“..all men should have eternal life?”
[Editorial Note: For those who prefer to listen to a Vlog instead of reading a Blog, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Mrs Watcher has provided a Youtube reading of this content]
I recently got a few emails from readers who were seeing historical narratives in the Book of Mormon that they felt were typological to the events that we are seeing unfold around us right now. I have shared them in a previous post.
One of those comments directed me to the Book of Alma which I had not read for some time.
I began with the first chapter where I was reminded about an unusual event wherein a false teacher named Nehor was put to death according to the laws that had been instituted by King Mosiah before he died.
Nehor was put to death for committing murder.
The murder took place as a result of Nehor the false teacher, arguing with a man named Gideon over some points of doctrine.
Gideon was a righteous teacher in the Church of God who withstood Nehor with the words of God.
Nehor had gone forth among the people “preaching what he termed the word of God, bearing down against the church”
Among the things he was teaching was that-
“every priest and teacher aught to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hand, but that they should be supported by the people“.
“And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.
And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money.”
Of all the heretical doctrines that Nehor could have picked to tickle the ears of the people, I find it interesting that he told the people that they should not “fear nor tremble“.
He assured the people that everyone was going to eventually categorically receive eternal life because Christ had redeemed all men. There was no need to repent, or least, there was no urgency to repent nor was there an everlasting penalty if one failed to repent within a predetermine time frame.
Contrast the comforting but false doctrine of Nehor that there is no need to fear and tremble about salvation, with the ominous and sobering but true words of Paul
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Interestingly, Paul’s admonition was not given to doubting and unbelieving sinners. It was given to his faithful fellow workers in the ministry. He admonished them to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.
If believers needed to work their salvation with fear and trembling, how much more should doubters be concerned about their eternal future?
This counsel provides a stark contrast to that of Nehor’s counsel while using some of the same descriptives.
Notice how Paul’s counsel was in the context of how the day would come when “every knee should bow”
This and other declarations in scripture indicate that there is in fact a definitive deadline and a finality that needs to be considered with sobriety because the work of salvation is completed based on what takes place during this mortal probation. Further, the scriptures teach that not everyone inherits the same eternal reward.
For greater clarity and context regarding the time when every knee will bow, we can view other passages that address this event.
The D&C actually provides greater contextual detail to that phrase and perhaps explains why Paul is associating it with the need to work out one’s salvation with fear and trembling before a specified time frame. One such passage is found in section 76
109 But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;
110 And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever;
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.
We are informed here that the inhabitants of the telestial world will ultimately bow the knee and confess to him that sits upon the throne.
But what is their reward AFTER they bow their knee and confess with their mouth? Shouldn’t they get to enter into the highest kingdom of the Father after they bow the knee and confess to him who sits on the throne?
The good news is that they inherit their own dominion within a mansion that has been prepared. We are informed in other areas of the text that their mansion will be in a telestial glory which “surpasses all understanding“.
But the glory they inherit will be limited.
They will be servants of the most high,
but where God and Christ dwell, they cannot come.
How long will they be damned or blocked from ascending to the greater glory where God and Christ dwell?
Worlds without end.
How long is “worlds without end?”
That sounds like a really long time to me.
Is there an end to the worlds that will be created?
In fact, according to Joseph Smith, the phrase means FOREVER.
Here is a snippet from a discourse of he gave about how sons of perdition will be doomed to Guolom worlds without end.
“..Many talk of any baptism not being essantial to salvation but this would lay the foundation of their damnation, There has also been remarks made concerning all men being redeemed from Hell, But I say that any man who commits the unpardonable sin must dwell in hell worlds without end
Another account of the same sermon by a different listener seems to be consistent with the other account.
There have been remarks made concerning all men being redeemed from Hell; but I say that those who sin against the Holy Ghost cannot be forgiven in this world, or in the world to come; they shall die the second death— those who commit the unpardonable sin are doomed to Guolom— to dwell in Hell worlds without end
In that discourse, Joseph was speaking specifically about the eternal state of the Sons of Perdition. In his remarks, he uses the term “worlds without end” to correct the false doctrine that sons of perdition will eventually be redeemed from hell. He makes it clear that they will NEVER be redeemed. That is what worlds without end means. NEVER.
