GraceWatcher's Mormon and Biblical Studies

Second coming of Jesus, Gathering of the house of Israel, the Millennium,
postmortal spirit world, the last judgement

This information has been condensed from Gospel Principles,
an official study manuel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

SIGNS OF THE SECOND COMING

 Jesus Christ Will Return to the Earth

The Savior told Joseph Smith, "I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory . . . and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand" (D&C 29:11; see also chapters 43 and 44, "The Second Coming of Jesus Christ" and "The Millennium"). Jesus has told us that certain signs and events will warn us when the time of his second coming is near. This second coming is also called "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (D&C 110:16).
 

Signs Will Tell Us of Jesus' Coming

For thousands of years, followers of Jesus have looked forward to the Second Coming as a time of peace and joy. But before the Savior comes, the people of the earth will experience great trials and calamities. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be prepared for these troubles. He also expects us to be spiritually ready when the Savior comes in his glory. Therefore, he has given us signs, which are events that will tell us when the Savior's second coming is near. Throughout the ages God has revealed these signs to his prophets. He has said that all faithful followers of Christ will know what the signs are and will be watching for them (see D&C 45:39). If we are obedient and faithful, we will study the scriptures and know of the signs.
 

What Are the Signs Foretelling Jesus Christ's Coming?

Some of the signs foretelling the second coming of Jesus Christ have already been or are now being fulfilled. Others will be fulfilled in the future.

Wickedness, War, and Turmoil

Many of the signs are terrifying and dreadful. The prophets have warned that the earth will experience great turmoil, wickedness, war, and suffering. The prophet Daniel said that the time before the Second Coming would be a time of trouble such as the earth has never known (see Daniel 12:1). The Lord said, "The love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound" (D&C 45:27). "And all things shall be in commotion; and . . . fear shall come upon all people" (D&C 88:91). We can expect earthquakes, disease, famines, great storms, lightnings, and thunder (see Matthew 24:7; D&C 88:90). Hailstorms will destroy the crops of the earth (see D&C 29:16).

Jesus told his disciples that war would fill the earth: "Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. . . . For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (Matthew 24:6-7). These wars will continue until a great and final war, the most destructive the world has known. In the midst of this war the Savior will appear. (See Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 732.)

Many of these signs are being fulfilled. Wickedness is everywhere. Nations are constantly at war. Earthquakes and other calamities are occurring. Many people now suffer from devastating storms, drought, hunger, and diseases. We can be certain that these calamities will become more severe before the Lord comes.

However, not all the events preceding the Second Coming are dreadful. Many of them bring joy to the world.

The Restoration of the Gospel

The Lord said, "Light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel" (D&C 45:28). Prophets of old foretold the restoration of the gospel. The Apostle John saw that the gospel would be restored by an angel (see Revelation 14:6-7). In fulfillment of this prophecy, the angel Moroni and other heavenly visitors brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith.

The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon

The Lord told the Nephites of another sign: the Book of Mormon would come to their descendants (see 3 Nephi 21). In Old Testament times the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel foresaw the coming of the Book of Mormon (see Isaiah 29:4-18; Ezekiel 37:16-20). These prophecies are now being fulfilled. The Book of Mormon has been brought forth and is being taken to all the world.

The Gospel Preached to All the World

Another sign of Jesus' coming is that the "gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations" (Matthew 24:14). All people will hear the fulness of the gospel in their own language (see D&C 90:11). Ever since the restoration of the Church, missionaries have preached the gospel. The missionary effort has increased until now tens of thousands of missionaries preach in many countries of the world in many languages. Before the Second Coming, the Lord will provide a way to bring the truth to all nations.

The Coming of Elijah

The prophet Malachi predicted that before Christ came the second time, the prophet Elijah would visit the earth. Elijah would restore the sealing powers so families could be sealed together. He would also inspire people to be concerned about their ancestors and descendants (see Malachi 4:5-6; D&C 2). The prophet Elijah came to Joseph Smith in April 1836. Since that time, interest in genealogy and family history has grown rapidly. We are also able to perform sealing ordinances in the temples for the living and the dead.

