celestial Kingdom (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 230).
President Lee also detailed the two classes of Our Father’s children who will inherit the Celestial Kingdom:
Those of you who have lived a righteous life and die without having become the servants of sin, or who have truly repented of your sins, will enter into the “rest of the Lord,” which rest “is the fulness of the glory of the Lord [See D&C 84:24.] (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 227).
Paul was speaking of the second group when he stated:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
All who have lived past the age of accountability “have sinned” and thus are in need of repentance. The first group, obviously, are those who die before this age. President Wilford Woodruff clarified:
There is no infant or child that has died before arriving at the years of accountability, but what is redeemed…
Children are innocent before the Lord… They will come forth out of their graves in the morning of the resurrection, … clothed with glory, immortality and eternal life, in eternal beauty and bloom, and they will be given into the hands of their parents, and they will receive them in the family organization of the celestial world (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 84).
Indeed, scriptures and prophets declare, “…little children are saved in the celestial kingdom…” (for a terrific article on this by one of my favorite teachers, see “I Have a Question” by Leland H. Gentry in Ensign, Jun. 1981, 35).
As an optional part of this lesson, it may be helpful to better understand the geographical destiny of those who inherit the Celestial Kingdom. Here are some scriptures and quotes from prophets which link to show a wonderful pattern concerning this destination:
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin (of the Presiding Bishopric):
[after referring to Exodus 20:12] "Long days upon the land" stimulates the thought that it may not mean days of mortality alone, but the days to come when our earth shall become celestialized (D&C 88:25-26) and the dwelling place of those who shall enjoy and inherit the celestial kingdom, which I pray will be the blessing of every worthy father and mother and every loyal son and daughter in Israel. Amen (Conference Report, October 1943, pp. 119-124).
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
1 Nephi 15:5
And it came to pass that I was overcome because of my afflictions, for I considered that mine afflictions were great above all, because of the destruction of my people, for I had beheld their fall.
2 Nephi 1:5
But, said he [Lehi], notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.
2 Nephi 3:2
And may the Lord consecrate also unto thee this land, which is a most precious land, for thine inheritance and the inheritance of thy seed with thy brethren, for thy security forever, if it so be that ye shall keep the commandments of the Holy One of Israel.
Matthew 5:5 or 3 Nephi 12:5
And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Many have referred to the following from D&C 64:23 as “fire insurance”:
…he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.
While it is true that those who pay tithes will escape being “burned” at the Second Coming, terrestrial people will also escape being “burned” (see Chapter 44 of this blog). Tithing, however, definitely fits into a much bigger picture in this pattern of “Who will inherit the earth?”
Nevertheless, he that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome, and shall receive an inheritance upon the earth…
And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh;
And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts.
And this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away.
D&C 88:17, 25-26
And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.
And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—
Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.
This earth will be rolled back into the presence of God, and crowned with celestial glory. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181)
The earth will abide its creation, and will be counted worthy of receiving the blessings designed for it, and will ultimately roll back into the presence of God who formed it and established its mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. These will all be retained upon the earth, come forth in the resurrection, and abide for ever and for ever (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 105).
George Albert Smith
God has said if we will honor Him and keep His commandments—if we will observe His laws He will fight our battles and destroy the wicked, and when the time comes He will come down in heaven—not from heaven—but He will bring heaven with Him—and this earth upon which we dwell, will be the celestial kingdom (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 105).
Joseph Fielding Smith:
The Lord did not say this earth shall be one-third celestial, and one-third terrestrial, and one-third telestial, but that the earth was made and created to become a celestial body upon whose face the meek and the poor, who have received their part in the celestial kingdom, shall find their eternal abode….all who cannot abide the celestial law…will have to be transplanted to some other sphere… (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:367)
Joseph Fielding Smith:
Afterwards [referring to the millennium] will come the death of the earth, its resurrection, its glorification, as the abode of the righteous (D&C 88:25-26) or they who belong to the celestial kingdom, and they only shall dwell upon the face of it (D&C 130:9). (Conference Report, April 1952, pp. 26-28)
Joseph Fielding Smith
In that great change, or resurrection, which shall come to this earth, it shall be sanctified, celestialized and made a fit abode even for God the Father, who shall grace it with his presence. (D&C 88:19.) Then shall the righteous, those who have become sanctified through the law of God, possess it for ever as their abode. This earth is destined to become the everlasting residence of its inhabitants who gain the glory of the celestial kingdom. It shall become in that day like the throne of God and shall shine forth with all the splendor and brightness of celestial glory in its eternal, sanctified and glorious state (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 105).