Back in section 76 the passage is using the same phrase to describe how long those that inherit the telestial glory will not be able to go where God and Christ dwell. Those that inherit the telestial glory will NEVER enter into the presence of God and Christ in this world or the world to come. They are limited to the glory they are sealed up to for eternity.
The very term inheritance, with regard to eternal reward suggests finality. In fact, the term eternal reward to the select group that are “called” suggests finality as well.
My Fundamentalist Friend
The Nehor narrative which I recently read in Alma and the above passages in section 76 reminded me of something that happened nearly three decades ago when I was just beginning to search the scriptures in much greater depth.
I had met an LDS fundamentalist fellow that I will call John. John was not a typical fundamentalist. He viewed things much differently than most LDS fundamentalists. He told me that everyone was going to eventually be saved.
He continued on to say:
“The telestial and terrestrial kingdoms alluded to in Section 76 are just temporary kingdoms”
“Everyone will eventually progress from glory to glory and from kingdom to Kingdom”
That was the happy, hopeful news that he shared with me.
He could tell that I had some degree of indigestion about what he was postulating so he admonished me to be “open minded” about it.
His appeal to be open minded reminded me of a commenter on the Iron Rod podcast.
The commenter began expressing doubts about the fact that Joseph Smith was going to return and complete his mission and fulfill all of the unconditional promises and prophecies given by the Lord.
Despite how many times his questions were answered using the scriptures and regardless of being presented with countless revelations, prophecies, and patriarchal blessings from God declaring that Joseph Smith would return and complete his commission, he continued to be skeptical. He finally implored the podcasters and listeners of the podcast to remain “open-minded” about the possibility that things would take place differently than how God promises they will.
This admonition to be open-minded about the possibility of things happening differently than how God says they will happen has caused me to wonder if being open-minded is categorically a wise and noble virtue.
Someone once sarcastically quipped that the problem with being open minded is that your brain might fall out of your head.
I have wondered if being open minded about a doctrine is categorically a good thing.
Certainly, if one has not found a definitive answer to a question from the Lord in scripture then it is a good thing to be open about the different possibilities until the truth can be revealed.
Nevertheless, if the true doctrine is clearly laid out in scripture, yet we take it lightly and choose to remain “open minded” about different possibilities that are contrary to what God has promised, it must really be offensive to God to reject his words and remain open minded. Surely there are serious consequences.
Getting back to the topic at hand-
My friend John was suggesting that everyone will eventually be saved in the highest kingdom of God, it just takes longer for some than others in the eternal realm.
He said that the telestial and terrestrial glories or kingdoms were simply temporary stops along the way to perfection.
He acknowledged that there were countless passages in the scriptures that seemed to be teaching quite the opposite, but he assured me that he had divined through deep study and prayerful meditation that there was a deeper truth hidden in the scriptures that he had discovered.
I told him that I felt the answer to this question must be clearly provided in scripture somewhere and I asked him if he had arrived at his conclusion by searching the scriptures. He said he had and he provided a passage out of Section 121.
33 How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.
He informed me that rolling waters in rivers and streams are eventually cleansed of the impurities that might be in them as they pass over the rocks and sand in the riverbed going on their journey.
That was nature’s way of cleaning water he proclaimed.
He interpreted that profundity and the way it was used in scripture to be analogous to the fact that all people that come to earth will eventually be cleansed and saved in the highest kingdom even though many will not repent and accept Christ during mortal probation. Many that don’t repent during probation will have to temporarily receive an inheritance in the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms he declared. But sometime in the future they will move up in glory and eventually be in the presence of the Father in the highest kingdom of glory.
Frankly I found the running waters passage to be a beautiful analogy and I wanted it to be true. I felt that if everyone was saved in the highest kingdom of the Father, that would surely show how merciful God is.
He assured me that after this life and the final judgment, one can Transend from a lower kingdom to a higher kingdom of glory.
Regarding Section 76, he pointed out that the text of section 76 NEVER once mentions the terms “celestial kingdom”, “terrestrial kingdom” or “telestial kingdom”.
