Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that when people die, they do not cease to exist, but they move on to an eternal reward—life after death.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
As the scriptures say, life after death is meant as a reward for those who love God. Because God loves His children, He will reward them as much as they deserve. He is also just, and will provide an equal opportunity for all of His children to obtain their reward.
For those who have lived righteous lives, life after death is a time of progression and growth, free from the pain and sorrow of a mortal life. It is also a time when families and friends will be reunited, never again to be separated.
The First Stop in Life after Death: The Spirit World
At death, our spirits separate from our physical bodies. Immediately afterwards, our spirits enter the spirit world, a place that has two parts: spirit paradise and spirit prison. Those who have been righteous during their lives enter spirit paradise, which is a place of beauty where they rest from the cares of the world. Those who were wicked or who never had the chance of hearing the word of God while living enter spirit prison.
God loves all His children and wants each one to have a chance to accept or reject His word. For this reason, the spirits in spirit paradise teach the spirits in spirit prison and offer them a choice to accept the word of God. Those who accept can be freed from spirit prison. Living people can perform necessary steps, such as baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, on behalf of people in the spirit world. This is done in holy temples. This combination of the work of those in the spirit world and those still living allows everyone to have an equal opportunity to accept or reject God’s word before their final judgment.
Degrees of Glory
Jesus taught: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
In life after death, each person is ultimately assigned a reward based on the kind of person he or she has become. This can be compared to a ‘mansion’ or a place to live. This eternal reward is made possible by the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice is also known as the Atonement.
Christ’s Atonement grants us salvation in two ways:
1. Deliverance from physical death through resurrection
2. Deliverance from spiritual death through forgiveness.
Physical death is the separation of spirit and body and happens to everyone. Because of Christ’s resurrection, all people will be resurrected. This means that their spirits will be reunited with a perfect physical body. This comes to all people, no matter what kind of lives they have lived.
Spiritual death occurs when a person is separated from God’s presence. The scriptures teach that “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) No matter how well each person lives his or her life, they will not be able to return to God by themselves.
Instead, we are taught that “…it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23) This grace comes from Jesus Christ and allows the righteous to overcome spiritual death. Through Christ’s grace, we can return to God despite our imperfections. Unlike overcoming physical death, overcoming spiritual death comes only to those who have become righteous people by following Christ’s example. Thus, it is a combination of a person’s good works and the grace of Jesus Christ that allow him or her to overcome spiritual death.
There are three different kingdoms in life after death. People will be judged by God according to how each lived on the earth. They will be assigned to one of these kingdoms.
The Apostle Paul talked about these kingdoms in a letter to the Corinthians. Here he compares them to heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon, and stars:
There are also celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: (1 Corinthians 15:40-42)
The celestial kingdom is compared to the light of the sun, which is the brightest thing in the earthly sky. These are the most righteous who “shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:62)
The terrestrial kingdom is compared to the light of the moon, which is only a dim reflection of that of the sun. These are “…they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men,” and who were not as faithful during life. (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:75)
The telestial kingdom is compared to the light of the stars, which pale in comparison to the light of the sun and moon. “These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus.” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:82)
The Purpose of Life after Death: Eternal Progression
Because of Christ’s resurrection, all mankind will be resurrected. This means that our spirits will be reunited with a perfected version of our mortal bodies. The power of God allows the righteous to be bound together as families even after death. “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:2)
Every good and wholesome thing we enjoy about our mortal existence, including the relationships we share with family and friends, will remain intact. These things will then be made even more wonderful than we can now imagine.
Jesus has also promised us that we will be joint heirs of God with Him. This means we will inherit everything God has to offer. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”(Romans 8:16-18)
These wonderful promises assure us that no matter the trials of life, it is worth it to be faithful.
More about “Life after Death”
“Life after Death” was written by Michael D. Young. The subject “Life after Death” is important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you would like to know more about Mormons with no obligation, please click on the following links: