DC 76 Historical Background
The Amherst conference has just closed. Many brethren had been called upon to serve missions, and the Prophet returned to his work of translation. While working on the gospel of John, he read of the resurrection of the just and unjust as spoken of in John 5:28-29. This passage prompted the inquiry which led to the vision. The importance of this revelation cannot be overstated. While Christianity struggles to make sense of the concepts of salvation and heaven, the Latter-day Saints are blessed with a clear picture of the destiny of mankind after the resurrection of the dead.
Nothing could be more pleasing to the Saints upon the order of the kingdom of the Lord, than the light which burst upon the world through the foregoing vision. Every law, every commandment, every promise, every truth, and every point touching the destiny of man, from Genesis to Revelation, where the purity of the scriptures remains unsullied by the folly of men, go to show the perfection of the theory [of different degrees of glory in the future life] and witnesses the fact that that document is a transcript from the records of the eternal world. The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action; the continued duration for completion, in order that the heirs of salvation may confess the Lord and bow the knee; the rewards for faithfulness, and the punishments for sins, are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every honest man is constrained to exclaim: "It came from God." (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 252 - 253.)
The vision of the three degrees of glory which is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants was given at the house of "Father Johnson," in Hiram, Ohio, and during the time that Joseph and Sidney were in the Spirit and saw the heavens open there were other men in the room, perhaps twelve, among whom I was one during a part of the time-probably two-thirds of the time. I saw the glory and felt the power, but did not see the vision.
Joseph wore black clothes, but at this time seemed to be dressed in an element of glorious white, and his face shone as if it were transparent, but I did not see the same glory attending Sidney.
The events and conversation, while they were seeing what is written (and many things were seen and related that are not written) I will relate as minutely as is necessary.
Joseph would, at intervals, say: "What do I see?" as one might say while looking out the window and beholding what all in the room could not see. Then he would relate what he had seen or what he was looking at.
Then Sidney replied, "I see the same."
Presently Sidney would say, "What do I see?" and would repeat what he had seen or was seeing.
And Joseph would reply, "I see the same."
This manner of conversation was repeated at short intervals to the end of the vision, and during the whole time not a word was spoken by any other person. Not a sound or motion was made by anyone but Joseph and Sidney, and it seemed to me that they never moved a joint or limb during the time I was there, which I think was over an hour, and to the end of the vision.
Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificent glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which, Joseph remarked, smilingly. "Sidney is not used to it as I am." (Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 68.)
DC 76:1-10 Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory
Winslow Farr Smith
Marvelous promises, beyond our comprehension, so deep and so unfathomable in their nature that we can not comprehend them, have been made to us, if ye will live according to his law and keep his commandments and do the things that he has commanded.
I want to read to you just a few verses from the D&C, and I want you to ponder over them, think about them, and study them, and I beg of you to make them a part of your lives. If you will do it, out of this study and this application will come the joy that is yours. In 1832 the Father gave to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, a man who fell away, this wonderful promise: (quotes D&C 76:1-10)
My brethren and sisters, to me the most glorious promise that we can expect here as mortals on earth is the promise that God gave in that revelation. I declare unto you in humility and in candor that this subject is so vital, so big, so all-embracing, that unless we take hold of it, study it, and make it part of our lives, we are losing the opportunity knocking at our door today. (Conference Report, October 1919, Out-Doors Overflow Meeting 189.)
DC 76:7 to them I will reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom
Bruce R. McConkie
There are added revelations we could receive, and I hope will receive as we manage to get in tune with the Spirit.... This reaffirmation is what brings this subject down to us as individuals. Every man is supposed to be a prophet for himself. Every head of a house should be the revelator for his family. Joseph Smith said these glorious words as he talked about the Second Comforter: "God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them." (History of the Church, 3:380)....
What I am saying is that the ultimate end of spiritual progression is not only to know that the revelations are true, but also to see visions and feel the Spirit and get the added light and knowledge which it is not lawful to utter and which was not recorded in the revealed record. What a glorious dispensation we live in. We live in a day when the Lord desires to confirm his word in the hearts of all who will heed his voice, and it is our privilege so to obtain. ("This Generation Shall Have My Word through You," Ensign, June 1980, 58-59)
DC 76:7-8 all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old...
We should not miss the significance of the promises contained in this preface to the revelation. The Lord, in effect, is saying, "I am about to give you a great and glorious mystery (D&C 76), but I have many more in store for you. Eventually you will be given to know all my mysteries." When will this added knowledge be revealed? Bruce R. McConkie said there would not be "great added reservoirs of substantive revelation...before the Second Coming because of the wickedness of the world." ("This Generation Shall Have My Word through You," Ensign, June 1980, 58)
The scriptures declare the same thing. Yet great volumes of revelation await us: the record of the Ten Tribes, the sealed portion of the gold plates which contains the vision of the Brother of Jared, and more. "All the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old" must include more scripture about Adam, Noah, Melchizedek, Elias and others. These great mysteries are to be withheld until the righteous are sanctified and exert enough faith, "They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord. And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations...and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared" (Ether 4:6-7,4).
Moroni further explains that the righteous will be sufficiently faithful and sanctified at the same time the wicked are ripening for destruction. "Great and marvelous things...have been hid up from the foundation of the world." (Ether 4:15) These are to be revealed when the House of Israel, "shall rend that veil of unbelief...when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit...then shall my revelations which I have cause to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people." (Ether 4:15-16) Note that Moroni ties new revelations with the events described by John, or the destruction of the wicked and the Second Coming, as contained in the book of Revelation. "In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." (Rev 10:7)
Furthermore, in the Millenium, we are told that "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa. 11:9) And from section 121, we have a promise which is most likely Millenial as well:
God shall give unto you knowledge...that has not been revealed since the world was until now;
Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory;
A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.
All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ. (D&C 121:26-29)
DC 76:9 the wisdom of the wise shall perish
Ezra Taft Benson
The wisdom of the wise shall perish. The prophecies of economists, would-be statesmen, and military experts fail, while those of the Lord through his prophets are vindicated. (So Shall Ye Reap, compiled by Reed A. Benson [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1960], 65 - 66.)
George Albert Smith
The wisdom of the world is failing, the scripture is fulfilled, and today the wisest of all men are seeking, by means of legislation, to bring about a better condition and a more wholesome life among the human family. They may strive in that way, but unless men have faith in God, unless they understand the purpose of life, they will not go very far. The people of the world must repent of their sins before the Lord can give to them the peace and happiness desired. No other plan will succeed. (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, edited by Robert McIntosh and Susan McIntosh [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 185.)
DC 76:10 those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man
"...when you kneel around the altar in the Holy Temple of God and have sealed upon you kingdoms and thrones and principalities and powers and dominions and exaltation, you can receive blessings that you could not purchase with all the wealth of this world-and these are not idle words. They are the things that God has prepared for them that love him.
"No wonder Paul, who was caught up into the third heaven, and the paradise of God, and saw things he was not permitted to write, said, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.' (1 Cor. 2:9)" (October 29, 1963, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1963 11.)
George Q. Cannon
"In our present condition we cannot conceive of these things because they are beyond our comprehension. But we have a foretaste of that glory given unto us in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit when it rests upon us. You have felt, no doubt, many times in your lives as though you were filled to overflowing and had no room for another drop of happiness. The peace and love of God have filled your hearts. Of course, we are but mortal beings at the present time, and we are not prepared for that glory and immortality that God has in store for us. But we will grow up to it, and we will be prepared for it when it comes." (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 84.)
DC 76:13 those things which were from the beginning...which were ordained of the Father
The doctrine of foreordination is usually applied to an individual, chosen and ordained before the world was. But more than just individuals were foreordained. The Father's Plan of Salvation, His Plan of Happiness was foreordained as well. His doctrine, scriptures, and gospel are "those things which were from the beginning...which were ordained of the Father". Why else would Joseph Smith refer to this revelation as "a transcript from the records of the eternal worlds"? (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 252 - 253.) So we learn that the plan of three degrees of glory, including the exaltation of the saints in the celestial kingdom, was part of the plan from the very first-indeed it was the very purpose of the plan from the beginning. (See Moses 1:39)
The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence, or ever "the morning stars sang together" for joy; the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal "now;" He knew of the fall of Adam, the iniquities of the antediluvians, of the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family, their weakness and strength, their power and glory, apostasies, their crimes, their righteousness and iniquity; He comprehended the fall of man, and his redemption; He knew the plan of salvation and pointed it out; He was acquainted with the situation of all nations and with their destiny; He ordered all things according to the council of His own will; He knows the situation of both the living and the dead, and has made ample provision for their redemption, according to their several circumstances, and the laws of the kingdom of God, whether in this world, or in the world to come." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 220).
DC 76:17 the resurrection of the just; and...the resurrection of the unjust
Joseph Smith reminds us when studying scripture to consider the question being answered, "I have a key by which I understand the scriptures. I enquire, what was the question which drew out the answer...?" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 276-7) Interestingly, after we finish reading section 76, we still might be unsure as to what constitutes the resurrection of the just and what constitutes the resurrection of the unjust.
