Where is the Spirit World?
“When you lay down this tabernacle, where are you going? Into the spiritual world. Are you going into Abraham’s bosom? No, not anywhere near there but into the spirit world. Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of the organized earth? No, they do not.
The Prophet lays down his body, he lays down his life, and his spirit goes to the world of spirits; the persecutor of the Prophet dies, and he goes to Hades; they both go to one place, and they are not to be separated yet.” (President Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 376-80. (Emphasis added))
“In a broad sense, the whole of the spirit world—paradise and hell—is a ‘spirit prison,’ inasmuch as the spirits there, even the righteous, look upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage (see D&C 45:17; 138:50). ‘I know it is a startling idea,’ Brigham Young stated, ‘to say that the Prophet [Joseph Smith] and the persecutor of the Prophet, all go to prison together… But they have not got their bodies yet, consequently they are in prison.’ (JD 3:95) Christ went to the spirits in prison in the sense that he went to the spirit world.” (J.F. McConkie, R.L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3, p. 299.)
“There has been much said…about the words of Jesus (when on the cross) to the thief, saying ‘This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.’ King James’ translators make it out to say paradise. But what is paradise? It is a modern word: it does not answer at all to the original word that Jesus made use of. There is nothing in the original word in Greek from which this was taken that signifies paradise; but it was—This day thou shalt be with me in the world of the spirits.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 309.)
Spirits are not far from us
“When men are prepared, they are better off to go hence. …The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and are often pained therewith.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 326.)
Righteous spirits are not denied the privilege of looking in on us
“. . . those who labor so diligently in their moral estate to establish the cause of Zion would not be denied the privilege of looking down upon the results of their own labors from their post mortal estate. . . they are as deeply interested in our welfare today, if not with greater capacity, with far more interest, behind the veil, than they were in the flesh. . . Sometimes the Lord expands our vision from this point of view and this side of the veil, so that we feel and seem to realize that we can look beyond the thin veil which separates us from that other sphere.” (President Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, April 1916, p. 1-8.)
If we could see beyond the veil, suicide would be a temptation
“Charles Walker quoted Wilford Woodruff who quoted Joseph Smith as follows: ‘if the people knew what was behind the veil, they would try by every means to commit suicide that they might get there, but the Lord in his wisdom has implanted the fear of death in every person that they might cling to life and thus accomplish the designs of their creator.’ ” (Cited in: Studies in Scripture, vol. 1, The Doctrine and Covenants, R. Millet and K. Jackson, p. 307.)
Spirits are tangible
“Spirits are just as familiar with spirits as bodies are with bodies, though spirits are composed of matter so refined as not to be tangible to this coarser organization.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 379.)
Spirit creations still remain
“The brightness and glory of the next apartment is inexpressible. They move with ease like lightning… If we want to behold Jerusalem as it was in the days of the Savior, or see the Garden of Eden as it was when created, there we are, and see it as it existed spiritually, for it was created first spiritually and then temporally, and spiritually it still remains.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 380.)
Proxy baptisms on earth
“Every man that has been baptized and belongs to the kingdom has a right to be baptized for those who have gone before; and as soon as the law of the Gospel is obeyed here by their friends who act as proxy for them, the Lord has administrators there to set them free.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 367.)
Men are called to the other side
“The Prophet Joseph Smith held the keys of this dispensation on this side of the veil, and he will hold them throughout the countless ages of eternity. He went into the spirit world to unlock the prison doors and to preach the gospel to the millions of spirits who are in darkness, and every apostle, every seventy, every elder, etc., who has died in the faith as soon as he passes to the other side of the veil, enters into the work of the ministry, and there is a thousand times more to preach there than there is here. I have felt of late as if our brethren on the other side of the veil had held a council, and that they had said to this one, and that one, ‘cease thy work on the earth, come hence, we need help,’ and they have called this man and that man. It has appeared so to me in seeing the many men who have been called from our midst lately.
“Perhaps I may be permitted to relate a circumstance with which I am acquainted in relation to Bishop Roskelley, of Smithfield, Cache Valley. On one occasion he was suddenly taken very sick—near to death’s door. While he lay in this condition, President Peter Maughan, who was dead, came to him and said: ‘Brother Roskelley, we held a council on the other side of the veil. I have had a great deal to do, and I have the privilege of coming here to appoint one man to come and help. I have had three names given to me in council, and you are one of them. I want to inquire into your circumstances.’ The bishop told him what he had to do, and they conversed together as one man would converse with another. President Maughan then said to him: ‘I think I will not call you. I think you are wanted here more than perhaps one of the others.’ Bishop Roskelley got well from that hour. Very soon after, the second man was taken sick, but not being able to exercise sufficient faith, Brother Roskelley did not go to him. By and by this man recovered, and on meeting Brother Roskelley he said: ‘Brother Maughan came to me the other night an told me he was sent to call one man from the ward,’ and he named two men as had been done to Brother Roskelley. A few days afterwards the third man was taken sick and died.
