2 Nephi 9:15-16 — LeGrand Baker — resurrection and judgment
15 And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God.
16 And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still;
The sequence here is quite explicit: the final judgement really is at the conclusion of all things fo this “age” — first come the clarification by experience and choice, then the resurrection, after that, comes “the holy judgement of God.” So when one stands before God to be judged, one is judged according to the degree of glory of the resurrected body which one brings to that judgment bar.
That asks an extremely important question: If the final judgement is not to assign us to a degree of glory, then how is that assignment made and who makes it? The answer is, of course, each of us judges ourselves. But that seems a bit simplistic, and doesn’t tell when or how. A more accurate, less simplistic, and much less conventional answer may be: the earth is our judge in that it surrenders to us the appropriate elements with which our eternal bodies will be made. Well now, that was unconventional! and will need a good deal of explanation before it makes any sense at all. So before you abandon me as a combined heretic and mad man, let me try to explain my idea about that.
The Saviour’s body, like ours, was made from the elements of this earth. His resurrected body was his natural body made perfect. That is, his resurrected body was also made from the elements of this earth. So it will be with all resurrected bodies: telestial, terrestrial, and celestial bodies are all made up of the elements of this earth. When the earth itself is resurrected, it will be wholly celestial in its own make up.
For a further explanation, we must go to D&C 88.
14 Now, verily I say unto you, that through the redemption which is made for you is brought to pass the resurrection from the dead (D&C 88:14).
After that introduction, the lord begins to explain, not how the resurrection is accomplished, but the criteria upon which each person’s resurrection is determined.
15 And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.
16 And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul (D&C 88:15-16).
There are three categories of meanings of “redemption.” (1) The Greek meanings are to purchase or to ransom. (2) The Hebrew meanings are the same except that it is done by a near relative. (3)
The meaning most frequently used in the Book of Mormon is that to redeem is to be brought into the presence of God (Ether 3:13; 2 Nephi 1:15, 2:2-4; Helaman 14:17-18).
17 And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it (D&C 88:17).
Many biblical scholars agree that the “poor” in the Beatitudes are those who fulfill their religious commitments. These poor will own the kingdom of heaven (Note: It does not say “they shall be citizens in the kingdom,” but rather, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”). That is about priesthood and kingship. The statement that the meek shall inherit the earth is lifted almost verbatim from the Beatitudes. That in turn, comes from Psalms 25 and 37. This should give us a clue that the Beatitudes are a key to understanding all this. The Lord now goes on to explain that the earth itself will be a sanctified celestial world.
18 Therefore, it [the earth] must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory;
19 For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father (D&C 88:18-19).
20 That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified (D&C 88:20).
The idea that the earth was made for the people is only half the idea. The other half is that the people were created to inhabit the celestial earth. It is apparent that neither without the other is complete. The earth will be a great urim and thummim to those celestial persons who possess it. (D&C 130:9)
21 And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.
25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law– (D&C 88:21-24).
I suspect that the same criterion applies to people as well: that is, those who inherit the celestial earth are those who “filleth the measure of (their) creation, and transgresseth not the law.”
26 Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.
27 For notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual [resurrected] body.
28 They who are [present tense] of a celestial spirit shall receive [future tense] the same body which was [past tense] a natural body; even ye shall receive [future tense] your bodies, and your glory shall be [future tense] that glory by which your bodies are quickened [present tense] (D&C 88:26-28).
Thus, the Lord equates the full glory of the body one receives when it one is quickened (resurrected), with the partial glory one has while living on this earth. The Lord now reiterates that in terms so straightforward that he cannot be misunderstood.
29 Ye who are quickened [present tense] by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive [future tense] of the same, even a fulness (D&C 88:30).
That is, the glory which partially quickens ones body now, will be the glory which quickens it in the resurrection. To show that the law is universal, the Lord repeats himself as he describes the resurrection of those in the terrestrial and telestial glories.
30 And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
31 And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
33 For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift(D&C 88:30-33).
The Lord’s next statement comes as close to describing the ‘how’ of the resurrection as one can find in the scriptures:
34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.
35 That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still (D&C: 88:13-35).
As I read that scripture, it says there are people walking about in this world who are essentially celestial people. Yet, all one has to do is look at them to know they are not entirely celestial. They look old and tired just like everyone else. I think that is a major reason for the blessing of death. It lets the spirit leave the body which is not entirely compatible with its own spiritual nature. Then, at the resurrection, it picks those portions of its body which are entirely compatible. I think that is what Brigham Young meant when he said,
In the resurrection everything that is necessary will be brought from the elements to clothe and to beautify the resurrected Saints who will receive their reward (Journal of Discourses 9:192).
I suppose, then, that there are not only celestial type people walking about, but also terrestrial and telestial types of people among us. We will all die, then at the resurrection, when “everything that is necessary will be brought from the elements,” we will each pick up those elements of our body which are compatible with our spirit.
Thus clothed in our resurrected body, we will be presented to the Lord. Those whose glory is compatible with his, will remain with him. Those who have some lesser glory, will go where they are most comfortable. At least, that’s how I understand it.