What Is Death? [Video & Transcript]
Weʼve all watched, as I did just a week ago, a casket of one we love pass us by: One moment they’re with us, another, theyʼre just gone. What happens to them? What is death? Is it to be feared? favored? forgotten about? fretted over?
I’ll address those questions and others related right here…
The loss of a loved one can be devastating without the comforting knowledge that death is really a temporary separation thatʼs part of a much bigger, joyful, personal and perfect plan.
So, What Is Death?
In short, death is a doorway to the afterlife–to eternal life–a real future life of fulfillment, joy, progression, in the presence of God and loved ones for those who believe in and follow the Saviorʼs gospel plan.
As one writer put it, “The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity” (Seneca).
And Seneca’s remark is really just an echo of what the Savior, Jesus Christ, the
actual Author of our salvation, said: “Because I live, ye too shall live” (Holy Bible: John 114:19) –referring to the Saviorʼs own life after death and ours as well.
Questions About Death
Now letʼs break this down and answer some specific questions by appealing to God’s revealed word–which offers answers–deep and satisfying and true–about what happens after death and regarding the nature of our spirits.
What Happens Right After Death?
Where is your loved one or mine who passed through the veil now?
Hereʼs what the scriptures teach us:
Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection— Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow (Modern Revelation: Book of Alma 41:11-12).
We learn from this passage a couple of simple beautiful truths about death:
1. Death is a doorway, a new beginning, a continuation of life in the spirit.
2. We go to a place called “the spirit world” to await our resurrection.
3. For the righteous, that is a place of peace and rest.
4. Our departed loved ones donʼt change in any way in personality or identity, though they progress in knowledge and spiritual understanding.
5. At death, the spirit and body separate but the spirit–our core personality and being in the form of our physical body but of refined material–lives on.
What Is the Spirit World Like?
The spirit world is a place of waiting, working, learning, and, for the righteous, resting from care and sorrow. Our spirits will live there until we are ready for our resurrection. Then our mortal bodies will once more unite with our spirits, and we will receive the degree of glory we have prepared for” (Gospel Principles, 23).
Where Is the Spirit World?
Prophets have said that the spirits of those who have died are not far from us. As one of the Lord’s servants stated: “Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us” (E. T. Benson, in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 18).
Another prophet of God shared that the post-mortal spirit world is on the earth, around us (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 1997, 279).
Departed spirits know our thoughts and feelings and can see us. We canʼt see them, as I mentioned, because spirit bodies are of a more refined nature and we must be quickened by the Holy Ghost, or Godʼs light, to see them.
Often, loved ones on the other side, even accompany or escort those we love to the spirit world. (See our podcast, Angels Around Us).
What About the Wicked?
The spirits are classified according to the purity of their lives and their obedience to the will of the Lord while on earth. The righteous and the wicked are separated.
The Lord’s word further states:
Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, [they are] in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the … indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection (Another Testament of Jesus Christ: Alma 40:12–14).
That said, the spirits in prison who were in darkness on earth–or who were simply ignorant of truth through no fault of their own–may progress as they learn gospel principles and live in accordance with them. The spirits in paradise can teach the spirits in prison (see Modern Revelation: Doctrine & Covenants 138) and if they accept the laws of the gospel, they can move into paradise.
After Jesus Christ was crucified, He actually visited the righteous in the spirit world. He appointed messengers, gave them power and authority, and commissioned them to “carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men” (Book of Doctrine & Covenants 138:30).
What Is the Nature of Our Spirits?
Spirit beings have the same bodily form as mortals except that the spirit body is in perfect form (see Ether 3:16). “Spirits carry with them from earth their attitudes of devotion or antagonism toward things of righteousness” (see Book of Alma 34:34). They have the same appetites and desires that they had when they lived on earth. All spirits are in adult form (Gospel Principles).
They were adults before their mortal existence, and they are in adult form after death, even if they die as infants or children (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 131–32).
To understand death, and what I just said about our spirits we have to do a flashback to our life before this life, and we have to understand who we fundamentally are.
Pre-Mortal Life, Who Am I? Where Did I Come From?
Heaven Is Our Home
We are literally child spirits of Heavenly Parents; we are quite literally spirit children of God the Father and a Heavenly Mother. We were all together in a pre-mortal existence and came down one by one to earth so we could likewise grow in power, knowledge, for which a body was essential. For more on this, please visit our video podcasts, Life Before Life, & The Meaning and Purpose of Life.
Death is to be welcomed in its own time–what awaits those who are honest in heart and follow the path of truth to its fulness will be unspeakably beautiful and eternally fulfilling. This life is a test.
I hope you’ll send some questions my way and share your spiritual journey with us. God bless you. Thanks for joining us at IBelievePodcast.com.
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