The Lamanites Will Become a Great People

The Lord said that when his coming was near, the Lamanites would become a righteous and respected people. He said, "Before the great day of the Lord shall come, . . . the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose" (D&C 49:24). Great numbers of Lamanites in North and South America and the South Pacific are now receiving the blessings of the gospel.

Building of the New Jerusalem

Near the time of the coming of Jesus, the faithful Saints will build a righteous city, a city of God, called the New Jerusalem. Jesus Christ himself will rule there. (See 3 Nephi 21:23-25.) The Lord said the city will be built in the state of Missouri in the United States (see D&C 84:3-4).

These are only a few of the signs that the Lord has given us. The scriptures describe many more.

 

Knowing the Signs of the Times Can Help Us

No one except our Heavenly Father knows exactly when the Lord will come. The Savior taught this with the parable of the fig tree. He said that when we see a fig tree putting forth leaves, we can tell that summer will soon come. Likewise, when we see the signs described in the scriptures, we can know that his coming is near. (See Matthew 24:32-33.)

The Lord gave these signs to help us. We can put our lives in order and prepare ourselves and our families for those things yet to come.

We do not need to worry about the calamities but can look forward to the coming of the Savior and be glad. The Lord said, "Be not troubled, for, when all these things [the signs] shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled" (D&C 45:35). He said those who are righteous when he comes will not be destroyed "but shall abide the day. And the earth shall be given them for an inheritance; . . . and their children shall grow up without sin. . . . For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver" (D&C 45:57-59). 

Additional Scriptures


The Gathering of the Hosue of Israel

The House of Israel Are God's Covenant People

Jacob was a great prophet who lived hundreds of years before the time of Christ. Because Jacob was faithful, the Lord gave him the special name of Israel, which means "a prince of God" (see Genesis 32:28). Jacob had twelve sons. These sons and their families became known as the twelve tribes of Israel, or Israelites (see Genesis 49:28).

Jacob was a grandson of Abraham. The Lord made an everlasting covenant with Abraham that was renewed with Jacob and his children (see Deuteronomy 32:7-9; see also chapter 15, "The Lord's Covenant People"). God promised that the Israelites would be his covenant people as long as they would obey his commandments (see Deuteronomy 28:9-10). They would be a blessing to all the nations of the world by taking the gospel and the priesthood to them. Thus, they would keep their covenant with the Lord and he would keep his covenant with them.
 

The House of Israel Was Scattered

Again and again prophets of the Lord warned the house of Israel what would happen if they were wicked. Moses prophesied, "And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other" (Deuteronomy 28:64).

Gradually the Israelites began to break the commandments of God. They fought among themselves and split into two kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom, called the kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, called the kingdom of Judah. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel lived in the Northern Kingdom. During a war they were conquered by their enemies and carried away into captivity. Some of them later escaped into the lands of the north and became lost to the rest of the world.

About one hundred years after the capture of the Northern Kingdom, the Southern Kingdom was conquered. The capital city of Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C., and the remaining two tribes of Israel were taken captive. Later, some of the members of these tribes returned and rebuilt Jerusalem. Just before Jerusalem was destroyed, Lehi and his family left the city and settled in the Americas. The Lamanites are descendants of Lehi's people.

After the time of Christ, Jerusalem was again destroyed, this time by Roman soldiers. The Jews were scattered over much of the world. Today Israelites are found in all countries of the world. Many of these people do not know that they are descended from the ancient house of Israel.
 

The House of Israel Must Be Gathered

The Lord promised that the Israelites, his covenant people, would someday be gathered: "I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them" (Jeremiah 23:3).

