The Lazarus Effect

Alma 34:32
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.

Alma 12:24
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.

D&C 29:43-44
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

Enos 1:27
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.

Alma 5:15
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?

Alma 12:12
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.

Mormon 6:21
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.

Alma 12:15
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.

Mosiah 16:1-2
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.

Trick Question: How long does the Millennium last?

You would think this would be easy. The word millennium, derived from the Latin mille (one thousand) and annum (year) literally means 1,000 years. We have several scriptures that describe the period known as the Millennium as lasting one thousand years.

D&C 29:11
For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.

D&C 88
101 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.

110 And so on, until the seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer; and Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years.

D&C 29:22
And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season;

That seems pretty straight forward. One thousand years. What’s so tricky about that? Well, how will those one thousand years be measured? We already saw this verse, yet it contains an important clue.

D&C 88:110
And so on, until the seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer; and Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years.

This is repeated a few more times in other places.

D&C 84:100
The Lord has redeemed his people; And Satan is bound and time is no longer. The Lord hath gathered all things in one. The Lord hath brought down Zion from above. The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.

Revelation 10
5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

But the scriptures also uses the 1,000 years reference multiple times:

Revelation 20
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

When time is no more, how do you measure 1,000 years? Why would several prophets talk about this period lasting one thousand years if there is no time?

Alma gives us an important perspective.

Alma 40
8 Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not; for all do not die at once, and this mattereth not; all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.

And we can link this to Peter’s writings.

2 Peter 3
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Time is only measured unto man. And all time is as one day with God. So when Jesus is reigning personally on the earth as our God, time ceases and all is as one day. Time not existing is a tough concept for humans to understand, so I suspect the 1,000 years number was used by God so we could understand it would last a long while, far longer than our normal experience, but that it would also eventually end. At some point Satan will be released and begin to deceive men during the little season before the end. How long will it last? God could say a really long time, but that isn’t very satisfying to most people, so one thousand years works.

Remember a previous post talking about “the eternal world” and how we think that means after the final judgment, but Alma uses it to describe where we go after death? If you are in a place where there is no time, you are in eternity. One second lasts forever, and forever lasts an instant. That is eternity. The Millennium is part of the eternal world. Christ reigns personally upon the earth, and time is only measured unto man, not God.

So what about these Telestials?

D&C 76
86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;

The unrepentant Telestials in this eternal world (the Millennium) do not receive the fulness of God during the Millennium. But as they repent and are raised up after “1,000 years”, they now live on an earth ruled by Christ in person.

D&C 76
111 For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared;
112 And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.

This verse can cause some problems for people. Worlds without end is not used anywhere else in scripture. World without end is used once in the Bible, in Ephesians 3:21. But it doesn’t actually say “world without end” in Greek, but aionos ton aionon, which is literally eon of eons. An eon is a period of time. This isn’t talking about worlds, it’s talking about time. Not infinite time, but rather a long time that will eventually come to an end.

This use of world when we should be using eon happens often in the King James Translation. Remember the parable of the wheat and the tares?

Matthew 13
37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world [aionon – time period]; and the reapers are the angels.
40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world [aionon – time period].

Jesus wasn’t talking about this happening at the end of the world, but at the end of this time period. Here’s another example from Mark 10.

29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world [aionon – time period] to come eternal life.

Go to biblehub.com and search and see just how many times the KJV translators used the word world when they should have been using age/era/eon or some other word denoting a period of time. (Here’s the link of aionos and here’s the link for aionon).

Joseph Smith did use the phrase “worlds without end” in a discourse in Nauvoo and said it meant forever. Unfortunately, this was in the King Follett Discourse in which he also said, “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea.” It might not be wise to trust Joseph’s definition of eternity regarding the sons of perdition when it comes from the exact same talk in which he claims the eternal God isn’t eternal. Just saying.

What does God himself say eternal means?

D&C 19
4 And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.
5 Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.
6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.

God is telling us the eternal punishment doesn’t last forever. He let’s men believe this because it works upon their hearts, I presume to make them fearful enough to be less likely to procrastinate their repentance. God’s punishment is eternal because that’s his name, but it doesn’t last forever.

If God says the Telestials can never come where he is, eon of the eons, it doesn’t mean forever. Just until the end of this special time period. Which time period is that? I think it’s the Millennium, this time period where time doesn’t exist. It’s eternity, because there is no time. But eventually, there will be an end of the torment and the Telestials will be released.

We have some other times where absolute pronouncements are made in scripture, only to be qualified.

Mosiah 3:19
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever…
…unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

D&C 67:11
For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh…
…except quickened by the Spirit of God.

Moses 1:5
Wherefore, no man can behold all my works…
…except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.

In these cases, the Lord makes an absolute statement, then qualifies it. In D&C 76:112, he makes an absolute statement:

but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.

I think between worlds without end not meaning worlds without end but a long period of time, combined with D&C 19 where the Lord teaches that those found on the left hand of God will suffer for a long period of time, but he clarifies that he never said it wouldn’t end, gives us the qualifying clause that should at least make us open to the possibility that what the Lord means is the Telestials, while they remain in their filthy state, will never come where God and Christ dwell. But once they have paid for their sins, that prohibition may no longer exist.

But to argue that “worlds without end” means forever when the only scriptural references we have indicate that it doesn’t mean forever, and to ignore that God says this punishment will end and he intentionally uses wording to make humans think punishment will last longer than it really does, all in favor of a single reference from the King Follett Discourse, seems to be trying harder to support the tradition of our fathers than to grapple with what the scriptures actually say. There is no definitive answer on either side of this question. But I will stack the ambiguity of the scriptures against the certainty of the King Follett Discourse any day.

A Three Degrees Test

Here’s a simple test for everyone. Download and print the Three Degrees Test. Grab a pen and get started. Read each scripture, and then write Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial, and Lake of Fire into the appropriate kingdom box. When you’re done, if your answers aren’t consistent, you might have a vain or foolish doctrine.

Eat, drink, and be merry!

