What is Heaven Like?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon Church) is a restoration of the primitive church that was established by Jesus Christ Himself. The Gospel of Christ’s church was lost after the earthly ministry of the apostles who were called during the time of Christ. The Church was restored through the boy, Joseph Smith, in 1800’s, through the power of God.
Mormons rely on several books of scripture for our understanding of the gospel and God’s plan for us. One of those books, known as the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C), contains modern revelations given to the prophets of our day, and within this book of scripture we can find many accounts more pertinent to our time than that found within the more historical scriptures. Most of these revelations were received in answer to questions Joseph Smith posed while reading passages from the Bible, and as such they contain detailed passages concerning topics within the Bible that may be difficult to understand.
D&C 76 answers the question “What is heaven like?”.
Glory in Heaven
A detailed reading of this section reveals the specifics of the three degrees of glory, what is required for entry into each, and the responsibilities that such placement entails. We come to truly understand the design of heaven and how it pertains to God’s plan for us. Most accounts of heaven within the Bible describe it symbolically and tell us little more than that heaven is where we will dwell with God after this life. However, there are hints that heaven is split into three “degrees” or “kingdoms”, specifically 1 Corinthians 15:40-41 –
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.”
Heaven: Progression and Joy
These divisions are present because we are all rewarded for our own faithfulness, and we are all varied in our earthly efforts and achievements. “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:18-19). For God to be truly and perfectly Just and Merciful, our rewards must be personalized and different. The highest degree, which is the Celestial, is obtainable by all who choose to follow Chris’s Plan. It is in this degree of glory where we can be sealed together with our families, commencing in the work of “bring[ing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
There are many anecdotal stories concerning our different “mansions” which Christ has prepared for us (John 14:2), in which the larger and more glorious mansions are typically given to those who have done more “good works”, acted more charitably, and built in themselves more Christ-like attributes. This is another symbolic representation of the very personalized rewards we will receive in heaven and our placement within one of the three “kingdoms”.
Each of the three degrees of glory or kingdoms of heaven have their own requirements for entry as well as adjoining blessings and responsibilities. It is a “tiered” system much like a workplace or a family, in which those with a higher “ranking” have higher authority and higher accountability. “For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation” (D&C 82:3). This system does not make anyone better or less than anyone else. On the contrary, it means we are all equally blessed with that which is pertinent and fitting to our own capacities and abilities, and we are all redeemed through the grace of Christ. The work of God continues throughout the eternities, and we will be partakers and doers of that work as part of the body of Christ. “For he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11).