The Lord has some important reasons for gathering the Israelites. The people of Israel need to learn the teachings of the gospel and prepare themselves to meet the Savior when he comes again. The Israelites have the responsibility of building temples and performing sacred ordinances for ancestors who died without having this opportunity. The covenant people of God must take the gospel to all nations. They must fulfill the covenant to be a blessing to all the world.

The power and authority to direct the work of gathering the house of Israel was given to Joseph Smith by the prophet Moses, who appeared in 1836 in the Kirtland Temple (see D&C 110:11). Since that time, each prophet has held the keys for the gathering of the house of Israel, and this gathering has been an important part of the Church's work. The house of Israel is now being gathered as they accept the restored gospel and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Deuteronomy 30:1-5).
 

How Will the House of Israel Be Gathered?

The Israelites are to be gathered spiritually first and then physically. They are gathered spiritually when they join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This spiritual gathering began during the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith and continues today all over the world. Converts to the Church are Israelites either by blood or adoption. They belong to the family of Abraham and Jacob (see Abraham 2:9-11; Galatians 3:26-29).

President Joseph Fielding Smith said: "There are many nations represented in the . . . Church. . . . They have come because the Spirit of the Lord rested upon them; . . . receiving the spirit of gathering, they have left everything for the sake of the gospel" (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:256).

The physical gathering of Israel means that the Israelites will be "gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise" (see 2 Nephi 9:2). The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh will be gathered to the land of America. The tribe of Judah will return to the city of Jerusalem and the area surrounding it. The ten lost tribes will receive from the tribe of Ephraim their promised blessings (see D&C 133:26-35).

When the Church was first established, the Saints were instructed to gather in Ohio, then Missouri, and then the Salt Lake Valley. Today, however, modern prophets have taught that Church members are to build up the kingdom of God in their own lands. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:

"Every stake on earth is the gathering place for the lost sheep of Israel who live in its area.


"The gathering place for Peruvians is in the stakes of Zion in Peru, or in the places which soon will become stakes. The gathering place for Chileans is in Chile; for Bolivians it is in Bolivia; for Koreans it is in Korea; and so it goes through all the length and breadth of the earth. Scattered Israel in every nation is called to gather to the fold of Christ, to the stakes of Zion, as such are established in their nations" ("Come: Let Israel Build Zion," Ensign, May 1977, p. 118).

The physical gathering of Israel will not be complete until the second coming of the Savior (see Joseph Smith--Matthew 1:37). Then the Lord's promise will be fulfilled:

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;

"But, the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers" (Jeremiah 16:14-15).
 

Additional Scriptures



The Second Coming of Jesus


Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus and his Apostles were gathered together on the Mount of Olives. The time had come for Jesus to leave the earth. He had completed all the work that he had to do at that time. He was to return to our Heavenly Father until the time of his second coming.

After he had instructed his Apostles, Jesus ascended into heaven. While the Apostles looked up into the heavens, two angels stood beside them and said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go" (Acts 1:11).

From that time until the present day, the followers of Jesus Christ have looked forward to the Second Coming.
 

What Will Jesus Do When He Comes Again?
When Jesus Christ comes again to the earth, he will do the following things:
  1. He will cleanse the earth. When Jesus comes again, he will come in power and great glory. At that time the wicked will be destroyed. All things that are corrupt will be burned, and the earth will be cleansed by fire (see D&C 101:24-25).

  2. He will judge his people (see chapter 46, "The Last Judgment"). When Jesus comes again, he will judge the nations and will divide the righteous from the wicked (see Matthew 25:31-46). John the Revelator wrote about this judgment: "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God . . . and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." The wicked he saw "lived not again until the thousand years were finished" (Revelation 20:4-5; see also D&C 88:95-98).

  3. He will usher in the Millennium. The Millennium is the thousand-year period when Jesus will reign on the earth. At the beginning of this period of time, the righteous will be caught up to meet Jesus at his coming. His coming will begin the millennial reign. (See chapter 44, "The Millennium.")

