John 1:1-4– (part 11) — Criteria for the Resurrection — LeGrand Baker

The prophets of the Book of Mormon repeatedly remind us that we will be resurrected before we are brought into the presence of the Savior for our final judgement. So we will already have a celestial, terrestrial or telestial body when we stand before the Savior. Here are just three examples.

21 …. but this much I say, that 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).

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). {1}

This insists that there must be a ‘preliminary final judgement’ that will determine what kind of resurrected body we will have, and a ‘formal final judgement’ that will be before the Savior and based on our works.

The scriptures tell us very little about that preliminary judgement. How it happens is not described, just as how the resurrection happens is not described. But WHO will judge us is very clear. We are always our own judges because we radiate the spirit that is within us. Consistent with that, we will also judge ourselves when we receive a resurrected body.

Alma explained that to his son Corianton. Here are some excerpts from what he taught.

2… 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.
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.
4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. ….
5 The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; ….
7 …. and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.
8 Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.
13 O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.
14 Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.
15 For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all (Alma 41:2-15).

Now the question is, upon what criteria will we judge ourselves. That seems to be quite simple to define. If one is not “able to abide” one glory, then he will get a body that is compatable with one he is “able to abide.” The Lord explained that to the Prophet Joseph.

19 For after it [the earth] hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;
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.
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 (D&C 88:19-24).

That sounds to me that noone will be surprised, even though some may be disappointed that they are no longer able to fake goodness in the way they had in their past. The Lord describes such people as religious, but not honest. It was about those people that the child prayed, “Dear God, Please help the bad people to be good, and the good people to be nice.”

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (3 Nephi 14:21-23).

The wording there is the same as in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. However, the Prophet’s Inspired Version clarifies it. Where Matthew says “I never knew you (Matthew 7:23), the Joseph Smith translation says, “Ye never knew me (JST Matthew 7:33).”

The Book of Mormon shows that the Matthew version is correct, but the Prophet’s change shows that the Savior’s intent was to describe a relationship that never happened.

In the economy of heaven nothing is casual or haphazard. Every righteous thing of eternal consequence is made sure by covenant, ratified by ordinance, and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. The persons in question who claimed an intimate knowledge of the Savior had either not made those covenants, or had forsaken them.

When Alma confronted Zeezrom about his broken covenants, he challenged him in language that reminds us of the Savior’s words about the uninitiated.

Alma says, “It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God,” and then he clobbers Zeezrom with a resounding, “However!” “Mystery” is used in the Book of Mormon the same way it is used in the New Testament, to represent the early Christian, or in this case, the Nephite temple rites.{2}

Alma begins by reminding Zeezrom of his own temple experience, then tells him that the consequence of his present attitudes and actions will bring him to a “second death” as “pertains to righteousness.” In Hebrew, “righteousness” is zedek. It meas correctness in priesthood and temple things. That is, they must be performed the right way, with the right authority, in the right place, using the right words, dressed the right way, and using the correct arm or hand gestures. {3} Alma is simply telling Zeezrom that if he continues to “harden his heart” he will forfeit his temple blessings so he cannot be where God is.

9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this [not knowing the mysteries] is what is meant by the chains of hell.

The Book of Mormon prophets had a simpler version of eternity than we do. We understand there are three degrees of glory and one where there is no glory. The Nephite prophets taught that there were only two options. We will either be were God is, or we will be somewhere else. I think if Alma were to comment on Section 76 he would describe it as one degree of glory and three degrees of something much less than that. We find that idea in the rest of what he said to Zeezrom.

12 And Amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death, and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality, and being brought before the bar of God, to be judged according to our works.
13 Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned.
14 For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.
15 But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.
16 And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die a spiritual death; yea, he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness (Alma 12:9-16).

The people Jesus was talking about, who “never knew him,” do not have to wait until judgement day to reveal themselves. In this life they may have let their pride mask their true Selves from themselves and they have thought they could hide who they really were from others. However, just as good people can feel love that radiates from those who love, they can also feel the darkness from those who exude darkness. Brigham Young’s friend and counselor Jedediah M. Grant could both feel and see it. He told Heber C. Kimball about his near death experience, and President Kimball repeated it when he spoke at President Grant’s funeral.

He said that after he came back he could look upon his family and see the spirit that was in them, and the darkness that was in them; and that he conversed with them about the Gospel, and what they should do, and they replied, “Well, brother Grant, perhaps it is so, and perhaps it is not,” and said that was the state of this people, to a great extent, for many are full of darkness and will not believe me. {4}

That darkness President Grant saw can be a real part of us, and if we do not get rid of it here, we will take it with us into the next world. Moroni devoted his last admonition in the Book of Mormon to teaching us how to be clean so that we could become “holy without spot.”

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (Moroni 10:32-33). {5}

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FOOTNOTES

{1} Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, “A Meaning of “Redeem”— to “Come Unto Christ” second edition, 510-20

{2}The relationship between the way the word “mystery”is used in the New Testament and in the Book of Mormon is discussed in a footnote in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord. First edition, footnote # 716, pages 650-51; paperback edition, footnote # 737, page 463. The footnote reads,

The distinguished Catholic Biblical scholar, Raymond E. Brown, has shown that the meaning of the Greek word mysterion (translated “mystery” in the English versions of the New Testament) and of the Hebrew word sode (translated “secret” in the English versions of the Old Testament) is essentially the same. Mysterion is more specific since it refers to secrets disclosed during initiation into sacred religious rites, [Strong 3466: “the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites”] while sode is more general in that it refers to the deliberations (or decisions) of either a religious or a secular council. Brown observes that the New Testament mysterion refers to the Council in Heaven. He shows that in the Old Testament sode sometimes refers to that Council or its decisions (as in Amos 3:7), though it is sometimes used to describe any gathering, whether legal, or illegal and conspiratorial. (see Raymond E. Brown, The Semitic Background of the Term “Mystery” in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968), 2-6).

Understanding these words casts a fascinating light on the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. The Nephites most likely spoke Hebrew or some other Semitic language, not Greek, so the Greek word mysterion was probably not a part of their language, whereas the Hebrew word sode (with its English equivalents) was likely familiar to the ancient Book of Mormon peoples. In the Book of Mormon, as in the Bible, sode might refer to a Council in Heaven sode experience, or a ceremony related to the temple drama representing a sode experience, or even the secret decisions of conspirators. In this, the English translation of the Book of Mormon is very precise. When the underlying word sode used in the negative sense it is translated as “secret,” as in “secret combinations.” However, when the underlying word sode is used in the positive sense—indicating a temple or temple-like experience—it is always translated as “mystery,” equivalent to the English New Testament translation of the Greek mysterion. Thus, Nephi writes of “having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God” (1 Nephi 1:1).

For a more detailed discussion of the sode experience see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord. the chapter called, “Sode Experience.”

{3} The reason these paragraphes about the Nephite temple service are not more detailed is because, it its entirity, Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord is a discussion of both the Israelite and Nephite temple dramas. To do an adequate job here, I would have to reproduce that whole book.

{4} Heber C. Kimball, Remarks at the funeral of Jedediah M. Grant, December 4, 1856, Journal of Discourses, 4:135-138. You can find the whole sermon in “Favorite Quotes” in this website.

{5} Paul says “holy without blame” and does so in the context of the premortal temple covenants. See Ephesians 1 under “Scriptures” in this website.

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