For behold, 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.
And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.
1 Nephi 10:21
Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.
2 Nephi 23:9
I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.
If we just take those verses in isolation, it’s so simple. This life is all we get to prepare. Once we die, game over. Were you born 600 years ago in an African nation that practiced witchcraft? Sorry, tough luck. Were you born into a Christian nation that didn’t have the fullness of the gospel? Sorry, you have to have received the gift of the Holy Ghost in order to be saved. Thanks for playing! Were you born and raised in the LDS Church during the 20th Century, and not only had your temple endowments but also the second anointing? Sorry, you’re screwed too.
One could come to the conclusion that God is a respecter of persons. If he didn’t choose to let you live in the right time and place to be exposed to the fullness of the gospel, he basically closed the door to your salvation. Some may even try teaching some form of predestination, that God created you inferior to others, and that’s why they can be saved and you can’t. Don’t feel bad, you wouldn’t have been happy in a better place! It doesn’t matter how much you try to repent in life, if God didn’t want you to be saved, your efforts will be futile. That’s a depressing outlook. Why bother commanding all men to repent if only a select few are rewarded for doing so? Could it be there is more in the scriptures that gives us context to this time of preparation?
2 Nephi 9:27
But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!
You have to have the law given to you to waste the days of your probation. Specifically, given unto you like unto the Nephites. I’ve already covered just how many spiritual blessings they received and sinned in the face of. What about the billions of people that haven’t had the law given to them? We’re told that the Millennium is when the world will be filled with the fullness of the gospel, and everyone will know it. So most people can’t begin to waste their days of probation until after the Millennium begins.
And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation—that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe; and they that believe not unto eternal damnation; for they cannot be redeemed from their spiritual fall, because they repent not;
When we first read that, we may conclude that when we suffer death in this life, the clock stops. Our days of probation are over. But notice that he links this death to being raised in immortality (and notice, once again, it’s a binary end state, eternal life or eternal damnation).
2 Nephi 2:21
And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.
Wait a minute! We can repent while in the flesh. Does that mean during the restoration, when everyone is restored in their flesh to life, we can still repent?
2 Nephi 10:7
But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.
That would seem to indicate that the clock doesn’t stop with our mortal death. It gets paused, and then resumes once we are restored in the flesh upon the earth. That makes a lot more sense. In fact, let’s do a thought experiment of what would happen if the clock stopped permanently at our mortal death.
When Lazarus died, his probation ended. Four days later when he was restored to life, was his time of probation still over? Was he now free to do anything without consequences because he had already died? If the clock stopped once-and-for-all when his body was put into the tomb, then this raised-from-the-dead Lazarus would be free to commit any and all sins, with absolutely no consequences. Same thing for the daughter of Jairus and all the other people who were raised from the dead. Of course, that is ridiculous. So why would it be any different when the rest of humanity is raised from the dead?
The Celestials will be raised from the dead before the 2nd Coming of Christ. The Terrestrials will be raised from the dead at his coming – the beginning of the Millennium. And the Telestials will be raised around the end of the Millennium and the beginning of the Little Season. Yet we still have the Little Season, when Satan is leading people astray again. The scriptures make it clear we need to endure to the end. The probation continues until the final judgment after the Little Season. If we don’t choose correctly during the Little Season, we will have to pay for it.
Mosiah 16:10-11 (again, notice the binary judgment)
Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation
And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.
Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
And Amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death, and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality, and being brought before the bar of God, to be judged according to our works.
And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you.
All these verses place being raised to immortality happening at the end of the Little Season, not the beginning. When the scriptures tell us we need to endure to the end, and he who doesn’t endure to the end will have reason to mourn, they really mean the end. Our probationary period goes until the final judgment. Which means the days we have available to repent extend also to the final judgment.
1 Nephi 13:37
And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.
2 Nephi 9:23-24
And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it.
This life (both the first and second half) is the time to prepare to meet God. Some of us will be able to make better preparations in the first half, which will give us an advantage in the second half. But we all get to hear the voice of Lord, at which point everyone has the same knowledge, and then we can choose whether to listen or not, and then none of us can complain that God’s final judgment is unjust.
But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.
And now, it came to pass that after Abinadi had spoken these words he stretched forth his hand and said: The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just. And then shall the wicked be cast out, and they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth; and this because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord; therefore the Lord redeemeth them not.