    Brigham Young said:

    "In the Millennium, when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth in power, glory and perfection, and the reign of wickedness that has so long prevailed is subdued, the Saints of God will have the privilege of building their temples, and of entering into them, becoming, as it were, pillars in the temples of God, and they will officiate for their dead. . . . And we will have revelations to know our fore fathers clear back to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and we will enter into the temples of God and officiate for them. Then man will be sealed to man until the chain is made perfect back to Adam, so that there will be a perfect chain of Priesthood from Adam to the winding-up scene" (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 116).

  4. He will complete the Resurrection. Those who have obtained the privilege of coming forth in the Resurrection of the Just will rise from their graves. They will be caught up to meet the Savior as he comes down from heaven.

    After Jesus Christ rose from the dead, other righteous people who had died were also resurrected. They appeared in Jerusalem and also on the American continent (see Matthew 27:52-53; 3 Nephi 23:9). This was the beginning of the First Resurrection. Some people have been resurrected since then. Those who already have been resurrected and those who will be resurrected at the time of his coming will all inherit the glory of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 76:50-70).

    After the beginning of the Millennium, those who will receive a terrestrial glory will be resurrected (see D&C 88:99; D&C 76:71-80). When all these people have been resurrected, the First Resurrection will be completed.

    The wicked who are living at the time of the second coming of the Lord will be destroyed in the flesh. They, along with the wicked who are already dead, will have to wait until the end of the Millennium before they can come forth from their graves. At the end of the Millennium, the Second Resurrection will take place. All of the remaining dead will rise to meet God. They will either inherit the telestial kingdom or be cast into outer darkness with Satan (see D&C 76:32-33, 81-112).

  5. He will take his rightful place as king of heaven and earth. When Jesus comes, he will establish his government on the earth. The Church will become part of that kingdom. He will rule all the people of the earth in peace for a thousand years.

    When Jesus Christ first came to the earth, he did not come in glory. He was born in a lowly stable and laid in a manger of hay. He did not come with great armies as the Jews had expected of their Savior. Instead, he came saying, "Love your enemies, . . . do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you" (Matthew 5:44). He was rejected and crucified. But he will not be rejected at his second coming, "for every ear shall hear it, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess" that Jesus is the Christ (D&C 88:104). He will be greeted as "Lord of Lords and King of Kings." He will be called "Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).


How Will We Know When Jesus' Coming Is Near?

When Jesus was born, very few people knew that the Savior of the world had come. When he comes again, there will be no doubt who he is. No one knows the exact time that the Savior will come again. "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36).

The Lord used a parable to give us an idea of the time of his coming:

"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

"So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors" (Mark 13:28-29).

The Lord has also given us some signs to let us know when his coming is near. After revealing the signs, he cautioned:

"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. . . .

"Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:42-44).

For more information about how we will know when Jesus' second coming is near, see chapter 41, "Signs of the Second Coming."
 

We Can Be Ready When the Savior Comes

The best way we can prepare for the Savior's coming is to accept the teachings of the gospel and make them part of our lives. We should live each day the best we can, just as Jesus taught when he was on the earth. We can look to the prophet for guidance and follow his counsel. We can live worthy to have the Holy Ghost guide us. Then we will look forward to the Savior's coming with happiness and not with fear. The Lord said: "Fear not, little flock, the kingdom is yours until I come. Behold, I come quickly. Even so. Amen" (D&C 35:27).
 