One of the readers, Mike, made some good comments on the last post. I decided one of the issues he raised should be its own post rather than a comment. He raised the concern that if sinners believe they will get a second chance in the Little Season, what is the disincentive to eat, drink, and be merry in this life and procrastinate repentance. That’s a valid concern that is addressed in the scriptures. Before we dive in to see what the scriptures say, let’s look at how the traditional three degrees of glory addresses this:

God: Forsake your sins and obey my commandments, and you will be saved in the kingdom of God.

Sinner: Hmm….that sounds nice, but I really like to eat, drink, and be merry. What happens if I just keep doing that?

God: You’ll be punished for a little while, and then you’ll be saved in the kingdom of God.

Sinner: You mean the same place I’d go if I stopped eating, drinking, and being merry right now?

God: Not quite. You wouldn’t get the best place, but you will get a better place than you currently have.

Sinner: Better than eating, drinking, and being merry?

God: Yes

Sinner: How much better?

God: Better than you can comprehend.

Sinner: Waiter, another round of drinks! And bring the dessert menu!

There’s plenty of incentive in the traditional three degrees of glory to procrastinate repentance.

First of all, let’s read what Nephi actually wrote about this situation.

2 Nephi 28
8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.
10 And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.

This vain and foolish doctrine is that if we are guilty, God will punish us with a few stripes and we’ll be saved in the kingdom of God. No repentance required! No baptism required! No spiritual birth required! In that traditional theory, we can rape, murder, pillage, and steal, and still be saved in the kingdom of God without having to repent, be baptized, and come unto Christ. As long as we don’t get righteous enough to risk becoming a son of Perdition, we are GUARANTEED a seat in the kingdom of God. Talk about encouraging sin! No wonder it’s a vain and foolish doctrine.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that this vain and foolish doctrine is immediately followed by the next verses:

2 Nephi 28
11 Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted.
12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.
13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.
14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.

What church teaches that we can commit all these sins, never repent or be baptized, and be saved in the kingdom of God? I only know of one Christian denomination that teaches that. And that very same church has over $100 Billion in one stock market fund, yet insists the poor continue to pay 10% of their income. That church doesn’t use the money to alleviate poverty among its members but to build no-expense-spared temples and conference centers, shopping malls and luxury condominiums. Just a few verses later Nephi says this same people will say “All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospers, all is well.” There is one church today that sings “All is well” and calls itself “Zion”,  and teaches that those who don’t repent will be beaten with a few stripes and then be saved in the kingdom of God. Can we denounce these other errors yet continue to embrace this vain and foolish doctrine?

So how do the scriptures address this concern about people thinking they’ve gamed the system and can procrastinate their repentance?

Alma 34
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold…

The first thing to notice is that if you believe the traditional three degrees doctrine is true, then people thinking they can procrastinate repentance is still a problem. Alma has to teach against it. The traditional three degrees doctrine does not prevent people from procrastinating their repentance. Continuing on.

…if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess 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.

This night of darkness, this eternal world, is spirit prison and hell during the Millennium. The wicked can’t repent at the beginning of the Millennium and get out of suffering. What did Jesus teach about getting out of prison?

Matthew 5
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Now the next verse in Alma 34 is problematic, I will admit. But if we take it at face value it’s a deal breaker for both my theory and the three degrees doctrine.

35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

In three degrees doctrine, the Telestials are delivered from the devil and allowed to enter in the lowest level of the kingdom of God. That violates this scripture that says the final state of the wicked is under the power of the devil. So you can’t condemn my theory without also condemning the three degrees of glory theory.

This is where I refer back to the fact that the Nephites had the fullness of the gospel. They had enough knowledge that if they refused to repent, they were willfully rebelling against God. If they delayed their repentance until they died, it was too late. They were a son of Perdition, and they would always be subject to the devil, and that would be their final state. That is the audience he is addressing, so there is no point in telling them about a second chance they don’t qualify for.

For those of us who do not have the fullness, who have not received the Holy Ghost and been spiritually born of God, there is a second chance. But, the same spirit we exit this life with will be the same spirit that is restored to us.

Alma 41
3 And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—
5 The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.
6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.

Keep in mind Alma is talking to his son, who had the fullness. For him, dying in his sins was final, not so for the Lamanites (or most of humanity). The key message for us is that if we have sought evil all our days in this life, even if we somehow did immediately have a desire for righteousness upon reaching the spirit world, we can’t get out until we have paid the utmost farthing. Our works in this life will follow us into the next.

I believe this is what Joseph was referring to when he said, “If a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” I don’t think he was talking about after the final judgement, but in the Millennium and the time of the restoration. If we have feasted on the words of Christ now and sought to do righteousness, when we are restored to life we’ll have an advantage over those that didn’t feast on the words of Christ and did works of darkness. We will recognize the truth faster, accept it sooner, and suffer less. Of course, if we have already received the fullness and then rebel against God, it would have been better than we had never been born and nothing we do after we die will get us out of the hole we’ve dug for ourselves.

And the final disincentive to procrastinating our repentance?

D&C 19
15 Therefore I command you to repentrepent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sorehow sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
20 Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken.

That doesn’t sound like being beaten with a few stripes. If that isn’t going to convince someone that sinning isn’t worth it, what would? And how does telling him if he doesn’t repent he’s guaranteed to end up in a better place convince someone to give up sin?

The Final Judgment

The key problem with the traditional interpretation of the three degrees of glory is that it has incorrectly been assigned to the final judgment, when it is really a revelation about the first judgment that happens around Christ’s Second Coming and the beginning of the Millennium. This wrong timeline then causes all sorts of contradictions with the scriptures, and all sorts of mental and linguistic gymnastics to prop up this incorrect tradition.

We’ve all grown up with this depiction of the plan of salvation. It is false. This post will show what the scriptures actually say about the final judgment and how it cannot account for three degrees of glory at the final judgment. The model below is a more accurate depiction of what the scriptures teach.

We know that during the Little Season, Satan reigns once again and leads the children of men astray, leading up to the great and final battle between good and evil.