The Prophet clearly states that those who attain celestial glory are part of the resurrection of the just (D&C 76:50, 64-65), but what of the rest? The answer can be clear to us if we go back and answer the question which drew out the answer. The resurrection of the just must include those souls destined for celestial and terrestrial glory-whose resurrection will occur in the morning and afternoon of the first resurrection at the commencement of the Millenium (D&C 88:98-99). The resurrection of the unjust must include those souls destined for telestial glory and perdition-whose resurrection will occur after the Millenium and at the great and last day, respectively (D&C 88:100-102).
"There are two major resurrections: the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust. The resurrection of the just includes those who will receive celestial glory and terrestrial glory." (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981], 163)
DC 76:19 while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understanding
"Prophets have used the words diligently, pondering, meditating, and feasting to explain how we should approach the scriptures. Clearly we should read with careful thought and much pondering. Even when we are not reading we should reflect constantly on God's word. The prophets have promised that this will lead to new spiritual insights and to greater righteousness.
"The scriptures show us that we can ponder in two ways: we can meditate on the scripture itself, or we can relate what we read to our personal lives.
"This kind of reflection can help all of us make commitments that will decrease darkness and increase light. We must ask questions as we read, questions such as, How does this apply in my life today? or What lesson can I learn from this?" (Dean Jarman, "Well of Living Water," New Era, Nov. 1973, 29)
David O. McKay
I think we pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion... Meditation is the language of the soul... Meditation is a form of prayer... Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord. (Conference Report, April 1946, Afternoon Meeting 113.)
DC 76:22 this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him
In 1832, the Prophet said his testimony was the "last of all" testimonies given. While that may have been true in 1832, his testimony is no longer the last of all. Nor is he the last who can declare that he has seen the Lord. The apostles and prophets of our dispensation are careful in their language, humble in their testimony, but they have seen the Lord. The discerning listener can tell that their testimony is no less sure than that of Joseph Smith or Sidney Rigdon. Consider the following statements from some latter-day apostles. Elder James E. Faust said, "I understand that a chief requirement for the holy apostleship is to be a personal witness of Jesus as the Christ and the Divine Redeemer. Perhaps on that basis alone, I can qualify." ("Response to the Call," Ensign, Nov. 1978, 20) Similarly, Elder Neal A. Maxwell declared, "Humbly, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I say to you not only that Jesus lived, but that he lives-with all that those words imply!" ("Our Acceptance of Christ," Ensign, June 1984, 69)
We should feel privileged to hear the testimony of those who have seen with their eyes and heard with their ears. Even now, we can hear the witness of Joseph Smith echoing in the testimonies of the latter-day apostles and prophets.
Ezra Taft Benson
As one of His latter-day witnesses, I testify that He lives today. He is a resurrected Being. He is our Savior, our Lord, the very Son of God. I testify that He will come again as our glorified, resurrected Lord. That day is not far distant. ("The Meaning of Easter," Ensign, Apr. 1992, 4)
Howard W. Hunter
As an ordained Apostle and special witness of Christ, I give to you my solemn witness that Jesus Christ is in fact the Son of God. He is the Messiah prophetically anticipated by Old Testament prophets. He is the Hope of Israel. ("An Apostle's Witness of Christ," Ensign, Jan. 1984, 70)
Spencer W. Kimball
I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I know that. I know that the gospel which we teach is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church to which we belong is the church of Jesus Christ. (Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 113.)
Heber J. Grant
We have this testimony to bear to the world, that men in our day have seen Jesus Christ; that he has restored to the earth the gospel of life and salvation. (Conference Report, October 1926, 5.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
To all of these testimonies we add our own. He is Jesus the Christ, the Firstborn of the Father, the Creator of the heaven and the earth, the Jehovah of ancient Israel, the promised Messiah born in Bethlehem of Judea, the healer of the sick, the teacher of the doctrine, the Redeemer of the world, the author of our salvation, the resurrected Lord who sits on the right hand of the Father. ("Do Ye Even So to Them," Ensign, Dec. 1991, 2)
Gordon B. Hinckley
In solemnity, and with understanding of the gravity of that which we say, we add our witness to all the world of the reality of the Resurrection, that this same Jesus who rose from the grave ascended into heaven... This is our testimony, which we bear in the name of Jesus Christ, and we invite all mankind to learn it so that they may rejoice in the blessings that come from following the teachings of our resurrected Lord, the Savior of Mankind. ("The Victory over Death," Ensign, Apr. 1997, 5)
DC 76:24 the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God
Joseph Fielding Smith
Man is the greatest of all the creations of God. He is his offspring. We are all his children. It was made known through the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who saw it in vision, that the inhabitants of this earth and other worlds are begotten sons and daughters unto God. That ought to put an end-so far as Latter-day Saints are concerned-to all this nonsense prevailing in the world regarding the origin of man.
Man, I say, as the offspring of God, is the greatest of all his creations. He is greater than the moon, the sun, and the stars, which are the work of the fingers of God, and are made for the benefit of man. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 1: 63.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
Man is in reality a child of God. Nothing in the universe is more important than the individual. His spirit was begotten of God; consequently all men are brothers in the literal sense. In the Mormon concept the phrase, "the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man" takes on a new and powerful meaning...
There is a mighty strength that comes of the knowledge that you and I are sons and daughters of God. Within us is something of divinity. One who has this knowledge and permits it to influence his life will not stoop to do a mean or cheap or tawdry thing. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 159.)
Marion G. Romney
The theory that man is other than the offspring of God has been, and, so long as it is accepted and acted upon, will continue to be, a major factor in blocking man's spiritual growth and in corrupting his morals...
That man is a child of God is the most important knowledge available to mortals. Such knowledge is beyond the ken of the uninspired mind. Neither logic, science, philosophy, nor any other field of worldly learning has ever been, or ever will be, able to find it out. ("Man-A Child of God," Ensign, July 1973, 14)
Harold B. Lee
Open your Bible or your triple combination or your Book of Mormon and in the most prominent place you write, "I must not forget that I am a son of God, or I am a daughter of God." You write that and every time you open your book you look at that, "I must never forget that I am a child of God." That's the idea. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 162.)
DC 76:26 He was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him
Perdition means lost. It means losing something that you had. It means one fallen from high estate. You can't be Perdition; you can't be lost unless you were found. And you can't be fallen unless you were high, fallen from high estate. (Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe [n.p., n.d.], 10.)
DC 76:26 he was Lucifer, a son of the morning
"Literally the Shining One; also Lightbringer or Son of the Morning. Lucifer is also known as Satan or the devil...Apparently Lucifer is the name of the devil before his rebellion and the fall." (Bible Dictionary, Lucifer)
Jeffrey R. Holland
Light, like truth, forsakes the evil one, that prince of darkness who was cast out of heaven into the earth. The casualty of that rebellious son's fall is glimpsed at least partially in the meaning of his name Lucifer, literally "a bearer of light," a son of the morning. Having lost that fresh radiance of an eternal dawn and destined to dwell in a kingdom without glory (i.e., light), Satan now consciously seeks to take away light from the children of men. We are able to elude such lifeless desolation, however, because God once again looked upon a darkened world and said, "Let there be light." He gave his Only Begotten Son that whosoever would believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (See John 3:16.) I am the Light and the Life of the world. ("Whom Say Ye That I Am?" Ensign, Sept. 1974, 9)
DC 76:28 the devil...rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom
"Having been told in Doctrine and Covenants 76:25-26 that Lucifer, a son of the morning, was an angel in authority in the presence of God, we may read Moses 4:3-4 with renewed clarity and personal application.
Because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice (emphasis added).
"Here we are told explicitly of Lucifer's great crime; he 'rebelled' against God, or, in other words, he apostatized from God's established order. He did so by seeking to change the plan of the Father and then audaciously attempting to usurp God's own power, prerogatives, and glory. Though he did not start out as Satan, he became Satan through opposition. (The original Hebrew word satan means 'adversary.') He drew away his own cadre of disciples who refused to follow the Father and the Son. He and his followers were then expelled from the heavenly realms, free for a time to lay hold on the minds and hearts of willing rebels in every earthly dispensation. As expressed by John the Revelator, 'It was given unto him [Satan] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them' (Rev. 13:7). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, 'the moment [Latter-day Saints] revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.'" (Andrew C. Skinner, "Apostasy, Restoration, and Lessons in Faith," Ensign, Dec. 1995, 27)
The contention in heaven was-Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he would save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ. So the devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him. (History of the Church, 6:314.)
Mark E. Petersen
It will be noted in Moses' record of these events that Lucifer said: "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor." (Moses 4:1.)
Here is illustrated two dreadful things: One was the unmitigated and colossal egotism of Lucifer. The other was his determination to save people by force "that one soul shall not be lost." He would have destroyed free agency and thus made slaves of us all, his slaves, forever doomed to obey his wicked commands. (Abraham: Friend of God [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 142.)
