WHAT IS HELL?
Webster’s Dictionary defines hell as: “a nether world in which the dead continue to exist: hades (2): the nether realm of the devil and the demons in which condemned people suffer everlasting punishment —often used in curses.” “a place or state of misery, torment, or wickedness.”
This is one of worst hoaxes played on Christians. It is a deliberate mistranslation from the Greek. The words in the Greek translated Hell are Sheol and Hades. Strong’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible provides the correct definition of these terms. “The English word, from a Teutonic root meaning “to hide” or “cover,” had originally the significance of the world of the dead generally, and in this sense is used by Chaucer, Spenser, etc., and in the Creed (“He descended into hell”); compare the English Revised Version Preface.
“1. The Word in the King James Version: Now the word has come to mean almost exclusively the place of punishment of the lost or finally impenitent; the place of torment of the wicked. In the King James Version of the Scriptures, it is the rendering adopted in many places in the Old Testament for the Hebrew word she’ol (in 31 out of 65 occurrences of that word it is so translated), and in all places, save one (1 Cor 15:55) in the New Testament, for the Greek word Hades (this word occurs 11 times; in 10 of these it is translated “hell”; 1 Cor 15:55 reads “grave,” with “hell” in the margin). In these cases the word has its older general meaning, though in Luke 16:23 (parable of Rich Man and Lazarus) it is specially connected with a place of “torment,” in contrast with the “Abraham’s bosom” to which Lazarus is taken (verse 22).
“2. The Word in the Revised Version: In the above cases the Revised Version (British and American) has introduced changes, replacing “hell” by “Sheol” in the passages in the Old Testament (the English Revised Version retains “hell” in Isa 14:9,15; the American Standard Revised Version makes no exception), and by “Hades” in the passages in the New Testament (see under these words).” (from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright © 1996, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
The true meaning of the two words mistranslated as hell is a “hidden place.” For whatever reason, when the King James Version of the Bible was translated from the Greek, the meaning was completely changed. “23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus , that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame… 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16) The idea of a lake of fire and brimstone is false. Fire would have no effect on spirits.
During Jesus crucifixion, He told the thief next to Him: “43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23) During the three days His mortal body lay in the grave, He went in the spirit to the spirits in prison—hell. Did Jesus go to “the nether realm of the devil and the demons in which condemned people suffer everlasting punishment.” No! It was not hell as the Bible would currently have us believe.
The correct term is “spirits in prison.” The term “Sheol” does not give the complete definition of this place. From the time of Adam until the crucifixion of Jesus, those who died without obeying the gospel and becoming members of the Kingdom of God were all taken to the spirits in prison. While the mortal body of Jesus lay in the grave, He went in the spirit to these spirits in prison and opened a dispensation of the gospel to them. “19 By which also he [Jesus] went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Pet. 3) Did Jesus go hell? Hardly, this was a mission to bring the gospel to the dead who did not obey the gospel in the flesh. “6 For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 4)
Every person that lives on earth must be provided an opportunity to obey the gospel. Otherwise, God would not be just God. A person cannot be condemned for something he didn’t do. Billions have never heard the gospel of Christ. Jesus mission was to the House of Israel. He told the apostles: “5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 10) The gospel was not taken to the gentiles until after the death of Christ.
The gospel of Christ is the gate into the Kingdom of God and salvation. “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1) “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7)
The gospel was taken to the gentiles on the Day of Pentecost. “37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, REPENT, and BE BAPTIZED be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the HOLY GHOST. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD SHALL CALL.” (Acts 2) Peter preached the same gospel as Jesus, Adam, Joseph Smith, James J. Strang, and other prophets of God.
Consider the billions of people that have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Are they to be sent to “the nether realm of the devil and the demons in which condemned people suffer everlasting punishment.” The foundation creed of the Catholic church teaches this false doctrine. “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith. Which faith, except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.” Why the translators of the Kingdom James Edition elected change the meaning of scripture into a doctrine of the Devil is not currently revealed.
