One Eternal Round

Most members of the Church readily agree that we find ourselves in a telestial world right now.  The following two quotes help explain/reinforce that concept:

“Repentance requires both turning away from evil and turning to God. When “a mighty change” is required, full repentance involves a 180-degree turn,and without looking back! (Alma 5:12–13.) Initially, this turning reflects progress from telestial to terrestrial behavior, and later on to celestial behavior. As the sins of the telestial world are left behind, the focus falls ever more steadily upon the sins of omission, which often keep us from full consecration.” (Neal A. Maxwell, Repentance, October 1991 General Conference)

“Love and service, work and self-reliance, stewardship and consecration, the provident living that comes from personal and family preparedness, caring for the poor and the needy—these are principles members must learn and practice if they would live celestial lives in a telestial world. These same teachings must come down through quorum leaders as well.”  (L. Tom Perry, The Role of the Stake Bishops Council in Welfare Services, April 1977 Addresses)

Ok, so we live in a telestial world.  But since there is “no space in which there is no kingdom,” does that mean we really live in a telestial kingdom right now?

“And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.” (D&C 88:37)

And if this world really is a telestial kingdom, doesn’t that mean we currently live in hell?

“And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament…These are they who are thrust down to hell.” (D&C 76:81,84)

Wait, if this world we live in is really a telestial kingdom, and we do live in hell right now, wouldn’t leaders of the Church have told us this in the past?

This world is a poor miserable hell…” (Brigham Young in The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 1, 1832 to 1852, Ed. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Smith-Petit Foundation, Salt lake City, 2009, p. 329)

“…you are in hell now, and you have got to qualify yourselves here in hell to become subjects for heaven.”  (Heber C. Kimball, JD 1:354-358)

If this world is hell, what kind of people would we expect to find here?

“These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.” (D&C 76:103)

Is that a good description of many of the inhabitants of the earth today?

If this world is hell, shouldn’t we expect Satan and his angels to be here?

“And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;  And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels;  And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell.” (D&C 29:36-38)

If I’m in a telestial kingdom today, and still have a chance to get into the celestial kingdom, doesn’t that imply mobility between kingdoms?

Wilford Woodruff: “If there was a point where man in his progression could not proceed any further, the very idea would throw a gloom over every intelligent and  reflecting mind. God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end.  It is just so with us. We are in a probation, which is a school of experience.” (JD 6:120)

“It is said that those of the terrestrial glory will be ministered unto by those of the celestial; and those of the telestial will be ministered unto by those of the terrestrial – that is, those of the higher glory minister to those of a lesser order of glory. We can conceive of no reason for all this administration of the higher to the lower, unless it be for the purpose of advancing our Father’s children along the lines of eternal progression . . . But if it be granted that the chief fact about Intelligences is that they have power to add fact to fact and thus build up knowledge, and through knowledge have wisdom, and thus make progress; and if to such intelligences there is granted eternal life – immortality – then it is useless to postulate any limitations for them; for in the passing of even a few thousands of millions of years, even if progress be very slow – there will come a time when these intelligences – men and women of even the telestial glory – may become very acceptable characters, and very important personages.”  (B. H. Roberts, Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, pp. 416-417)

What is “all this administration of the higher to the lower”?  Is this why we are supposed to look for messengers from our Father?  Adam did, shouldn’t we?  If there are no messengers, what is the state of our faith?  If we aren’t looking for them are they likely to come?

“Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.” (Moroni 7:36-37)

Is it possible that some who have come to this earth might have previously passed through other probations successfully?

Lorenzo Snow:  “Jesus was a god before he came into the world and yet his knowledge was taken from him.  He did not know his former greatness, neither do we know what greatness we had attained to before we came here…” (Lorenzo Snow Journal, pp. 181-182.)

“Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;” (Abraham 3:22)

How could some be considered “noble and great” without having had a previous probationary period during which they could prove themselves faithful?

If there is mobility between kingdoms, is it possible to take a step backwards?

Hyrum Smith:  “Those of the Terrestrial Glory either advance to the Celestial or recede to the Telestial, else the moon could not be a type as it ‘waxes and wanes.'” (August 1, 1843.  Remarks transcribed by Franklin D. Richards.  See F.D.R. Journal)

If these things are true, wouldn’t general authorities have spoken about and taught them?