DC 76:29 he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about
Perhaps one of the most dramatic evidences of the war between Satan's forces and his servants can be seen in the compelling story of the early missionaries to Great Britain. In the summer of 1837, Elders Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, and Isaac Russell were serving together as missionaries. Their miraculous success was noted by Satan who rallied his forces to stop the work.
Heber C. Kimball
One Saturday evening I was appointed by the brethren to baptize a number the next morning in the River Ribble which runs through that place. By this time the adversary of souls began a rage and he felt a determination to destroy us before we had fully established the gospel in that land; and the next morning I witnessed such a scene of satanic power and influence as I shall never forget while memory lasts.
About daybreak, Brother Russell (who was appointed to preach in the marketplace that day), who slept in the second story of the house in which we were entertained, came up to the room where Elder Hyde and I were sleeping and called upon us to arise and pray for him, for he was so afflicted with evil spirits that he could not live long unless he should obtain relief.
We immediately arose, laid hands upon him and prayed that the Lord would have mercy on his servant and rebuke the devil. While thus engaged, I was struck with great force by some invisible power and fell senseless to the floor as if I had been shot, and the first thing that I recollected was, that I was supported by Brothers Hyde and Russell, who were beseeching the throne of grace in my behalf. They then laid me on the bed, but my agony was so great that I could not endure, and I was obliged to get out, and fell on my knees and began to pray. I then sat on the bed and could distinctly see the evil spirits, who foamed and gnashed their teeth upon us. We gazed upon them about an hour and a half, and I shall never forget the horror and malignity depicted on the countenances of these foul spirits, and any attempt to paint the scene which then presented itself, or portray the malice and enmity depicted in their countenances would be vain.
I perspired exceedingly, and my clothes were as wet as if I had been taken out of the river. I felt exquisite pain, and was in the greatest distress for some time. However, I learned by it the power of the adversary, his enmity against the servants of God and got some understanding of the invisible world. (Mark E. Petersen, Moses: Man of Miracles [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 170.)
Brother George Q. Cannon... said that one third of the hosts of heaven were cast out because of their rebellion. I suppose we may say that at least one hundred thousand millions were cast down from heaven to earth... Do you suppose these devils are around us without trying to do something? Are they asleep? Have they not a work to perform? I say to my brethren who bear the priesthood, we have got a mighty warfare to wage with these spirits. We cannot escape it. What will they do to you? They will try to make us do anything and everything that is not right. (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 239.)
DC 76:31 suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome
Reading the description of the fate of the sons of perdition, some would begin to feel sorry for them. This is entirely appropriate as long as we don't begin to question the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner. If so, we become as Corianton, mere babes in our understanding of the justice of God. As Alma explained, the whole plan of salvation depends on repentance, but "repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be" (Alma 42:16). Perdition is that punishment which is as eternal as the life of the soul. We see that it is necessary component, "affixed opposite to the plan of happiness" (Alma 42:16). Therefore, we can repent or suffer. What happens if we don't repent? Alma says "justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed and God would cease to be God." (Alma 42:22, see also D&C 19:16-19)
Besides, these individuals suffered themselves to be overcome. They have no one to blame but themselves. Having the choice between life and death, they chose death. Such an individual does not sin in ignorance, rather "he has got say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6: 314 - 315.)
DC 76:35 having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it
Can the average latter-day saint be guilty of this horrible sin? President Kimball replied, "The sin against the Holy Ghost requires such knowledge that it is manifestly impossible for the rank and file to commit such a sin." (Miracle of Forgiveness, 123)
All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy. This is the case with many apostates of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When a man begins to be an enemy to this work, he hunts me, he seeks to kill me, and never ceases to thirst for my blood. He gets the spirit of the devil-the same spirit that sins against the Holy Ghost. You cannot save such persons; you cannot bring them to repentance; they make open war, like the devil, and awful is the consequence. ("The King Follett Sermon," Ensign, May 1971, 16)
DC 76:35 having denied the Only Begotten Son...having crucified him unto themselves
One common misconception is that the unpardonable sin can only be a sin against the Holy Ghost. Such is not the case. The unpardonable sin can be a sin against the Holy Ghost or it can be a sin against the Only Begotten Son. Perhaps you remember the words of the Savior, "whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him." (Matt 12:32). Some have concluded from this passage, that sinning against the Son is forgivable, but sinning against the Holy Ghost is not. This conclusion is incorrect. All manner of blasphemies against the Son of God will be forgiven, but denying the Son and crucifying him is an unforgivable sin. This is why the Savior was careful to ask the Father to forgive the Roman soldiers who put him to death, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) He was saying, "these have not committed the unpardonable sin even though they are crucifying me."
Others have thought that Judas Iscariot was not guilty of this sin because he may not have had a sufficient endowment of the Holy Ghost to warrant such a punishment. But Judas' sin was against the Son, and he is clearly referred to as warranting perdition. Speaking of Judas and the Twelve, Jesus said, "none of them is lost, but the son of perdition." (John 17:12)
The scriptures clearly teach this principle. Those who, if they had the opportunity, would crucify Christ again are guilty of this sin. Hereby, they become ex post facto accomplices to the murder of Jesus Christ and receive judgment as if they had personally nailed Jesus to the cross. "They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." (Heb 6:6) The Lord says to them, "ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant." (D&C 132:27, italics added)
Charles W. Penrose
Those who have followed [Satan]... become imbued with his spirit, which is the spirit of destruction, in opposition to the spirit which brings life, are his. The spirit of murder enters their hearts; they are ready to put to death even the Son of God, if His existence in life comes in their way. They received light and truth and then altogether turned therefrom. They gain power to attain to the highest altitude of light and truth and glory, then they turn around and through falsehood and wickedness and corruption in their nature and in their works, they become servants unto Satan, sons of perdition. (Conference Report, October 1911, Second Day-Morning Session. 51 - 52.)
DC 76:36 they...shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone
The lake of fire and brimstone mentioned is a figurative description of the eternal punishment of the sons of perdition. Their suffering shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone. Part of this suffering comes as a punishment from God-eternal separation from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; part of it comes from within-from the remorse of one's conscience.
A man is his own tormentor and his own condemner. Hence the saying, They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6: 314.)
Harold B. Lee
The greatest hell that one can suffer is the burning of one's conscience. The scriptures say his thoughts will condemn him, he'll have a bright recollection of all his life (see Alma 12:14; 11:43)... there will be a burning of the conscience that will be worse than any physical kind of fire that I assume one could suffer. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 67.)
Those who commit the unpardonable sin are doomed to Gnolom to dwell in hell, worlds without end. As they concocted scenes of bloodshed in this world, so they shall rise to that resurrection which is as the lake of fire and brimstone. Some shall rise to the everlasting burnings of God; for God dwells in everlasting burnings and some shall rise to the damnation of their own filthiness, which is as exquisite a torment as the lake of fire and brimstone. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6: 317.)
DC 76:37-38 the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power
The second death, or spiritual death, is defined as being cut off from the presence of God. This means that you cannot see the face of God, you cannot withstand the presence of God, you will not enjoy the visitation of the Son, and you are not worthy of the smallest portion of the spirit of the Holy Ghost. It is a total and complete separation from God. As described in scripture, spiritual death is the temporary punishment of those who suffer in hell. It also describes the state of the sons of perdition who are cast out after the last soul is resurrected, 'These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels-And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power' (DC 76:36-37).
One might be inclined to think that the "first death" must be the death of the mortal body. This is not the case. The Lord explains that the first death is also spiritual and occurs when we leave his presence and come to earth. This is symbolized by the fall of Adam, 'I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death (or second death), which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed' (DC 29:41).
We all need to be redeemed from this first spiritual death. Every individual who inherits one of the three kingdoms of glory is redeemed from this separation from God. Even those in the telestial kingdom enjoy the influence of the Holy Spirit (v. 86). Hence, they are both resurrected and redeemed. The sons of perdition are resurrected but not redeemed; they are saved from physical death but not spiritual death. The natural consequences of the fall of Adam continue to apply to them. Without redemption, they "become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery." (2 Ne. 9:9) "All other persons will be saved by the grace of God from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment." (Theodore M. Burton, "Salvation and Exaltation," Ensign, July 1972, 78)
Joseph Fielding Smith
The second death is not the destruction of the body and the spirit, but a banishment into outer darkness away from the presence of the Lord, where they who partake of it are without the light, and dead as to all things pertaining to righteousness. They cannot be led by the Spirit of the Lord, their advancement is shut off, for they become followers of, and subject to, the will of Lucifer, once Son of the Morning, but now Perdition, the father of lies, because he rebelled against the Father and sought to destroy his work.
