The First Judgment

The LDS Encyclopedia of Mormonism teaches that “at the final judgment, all except the devil, his angels, and those who become sons of perdition during mortal life will be assigned to one of the three kingdoms of glory.” <https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Degrees_of_Glory>

That sentence is incorrect. All of humanity will indeed be judged and assigned to one of those three categories – that is true. But where is the scripture that states that this happens at the final judgement? There isn’t one. What is the basis for this statement? I’m not sure what the basis was, but it wasn’t the scriptures! I’ve spent a lot of time searching for scriptures that support the notion that the separation into three degrees of glory happens at the final judgment. I haven’t been able to find them. If I’ve overlooked something, please enlighten me.

This post will use the scriptures to show that this judgment and assignment to three degrees of glory does not happen at the final judgment, but rather happens at the Second Coming of Christ and the beginning of the Millennium.

Celestial Glory

Christ uses the phrase “in the clouds of heaven” to refer to his Second Coming.

D&C 45:16
And I will show it plainly as I showed it unto my disciples as I stood before them in the flesh, and spake unto them, saying: As ye have asked of me concerning the signs of my coming, in the day when I shall come in my glory in the clouds of heaven, to fulfil the promises that I have made unto your fathers,

When discussing the Celestial category of people in Section 76, we are informed:

D&C 76:63
These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.

Christ will be accompanied by these celestial-category people when he comes in the clouds of heaven to the earth to usher in the Millennium. The first thing to note is that this group of people will be comprised of those who have already died as well as those still alive at the time of Christ’s coming. Multiple scriptures attest to this:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

D&C 88:96-98
And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heavenThey are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.

D&C 45:44-45
And then they shall look for me, and, behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off. But before the arm of the Lord shall fall, an angel shall sound his trump, and the saints that have slept shall come forth to meet me in the cloud.

Who are these holy angels that come with Christ? The Celestial category of people, the saints that have slept. Notice how all these scriptures are linked by the angel sounding the trump. Joseph even uses this language in the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer.

D&C 109:73-76
That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; and be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth; that when the trump shall sound for the dead, we shall be caught up in the cloud to meet thee, that we may ever be with the Lord; that our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings.

Obviously there has to be some type of judgment to determine who is worthy to meet Christ in the cloud and who is not. Those who are judged worthy of the Celestial glory are caught up to meet him before his Second Coming and later descend with him. That is when the Celestial category is initially judged and populated…nowhere close to the final judgment.

Terrestrial Glory

In the New Testament, Peter writes about the dead being taught the gospel so they could be judged according to men in the flesh.

1 Peter 4:6
For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Notice the word links to the descriptions of the Terrestrial people.

D&C 76:71-74
And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fulness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament. Behold, these are they who died without law; and also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.

D&C 88:99
And after this another angel shall sound, which is the second trump; and then cometh the redemption of those who are Christ’s at his coming; who have received their part in that prison which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be judged according to men in the flesh.

Notice these people spent time in prison and were taught the gospel so they could be judged according to men in the flesh. These are the same people in 76 and 88, the terrestrial people. The Celestial people are described as taking part in the first resurrection. But so are the Terrestrials.

D&C 45 teaches that when Christ comes in his glory, the heathens and those that knew now law (linking back to D&C 76:72) will be redeemed and take part in the first resurrection.

D&C 45:54-56
And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection; and it shall be tolerable for them. And Satan shall be bound, that he shall have no place in the hearts of the children of men. And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.

Compare that with the Telestials:

D&C 63:17-18
Wherefore, I, the Lord, have said that the fearful, and the unbelieving, and all liars, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Verily I say, that they shall not have part in the first resurrection.

So the “first resurrection” takes place around the Second Coming of Christ, and comprises the Celestial and Terrestrial categories of people.

At the time of Christ’s coming, those judged worthy of the Terrestrial glory are raised up to dwell on earth with Christ and with those Celestial people who have come with him.  These people have been judged not worthy to meet Christ in the cloud, but they have been judged to not have to be thrust down to hell with the Telestials.This is the beginning of the Millennium when the Terrestrial category is populated. This, too, is nowhere close to the final judgment.

 

Telestial Glory

D&C 76:81-82,84-85, 102, 106
And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament. These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus…These are they who are thrust down to hell. These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work.

Last of all, these all are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud.

These are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work;

D&C 88:100-101
And again, another trump shall sound, which is the third trump; and then come the spirits of men who are to be judged, and are found under condemnation; and these are the rest of the dead; and they live not again until the thousand years are ended, neither again, until the end of the earth.

According to D&C 88, the telestial category will be dead during the Millennium, and will not be restored to life until the thousand years are ended. So technically their judgment comes at the beginning of the Millennium when they aren’t raised to life with the Terrestrials. They are not redeemed from hell and restored to life until the end of the Millennium. You’ll also notice that this corresponds to the same time when Satan will be loosed and reign again for a little season (D&C 43:31). I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

By the beginning of the Millennium, everyone has been judged and assigned to one of the three degrees of glory. But instead of this happening at “the end”, with a final judgement, this will happen at the start of the Millennium. After the telestials have been restored to life, we still have the short season during which Satan reigns again, and the final battle with Satan and his angels against Michael and all those that follow the Lord. It is only after those major events, at the end, that the final judgment occurs. A lot can, and will, happen during that time that needs to be factored into a final judgment, and the next posts will talk about that.

5 thoughts on “The First Judgment

  1. Such A Wonderful Post!

    So, ONE of the big questions here is this;

    When are the celestials (dead and living) “taken into the cloud?”

