"Certainly no subject has captivated the interest and attention of men and women like that of the life beyond," wrote Robert L. Millett in The Capstone of Our Religion – Insights into the Doctrine and Covenants.
"The high and the low of all classes of mankind have sought, with Job, to know, `If a man die, shall he live again?' (Job 14:14.)"The spring of 1820 heralded the dawning of a brighter day, as celestial light pierced the blackness of the long night of heaven's silence. In the midst of that light stood two eternal beings whose very presence attested to the reality of the life beyond, as would the subsequent appearances of various messengers who would be sent to bestow the knowledge, keys, and powers pertaining to the eternal worlds.
"Through the Restoration, the mysteries of God have begun to be unfolded, and the Saints of the Most High are made partakers of that knowledge which few eyes have seen, few ears heard – knowledge which soothes and sanctifies the soul."
Of the manifestations that comprise Section 76, Millett wrote, "Less than two years passed from the time of the formal organization of the restored Church until the God of Glory chose to open the heavens and expand the spiritual horizons of the saints in a transcendent manner."
Millett observed that the revelations that "burst upon the minds and hearts of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon also burst the shackles of ignorance and fear and provided specific doctrinal instruction concerning the Great Plan of the Eternal God."
Millett further wrote that the "Vision of the Glories" contained in Section 76 "takes us from premortality to residence in the eternal worlds and thus provides through its breadth and depth the answers to a multitude of questions."
He noted that subsequent revelations to Joseph Smith made known the fact that "he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory." (D&C 88:22), and that the type and quality of body with which one is resurrected determines the kingdom to which he will be assigned in the eternal worlds. (See D&C 88:21-32.)
"Further," wrote Millett, ". . . the Prophet made known that `in the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees. . . ." (D&C 131:1-4.)
Millett said Joseph had learned by the manifestations he saw in the Vision (received in the John Johnson home Feb. 16, 1832) the nature of those who would inherit the celestial kingdom.
Millett wrote: "These persons are they who
overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise . . . they into whose hands the Father has given all things.' (D&C 76:53, 55.) The Prophet's vision of the Celestial Kingdom was not unlike John the Revelator's vision of the holy city, the earth in its sanctified and celestial state.The foundations of the wall of the city . . . were garnished with all manner of precious stones. . . . the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.' " (Rev. 21:19, 21.)