Section 88 informs us that “light” is the power of God and that light is in all things and it is the “law” by which all things are governed:
13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.
Although the Book of Mormon sometimes uses the term “soul” synonymously with “spirit”. Section 88 defines the term “soul” differently, declaring it to mean the spirit and the body when united together. At death the spirit and body separate but they are redeemed, or reunited when God quickens all things.
15 And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.
16 And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.
17 And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.
In this revelation God was speaking specifically to his high priests who had had their calling and election made sure. Because of this, the text begins addressing the state of the elect of God, those who had “celestial bodies”.
It informs us that those that had been spiritually organized with celestial bodies must be sanctified from all unrighteousness before they can fill the full measure of their creation and inherit a celestial glory.
It states that those who had been initially created by God with celestial bodies were predestinated to inherit the celestial kingdom-
18 Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory;
19 For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;
20 That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.
The narrative then transitions to those that were not created with celestial bodies. Those cannot be sanctified by the “law of Christ“. They must inherit another lesser kingdom of light such as the terrestrial kingdom or the telestial kingdom.
21 And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.
This amazing narrative in Section 88 reiterates that those that were initially created as celestial spirits will ultimately receive celestial bodies to inherit a celestial glory when their bodies are quickened.
Those that were created as terrestrial spirits will ultimately be quickened with terrestrial bodies to inherit a terrestrial glory.
28 They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.
29 Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
30 And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
31 And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
It is important to understand that those terrestrial spirits that cannot live the celestial law and fully enter into the New Covenant of Christ, only BEGIN to believe in Christ during this probation. They are offered another law which is often called the preparatory gospel or the gospel of Abraham. The covenant that they fall under is the Covenant that God made with Abraham.
This explains why the scriptures confidently assure us that “all Israel will be saved” despite the fact that most of Israel will be unable to live the full law of Christ and enter into the LAW OF CHRIST.
The “law of Christ” is associated with the term NEW TESTAMENT or NEW COVENANT.
The Covenant the God made with Abraham
One of the places this is revealed is in the 13th chapter of Ether, which provides a very cryptic narrative that speaks about the emergence of two very separate and distinct classes of spirits after we get a new heaven and a new earth.
The first group represents the celestial bodies that come forth in the morning of the first resurrection. They are the ones that entered into the fulness of the NEW COVENANT OF CHRIST. This term is closely linked to the term NEW JERUSALEM. The fall under the New Covenant
The second group represents the terrestrial bodies that come forth in the afternoon of the first resurrection. We are informed that the covenant that they fall under is referred to as THE COVENANT GOD MADE WITH ABRAHAM. The fall under the Old Covenant.
Notice the wording in the passages describing the celestial bodies that come forth first in the New Jerusalem.
9 And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.
10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.
Those of the NEW JERUSALEM are they WHOSE GARMENTS ARE WHITE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB. They represent everyone that is numbered among the REMNANT OF THE SEED OF JOSEPH.
Compare the descriptives of this first group to the descriptives of the second group
11 And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham.
Those of celestial bodies are those that are numbered among the remnant of Joseph. Their garments are made white through the blood of the Lamb. They entered into the New Covenant of Christ.
Conversely, those of Terrestrial bodies are the ones that were scattered and gathered from the “four quarters of the earth”. They rejected the fulness of the Covenant of Christ, however, they are not forgotten.
They are “partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with Abraham“. Instead of their garments being made white through the blood of the Lamb through repentance and the baptism of water, fire and the Holy Ghost, their whole bodies had to be WASHED in the blood of the Lamb. They must suffer to some degree before coming forth because they could not be sanctified by celestial law.
Of course additional differentiating details are given in section 76 regarding these two classes of people, as well as other classes of people.
We know that those of the New Covenant of Christ who come forth in the New Jerusalem are those that accepted the full covenant of Christ and received the baptism of water, fire and the holy Ghost during probation.
Conversely, the Terrestrials are those that died without fully accepting and living the law of Christ. “these are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus“. They were “the honorable men of the earth who were blinded by the craftiness of men“.
Why is it so important to understand the distinction between the covenant of Christ with respect to the those that have been created with celestrial bodies, as opposed to the Covenant that God made with Abraham with respect to those who were created with terrestrial bodies?
Obviously this information is integral to understand the plan of salvation in general.
Additionally, those who desire to understand the true history of the LDS restoration movement, must understand this information in order to make sense out of the bizarre events that happened during Joseph Smith’s ministry.
From 1829 to 1834, the whole emphasis of the LDS restoration movement was on Christ and him Crucified, and the Gospel of Christ, and the restoration of the Covenant of Christ. The demographic of the church was primarily Joseph/Ephraim and those associated with that remnant of the house of Israel. These people were classified with and numbered among the gentiles.
After the fulness was rejected by this demographic, the narrative in LDS church history begins to change.
Shortly after the rejection of the gospel in 1834, the BOOK OF ABRAHAM EMERGES.
ABRAHAMIC PATRIARCHAL BLESSINGS EMERGE within the church.
The DISPENSATION OF THE GOSPEL OF ABRAHAM is secretly ushered in
Joseph Smith begins differentiating the PRIESTHOOD OF ABRAHAM from the PRIESTHOOD OF MELCHIZEDEK
An interim missionary work begins attracting a different spiritual demographic into the church. Joseph Smith refers to the children of Abraham that must receive the knowledge of the gospel and Joseph refers to these converts as the “outcasts of Israel and the outcasts of Israel
Dear Brethren: I am happy in being informed by your letter that your mission swells “larger and larger.” It is a great and important mission, and one that is worthy those intelligences who surround the throne2 of Jehovah to be engaged in. Although it appears great at present, yet you have but just begun to realize the greatness, the extent and glory3 of the same. If there is anything calculated to interest the mind of the Saints, to awaken in them the finest sensibilities, and arouse them to enterprise and exertion, surely it is the great and precious promises4 made by our heavenly Father to the children of Abraham;5 and those engaged in seeking the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah,6 cannot fail to enjoy the Spirit of the Lord and have the choicest blessings of heaven7 rest upon them in copious effusions.
All of this provides missing pieces to the puzzle regarding the plan of salvation, the gathering of Israel, and why the events in church history took place the way they did.
If you were to ask you, which happens first, the final gathering of the children of Abraham, or the resurrection. What would your answer be?
If you think the final gathering of the children of Abraham and the children of Israel takes place before the resurrection, prepare to have your world turned upside down.
Now you have your study assignment.