The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim.
This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ's.
Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;
And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.
I remarked to my family and friends present, that when the earth was sanctified and became like a sea of glass, it would be one great urim and thummim, and the Saints could look in it and see as they are seen (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 105).
A man…can never see the celestial kingdom of God without being born of the water and the Spirit…. He can never come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God…unless he becomes as a little child and is taught by the Spirit of God. (History of the Church, 1:283)
Finally, we love this statement by President George Albert Smith:
One of the beautiful things to me in the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it brings us all to a common level. It is not necessary for a man to be a president of a stake, or a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, in order to attain a high place in the celestial kingdom. The humblest member of the Church, if he keeps the commandments of God, will obtain an exaltation just as much as any other man in the celestial kingdom. (Conference Report, p. 25, October 1933)
4 (B) - - Terrestrial
In this section we read, “These are they who rejected the gospel on earth but afterward received it in the spirit world” (p. 272). Concerning this, Brigham Young declared:
When the light of the knowledge of God comes to a man, and he rejects it, that is his condemnation (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 286).
Joseph Fielding Smith explained further:
Into the terrestrial kingdom will go all those who are honorable and who have lived clean virtuous lives, but who would not receive the Gospel, but in the spirit world repented and accepted it as far as it can be given unto them. Many of these have been blinded by tradition and the love of the world, and have not been able to see the beauties of the Gospel (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 92).
Brigham Young emphasized the importance of not being blinded by others:
Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another’s sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 288).
President Lee taught of those who are taught the gospel but settle for less:
[President George F. Richards] related this story, a story of a young man who was very desirous of getting an education. His parents were unable to send him to college, so he walked to the college city, and after diligent inquiry he succeeded in finding a place [where] he could pay his board and lodging. Later one of the college professors gave him a job cutting wood to pay for his tuition. Others, learning of his success as a woodchopper, employed him to chop wood for them. He soon found that he had no time to go to college, and he became content with his success as a woodchopper.
This represents a condition which obtains with many of us. We came to earth for a specific purpose—that of working out our own salvation, or in other words, to prepare for the life which is to come, which is everlasting. Some of us seem to have forgotten the purpose we had in view, and have become content with our search for the wealth and fame which life affords, in other words, content with merely “chopping wood” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 225-6).
Brigham Young further explained:
Some might suppose that it would be a great blessing to be taken and carried directly into heaven and there set down, but in reality that would be no blessing to such persons; they could not reap a full reward, could not enjoy the glory of the kingdom, and could not comprehend and abide the light thereof, but it would be to them a hell intolerable and I suppose would consume them much quicker than would hell fire. It would be no blessing to you to be carried into the celestial kingdom, and obliged to stay therein, unless you were prepared to dwell there (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 92).
Brigham Young continued:
Were the wicked, in their sins, under the necessity of walking into the presence of the Father and Son, hand-in-hand with those who believe that all will be saved—that Jesus will leave none, their condition would be more excruciating and unendurable than to dwell in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. …the adulterer, whoremonger, thief, liar, false swearer, murderer, and every other abominable character, if they but repent on the gallows or their death-beds, are, by the same doctrine, forced into the presence of the Father and the Son, which, could they enter there, would be a hell to them. (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 288).
