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Friday, April 1, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 25 - The Postmortal Spirit World

The LDS Church is the only religion in the world to teach the correct doctrine of where we are going when we die and what occurs there.  We will examine this doctrine through scripture and the words of the prophets.

In the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon, Alma teaches his son Corianton what happens after we die.  It is written,

Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.  And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.  And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.  Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection. (Alma 40:11-14)

Spirit Paradise for those Members of the Church of Jesus Christ
It must be remembered that the righteous Alma speaks of are those who have take upon themselves the necessary ordinances to be saved, irrespective of the dispensation of the Gospel they lived in.  Those who go to Spirit Paradise are only the righteous dead, or those who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ in this life on Earth, no matter the Dispensation.  What do they do in Spirit Paradise?  President Joseph F. Smith wrote of a vision he had in 1918.  This was a vision of the Savior's ministry to the Spirit World during the time His body was in the Garden Tomb.  Of this vision President Smith said, "I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.  The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God" (D&C 138:57-58).  Elder Orson Pratt spoke of Spirit Paradise and the happiness found therein.  He said the reason for this happiness is that "it is the reflection of the memory that produces joy; that is one of the elements by which joy and happiness are produced upon the spirit of man in the future state; we remember the acts of our past lives that they have been good; we perceive by our memories that we have been obedient to counsel; . . . The fact is, our spirits then will be happy, far more happy than what we are capable even of conceiving, or having the least idea of in this world" (Journal of Discourses 2:240).

Spirit Prison Reserved for those not Members of the Church of Jesus Christ
Spirit Prison is entered into by all those who were either not members of The Church of Jesus Christ in this life on Earth, or who willfully chose to leave the Church and died outside the faith of the Restored Gospel.  Elder Orson Pratt taught, "We might now inquire, what is the cause of this intense suffering and misery? . . . It is memory, and remorse of conscience; a memory of what they have once done, a memory of their disobedience" (JD 2:239).  President Brigham Young said, speaking of Spirit Prison, said, "The wicked spirits that leave here and go into the spirit world, are they wicked there?  Yes" (Deseret News Weekly, 27 Aug. 1856, p. 3).  Amulek put it this way, "Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis [death], that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth posses your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world" (Alma 34:34).

President Joseph F. Smith taught,"from among the righteous, [Christ] organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and comissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.  And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel" (D&C 138:30-31).  As he stated above, "The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God."

The Spirit World is real.  What the Savior taught in the Bible concerning the rich man and Lazarus, as well as what Peter taught concerning Christ preaching to the dead spirits, are but glimpses of what the Lord revealed to Prophets and Apostles, both on the American continent anciently and in the modern day.  I know The Church of Jesus Christ is true, and the only true Church on Earth.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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