Saturday, September 20, 2008

Our Life After Death

Many people through the ages have questioned what happens when we die. The Bible gives us some information, and modern scripture/ revelation also answer some of these questions. Death is but the next step in our eternal progression.

When we die, our spirits and bodies separate. Our bodies are buried in the Earth, and our spirits go to the "Spirit World". I like to think of it this way: Just as our physical bodies harbor a spirit, our physical earth also has a spirit. This spirit is what is known as the "spirit world". In the book of Moses we learn, ",,,For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth...." Moses 3:5

The Spirit World is divided up in to two parts. The first part is what is known as "Paradise", and the second is what is known as "Spirit Prison". In the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Alma wrote, "11 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.
12 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. " Alma 40:11, 12
If you remember, Jesus also spoke of Paradise when he was on the cross. He spoke of it to the two thieves who were hung next to him. One of the thieves spoke, "42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Luke 23: 42, 43.
Alma the prophet goes on to tell us about spirit prison. In verses 13-14 of chapter 40 said,
"13 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.
14 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."
Isaiah the prophet also spoke of this spirit prison: "1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; " Isaiah 61:1 In addition, in 1 Peter 3:18,19 we read, "18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;"
While in the spirit world, we await the resurrection. At the time of the resurrection, all who were born to this earth will be resurrected. The resurrected body will be perfect and immortal, meaning it will never die again. This resurrection was brought about by Jesus Christ.
Before the resurrection, Jesus Christ will return to the earth to rule. This 1000 year period is known as the "Millenium". This is what is referred to as Jesus' "Second Coming". One of the reasons that the Jews could not believe that Jesus was the Christ is that they believed He would come in glory, and not be born in a stable. Jesus will come in glory, but it will be the second time he has come. During that 1000 years, Satan and his angels will be bound. At the end of the 1000 year period, they will be loosed, and the final battle will take place. After this battle, Satan and his hosts will be cast in to outer darkness.
Next will come the final judgement day. You might think of this as a sort of "report card" to see how we fared in this test of life. "12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." Revelations 20:12 Note that this scripture does not say that we are judged by our faith, but by our works. Why is faith not enough? Because faith, without works, isn't true faith. If a person believes, but then doesn't that true faith? Works are the cullmination of our faith. The only works that we will not be judged by are those of which we have repented. "42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." Doctrine and Covenants 59:42
Here in this lesson is where our church diverges from others. Most other churches believe that after the judgment we either go to Heaven or Hell. While that is true, we believe there are several degrees of heaven. 1 Cor 15:40,41 says, "40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
We believe that there are three heavens. The Celestial kingdom is the highest, and it's glory can be likened to the glory of the sun. The Terrestrial kingdom is the middle heaven, and its glory can be likened to the glory of the moon. The Telestial kingdom is the lower heaven, and its glory can be likened to the glory of the stars. Just as the sun, moon, and stars differ in brightness, so too, these heavens differ in glory. If we were to judge all mankind by a "Heaven or hell" standard, there would be some who are not really good enough for heaven, and not really bad enough for hell. To which would they go? But with three degrees of heaven, we can be assigned to the place of whose glory we have made ourselves worthy. Those who attain the highest degree of heaven will be those who will dwell with God, and who will continue to have eternal progression.
I could write a book on the subject of our lives after death, but I fear that I would weary my readers. I have only lightly mentioned many of our beliefs, and have not included scriptural references to some because I didn't want to make this post even longer. I hope that if you have any specific questions, that you will ask me. I will do my best to answer. But I bear my witness to you that these things I have spoken of are true, and that if you study them out in your mind, and ask God, He will make the truth of them known unto you.

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