“Now, I name this to show a principle. They have work on the other side of the veil; and they want men, and they call them. And that was my view in regard to Brother George A. Smith. When he was almost at death’s door, Brother Cannon administered to him, and in thirty minutes he was up, and ate breakfast with his family. We labored with him in this way, but ultimately, as you know, he died. But it taught me a lesson. I felt that man was wanted behind the veil. We labored also with Brother Pratt; he too, was wanted behind the veil.
“Now. . . those of us who are left here have a great work to do. We have been raised up of the Lord to take this kingdom and bear it off. This is our duty, but if we neglect our duty and set our hearts upon the things of this world, we will be sorry for it.” (President Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 22:333-334.)
Elder Maxwell taught:
“We do not control what I call the great transfer board in the sky. The inconveniences that are sometimes associated with release from our labors here are necessary in order to accelerate the work there. Heavenly Father can't do His work with ten times more people than we have on this planet, except He will on occasion take some of the very best sisters and brothers. The conditions of termination here, painful though they are, are a part of the conditions of acceleration there. Thus we are back to faith in the timing of God, and to be able to say Thy timing be done, even when we do not fully understand it.” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Glorify Christ, p. 7.)
What do spirits do in the Spirit World?
“Father Smith and Carlos and Brother Partridge, yes, and every other good Saint, are just as busy in the spirit world as you and I are here. They can see us, but we cannot see them. . . they are preaching, preaching all the time . . . they are hurrying to get ready by the time we are ready, and we are all hurrying to get ready by the time our Elder Brother is ready. . . . What! A congregated mass of inhabitants there in spirit, mingling with each other, as they do here? Yes, brethren, they are there together, and if they associate together, and collect together, in clans and in societies as they do here, it is their privilege. . . they have to do with each other, both good and bad. . . .
If a person is baptized for the remission of sins, and dies a short time thereafter, he is not prepared at once to enjoy a fulness of the glory . . . he must be schooled, while in the spirit, in the other departments of the house of God, passing on from truth to truth, from intelligence to intelligence . . . We cannot enter into celestial glory in our present state of ignorance and mental darkness.
[T]he fallen spirits—Lucifer and the third part of the heavenly hosts that came with him, and the spirits of wicked men who have dwelt upon this earth, the whole of them combined will have no influence over our spirits. Is not that an advantage? Yes. All the rest of the children of men are more or less subject to them. . . . Spirits are just as familiar with spirits as bodies are with bodies. . . they walk, converse, and have their meetings. . . . We have more friends behind the veil than on this side, and they will hail us more joyfully than you were ever welcomed by your parents and friends in this world. . .
[E]verything there will appear as natural as things now do. Spirits will be familiar with spirits in the spirit world. . . they exercise every variety of communication . . . as familiarly and naturally as while here in tabernacles. . If we want to visit
* If at death we enter the spirit world, not God’s actual presence, how are we to understand Alma’s words?
“These words of Alma as I understand them, do not intend to convey the thought that all spirits go back into the presence of God for an assignment to a place of peace or a place of punishment and before him receive their individual sentence. ‘Taken home to God,’ simply means that their mortal existence has come to an end, and they have returned to the world of spirits, where they are assigned to a place according to their works with the just or with the unjust, there to await the resurrection. ‘Back to God’ is a phrase which finds an equivalent in many other well-known conditions. For instance: a man spends a stated time in some foreign mission field. When he is released and returns to the
Brigham Young renders this verse a “little plainer”
“You read in the Bible [Ecclesiastes 12:5] that when the spirit leaves the body it goes to God who gave it. Now tell me where God is not, if you please; you cannot. How far would you have to go in order to go to God, if your spirits were unclothed? Would you have to go out of this bowery to find God, if you were in the spirit? If God is not here, we had better reserve this place to gather the wicked into, for they will desire to be where God is not. The Lord Almighty is here by His Spirit, by His influence, by His presence. I am not in the north end of this bowery, my body is in the south end of it, but my influence and my voice extend to all parts of it; in like manner is the Lord here.
It reads that the spirit goes to God who gave it. Let me render this scripture a little plainer; when the spirits leave their bodies they are in the presence of our Father and God, they are prepared then to see, hear and understand spiritual things. But where is the spirit world? It is incorporated within this celestial system. Suppose the Lord should touch your eyes that you might see, could you then see the spirits? Yes, as plainly as you now see bodies, as did the servant of Elijah. If the Lord would permit it, and it was His will that it should be done, you could see the spirits that have departed from this world, as plainly as you now see bodies with your natural eyes.” (President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 3:368. (Emphasis added))
At death we don’t enter God’s presence
“As for my going into the immediate presence of God when I die, I do not expect it, but I expect to go into the world of spirits and associate with my brethren, and preach the Gospel in the spiritual world, and prepare myself in every necessary way to receive my body again, and then enter through the wall [veil] into the celestial world. I never shall come into the presence of my Father and God until I have received my resurrected body, neither will any other person.” (Elder Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 3:112-113. (Emphasis added))