Let us be thankful, indeed, that the number who shall thus be punished are very, very few, and only those who wilfully place themselves beyond the power of redemption will partake thereof. (Improvement Era, 1918, Vol Xxi. January, 1918. No. 3)
DC 76:39 all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead
George Q. Cannon
In many minds there has been a great misapprehension on the question of the resurrection. Some have had the idea, and have taught it, that the sons of perdition will not be resurrected at all. They base this idea, and draw this conclusion, from the 38th and 39th paragraphs of Section 76 of the book of Doctrine and Covenants. . . .
A careful reading of these verses, however, and especially of the preceding paragraphs, will show that the Lord does not, in this language, exclude even the sons of perdition from the resurrection. It is plain that the intention is to refer to them explicitly as the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power: "for all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb." This excluded class are the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power, and "the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord after the sufferings of his wrath."
This is by no means to say that they are to have no resurrection. Jesus our Lord and Savior died for all, and all will be resurrected-good and bad, white and black, people of every race, whether sinners or not; and no matter how great their sins may be, the resurrection of their bodies is sure. (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 2: 445 - 446.)
DC 76:42-43 That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power
What a grand and glorious doctrine! Almost all of the inhabitants of the earth will be saved! Saved from what? Saved from the fall of Adam. In this sense, salvation means to inherit one of three kingdoms of glory. The miracle of the "gospel, the glad tidings," is that the redemption of Christ atones for the fall on behalf of almost everyone. To a latter-day saint, salvation in the telestial kingdom sounds terrible, but it will be a marvelous and glorious reward for those who expect nothing more. We should rejoice in the mercy of God's incredible plan to save his children.
Behold the goodness, the long-suffering, the kindness, and the strong parental feeling of our Father and God in preparing the way and providing the means to save the children of men-not alone the Latter-day Saints-not alone those who have the privilege of the first principles of the celestial law, but to save all. It is a universal salvation-a universal redemption. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 388.)
Dallin H. Oaks
The theology of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is comprehensive, universal, merciful, and true. Following the necessary experience of mortal life, all sons and daughters of God will ultimately be resurrected and go to a kingdom of glory. The righteous-regardless of current religious denomination or belief-will ultimately go to a kingdom of glory more wonderful than any of us can comprehend. Even the wicked, or almost all of them, will ultimately go to a marvelous-though lesser-kingdom of glory. ("Apostasy and Restoration," Ensign, May 1995, 87)
When God revealed to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon that there was a place prepared for all, according to the light they had received and their rejection of evil and practice of good, it was a great trial to many, and some apostatized because God was not going to send to everlasting punishment heathens and infants, but had a place of salvation, in due time, for all, and would bless the honest and virtuous and truthful, whether they ever belonged to any Church or not. (Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith's Kirtland [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 96.)
DC 76:43 Jesus...saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition
I have a declaration to make as to the provisions which God hath made to suit the conditions of man-made from before the foundation of the world. What has Jesus said? All sins, and all blasphemies, and every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world to come, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, there being a provision either in this world or the world of spirits. Hence God hath made a provision that every spirit in the eternal world can be ferreted out and saved unless he has committed that unpardonable sin which cannot be remitted to him either in this world or the world of spirits. God has wrought out a salvation for all men, unless they have committed a certain sin. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6: 313 - 314.)
DC 76:45 the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows
If people could see [the fate of the sons of perdition], as Joseph and Sidney saw it, they would pray that the vision be closed up; for they could not endure the sight. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 386.)
DC 76:46-48 Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man
"It is important to note that although no human knows the eternal state of these people, it would be incorrect to teach that there is possible redemption for them at some future time. In response to such doctrine taught by a Brother Hulet, Joseph Smith wrote:
Say to the brothers Hulet and to all others, that the Lord never authorized them to say that the devil, his angels, or the sons of perdition, should ever be restored; for their state of destiny was not revealed to man, is not revealed, nor ever shall be revealed, save to those who are made partakers thereof: consequently those who teach this doctrine have not received it of the Spirit of the Lord. . . . We, therefore, command that this doctrine be taught no more in Zion. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 24)" (Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Alma, the Testimony of the Word [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1992], 161.)
DC 76:50-70 The Celestial Kingdom
Section 76 is a great revelation. We can sit down by ourselves and determine just which glory will satisfy us and how we can obtain it, and we are left without excuse. This great revelation appears in the book, and it is worthy of study and deep reflection. (Conference Report, October 1937, Church of the Air Broadcast 111.)
Thomas S. Monson
The lighthouse of the Lord beckons to all as we sail the seas of life. Our home port is the celestial kingdom of God. Our purpose is to steer an undeviating course in that direction. A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder-never likely to reach home port. To us comes the signal: Chart your course, set your sail, position your rudder, and proceed. ("Sailing Safely on the Seas of Life," Ensign, July 1999, 2)
Glenn L. Pace
Knowing the shortest distance from the world to the celestial kingdom is a straight line, the Lord has restored his gospel, which contains the truth and guidance we need to make the journey as smooth as possible. We can avoid unnecessary detours by reading the scriptures and listening to the Lord's current prophets. ("Follow the Prophet," Ensign, May 1989, 25)
Thomas S. Monson
What we need, as we journey along through this period known as mortality, is a compass to chart our course, a map to guide our footsteps, and a pattern whereby we might mold and shape our very lives. May I share with you a formula that in my judgment will help you and help me to journey well through mortality and to that great reward of exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Heavenly Father.
First, fill your mind with truth; second, fill your life with service; and third, fill your heart with love. ("Formula for Success," Ensign, Mar. 1996, 2)
Joseph Fielding Smith
All of the ordinances of the gospel-baptism, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, the work in the temples for the salvation of the living and the dead-these ordinances, everything else, all of the ordinances of the gospel pertain to the celestial kingdom of God.
We are not preaching the gospel with the idea of trying to save people in the terrestrial world. Ours is the salvation of exaltation. What we are trying to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bring people back again, through the power of the priesthood and the ordinances of the Church, as sons and daughters of God, receiving a fulness of the Father's kingdom. That is our endeavor. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 190.)
Neal A. Maxwell
Righteous desires need to be relentless...because, said President Brigham Young, "the men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day" (in Journal of Discourses, 11:14). Therefore, true Christian soldiers are more than weekend warriors. ("According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts," Ensign, Nov. 1996, 22)
DC 76:51 They are they who...believed on his name and were baptized
Melvin J. Ballard
I now say to all the world that no man, no woman, ever shall see the celestial kingdom of God who is not baptized of the water and of the spirit. The Lord has specified it. He made it so binding and complete when after announcing the law he complied with every term himself, though perfect, so that no man who imagines himself to be perfect here can excuse himself or herself from obedience to the law of baptism. It is the door, the gate to Celestial Glory. (Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1949], 236.)
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. This eternal truth settles the question of all men's religion. A man may be saved, after the judgment, in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the telestial kingdom, but he can never see the celestial kingdom of God without being born of the water and the Spirit. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 283 - 284.)
It is a sign and a commandment which God has set for man to enter into His kingdom. Those who seek to enter in any other way will seek in vain; for God will not receive them, neither will the angels acknowledge their works as accepted, for they have not obeyed the ordinances, nor attended to the signs which God ordained for the salvation of man, to prepare him for, and give him a title to, a celestial glory. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4: 554 - 555.)
DC 76:53 those who are just and true
Ezra Taft Benson
"Those who are just and true." What an apt expression for those valiant in the testimony of Jesus! These are members of the Church who magnify their callings in the Church (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:33), pay their tithes and offerings, live morally clean lives, sustain their Church leaders byword and action, keep the Sabbath as a holy day, and obey all the commandments of God. They are courageous in defending truth and righteousness. To these the Lord has promised that "all thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ." (Doctrine and Covenants 121:29.) (Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 13.)
Now, we see from this that it is only possible to attain to so great a degree of glory in the presence of God by keeping His commandments, yielding obedience to the ordinances of the Gospel and walking in the light continually and being just and true. This is the price we have to pay for it, but if we are willing to make the sacrifice, if it can be called a sacrifice, our highest ambition, our fondest hopes, our most earnest desires will be realized to the very fullest extent. (Conference Report, October 1914, Second Day-Morning Session 80.)
DC 76:53 who overcome and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise
Melvin J. Ballard
We may deceive men, but we cannot deceive the Holy Ghost, and our blessings will not be eternal until they are also sealed by the holy spirit of promise, the Holy Ghost, one who reads the thoughts and hearts of men and gives his sealing approval to the blessings pronounced upon their heads. Then it is binding, and of full force. (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 53.)
Bruce R. McConkie
All things that are not sealed by this power have an end when men are dead. Unless a baptism has this enduring seal, it will not admit a person to the celestial kingdom; unless an eternal marriage covenant is sealed by this authority, it will not take the participating parties to an exaltation in the highest heaven within the celestial world.
All things gain enduring force and validity because of the sealing power. So comprehensive is this power that it embraces ordinances performed for the living and the dead, seals the children on earth up to their fathers who went before, and forms the enduring patriarchal chain that will exist eternally among exalted beings. (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 683).
DC 76:54 they...are the church of the Firstborn
What do you think the name of the Church will be after the resurrection of the just? Will it be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Millennial saints? That sounds funny, but we do know the name of the Church once the earth is celestialized, it is "The Church of the Firstborn." Elder McConkie said it this way, "The Church of Jesus Christ is his earthly church, so The Church of the Firstborn is his heavenly church." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 46.) Once God's government is brought to earth, once the heavenly Jerusalem descends from heaven, and once the tabernacle of God dwells with men (Heb. 12:22-23; Rev. 21:1-3), the Church of the Firstborn will be the only Church on the earth. Our goal should be to become a member of this church. Admission, of course, depends on our faithfulness in keeping all the required ordinances. We are assured that "all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn" (D&C 93:22). They are those "who overcome by faith and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise" (D&C 76:53).
DC 76:55-56 They are they who are priests and kings
Joseph Fielding Smith
Comparatively few of the children of men will find the salvation which is found in the celestial kingdom, or in other words the exaltation which will make of them heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ-even sons of God. Those who gain this exaltation receive the fulness of the power, might, and dominion of that kingdom. They overcome all things. They are crowned as priests and kings and become like Jesus Christ. While this doctrine is taught in the Bible, the majority of mankind have lost sight of it, and it has become one of the peculiar teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... Since the majority of men refuse to take the course in righteousness, or enter the strait gate into the narrow way, which would make them heirs in the household of God, it will be a select few who receive these crowning blessings. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 24.)
DC 76:57 priests...after the order of Enoch
What is the order of Enoch? Prior to the days of Melchizedek, we conclude that the priesthood was called the Holy Priesthood after the order of Enoch. The purpose would have been to avoid the too frequent repetition of the formal name: "the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God." (D&C 107:3-4)
Melchizedek...having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
It being after the order of the son of God...
For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven. (JST Gen. 14:26-32)
DC 76:58 they are gods, even the sons of God
"Note that the two terms gods and sons of God, are equated here, for to be one is also to be or to become the other. Children grow up to be what their parents are. If, through the gospel, we have truly become the sons and daughters of God as the scriptures insist." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 2:307)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Now they who enter into the terrestrial kingdom, and they who enter into the telestial kingdom will not be sons of God in the sense in which this term is used here. Of course we are all the children of God, every soul on the earth; we are His offspring, but in the great kingdom that shall be established in exaltation, all who receive exaltation will become sons of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ and entitled to all the privileges and all the blessings of the Fathers kingdom. What a wonderful privilege that is! This blessing will not come to the inhabitants of the telestial and the terrestrial worlds. (Conference Report, April 1942, Afternoon Meeting 28.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
How could this doctrine be stated plainer? This is the doctrine taught by the Savior to the Jews, by David in his psalms and by others of the prophets. Here it is stated emphatically that they who are of the Church of the Firstborn (i. e., those who keep the whole law) even "as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God!" Where is it written? In this section; and in the words of the Savior wherein He says, refering to David's Psalm, the Scriptures "cannot be broken" (John 10:34-36). Doesn't this teach plainly the doctrine of plurality of Gods? Does it not teach the fact that the children shall, through obedience, sometime obtain the exaltation of the Gods themselves? If not what does it mean? (Origin of the Reorganized Church and the Question of Succession, 106)
Every man who reigns in celestial glory is a God to his dominions... They who obtain a glorious resurrection from the dead, are exalted far above principalities, powers, thrones, dominions and angels, and are expressly declared to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, all having eternal power.
The scriptures are a mixture of very strange doctrines to the Christian world, who are blindly led by the blind. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6: 477 - 478.)
Stand firm, my friends; never flinch. Do not seek to save your lives, for he that is afraid to die for the truth, will lose eternal life. Hold out to the end, and we shall be resurrected and become like Gods, and reign in celestial kingdoms, principalities, and eternal dominions. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:500)
DC 76:60 they shall overcome all things
George Albert Smith
How careful we as Latter-day Saints ought to be to live every day of our lives that we may be influenced by the power of the Lord, and that we may be able to turn aside from those things that have a tendency to break down our power to earn the celestial kingdom. The fact that we have been baptized into the Church is not sufficient. The fact that our names are on the Church records is not sufficient. The Redeemer himself has said that "not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). That is well defined, therefore we cannot drink with the drunken, we cannot debauch our lives, we cannot be dishonorable in our dealings with our fellowmen and gain celestial glory. We must keep the commandments of our Heavenly Father. (Conference Reports, October 1926, p. 103.)
DC 76:62 These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever
Melvin J. Ballard
Do you comprehend it, you who gain celestial glory, the privilege of dwelling in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever? What did it mean to have in the world, during his ministry, for three brief years the Lord Jesus Christ-not the Father, just the Son? It was the most wonderful privilege the world has ever had. What would you give tonight for the privilege of standing in the presence of the Son for five minutes? You would give all your earthly possessions for that privilege. Then can you comprehend the full meaning and significance of the statement that those who gain celestial glory will have the privilege of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son forever and ever? That, in itself, will be reward enough for the struggle to obtain the prize. Yea, it is beyond price and earthly possessions. Even the giving of life itself would be a trifle for the privilege to dwell forever and ever in the presence of the Father and the Son. (Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1949], 242 - 243.)
DC 76:66 These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place
Mount Zion and the city of the living God are two different places. Mount Zion refers to the New Jerusalem; the city of the living God is a heavenly Jerusalem which will come out of heaven when the earth is celestialized to become the residence of God. John described this city as follows: "[the angel] carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God...And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." (Rev. 21:10-22)
David O. McKay
I...fell asleep, and beheld in vision something infinitely sublime. In the distance I beheld a beautiful white city. Though far away, yet I seemed to realize that trees with luscious fruit, shrubbery with gorgeously-tinted leaves, and flowers in perfect bloom abounded everywhere. The clear sky above seemed to reflect these beautiful shades of color. I then saw a great concourse of people approaching the city. Each one wore a white flowing robe, and a white headdress. Instantly my attention seemed centered upon their Leader, and though I could see only the profile of his features and his body, I recognized him at once as my Savior! The tint and radiance of his countenance were glorious to behold! There was a peace about him which seemed sublime - it was divine!
The city, I understood, was his. It was the City Eternal; and the people following him were to abide there in peace and eternal happiness.
But who were they?
As if the Savior read my thoughts, he answered by pointing to a semicircle that then appeared above them, and on which were written in gold the words:
"These Are They Who Have Overcome The World - Who Have Truly Been Born Again!" (Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, rev. and enl., compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955], 102.)
DC 76:69 These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant
Bruce C. Hafen
Those who inherit the celestial kingdom 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." (D&C 76:69.) As Moroni put it, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him ... by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ." (Moro. 10:32-33.)
These scriptures make it clear that we do not achieve perfection solely through our own efforts. Knowing just that much is a source of new perspective. Because we feel overwhelmed with the scriptural injunction to seek perfection, the idea that divine grace is the final source of our perfection may seem too good to be true. That is how Christ's grace appears to those carrying the burden of truly serious sins. Honest people called "Saints" may feel the same way as they stumble daily through the discouraging debris of their obvious imperfections. But the gospel has good news not only for the serious transgressor, but for all who long to be better than they are.
Through the Holy Ghost, the Atonement makes possible certain spiritual endowments that actually purify our nature and enable us to live a more "eternal" or Godlike life. At that ultimate stage, we will eat the fruit of the tree of life and partake of God's divine nature. Then we will exhibit divine character not just because we think we should, but because that is the way we are. ("Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ," Ensign, Apr. 1990, 12)
DC 76:70 These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun
Sterling W. Sill
We know quite a lot about celestial beings, as we have had a number of them appear to us upon this earth. And each time they have come, those who have received them have said that they are impossible to describe.
When the Prophet Joseph Smith had his vision of the Father and the Son, he said, "[Their] brightness and glory defy all description." (JS-H 1:17) That is, we don't have any background of knowledge; there isn't a vocabulary to use in describing a celestial accomplishment. ("To Die Well," Ensign, Nov. 1976, 47)
We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Some will gain celestial bodies with all the powers of exaltation and eternal increase. These bodies will shine like the sun as our Savior's does, as described by John. Those who enter the terrestrial kingdom will have terrestrial bodies, and they will not shine like the sun, but they will be more glorious than the bodies of those who receive the telestial glory. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 287.)
Those who attain to the blessing of the first or celestial resurrection will be pure and holy, and perfect in body. Every man and woman that reaches to this unspeakable attainment will be as beautiful as the angels that surround the throne of God. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 10: 24 - 25.)
DC 76:71-79 The Terrestrial Kingdom
Many have wondered what will happen with the faithful Christians throughout the ages. Many missionaries have met genuine followers of Jesus-those who live according to the light of their understanding but reject the message of the Restoration. They have been baptized but not according to the law of God by one "who is ordained and sealed unto this power" (v. 52). What will happen to them? Where will they go?
