October 16, 2007

See You In Prison

Part 3 of "The Great Gospel Sermon"  
Brigham Young  
August 8, 1852

Today is the conclusion of the three-part post on this excellent Brigham Young discourse. Brigham said the purpose of life is to become gods:

The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself; when we have been proved in our present capacity, and been faithful with all things He puts into our possession. We are created, we are born for the express purpose of growing up from the low estate of manhood, to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven. That is the truth about it, just as it is. The Lord has organized mankind for the express purpose of increasing in that intelligence and truth, which is with God, until he is capable of creating worlds on worlds, and becoming Gods, even the sons of God.
This is the purpose of life; to return to our Father and become like Him in a relationship of love and unity, not individual power and will. In the great intercessory prayer, Christ prayed that we all may be one, as He is one with the Father. He said:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).
There has been a great deal of speculation in the Church as to what it means to become gods. As Paul said:
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).
Even though we have an inkling, many of the details seem beyond comprehension right now. Brigham wanted the Saints to know they weren't the only people in the world God would exalt; many would have the opportunity to become saints with them before the final winding up scene:
How many will become thus privileged?
Those who honor the Father and the Son; those who receive the Holy Ghost, and magnify their calling, and are found pure and holy; they shall be crowned in the presence of the Father and the Son. Who else?
Not anybody. What becomes of all the rest? Are you going to cast them down, and sink them to the bottom of the bottomless pit, to be angels to the devil? Who are his angels?
No man nor woman, unless they receive the Gospel of salvation, and then deny it, and altogether turn away from it, sacrificing to themselves the Son of God afresh. They are the only ones who will suffer the wrath of God to all eternity. The very heathen we were talking about; if they have a law, no matter who made it, and do the best they know how, they will have a glory which is beyond your imagination, by any description I might give; you cannot conceive of the least portion of the glory of God prepared for His beings, the workmanship of His hands; for these people who are seated before me, who are the sons and daughters, legitimately so, of our Father in heaven, they all sprung from Him; it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive what He has prepared for them.
Couple these thoughts with yesterday's post about people and their opportunities to accept Christ and His gospel. But there is a space between death and the final judgment. When we die, our spirits separate from our bodies and arrive in the Spirit World.