He suggested that students of the gospel are predisposed to read those terms into the text because of orthodox indoctrination… A good example of this indoctrination is found in the Chapter header summary of section 76.
“Those who will inherit the terrestrial kingdom are described; 81–113…”
Interestingly verses 81-113 never use the term “terrestrial kingdom”
I must admit, that is a really interesting point.
On the other hand, section 88 clearly speaks of the “telestial kingdom” and “terrestrial kingdom” expressly. Furthermore, the following quote from the history of the church attributed to Joseph Smith who had just experienced the vision, shows that he did interpret the revelation, to be identifying and differentiating “kingdoms” of glory:
A vision given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon, at Hiram, Ohio, February 16, 1832. Prefacing the record of this vision, Joseph Smith’s history states:
“Upon my return from Amherst conference, I resumed the translation of the Scriptures. From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.
It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded everyone according to the deeds done in the body the term ‘Heaven,’ as intended for the Saints’ eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one.
It appears that Joseph considered the inheritance of telestial, terrestrial and celestial “glories” to be closely related if not synonymous with “kingdoms”. Certainly, there appeared to be kingdoms within those glories.
It is Not Possible to Transition from Kingdom to Kingdom
I am really grateful for the experience I had with my fundamentalist friend John because it got me thinking about the issue of whether we continue to progress from degree of glory to degree of glory in the hereafter. I have spent lots of time searching these things and I am convinced that the doctrine taught by Nehor and my friend John, along with other variations of the concept are false and contrary to the word of God.
Another outgrowth of the heretical doctrine of Nehor is the heretical multiple probations doctrine which seems to be a natural deduction once a person has convinced themselves that everyone must be saved in the highest kingdom even though they must repent and accept the fulness of the gospel during probation..
Why does it even matter whether all men are saved in the highest kingdom or not?
It appears from the warnings of the ancient prophets that such a belief causes men to procrastinate in their belief and repentance and their obedience to God’s commands. Book of Mormon prophets are quite clear about this-
20 Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.
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.
22 And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.
We have been given a set probationary period of time in which to lay claim upon our eternal reward by the thoughts we think, our ability to discern truth from error through the Holy Ghost, and the actions we take in this life. The scriptures teach that If we seek to do wickedly and are found to be unclean before the judgment-seat of God, we will be cast off FOREVER.
We will show later in this post that only those that are lifted up at the last day are those that are found CLEAN and JUSTIFIED. Everyone else is unclean and under condemnation until a second preaching of the gospel takes place along with proxy baptisms. To be cast off forever in the above context is simply referring to being cast out of the presence of the Father forever. It does not imply roasting in hell with Satan forever.
31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.
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.
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, 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.
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.
The above declaration seems to be referencing those that will become sons of perdition.
In other words, the scripture means exactly what it says in those instances. Those Book of Mormon prophets knew exactly what they were talking about.
These passages and other similar ones are pretty clear. They leave very little reason to be “open-minded” about the possibility that everyone that receives a telestial or terrestrial glory will eventually transcend the glory they inherited and enter into the presence of God and Christ.
There are several places in scripture that clearly teach that there is a set, specified time of probation with a clearly specified deadline in which we must exercise faith and obey the commandments of God in order to be saved in the highest glory and/or kingdom of God.
Section 76 Provides Additional Evidences
We have already noted one of the most powerful evidences in section 76 that there will be no kingdom jumping in the hereafter. It informs us that those that inherit a telestial glory will never enter into the presence of God and Christ, worlds without end.
Section 76 makes a very definitive differentiation between those that are saved in the celestial glory and everyone else. Here are just two examples to consider:
The Requisite of Obtaining the Gift of the Holy Ghost
and the Testimony of Jesus in the Flesh
Notice how a contextual reading of verses 52 and 53 state that one must receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands and be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise during mortality.
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.
Notice also how verse 74 differentiates between the celestial souls who received the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, vs the terrestrial souls who receive it after this life, in the spirit world-
74 Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.
75 These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.
76 These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness.
From the above passages of scripture and others, we learn that if one fails to receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands and receive the testimony of Jesus during mortal probation, they will NEVER inherit the celestial glory even if they receive proxy baptism and the testimony of Jesus in the spirit world.
