Alma 41:2, LeGrand Baker, “Restored to their proper order”
2 I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.
“Restored to their proper order”
“Order” is a multifaceted word. In this context it apparently means reuniting one’s body and spirit, but even that asks more questions than it answers. Verses 3-8 tell us that “order” also has to do with how the quality of one’s soul determines the quality of one’s resurrected body.
Today I have tried to explore that question, primarily by examining D&C 88, but also reading what some of the brethren have said about that. I think you will especially enjoy President Wilford Woodruff’s description of the clothing worn by resurrected persons.
In Alma 41, “soul” is clearly a reference to the premortal spirit that occupies the physical body. However, in D&C 88 the Lord uses that word differently, and clarifies the difference:
(Doctrine and Covenants 88:15-16)
5 And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.
16 And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.
In the Book of Mormon redemption means to be brought into the presence of God. As Samuel the Lamanite explained:
17 But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.
18 Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire; and there cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness (Helaman 14:17-18).
Alma and Mormon taught the same principle.
23 But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice (Alma 42:23).
6 And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment-seat (Mormon 7:6).
Section 88 explains that the quality of one’s resurrected body determines which of the three degrees of glory one will inherit:
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 [the earth].
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;
20 That bodies [resurrected persons whose bodies are celestial] who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it [the earth] made and created, and for this intent are they [persons with celestial bodies] sanctified.
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 [again a reference to the bodies ability to endure celestial power].
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 [that may be the criteria for the judgement of all things including ourselves]—
26 Wherefore, it [the earth] 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 from the future which bring us back to the present] 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 [present tense] quickened.
29 Ye who are [present tense] quickened by a portion the celestial glory shall then [future tense] receive of the same, even a fulness.
[“Portion” is the key word. We cannot be celestial persons until after the resurrection. However, we can be persons “quickened by a portion the celestial glory” while we are still in this world. Indeed, this says we must be or we cannot merit a celestial body in the resurrection.]
30 And they who are [present tense] quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then [future tense] 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.
There is a very interesting juxtaposition in D&C 76:64-65— “These are they who shall have part in the first resurrection. These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.” (See also D&C 76:50)
The phrase “first resurrection”is found in several places in the scriptures (Revelation 20:5-7; Mosiah 15:20-26; Mosiah 18:9; Alma 40:15-18; D&C 45:54, 63:17-18, 76:64), but phrase “second resurrection” is not found there at all. However, we do find “resurrection of endless damnation” (Mosiah 16:11), “resurrection of damnation” (3 Nephi 26:5), “resurrection of the unjust” and “last resurrection” (D&C 76:1, 85) .
Brigham Young explained:
You read about a first resurrection. If there is a first, there is a second. And if a second, may there not be a third, and a fourth, and so on? Yes; and happy are they who have a part in the first resurrection. Yes, more blessed are they than any others. But blessed also are they that will have part in the second resurrection, for they will be brought forth to enjoy a kingdom that is more glorious than the sectarian world ever dreamed of (Journal of Discourses, 7: 288).
As a relatively young man, Wilford Woodruff saw a vision of the resurrection. On at least three different occasions he described that vision, each time pointing out different details. Those three descriptions follow:
I saw the resurrection of the dead. In the first resurrection those that came forth from their graves seemed to be all dressed alike, but in the second resurrection they were as diverse in their dress as this congregation is before me to-day, and if I had been an artist I could have painted the whole scene as it was impressed upon my mind, more indelibly fixed than anything I had ever seen with the natural eye (Journal of Discourses, 22:330).
In another place Wilford Woodruff told the same story in different details.
Then he showed me the resurrection of the dead—what is termed the first and second resurrection. In the first resurrection I saw no graves nor anyone raised from the grave. I saw legions of celestial beings, men and women who had received the Gospel all clothed in white robes. In the form they were presented to me, they had already been raised from the grave. After this he showed me what is termed the second resurrection. Vast fields of graves were before me, and the Spirit of God rested upon the earth like a shower of gentle rain, and when that fell upon the graves they were opened, and an immense host of human beings came forth. They were just as diversified in their dress as we are here, or as they were laid down (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], 5: .) [I got this quote and the following one from Gospel Link where no page number is given.]
In General Conference, on October 8th, 1881, President Woodruff added:
The room was filled with light. A messenger came to me. We had a long conversation. He laid before me as if in a panorama, the signs of the last days, and told me what was coming to pass. I saw the sun turned to darkness, the moon to blood, the stars fall from heaven. I saw the resurrection day. I saw armies of men in the first resurrection, clothed with the robes of the Holy Priesthood. I saw the second resurrection (Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, vol. 1. no page number given.)
In his discussion of Mosiah 15: 21, Hugh Nibley summed it all up very nicely. He said:
Verse 21: “And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ.” Why does it make such a fuss about the first resurrection? We are going to be resurrected anyway. First, second-a little waiting around won’t do any harm, will it? What is the difference? Well, as it tells us here, the first resurrection isn’t a time-it’s a condition. You are resurrected in a different condition from what you are in the second resurrection—the condition of dwelling with God. The time isn’t the important thing if you can dwell with him. The second resurrections take place on another level too. There are others later. So to come forth in the first resurrection will be a great privilege-the condition of dwelling with God (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon–Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988–1990 [Provo: FARMS/ 89.)