ALL MEN MUST BE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR THE GOSPEL. This is why Jesus went to the spirits in prison and opened a gospel dispensation to them. The gospel is the gate into the Kingdom of Heaven. It requires that a person repent of the evil in their lives, be washed of their sins, be confirmed into the kingdom, and receive the Holy Ghost as a guide into all truth. “5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3) Jesus in our example. “6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2) Not even Jesus was exempt from this law.
What about those that do not even hear the gospel in mortal life? BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD is an ordinance of the gospel whereby spirits can be born of water by proxy. “29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15) Baptism for the dead was practiced after Jesus opened a dispensation of the gospel to the spirits in prison.
After Jesus, any time there is a prophet on the earth to communicate with the dead, baptism for the dead is an extremely important ordinance. Peter, James, and John successively held the office of Prophet. After the last prophet—John–baptism for the dead could no longer be administered. Any church claiming to be the Church of Christ must have a prophet standing at its head; and administer this saving ordinance for the those who did not accept the gospel of Christ in the flesh.
There is a difference between the Church of Christ and the Kingdom of God. The Church of Christ requires direct communication with God through His holy prophets. The Church of Christ has existed any time God has had a prophet on the earth. The priesthood required to administer all the saving ordinances of the gospel is the Melchisedec Priesthood. The highest office is that of Prophet and Lawgiver. Adam was the first. This priesthood was lost about 400 years before Moses; and was restored by him. It was lost again about 400 years before Jesus with the last prophet Malachi. Jesus restored it; as this priesthood is required to administer all the saving ordinances of the gospel. “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [high priests]; and some, pastors [elders] and teachers; 12 FOR the perfecting of the saints, FOR the work of the ministry, FOR the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 TILL we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Eph. 4)
When the office of prophet is lost, the Church of Christ ceases to exist on the earth. The Kingdom of God remains as long as there is one officer of the Melchisedec priesthood remaining.
Authority from God and the gospel were entirely lost to world for a period of 1,260 years after the Apostolic Era. No one was to hold authority from God and the gospel ordinances required to enter the Kingdom of God were completely lost. First, Jesus was crucified. Second, Satan declared war against the Church of Christ and then divine authority. “5 And she brought forth a man child [Jesus], who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron [law of God]: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6 And the woman [Church of Christ] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [1,260 years]… 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [1,260 years], from the face of the serpent… 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12
The apostasy of the gentiles began even during the days of the apostles. “7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Thes. 2) “7 And it was given unto him [Satan] to make war with the saints, and to OVERCOME THEM: and power was given him over ALL kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 13) “12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8) “19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. 20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?” (Jer. 16)
The unbaptized, pagan Roman Emperor Constantine converted the Christian church to paganism in the early fourth century. He changed the identity of God from the true and living God of Israel to the Trinitarian god of paganism. He changed the identity of Jesus from the son of David—according to the flesh—to a pagan demigod born of virgin; “and they are no gods.”
Constantine assembled bishops from all over the empire to formulate a basic creed which would form the foundation for the Catholic church. He stood at the head of this council. He worshipped the sun god all his life. Is it any wonder pagan doctrines were made the foundation of his new church? “As seen in Constantine’s originating piety, that supreme deity would have been associated with the sun, and pagans would have recognized, with reason, their own solar cult in such Christian practices as orienting churches to the east, worshipping of ‘sun day,’ and celebrating the birth of the deity at the winter solstice.” (James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword, p. 183)
“The rites and institutions, by which the Greeks, Romans, and other nations, had formerly testified their religious veneration for fictitious deities, were now adopted, with some slight alterations by Christian bishops, and employed in the service of the true God.” (Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, Century 4, Part 2, chap 4:1, 4)
This council of Nicaea adopted the Creed of St. Athanasius as the foundation creed of the Catholic church. This creed begins with “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith. Which faith, except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”
This doctrine directly opposes the law of God. The doctrine of salvation of the dead and baptism for the dead was completely lost; as all authority from God was lost. Only the doctrines of man remained.
