WHAT – WHERE IS HEAVEN?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines heaven as: “a spiritual state of everlasting communion with God: a state of thought in which sin is absent and the harmony of divine Mind is manifest. Heaven is described as a “spiritual estate” or a “state of thought”? Some have thought those in heaven will fly around clouds playing harps. This would be no heaven. This doctrine is foreign to the Bible. If we owe anything of our Heavenly Father, it is knowledge on this most important subject. We need this information to make logical decisions about our life. The Bible has left us a clear understanding of the condition and abode of man after death.
This mortal existence is a time for man to gain experience in choosing the good and refusing the evil. God has given every civilization basic laws of social government. Religion—including all Christian religions except one—have offered a god that is a mystery, a heaven that is a mystery, and a hell that is a mystery. It is no wonder the fastest growing group in America is those with no religious affiliation.
Man was given a set of laws through Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets of God so that man would have a clear understanding of the behavior that would lead to the greatest happiness in eternity. God is not a God of mystery. He has left sufficient evidence for all to have a correct understanding of heaven and hell, the entry gate, and the path to glory. Deceptions of Satan have kept most in the dark. In my last article, I explained the truth about hell. It is a holdover from paganism; and exists only in the minds of man. This doctrine of heaven belongs to the same category.
It is true that the area above the earth is often termed heaven in the Bible. “15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the STARS OF THE HEAVEN, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.” (Gen. 22) This is not the permanent aboard of man after death.
There are FOUR ESTATES OF MAN: (1) we were first organized as spirits by Jesus, (2) our spirit is placed in a mortal body and becomes a living soul, (3) at death our spirit is taken to one of two places to await our resurrection, and (4) our spirit at the resurrection is united with an immortal physical body.
The FIRST PHASE was the organization of our spirit. “1 In the beginning [of this creation] 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 nothing was made.” (John 1) The first and part of the second chapter of Genesis is the story of the spiritual creation. “4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field BEFORE IT GREW: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.” (Gen. 2) “31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, IT WAS VERY GOOD.” (Gen. 1) God called this spiritual creation good because it was of incorruptible material; and is eternal.
Even at this early time, it becomes evident that man prefers not to be an independent thinker; but, a follower. Satan rebelled against God—in the presence of God—thinking to stand at the head of this creation. Rebellion is one of the most grievous errors that man can commit. A third of the host of heaven followed Satan; and all were cast down with him never to have physical bodies. It is evident–as will be discussed later—that most of the spirits of man simply sat on the fence during this controversy. Imagine having to spend eternity only as a spirit–a ghost. Yet, this is what the definition of heaven would offer us. Sounds more like hell to me.
The morning stars were the first organized spirits. The sons of God are followers of Jesus. In the flesh, they are also known as believers. “6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job. 38) “14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8)
The SECOND PHASE of our existence comes when our spirit is united with a physical body and we become a living soul. Therefore, there are two dialogs on the creation of Adam. The first was spiritual and the other was when the spirit is united with a physical body. “27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them [spiritually].” (Gen. 1) “7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a LIVING SOUL.” (Gen. 2)
Man was immortal. Therefore, Adam was warned not to eat of the forbidden fruit. “17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2) When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, blood then ran through their veins and they became mortal. Their bodies were so perfect that they lived almost a thousand years.
Before continuing, it is essential to understand the Kingdom of God. The governments of man resemble the Kingdom of God. Essential elements include: (1) a king, (2) laws, (3) officers to enforce those laws, (4) members.
God is the KING over all. “15 Which in his times he [Jesus] shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” (1 Tim. 6) Jesus is KING over all the kings on earth. “14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and KING of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17)
It is man’s responsibility to live in obedience to the LAWS of God. When man turned entirely away from the law of God in the days of Noah, all but eight were destroyed. This principle is taught throughout the Bible. God offered a choice to Israel through Moses. “1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God… 15 But it shall come to pass , if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.” (Deut. 28) Obedience to the LAW OF GOD is all inclusive. “2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.” (Prov. 7) “10 If ye KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15)
All men are born alien to the Kingdom of God—including Jesus. The law on adoption into the Kingdom of God is known as the gospel of Christ. “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) No one can become a member without a correct knowledge of God and Jesus. “3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (Jesus, John 17)
MEMBERSHIP in the Kingdom of God has been limited because of the works of man during our spiritual estate. A correct knowledge of God and the gospel comes only through the spirit of prophecy. The ministers of sectarian Christianity claim revelation was done away after the Apostles. If true, so was membership in the Kingdom of God. Consider the Apostle Peter. Jesus inquired of Peter: “15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock [of revelation] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Jesus, Matt. 16) “… worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10)
This understanding can only come through revelation. Man has departed far from a correct understanding of God and the principles of salvation. “14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10)
Adoption into the kingdom requires OFFICERS of the kingdom. “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 went to John the Baptist because he was a Priest of the Levitical Priesthood and held authority from God to administer baptism of water. John, though, did not hold divine authority to administer baptism of the Spirit. “11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt. 3)
Since Jesus—like every other man—was a foreigner to the Kingdom of God, He had to be born of water and the Spirit. “15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3)
Here is the third principle of the Kingdom of God. Every government must have OFFICERS to represent it and administer its laws. Beginning with Adam these officers were known as the order of the Sons of God. This priesthood was lost about 400 years before Jesus. Jesus restored this priesthood with all its officers; because no man can minister in the name of God without authority from God; and no one can enter the Kingdom of God without one of these officers. “10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [high priests]; and some, pastors [elders] and teachers; [WHY?] 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Tiill 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)
How was Jesus mightier than John? After the forty days and nights in the wilderness and being tempted of Satan, Jesus was ordained by the Father to the highest office of the Melchisedec Priesthood like Moses and others before Him. “22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” (Acts 3)
When this priesthood was first introduced through Adam, it was called the priesthood of the Sons of God. This was considered using the term God excessively; so, in the days of Melchisedec it was changed to the Melchisedec Priesthood in honor of the righteous King of Salem. “11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him… 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4) Jesus was not authorized to preach the gospel until He received authority from God. What did they minister? “4 And no man taketh this honour 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)
FEW MEN ARE CALLED INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN MORTAL LIFE. From Adam to Noah there were only a few. Noah preached the gospel a hundred and twenty years. Yet, only Noah and his immediate family of eight souls escaped the great flood. From Noah to Abraham there were again only a few. God made a covenant with Abraham that none could be members of the kingdom without being of his seed through Isaac and Jacob. “11 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 [in the flesh]; that righteousness might be imputed unto them [gentiles] also.” (Rom. 4) How can a gentile become the seed of Abraham? Through baptism by a legal officer of the kingdom. “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)
From Abraham to Jesus, the only ones to enter the Kingdom of God were of this lineage. When Jesus sent the apostles to preach the gospel, it was only to the Jews. “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)
Jesus noted that only a few would ever enter the kingdom in mortal life. “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) Jesus even wondered if there would be any faith at His return. “8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Jesus, Luke 18)
A correct knowledge of God and Jesus; and of the gate into the Kingdom of God is only provided for this few. Why? Most were not loyal to God during our spiritual estate. When Satan rebelled, they just sat on the fence; as they do in mortal life. Only those that were loyal are afforded the opportunity to enter the kingdom in 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-ordained] us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Eph. 1) There is no predestination.
We are given a free moral agency; and these few have an opportunity to enjoy the spiritual blessings of God in mortal life, the resurrection, and eternity. Prophets of God were also for-ordained to be prophets of God in mortal life. “4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jer. 1) Jerimiah did not have to abide in these spiritual opportunities. Jesus did not have to refuse Satan. They had to make the choice. Now you have a choice.
Constantine adopted the doctrines of paganism—in the early fourth century–as the foundation for his new Catholic (universal) church. One of those principles was: “Whosever 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.” (Creed of St. Athanasius). NOT SO! Everyone man that lives during this mortal estate must be given the opportunity to obey the gospel. Who can worship a god that would condemn man for something he did not hear?
During the three days that Jesus physical body lay in the grave, He went in the spirit and opened a dispensation of the gospel to them. “18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Pet. 3) Why did Jesus preach the gospel to those who died without an opportunity to obey the gospel? “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) Didn’t Jesus tell us that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water? “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 first practiced by the apostles of Jesus after He opened a dispensation of the gospel to them. What Christian church has practiced baptism for the dead? Only one.
Joseph Smith was called of God and ordained to the same priesthood held by Jesus. He organized the Church of Christ in his day with the same officers of the Melchisedec Priesthood. Through a revelation of God, Joseph administered baptism for the dead. After his death, James J. Strang was ordained to the same high office. Again, by revelation, baptism for the dead was again administered. After the death of James, baptism for the dead could no longer be administered. Soon, there will be a new dispensation and baptism for the dead will be a key ordinance. Imagine how many there must be that have accepted the gospel in the spirit; and await being baptized by proxy through a member of the Kingdom of God in the flesh.
Only through a proper understanding of the Kingdom of God are we able to understand the next phase in our eternal lives. The THIRD PHASE in the life of man is mortal death. “7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12) The spirit being eternal lives on. There are two places prepared for man to await the resurrection. Judgment is very simple. Members of the Kingdom of God are taken to the bosom of Abraham with the sons of God since Adam. All others are taken to the spirits in prison (erroneously called hell). When Jesus was on the cross, he told the thief: “43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23) Where did Jesus go after being crucified? He went to the spirits in prison and opened a dispensation of the gospel to them. “18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Pet. 3)
An example of these two places is found in the dialogue of Lazarus and the rich man. “19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into ABRAHAM’S BOSOM: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in HELL (spirits in prison) 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. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 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) It is sad the hell doctrine was included in this story.
We are not told where the spirits are kept either in the bosom of Abraham or with the spirits in prison. Man is not taken to what has been termed heaven and hell after mortal death; but only to one of these two places to await the resurrection. Jesus compared the abode of the spirits in prison to paradise. It will only seem like a hell to those who have been given the Spirit of the Lord and then turn to the doctrines and commandments of men. It will be mental anguish for these awaiting the judgments of God.
Only a few have an appreciation of our existence in time and eternity. We lived as spirits while the earth was being prepared for us. This could have easily been millions of years. Then we live for a moment in a mortal body. It is like a snap of the fingers when compared to our life as spirits and to our lives in eternity. Those who did not enter the Kingdom of God from Adam to Jesus had to spend two thousand years waiting for Jesus to open a dispensation of the gospel to them. Except for a brief time, authority from God was lost again in the gentile dispensation. Most from Jesus to His return will spend two thousand years as spirits in prison. Man simply does not comprehend eternity. In our mortal minds, two thousand years seems like forever; but, in terms of eternity, it is but a moment.
THE FOURTH PHASE OF OUR ETERNAL LIVES comes when our spirit is joined with an immortal physical body. Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection. Being the only man to keep a perfect law, God had to raise Him from the dead. “10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” (Acts 4) When Jesus was given all power on earth and in heaven, He was given power over our resurrection. “18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. 28)
Jesus not only appeared to the apostles after He was resurrected, He was seen for forty days. “3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1) Many of the sons of God were also resurrected after Him. “52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matt. 27)
When David was not seen, they went to his sepulcher; but, his bones were still there. “29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” (Acts 2) David was a great king in his day; but, he had a man killed so he could have his wife. Killing is the most grievous sin against man—it cannot be forgiven in mortal life. David lived about a thousand years before Jesus. He still had not been forgiven and resurrected.
All men will who live in this mortal life will receive 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) As there is a grand difference between those who know God and obey the gospel compared with others, they are resurrected first. There are to be TWO GRAND RESURRECTIONS.
The FIRST RESURRECTION will come when Jesus returns. “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) These are the sons of God that endured faithful and obedient to the end of mortal life. “22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Jesus, Matt. 10)
“7 He that overcometh [through faith ad obedience] 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) Here is another error that entered the Bible. There is no such lake; and the second death is limited only to those who blaspheme the Holy Ghost. “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) Those that are disembodied and their spirits are cast off for eternity with Satan will suffer anxiety that it will be like a hell for them.
“22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5)
BELIEVERS ARE THE FIRST TO INHERIT WHAT IS BEST TERMED HEAVEN. These will receive an immortal physical body on the earth in its paradisiacal glory when Jesus returns. “25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19) “3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Ps. 50) “21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Phil. 3)
“19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3)
The EARTH WILL BE HEAVEN. Man will not have to remain in “a spiritual state.” The earth has been his inheritance since before Adam walked on the earth. During the thousand years following Jesus return, the earth will be like it was when Adam walked in the Garden of Eden. All curses will be taken from the earth. The desert will bloom. “6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11)
“20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.” (Isa. 65)
Man was given seven thousand years of mortality. Abraham was born about two thousand years after the fall of Adam. Jesus was born about four thousand years after Adam. Jesus will return about six thousand years after Adam. Then comes the thousand year Sabbath of Creation or Millennium. At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released to deceive mankind again. They will be gathered against each other in war. “9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” (Rev. 20) Mortal man is gone forever.
The rest of the dead will now receive their immortal bodies in the SECOND RESURRECTION. Since they refused to obey the gospel in the spirit, they cannot inherit the earth. There are places prepared for them that will be heaven to them. They will be ministered to in the hope they will live according to the laws of God. The only ones that will be lost in eternity are those that prefer to remain filthy still.
Satan and his followers will be cast off forever to spend eternity as ghosts without any association with the rest of creation. Those who did not accept the gospel in mortal life and refused to obey the gospel in the spirit crucify Jesus to themselves, cannot receive the grace of believers, and can only be judged according to their own works. “12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev. 20)
The earth is then cleansed of all sin; and enters its final glory. “1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea [sin?]. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21)
“1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean [unbelievers].” (Isa. 52) There have only been two places appointed of God for the inheritance of the saints: (1) Zion, and (2) Canaan. The land of Zion includes North and South America. More specifically, God appointed Jackson County, Missouri, and Independence specifically, as Zion. This is where the Garden of Eden was; and where the early sons of God lived until Noah. This will be the inheritance of the saints before Abraham, the seed of Joseph son of Jacob [Native Americans], those of the church organized by Joseph Smith and continued by James J. Strang, and others like the Jaredites.
The land of Canaan was given to the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The area is much larger than many suppose; as it stretches from Nile River to the Euphrates River. “10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God… 12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel… 18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass… 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21)
HEAVEN WILL BE RIGHT HERE ON EARTH. “1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” (Isa. 66) “2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (John 3) The earth will be our footstool and worlds without end available for our enjoyment. You have learned a truth that has been withheld from almost all of mankind in this time and season. God has given you a choice.
The gate into the Kingdom of God is open. James J. Strang was ordained under the hands of angels according to the law of God as successor to Joseph Smith in the Prophetic Office. The prophet James 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. Flanders ordained me an elder on July 8, 1956.
Samuel E. West
Senior elder in Zion
May 16, 2017