Could this explain why the Lord revealed the principle of proxy water baptisms for those in spirit prison but never said anything about proxy laying on of hands for them? Some have falsely concluded that righteous souls like Joseph Smith’s older brother Alvin are ultimately saved in the highest kingdom through proxy baptism but we will show in a later part of this series that such is not the case. Alvin will get baptized in the flesh for himself during probation. He will not need to have the gospel preached to him while he is in spirit prison or in his disembodied spirit.
Section 76 clearly informs us that one must receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by the proper authority IN THE FLESH DURING PROBATION! The elect of God seek God early and find him during this probation.
The full spiritual rebirth cannot be experienced by terrestrial souls in spirit prison after they knowingly refused to accept the gospel during mortality. Those that fail to receive the fulness in this life will gain the testimony of Jesus when they see him coming in the clouds of heaven, or some other time, but by then their opportunity for the spiritual rebirth through the walk of faith during probation is no longer available. (For those that might feel uneasy because they feel that they have not qualified according to the requisites spoken of above, I would remind you that there is much that will happen during the marvelous work, between now and the trump that will sound when the elect are quickened and lifted into the cloud)
These passages of scripture inform us that salvation is very deadline related. There is a set time by which people must accept the gospel and repent during probation in order to inherit the highest glory.
If in fact the doctrine of Nehor was true, none of these black and white deadline requirements would make any sense. Some might feel that they are not necessary.
If everyone was ultimately going to be refined and sanctified sometime during eternity to inherit the highest glory, why would the Lord provide the vision that he did to Joseph and Sidney? Why would he shame and punish people for taking longer to become saved in the highest kingdom than others? It would make no sense.
The True Definition of Save and Saved in Section 76
Section 76 is completely congruent with the urgent warnings given by the Book of Mormon and New Testament prophets. There is a designated time of probation in which we must repent if we are to receive the highest eternal inheritance. There is no secret doctrine like the one Nehor preached that provides a safety net in the hereafter to enable us to qualify for eternal life in the Father’s kingdom once we fail to qualify for it during this life’s probation.
Having detailed several places in Section 76 that make it clear that there is no progression from glory to glory in the afterlife, let us review the meaning of “save and saved” as it is used in Section 76 because these passages cause some people to stumble in their understanding of the scriptures and the plan of salvation.
LDS Students of the gospel as well as critics from biblical Christianity have been befuddled by the use of the terms save and saved as they are used in Section 76. This is because they falsely assume that the terms are always referring to salvation in the highest celestial Kingdom of the Father.
It is difficult for them to realize that some terms in the scriptures are used in different ways and that the reader must have a contextual understanding of what is being said as well as spiritual discernment.
The first definition of salvation in the Websters Dictionary only has to do with being saved from destruction, danger and great calamity:
“The act of saving; preservation from destruction, danger or great calamity.”
As we shall see, the term save and saved are used this way in scripture sometimes.
This is a tough pill to swallow for Latter day Saints who think that salvation categorically means to be saved into something, such as the highest kingdom of the Father, instead of saved from something, such as the wrath of God or the second death.
The second, broader definition of the term in Websters is in two parts. First, “redemption of man from bondage of sin the liability of eternal death“. Secondly, “the conferring on him everlasting happiness“.
“Appropriately in theology, the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and liability to eternal death, and the conferring on him everlasting happiness. This is the great salvation”
The first part of the above definition of salvation is largely synonymous with redemption from bondage and eternal death. However the second part of the definition includes the conferring of “everlasting happiness” which would NOT necessarily be limited to the celestial kingdom of the Father. Even the telestial kingdom appears to be a kingdom of happiness that surpasses all understanding. Clearly, those in the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms of glory enjoy everlasting happiness.
Saved from Wrath
2 Corinthians chapter 7 provides an amazing discourse about being saved from wrath. It is referring primarily to the first definition of salvation. Never in the whole chapter does it emphasize that we must repent and be baptized or accept the fulness of the gospel. Those terms are not used. It speaks about how we are “saved from wrath” through the redeeming death of Christ.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
While being sinners, before even repenting and accepting the gospel, Christ’s blood justified and redeemed everyone who does not qualify to be a son of perdition by rejecting all light. They shall be saved from wrath because Christ died for us.