The 1,260 years began when the Bishop of Rome in 570 A.D. thought to stand as God on earth and head of the entire Christian church; although he possessed no authority from God. “4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thess. 2) Here was the first pope. “The pope is of so great dignity and excellence, that he is not merely man, but as if God. The pope alone is called most holy, divine monarch, and supreme emperor, and King of Kings. The pope is of so great dignity and power, and he constitutes one and the same tribunal with Christ, so that whatever the pope does seems to proceed from the mouth of God. The pope is as God on earth.” (Guiness, Romanism and the Reformation, pp. 25, 26)
The Reformation tried to correct some of the evils of the Catholic church; but, the foundation doctrines of paganism remained. Evil cannot be reformed into truth—it must be restored by God. At the end of the 1,260 years, authority from God and the pure gospel of Christ were to be restored. “6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” (Rev. 14)
The gospel dispensation to the gentiles officially ended in 570 A.D. Now add the 1,260 years. Joseph Smith organized the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830, in accordance with the law of man and of God. Freedom of religion was a recent opportunity. Direct communication with God was restored. The ordinance of Baptism for the Dead was again instituted. When the saints failed to live by the laws of God, Joseph was taken on June 27, 1844. He had received four revelations that in the event of his impending death that he would appoint his successor in the Prophetic Office. This is did–about ten days before his martyrdom. This Letter of Appointment is in Yale University Library. Joseph received a vision from God, was advised of his impending death, and commanded to appoint James J. Strang as his successor. The same hour that Joseph was murdered, James—although 400 miles away—claimed to have been ordained under the hands of angels in accordance with the law of God.
The ordnance of Baptism for the Dead was restored by revelation from God. The greatest work that James may have accomplished during his ministry was translation of the Book of the Law of the Lord; which was among the plates previously recovered by Joseph.
The prophet James noted in the Book of the Law concerning BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD.
“1. To millions of mankind the gospel was never preached in life. If it is not to be preached to them in another state of being, then the salvation which the gospel promises is not offered to them. And if the gospel is not preached to them at any time, then they are denied the possibility of entering into life.
2. Many Christians, unwilling to admit that salvation was not offered to all men, have asserted that those to whom the gospel was not preached were saved, on the general ground that as they did not know the Law of God, they were not under condemnation for breaking it.
3. Admitting this to be true, the consequence would be that ignorance of the gospel was as pleasing to God as obedience; and the just conclusion would be, that the gospel was not revealed to save men, but as an excuse for damning them. For, if all who are ignorant of the gospel are to be saved, universal ignorance would have produced universal bliss.
4. If they fall back on the old Christian faith of the Fathers, that there is no salvation without obedience to the gospel, then without preaching to and baptism for the dead, those to whom the gospel was never preached may justly claim that they were lost; not because they would not obey, but because they could not hear.
5. If, to avoid both horns of this dilemma, the Christian shall say that the sincere and wellmeaning of every nation will be saved, whatever his religious faith, then they are not saved by the gospel, but by their own righteousness; not by obedience to the word of God, but by integrity to the institutions of their several countries and nations.
6. God, having established the rule that all shall be destroyed who obey not the Law of the gospel, (2d Thess. i, 8. ii, 12. Rev. xxii, 14. Mark xvi, 16,) has provided for the preaching of the gospel to the spirits in prison, (1st Peter iii, 19. iv, 6. Luke xxiii, 43,) and the baptism for the dead, (1st Cor. xv, 29,) that salvation may be offered to all men, and only those lost who take pleasure in unrighteousaess. (Matt. iii, 10.)
7. When Jesus had finished his testimony on earth, and offered himself for the sins of men, he went in the spirit and preached to the spirits in prison, (Ist Pet. iii, 19, 20,) and opened unto them a dispensation of the gospel, before he ascended to heaven. (John xx, 17.)
