So before we get into this episode I’ve got some bad news for all of our viewers… you might already know…hopefully, I’m not the one to have to break it to you, but here goes *long inhale*…
The bad news is that one day, you are all going to die. It’s just a fact of life. But what happens after you die?
Take a look at this roadmap of how Latter-day Saints believe the afterlife is going to play out. Most Christians agree that when we die, our bodies go in the ground, but our spirits continue to live on. Eventually, we’ll be resurrected, and stand before God at the final judgment. But what will our spirits be doing in-between death and resurrection? For some spirits, that’s quite a long time.
The Bible isn’t explicitly clear on this subject, which is why Latter-day Saints are grateful for The Book of Mormon, which teaches clearly:
“…the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil … these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity … thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.”
So, immediately after you die, your spirit will enter what we just call the “Spirit World.” You will still be you. You’ll have the same personality, talents, desires, etc. Your spirit will still look like you, you just won’t have a physical body. The righteous will be in a state of paradise, the wicked will be in prison. This spirit “paradise” and “prison” are both literal places, as well as conditions, or states of being.
Now one of the coolest things about the Spirit World is that those who did accept the gospel in this life will have the opportunity to teach that gospel in the Spirit World to the spirits in prison, especially to those who didn’t have the opportunity to learn about the gospel during their lives. In order for God to judge us based on gospel principles, it makes sense that everyone should have the chance to learn those gospel principles.
In order to be saved, one must have faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. Some people believe that if you’re one of the trillions of people throughout history that never had the opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ in your life, you’re simply doomed to eternal torture in Hell. Latter-day Saints believe everyone, in this life or the next, will have a fair shot at learning about Christ.
“For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
Christ Himself organized this missionary effort while He was in the Spirit world during the three days after His death and before His resurrection.
1 Peter 3 (NIV) tells us, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.”
While righteous spirits teach the gospel in the Spirit World, we mortals perform ordinances in temples, like baptism, for and in behalf of our ancestors in the Spirit World who didn’t have that opportunity in life. In the Spirit World, those ancestors have the opportunity to accept those ordinances or reject them. We’re not forcing them on anybody, just providing the option.
Now, Jesus Christ suffered for all of our sins so that we wouldn’t have to suffer for them if we repent. That’s what the gospel is all about. So those Spirits who either reject the gospel in this life or after learning it in the Spirit World will have to suffer and pay for their own sins. This is generally the condition most Latter-day Saints are referring to when we talk about “Hell.”
What will this suffering look like? I’m not sure, but it doesn’t sound very pleasant. After they pay the price for their sins, and after the resurrection and judgment, we believe that even they will inherit a place in heaven, albeit not in the full presence of God the Father.
The term “Spirit World” might be confusing to some people because it sort of sounds like we believe spirits go to outer space to another planet where all the spirits live. That’s not the case! The Spirit World is this world. It’s earth. We can’t see them, but there are spirits among us. President Joseph F. Smith said,
“We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; … their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.”
There are still lots of questions we have about the Spirit World that we don’t have answers for, but there are plenty we can answer as well, that I haven’t had time to get to here. So if you’ve got further questions about the Spirit World, drop them in the comments below. Check out the links in the description for more information. And have a great day!
Latter-day Saints believe the heavens are open. Personal revelation can come to each of Heavenly Father’s children regardless of religious belief. And revelation for the Church and for the world comes to prophets. One prophet, Joseph F. Smith, received a profound revelation shortly before his own death.
Joseph F. Smith was the son of Hyrum Smith, who was the brother of Joseph Smith. Hyrum was martyred with Joseph in 1844 when Joseph F. was around 5 years old. He remembered the pall of sadness, mourning, confusion, and fear that fell upon the Saints at the time of the martyrdom—”…the Dreadful Scenes that once, (and to my memory Clear as day) brought gloom and Horror upon the honest world and filled 10 thousand Hearts with grief and woe!” He also remembered being driven out of Nauvoo, Illinois, by mobs with his widowed mother—”We had left our comfortable home with all the furniture remaining in the house, together with all our earthly possessions, with no hope or thought of ever seeing them again….We were not far away when we heard the cannonade on the other side of the river.” Joseph F. drove one of the family’s ox teams into the Salt Lake Valley on 23 September 1848. He was nine years old.
Joseph F. led a life of righteousness and dedication to the faith and became a prophet himself, but he was no stranger to grief. Leading to his death in 1918, he had lost a number of family members, including some of his children, and had watched with dismay the casualties of the First World War and the worldwide flu epidemic. His daughter’s death came just before he experienced a revelation showing him what happens after we die.
On 3 October 1918, as he sat in his room pondering the scriptures and “reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world,” he received a marvelous manifestation concerning the Savior’s visit to the dead while His body was in the tomb. The revelation, later called the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead and canonized as Doctrine and Covenants 138, is a fitting capstone to the life of a prophet who preached unceasingly the importance of bringing to all of God’s children the plan of life and salvation.
Prophet Joseph F. Smith was pondering 1 Peter and the third and fourth chapters. The Spirit moved him when he read these verses:
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
“By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
“Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:18–20).
“For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6).
President Smith beheld a vision. He saw the spirits of the dead in multitudes. He saw those who had been righteous during their lives and they were rejoicing because their deliverance was nigh.
While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;
And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance (D&C 138:18 – 19).
Christ’s visit occurred during the 3 days He was in the tomb, before His own resurrection. But President Smith saw that Jesus did not visit the wicked.
But unto the wicked he did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, his voice was not raised;
Neither did the rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets behold his presence, nor look upon his face.
Where these were, darkness reigned, but among the righteous there was peace (D&C 138:20 – 22).
Instead, Christ called servants to preach to the wicked so that every person who has ever lived would have the opportunity to hear the gospel before resurrection and judgment.
But behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.
President Smith saw that among those who were called to preach to the wicked and those who had never heard the gospel were Adam, Eve (with many of her faithful daughters who lived through the ages), Abel, Seth, Noah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Elias, Malachi, Elijah, Book of Mormon prophets, Joseph and Hyrum Smith and other earlier leaders of the Church.
Truly, this revelation is one of the most profound revelations ever received in history. It teaches us many wonderful things:
- There is life after death
- We can look forward to a reunion with those we love after death
- As spirits, we can continue to progress and repent
- Everyone will have a chance to accept or reject Christ as their Savior no matter when or where they lived in mortality
- The greatest people who have ever lived will take part in the salvation of God’s children
- The playing field is leveled in the Spirit World—it doesn’t matter if your life was long or short, happy or sad, rich or poor, God can fix it in the Spirit World
- Our loved ones who have passed on play a part in helping us through our own mortal struggles
- God has a plan. He wants to save all His children.