Savior proclaimed liberty in the spirit world

Six weeks before his death, President Joseph F. Smith was privileged to receive a remarkable vision on Oct. 3, 1918, pertaining to the Savior's visit to the spirits of the dead while His body lay in the tomb. President Smith described the vision the next day at the 89th Semiannual General Conference of the Church.

Fifty-seven years later, on April 3, 1976, President Smith's record of the vision was presented at general conference and accepted as part of the standard works of the Church. Along with Section 137, it at first was made part of the Pearl of Great Price but later added to the Doctrine and Covenants.Regarding the importance of the revelation, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote in The Way to Perfection:

"We may well believe that the visit of the Savior to the spirit world was not merely to preach to the disobedient spirits who rejected the message of Noah, but that he might proclaim liberty to all who were bound. In fact, all the spirits of men were held captive until that time, for there had been no resurrection from the dead. Christ was and is the resurrection and the life and therefore He could give this blessing to all men after his own resurrection from the dead.

"In the vision given to President Joseph F. Smith, October 3, 1918, further light was revealed concerning the mission of our Lord to the dead. From the dead he called to him the spirits of the righteous, and after teaching them, commissioned them to take the message of salvation and carry it forth to all the dead, that all might know that the power of redemption had come to them. Since that time missionary work, or the preaching of the Gospel, has been a part of the plan of redemption among the dead.

"In this way, all who have died without a knowledge of Jesus Christ or his Gospel have the privilege of hearing it. Those who repent and receive it in that world of spirits, become heirs of salvation. In this way the mercy and justice of our heavenly Father are made manifest in behalf of all his children. Before the crucifixion of the Lord there was a great gulf fixed separating the righteous dead from those who had not received the Gospel, and across this gulf no man could pass. (Luke 16:26.) Christ bridged that gulf and made it possible for the word of salvation to be taken to all corners of the kingdom of darkness. In this way the realms of hell were invaded and the dead prepared for the ordinances of the Gospel which must be performed on earth since they pertain to the mortal probation."

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