D&C 88
111 And then he shall be loosed for a little season, that he may gather together his armies.
112 And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven.
113 And the devil shall gather together his armies; even the hosts of hell, and shall come up to battle against Michael and his armies.
114 And then cometh the battle of the great God; and the devil and his armies shall be cast away into their own place, that they shall not have power over the saints any more at all.
115 For Michael shall fight their battles, and shall overcome him who seeketh the throne of him who sitteth upon the throne, even the Lamb.
116 This is the glory of God, and the sanctified; and they shall not any more see death.

Revelation 20
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Now we are at a binary division of the people. You are either part of the army of Michael, or the army of the devil. The devil and his armies are cast away into the lake of fire. The armies of God are sanctified. There is no third (or fourth) option. You can’t be in the army of God and not be sanctified. You can’t be a conscientious objector in this war. If you aren’t in God’s army, you are in the devil’s army.

Matthew 12
30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
31  Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

At this point you are either completely on the Lord’s side, or completely on the devil’s side. There is no middle ground.

D&C 18
23 Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved;
24 Wherefore, all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day;
25 Wherefore, if they know not the name by which they are called, they cannot have place in the kingdom of my Father.

All men must take upon them the name of Christ before the last day, otherwise they must be cast out. That’s a binary judgement. If your name isn’t written in the book of life, you are cast in to the lake of fire. Who gets their names written in the book of life?

Alma 5
57 And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people;
58 For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled.

Can anyone show me a scripture that says that those who received not the gospel nor the testimony of Jesus can have their names written into the book of life? If we believe the Bible, only a celestial-level person can have their name written in the book of life. Anyone else falls short of the requirement, and anyone whose name isn’t in the book of life is cast out with the sons of perdition. That means that Terrestrials and Telestials are sons of perdition (if we adhere to the traditional interpretation), which obviously violates the traditional interpretation. These inconsistencies demonstrate that our interpretation of the three degrees is flawed. This isn’t an isolated verse in Revelation that contradicts the traditional interpretation.

Revelation 21
27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Anyone that defiles, works abominations, or makes a lie won’t be written in the book of life. Doesn’t that describe Telestials?

D&C 76
103 These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.

If Telestials can’t be written in the book of life, they must be cast out at the final judgment with the devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition. This should tell us that our notion of the telestial kingdom being a final state in perpetuity is incorrect. You cannot claim that God saves the Telestials without ignoring the scriptures on the book of life.

The names of the righteous are written in the book of life. Are the Telestials righteous? How can sorcerers, whoremongers, and the like have their names written in the book of life? Maybe we’re just taking one verse out of context. Surely there aren’t other places that contradict our traditional interpretation.

Revelation 3
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Who will Jesus confess before the Father?

Matthew 10
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

There is no middle option. What else does Revelation say about these people clothed in white?

Revelation 7
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

D&C 76 says that only people who have overcome are those who are Celestial status:

51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
55 They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
56 They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;
57 And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.
58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God
59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
60 And they shall overcome all things.

But if they are the only ones whose names are written in the book of life, everyone else must be cast out into the lake of fire. Unless the telestial and terrestrial people are able to repent and progress during the Millennium and the Little Season, God is a liar, for these people must be cast out into the lake of fire with the devil and his angels. Yet God says he saves all except for the sons of perdition.

Helaman 12
25 And I would that all men might be saved. But we read that in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord;
26 Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation. And thus it is. Amen.

Hmm…those who are cast off from the presence of the Lord enduring endless misery. That doesn’t sound like a kingdom of glory to me. Yet the Telestials are excluded from the presence of the Lord forever according to the traditional interpretation. Can anyone argue that Telestials have done good? Are they clean?

Alma 7
21 And he doth not dwell in unholy temples; neither can filthiness or anything which is unclean be received into the kingdom of God; therefore I say unto you the time shall come, yea, and it shall be at the last day, that he who is filthy shall remain in his filthiness.

Only clean things can be received into the kingdom of God. Anything dirty remains dirty and is cast out.

D&C 88
102 And another trump shall sound, which is the fourth trump, saying: There are found among those who are to remain until that great and last day, even the end, who shall remain filthy still.

Where do the scriptures describe people at the last day being kind-of clean? Or only a little bit dirty? Nowhere. At that day we are either clean or filthy. Binary. There is no middle ground in the scriptures.

Alma 40
26 But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup.

Alma 11
37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.

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.

Wait a minute! I thought the Telestials would be saved in a kingdom of glory. All these prophets say if you aren’t clean, you are cast off forever and you cannot be saved. Maybe telestials can be made clean despite not repenting. How does one become clean?

Moses 6
59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;
60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;
61 Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.

3 Nephi 27
16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

Are the Telestials spotless? In their unrepentant state, absolutely not. But as Alma the Younger showed us, the minute they repent and call upon Jesus in faith, they are cleansed. But what happens if we haven’t repented before the final judgement and we aren’t spotless?

Alma 12
13 Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned.
14 For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.
15 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.
16 And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die a spiritual death; yea, he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness.
17 Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will.

If we aren’t spotless, God can’t save us. He only has power to save men that believe on his name and bring forth fruit meet for repentance.

1 John 1
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

D&C 110
5 Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.

D&C 50
28 But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin.

Mormon 9
6 O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

Alma 7
14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.

If you still think Telestials can be saved in a kingdom of glory after the final judgement without repentance and without being spiritually reborn, please explain these verses.

Alma 22
6 If ye will repent ye shall be saved, and if ye will not repent, ye shall be cast off at the last day.

Mosiah 4
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

If Telestials can’t repent after the Millenium, they are cast off at the last day and sent to the lake of fire with the devil, making them sons of perdition. They have “no interest in the kingdom of God”. Interest means “share, portion, or part.” Telestials have no portion of the kingdom of God. None. That violates the whole “saved in a kingdom of glory” notion. But the scriptures are consistent that at the last day, only those who have accepted Christ are saved.

3 Nephi 15
1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and said unto them: Behold, ye have heard the things which I taught before I ascended to my Father; therefore, whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day.

