This post represents the second false doctrine that we are going to cover in this series which is often taught in the LDS Church.
The resurrection is often characterized by the institutional church as a split-second event that takes place after this earthly probation is over, where the spirit and body are reunited in their final glorified state.
Admittedly, some passages of scripture even sound like that may be the case when viewed as a single passage without looking at related passages and taking a broader contextual look at the doctrine.
The scenario I am seeing in the scriptures relative to the doctrine of the resurrection is quite different. The process of returning and being restored in the flesh actually appears to be part of the end times scenario and it begins with being restored to mortality before being restored to a glorified state.
The scriptures sometimes use the word restoration in place of or including the term resurrection.
Furthermore, the restoration (and resurrection) process actually takes place during this probationary period of this earth life and before the time of the final judgments and wrath of God that will be poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth.
The Resurrection of the Dead Represents the Time of Restoration
The following declarations are found on the official website of the LDS Church and has been taught as official church doctrine for centuries:
“[This] is truly the dispensation of the fullness of times, when all things which are in Christ Jesus, whether in heaven or on the earth, shall be gathered together in Him, and when all things shall be restored.”
As you can see, according to the above quote, we Latter day Saints have entered into the dispensation of the fulness of times when all things in heaven or on earth are to be restored and gathered to Christ. Interestingly, there is no scriptural support provided for that claim nor is there a reference provided as to who made that sensational statement.
In a later post in this series we shall address this topic and see from scripture and history of the church that we have not entered into the dispensation of the fulness of times.
Regarding the resurrection, or restoration of the dead, the official LDS website states that-
At the time of the resurrection, we will “be judged according to [our] works. … We shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt..”
The wording in the above teaching can be confusing. It causes us to assume that the resurrection takes place after God’s last great work is finished and this mortal probation is over.
I believe the scriptures do not teach that.
It declares that the resurrection marks the time when the judgment begins and our works done in the mortal flesh have been completed.
I believe that a full, contextual reading of the scriptures provide a much more detailed sequence of events that do not support such a narrow characterization.
One of the problems may be semantics. The terms resurrection and restoration are not always used exactly the same way.
Below is one a passage from the modern revelation that I think is sometimes misunderstood:
6 And also with Elias, to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days; D&C27:6
Who is the Elias being spoken of? When did he bring to pass the restoration of all things?
I would suggest that the passage is speaking about keys that were committed pertaining to a future event.
A literal reading of the scriptures that pertain to the resurrection inform us that the resurrection actually begins the time of the literal gathering of God’s people to the lands of their inheritance. Further, they inform us that when we are initially brought forth from the dead, we will be returned to our MORTAL bodies, not our IMORTAL BODIES!
Look at the following passage of scripture in 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.
The passage is speaking about the final literal gathering of Israel.
First, those living on the earth shall believe in Christ.
Second, people will be restored in the flesh upon the earth.
Lastly, they are brought unto the lands of their inheritance.
That chronological sequence of events may be so foreign to you that you think I am misinterpreting the passage and wresting the scriptures. But I am not basing these claims solely on a unique interpretation of the above passage of scripture.
Verse 8 of 2 Nephi 10 notes that people are being gathered from the “four parts of the earth” after people are restored in the flesh.
And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth;
Now let’s review the dry bones prophecy in Ezekiel which supports the above declaration in 2 Nephi 10, that people will be restored to the earth in the flesh BEFORE the final gathering of Israel:
37 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones…
2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
Ezekiel prophesies that the time will come when the whole house of Israel will be restored to the earth in the flesh. Their dead bones will be covered with flesh once again and the breath of life will be put into them.
This has huge implications that we will not address in this post, but one has to wonder what has taken place on earth that would cause the entire house of Israel to be dead.
What happens after God restored them to the earth in the flesh?
They are gathered to the land of Israel!
12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
13 And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.
After God opens the graves of the dead and restores all of Israel back to the earth in the flesh and puts his spirit in them, he brings them into the land of Israel.
