> Did not one (or more) of the prophets say that there will only
> be a few Sons of Perdition?
This is a question that is always asked in the gospel doctrine classes throughout the world. One that really doesn't have a definitive answer because of different statements or opinions. Let me show you:
First, President Kimball warns:
"Speculation as to individual sons of perdition is at best unprofitable. Some have consigned Judas Iscariot to this doom...President Joseph F. Smith questions this interpretation. 'To my mind it strongly appears that not one of the disciples possessed sufficient light, knowledge nor wisdom, at the time of the crucifixion.'" (MOF p.126-7)
This is amazing when you think of what Peter, James and John experienced on the Mt. of Transfiguration. This points to an argument for very few.
Again, President Kimball:
"...requires such knowledge that it is impossible for the rank and file to commit such a sin."Whew! I think I'm safe.
"...he places himself in a position where he would have crucified Him, knowing perfectly that he was a Son of God." (MD 816)
Charles W. Penrose:
"Those who received power sufficient to overcome all things...but prostituted that power." (JD 24:93)
OK...it appears the numbers are very, very few. Arguments in the other direction?
Joseph Fielding Smith:
"I think we, most of us, have made a dreadful, but not unpardonable mistake (see...Joseph Fielding Smith could crack jokes!) in thinking that the sons of perdition will be very few. I have heard some say they can be 'counted on the fingers of on hand.' Where this though originated I do not know. In my thinking there will be a large number, exceeding large, that will become sons of perdition." He then talks about apostates in the Book of Mormon. (AGQ 5:108-109)
I think Joseph Fielding Smith got his belief from Joseph Smith's statement:
"he must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against him...He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him...and from this time he begins to be an enemy. THIS IS THE CASE WITH MANY APOSTATES of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (TJS p.358)He then goes on to say how these apostates seek his life and warned the saints to be careful not be be deceived. This was in April 1844, two months before his martyrdom when many apostates where stirring things up.
Interesting to note: When Joseph Smith made this statement he knew there were apostates in the audience. Was he just trying to shake them up? Was he shaking up the saints to beware of these apostates. Was he really being literal here?
I feel (my own personal opinion) that at least in our dispensation so far, the number of sons of perdition will be very few. The Nephite dispensations may be a different story.
In all fairness to President Smith, the scriptures don't say, "Judas is a Son of Perdition and has committed the sin against the Holy Ghost." This is what they do say in Christ's Intercessory Prayer:
"While I was with them disciples in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."
Elder McConkie says of this scripture:
"Judas, who was probably not a son of perdition in the sense of one who is damned forever, but in the sense that he was a son or follower of Satan in this life. (See Matt. 26:21-25)" (DNTC 1:765)
Joseph F. Smith wrote:
"Did Judas possess this light, this witness, this Comforter, this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, this endowment from on high? If he did, he received it before the betrayal, and therefore before the other eleven apostles. And if this be so, you may say, "he is a son of perdition without hope." But if he was destitute of this glorious gift and outpouring of the Spirit, by which the witness came to the eleven, and their minds were opened to see and know the truth, and they were able to testify of him, then what constituted the unpardonable sin of this poor, erring creature, who rose no higher in the scale of intelligence, honor or ambition than to betray the Lord of glory for thirty pieces of silver?
"But not knowing that Judas did commit the unpardonable sin; nor that he was a "son of perdition without hope" who will die the second death, nor what knowledge he possessed by which he was able to commit so great a sin, I prefer, until I know better, to take the merciful view that he may be numbered among those for whom the blessed Master prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Improvement Era, 1918, GD p. 435)
To me this is very wise advise. Too many in the church quickly condemn individuals in the scriptures and say they will go to outer darkness, without a complete understanding of the facts which only God knows.
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Is it really two different physical places? Alma 40:12 calls paradise a "state of happiness" and the wicked are in their own "state" of weeping, and wailing etc.
"Do the good and evil spirits go to the spirit world together? Yes. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes. They both go to one place, and they are not separated yet...if we go to California, we there find the righteous and the wicked; all dwelling together and when we go beyond this veil...we go where both Saints and sinners go; they all go to one place." (BY, Discourses BY p.376-7) Hades...paradise, spirits in prison, are all one: it is a world of spirits. The righteous and the wicked all go to the same world of spirits." (Joseph Smith, TJS p.310)
Was it always one place?
