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Editor's Table: Redemption Beyond the Grave

TitleEditor's Table: Redemption Beyond the Grave
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication1901
AuthorsSmith, Joseph F.
MagazineImprovement Era
Issue Number2
Date PublishedDecember 1901
Type of ArticleEditor's Table
KeywordsAlma the Younger; Atonement; Commandments; Jesus Christ; Millennium; Missionary Work; Obedience; Redemption; Repentance; Sin; Spirit Prison; Temple; Testimony

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Editor's Table: Redemption Beyond the Grave

A missionary writing to the editor of the ERA is troubled upon this subject, and asks to have the matter explained. He refers to II Nephi 9:27-38, and Alma 11:40, 41, which passages appear to give him the impression that there is no redemption beyond the grave.

Let me say in explanation that Alma is evidently speaking to those who have received a knowledge of the gospel or the plan of salvation, as would appear by the 27th verse of the 9th chapter of Second Nephi: "But wo unto him that has the law given; yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!"

Now, it is evident that such as these have no chance for redemption, no matter what may be done for them in hope or by faith, for they will have sinned against light and knowledge, and are, therefore, worthy of damnation. It is nowhere revealed that such as these will ever be forgiven, although we are informed that all of God's judgments are not given unto men. As in Alma, the prophet is speaking of the world as it should be found at the coming of Christ; the people at that time were all without a knowledge of Christ, and the plan of redemption, and Christ is to take upon him the transgressions only of those who believe on his name, and believing, of course, repent and do the works that he commands. "And these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else." Now, this means that there is no other means of salvation revealed or given to the children of men, except that offered by the Son of God, and those who reject this, whether before or after they have received it in part, can not be saved, because they rejected the means of their redemption and salvation. Not so with those to whom Christ went to preach, when his body lay in the tomb; they were disobedient to the message of Noah, which was a warning to them to repent or they should be destroyed by a flood. We are not told to what extent the gospel of Christ, in its fullness, was proclaimed to them, but are left to suppose that the message of Noah was not the fullness of the gospel, but a cry of repentance from sin, that they might escape destruction by the flood. They hardened their hearts against Noah's message, and would not receive it and were punished for this disobedience in their destruction by the flood; thus, in part, paying the penalty for their disobedience; but, not having received the light, they could not be condemned as those spoken of in 9th Nephi, who had all the commandments of God given unto them.

Therefore, Jesus went to preach to their spirits in prison, and proclaimed liberty and deliverance to them through their obedience, in the spirit world, that the work might be done for them in the flesh, and they be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the spirit. So that there is no conflict in these scriptures. Of course, there is a difference between those who receive the light of the Gospel and the testimony of Jesus Christ, and afterwards rebel against that light and reject it, thereby putting Christ to an open shame, and crucifying him again, and those who are referred to by Alma: "Therefore, the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made." These are not under as great a condemnation as those who have received it and rejected it; but so long as they remain unrepentant and wicked, there is no redemption for them, any more than for the others; but it is possible that these may repent in the spirit world.

In relation to the deliverance of spirits from their prison house, of course, we believe that can only be done after the Gospel has been preached to them in the spirit, and they have accepted the same, and the work necessary to their redemption by the living, be done for them. That this work may be hastened so that all who believe in the spirit world may receive the benefit of deliverance, it is revealed that the great work of the Millennium shall be the work in the temples for the redemption of the dead; and then, we hope to enjoy the benefits of revelation through the Urim and Thummim, or by such means as the Lord may reveal concerning those for whom the work shall be done, so that we may not work by chance, or by faith alone, without knowledge, but with the actual knowledge revealed unto us. It stands to reason that, while the Gospel may be preached unto all, the good and the bad, or rather those who would repent and those who would not repent in the spirit world, the same as it is here, redemption will only come to those who repent and obey. There is, no doubt, great leniency given to people who are anxious to do the work for their dead; and, in some instances, very unworthy people may have the work done for them; it does not follow, however, that they will receive any benefit therefrom, and the correct thing is to do the work only for those of whom we have the testimony that they will receive it. However, we are disposed to give the benefit of the doubt to the dead, as it is better to do the work for many who are unworthy than to neglect one who is worthy. Now, we know in part, and see in part, but we steadfastly look forward to the time when that which is perfect will come. We are left largely to our own agency here, to exercise our own intelligence, and to receive all the light that is revealed, so far as we are capable of receiving it; and only those who seek the light, and desire it, are likely to find it.

With reference to John 5:25, the word "hear" implies more than the simple meaning of the word; "and they who hear shall live," that evidently means, they who hear and obey, and not those who simply hear; this, of course, stands to reason.



Scripture Reference

2 Nephi 9:27-28
Alma 11:40-41
John 5:25