They will rise in the resurrection of the just to enjoy the felicity of the Millenium. They will enjoy the presence of the Son. Their reward will be great. Perhaps, you might think that they are worthy of a greater reward-that some of them should inherit a celestial glory and perhaps some of them will. However, consider their understanding of heaven. They deny the doctrine that man through the atonement of Christ can become as God. They deny the doctrine of eternal marriage. They deny the doctrine of eternal families. In effect, they deny the possibility of a celestial reward. What do they expect of heaven? They hope to be live eternally with Jesus. They want to be saved! They don't care about exaltation, they just want to be saved! In effect, they believe in a heaven like the terrestrial kingdom. Will they get what they want? Absolutely. Will their reward be greater than they could ever imagine? Absolutely. Will they go to heaven? Yes, they will go to the second heaven-the terrestrial kingdom.
Will the Methodists be saved? Yes. Will other sects? Yes. I think you could not now find an Elder in this Church who would rise up in a congregation and tell you that John Wesley (founder of the Methodists) is weltering in hell. Have the Elders ever preached such a doctrine? Yes, some of them have preached that all the Reformers, from the days of Christ and the Apostles until Joseph Smith received the Priesthood, must be damned. I do not think that you could now hear such doctrine from any of them. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 8: 36.)
DC 76:72 these are they who died without law
The atonement has power to save those in a state of innocence. In particular, this applies to two main groups, children and "those who have not the law given to them." (2 Ne. 9:26) This principle is taught in the law of sacrifice as found in the law of Moses, "If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord.... [the priest] shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering...the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them" (Lev 4:2,20).
The Book of Mormon teaches this principle in several different locations. King Benjamin's sermon includes the following, "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" (Mosiah 3:11).
Joseph Fielding Smith
"We may be sure that the Lord would do all things according to the law of eternal justice and that he would not punish people who in ignorance sinned and violated his commandments. It is one of the most glorious principles of truth and justice that was ever revealed that men are to be punished according to their disobedience to divine commandments, but not when they have acted innocently in ignorance of those divine edicts." (Answers To Gospel Questions, 4:77)
There are heathen nations enveloped in idolatry; and if millions of people come into the world in these places surrounded with idolatry and superstition, it would be unjust for them to be punished for what they did not know, hence, if they have no law, they will be judged without law; and God in his own wisdom will regulate their affairs, for it is their misfortune, not their individual offense, that has placed them in their present position. (Government of God, p. 52.)
Joseph F. Smith
There will be redemption for the heathen-those that know not God. Those that have no law are not judged by law; and they will come forth in the first resurrection-not perhaps in the morning of the first resurrection, but they will come forth in that resurrection-and they will sit down with Abraham and partake of glory for they lived and died without law. They will not be judged as those will who have received the light and the law and have rejected them. You and I have received the light. We have received the Holy Priesthood. We have received the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and have been brought from death unto life. Therefore, we are now on very safe or on dangerous ground,-dangerous if we are trifling with these sacred things that have been committed to our care. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 4, January 20, 1895.)
DC 76:73 the spirits of men kept in prison
Our understanding of the spirit world is that it is divided into two parts: spirit paradise and spirit prison. This understanding helps us to comprehend what the world of spirits might be like. However, the term prison can be used to refer to the entire spirit world, especially before Christ's ministry there. Why would the righteous spirits be in prison? They felt they were in prison because they "had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage" (D&C 132:50). "A prison is any place you can't leave when you want to, and in the spirit world even the righteous are held captive by the chains of death." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 2:315)
We should not conclude that those who inherit a terrestrial glory have to suffer a terrible punishment in "hell" or "spirit prison" as we commonly refer to it. Rather, they receive "their part in that prison (i.e. the spirit world) which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be judged according to men in the flesh." (D&C 88:99, italics added)
DC 76:74 Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it
Bruce R. McConkie
Well, to me and to you, and to those to whom our missionaries go, this is a great warning. It is a warning that now is the time for us to keep the commandments of God. I do not know any reason for believing that a man who has belonged to this Church, and has then rebelled against the truth, who has forsaken it and gone his own wilful way, will have another chance to be an heir to that kingdom. (Conference Report, April 1948, Afternoon Meeting 51.)
Spencer W. Kimball
They had had their opportunity; they had wasted the days of their probation; they had ignored the testimonies of the servants of God; they had followed the world and lived a worldly life. Perhaps many of them had taken the attitude, "I am not the religious kind." "I do not like to go to meetings." "I'm too busy; I can't be bothered." "I had other things of more interest." (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], chap. 20)
Spencer W. Kimball
Too late! The terrestrial for them! It could have been the celestial, and it could have been exaltation! But they procrastinated the day of their preparation. The same lamentable cry of "Too late!" will apply to many of today's Church members who did not heed the warning but who proceeded-sometimes carelessly, sometimes defiantly-to bind themselves through mortality to those who could not or would not prepare for the blessings which were in reserve for them.
The Lord's program is unchangeable. His laws are immutable. They will not be modified. Your opinion or mine does not alter the laws. Many in the world, and even some in the Church, seem to think that eventually the Lord will be merciful and give them the unearned blessing. But the Lord cannot be merciful at the expense of justice. (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], chap. 17)
DC 76:75 these are they who are honorable men of the earth
Spencer W. Kimball
They must have been "honorable men of the earth." Perhaps many of them were honest, good neighbors, good citizens, and committed no heinous crime, but were not valiant. Are not the scriptures very clear that they have lost their opportunity for exaltation? Is it not clear that it was everlastingly too late for them...
The terrestrial kingdom will not be enjoyed by the very wicked, for they shall obtain only the telestial. Neither will the terrestrial be given to the valiant, the faithful, the perfected, for they will go into the celestial kingdom prepared for those who live the celestial laws. But into the terrestrial will go those who do not measure up to the celestial. Speaking of one category of terrestrial people, the Lord says: "These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God." (D&C 76:79.) The "unvaliant" Latter-day Saint will find himself there. (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], chap. 20)
DC 76:79 they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus
Dallin H. Oaks
What does it mean to be "valiant in the testimony of Jesus"? Surely this includes keeping his commandments and serving him. But wouldn't it also include bearing witness of Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Redeemer, to believers and nonbelievers alike? As the Apostle Peter taught the Saints of his day, we should "sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us]." (1 Pet. 3:15.)
All of us need to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus. As believers in Christ, we affirm the truth of Peter's testimony in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12; see also D&C 109:4.)...
To those who are devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, I say there has never been a greater need for us to profess our faith, privately and publicly. ("Witnesses of Christ," Ensign, Nov. 1990, 31)
Ezra Taft Benson
Not to be valiant in one's testimony is a tragedy of eternal consequence. These are members who know this latter-day work is true, but who fail to endure to the end. Some may even hold temple recommends, but do not magnify their callings in the Church. Without valor, they do not take an affirmative stand for the kingdom of God. Some seek the praise, adulation, and honors of men; others attempt to conceal their sins; and a few criticize those who preside over them. ("Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus," Ensign, May 1982, 63)
DC 76:79 they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God
Orson F. Whitney
These voyagers paid only for second-rate privileges. They "drew the line," giving a part but not all of their allegiance to Him who hath said: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." The things of this world were more precious in their eyes than the riches that perish not and that thieves cannot steal. They loved Truth, but not whole-heartedly. They loved money and pleasure more, and strove for fame and the applause of this world, rather than for the approval of heaven. Though clean of conduct and honorable in deal, they were not zealous for Christ, and knew not the meaning of self-sacrifice. These are worthy of the Kingdom, but not of the Crown; and they shine, not like the golden sun, but like the silvery moon, with a diminished or secondary radiance, with reflected rather than with original light. (Saturday Night Thoughts [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1921], 319 - 320.)
DC 76:81-90; 98-112 The Telestial Kingdom
"We are living in a telestial world, complete with telestial arts and entertainment which can fill our minds with telestial images. Those telestial images often stimulate telestial thoughts, which, if not rejected, will lead to telestial behavior. The eventual result can be a telestial person. We would be more healthy spiritually if we never consumed any evil. Every bit harms us.
"The prophets of the Lord understand this process and have given us this sharp admonition: 'Come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things.' (Alma 5:57.) (Lex de Azevedo, "A Closer Look at Popular Music," Ensign, Mar. 1985, 40)
Spencer W. Kimball
It often seems to be with people, having such a firm grasp on things of the world-that which is telestial-that no amount of urging and no degree of emergency can persuade them to let go in favor of that which is celestial. Satan gets them in his grip easily. If we insist on spending all our time and resources building up for ourselves a worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit.
In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had-in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people-a condition most repugnant to the Lord. ("The False Gods We Worship," Ensign, June 1976, 6)
DC 76:83 these are they who deny not the Holy Spirit
There will not so many people go into that awful place that burns with fire and brimstone, where they sink down, down, down to the bottom of the bottomless pit, as the Christians say,-not near so many as the Christian world would have go there. That gives me great joy, notwithstanding all the perils and persecution we have suffered through the wickedness of the wicked. Liars, sorcerers, whoremongers, adulterers, and those that love and make a lie will be found on the outside of the walls of the city; but they will never get into the bottom of the bottomless pit. Who will go there and become angels of perdition and suffer the wrath of an offended God? Those who sin against the Holy Ghost. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 7: 144.)