3 Nephi 28
34 And wo be unto him that will not hearken unto the words of Jesus, and also to them whom he hath chosen and sent among them; for whoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom he hath sent receiveth not him; and therefore he will not receive them at the last day;

Mosiah 26
28 Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day.

Alma 37
37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Alma 39
8 But behold, ye cannot hide your crimes from God; and except ye repent they will stand as a testimony against you at the last day.

D&C 18
22 And as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved.
23 Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved;
24 Wherefore, all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day;
25 Wherefore, if they know not the name by which they are called, they cannot have place in the kingdom of my Father.

1 Nephi 15
33 Wherefore, if they should die in their wickedness they must be cast off also, as to the things which are spiritual, which are pertaining to righteousness; wherefore, they must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works; and if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God; if so, the kingdom of God must be filthy also.
34 But behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God; wherefore there must needs be a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy.
35 And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken.

The final state is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or be cast out. No unclean thing can enter the kingdom of God. It’s binary. There is no place for unrepentant sorcerers, adulterers, whoremongers, and makers and lovers of lies in the kingdom of God. You cannot be unrepentant and uncleaned without being cast out at the last day. How do we avoid being cast out?

2 Nephi 25
29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.

Alma 22
6 And also, what is this that Ammon said—If ye will repent ye shall be saved, and if ye will not repent, ye shall be cast off at the last day?

15 And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.
16 But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

The only way to avoid being cast off at the last day is to repent, be born of God, and receive his Spirit. There is no other way.

Once you realize that the three degrees of glory was a revelation about the status of people during the Millennium (the first judgement), and not the final judgment, you see the scriptures in a whole new light. Our false tradition puts the three degrees of glory at the final judgement, not at the first judgment where it belongs. The final judgment is binary, you either follow Christ or follow the devil, there is no middle ground. God talks in binary terms about the final judgment: clean or dirty, righteous or wicked, sheep or goats, right hand or left hand.

With that in mind, I leave you with this extended selection from Alma, the man who personally spent time in hell and then repented. I think he, of all people, has a pretty good idea of what lies in store.

Alma 5
18 Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?
19 I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?
20 I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil?
21 I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.
22 And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you?
23 Behold will they not testify that ye are murderers, yea, and also that ye are guilty of all manner of wickedness?
24 Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white?
25 I say unto you, Nay; except ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning, or suppose that he is a liar from the beginning, ye cannot suppose that such can have place in the kingdom of heaven; but they shall be cast out for they are the children of the kingdom of the devil.
26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
27 Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?
28 Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.
29 Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? I say unto you that such an one is not prepared; and I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand, and he knoweth not when the time shall come; for such an one is not found guiltless.
30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?
31 Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!
32 Yea, even wo unto all ye workers of iniquity; repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it!
33 Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.
34 Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;
35 Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire
36 For behold, the time is at hand that whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit, or whosoever doeth not the works of righteousness, the same have cause to wail and mourn.
37 O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice!
38 Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.
39 And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil.
40 For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.
41 Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him; but whosoever bringeth forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the devil, for he hearkeneth unto his voice, and doth follow him.
42 And whosoever doeth this must receive his wages of him; therefore, for his wages he receiveth death, as to things pertaining unto righteousness, being dead unto all good works.
43 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should hear me, for I speak in the energy of my soul; for behold, I have spoken unto you plainly that ye cannot err, or have spoken according to the commandments of God.

Telestial status during the Millennium

We know that the telestial category of people remains in hell during the Millennium.

D&C 76
106 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;

Once issue we need to address is how long they suffer this wrath. It says until the fullness of times. In the scriptures, there is a difference between the fullness of time and the fullness of times. The fullness of time is when Christ was born of Mary.

Galatians 4
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

2 Nephi 2
3 Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.

26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

2 Nephi 11
7 For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.

The fullness of times seems to start around the time of Christ’s Second Coming:

Ephesians 1
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

D&C 27
12 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;
13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;

D&C 112
30 For unto you, the Twelve, and those, the First Presidency, who are appointed with you to be your counselors and your leaders, is the power of this priesthood given, for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fulness of times,
31 Which power you hold, in connection with all those who have received a dispensation at any time from the beginning of the creation;

D&C 76 say the fullness of times is when Christ subdues his enemies. While this starts at the Millennium, the end is a bit fuzzy.

D&C 58:22 Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet.

D&C 43
29 For in mine own due time will I come upon the earth in judgment, and my people shall be redeemed and shall reign with me on earth.
30 For the great Millennium, of which I have spoken by the mouth of my servants, shall come.
31 For Satan shall be bound.

D&C 49
6 And they have done unto the Son of Man even as they listed; and he has taken his power on the right hand of his glory, and now reigneth in the heavens, and will reign till he descends on the earth to put all enemies under his feet, which time is nigh at hand—

These seem to all be pointing to the Millennium when Christ will reign personally upon the earth. The telestials and the sons of perdition will be in hell and Satan will be bound, while the terrestrial and celestial category of people will be living on the earth with Christ. But it says that his enemies will be subdued. What does that mean?

SUBDUE
1. To conquer by force or the exertion of superior power, and bring into permanent subjection; to reduce under dominion.
2. To oppress; to crush; to sink; to overpower so as to disable from further resistance.
3. To tame; to break by conquering a refractory temper or evil passions; to render submissive.

If we use the first two definitions of subdue, this can’t be what happens during the Millennium, because after the end of the Millennium, Satan returns to power and people once again begin to rebel against God.

D&C 43
31 For Satan shall be bound, and when he is loosed again he shall only reign for a little season, and then cometh the end of the earth.

D&C 29
22 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season;

This first conquest isn’t permanent. After the Millennium, Satan is loosed, reigns, and men again begin to deny their God. But this time, they do so after having lived in his presence and in his kingdom. This is willful rebellion. Think about it. If the people have already been assigned to the three degrees of glory forever, how can they then willfully rebel after the end of the Millennium? Does that mean someone in the celestial kingdom can rebel against God with no consequence during the little season? Preposterous. That’s why even the saved are warned they must endure to the end, because during the little season they can still rebel against God and lose it all. That little season is still part of our period of probation.

