Alma 41:3, LeGrand Baker, Judged by works
3 And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
As we discussed last week, the sequence of events surrounding the resurrection are these: At the time of our resurrection we are judged according to the quality of our spirit and therefore receive a resurrected body that is perfectly compatible with the truth, light, love, and joy that our spirit has assimilated and that it radiates. That being so, the criteria upon which we are judged at the resurrection is whether we keep our covenants, including our relationships with ourselves, with God, and with other people.
Alma taught the sequence of events to his son when he said:
 there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery
 until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body,
 and be brought to stand before God,
 and be judged according to their works (Alma 40:21-2).
Alma repeated the same sequence again:
 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).
One of the importance facts of these two sequences is that in # 4, the first reads, “according to their works”; and the second elaborates: “according to their works, according to the law and justice,” emphasizing the legal significance of the meaning of “works.”
After the resurrection we will all stand before the Savior and he will judge us “of your our works, whether they [the works] be good or whether they be evil”(3 Nephi 27:14-15, Mormon 3:20). Thereafter, the Savior “shall deliver up the kingdom, and present it unto the Father, spotless” (D&C 76:107-108).
That sequence asks interesting questions: If, by the resurrection, our eternal state of happiness is already established, then by what “works” will we be judged after that? And why?
The answer to the “why” question is self evident. In the Kingdom of God, everything must be done with legal and correct precision (zedek) because “mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion (D&C132:8).” Therefore it follows that the final judgment must be based on criteria that is exact, unquestionable, and legally sound.
Now we are left with only one question: What is the definition of “works”? The dictionaries don’t help much. The word, whether in Greek or Hebrew, or English, only means the things we do.
In the scriptures “works” is often tied very closely to “faith,”—- pistis. Pistis is a complex word that denotes all the facets of making and keeping covenants. Peter uses pistis to represent the entire early Christian temple experience (2 Peter 1:1-4). When the meaning of “works” is established by its relationship with pistis, then “works” also has a temple/covenant connotation. But it means what we do rather than only what we say.
An example is the famous passage in 2 Nephi:
10 But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—-having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works [ordinances] of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith [pistis, covenant]; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise—-(2 Nephi 1:10).
We learn from Samuel the Lamanite that everyone will be redeemed [which he defines as being brought into the presence of Christ] because of the resurrection to be “ judged of their works.” However, only some will be able to remain there. Others are “cast out of his presence,” and must go somewhere else.
To the Book of Mormon prophets, there are only two degrees of glory. Either one is in the celestial kingdom in the presence of God or one is not in the presence of God.
32 And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual; for the day should come that they must be judged of their works, yea, even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation [That is why priesthood ordinances must be performed for the dead by people who still live in this world] (1 Nephi 15:32).
That these “works” are the ordinances is made clear in D&C 128:7-8, where the Prophet Joseph used the words “works” and “ordinances” interchangeably.
You will discover in this quotation [Revelation 20:12] that the books were opened; and another book was opened, which was the book of life; but the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works; consequently, the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works, …. Now, the nature of this ordinance consists in the power of the priesthood, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. …. for out of the books shall your dead be judged, according to their own works, whether they themselves have attended to the ordinances in their own propria persona, or by the means of their own agents, according to the ordinance which God has prepared for their salvation from before the foundation of the world, according to the records which they have kept concerning their dead (D&C 128:7-8).
Alma describes “works” in much the same way by uniting “works” with “righteousness.” That poses another interesting question: What constitutes a “righteous” ordinance? “Righteousness” is zedek, a Hebrew word that identifies the correctness of priesthood and temple ordinances. Zedek means something is done in the right place and at the right time, while doing the right things in the right way, and using the right words, dressed the right way, doing it all with the right authority. Alma says all that when he uses the phrase “works of righteousness.”
16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?
17 Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you? (Alma 5:16-17)
D&C 132 tells us that it requires more than just doing the ordinance correctly for them to be acceptable by the Lord. The revelation explains:
7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed [the Savior], both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed [the Prophet Joseph or one designated by him], whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power…. are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead (D&C 132:7).
So it is apparent that the last step in making the ordinances valid, is when they are sealed (ratified) by the Holy Spirit of promise. For most of us, we enter into those covenants during this life, and they remain in tact when we are dead, until we have throughly proved ourselves, then they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. As ordinance work for the dead is possible, so must ratification of our ordinances after death also be possible. That ultimate sealing may also be the final criterion on which we are “judged by our works.”