DC 76:84 These are they who are thrust down to hell
"Just as paradise is not the eternal abode of the righteous, hell in the spirit world is not the eternal abode of the wicked... Hell in the spirit world will end when all people have been resurrected. Because of the atonement of Christ, there is an eventual release. (See 2 Ne. 9:6-12.) Those who remain "filthy still" (the sons of perdition) will remain in hell, but it will be a place separate from the hell of the spirit world...
"In short, the spirit world is the temporary home of the spirits of all mankind, be they good or evil. Thus Joseph Smith could declare that "the righteous and the wicked all go to the same world of spirits until the resurrection." (Teachings, p. 310.) (Dale C. Mouritsen, "The Spirit World, Our Next Home," Ensign, Jan. 1977, 49)
DC 76:86-88 the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them
One popular notion is that celestial beings will be able to visit friends in the other kingdoms but those of a lower kingdom cannot visit a higher one. This notion, while popular, is not entirely scriptural. This passage tells us that those of a celestial glory will not minister to the telestial kingdom, for they receive their ministrations through the terrestrial. Furthermore, celestial beings may not be able to visit even the terrestrial at their own will, for it appears that these ministrations are limited to those "angels who are appointed to minister for them." Perhaps, the Lord will call friends, family members, and close associates to be the ministers for those of a lower kingdom, but if you have not been appointed to visit a lower kingdom, you may not be able to go there. This is just one more reason to get all our friends and family in the celestial kingdom.
DC 76:89 the glory of the telestial...surpasses all understanding
"Many of us have heard the statement made-and ascribed to either Joseph Smith or Brigham Young-to the effect that if a person could see the glory of the telestial kingdom he would commit suicide to get there. If only we could get the fundamental doctrines across to Church members as rapidly as we get across rumors, everyone would be saved. Am I saying that's a rumor? Well, I am saying this, that over a period of many years I have combed everything Joseph Smith said and wrote, and I can't find it. Hugh Nibley has done the same with Brigham Young's words, and he can't find it. It is hard to prove a negative, of course. What I can say is that we have found a statement from Joseph via Wilford Woodruff that says something else that is close, and I suspect it is the origin of the alleged statement (see Diary of Charles C. Walker, August 1837, in Church Historical Department)." (Truman G. Madsen, The Radiant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], chap. 8)
"A rather common notion in connection with this verse is that Joseph Smith had taught that if we knew what the telestial kingdom was like, we would commit suicide to get there. What the Prophet said was not in reference to the telestial kingdom, but to life 'behind the veil,' which may mean a number of things. The Prophet's statement (Charles Walker quoting Wilford Woodruff quoting Joseph Smith) is as follows:
"Br. Woodruff spoke. . . . He refered to a saying of Joseph Smith which he heard him utter (like this) That if the People knew what was behind the vail, they would try by every means to commit suicide that they might get there, but the Lord in his wisdom had implanted the fear of death in every person that they might cling to life and thus accomplish the designs of their creator. (Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, ed. by A. Karl Larson and Katherine M. Larson [Logan, Ut.: Utah State University Press, 1980], vol. 1, pp. 465-66.)" (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], footnote 29, chapter 27, p. 307-308)
DC 76:90 no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it
The glory of the telestial kingdom is said to surpass all understanding. This is one of the Lord's secrets-one of the mysteries of godliness. Ask the average, non-religious individual to describe what would be heaven to him. He might describe a place of great beauty, perhaps a tropical paradise, in which he is relieved from all the troubles of this world. Does he expect to be a god, a king, or a priest unto the Most High? No. Does he expect to live in the presence of Jesus? No. He just wants to live in some place that is better than this world? Is he going to get what he wants? Absolutely. He will be pleased, or even thrilled, to inherit the telestial kingdom! He won't think of it as a punishment, but as a great reward. To him it will be heaven-beyond his wildest imagination. Without a revelation from God, he could never have imagined such a wonderful place.
What then is the great secret? The secret is that the final destination of all except the sons of perdition is heaven. There are three heavens and the first one, the telestial, is a great place to go. This doctrine "still eludes some of the Saints...All humanity is saved from sin, death, and hell at the resurrection-except the sons of perdition. All human beings are eventually redeemed from the custody and power of the devil-except the sons of perdition. What a glorious doctrine!" (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 2:299)
Many of those who, through ignorance, through tradition, superstition, and the erroneous precepts of the fathers, do not receive them, will yet inherit a good and glorious kingdom, and will enjoy more and receive more than ever entered into the heart of man to conceive, unless he has had a revelation. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 8: 36.)
Neal A. Maxwell
The blessings of our Heavenly Father to all of us are surely those of a very generous God. Even the much lesser telestial kingdom will be a place "which surpasses all understanding" (D&C 76:89). God is quick to give us large blessings for our small obedience! (One More Strain of Praise [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 111 - 112.)
DC 76:96-98 the glory of the celestial is one...and the glory of the terrestrial is one...and the glory of the telestial is one
Joseph Fielding Smith
When a person rises in the resurrection, his body will be perfect but that does not mean that he will be perfect in faith. There will be different kinds of bodies in the resurrection-celestial, terrestrial, and telestial-and they will not be alike any more than whites, browns, and blacks are alike in this life. Every man will receive according to his works.
Bodies will come up, of course, as they were laid down, but will be restored to their proper, perfect frame immediately. Old people will not look old when they come forth from the grave. Scars will be removed. No one will be bent or wrinkled. How foolish it would be for a man to come forth in the resurrection who had lost a leg and have to wait for it to grow again. Each body will come forth with its perfect frame. If there has been some deformity or physical impairment in this life, it will be removed.
The Lord is not impotent to heal and restore the dead to their perfect frame in the resurrection. If the Savior could restore withered hands, eyes that had never had sight, crooked bodies, in this mortal life, surely the Father will not permit bodies that are not physically perfect to come forth in the resurrection. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 292.)
DC 76:98 as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another...
One of the great lessons of this vision is that the Lord has prepared more than two rewards for his children. There is more than just heaven and hell. But if everyone in every kingdom had exactly the same glory and reward, how is that any better? If we can't put all God's children into just two categories, how can we put them into four?
The point is that four destinies is not much better than two unless there can be a difference in glory within those four kingdoms. Then is the justice of God complete. One star differs from another in glory because not all in the telestial kingdom deserve the same reward. Some were better than others.
What about the other kingdoms? Are there differences in glory there? We know there are three degrees of glory within the celestial kingdom (DC 131:1-4). However, we know nothing of different degrees of glory in the terrestrial kingdom, but we can assume that the same principle applies. Herein is the great justice of our God. The Lord has prepared as many different rewards as there are different degrees of righteousness-otherwise the justice of God would be destroyed.
DC 76:99-101 these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas
In 1 Corinthians, Paul responds to reports he has heard that the saints are divided. Apparently, great contentions flourished and factions had developed within the church. Some of the Corinthian saints had been converted by Paul, some by Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew and an eloquent speaker who had much success among the Jews in Corinth (Acts 18:24-28), and some by Cephas or Peter, who had apparently traveled there with his wife (1 Cor 9:5). Elder Neal A. Maxwell noted: "Paul actually grieved because some members of the Church of Jesus Christ in the meridian of time wrongly thought of themselves as being Paul's or Peter's or some other's converts. (See 1 Cor. 1:12-13.) True Christians, then and now, are converts to Christ and should not be known by the name of even his most devoted follower." ("Our Acceptance of Christ," Ensign, June 1984, 70)
Why would the Lord refer to these individuals as inheriting the telestial kingdom? The implications of this are rather frightening. Paul had referred to these Corinthians as "saints" and as those "called unto the fellowship of his Son" (1 Cor. 1:2,9). They were members of the church, who without repentance, could expect to receive no more than a telestial glory. They had received baptism, the key to entrance into the celestial kingdom, but that ordinance would not be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise because of their contention and strife. This is a frightening reminder to church members of all dispensations that "unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation" (DC 82:3). They were members of the church who "received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant" (v. 101). Is it possible to be a Mormon and still reject all these? The Lord has warned, "O ye my people...ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heaviest of all cursings." (D&C 41:1)
While we might imagine less faithful members of the church inheriting a terrestrial glory, this passage indicates that their destiny is the telestial kingdom. Indeed, these are those who appear religious, but in their hearts, they reject the Lord.