"Christ bridged the gulf between paradise and hell--so that the righteous could mingle with the wicked and preach them the gospel--the wicked in hell were confined to locations which precluded them from contact with the righteous in paradise." (Bruce R. McConkie MD 755)
Regarding Abraham's bosom:
"When you lay down this tabernacle, where are you going? Into the spiritual world. Are you going into Abraham's bosom? No, not anywhere nigh there but into the spirit world." (Brigham Young).
Regarding Lucifer and his hosts:
"If we are faithful to our religion, when we go into the spirit world, the fallen spirits--Lucifer and the third part of the heavenly hosts that came with him, and the spirits of wicked men who have dwelt upon this earth, the whole of them combined will have no influence over our spirts. Is not that an advantage? Yes. All the rest of the children of men are more or less subject to them, and they are subject to them as they were while here in the flesh." (Brigham Young, DBY)
Regarding Alma 40:11
"...the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them live."
"Taken home means that their mortal existence has come to an end." (Joseph Fielding Smith AGQ 2:85)
"Alma has the idea in mind that God is omnipresent--through the Holy Ghost. He does not intend to convey the idea that they are immediately ushered into the presence of God." (George Q. Cannon, GT p.73)
"Now tell me where God is not, if you please; you cannot...it reads that the spirit goes to God who gave it. Let me render this scripture a little plainer; when the spirits leave their bodies they are in the presence of our Father and God, they are prepared then to see, hear and understand spiritual things...." (Brigham Young, JD 3:368)
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"Many of the most important deprivations of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father's worthy children. We know that will be true of temple ordinances. I believe it will also be true of family relationships and experiences." (Dallin H. Oak, CR 1993)
"Without proper and successful marriage, one will never be exalted." (Spencer W. Kimball, "Marriage and Divorce", 1976)
"According to custom, men are expected to take the initiative in seeking marriage. That is why President Joseph F. Smith directed his prophetic pressure at men. He said, "No man who is marriageable is fully living his religion who remains unmarried." GD p.275" (Dallin H. Oaks, CR 1993)
"Any young woman who maintains her virtue and accepts in her heart the...gospel will receive fullness of glory and exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom...what was denied her here will be given to her hereafter." (Joseph Fielding Smith, CR 1957)
"The highest Priesthood ordinance in mortality is given only to the man and woman together," (Boyd K. Packer, CR 1993)
"When the wife is faithful and desires to obey the divine law and the husband is rebellious, or unwilling to obey the will of the Lord, if she maintains her integrity to the best of her ability, she will be given to another husband in eternity and will receive all the blessings of the celestial kingdom." (Joseph Fielding Smith, AGQ 3:24)
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I think we can all agree that the one of the important reasons for having a church and a priesthood organization is to do things in wisdom and order. To avoid confusion the Lord has given us stewardships. Imagine the confusion that could result if two bishops were giving me different counsel. I think it is very clear that WITHIN the church we are not called to exercise priesthood duties outside our scope of stewardship. I feel that if a priesthood holder from another stake (not a GA) calls me to repentance or calls me to follow his counsel, that it is not binding and will not be held against me in the judgement day if I choose not to follow that counsel.
OK, now let's discuss our duties OUTSIDE the church. The first scripture that has been referenced includes D&C 88:81: "...it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor."
First, how should we warn?
"You are to set an example of meekness and humility before Saints and sinners, as did the Savior; and when reviled you are not to revile again; you are to reason with men, as in days of old, to bear patiently and answer as the spirit of truth shall direct, allowing all credit for every item of good. YOU ARE TO...WARN IN COMPASSION WITHOUT THREATENING THE WICKED WITH JUDGEMENTS WHICH ARE TO BE POURED OUT UPON THE WORLD HEREAFTER. You have no right to take the judgements, which fell upon the ungodly in past generations, to terrify the inhabitants of America, neither have you any direction by commandment, to collect the calamities of six thousand years and paint them upon the curtain of these last days to scare mankind to repentance; no, you are to preach the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation." (Joseph Smith directed to Elders, HC 1:280, portion also quoted by Dallin H. Oaks, 1986)
I know that D&C 88:81 is used by the brethren to promote member missionary work. It is interesting to see who these words were originally directed to. "And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom..." (D&C 88:74) The Lord was speaking to his Elders who were called on missions. "...as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name." (D&C 88:84)
Now I fully understand that the use of the scripture has been expanded to have meaning for every member of the church. Nevertheless, it shows that even with this scripture, things should be done with wisdom and order.
OK. I have decided that I need to warn all people. I've heard the people in California are pretty wicked and need the gospel. What would happen in I decided to travel this weekend to California, hold a street meeting, purchase some air time on their TV stations, and preach the gospel. Would I come under condemnation for doing this? Would the mission president make a quick phone call to my stake president in Tucson? You better believe it!