    1. It must be, “before the arm of the Lord shall fall” D&C 45:44-45 (good phrase for a
    word study.)

    2. It can’t be when those “who are Christ’s at his coming” because that is when the terrestrials are judged D&C 88:99

    3. It can’t be at the time when “he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.” because he is already bring the celestials with him. “whom he shall bring with him.” D&C 76:63

    The answer I assume lies in the phrase “BEFORE the arm of the Lord shall fall.”

    When is this?????

    Is it possible that he comes for those celestial people (don’t forget a resurrection of the celestial dead happen at the same time) at a time we least expect it? I don’t think we need to find the multitude of verses that say that. We should all know those.

    But I often ponder the JST of Luke 17 hoping for a precise answer but often just coming up with more questions. Comments in “( )”

    Luke 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man.

    Luke 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage until the day that Noe entered into the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all.

    (So he comes at a time of peace? If they eat and drink they must have plenty of food and wine, right? They were dating, courting and getting married. Probably having receptions in the church cultural hall, right? Then all of a sudden…it’s over.)

    Luke 17:28 Likewise also, as it was in the days of Lot: They did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

    Luke 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.

    ( These too. They have food, they have wine. They even have money to buy and sell. Peacefully, I assume. Wait, no financial collapse has happened? If they are planting then they are expecting a harvest. That would mean they are not expecting a world war for at least 6 months, right? So he comes at a time of peace? For whom? Celestials? Who else could it be?)

    Luke 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

    Luke 17:31 In that day, the disciple who shall be on the housetop and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away; and he who is in the field, let him likewise not return back.

    Luke 17:32 Remember Lot’s wife.

    Luke 17:33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

    Luke 17:34 I tell you, In that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

    Luke 17:35 Two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

    (Wait, if they were all gathered together in Zion would he not just take them all? Why is he taking 1 and leaving 1 from the exact same place? Are we not all suppose to be gathered to Zion first? Maybe not.)

    Luke 17:36 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord, shall they be taken?

    Luke 17:37 And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is gathered, or in other words, whithersoever the saints are gathered, thither will the eagles be gathered together, or thither will the remainder be gathered together. (WHERE IS THIS? WHERE ARE THEY GATHERED?)

    Luke 17:38 This he spake, signifying the gathering of his saints, and of angels descending and gathering the remainder unto them–the one from the bed, the other from the grinding, and the other from the field, whithersoever he listeth.

    (Could it be the “return of the servants” is not to first “establish Zion” but to first gather up the celestial beings “before the arm of the Lord shall fall?” Is this sounding like the Christian rapture but taught from the D&C and the JST? Maybe so.)

    Luke 17:39 For verily, there shall be new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

    Luke 17:40 And there shall be no unclean thing; for the earth becoming old, even as a garment, having waxed in corruption, wherefore, it vanisheth away; and the footstool remaineth sanctified, cleansed from all sin.

    Thank you for your wonderful thought-provoking post!

    1. I will circle back later and revisit this topic after I have finished the current thread. I don’t have any definitive answers on the timing, just that it is sometime before. One thing I will point out is that right now there is no one that qualifies to be caught up because we don’t have the fullness of the priesthood, so no one can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. So the servants will have to come and restore that. Part of qualifying is sacrificing all things by living the true law of consecration, so Zion will need to be established. But after that, it gets fuzzy for me.

    2. 3 Grand Keys, when are the two prophets from The book of Revelation to be on the earth who torment? After they’re taken to heaven or before?

  2. I like the thoroughness of your discussion thread. One question that comes to me when I read about this topic is the meaning of dead and alive. We assume that dead refers to not living in mortality, but it could also have reference to people living on earth, but not living in Christ, correct?

    Is there room in your model for the idea that mortals may die and return to that God who gave them life, but if they do not qualify for the kingdom of God that they return to mortality where they continue to be buffeted by Satan and have the opportunity to be judged according to men in the flesh? Terrestrial simply means “of or relating to the earth, or its inhabitants”. This would contrast with other scriptures where people who are “received into the kingdom of the Father to GO NO MORE OUT, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens.” (3 Ne. 28:40, also Alma 34:36)

    Is is possible that you can have 3 types of people living on Earth simultaneously during this era of probation where God is working to bring forth good fruit? During the millennium there will no longer be telestial beings living here, and the harvest will be plentiful without the active influence of evil, but if people only live once, why does D&C 88:101 say the telestial group “live not again until the thousand years are ended”? Jacob 5:76-77 tells us that during the millennium God will continue to lay up unto himself good fruit, for a long time, until the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into the vineyard. Then the good and bad will be gathered and the bad will be cast away unto its own place. Maybe after suffering for their sins for 1000 years the end of millennium time is the final opportunity. Punishment will either reform a person or harden them in their opposition.

    Just some thoughts.

    1. I just posted a reply on the next post that covers a lot of this. Look there for the details. But basically, without the fullness of the gospel on the earth, NO ONE can qualify for the celestial kingdom. There is no one with the authority to lay hands on others for the gift of the Holy Ghost. So everyone from Russel Nelson to beer-drinking Sunday shoppers seem to be a terrestrial level right now (murderers and such obviously excluded.) We don’t see people prophesying, commanding the elements, or other indications of a celestial level. So while when the fullness is on the earth you could have all three levels living simultaneously, for the past ~1,500 years that hasn’t been possible due to the lack of the fullness.

      I don’t see scriptural support for multiple mortal probation for those that haven’t figured it out. The plan I see in the scriptures (and will be expounding in the upcoming posts) addresses many of the “problems” that MMP “solves”, but does so more elegantly and in accordance with the scriptures we have.

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