"There are some telestial persons in the LDS Church and in other Christian churches who do not really have testimonies of the fulness of the gospel or even of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, though they would appear to. In reality, these persons are followers of men and believe in the teachings of men. They strive to turn the Church to the prevailing views of Babylon. Such persons merely use the church membership as a mask while they pursue their own individual ends in the service of a different master. The poetic version of the vision says of them, 'They went their own way, and they have their reward,' and 'In darkness they worshipp'd; to darkness they go.'" (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 2:325)
Bruce R. McConkie
It matters not that people simply say they believe in Christ or think they are followers of Moses, Peter, Paul, or any of the ancients. What counts is the reality. If they truly believe in Christ and correctly understand the revealed word that has come down from them of old, they will believe the restored gospel, gain the testimony of Jesus by revelation from the Holy Ghost, and abide in the everlasting covenant. (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 24.)
DC 76:103 liars... and whosoever loves and makes a lie
Gene R. Cook
The Lord told us that in the telestial kingdom, the lowest of the three kingdoms of glory, will be found the murderers, the adulterers, and the liars. Lying is that serious! We may temporarily deceive our fellowman, but we will never deceive the Lord. We will suffer agony and misery until the truth is finally known. However smart, educated, or talented you may be, you cannot fool the Lord. ("Worthy to Serve," New Era, May 1994, 6)
DC 76:103 adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosever loves and makes a lie
The First Presidency
The Lord has drawn no essential distinctions between fornication, adultery, and harlotry or prostitution. Each has fallen under His solemn and awful condemnation.
You youths of Zion, you cannot associate in non-marital, illicit sex relationships, which is fornication, and escape the punishments and the judgments which the Lord has declared against this sin. The day of reckoning will come just as certainly as night follows day. They who would palliate this crime and say that such indulgence is but a sinless gratification of a normal desire, like appeasing hunger and thirst, speak filthiness with their lips. Their counsel leads to destruction; their wisdom comes from the Father of Lies.
Your husbands and wives who have taken on solemn obligations of chastity in the holy temples of the Lord and who violate those sacred vows by illicit sexual relations with others, you not only commit the vile and loathsome sin of adultery, but you break the oath you yourselves made with the Lord Himself before you went to the altar for your sealing. You become subject to the penalties which the Lord has prescribed for those who breach their covenants with Him.
Of the harlots and those who visit them, God speaks in terms of divine contempt. They are they who have bargained away an eternity of bliss for the momentary pleasures of the flesh.
The Lord will have only a clean people. He has said, "I, the Lord, will contend with Zion, and plead with her strong ones, and chasten her until she overcomes and is clean before me." (D&C 90:36.)
But they who sin may repent, and, they repenting, God will forgive them, for the Lord has said, "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." (D&C 58:42.)
By virtue of the authority in us vested as the First Presidency of the Church, we warn our people who are offending, of the degradation, the wickedness, the punishment that attend upon unchastity; we urge you to remember the blessings which flow from the living of the clean life; we call upon you to keep, day in and day out, the way of the strictest chastity, through which only can God's choice gifts come to you and His Spirit abide with you. (Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 6: 177, HEBER J. GRANT, J. REUBEN CLARK, JR., DAVID O. MCKAY, First Presidency.)
DC 76:106 These...suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times
Joseph Fielding Smith
It will be impossible for the people of this class to remain on the earth during the millennium, for they would be as much out of their element as a fish out of water. The changed condition of the earth, which will be a terrestrial order during this thousand years, will be suited to the capacity of those of the terrestrial world as well as those who have kept the celestial law; and they will have part in the first resurrection.
But with those of the telestial order, this will not be so. These are they who are as stubble, who will be consumed when Christ comes. They will know that Christ has come and that on the earth he reigns in peace and righteousness. They will know that they have lost all of this because of their wickedness; and during the thousand years they will be in torment with their sins, looking forward to the final judgment with fear and trembling.
Yet their punishment will be for their good. The Lord will not punish them merely because he is angry and delights in their suffering. Their suffering must be met, for they will have denied the mercies of Jesus Christ and therefore must suffer, even as he suffered for the sins of the world, for his suffering will not cleanse them. It will be a punishment of cleansing; and when they have paid the price-and it will be a most dreadful, painful ordeal-then will they be prepared to receive such blessings as the Lord, in his great mercy, is prepared to give to them. That is, they must learn to serve him and be obedient to his laws, such as they are worthy to receive. Those who receive punishment in this manner will constitute a countless multitude. And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end, 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. (Seek Ye Earnestly [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1970], 90-91.)
DC 76:111 every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion
Marion G. Romney
How blessed are Latter-day Saints to be assured by the revealed word of God that there will be no capriciousness in the world to come; that the rule of law is irrevocable; that every soul will be rewarded according to the law he has obeyed; that all divine law is as immutable as the law of gravity; that it is the same yesterday, today, and forever; that judgment will be mercifully administered, but that it will be administered pursuant to law, and that it will not rob justice. Not only are Latter-day Saints blessed by having this knowledge concerning "the rule of law"; they are twice blessed by having both a knowledge and an understanding of the laws by which they are to be judged.
In light of our knowledge of "the perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25), how shortsighted, how foolish, how tragic it would be if we were to fail to obey that law. ("The Rule of Law," Ensign, Feb. 1973, 2)
Orson F. Whitney
Thirty years ago I was crossing the Atlantic on an ocean liner. I was a first cabin passenger, and besides myself there were forty or fifty others in that part of the vessel. The second cabin had about twice as many passengers, and in the steerage were several hundred more. I found that the first cabin berths-secured by a fortunate few-were not only the best furnished, but the most favorably situated for comfort, convenience, and safety. The food was of the choicest, every possible courtesy was shown to the passengers, and they had the full freedom of the ship. They might go down into the second cabin, or lower down, into the steerage, at will, and return without hindrance or question. They had paid for these privileges, and were therefore entitled to them. The captain and other officers were their associates.
It was different in the second cabin. There the food was not so good, the berths were not so comfortable, and the privileges were fewer. The passengers there might descend into the steerage, but were not permitted upon the upper deck. In the steerage, conditions were even less favorable. The food was still poorer, and the restrictions yet more rigid. The occupants of that section were not allowed even in the second cabin. Having paid only for steerage accommodations, these were all they could consistently claim.
Viewing the situation, I said to myself, What a striking analogy of the final destiny of the human race, as set forth in the revelations of God! All men rewarded according to their works, and saved according to their merits in the eternal mansions of the Father! And I then and there resolved anew that I would be a first cabin passenger on the good ship Zion, over the ocean of life, into the haven of celestial glory. (Gospel Themes [Salt Lake City: n.p., 1914], 43.)
DC 76:112 they shall be servants of the Most High
Telestial souls are considered "servants of the Most High." For latter-day saints, just being a servant of God is not good enough. To receive the inheritance desired, we must be a son or daughter of Christ. This is why Paul said, "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Gal 4:7) "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God...and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Rom 8:14,17)
DC 76:112 where God and Christ dwell they cannot come
Melvin J. Ballard
The question is often asked, "Is it possible for one who attains telestial glory in time in the eternal world to live so well that he may graduate from the telestial and pass into the terrestrial, and then after a season that he may progress from that and be ultimately worthy of the celestial glory?" That is the query that has been asked. I have just read the answer, so far as the telestial group is concerned. "Where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end." I take it upon the same basis, the same argument likewise applies to the terrestrial world. Those whose lives have entitled them to terrestrial glory can never gain celestial glory. One who gains possession of the lowest degree of the telestial glory may ultimately arise to the highest degree of that glory, but no provision has been made for promotion from one glory to another. Let us be reasonable about it. (Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1949], 255.)
DC 76:114-115 great and marvelous are the works of the Lord...Which he commanded us we should not write
M. Russell Ballard
What a wondrous experience for the Prophet Joseph and Sidney. For more than an hour, the Lord showed them our premortal life, earth life, and life after death. As a result of that revelation, mankind's understanding of Heavenly Father's plan for our eternal happiness and peace was expanded and enhanced to a remarkable degree. Of course, it should be noted that Joseph was instructed not to record everything that he saw in vision. The Saints at the time were not prepared to receive all of the new information that he was given. But as we look at the Prophet's later teachings, we see what appear to be bits and pieces of this great revelation being taught-here a little and there a little-as the Saints grew in their spiritual understanding. ("Marvelous Are the Revelations of the Lord," Ensign, May 1998, 32)
Glenn L. Pace
The last verses of section 76 are some of the greatest scriptural beckonings to [a higher spiritual] plateau in holy writ. Unfortunately, in many of our gospel discussions we never reach the end of that section. One reason may be that too often we get into a debate as to whether or not one can progress from one degree of glory to the other. We also tend to think up every hypothetical situation possible and argue over to which degree of glory each person would be assigned. In other words, we delve into the speculative mysteries-and while thus engaged, we don't catch the vision of supernal truth available to us if we are willing to pay the price.
After disclosing the vision of the Father and the Son, the three degrees of glory, and many other beautiful truths that had previously been mysteries to all mankind, Joseph Smith concluded the revelation as follows: "Great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion; which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter." (D&C 76:114-15.)
The Prophet almost seems to be teasing us by saying, in effect, "If you think what we've written is exciting, you should have seen what else we saw, but we can't tell you." (Spiritual Plateaus [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 126.)
I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 305)