July 27-August 2
If you prefer to listen over reading an article, keep an eye on A Balanced Saint of Mind on YouTube. I post video versions of my blog posts on my channel. The video versions are often posted a little later than the written blog posts.
Today I wanted to delve into the spirit world. Before I go too far, I just encourage people to remember what Elder Oaks said in his talk, “Trust in the Lord.” He quoted a BYU religion professor’s article that, “When we ask ourselves what we know about the spirit world from the standard works, the answer is ‘not as much as we often think.’” I want to talk about the spirit world, but I want to talk about its implications for how we are living our lives right now.
Let’s make a list of what we know about the spirit world from this week’s Come Follow Me lesson. There is a lot of doctrine being taught in this week’s chapters, but a lot of the doctrine applies to resurrection and judgement and not necessarily the spirit world. For now, we’ll just zero in on the spirit world.
Alma 40:6 The spirit world is where we dwell before resurrection.
Alma 40:12 The righteous live in a state of peace and happiness.
Alma 40:13 The wicked live in a state of darkness, weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, etc.
So…not a lot to go off of. Let’s turn to a couple other sources to learn a little bit more.
DC 138:29-30 Christ commissioned the righteous spirits to go and preach to those who did not have the light of the gospel in their lives. If Christ was sending missionaries, I’m assuming it was because agency and repentance are concepts that continue to occur in the spirit world.
A couple of last quotes from “Gospel Topics” on the church website.
“President Brigham Young taught that the postmortal spirit world is on the earth, around us.”
“Spirits carry with them from earth their attitudes of devotion or antagonism toward things of righteousness. They have the same appetites and desires that they had when they lived on earth.” This concept is also found in Alma 34:34.
“The Church is organized in the spirit world, and priesthood holders continue their responsibilities…”
President Jedediah M. Grant, a counselor to Brigham Young who saw the spirit world, taught that people were organized in families.
Okay so we have this working list of things we know and understand about the spirit world. Look at that list again. What does it remind you of?
Death is nothing but a door. I was always confused as to why people didn’t start repenting as soon as they hit the spirit world. It’s because the spirit world is very similar to what we see on this side of the veil. There are different beliefs, passions, temptations, and pre-dispositions. For all we know, there are still atheists on the other side trying to decide the science behind their spiritual bodies. There is a church, and missionaries are sent by Christ to preach to those who don’t have the gospel. Christ doesn’t visit the wicked; He only visited the righteous.
This is NOT doctrine, just an opinion, but it’s almost as if people still have to walk by faith in the spirit world. It would make sense considering the fact that many do not see Christ.
Now many of us already have testimonies of the gospel right now so what does this mean for us? Well it depends on how you live. Look at the following quote one more time.
“Spirits carry with them from earth their attitudes of devotion or antagonism toward things of righteousness. They have the same appetites and desires that they had when they lived on earth.”
Let’s talk about three groups of people.
To those who don’t care
This group is probably not listening to my videos so I probably won’t spend a lot of time here other than to say; it’s all true. Whether it’s comfortable or uncomfortable, whether it goes against your social or political views, this is the truth. Act accordingly.
To those who care but struggle
There are those who may desire to repent but repeatedly fall short in some great way or another. Perhaps you struggle with some great addiction. Perhaps you carry a sin from a long time ago that still comes back to haunt you. Perhaps you’re starting to realize that you’ve been lying to yourself but don’t know how to get it all back together.
Alma 41:4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other
While actions play a huge role at Judgement Day, our desires will also hold sway. Be careful because continuously acting in one direction will change your desires towards that action. Now. I don’t know your individual situation. I don’t know whether you’re being too generous with yourself or not generous enough, but the Spirit knows and is willing to tell you if you take an honest inventory with yourself.
Honesty does not mean beating yourself up; that is Satan’s voice and he will not lead you right. Honesty can be painful but also a relief. Learn directly from God about your own specific situation because you will be the same person when you walk through the door of death or through the door that leads to the room with the Judgement Seat of God.
Repent and take heart that your desires for righteousness count too.
To those who care
I want to share a story.
There was a day that I decided to go to the temple. I felt overwhelmed by my to-do list, but I also recognized that I hadn’t been in too long. As I pulled into the parking lot, it dawned on me that my temple recommend was still in my wallet back home. In my rush, I had not grabbed it on my way out the door like I had intended. I looked at the clock trying desperately to decide whether I should spend a couple minutes on the grounds and call it good or whether I should rush home and try to still make it before my daughter woke up from her nap. I decided to try and go back. There was heavy traffic and I am already not a patient driver. I found myself wound up, irritable, and annoyed. There was still so much to do!
As I got stuck at a stoplight, I realized that going to the temple in my current state wouldn’t really do me any good and so I decided that I needed to take a deep breath since I wasn’t moving anyway. I decided praying was a good way to start, and so I started to tell Heavenly Father what I was trying to do that day. I intended to ask Him to bless me to finish it all because I was being SUCH a good person by going to the temple when He stopped me.
My mind flashed back to a time on my mission where we were having dinner with one of our ward mission leaders. I served there for six months, and I think he met with us once. I believe he decided that his calling was to pass out the dinner calendar at church. I remember looking at him and vowing to myself that I would never forget how important it was to build the kingdom. I realize now that I didn’t really know his situation and so I can’t judge where he was at, but that flashback did help me.
If we fail a class. If we get skipped over for a promotion. If our kids don’t have fancy Valentines Day boxes for their party. If you have to order pizza because you didn’t make dinner. If your child hasn’t learned to walk yet. If you’re starting over at age 56. It does not matter.
I don’t say that to diminish any pain or worry you might be feeling; I say it to help you recognize that it really doesn’t matter. Up until that experience I had while praying in the car, I had always thought being worldly meant immodest clothing, caring too much about money, and trying to keep up with the Jones. During that small moment in the car, I realized that worldliness is any time we get caught up in the world, caught up in our to-do lists, caught up in things that will pass away forever.
Nobody knows when Judgement Day is except for God. If you’re not repenting today, I can promise you that you won’t be repenting in the spirit world because you will still be convincing yourself that you have time. If your beliefs don’t change when you die, then you will still believe you have time when you get to the spirit world.
Sure, we can look around and try to guess whether the Second Coming is close but regardless of whether Christ comes tomorrow or in a thousand years, Judgement Day can come for you tomorrow. Even Alma taught that he doesn’t know when everyone gets resurrected.
Alma 40:8 Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not; for all do not die at once, and this mattereth not; all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.
What are your desires? Are you living in a state of happiness? Are you living in a state of peace, where you can rest from all trouble and sorrow because of your hope in Christ? The state that you are living in now could be the state in which you meet your God; plan accordingly.