At this point in the discourse Brigham explains more about the Spirit World, as he has in former discourses.[1] The Book of Mormon explains at death "all men" are taken back "home to that God who gave them life" (See Alma 40:11-15). This doesn't necessarily mean that all men meet God right after death, as Brigham explained:
Where do the spirits of this people go to, when they lay down their tabernacles?
They go into the presence of God, and are at the pleasure of the Almighty. Do they go to the Father and the Son, and there be glorified?
No; they do not. If a spirit goes to God who gave it, it does not stay there. We are all the time in the presence of the Lord, but our being in the presence of the Lord, does not make it follow that He is in our presence; the spirits of men are understood to go into the presence of the Lord, when they go into the spiritual world.
Brigham said all will be in the same place, but not in the same condition, just like we are here.[2] Death is like a door through which we walk; while it is likely a culture shock, we remain much the same person. You will be you, as Amulek taught:
...for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world (Alma 34:34).
Brigham explained:
If we go back to our mother country, the States, we there find the righteous, and we there find the wicked; if we go to California, we there find the righteous and the wicked, all dwelling together; and when we go beyond this vail, and leave our bodies which were taken from mother earth, and which must return; our spirits will pass beyond the vail; we go where both Saints and sinners go; they all go to one place. Does the devil have power over the spirits of just men?
No. When he gets through with this earth, he is at the length of his chain. He only has permission to have power and dominion on this earth, pertaining to this mortal tabernacle; and when we step through the vail, all are in the presence of God… Where are the spirits of the ungodly?
They are in prison. Where are the spirits of the righteous, the Prophets, and the Apostles?
They are in prison, brethren; that is where they are.I know it is a startling idea to say that the prophet and the persecutor of the prophet, all go to prison together...
Now, ye Elders of Israel, when you say that John Wesley went to hell, say that Joseph Smith went there too. When you tell about Judas Iscariot going to hell, say that Jesus went there too.
So the righteous and the wicked arrive at the same location. What is the condition of the righteous?
What is the condition of the righteous?
They are in possession of the spirit of Jesus-the power of God, which is their heaven; Jesus will administer to them; angels will administer to them; and they have a privilege of seeing and understanding more than you or I have, in the flesh; but they have not got their bodies yet, consequently they are in prison. When will they be crowned, and brought into the presence of the Father and the Son?
Not until they have got their bodies; this is their glory. What did the holy martyrs die for?
Because of the promise of receiving bodies, glorified bodies, in the morning of the resurrection. For this they lived, and patiently suffered, and for this they died. In the presence of the Father, and the Son, they cannot dwell, and be crowned, until the work of the redemption of both body and spirit is completed.
What is the condition of the wicked?
What is the condition of the wicked?
They are in prison. Are they happy? No; They have stepped through the vail, to the place where the vail of the covering is taken from their understanding. They fully understand that they have persecuted the just and Holy One, and they feel the wrath of the Almighty resting upon them, having a terrible foreboding of the final consummation of their just sentence, to become angels to the devil; just as it is in this world, precisely.
Comfortingly, Brigham said Satan wouldn't have power as he does in this world to afflict the Spirits in the Spirit World:
Has the devil power to afflict, and cast the spirit into torment?
No! We have gained the ascendancy over him. It is in this world only he has power to cause affliction and sickness, pain and distress, sorrow, anguish, and disappointment; but when we go there, behold! the enemy of Jesus has come to the end of his chain; he has finished his work of torment; he cannot come any further; we are beyond his reach[3] and the righteous sleep in peace, while the spirit is anxiously looking forward to the day when the Lord will say, "Awake my Saints, you have slept long enough;" for the trump of God shall sound, and the sleeping dust shall arise, and the absent spirits return, to be united with their bodies; and they will become personages of tabernacle, like the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ; yea Gods in eternity.
Thus the righteous will be crowned, and the great gospel sermon comes to an end, by continuing into eternity:
[The righteous] look forward with great anxiety to that day, and their happiness will not be complete-their glory will not attain to the final consummation of its fulness, until they have entered into the immediate presence of the Father and the Son, to be crowned, as Jesus will be, when the work is finished. When it is wound up, the text is preached, in all its divisions, pertaining to the redemption of the world, and the final consummation of all things; then the Savior will present the work to the Father, saying, "Father, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do;" and the Son will give it up to the Father, and then be subject to Him, and then he will be crowned, and that is the time you and I will be crowned also.
Brigham leaves no one out; all will have the opportunity to accept the gospel. He makes a parenthetical remark about Temple work for the dead:
The faithful Elders will come, and go forward in the ordinances of God, that our ancestors, and all who have died previous to the restoration of the Gospel in these last days, may be redeemed.
Brigham closed by saying the "great gospel sermon" that is preached from the creation until the full redemption is complete is a glorious sermon; it is the purpose of life, it is the answer to the "Terrible Questions," it provides for all of God's children:
The world cannot see the whole of the Gospel sermon at one glance; they can only pick up a little here, and a little there. They that do understand it from the beginning to the end, know that is as straight as a line can be drawn. You cannot find a compass on the earth, that points, so directly, as the Gospel plan of salvation. It has a place for every thing, and puts everything in its place. It divides, and sub-divides, and gives to every portion of the human family, as circumstances require (Brigham Young, JD 3:80-97).

For more of Brigham Young's thoughts on the spirit world see this post.  

The difference in condition rather than in location of the Spirit World was discussed in this post from an Orson Pratt discourse
[3] This sounds like the condition promised to the Three Nephites:
...ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world; and all this will I do because of the thing which ye have desired of me...(3 Nephi 28:9).

No comments:

Post a Comment

All views are welcome when shared respectfully. Use a name or consistent pseudonym rather than "anonymous." Deletions of inflammatory posts will be noted. Thanks for joining the conversation.