8. The dispensation being opened, and he having, by a stainless life, and a sacrifice of himself for the salvation of others, become worthy of the keys of the resurrection and everlasting life, ascended to heaven, received all power, and sat down at the right hand of God.
9. Those who become partakers of the same calling with him, as they leave their ministry on earth, go to minister among the spirits of the dead; that they, by obedience to the gospel, may be saved, as are the living.”
The thought of an opportunity to obey the gospel of Christ ending with mortal death should be repudiating to any honest searcher of truth. When the saints again failed under James to live by the laws of God, he was taken on July 9, 1856. This ended baptism for the dead.
This ordinance will return when the Kingdom of God is again established before the return of Jesus. “5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Mal. 4) What would better to turn the “heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” than baptism for the dead?
With the billions of people yet to hear the gospel in the spirit, one can imagine the work that will be required to baptize those who obey the gospel in the spirit. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, all will inherit an immortal physical body. “10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN, specially of those that believe.” (1 Tim. 4) Only those who obey the gospel will enter the Kingdom of God and enjoy the greatest blessings in eternity.
WHY HAS ONLY A FEW ENTERED THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN MORTAL LIFE?
From Adam to Noah the number of the sons of God were very small. With the death of Methuselah–in the year of the flood–the number fell to only eight. From Noah to Abraham there was still only a few through first-born sons. The next significant event came with Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham that all believers would come through his lineage. “1 And he received the sign of circumcision [of the heart], a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised [in the flesh]: that he might be the FATHER OF ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.” (Rom. 4) This covenant was renewed with Isaac and Jacob. The House of Israel has been only a very small people compared with the world. A gentile must be adopted into the seed of Abraham through baptism performed by one holding authority from God. “27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3)
Only a few ever entered the Kingdom of God under Jesus. “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Jesus, Matt. 7) Jesus even wondered if there would be any faith left on the earth when He returned. “8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18)
After Jesus crucifixion, only 120 saints of God were to be found. “15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,).” (Acts 1) The gentiles soon apostatized and only a very few entered the Kingdom of God. All opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God was lost for 1,260 years. Joseph Smith restored divine authority and the gospel of Christ. After his death, it was continued through James J. Strang. Again, very few have entered the Kingdom of God.
There was to be only a very small remnant remaining until a prophet of God is once again set at the head of the Church of Christ by God. “8 And the daughter of Zion [church in America] is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a VERY SMALL REMNANT, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isa. 1)
“8 And thou, O tower of the flock [James J. Strang], the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem [July 8, 1850]. 9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. 10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to [spiritual] Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.” (Micah 4)
The major dispensation to the gentiles was closed in 1967, after the six-day when Jerusalem was no longer trodden down of the gentiles. “24 And they [Jews] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21) Only minor dispensations remain when one is ordained into the Melchisedec Priesthood. “17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.” (1 Cor. 9)
It is obvious that sectarian Christian churches have no claim to divine authority. They deny the very power thereof. We have been warned this would exist in this time. “5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Tim. 3) “5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” (1 Thess. 1) The power of the gospel is authority from God. No one is allowed by God to minister in His name; except those who have been called by the spirit of revelation. Not even Jesus could violate this law. “4 And no man taketh this honour [of the priesthood] unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron [by revelation]. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he [the Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee… 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5) All sectarian Christian church teach that revelation has been done away; because they have lost communication with God. “10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19)
There are over a hundred groups that claim to be Latter Day Saints. We have seen that when there are two different doctrines they can both be wrong; but only one can be true. After the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young claimed there would never be another prophet to stand at the head. Then on Dec. 24, 1847, over two years after the death of Joseph, Brigham admitted the claim of James J. Strang that the Church of Christ cannot exist without a prophet was true. Since God had not called him, he took a vote of the people; and became their man-made prophet. All apostate LDS churches can be identified by one thing: they turn to their own will and teach for doctrine their own opinions. There were the same in the days of Jesus. “6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Jesus, Mark 7) One LDS Strangite group reorganized their church into a church of the U.S. Government and made the law of man the law of their church. A true church will only teach those things given in the law of God and the testimony of his holy prophets. Only a very small remnant of saints in Zion have remained true to the law of God.