Additional Scriptures

  • John 14:2-3; Matthew 26:64 (Jesus to prepare a place and come again)
  • Malachi 3:2-3; 4:1; D&C 64:23-25 (earth to be burned)
  • D&C 133:41-51 (wicked to be destroyed)
  • Matthew 13:40-43 (the Judgment predicted)
  • Romans 2:6-9; Revelation 20:12-13 (the Judgment)
  • 1 Corinthians 15:40-42; D&C 78; 88:17-35 (degrees of glory)
  • 2 Corinthians 12:2 (a man was caught up to the third heaven)
  • D&C 43:29-30; 29:11 (the Savior's coming will usher in the Millennium)
  • Articles of Faith 1:10 (Jesus to reign)
  • Alma 11:43-44; Alma 40 (the Resurrection explained)
  • Helaman 14:25 (the dead to rise)
  • Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15; 1 Nephi 22:24-26 (Jesus to reign as King)

THE MILLENNIUM

A thousand years of peace, love, and joy will begin on the earth at the second coming of Jesus Christ. This thousand-year period is called the Millennium. It will be the final thousand years of the earth's temporal existence. The scriptures and the prophets help us understand what it will be like to live on the earth during the Millennium.

Who Will Be on Earth during the Millennium?

Only righteous people will live on the earth during the Millennium. They will be those who have lived virtuous and honest lives. These people will inherit either the terrestrial or celestial kingdom.

During the Millennium, mortals will still live on earth, and they will continue to have children as we do now (see D&C 45:58). Joseph Smith said that immortal beings will frequently visit the earth. These resurrected beings will help with the government and other work. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 268.)

Brigham Young taught that there will be nonmembers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living on earth as well as members. People will still have their agency, and for a time many will continue to believe their false religions and ideas. Eventually everyone will accept Jesus Christ as the Savior. (See Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Latter-day Prophets Speak, pp. 261-62.)

During the Millennium, Jesus will "reign personally upon the earth" (Articles of Faith 1:10). Joseph Smith explained that Jesus and the resurrected Saints will probably not live on the earth all the time but will visit whenever they please or when necessary to help in the governing of the earth (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 268).
 

What Will Be Done during the Millennium?

There will be two great works for members of the Church during the Millennium: temple work and missionary work. Temple work involves the ordinances that are necessary for exaltation. These include baptism, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the temple ordinances--the endowment, temple marriage, and the sealing together of family units.

Many people have died without receiving these ordinances. People on the earth must perform these ordinances for them. This work is now being done in the temples of the Lord. There is too much work to finish before the Millennium begins, so it will be completed during that time. Resurrected beings will help us correct the mistakes we have made in doing research concerning our dead ancestors. They will also help us find the information we need to complete our records.

The other great work during the Millennium will be missionary work. The gospel will be taught with great power to all people. Eventually there will be no need to teach others the first principles of the gospel because "they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 31:34).
 

Conditions during the Millennium

The earth will again be as it was when Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden (see Articles of Faith 1:10). The whole earth will be a delightful garden. There will not be different continents as we have now, but the land will be gathered in one place as it was in the beginning (see D&C 133:23-24).

Satan Bound

During the Millennium, Satan will be bound. This means he will not have power to tempt those who are living at that time (see D&C 101:28). The "children shall grow up without sin unto salvation" (D&C 45:58). "Because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth" (1 Nephi 22:26).

Peace on the Earth

During the Millennium, there will be no war. People will live in peace and harmony together. Everything that has been used for war will be turned to useful purposes. "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4).

Righteous Government

Jesus Christ will not only lead the Church during the Millennium, but he will also be in charge of the political government. This government will be based on principles of righteousness and will preserve the basic rights and freedoms of all people. Mortals, both members of the Church and nonmembers, will hold government positions (see Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 2:310). They will receive help from resurrected beings. At this time there will be two capitals in the world, one in Jerusalem, the other in America (see Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:66-72). "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).

No Disease or Death

Even though mortals will live on the earth during the Millennium, they will not have diseases as we do now. There will be no death as we know it. When people have lived to an old age, they will not die and be buried. Instead, they will be changed from their mortal condition to an immortal condition in an instant (see D&C 63:51; 101:29-31).

All Things Revealed

Some truths have not been revealed to us. These will be revealed during the Millennium. The Lord said he will "reveal all things--things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof--things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven" (D&C 101:32-34).