Second example. I'm traveling to California and I discuss the gospel with people I meet on the plane, those who I associate with in my travels and I refer those people to be taught by the missionaries in the missions which they reside.
What is the difference? The second example is done in wisdom and order, working within the priesthood structure that the Lord has set up. "...you are to assemble yourselves together, and ORGANIZE yourselves." (D&C 88:74) As a stake missionary I am called to preach the gospel in my stake and especially within my ward. As a member I am called to share (not teach) the gospel with all those who fall into my "circle of influence." As I step over those boundaries, I may be stepping on shaky ground, overstepping both my duty and my calling.
I conclude that no one on this internet has a duty or a right THAT IS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PRIESTHOOD to cry repentance or render judgement to those who reside on this communication channel.
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"No man has the right to raise his hand in opposition, or with contrary vote, unless he has a reason for doing so that would be valid if presented before those who stand at the head. In other words. I have no right to raise my hand in opposition to a man who is appointed to any position in this Church, simply because I may not like him, or because of some personal disagreement or feeling I may have, but only on the grounds that he is guilty of wrong doing, of transgression of the laws of the Church which would disqualify him for the position which he is called to hold." (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 3:124)
"The Priesthood elects, under the inspiration of our Father in heaven, and then it is the duty of the Latter-day Saints, as they are assembled in conference or other capacity, by the uplifted hand, to sustain or to reject" (Joseph Fielding Smith, CR 1919)
"To sustain is to make the action binding on ourselves to support." (Loren C. Dunn, CR 1972)
"You make a solemn covenant with the Lord that you will give your full loyalty and support." (Harold B. Lee, 1970)
Regarding sustaining revelations:
"If individuals reject the will of God, they will be rejected by him; and this applies also to the Church...but suppose...in the exercise of the liberty which God has conferred upon them, they reject it, the question is then asked, what remains? The truth remains. The action of the Church has not affected it in the least. The truth remains just as true as if the Church had accepted it." (B.H Roberts, Improvement Era, Mar 1905)
"We desire that the brethren and sister will all feel the responsibility of expressing their feelings in relation to the propositions that may be put before you. We do not want any man or woman who is a member of the Church to violate their conscience...and we would like all to vote as they feel, whether for or against." (Joseph F. Smith, GD p.157-158)
Here's my opinion regarding abstaining: I believe there is no such thing as abstaining in the law of common consent. (Unless, you are not a member of the congregation). There is no requirement that you know a person, to sustain them. It is a sign that you sustain an action taken by your priesthood leaders. If someone purposely withholds a sign to sustain, yet doesn't have just reasons to oppose the action, as a member of the church, they are still bound to support the individual and will have to answer to the Lord if they don't.
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> Finally, Wilford Woodruff once quoted Joseph Smith as saying: "that if
> people knew what was behind the veil they would try by every means to
> commit suicide that they might get there, but the Lord in his wisdom
> had implanted the fear of death in every person that they might cling
> to life and thus accomplish the designs of their creator."--Charles
> Walker Diary, 1855- 1902, entry dated August 19, 1877.
Please note that this quote comes from a third-hand source.
I am aware of a Widstoe quote
"The meanest sinner will receive glory beyond human understanding...so great unable to describe. Those in the lower may look wistfully to the higher as we do here. The hell on the other side will be felt in some such way." (Can't find the reference)And also that
"the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding." (D&C 76:89)
Let us not forget that those destined for the telestial glory "are those who are thrust down to hell." (D&C 76:84). What, you ask, how can that be? During the thousand year period, these people will be suffering, paying a penalty. Elder McConkie explains that they "must travel to their destination through the depths of hell..." (MD p.350) Also note that David received a promise: "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell." (Ps. 16:10, Acts 2:27) This hell will have an end.
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I do not feel that participating in vicarious ordinances for the dead includes the process of renewing our own covenants. However, it is a reminder of those covenants. When you go to the temple to perform baptisms for the dead, do you consider that you are also renewing your own baptismal covenants? The same applies to the endowment and sealing ordinances.
John A. Widtsoe states:
"Every time a person receives the temple endowment for another, he reviews the eternal journey of man, is REMINDED of the conditions of eternal progress and of his own covenants to obey God's law, is IMPRESSED ANEW with the necessity of making truth alive by use, and beholds again the glorious destiny of righteous man. His MEMORY IS REFRESHED, his conscience warned, his hopes lifted heavenward." (Improvement Era, April 1936)
If we break any covenant, a baptismal covenant, a priesthood covenant, or a temple covenant, what is the process of renewal? Repentance, of course. The atoning sacrifice makes forgiveness possible -- a renewal, and the sacrament is an important step in receiving remission of sins.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a powerful talk on the sacrament which I encourage you to review. In it he relates the covenant of taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ to ordinances in the temple.
"Willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ can therefore be understood as willingness to take upon us the authority of Jesus Christ. According to this meaning, by partaking of the sacrament we witness our willingness to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple." (CR April 1985)
So I subscribe to the idea that the sacrament is the place to renew all our covenants with the Lord.
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Consider these question: What about those who are resurrected during the first resurrection, must they have their ordinances performed before their resurrection? If not, will they receive them in person during the Millennium? Who will we be doing temple work for during the Millennium? Surely not for those of the Second resurrection. We will be doing proxy temple work for lots of people during the Millennium...why can't they just be resurrected and receive the ordinances in person?
Wilford Woodruff addresses in part this question in relation to those who have left mortality after having reached the age of eight:
"Somebody has got to administer for them by proxy here in the flesh, that they may be judged according to men in the flesh and have part in the first resurrection" (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 149)
Hmm...maybe these ordinances are needed prior to the first resurrection. But those who will end up in the Terrestrial Kingdom will be part of the first resurrection. Do they need baptism?
Is baptism needed for those who are bound for anywhere except the Celestial Kingdom?
Joseph Fielding Smith commented on this topic in AGQ 5:147-149 under the heading of "Is Baptism Necessary for Entrance into the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms?"
"The scriptures are very clear in declaring that baptism is for the celestial kingdom only. For a place in the terrestrial or telestial kingdom, baptism is not required. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: '...A man may be saved, after the judgment, in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the telestial kingdom, but he can never see the celestial kingdom of God, without being born of water and the Spirit.' (TJS p.12)"
Should we be doing temple work for those who will end up in the lower kingdoms? Will we know who these people are during the Millennium?
"We are not going to do the temple work for everybody because it does not pertain to them. We are going to do the temple work for those who are entitled, through their faith and their repentance, to enter into the celestial kingdom. But somebody says, 'How do we know? We search our records for hundreds of years and do the work for all of them.' Of course we do, because we cannot judge. I do not know whether one man is worthy and another is not....now if there are any in our lines we do work for in the temple who are unworthy or unwilling to receive the ordinances of the house of the Lord, then the Lord will be the judge. He will set that ordinance aside and it will not be accounted as done." (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 2:191)
> DC 138:32-37; 57-59 seem to indicate that the kind of people you
> mentioned above do indeed accept vicarious ordinances in order to
> become heirs of salvation (138:59/76:88)
It seems to me that some of these verses could be referring to those who will be heirs of the Celestial Kingdom, not the Terrestrial.
They sound much like:
"All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial Kingdom of God...who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom." (D&C 137:7-8)
However, D&C 138:59 is curious and does seem to refer to those of the lower kingdoms. Washings certainly seem to refer to vicarious baptisms.
Joseph Fielding Smith was very familiar with his father's vision (D&C 138) and he taught:
"Vicarious Ordinance not for all. We are not going to do the temple work for everybody because it does not pertain to them. We are going to do the temple work for those who are entitled, through their faith and their repentance, to enter into the celestial kingdom...The Lord has given us the opportunity to perform in the temples the necessary labor for the righteous and repentant dead."
"I want to correct an idea that prevails very largely in the minds of many members of the Church...All of the ordinances of the gospel--baptism, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, the work in the temples for the salvation of the living and the dead--these ordinances, everything else, all of the ordinances of the gospel pertain to the celestial kingdom of God."
He also quotes a First Presidency statement,
"We know of no ordinances pertaining to the terrestrial or the telestial kingdom. All of the ordinances of the gospel are given for the salvation of men in the celestial kingdom and pertain unto that kingdom." (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 2:190-1, 330)
Finally, he seems to indicate that those of the lower kingdoms aren't given the fullness of the gospel.
"Those (people of the Terrestrial Kingdom) who would not accept the Gospel but in the spirit world repented and accepted it as far as it can be given to them." (Joseph Fielding Smith CHMR 1:287)
Maybe one thing to consider is this: At what point does an individual know that they will be sealed up to eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom. Yes, we know it can happen in this life. What about those in the spirit world? At what point do they know their destiny? In this life, people who will ultimately end up in the lower kingdoms are baptized with a hope of eternal life. What about those in the spirit world?