“Elder Heber C. Kimball preached at the house of President Joseph Smith, on the parable in the 18th chapter of Jeremiah, of the clay in the hands of the potter, that when it marred in the hands of the potter it was cut off the wheel and then thrown back again into the mill, to go into the next batch, and was a vessel of dishonor; but all clay that formed well in the hands of the potter, and was pliable, was a vessel of honor; and thus it was with the human family, and ever will be: all that are pliable in the hands of God and are obedient to His commands, are vessels of honor, and God will receive them. President Joseph arose and said–“Brother Kimball has given you a true explanation of the parable…'” (Minutes of a meeting of the Twelve in the house of the Prophet.  HC 4:478)

Heber C. Kimball expanded upon the concept of the potters wheel referenced above in General Conference in 1852: “Upon the same principle, supposing I have a lump of clay which I put upon my wheel, out of which clay I want to make a jug; I have to turn it into as many as 50 or 100 shapes before I get it into a jug.  How many shapes do you suppose you are put into before you became Saints, or before you become perfect and sanctified to enter into the celestial glory of God?  You have got to be like clay in the hands of the potter.  Do you not know that the Lord directed the prophet anciently, to go down to the potter’s house to see a miracle on the wheel?

Suppose the potter takes a lump of clay, and putting it on the wheel, goes to work to form it into a vessel, and works it out this way, and that way, and the other way, but the clay is refractory and snappish; he still trys it, but it will break, and snap, and snarl, and thus the potter will work it and work it until he is satisfied he cannot bring it into the shape he wants, and it mare upon the wheel; he takes his tool, then, and cuts it off the wheel, and throws it into the mill to be ground over again, until it becomes passive, (don’t you think you will go to hell if you are not passive?) and after it is ground there so many days, and it becomes passive, he takes the same lump, and makes of it a vessel unto honor.

Now do you see into that brethren?  I know the potters can.  I tell you, brethren, if you are not passive you will have to go into that mill, and perhaps have to grind there one thousand years, and then the Gospel will be offered to you again, and then if you will not accept of it, and become passive, you will have to go into the mill again, and thus you will have offers of salvation from time to time, until all the human family, except the sons of perdition, are redeemed.  The spirits of men will have the Gospel as we do, and they are to be judged according to men in the flesh.  Let us be passive, and take a course that will be perfectly submissive.”  (JD 1:161)

Heber J. Grant: “We are living eternal lives, every one of us, and I want to leave my testimony with you that I do know that, as I know that I live.”  (Improvement Era, June 1945)

Joseph Smith:  “But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore; And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever; 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; And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.” (D&C 76:109-112)

Brigham Young:  “Take, for instance, a grain of sand.  You can not divide it so small that it can not be divided again–it is capable of infinite division.  We know nothing about how many times it can be divided, and it is just so with regard to the lives in us…They are countless…those who pass beyond and secure to themselves a resurrection pertaining to the lives will go on and receive more and more, more and more, and will receive one after another until they are crowned Gods, even the sons of God.  This idea is very consoling.” (JD 15:138)

Brigham Young:  “If any of his children become heirs to all things, they in their turn can say, by-and-by, that they know all things, and they will be called Supreme, Almighty, King of kings, Lord of lords.  All this and more that cannot enter into our hearts to conceive is promised to the faithful, and are but so many stages in that ceaseless progression of eternal lives.” (JD 10:5)

Brigham Young: “The great and grand secret of salvation, which we should continually seek to understand through our faithfulness, is the continuation of the lives…This I say is the great secret of the hereafter, to continue in the lives forever and forever, which is the greatest of all gifts God has ever bestowed upon his children…By obeying the whispering of this Holy Spirit, which we have received by virtue of obedience to the Gospel, which prompts us to purge from within us all sinful desires, we can say we are no more in the world, but we are in Christ, our living head.  The philosophy of our coming out from the world is the putting off the old man sin, and the putting on of the new man Jesus Christ.” (JD 18:260)

George Albert Smith: “Our missionaries are out in the world today trying to explain these things to the learned and other men of the world, and there are many learned men who have access to all of these books who do not believe in God, who do not know that we are living eternal lives, but have an idea that when we die that is the end of everything.  Yet in the comparatively small organization known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are thousands of men and women and some children who know that we are the children of our Heavenly Father, that we are here and now living eternal lives, that the gospel, the power of God unto salvation to all those who will believe and obey, is on the earth…” (Conference Report, Oct 1948, Afternoon Meeting, pp. 165-166)

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Interestingly enough, the recipients of the celestial kingdom, as defined in D&C 76, are given all things, including access to death:

“Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (D&C 76:59)

Why would a recipient of the celestial kingdom want or need death as an option?  To condescend among the children of men and help others turn their hearts to Father (like Abraham and other “noble and great” ones that would give up their celestial glory to come back to a mortal probation to help guide others back to God)?

Joseph Smith: “The head one of the Gods, brought forth the Gods…The head one called the Gods together in grand council–to bring forth the world.” (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 341)

Joseph Smith:  “In the begin the heads of the Gods organized the heaven & the Earth–now the learned Priest–the people rage–& the heathen imagine a vain thing–if we pursue the Heb further–it reads…The Head one of the Gods said let us make man in our image  I once asked a learned Jew once–if the Heb. language compels us to render all words ending in heam in the plural—why not render the first plural–he replied it would ruin the Bible–he acknowledged I was right.  I came here to investigate these things precisely as I believe it–hear & judge for yourself–& if you go away satisfied–well & good–in the very beginning there is a plurality of Gods–beyond the power of refutation–it is a great subject I am dwelling on–the word Eloiheam ought to be in the plural all the way thro–the heads of the Gods appointed one God for us–& when you take a view of the subject it sets one free to see all the beauty holiness & perfection of the God–all I want is to get the simple truth–naked & the whole truth…” (Words of Joseph Smith, pp. 379-380, 16 June 1844)

Brigham Young: “…you will have all your children come and report to you of their sayings and acts; and you will hold every son and daughter of yours responsible when you get the privilege of being an Adam on earth.” (JD 4:271)

How has this important truth been forgotten?

“And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.” (2 Nephi 28:22)

So how can we get out of hell?  The first suggestion is to do the opposite of what it takes to be successful in this world:

Heber C. Kimball:  “don’t you think you will go to hell if you are not passive?” (JD 1:161)

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

This approach is in total opposition to our modern, Western approach (enter to learn, go forth to earn) in which: “every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength.” (Alma 30:17)  I should know;  I am a Master of Business Administration as defined by our very own Marriott School of Management.  Allowing the philosophies of men to be mingled with scripture produces a strange hybrid (apostate) worldview that equates heavenly approval with material success here in hell.  That’s why we and the Lord define the term “prosper” in totally opposite ways:

“And he hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” (2 Nephi 1:20)  This same teaching, which equates prosperity with entry into God’s presence, is stated seven different times in the Book of Mormon.  See 2 Nephi 1:20, 2 Nephi 4:4, Alma 9:13, Alma 36:30, Alma 37:13, Alma 38:1, and Alma 50:20.  For example, Alma 37:13: “Behold, do ye not remember the words which he spake unto Lehi, saying that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land? And again it is said that: Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.”

We are so infatuated with securing success and comfort in hell that when we see the word “prosper” in the scriptures we tend to focus on garnering material blessings due to our righteousness.  That is not the promise.  The promise is if we are righteous we will literally be able to enter into God’s presence during mortality.  Our current materialistic interpretation is a poor counterfeit of the true blessing God offers.  To guard against this mortal propensity, Jesus clearly taught:

“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13)  We are very much like the ancient Israelites, who resisted Moses’ encouragement to seek the face of God:  “Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. (D&C 84:23-24)

Either we join in the rough and tumble world and get aggressive, assertive, and learn to swim with the sharks to provide enough for a leisurely sojourn here in hell, or we become a submissive follower of Christ whose required character traits and concerns are the exact opposites:

“And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heartIf so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart;” (Moroni 7:43-44)

There is one more element involved in getting out of hell: We must seek the face of God above all else.

“For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.  But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.  This is eternal livesto know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.  Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.” (D&C 132:22-25)

“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;” (D&C 93:1)