Changes in the Animal Kingdom

The animal kingdom will also be at peace. All animals, even those that are now enemies, will live together in harmony. Animals that now eat flesh will eat grass and grain (see Isaiah 11:6-7).

Other Millennial Activities

In many ways, life will be much as it is now, except that everything will be done in righteousness. People will eat and drink and will wear clothing (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 115). People will continue to plant and harvest crops and build houses (see Isaiah 65:21).
 

One Final Struggle after the Millennium

At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be set free for a short time. Some people will turn away from Heavenly Father. Satan will gather his armies, and Michael (Adam) will gather the hosts of heaven. In this great struggle, Satan and his followers will be cast out forever. Then will come the final judgment, and all people will be assigned to the kingdoms they will have prepared for by the way they have lived. The earth will be changed into a celestial kingdom (see D&C 29:22-29; 88:17-20, 110-15).

Additional Scriptures

  • Zechariah 14:4-9; 1 Nephi 22:24-26 (Jesus to reign on earth)
  • Daniel 7:27 (Saints to be given the kingdom)
  • D&C 88:87-110 (conditions during the Millennium)
  • Revelation 20:1-3; 2 Nephi 30:10-18 (Satan to be bound)
  • D&C 101:22-31 (enmity to cease; no death; Satan to have no power to tempt)
  • Isaiah 11:1-9 (wolf and lamb to dwell together)
  • D&C 43:31; Revelation 20:7-10 (Satan loosed to gather forces)

The Postmortal Spirit World

Heavenly Father prepared a plan for our salvation. As part of this plan, he sent us from his presence to live on earth and receive mortal bodies of flesh and blood. Eventually our mortal bodies will die, and our spirits will go to the spirit world. The spirit world is a place of waiting, working, learning, and resting from care and sorrow. Our spirits will live there until we are ready for our resurrection. Then our mortal bodies will once more unite with our spirits, and we will receive the degree of glory we have prepared for (see chapter 46, "The Last Judgment").

Many of us have wondered what the spirit world is like. The scriptures and latter-day prophets have given us information about the spirit world.
 

Where Is the Spirit World?

In a funeral sermon, Joseph Smith declared that the spirits of righteous people who have died "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). Other latter-day prophets have made similar statements. President Ezra Taft Benson said: "Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 18; or Ensign, June 1971, p. 33). President Brigham Young said: "Where is the spirit world? It is right here" (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 376).
 

What Are Spirits Like?

Spirit beings have the same bodily form as mortals except that the spirit body is in perfect form (see Ether 3:16). Spirits carry with them from earth their attitudes of devotion or antagonism toward things of righteousness (see Alma 34:34). They have the same appetites and desires that they had when they lived on earth. All spirits are in adult form. They were adults before their mortal existence, and they are in adult form after death, even if they die as infants or children (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 455).

Read Ether 3:16. What do spirit bodies look like?
Divisions in the Spirit World

The prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon taught about two divisions or states in the spirit world:

"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--for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house--and 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, being led captive by the will of the devil.

"Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection" (Alma 40:12-14).

The spirits are classified according to the purity of their lives and their obedience to the will of the Lord while on earth. The righteous and the wicked are separated (see 1 Nephi 15:28-30), but the spirits may progress from one level to another as they learn gospel principles and live in accordance with them (see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 762).
 

Paradise

According to the prophet Alma, the righteous spirits rest from earthly care and sorrow. Nevertheless, they are occupied in doing the work of the Lord. President Joseph F. Smith saw in a vision that immediately after Jesus Christ was crucified, he visited the righteous in the spirit world. He appointed messengers, gave them power and authority, and commissioned them to "carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men" (D&C 138:30).

The Church is organized in the spirit world, with each prophet standing at the head of his own generation (see Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:209). Priesthood holders continue their responsibilities in the spirit world. President Wilford Woodruff taught: "The same Priesthood exists on the other side of the veil. . . . 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" (in Journal of Discourses, 22:333-34).