The next dispensation of the gospel will go to the House of Israel. “37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Jer. 32) There are no promises in the Bible for the conversion of gentiles. “14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Jesus, Matt. 24) “10 Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. 11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a FULL END OF ALL NATIONS whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.” (Jer. 30)
We have seen how few have been called of God to enter His kingdom in mortal life. Now, back to the question of why so few every enter the kingdom in mortal life requires going back the beginning. This creation is only one among worlds without end. Jesus was the first spirit organized for this creation by the Father. All others were organized by Jesus. “1 In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God [the Father], and the Word was God [of this creation]. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1)
The first estate of man was spiritual. Satan rebelled and thought to stand at the head of this creation in place of Jesus. Imagine, rebelling in the face of God. A third of the host of heaven followed him and all were cast down never to have physical bodies. It is evident that during this rebellion only a few were loyal to God and Jesus. Most like they simply sat of the fence—as they do in mortal life.
Only those who were loyal to God and Jesus during this rebellion are called of God to enter the kingdom during mortal life. “4 According as he hath chosen us in him BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated [for-ordination] us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Eph. 1) Satan wanted man to be predestined and not given a free moral agency. Predestination is a doctrine of Satan. In order for man to be held accountable, he must have a free moral agency.
There will be two major resurrections beginning when Jesus returns. The first will be for those in the Kingdom of God. “4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20)
It would take a stretch of imagination to believe none of those left with the spirits in prison could be saved through baptism for the dead during the thousand years that followed. John said the “rest of the dead lived not” for the thousand years. Those that accept the gospel in the spirit are no longer spiritually dead. Considering the billions that must be given an opportunity to accept the gospel, the work of the gospel must continue through the thousand years when all those who prefer to obey the gospel—the dead—are resurrected.
Jesus said: “2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14) Man will be resurrected into one of these mansions. “40 There are also CELESTIAL bodies, and bodies TERRESTRIAL: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars [TELESTIAL]: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:” (1 Cor. 15) Before being able to make a proper judgment, man must know both the blessings and the punishment involved with the gospel.
Who are those of the CELSTIAL GLORY? Joseph Smith was given a vison of these glories. These are those of the CELESTIAL GLORY. “And again, we bear record for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the Gospel of Christ, concerning them who come forth in the resurrection of the just: they are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name, and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he hath given, that, by keeping the commandment, they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power; and who overcome by faith, and are sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father shedeth forth upon all those who are just and true: they are they who are the church of the first-born: they are they into whose hands the Father hath given all things: they are they who are priests and kings, who having received of his fulness, and of his glory, are priests of the most High after the order of Melchisedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the only begotten Son: wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God: wherefore all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs, and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s; and they shall overcome all things: wherefore let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet: these shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever: these are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven, to reign on the earth over his people: these are they who shall have part in the first resurrection: these are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just: these are they who are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all: these are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the first born: these are they whose names are written in Heaven, where God and Christ is the judge of all: these are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood: these are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the Son, even of God the highest of all; which glory the Sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.”
These are those of the TERRESTRIAL GLORY. “And again, we saw the Terrestrial world, and behold and lo! these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differeth from that of the church of the first born, who have received of the fulness of the Father, even as that of the Moon differeth from the Sun of the firmament. Behold, these are they who died without law; and also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited and preached the Gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it: these are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men: these are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness: these are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father: wherefore they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differeth in glory as the Moon differeth from the Sun: these are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus: wherefore they obtained not the crown over the kingdoms of our God. and now this is the end of the vision which we saw of the terrestrial, that the Lord commanded us to write while we were yet in the Spirit.”
These are those of the TELESTIAL GLORY. “And again, we saw the glory of the Telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differeth from that of the glory of the Moon in the firmament: these are they who receive not the Gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus: these are they who deny not the Holy Ghost: these are they who are thrust down to hell: these are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil, until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work: these are they who receive not of his fulness in that eternal world, but of the Holy Ghost through the administration of the terrestrial; and the terrestrial through the administration of the celestial; and also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels, who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them, for they shall be heirs of salvation.–And thus we saw in the Heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial which surpasseth all understanding; and no man knoweth it except him to whom God hath revealed it. And thus we saw the glory of the terrestrial, which excelleth in all things the glory of the telestial, even in glory, and in power, and in might, and in dominion. And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excelleth in all things where God, even the Father, reigneth upon his throne forever and ever: before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence and giveth him glory forever and ever. They who dwell in his presence are the church of the first born; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace; and he maketh them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion. And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the Sun is one. And the glory of the Terrestrial is one, even as the glory of the Moon is one. And the glory of the Telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one: for as one star differeth from another star in glory, even so differeth one from another in glory in the telestial world: for these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and Cephas: they are they who say, there are some of one and some of another; some of Christ; and some of John; and some of Moses; and some of Elias; and some of Esaias; and some of Isaiah; and some of Enoch, but received not the Gospel; neither the testimony of Jesus; neither the prophets; neither the everlasting covenant; last of all: these are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up into the church of the first born, and received into the cloud: these are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremungers, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie: these are they who suffer the wrath of God on the earth: these are they who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire: these are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work, when he shall deliver up the kingdom and present it unto his Father spotless, saying: I have overcome and trodden the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God: then shall he be crowned with the crown of his glory, to sit on the throne of his power to reign forever and ever. But behold and lo, we saw the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were in number as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of Heaven, or as the sand upon the sea shore, and heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sitteth upon the throne forever and ever: for they shall be judged according to their works; and every man shall receive according to his own works, and his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared; and they shall be servants of the most High, but where God and Christ dwells they cannot come, worlds without end. This is the end of the vision which we saw, which we were commanded to write while we were yet in the Spirit.”
Those saints of God that rebel against God by living according to their opinions in defiance of the laws of God are in danger of inheriting this lowest of glory, or worse. “Opinions, where we have the word of the Lord, are worth nothing. Since the days of the Savior, they have strangely divided men into almost as many sects, as the number of the name of the beast that John saw. All men have a right to their opinions, but to adopt them for rules of faith and worship, is wrong, and may finally leave the souls of them that receive them for spiritual guides, in the telestial kingdom.” (Evening and Morning Star, Vol. 1, p. 69) The only ones that are lost forever are those that turn against the light of truth having once received it; and delight in living by their own will.
The only ones that it could be said that they inherit everlasting punishment are the sons of perdition. These experience the second death. After the final resurrection, these will be disembodied and cast off with Satan and his followers as ghosts for eternity. They do not experience physical punishment; but, they will suffer from mental punishment and anxiety. “Thus saith the Lord, concerning all those who know my power, and who have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves, through the power of the devil, to be overcome unto the denying of the truth, and the defying of my power: they are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say it had been better for them never to have been born; for they are vessels of wrath doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels, throughout eternity: concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness for them in this world nor in the world to come; having denied the Holy Ghost after having received it, and having denied the only begotten Son of the Father, crucifying him unto themselves, and putting him to an open shame: these are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels, and the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; yea, verily the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath, who shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph & the glory of the Lamb; who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made. And this is the Gospel, the glad tidings which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us, that he came into the world, even Jesus to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; that through him all might be saved, whom the Father had put into his power; and made by him who glorifieth the Father; and saveth all the world of his hands, except those sons of perdition, who denieth the Son after the Father hath revealed him: wherefore he saveth all save them, and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels throughout eternity, where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment, but the end thereof, neither the place thereof, and their torment, no man knoweth, neither was revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, save to them who are made partakers thereof: nevertheless I the Lord showeth it by vision unto many, but straightway shutteth it up again: wherefore the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, he understandeth not, neither any man save them who are ordained unto this condemnation. And we heard the voice saying, Write the Vision for lo, this is the end of the vision of the eternal sufferings of the ungodly!”
Man has always had a proclivity to live by his own will in rebellion to those of God. Man soon divided in the days of Adam. Noah preached the gospel to those in his generation for one hundred and twenty years; but, was only able to save himself and seven others of his immediate family. Man again divided after the great deluge. Only those who followed the will of God through Noah, Abraham, and his seed had the great opportunity to be resurrected into the celestial glory. Authority from God was lost for the 400 years that Israel was captive in Egypt. Moses restored the law; but, even before he returned from the mount, the people fell back into the evils of Egypt and worshipped a pagan god. They lost the opportunity to be priests and kings to the world; and were placed under an added temporal law until Jesus was ordained to the Melchisedec Priesthood.
They rebelled again under Jesus; and declared “Crucify him, crucify him.” The gospel dispensation was then given to the gentiles. They fell back into the doctrines of paganism; and all authority from God was taken away for 1,260 years. Divine authority and the gospel was restored by Joseph Smith; and continued through James J. Strang. Again, the people rebelled, James was taken, and the people were scattered.
There was to remain only a very small remnant in Zion with authority from God. “8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isa. 1)
All who seek eternal life should have a correct understanding of the principles of punishment and forgiveness. The greatest punishment will be on those that have received the Holy Ghost and understanding of truth; and then rebel against God. Jesus told us of this MOST GREVIOUS SIN. “8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15)
“28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” (Mark 3) HERE IS THE GREATEST DANGER OF ALL: the second death when some are disembodied and cast out with Satan and his followers to be ghosts for eternity.
The time and nature of forgiveness depends on the person and the violation. None can be forgiven in this life or the next that remain in sin—transgression of the law of God. The most grievous sin is killing. None can be forgiven in life. King David had a man placed in the front lines of battle so he would be killed and David could have his wife. David lived about a thousand years before Jesus. After the resurrection of Jesus, when many of the saints were resurrected and walked the streets of Jerusalem, David was not to be seen. They checked his sepulcher; and David’s bones were still there. He had not yet been forgiven for killing.
Adultery is a sin against man and society. Those who commit adultery must repent with all their heart to be forgiven. If they should commit this crime again, they cannot be forgiven in life.
After death of the spirit of man is taken back to Jesus for judgment. “7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12) Members of the Kingdom of God who endured faithful and remained in obedience to God, have the promise of spending the time between death and the resurrection in the bosom of Abraham. All others are taken to the spirits in prison. “22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matt.10) “7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21) The myth about a lake of fire and brimstone is found once again. These are taken to the spirits in prison. Those who either heard and gospel but did not obey it and those that received the gospel and turned against it will suffer grievous mental anguish.
HELL is a myth most likely adopted from paganism. Only a very few enter the Kingdom of God in mortal life and have hope of the first resurrection. Most will be taken, after death, to the spirits in prison. Those who never learned the gospel of Christ will be offered the blessings of the Kingdom of God. The ones that never obey the gospel and remain filthy still will inherit the least in eternity.
The gate into the Kingdom of God is still open. The prophet James J. Strang ordained L. D. Hickey one of the Twelve Apostles with authority to ordain all lower offices. Apostle Hickey ordained Samuel Martin a high priest, who ordained Lloyd Flanders a high priest. Bro. Lloyd ordained me an elder on July 8, 1956.
Jesus will soon return “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (2 Thess. 1:8) The desolation that is soon to cover the earth will be more horrible than any can imagine. “21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Jesus, Matt. 24)
You now have the wonderful opportunity to know God and obey the gospel. Before the great and terrible Day of the Lord, James J. Strang is to return and gather the worthy to a place of refuge.
Samuel E. WesT
Senior elder in Zio|N
May 10, 2017