It is only after Satan has returned, leads men astray again during the little season, and is defeated at the last day. It is only then that men receive their final judgment.

Revelation 20
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

I know this is hard to conceptualize when you’ve been indoctrinated with the traditional three degrees timeline your whole life. Here is a simplified diagram I have created to try to show the scriptural timeline as I understand it.

I invite adherents to the traditional three degrees doctrine to create a similar diagram covering the Millennium, the Little Season, and the final judgement that shows the status of the celestial, terrestrial, telestial, and sons of perdition during each of those three phases, and is consistent with the scriptures. I am open to being corrected (I know I don’t have it 100% figured out, but this is closer than anything else I have found).

Let’s go back and look at what D&C 88 says about the people who suffer in hell during the Millennium:

D&C 88
100 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;
101 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.

There appear to be two distinct groups here. Those that live not again until the thousand years are ended, which means they live during the little season, and those that don’t live again until the end of the earth. Running off and building an entire theory off of one ambiguous scripture is dangerous. So, let’s see if there are other places in scripture that talk about two groups among these wicked.

D&C 88
102 And another trump shall sound, which is the fourth trump, saying: There are found among those who are to remain until that great and last day, even the end, who shall remain filthy still.

Among those (the rest of the dead) there are some who shall remain filthy still. Which implies that there are some who shall not remain filthy. So we have an entire group that start off filthy, and some will remain filthy while others will clean themselves up. Someone could still claim we are wresting the scriptures. Is there a third witness?

D&C 38
5 But behold, the residue of the wicked have I kept in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day, which shall come at the end of the earth;
6 And even so will I cause the wicked to be kept, that will not hear my voice but harden their hearts, and wo, wo, wo, is their doom.

Why does the Lord say only the residue of the wicked are kept in chains? Doesn’t he keep all the wicked in chains? What does residue mean?

RESIDUE – That which remains after a part is taken, separated, removed or designated.

This residue that is kept are those that will not hear his voice but harden their hearts. That implies that the wicked that aren’t the residue, that aren’t  kept until the end, do hear his voice and soften their hearts, and they are released from chains of darkness. These can’t be the sons of perdition, so that leaves only the telestials.

Once someone is encircled by the chains of darkness, can they ever dwell in the presence of God? Do we have any examples of someone in this state of wickedness, encircled by the chains of darkness, actually being allowed to repent, receive forgiveness, and receive the blessings of the righteous? Yes, Alma the Younger.

Alma 36
12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.

Mosiah 27
23 And it came to pass after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and began to speak unto them, bidding them to be of good comfort:
24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
27 I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off.
28 Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.
29 My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.
30 I rejected my Redeemer, and denied that which had been spoken of by our fathers; but now that they may foresee that he will come, and that he remembereth every creature of his creating, he will make himself manifest unto all.

It seems that Alma was placed into hell to suffer immediately for his sins, rather than waiting for his death. While there, he called upon Christ, was forgiven, and spiritually born of him. He even saw God on his throne. That would seem to indicate that people in hell, encircled by the everlasting chains of death, can indeed repent and be born of God. God is no respecter of persons. If he allowed Alma to repent while in hell, he must allow all mankind to repent while in hell.

All mankind in hell can repent, except for the sons of Perdition. (They are the residue that remain until the end of the earth. They rebelled against God, died in their sins, and procrastinated their repentance until it was everlastingly too late.) While telestials are in hell, they are taught the gospel by the terrestrial category of people.

D&C 88
86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;
88 And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.

Our false traditions confuse us about what the scriptures mean when they say “eternal world”. We may think that means after the final judgment, and so these people will never receive anything more than the Holy Spirit in perpetuity. Let’s see what the scriptures actually say about this eternal world.

Alma 3
25 Now all these things were done, yea, all these wars and contentions were commenced and ended in the fifth year of the reign of the judges.
26 And in one year were thousands and tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one.

Alma 48
23 Now, they were sorry to take up arms against the Lamanites, because they did not delight in the shedding of blood; yea, and this was not all—they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God.

Alma can’t be claiming that those who died during these wars over 70 years before the birth of Christ had already received their final judgment and been sent to their final place for eternity. He’s talking about them being sent to the spirit world, which for the wicked is hell. So the eternal world is not the place after the final judgment, it’s between mortal death and final judgment. So back to D&C 88

D&C 88
86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world [in the spirit world], but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;
88 And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.

The telestials in hell receive the Holy Spirit through the minstration of the terrestrials. For what purpose? So they can be heirs of salvation!

In Hebrews 1, talking about angels, the writer says:

14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Ministering spirits are not sent to people who will not inherit salvation. They are sent to people who will inherit salvation. And they are sent to the telestials for that specific purpose!

Moroni 10 tells us:

7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
9 For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom;
10 And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
11 And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
12 And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles;
13 And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things;
14 And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;
15 And again, to another, all kinds of tongues;
16 And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.
17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
18 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.
19 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.

The world continues to stand until the end, the last day, the final judgement. That means during the Millennium, during the Little Season, and right up until the final judgement. Before then, unless you are a son of perdition, you can still have ministering spirits and angels.

Moroni 7
36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

As long as there shall be one man upon the face of the earth that needs to be saved, he will extend his mercy and power. The end doesn’t come until the final judgment.

The next post will discuss the final judgment.

Sinning willfully vs. sinning ignorantly

The previous post showed how some people who murder can be forgiven in this life, while others who murder cannot be forgiven neither in this world nor in the world to come. This isn’t an isolated case. The scriptures are full of teachings that God holds people accountable at different levels, and punishes the same behavior differently depending on the amount of knowledge the person has.

King Benjamin, near the beginning of his discourse, warns his audience about the consequences of them giving heed to the evil spirit.

Mosiah 2
33 For behold, there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that spirit; for if he listeth to obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge.

