Modern revelation provides key to heaven

"Like other Christians, we believe in a heaven or paradise and a hell following mortal life, but to us that two-part division of the righteous and the wicked is merely temporary while the spirits of the dead await their resurrections and final judgments," said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve at the April 1995 general conference. "The destinations that follow the final judgments are much more diverse. Our restored knowledge of the separateness of the three members of the Godhead provides a key to help us understand the diversities of resurrected glory.

"In their final judgment the children of God will be assigned to a kingdom of glory for which their obedience has qualified them. In his letters to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul described these places. He told of a vision in which he was caught up to the third heaven' andheard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.' (2 Cor. 12:2, 4.) Speaking of the resurrection of the dead, he described celestial bodies,'bodies terrestrial' (1 Cor. 15:40), and `bodies telestial.' (Joseph Smith Translation, 1 Cor. 15:40), each pertaining to a different degree of glory. He likened these different glories to the sun, to the moon, and to different stars." (See 1 Cor. 15:41)Elder Oaks said that modern revelation teaches that these three different degrees of glory have a special relationship to the three different members of the Godhead.

"The lowest degree is the telestial domain of those who received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets' (D&C 76:101) and who have had to suffer for their wickedness. But even this degree has a glory thatsurpasses all understanding.' (D&C 76:89.) Its occupants receive the Holy Spirit and the administering of angels, for even those who have been wicked will ultimately be `heirs of [this degree of] salvation.' (D&C 76:88.)

"The next higher degree of glory, the terrestrial, excels in all things the glory of the telestial, even in glory, and in power, and in might, and in dominion.' (D&C 76:91.) The terrestrial is the abode of those who were thehonorable men of the earth.' (D&C 76:75.) Its most distinguishing feature is that those who qualify for terrestrial glory `receive of the presence of the Son.' (D&C 76:77.) Concepts familiar to all Christians might liken this higher kingdom to heaven because it has the presence of the Son."

Elder Oaks said that, in contrast to traditional Christianity, Latter-day Saints join with Paul in affirming the existence of a third or higher heaven. "Modern revelation describes it as the celestial kingdom - the abode of those whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God.' (D&C 76:70.) Those who qualify for this kingdom of gloryshall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.' (D&C 76:62.) Those who have met the highest requirements for this kingdom, including faithfulness to covenants made in a temple of God and marriage for eternity, will be exalted to the godlike state referred to as the `fulness' of the Father or eternal life." (D&C 76:56, 94; see also D&C 131; 132:19-20.)

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