Section 76 is using the terms the same way.
Again, the terms “save” and “saved” are not always used the exact same way in scripture. Context is everything.
In review- Sometimes they refer to the act of being SAVED INTO
the kingdom of God or possibly even another kingdom of glory, but sometimes they refer to the act of being SAVED FROM the second death, and/or the wrath of God
Some passages cover both and are contextually referring to those that will inherit the greatest kingdom.
Being saved from wrath and being saved into the highest kingdom where the Father and the Son dwell, are not necessarily synonymous. One can be saved from the second death but not saved into the kingdom of the Father. That would be true of both those that inherit a telestial glory and those that inherit a terrestrial glory.
Another Definition of Saved and Salvation
In Lectures on Faith, Joseph and Sidney used the term “saved” and “salvation” to refer to salvation in the highest kingdom as they posed the question, “what constitutes a saved being?” The definition of save and salvation that they use in that context has to do with those that are saved into the celestial kingdom. However they clearly understood that the term salvation is used in different ways which is why they prefaced their remarks thusly:
As all the visible creation is an effect of faith, so is salvation, also. (We mean salvation in its most extensive latitude of interpretation, whether it is temporal or spiritual)
In section 76, the primary topic being discussed leading up the use of the terms save and saved in verses 42-44 is the topic of REDEMPTION from the second death and being SAVED from the second death, not salvation into the kingdom of the Father . This is why the topics of Satan and his angels and the second death and the wrath of God are covered so early in the narrative.
Notice verses 36-8
36 These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—
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.
Here is what Webster says about the definition of redemption:
“the ransom or deliverance of sinners from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God’s violated law by the atonement of Christ.”
Just because someone is saved and redeemed from the second death and the eternal wrath of God, does not mean that they are saved into the highest glory.
Here is a summary of the three main topics covered in section 76 prior to the use of the terms save and saved in order to get some context for how the terms save and saved are being used:
Verses 1-14 testify of the existence of the Father and the Son and that they are merciful to those that serve them in righteousness
Verses 15-24 includes Joseph and Sidneys testimony again and then speaks of the resurrection of the dead and how it is divided into two groups, those that do good unto the resurrection of the just and those that do evil unto the resurrection of the unjust.
Verses 25-38 testifies that Satan is real and that he was in a position of authority in the presence of God and then rebelled against God and was cast down. It explains that he makes war with the saints and defines what a son of perdition is. . It warns that those that are overcome by the power of the Devil will deny the truth and defy God and will not be redeemed from the second death. They will suffer the wrath of God for eternity.
The text of this vision up to this point is now focusing on the threat of the power of the Devil in making war with the saints and the ultimate threat of the second death. This sets the stage for addressing the concept of being REDEEMED and SAVED from the wrath of God and /or the second death through the atonement of Christ’s shed blood.
After that topic is addressed, the revelatory narrative will provide a detailed breakdown of the various glories and kingdoms that the redeemed souls will inherit that have been saved from the second death.
Clearly, verses 42-44 do not appear to be congruent with the remainder of the text if one incorrectly assumes that they are referring to being saved in the highest kingdom of the Father. This is why it is so important to get this foundational interpretation correct. If one misinterprets this concept, the remainder of section 76 becomes confusing and illogical as well as other sections of the scripture, leading one down a rabbit hole of confusion and seeming contradiction.
- There is a distinct difference between being saved from the second death, vs. being saved into the celestial kingdom of the Father.
- The telestial and terrestrial glories and associated kingdoms are not temporary glories and kingdoms. They are everlastingly permanent. There is no jumping from kingdom to kingdom after the final judgment.
- There is a definitive time frame by which every man must repent and accept Christ under his own agency during probation in order to qualify for an inheritance in the celestial order, glory, and highest kingdom where the Father and Son dwell
- Mortal probation doesn’t necessarily end when someone dies. If they would have received the gospel during their mortal life, they will have the opportunity to be restored in the flesh to participate in the saving ordinances prior to being quickened and caught up into the cloud (more on this in a future installment)
Section 76 is not the only section in the D&C that clearly states that the judgment that follows this mortal probation is an eternal judgement resulting in an eternal and fixed inheritance.