Notice he qualifies the statement saying this person transgresses the law of God contrary to his own knowledge. This is a person who knows the law of God and chooses to disobey. King Benjamin continues and makes it clear to his audience that all the adults fit this criteria – king Benjamin has made sure they’ve all been taught the laws of God.

34 I say unto you, that there are not any among you, except it be your little children that have not been taught concerning these things, but what knoweth that ye are eternally indebted to your heavenly Father, to render to him all that you have and are; and also have been taught concerning the records which contain the prophecies which have been spoken by the holy prophets, even down to the time our father, Lehi, left Jerusalem;
36 And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—
37 I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.
38 Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.
39 And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.

He then goes on to contrast the difference between those with knowledge who obey and disobey.

40 O, all ye old men, and also ye young men, and you little children who can understand my words, for I have spoken plainly unto you that ye might understand, I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression.
41 And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

But what about people who don’t know the law of God?

Mosiah 3
11 For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.
12 But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you don’t know the law, you aren’t held accountable, and Christ’s blood atones for those ignorant sins. But if you know the law, you will be judged differently. Some day in the future, when the fullness of the gospel has been taught to every nation, all men will be fully accountable:

Mosiah 3
20 And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
21 And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.

This is a future event for most of humanity, even for us. But what about king Benjamin’s people?

22 And even at this time, when thou shalt have taught thy people the things which the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, even then are they found no more blameless in the sight of God, only according to the words which I have spoken unto thee.
23 And now I have spoken the words which the Lord God hath commanded me.
24 And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.
25 And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls.
26 Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever.
27 And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen.

King Benjamin’s people can’t argue that they sinned in ignorance. The scriptures make it clear that they, unlike most of the rest of the world, have enough knowledge at that present time to be fully accountable for their actions. They will have known God and received his Spirit. And if they should then sin against that, he uses the binary judgment paradigm: they meet the criteria for the sons of Perdition. Let’s compare Mosiah’s descriptions of his people to the description of the sons of Perdition from D&C 76.

King Benjamin in
Mosiah Chapters 2&3
D&C 76:32
“they who are the sons of perdition”
2:36  after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you

2:37 the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.

31 Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power

35 Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.

2:38 Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.

3:25 And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment,

3:27 And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever.

31 suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power

33 For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;

36 These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—

2:39 mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.

3:12 But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

3:25 which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls.

3:26 Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God…therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever.

34 Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come

37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;

38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

When I look at those two descriptions side by side, I come to the conclusion that once king Benjamin had delivered his message and the people accepted it, received the Spirit of the Lord and a remission of their sins (Mosiah 4:3), entered into a covenant with God to obey his commandments (Mosiah 5:5), took upon them the name of Christ (Mosiah 5:8), they could no longer sin in ignorance. At this point, refusing to repent was now coming out in open rebellion against the God they knew and had covenanted to obey.

It wasn’t just king Benjamin that taught this. Abinadi also taught the those who don’t have the fullness are judged differently than those who do have the fullness. First, those that will be ok:

Mosiah 15
21 And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ—for so shall he be called.
22 And now, the resurrection of all the prophets, and all those that have believed in their words, or all those that have kept the commandments of God, shall come forth in the first resurrection; therefore, they are the first resurrection.
23 They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.
24 And these are those who have part in the first resurrection; and these are they that have died before Christ came, in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them. And thus the Lord bringeth about the restoration of these; and they have a part in the first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord.
25 And little children also have eternal life.

And then those that won’t be ok:

26 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection.
27 Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.

Abinadi says that those did not have salvation declared unto them come forth in the first resurrection, are redeemed by the Lord, and have eternal life, whereas those that have known the commandments and do not keep them cannot be redeemed until they repent. He goes on to condemn those who rebel against God.

Mosiah 16
5 But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God.

10 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—
11 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—
12 Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.
13 And now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?

The Nephites had the fullness. The arms of mercy were extended towards them. They couldn’t claim ignorance of the laws of God. Anyone who continued in sin at that point was rebelling against God. Here are a few more teachings about Nephites willfully sinning.

4 Nephi 4:1
37 Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites.
38 And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did dwindle.

3 Nephi 6
18 Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did wilfully rebel against God.

Alma 34
2 My brethren, I think that it is impossible that ye should be ignorant of the things which have been spoken concerning the coming of Christ, who is taught by us to be the Son of God; yea, I know that these things were taught unto you bountifully before your dissension from among us.

Alma 24
30 And thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things.

The Nephites had no excuse, they knew too much. That’s why the words of the Nephite prophets to the Nephite people were so harsh, so black-and-white.

Jarom 1
10 And it came to pass that the prophets of the Lord did threaten the people of Nephi, according to the word of God, that if they did not keep the commandments, but should fall into transgression, they should be destroyed from off the face of the land.
11 Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.
12 And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.

Alma 9
8 Behold, O ye wicked and perverse generation, how have ye forgotten the tradition of your fathers; yea, how soon ye have forgotten the commandments of God.

11 Yea, and if it had not been for his matchless power, and his mercy, and his long-suffering towards us, we should unavoidably have been cut off from the face of the earth long before this period of time, and perhaps been consigned to a state of endless misery and woe.
12 Behold, now I say unto you that he commandeth you to repent; and except ye repent, ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. But behold, this is not all—he has commanded you to repent, or he will utterly destroy you from off the face of the earth; yea, he will visit you in his anger, and in his fierce anger he will not turn away.

The Nephites knew the commandments, they had been taught to them, yet they disobeyed. And he tells them that it’s only by the mercy of God that he hasn’t wiped them off the face of the earth. They can’t claim they are sinning ignorantly, they know the commandments of God and are willfully rebelling against them. Contrast that with what he says about the Lamanites.

