At the time of resurrection, each person will be assigned to a kingdom of glory. Those who are righteous will inherit greater joy and blessings than those who do not obey God’s commandments (see 1 Corinthians 15:35, 40–42).
It is interesting that immediately after Joseph and Sidney see the Father and the Son, and before they see the degrees of Glory, the two view a vision of the condition of the Sons of Perdition. It is as if the contrast is important in their understanding and our understanding.
READ D&C 76:28
* What does this tell us why Satan did and why he did it.
v. 31, 35, 43 gives us the qualifications for making one’s “calling and damnation sure.”
- know God’s power (v. 31)
- have been mace partakers thereof (v. 31)
- have suffered themselves to be overcome (v. 31)
- deny the truth (v. 31)
- defy God’s power (v. 31)
- deny the Holy Spirit after having received it (v. 35)
- deny the Only Begotten Son (crucify him unto themselves) (v. 35)
- deny the Son after the Father has revealed him (v. 43)
The question is often asked, “Just how much does one have to know before one could become a son of perdition?” The following quotations from Joseph Smith and Spencer W. Kimball may help:
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 they had who crucified the Lord of Life—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. (TPJS, p. 358.)
President Kimball taught:
The sins unto death may be thought of as somewhat difficult to define and limit with precision. From the words of Joseph Smith quoted above we note that “. . . many apostates of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” will fall into this category. We cannot definitely identify them individually since it is impossible for us to know the extent of their knowledge, the depth of their enlightenment, and the sureness of their testimonies before their fall. . . .
The sin against the Holy Ghost requires such knowledge that it is manifestly impossible for the rank and file to commit such a sin. Comparatively few Church members will commit murder wherein they shed innocent blood, and we hope only few will deny the Holy Ghost. (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969), pp. 122-23.)
1. The telestial glory is for those who do not receive the gospel of Jesus Christ or the testimony of Jesus or the prophets of God, and who live sinful lives (see D&C 76:81–88, 98–103).
Requirements for the Telestial Kingdom
- they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus (v. 82)
- they who deny not the Holy Spirit (v. 83)
- they who say they are some of one, and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses—but received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant (vv. 99-101)
- they who are liars and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie (v. 103; Rev. 22:15 adds murderers)
READ D&C 76:99-101
* Tell me about these people, who are they, what defines them?
* What danger do we have of being counted as one of them?
2. The terrestrial glory is for the honorable people of the earth who are deceived and for those who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ (see D&C 76:71–79).
Requirements for the Terrestrial Kingdom
- Died without the law (v. 72)
- Visited by the Son in the Spirit World, received not the Gospel in the flesh but did in the Spirit World (v. 73-4) “they felt it by the Spirit” (See D&C 137)
- Honorable men of the earth (v. 75)
- They receive His glory, but not the fullness of His Glory (v. 76)
- Not valiant in the testimony of Jesus (v. 79)
Melvin J. Ballard said: “Now those who died without law, meaning the pagan nations, for lack of faithfulness, for lack of devotion in the former life, are obtaining all that they are entitled to. I don't mean to say that all of them will be barred from entrance into the highest glory. Any one of them who repents and complies with the conditions might also obtain celestial glory, but the great bulk of them will only obtain terrestrial glory.” ("The Three Degrees of Glory," in Melvin J. Ballard: Crusader for Righteousness (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), p. 221.)
3. The celestial glory is reserved for those who obey the commandments and receive the ordinances, overcome all things by faith in Jesus Christ, and become pure in heart (see D&C 76:50–70).
Requirements of the Celestial Kingdom:
- Receive the testimony of Jesus (v. 51)
- Believe on His name (we might say faith) (v. 51)
- Baptized (v. 51)
- Keep the commandments (v. 52)
- Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost (v. 52)
- Overcome by faith (v. 53)
- Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (v. 53)
The doctrine in D&C 137 in light of the Celestial Kingdom:
In these verses the principles upon which the doctrine of salvation for the dead rests are announced for the first time in this dispensation. They are:
· first, that the doctrine applies only to those who “died without a knowledge” of the gospel;
· second, that God must read the hearts of those concerned and affirm that had the gospel come to them in mortality they would have accepted it;
· and third, that God must judge that not only would they have accepted the gospel but that they would have done so “with all their hearts,” meaning that they would have endured valiantly and faithfully to the end.
* Who is invited to receive this blessing and see this vision?
Here is what Joseph Smith said:
“I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them” (Teachings, 305).
On another occasion he said:
“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” (Teachings, 149)
Alma 41:3-4—If their works were good they shall be restored unto that which is good. If their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil.
Once people have been restored to either telestial, terrestial, or celestial bodies do they eventually progress to other kingdoms?
“There are those who say that there is progress from one kingdom to another in the eternal world or that lower kingdoms eventually progress to where higher kingdoms once were. This is worse than false. It is an evil and pernicious doctrine. There is neither progress from one kingdom to another, nor does a lower kingdom ever get where a higher kingdom once was. Whatever eternal progression there is, it is within a sphere.” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Seven Deadly Heresies, BYU, 1980. (Emphasis added))
“After a person has been assigned to his place in the kingdom, either in the Telestial, the terrestrial, or the celestial or to his exaltation, he will never advance from his assigned glory to another glory. That is eternal!” (Elder Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 243-244; also in Melchizedek Priesthood Manual, 1989, p. 167. (Emphasis added))
“There are some people who have supposed that if we are quickened Telestial bodies that eventually, throughout the ages of eternity, we will continue to progress until we will find our place in the celestial kingdom, but the scriptures and revelations of God have said that those who are quickened Telestial bodies cannot come where God and Christ dwell, worlds without end.” (President George Albert Smith, Conference Report, Oct. 1945, p. 172; also Improvement Era, Nov. 1945, p. 720; also Melchizedek Priesthood Manual, 1979-80, p. 145.)
“The scriptures say there is no progression from one kingdom to another. This really should settle the matter. This is the whole tenor and meaning of Section 76. The statements in Section 88 about coming forth with different kinds of bodies in the resurrection are in the same subject. The statement in Section 132 that ministering servants will remain such and not have exaltation to all eternity is the same teaching. It is difficult to see how the Lord could have been more express in his language than he was in this passage in Section 132 or related passages in Section 76 that say where God and Christ are certain people cannot come worlds without end.” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie letter to Vida Lind, March 14, 1973, in my possession.)