Family relationships are also important. President Jedediah M. Grant, a counselor to Brigham Young, saw the spirit world and described to Heber C. Kimball the organization that exists there: "He said that the people he there saw were organized in family capacities. . . . He said, 'When I looked at families, there was a deficiency in some, . . . for I saw families that would not be permitted to come and dwell together, because they had not honored their calling here' " (Heber C. Kimball, in Journal of Discourses, 4:135-36).
 

Spirit Prison

The Apostle Peter referred to the spirit world as a prison, which it is for some (see 1 Peter 3:18-20). In the spirit prison are the spirits of those who have not yet received the gospel of Jesus Christ. These spirits have agency and may be enticed by both good and evil. If they accept the gospel and the ordinances performed for them in the temples, they may prepare themselves to leave the spirit prison and dwell in paradise.

Also in the spirit prison are those who rejected the gospel after it was preached to them on earth or in the spirit prison. These spirits suffer in a condition known as hell. They have removed themselves from the mercy of Jesus Christ, who said, "Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit" (D&C 19:16-18). After suffering in full for their sins, they will be allowed to inherit the lowest degree of glory, which is the telestial kingdom.

The hell in the spirit world will not continue forever. Even the spirits who have committed the greatest sins will have suffered sufficiently by the end of the Millennium (see Acts 2:25-27). They will then be resurrected.
 

Additional Scriptures

  • 1 Peter 4:6 (gospel preached to the dead)
  • Moses 7:37-39 (spirit prison prepared for the wicked)
  • D&C 76 (revelation about the three kingdoms of glory)
  • Luke 16:19-31 (fate of beggar and rich man in the spirit world)

THE LAST JUDGMENT
 


Judgments of God


We are often told in the scriptures that the day will come when we will stand before God and be judged. We need to understand how judgment takes place so we can be better prepared for this important event.

The scriptures teach that all of us will be judged according to our works: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" (Revelation 20:12; see also D&C 76:111; 1 Nephi 15:32; Abraham 3:25-28).

In this scripture, John the Revelator is referring to the Final Judgment. This judgment is the last in a long series of judgments. In the premortal life all spirits who were judged worthy were allowed to receive a body and come to earth. Here on earth we are often judged as to our worthiness to receive opportunities within the kingdom of God. When we are baptized we are judged worthy to receive this ordinance. When we are called to serve in the Church or interviewed for a priesthood advancement or a temple recommend, we are judged.

Alma taught that when we die our spirits are assigned to a state of happiness or of misery (see Alma 40:11-15). This is a partial judgment.
 

Our Words, Works, and Thoughts Are Used to Judge Us

The prophet Alma testified, "Our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; . . . and our thoughts will also condemn us" (Alma 12:14).

The Lord said: "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37).

Only through faith in Jesus Christ can we be prepared for the Final Judgment. Through faithful discipleship to him and repentance of all our sins, we can be forgiven for our sins and become pure and holy so that we can dwell in the presence of God. As we repent of our sins, giving up every impure thought and act, the Holy Ghost will change our hearts so we no longer have even the desire to sin. Then when we are judged, we will be found ready to enter into God's presence.

 

We Will Be Judged by Records

The Prophet Joseph Smith said that the dead will be judged out of records kept on earth. We will also be judged out of the "book of life," which is kept in heaven (see D&C 128:6-8).

"We are going to be judged out of the things written in books, out of the revelations of God, out of the temple records, out of those things which the Lord has commanded us to keep. . . . There will be the record in heaven which is a perfect record" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:200).

There is another record that will be used to judge us. The Apostle Paul taught that we ourselves are the most complete record of our life (see Romans 2:15; 2 Corinthians 3:1-3). Stored in our body and mind is a complete history of everything we have done. President John Taylor taught this truth: "[The individual] tells the story himself, and bears witness against himself. . . . That record that is written by the man himself in the tablets of his own mind--that record that cannot lie--will in that day be unfolded before God and angels, and those who sit as judges" (Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Latter-day Prophets Speak, pp. 56-57).
 