“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.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Heber C. Kimball: “I will tell you what will be good for us, and it will bestow upon us all the luxuries of this life, of heaven and earth.  You are talking about heaven and about earth, and about hell, &c.; but let me tell you, you are in hell now, and you have got to qualify yourselves here in hell to become subjects for heaven; and even when you have got into heaven, you will find it right here where you are on this earth.  When we escape from this earth, we suppose we are going to heaven?  Do you suppose you are going to the earth that Adam came from? that Eloheim came from? where Jehovah the Lord came from?  No.  When you have learned to become obedient to the Father that dwells upon this earth, to the Father and God of this earth, and obedient to the messengers He sends–when you have done all that, remember you are not going to leave this earth.  You will never leave it until you become qualified, and capable, and capacitated to become a father of an earth yourselves.  Not one soul of you ever will leave this earth, for if you go to hell, it is on this earth; and if you go to heaven, it is on this earth; and you will not find it anywhere else.  Is it not hard to bring these truths home to you.” Heber C. Kimball, JD 1:354-358 (Heber C. Kimball was one of the original 12 apostles (for 12 years) before becoming Brigham Young’s counselor for 21 years until he died.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith: “St Paul exhorts us to make our Calling & Election shure.  This is that sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places (See Eph 1.13.14  In whom ye also trusted, that after ye heard the work of truth; the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise…That we may be sealed up unto the day of redemption, this principle ought. (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed any thing to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve & even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to–bear them. for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor know ye the Lord for all shall know him (who Remain) from the least to the greatest, How is this to be done?  It is to be done by this sealing power & the other comforter spoken of which will be manifest by Revelation.  There is two Comforters spoken of…This first comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure inteligence.  It is more powerful in expanding the mind enlightening the understanding…The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest & perhaps understood by few of this generation, After a person hath faith in Christ, repents of his sins & is Baptized for the remission of his sins & received the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands) which is the first Comforter then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering & thirsting after Righteousness. & living by every word of God & the Lord will soon say unto him Son thou shalt be exalted.  &c When the Lord has thoroughly proved him & finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazard. then the man will find his calling & Election made sure then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter which the Lord has promised the saints as is recorded in the testimony of St. John in the XIV ch from the 12th to the 27 verses…I will not leave you comfortless.  I will come to you…Now what is this other Comforter?  It is no more or less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself & this is the sum & substance of the whole matter, that when any man obtains this last Comforter he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him or appear unto him from time to time. & even he will manifest the Father unto him & they will take up their abode with him, & the visions of the heaven will be opened unto him & the Lord will teach him face to face & he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God, & this is the state & place the Ancient Saints arrived at when they has such glorious vision Isaiah, Ezekiel,  John upon the Isle of Patmos, St Paul in the third heavens, & all the Saints who held communion with the general Assembly & Church of the First Born &c.

The Spirit of Revelation is in connection with these blessings.  A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the Spirit of Revelation for instance when you feel pure Inteligence flowing unto you it may give you sudden strokes of ideas that by noticeting it you may find it. fulfilled the same day or Soon…” (Word of Joseph Smith, pp. 4-5, from 27 June 1839)

God is not a respecter of persons, we all have the same privilege.  Come to God weary him until he blesses you &c–we are entitled to the same blessings, Jesus, revelations, Just Men &–Angels…Obtain that holy Spirit of promise–Then you can be sealed to Eternal Life.” (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 15, from 5 October 1839)

“For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.  But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.  This is eternal livesto know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.  Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.” (D&C 132:22-25)

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How can we change our hearts?  Can we even do it?  Or does He do it for us when we yield our will to His?  Does truly every good thing come from Christ?  Are we truly unworthy creatures that succeed only when we give up trying to do it ourselves and fully yield to His will and rely solely on the merits of Christ and his infinite atonement?

“Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” (Helaman 3:35)

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.” (1 Nephi 2:16)

“Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.  And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.  And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.” (Alma 5:7,12,13)

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.” (Moroni 7:48)

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It appears that there are ordinances administered by heaven (or specifically, beings from heaven) that we call the mysteries.  They involve seeking the face of God, receiving the second comforter, the testimony of Jesus, being sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, joining the Church of the Firstborn, and being made a king and a priest.

“Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.  This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;  Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—

Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.  Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you.” (D&C 88:3-5,68-69)

“They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, … and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.  They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.  They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—They are they who are priests and kings, … Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (D&C 76:51-59)

“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;” (D&C 93:1)

“Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever.”  (D&C 35:1)

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Once I understood the concept of eternal lives, it became harder to look on heavenly father’s children with contempt.  Believing that God, in his omniscience and omnipotence, has placed me in situations that optimize the likelihood that I would turn to him, how can I look upon others with anything but love and patient long suffering?  I cannot as easily write them off, but am far more likely to reach out and lend a hand because if I do not help lead them back to Christ now, I may well be engaged in the same endeavor in a subsequent mortality.  And there is no better way to help another come unto Christ than to reach out in true love toward them.