14 Now I would that ye should remember, that inasmuch as the Lamanites have not kept the commandments of God, they have been cut off from the presence of the Lord. Now we see that the word of the Lord has been verified in this thing, and the Lamanites have been cut off from his presence, from the beginning of their transgressions in the land.
15 Nevertheless I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than for you, if ye remain in your sins, yea, and even more tolerable for them in this life than for you, except ye repent.
16 For there are many promises which are extended to the Lamanites; for it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them and prolong their existence in the land.
17 And at some period of time they will be brought to believe in his word, and to know of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers; and many of them will be saved, for the Lord will be merciful unto all who call on his name.

So the Lamanites who sin in ignorance will be preserved, and one day taught the truth and be saved. But what about the Nephites?

18 But behold, I say unto you that if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction; and it shall be according to the fierce anger of the Lord.
19 For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people. I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy all his people who are called the people of Nephi, if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God;

23 And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them.
24 For behold, the promises of the Lord are extended to the Lamanites, but they are not unto you if ye transgress; for has not the Lord expressly promised and firmly decreed, that if ye will rebel against him that ye shall utterly be destroyed from off the face of the earth?

Samuel the Lamanite informs the Nephites:

Helaman 13
38 But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.

This message isn’t delivered to the Lamanites wallowing in darkness. It’s delivered to the Nephites who are sinning against the light. Do we today have as much knowledge as the Nephites? Here are the signs of their faith:

20 Yea, after having been such a highly favored people of the Lord; yea, after having been favored above every other nation, kindred, tongue, or people; after having had all things made known unto them, according to their desires, and their faith, and prayers, of that which has been, and which is, and which is to come;
21 Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation;

Far more that we have now, or that has existed in documented scripture since about 400 AD. We had a brief period between 1831 and 1834 when the fullness was available but rejected. Excluding that brief period, there has been no people on record who have been able to obtain as much knowledge as the Nephites had. So when people in the last 1600 years sin, are they sinning willfully or ignorantly?

Is having fragments of the truth taught to us by unauthorized servants enough to condemn humanity to do same degree that the Nephites were condemned? Can we read the threats and punishments that were directed to Nephites willfully rebelling against God and apply them to people wallowing in centuries of darkness and apostasy? Or is most of humanity like the Lamanites, sinning in ignorance, waiting for the promises of the Lord to be fullfilled so that we can have the truth taught to us? Even if we diligently search the scriptures, do we have enough knowledge to be held accountable to the same degree as the Nephites who conversed with angels, heard the voice of the Lord, and enjoyed numerous spiritual gifts that are conspicuously absent from us today?

The Apostle Paul grew up well-schooled in the Law of Moses. He studied the scriptures and obeyed the law of Moses to the letter. He described himself as:

Philippians 3
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Acts 26
4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

Acts 22
3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

Yet despite all his knowledge of the Law of Moses, he still sinned ignorantly.

1 Timothy 1
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

So even though Paul was one of the most educated Jews, well-versed in the law of Moses and strictly obedient to its rules, he says he sinned ignorantly in unbelief. And God’s longsuffering towards Paul was a pattern for the rest of us. That should cause us all to ponder. If Paul was considered by God to be acting in ignorance and deserving of mercy, what of people today living without the fullness of the gospel? What of ourselves, who are trying to piece together a knowledge of the fullness but we know we can’t reconstruct it all?

Alma 32
19 And now, how much more cursed is he that knoweth the will of God and doeth it not, than he that only believeth, or only hath cause to believe, and falleth into transgression?

Do any of us truly KNOW the will of God right now? Or do we only believe or have cause to believe? Obviously most of us inherently know that murder, rape, theft, and such actions are wrong because they violate the rights of others. But in so many other things we really only believe we understand God’s will. And we all have different ideas of what that means! God is not the author of confusion.

This is why the restoration is so important. Everyone who did not have the fullness taught to them will be restored to life and have it taught to them, so they can then be judged accordingly to men in the flesh. “All shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye.” (D&C 84:98). God is no respecter of persons. Everyone will have the opportunity to learn and accept the truth, and then when Satan is loosed for a little season, we’ll all be tested to see if we remain faithful, if we endure to the end.

The Murder Paradox

It’s presented as a black and white truth: There is no forgiveness for murder.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism says:

Murder violates the sanctity of life and cuts off the ability of its victims to “work out their destiny” (Benson, p. 355). Moreover, because “man cannot restore life,” and restoration or restitution is a necessary step for repentance, obtaining forgiveness for murder is impossible (Kimball, 1969, p. 129; D&C 42:18-19).
https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Murder

The encyclopedia cites D&C 42, which states:

D&C 42
18 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.

But in the Book of Mormon, we have the Anti-Nephi-Lehites, Lamanites who repented, buried their weapons of war, and chose to suffer death rather than take up arms to defend themselves. These people admitted to committing many murders. How is it possible that the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s were forgiven of their many murders?

Alma 24
9 And behold, I also thank my God, that by opening this correspondence we have been convinced of our sins, and of the many murders which we have committed.
10 And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.
11 And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain
12 Now, my best beloved brethren, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren.

How can the Encyclopedia of Mormonism claim forgiveness for murder is impossible if the Book of Mormon highlights a group of Lamanites that had committed many murders and yet were forgiven by God? Is the Book of Mormon teaching false doctrine? If the Book of Mormon is true, that would seem to indicate the Encyclopedia of Mormonism teaches false doctrine. Perhaps if the authors had referenced the scriptures instead of Kimball’s The Miracle of Forgiveness, they would have not contradicted the “keystone” of the Church.

We are judged according to our knowledge. The more knowledge we have, the more accountable we are.

Alma 29:5
5 Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.

What does the Book of Mormon say about the Lamanites?

Mosiah 10:17
17 And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.

These Lamanites had been taught from birth that murder was acceptable. God accommodated their incorrect knowledge and forgave them of their murders once they learned it was wrong and repented of their murders.

So what about D&C 42? This section is the law for those who will live in Zion. These people will know good from evil. In particular, they know that murder is not acceptable. So a resident of Zion who kills won’t be held blameless. He knew better and chose to kill regardless. That seems to be the reason he won’t receive forgiveness, whereas the Lamanites had not been taught to know good and evil, and could receive forgiveness in this life for their many murders.