In part two of this series we shall see what section 88 has to say about this topic. It will provide a second witness to what is taught in section 76. Additionally, it will explain WHY a telestial spirit can never inherit a terrestrial or celestial glory and why a terrestrial spirit can never inherit a celestial glory.
In part three of this series we will review the timeline of this earthly probation as given in the Book of Revelation and clarified in section 77. We shall see how the “lifting up” (rapture} interrelates to the timeline and the plan of salvation. This will provide a third witness that the judgments of the Lord and the assigned glories and kingdoms that people inherit will be final. ALL THINGS WILL BE SEALED TO THE END OF ALL THINGS and God will COMPLETE THE SALVATION OF MAN during the beginning of the seventh thousand years. There will be no jumping from kingdom to kingdom after the sealing up of all things has taken place.
Before closing this first installment, let me point out a subtle thing that is not often noticed in the section 76 which interrelates to everything we have just discussed-
The vision detailed in section 76 was prompted when Joseph and Sidney were translating the inspired version of the bible. They were working on the twenty ninth verse in the fifth chapter of John about “the resurrection of the Just“
15 For while we were doing the work of translation, which the Lord had appointed unto us, we came to the twenty-ninth verse of the fifth chapter of John, which was given unto us as follows—
16 Speaking of the resurrection of the dead, concerning those who shall hear the voice of the Son of Man:
17 And shall come forth; they who have done good, in the resurrection of the just; and they who have done evil, in the resurrection of the unjust.
18 Now this caused us to marvel, for it was given unto us of the Spirit.
Question: What was given to them in the spirit regarding the above quote from the New Testament?
Answer: The terms “just” and “unjust”
You see, those terms don’t actually show up in the King James Version of the passage they are quoting!!!!!
Notice below how Joseph and Sidney inserted the terms Just and unjust in the John 5:28-29 of the King James Translation-
|King James John 5:28-29
||JST- Inspired Version John 5:28-29
|28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
|28 Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all who are in their graves shall hear his voice
29 And shall come forth; they who have done good, in the resurrection of the just; and they who have done evil, in the resurrection of the unjust.
In the above changes, notice how the term resurrection of life has been changed to resurrection of the “just”.
Notice also how resurrection of damnation has been changed to the resurrection of the unjust.
I don’t think the terms in the King James version are necessarily wrong, I just think that the terms they have been replaced with provide more clarification and a broader eternal context.
Much of the orthodox New Testament salvation vs. damnation theology focuses on the urgency of being saved from the wrath of God at the last day by repenting and being “lifted up” to avoid God’s wrath. That is the urgency of the New Testament and Book of Mormon’s message to the world.
Conversely, section 76 is providing a broader, eternal view of what happens to everyone after the work of final judgment takes place. Hence the descriptives in the section 76 narrative appear to convey a more compassionate view of the plan of salvation.
Getting back to the inspired changes that were made by Joseph and Sidney. What does it mean to be “just“?
What exactly does it mean to be a “just man made perfect“?
When we get into section 88 in our next installment, we will review how each of the three degrees of glory have a law associated with then. Section 88 describes these three laws as being Mercy, Justice and Judgment. In other words-
Celestial Law is the law of Mercy.
Terrestrial Law is the Law of Justice
and telestial law is the Law of Judgment.
The Book of Mormon provides a discourse on the law of justice and how those that have not been justified by mercy during probation, must be exposed to the full law of justice. Mercy will not be able to rob Justice.
Section 19 informs us that those that don’t repent during this probation must suffer for their own sins, being exposed to the demands of the law of justice:
..For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I
We will get further into these concepts when we delve into section 88.
For now, lets simply note what section 76 tells us about who the just men that are made perfect through the law of mercy are:
49 And we heard the voice, saying: Write the vision, for lo, this is the end of the vision of the sufferings of the ungodly.
50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—
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.
61 Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet.