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The fulness of the Gospel, the greatest teaching it offers and everything to which it points, is that each can and should seek the face of God in this life.  Elder McKonkie referred to it as the crowning blessing of mortality.  The temple is not that focus; it’s purpose is to point us to the true purpose, which is to pierce the veil personally, in a literal way, and know the Lord literally and not just symbolically.  The temple is a symbol, a metaphor, a pointer, not the point in and of itself (which is the same type of confusion the Jews seems to have allowed to enter into their approach anciently).  It wasn’t the sacrifice of animals per se (or participation in an endowment session) that made them holy, but what that experience would encourage them to do/feel/become in their personal relationship/devotion to God.  This core doctrine would be attacked and eventually lost by the Gentiles (us) in the latter days.  As Jesus taught the Nephites regarding a latter-day doctrinal apostacy: “And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.” (3 Nephi 16:10)

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When I first started researching this topic, I wondered about a quote I’ve heard before from the prophet Joseph stating, in effect, that the telestial kingdom is so much better than this earth that if we knew what it offered we would kill ourselves to get there, which stands in opposition to this doctrine that we actually live in a telestial kingdom today.  I looked myself and consulted knowledgeable friends and could not find it.  It turns out I couldn’t find it because, apparently, it doesn’t exist.  The concept owes itself to the quote below, which appears to be expressing something quite different.  I have read many near-death experiences and the vast majority explain that upon their return to the spirit realm they encounter a transcendent peace based on God’s love which makes them not want to come back to earth life.  That is a function of God’s love, which we can feel now if we will enter into the path.  Once the cares of this mortal realm are taken away, it appears most are fully able to feel and appreciate God’s love much more fully than they can here.  Linked to this is President Brigham Young’s explanation of the location of the spirit world.  He taught: “Where is the spirit world? It is right here” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 376).  Anyway, on with the non-existent quote in question:

“A questionable third-hand account from Charles W. Walker who lived in St. George when Wilford Woodruff was assigned as the St. George temple president in 1877.  (Incidentally, Walker wrote the hymn “Dearest Children, God is Near You.”)  Walker’s journal entry for August 19, 1877 states:

And on Friday last while speaking at the Funeral of Matilda Moody [Brother Woodruff] said we should improve the present time and do all we could for our dead ere death called us away.  He referred 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.

Thus, rather than being a first-hand quote from Joseph Smith, the quote is a paraphrase written by Charles W. Walker two days after he heard Wilford Woodruff recall a statement from Joseph Smith, which would have been spoken at least 33 years earlier.  As a result, the historical veracity of the quote is somewhat questionable.”

Source:  Charles Lowell Walker Diary, 19 Aug. 1877, LDS Church Archives. Published in 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.

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Here are some other quotes regarding eternal lives that I found interesting:

Brigham Young: “Many of the sisters grieve because they are not blessed with offspring.   You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you.  If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations.  You will become Eves to earths like this; and when you have assisted in peopling one earth, there are millions of earths still in the course of creation.” (JD 8:208)

“8 June 1889:  During our talks he (Lorenzo Snow) told me that his sister, the late Eliza R. Snow Smith was a firm believer in the principle of reincarnation and that she claimed to have received it from Joseph the Prophet, her husband.  He said he saw nothing unreasonable in it, and could believe it, if it came to him from the Lord or his oracle.” (Diary of Orson F. Whitney, 8 June 1889, Church Archives) OFS was an apostle from 1906 to his death in 1931

After quoting the 71st Psalm, W. W. Phelps commented about the fact that the children of Israel have lived in the land of Jacob, governed by David as King or Prince, since God by the mouth of Hosea and Ezekiel declared that should be the case in the latter days… Then he wrote:

W.W. Phelps: “The secret of the matter is, that God, in his infinite wisdom prepared the children of promise, the heirs of the Celestial kingdom, to live twice in the flesh on the earth, once in a state of probation; and once in a state of approbation, and this is the reason why Job exclaimed: for I know my Redeemer liveth, and he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Evening and Morning Star, July 1832, p. 14.)

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Can you reach a state of progression where you no longer need to come down to mortal probations, but stay forever in celestial glory, to GO NO MORE OUT?

“And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.” (Helaman 3:30)

This phrase appears quite a few times in the Book of Mormon.

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