As you can see, the above prophecy in Ezekiel 37 shares the same bizarre chronology as 2nd Nephi 10
This unusual narrative is also found in the blessing and cursing prophecy of Moses who declares that after Israel goes into apostasy in the latter days and is “driven” among “all nations“, God will gather his people, even from the four parts of heaven, and place them in their land!
1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
This doctrine of being gathered even from the dead and placed into the appointed land is also found in Isaiah 52 which speaks first of the dead shaking the dust off and then being gathered.
“shake yourselves from the dust“
It then transitions into the gathering out of Babylon-
“go out from thence.. go ye out of the midst of her..“
It speaks of the anointed servant of the Lord conducting this gathering
“Behold my servant shall deal prudently.. his visage was so marred.. he shall gather many nations..”
As you can see, the restoration of men back to the earth in the flesh precedes the final gathering of Israel!
The prophet Daniel also provides an interesting chronology having to do with the restoration of souls back to the earth:
1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
Daniel informs us that once the children of Israel have been gathered, Michael stands up.
At that time, there will be a time of trouble.
People who have slept in the dust will awake. Some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Some of the ones that awake will turn many to righteousness! If people are still being converted to the truth, then clearly this amazing time of resurrection is still taking place during probationary time.
From Mortal Bodies to Immortal Bodies
Furthermore, as briefly mentioned earlier in this post, there is reason to believe that initially, men are restored from the dust back to their mortal bodies not their immortal bodies!
It is commonly taught in the church that after our mortal body dies, all men will be resurrected from the dead into our final immortal and glorified bodies to be judged. It is believed by many that perhaps this process takes place sometime after the events of the end times during the millennium.
But there are passages in the Book of Mormon that seem to challenge this.
They teach that those who experience the death of the mortal body must first be returned to this earth and come forth out of the grave and be restored to that same mortal body to be judged.
45 Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body
It is not saying that the spirit is directly reunited with the immortal body, it is saying that first there is a resurrection of the mortal body. Sometime after that, the mortal body is raised to an immortal body.
20 But there was one Antionah, who was a chief ruler among them, came forth and said unto him: What is this that thou hast said, that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an immortal state, that the soul can never die?
Again, we have a progression here.
Alma is stating that we gain a mortal body in this probation, then we die, then we are raised up again in our mortal body, then we are judged, then we are raised from our mortal body to an immortal body.
- Mortal Body in Mortal Probation
- Restored from the dead to our mortal body after death the first death has been conquered
- Mortal Body raise to an Immortal body
Countless patriarchal blessings from the time of Kirtland to the present day have promised the saints that they would stand on the earth in the flesh to see the coming of the Lord.
Skeptics have scoffed at how many people have died without seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy. And yet it appears from several passages that everyone that has died after the crucifixion of Christ will eventually be returned to the earth at the appointed time, before the time of the coming of the Lord so that they can stand on the earth and witness his coming in glory.
Those patriarchal blessings will still be fulfilled.
Job understood this concept full well that at the time of the end, he would be restored to the earth in the flesh to see God.
25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.. Job 19:25-29 King James Version (KJV)
The Book of Revelation notes how the wicked that are restored to their bodies will desire death but will not be able to die
“And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that these men are in their final glorified bodies. If so, why are they seeking death?
Again, the term resurrection is not necessarily used the same way in the scriptures all the time nor does it always have reference to the final state of the immortal body.
Sometimes the term resurrection and related terms may simply have reference to coming forth from the dead to be judged, not necessarily referring to the restoration of a physical body.
Section 88: 96-101 gives a chronology of the four groups coming forth from the dead at the coming of Christ and yet, it only addresses some form of physical restoration of the celestial spirits are quickened and caught up and the terrestrial spirits are judged in the flesh. Nothing is said about the “spirits” that come forth from the other two groups having been returned to physical bodies at that time.
This restoration narrative is closely related to many other deep topics and this episode is not intended to answer all of the questions about the resurrection. In some ways it may generate more questions than answers. The purpose is to simply point out that what is being taught about resurrection by the institutional church is not supported in scripture.