62 These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.
63 These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.
64 These are they who shall have part in the first resurrection.
65 These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.
66 These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.
67 These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.
68 These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all.
69 These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.
70 These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.
71 And again, we saw the terrestrial world…
As you can see, the Lord uses the term “Just” and/or “Just men made perfect” three times as descriptives of those who will come forth and be caught up into the cloud in the first resurrection to inherit the celestial glory of the Father.
After listing those descriptives the narrative then moves on to the listing of descriptives for the terrestrial souls and then the telestial souls as distinctly separate classifications.
Not once does the term just or just men made perfect ever show up to describe those of the terrestrial glory or those of the telestial glory.
This means that the resurrection of the just refers exclusively to the saints that are “lifted up” into the cloud in section 88:96-98.
95 And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled;
96 And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.
97 And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—
98 They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.
It excludes those terrestrial souls that must be judged according to men in the flesh [according to the law of justice] in verse 99.
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.
I am sure this causes some people consternation. Some of us have possibly assumed that the souls who come forth in the “morning of the first resurrection” AND those souls who come forth in the “afternoon of the first resurrection” are all part of the same resurrection of the Just.
Not according to section 76!
Despite this harsh reality, section 76 greatly softens the harshness of New Testament damnation terminology. We often think of those that are eternally “damned” as those that are in hell for eternity with Satan.
NOT necessarily so!
In the case of telestial and terrestrial souls, eternally damned simply means eternally blocked or prevented from entering into the highest kingdom of the father but nevertheless enjoying dominion in a kingdom of glory that surpasses all understanding“.
Praise God almighty!
I find it interesting how Joseph and Sidney were bold enough to quote from the bible using the inspired clarifying terms they inserted working on the inspired version. After all, it was not yet published and the deeper things were not to be publicly proclaimed.
Joseph had been commanded two separate times in scripture to stick with the basics and not teach about the deeper things:
D&C 6:9 Say nothing but repentance unto this generation; keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.
D&C 11:9 Say nothing but repentance unto this generation. Keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.
Also interesting is the fact that section 76 did virtually nothing to further the missionary work at the time it was brought forth. In fact, it appears to have been a detriment. Some converts fell away because of it and some potential converts rejected the message of the restored gospel because of it. They felt it was contrary to the orthodox biblical doctrine which only posits to outcomes, eternal life, vs. the wrath of God.
Realizing how disruptive the deeper concepts in section 76 and other revelations were, Joseph sent directives to the missionaries overseas to not teach about the gathering, the vision (Section 76) and book Doctrine and Covenants
my instructions to the brethren were, when they arrived in England, to adhere closely to the first principles of the Gospel, and remain silent concerning the gathering. the vision, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, until such time as the work was fully established, and it should be clearly made manifest by the Spirit. &c.
Even today, people stumble over the information contained in section 76 and end up misunderstanding the deep, sobering, yet hopeful and blissful eternal concepts revealed in it. It leads one to wonder if in fact Joseph had made a mistake in making the revelation public at that time.
Nevertheless, we have been given it and we have accepted it as inspired scripture, so it now behooves us to try and understand it the best we can. We are informed that Joseph and Sidney received the vision while in the spirit and I am now convinced that one can only fully understand it if they read it “in the spirit”.
A left-brain scripture search and deductive reasoning may not be enough to divine the full significance of the inspired narrative. (I don’t pretend to fully understand everything in it, I am only sharing a few concepts that I believe I understand each one of us needs to interpret it by the spirit)
Read section 88 in preparation for the next installment as we continue to put the damnable doctrine of Nehor to bed.
Those that take comfort in thinking that everyone in the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms will eventually be saved in the kingdom of the Father are in very dangerous territory. It is only human nature to use such a belief to take the urgency of the day of our salvation lightly.
Keep Watching and be sober
Historian Robert Woodford notes that the copies of section 76 that were published in Times and Seasons and the Millennial Star, “have the Sons of Perdition coming forth in the first resurrection“. Later in this series we shall review why that possibility is not altogether unlikely when we discuss how all of this fits into the timeline. (Pg 940 Vol 2 Part 2 The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants)