Friday, July 25, 2008

Three Degrees of Glory

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (3rd Article of Faith).

When the Savior was crucified, he made it possible for all of us to be resurrected. He gave his life freely and as such all those who have ever lived on the earth will be resurrected, just as he was. As everyone will die, so will everyone be raised from the dead, reunited with their physical tabernacles, and become immortal. This is a free gift to all.

In Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 we learn of the different degrees of glory in which we will reside after the resurrection and judgment. We will be judged by our works in mortality. True, it is only through grace that we are saved, we cannot save ourselves, but we will also give an accounting of our lives. Choices that we’ve made in mortality will determine where we will spend eternity. “For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:111).

In the telestial, or lowest degree, those who chose to lie, commit adultery, or other abominations will spend eternity. The telestial kingdom will have some glory and is compared to the glory of the stars. Those who chose not to receive the gospel or a testimony of Jesus will reside in this kingdom. “These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world . . .” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:86).

The terrestrial kingdom is compared to the glory of the moon. Those who will reside in this kingdom died without law, accepted the gospel after death but did not receive a testimony while in the flesh. “These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:75). Those who will inherit the terrestrial kingdom were not valiant in their testimony of Jesus.

The celestial kingdom, compared to the glory of the sun, is for those “whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:68). This is where Heavenly Father dwells and where those who make and honor covenants will reside. The celestial kingdom itself is divided into three degrees, with the highest degree allowing family relationships.

We believe that family relationships do not cease after death. We believe that we can be sealed to our families in the temple and then enjoy an eternal relationship with them. While we know of the other kingdoms, it is the celestial kingdom that we strive to attain so that we can spend eternity with our spouses and families.

The Savior made it possible for all of us to be redeemed and to return to Heavenly Father, but we must choose what this means to us. Yes, we will all be resurrected and we will all be saved, but to what kingdom is up to each of us. As we live our lives and make choices, we will be making eternal choices.

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Rachelle said...

Great article and I love this part of our religion. It brings so much hope and understanding to life.

RBS said...

I too am so grateful for this understanding we have of our life not only here on earth but in the eternities to come. It also reminds me how much work I have yet to do. I appreciated reading this blog.