4 (C) - - Telestial
That all kingdoms are indeed kingdoms of glory was stated by Brigham Young:
If [people] have a law, no matter who made it, and do the best they know how, they will have a glory which is beyond your imagination, by any description I might give; you cannot conceive of the least portion of the glory of God prepared for his beings, the workmanship of his hands (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 287).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie agreed:
In the infinite mercy of a beneficent Father it surpasses all mortal understanding, and yet it is in no way comparable to the glory of the terrestrial and celestial worlds (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 93).
4 (D) - - Outer Darkness
Those who are born (in addition to all who chose Lucifer in the premortal existence and were not born) and go to outer darkness are described by Joseph Smith:
All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 93).
Joseph F. Smith added:
And he that believes, is baptized, and receives the light and testimony of Jesus Christ, and walks well for a season, receiving the fulness of the blessings of the gospel in this world, and afterwards turns wholly unto sin, violating his covenants, he will be among those whom the gospel can never reach in the spirit world; and all such go beyond its saving power, they will taste the second death, and be banished from the presence of God eternally (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 93).
A warning for those tempted to futilely speculate on those who to “outer darkness” as discussed in this section is found in the following:
And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows;
Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof… (D&C 76:45 - 46).
5 - - We Should Prepare Now for Judgment
In Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee there is a terrific resource for this section, “How do we prepare to meet the Lord?” (pp. 228-230). Here is an excerpt:
The Lord has granted us a few more days or a few more weeks or a few more years as the time goes—it matters not how long—for in the accounting of the Almighty, every day of preparation is precious. One prophet has put it, “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. … For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, … the devil … doth seal you his.” (Alma 34:32, 35.)
We need to remember that it doesn’t make so much difference whether we die early in life or in middle age, the all-important thing is not when we die, but how prepared are we when we do die. This is a day of preparation for men to prepare to meet their God. How great and merciful He was in allowing us a period of probation during which time man should be perfecting himself.
Today is the day for us to begin to search our souls. Have you discovered which is the most important of all the commandments to you today? … Are you going to begin working on it today? Or are you going to wait until it is too late? The little boy says, “Well, when I get to be a big boy, then I’m going to do so and so.” And what is that? When he gets to be a big boy, … then he says, “When I get married, then I’ll do so and so.” And then after he gets married, it all changes, and “Well, when I retire.” And then after he is retired, a cold wind sweeps down over him and suddenly he realizes too late that he has lost everything. And it is too late. And yet all his life he has had all the time that there was. He just hasn’t taken advantage of it. Now, today, this is the day for us to begin to do something about it, before it is too late (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 228-9).
This next portion is a repeat of this blog, chapter 7. Even if this was taught way back then (over a year ago by now) we think it will be helpful here to better understand the title of this section.
Here is a discussion about what President McKay calls “The Dual Nature of Man” in Chapter 2 of Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay. Concerning this, Joseph Smith declared:
All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract, and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle, but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all; and those revelations which will save our spirits will save our bodies. God reveals them to us in view of no eternal dissolution of the body, or tabernacle (History of The Church, 6: 312 - 313).
So the Holy Ghost speaks to our spirits, not our bodies.
Brigham Young then stated:
You are aware that many think that the devil has rule and power over both body and spirit. Now, I want to tell you that he does not hold any power over man, only so far as the body overcomes the spirit that is in a man, through yielding to the spirit of evil. The spirit that the Lord puts into a tabernacle of flesh is under the dictation of the Lord Almighty; but the spirit and body are united in order that the spirit may have a tabernacle, and be exalted; and the spirit is influenced by the body, and the body by the spirit.
In the first place the spirit is pure, and under the special control and influence of the Lord, but the body is of the earth, and is subject to the power of the devil, and is under the mighty influence of that fallen nature that is of the earth. If the spirit yields to the body, the devil then has power to overcome both the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.
Recollect, brethren and sisters, every one of you, that when evil is suggested to you, when it arises in your hearts, it is through the temporal organization. When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way inadvertently: when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead. If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed.
The influence of the enemy has power over all such. Those who overcome every passion, and every evil, will be sanctified, and be prepared to enjoy eternity with the blessed. If you have never thought of this before, try to realize it now. Let it rest upon your minds, and see if you can discover in yourselves the operations of the spirit and the body, which constitute the man. Continually and righteously watch the spirit that the Lord has put in you, and I will promise you to be led into righteousness, holiness, peace, and good order.
But let the body rise up with its passions, with the fallen nature pertaining to it, and let the spirit yield to it, your destruction is sure. On the other hand, let the spirit take the lead, and bring the body and its passions into subjection, and you are safe (Journal of Discourses, 2: 256).
David O. McKay also taught in Conference:
Man has a dual nature—one, related to the earthly or animal life—the other the spiritual life, akin to the divine. Man's body is but the tabernacle in which his spirit dwells. Too many, far too many, are prone to regard the body as the man and consequently, to direct their efforts to the gratifying of the body's pleasures, its appetites, its desires, its passions. Too few recognize that the real man is an immortal spirit which "intelligence or light of truth" was animated as an individual entity, with all its distinguishing traits, will continue after the body ceases to respond to its earthly environment.
Whether a man remains satisfied within what we designate the animal world, satisfied with what the animal world will give him, yielding without effort to the whim of his appetites and passions, and slipping further and further into the realm of indulgence or whether, through self-mastery, he rises toward intellectual, moral, and spiritual enjoyments depends upon the kind of choice he makes every day—nay, every hour of his life (Conference Report, April 1967).
The following chart illustrates what Elder William R. Bradford taught my brother Byron when he served as my brother’s Mission President (you can complete the circles when you draw the diagram on the board):
God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ have spoken to prophets, but rarely talk face-to-face with mortal man. Fallen man generally communes with the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost (see D&C 130:22-23, Moroni 10:17, D&C 50:13-14). Satan also tempts man (see Moses 5:13, 2 Nephi 28:21, and Alma 30:53). Since both are spirits, they speak “by the spirit” (one a good spirit, one an evil one) to man. There is a gate, which shuts one or the other out. The handle is on our side. If we shut the Holy Ghost out, then we automatically open the door to Satan’s temptations. If we shut Satan out, then the Holy Ghost can commune with us. There is something that President Bradford did not show in his diagram that my brother and I think should be added. We think that for fallen man, there is a spring on the gate, making it harder to shut Satan out than to keep it open to the Holy Ghost. However, shutting Satan out and listening to the Holy Ghost is crucial to progressing and becoming like God.
In short and simple terms, it seems that if the spirit learns to listen to and then follow the spirit of the Holy Ghost to conquer the body’s affinity for carnal, sensual and devilish desires, along with the desires due to hormones, appetites and passions all of which accompany the natural man born into mortality, thru association with the Holy Ghost and that person truly “receives” the Gift of the Holy Ghost and becomes celestial.
However, if this battle is half won and half lost, and a person never “receives” the Holy Ghost, that person becomes terrestrial. If the battle is mostly lost and the body and the spirit becomes carnal, sensual and devilish, remaining a “natural man” and rejecting both the light of Christ and any influence of the Holy Ghost, that person becomes telestial.
This battle is waged with every significant decision we make in life. President Henry B. Eyring explained:
When we reject the counsel that comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose. (Ensign, Jun 2008, 4)
Thus one way we can “prepare now for judgment” is keep our covenants with good decisions. Covenants are made in the name of Jesus Christ. President Lee stated the sorrow we will feel if we break our covenants but also the joy we will have by keeping our covenants:
When we pass through the portals of death … He’s going to say to us, “Now you took upon yourselves my name. What have you done with my name? Have you ever brought disgrace to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as a member of my church?” Imagine a frown, imagine He shakes His head and turns and walks away. … But imagine when we meet Him that a smile lights up His face. He puts out His beckoning arms to us, and says to us, “My son, my daughter, you’ve been faithful on earth. You’ve kept the faith. You’ve finished your work. There’s now a crown prepared for such as you in my kingdom.” [See 2 Timothy 4:7–8.] I can’t think of any ecstasy in all the world that will transcend that kind of a reception into the presence of the Almighty, in that world to come (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 228).