3 Nephi 6:18
Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did wilfully rebel against God.

Helaman 7:23-24
It shall be better for the Lamanites than for you except ye shall repent. For behold, they are more righteous than you, for they have not sinned against that great knowledge which ye have received; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them; yea, he will lengthen out their days and increase their seed, even when thou shalt be utterly destroyed except thou shalt repent.

This demonstrates how important it is to look at the context of each scripture. The Lord has different messages and different expectations for different audiences depending on their level of knowledge. Misapplying a message to the wrong audience can lead to false doctrine that contradicts scripture – like claiming that murder can’t be forgiven.

During the Millennium

During the Millennium, the Celestial and Terrestrial categories of people will live on earth at the same time, while the telestial people suffer in hell. During this time, Christ reigns personally.

D&C 43:29-30
For in mine own due time will I come upon the earth in judgment, and my people shall be redeemed and shall reign with me on earth. For the great Millennium, of which I have spoken by the mouth of my servants, shall come.

When this happens, everyone who has lived that is of the celestial or terrestrial category will be restored to life, similar to how Lazarus was raised from the dead. If this is a new concept for you, I recommend you listen to episode 36 of the Iron Rod Podcast. Everyone who has ever lived who didn’t commit telestial-level sins will be raised from the dead and live during the Millennium.

Let’s remind ourselves of a key aspect of the terrestrial category.

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.

When Christ comes there is a first judgement to select who is currently celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. The terrestrial people who are Christ’s at his coming were judged worthy of being redeemed at Christ’s coming at the beginning of the Millennium. While living in the Millennium, they have the opportunity to receive the gospel while in the flesh so they can later be judged according to men in the flesh at the final judgment on the last day.

How do they receive the gospel? (Receive means not just hearing the gospel, but fully embracing it and receiving all the spiritual benefits described in the scriptures).

D&C 76:87
And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial.

The celestial category of people are there in the Millennium (having come with Christ in the cloud) to teach and minister to the terrestrial category and prepare them to receive the gospel, as D&C 88:99 says. And what happens when someone receives the gospel?

D&C 11:30
But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. Amen.

D&C 25:1
Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter; for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom.

D&C 45:8
I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not; but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life.

Notice that there are no exclusion clauses here. Anyone who receives the gospel becomes a son or daughter of God, regardless of whether that happens before or during the Millennium. These terrestrial people spent time in prison that they might receive the gospel. The goal is for them to “receive the gospel”. Anyone who receives the gospel becomes a son or daughter of God in his kingdom. which as previous posts have demonstrated, is the celestial kingdom. The terrestrials who receive the gospel become celestial before the great and last day of judgment.

Remember how D&C 76 tells us that God saves all the works of his hands, and he saves all except the sons of perdition? We know you can’t be saved anywhere outside the celestial kingdom. Now we see how the terrestrial category of people are saved…they are taught the fullness of the gospel during the Millennium and in the process of “receiving” it become celestial.

Remember all those scriptures saying the only way to be saved in the kingdom of God is through faith, repentance, baptism by water and fire, etc., and there is no other way or condition to be saved in the kingdom of God? That hasn’t been violated here. These Terrestrials will be in the flesh, restored to their mortal bodies, and exercise faith, repent, and be baptized. They will meet all the conditions necessary for the celestial kingdom.

Remember the Alvin Smith paradox? The paradox is resolved. People like Alvin will be restored to life as terrestrial people in the Millennium (per D&C 76), and celestial people will teach them the gospel until they have achieved their own spiritual birth and become sons and daughters of God, at which point they will have become celestial people (per D&C 137).

Keep in mind, this progression occurs during the Millennium, before the little season when Satan is loosed, and before the great and last day of judgment, which is a binary judgment. Humanity will either be saved in the celestial kingdom, or cast out with the devil and his angels.

 

Additional scriptural references indicating that terrestrial people (heathens, less valiant, etc.) will progress to a celestial level during the Millennium:

2 Nephi 21:6-9 / Isaiah 11:6-9
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 35
1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.

Ezekiel 36
33 Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.
34 And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.

Joel 3
16 The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
17 So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

Zechariah 2
10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.
11 And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee.

1 Nephi 22
26 And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth.
27 And now behold, I, Nephi, say unto you that all these things must come according to the flesh.
28 But, behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.

D&C 29
11 For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.

 

A Three Degrees Paradox

In January 1836, Joseph Smith was in the Kirtland Temple preparing for the upcoming dedication when he had a vision of the celestial kingdom. In that vision, Joseph sees his deceased brother, Alvin, in the celestial kingdom.

D&C 137:5-8
I saw Father Adam and Abraham; and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept; and marveled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.

Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying, “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom.”

We love this message. All those good people who didn’t receive the gospel, but would have if they had had the opportunity, will inherit the celestial kingdom. We know this vision was of the future, because Joseph’s mother and father, whom he saw in the celestial kingdom, were very much alive on earth with Joseph at the time of this vision. So Alvin wasn’t in the celestial kingdom yet, but would be at some point in the future.

D&C 76 also talks about people who didn’t receive the gospel in this life, but receive it later:

D&C 76:72, 74
72 Behold, these are they who died without law;
74 Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.

This describes Alvin, who died in 1823, many years before Joseph would start baptizing people with authority. The problem is, D&C 76 says people like Alvin are in the terrestrial glory, not the celestial glory.

Did God get confused? Did he forgot in 1836 what he said in 1832? Three degree orthodoxy teaches that once you are assigned to a level of glory, you stay there forever. So which is it? Are people who don’t receive the gospel in this life sent to the terrestrial kingdom? Or are they sent to the celestial kingdom? According to the orthodox interpretation of the three degrees of glory, both these sections of the Doctrine and Covenants cannot be true.

Is D&C 76 teaching false doctrine? Should we repudiate it and embrace D&C 137?

Is D&C 137 teaching false doctrine? Should we repudiate it and embrace D&C 76?

Or are both these revelations true and their traditional interpretation is the false doctrine that we should repudiate?