Those Who Will Judge

The Apostle John taught that "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22). The Son, in turn, will call upon others to assist in the Judgment. The Twelve who were with him in his ministry will judge the twelve tribes of Israel (see Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30). The Nephite Twelve will judge the Nephite and Lamanite people (see 1 Nephi 12:9-10; Mormon 3:18-19). President John Taylor said the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles in our own dispensation will also judge us (see The Mediation and Atonement, p. 157).
 

Assignment to Glories

At the Final Judgment we will be assigned to the kingdom for which we are prepared. We will be sent to one of four places: the celestial kingdom (the highest degree of glory), the terrestrial kingdom (the second degree), the telestial kingdom (the lowest degree), or outer darkness (the kingdom of the devil--not a degree of glory).

In Doctrine and Covenants 76, the Lord described the ways we can choose to live our mortal lives. He explained that our choices will determine which of the four kingdoms we are prepared for. We learn from this revelation that even members of the Church will inherit different kingdoms because they will not be equally faithful and valiant in their obedience to Christ.

The following are the kinds of lives we can choose to live and the kingdoms our choices will obtain for us.

Celestial

"They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized, . . . that by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit." These are they who overcome the world by their faith. They are just and true so that the Holy Ghost can seal their blessings upon them. (See D&C 76:51-53.) Those who inherit the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, who become gods, must also have been married for eternity in the temple (see D&C 131:1-4). All who inherit the celestial kingdom will live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ forever (see D&C 76:62).

Terrestrial

These are they who rejected the gospel on earth but afterward received it in the spirit world. These are the honorable people on the earth who were blinded to the gospel of Jesus Christ by the craftiness of men. These are also they who received the gospel and a testimony of Jesus but then were not valiant. They will be visited by Jesus Christ but not by our Heavenly Father. (See D&C 76:73-79.) They will not be part of eternal families; they will live separately and singly forever (see D&C 131:1-4).

Telestial

These people did not receive the gospel or the testimony of Jesus either on earth or in the spirit world. They will suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millennium, when they will be resurrected. "These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie." These people are as numerous as the stars in heaven and the sand on the seashore. They will be visited by the Holy Ghost but not by the Father or the Son. (See D&C 76:81-86, 103-6.)

Outer Darkness

These are they who had testimonies of Jesus through the Holy Ghost and knew the power of the Lord but allowed Satan to overcome them. They denied the truth and defied the power of the Lord. There is no forgiveness for them, for they denied the Holy Spirit after having received it. They will not have a kingdom of glory. They will live in eternal darkness, torment, and misery with Satan and his angels forever. (See D&C 76:28-35, 44-48.)
 

We Should Prepare Now for Judgment

In reality, every day is a day of judgment. We speak, think, and act according to celestial, terrestrial, or telestial law. Our faith in Jesus Christ, as shown by our daily actions, determines which kingdom we will inherit.

We have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness. The gospel is the law of the celestial kingdom. All the priesthood ordinances necessary for our progression have been revealed. We have entered the waters of baptism and have made a covenant to live Christlike lives. If we are faithful and keep the covenants we have made, the Lord has told us what our judgment will be. He will say unto us: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34).
 

Additional Scriptures

  • D&C 88:98-102 (sounding of the trumps of judgment)
  • Alma 11:41, 45; Mormon 7:6; 9:13-14 (we are judged in a resurrected state)
  • 2 Nephi 29:11; 3 Nephi 27:23-26 (books used in the Judgment)
  • Alma 41:2-7 (our judgment is determined by our works, the desires of our hearts, repentance, enduring to the end)
  • Mormon 3:22 (repent and prepare to stand before the judgment seat)
  • Luke 12:47-48; D&C 82:3 (of whom much is given, much is required)
  • D&C 88:16-33 (we each receive that for which we are worthy)