Why does the Savior Jesus Christ teach that we must be like little children? Funny, when I was young all I wanted to do was to grow up; now that I am “grown up” my whole life is dedicated to trying to be more like a child. I had the privilege at age three to have my grandmother live with me. To be honest, I don’t remember her being sick at all. I don’t remember her going through chemo and losing her hair. I don’t remember the hospital bed that took over our downstairs room. But I do remember that she was my best friend. I even remember my favorite white t-shirt of hers that had glittery fish on it. I remember calling the cops on her because she cut off the crust of my sandwich, when I wanted it on (true story). I remember playing with her, hugging her, and thinking that she was the bestest grandmother anybody could ever ask for.
We need not fear death
I did not fear her sickness, or her eventual death at my young tender age. I’m sure I felt bad for her when she wasn’t feeling well–but I wasn’t scared about the situation. Once she passed I just knew that I loved her, I missed her terribly, and that I would see her again. No questions about it. So why is it when we “grow up” we start to doubt? And even if we believe in God, when miracles happen, we think, “Oh that was just a coincidence.” But the closer I grow towards God the more I realize that there are no such things as coincidences. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”) I witness that God lives, and He has a great plan in store for each of us, for all eternity–if we but choose to follow His ways.
What do Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) believe about life after death?
When the physical body dies, the spirit continues to live. In the spirit world, the spirits of the 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” (Alma 40:12). A place called spirit prison is reserved for “those who [have] died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets” (D&C 138:32). The spirits in prison are “taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that [are] necessary for them to know” (D&C 138:33-34). If they accept the principles of the gospel, repent of their sins, and accept ordinances performed in their behalf in temples, they will be welcomed into paradise (see LDS Topics).
This is why we Mormons are so anxiously engaged in family history and temple work. We desire everyone to receive all of the blessings that our Father has in store for His children; we believe that ordinances, like baptism, are necessary to receive those blessings–so we stand proxy (with the authority to represent someone else) in Mormon temples for those who have already entered the afterlife who did not have the opportunity of participating in those ordinances during their mortal sojourn.
Does spirit prison or spirit paradise last forever?
After Christ comes again to reign as King of Kings (Isaiah 9:6) the resurrection will begin. We continue to learn in LDS Topics that:
Because of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, physical death is only temporary: “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Everyone will be resurrected, meaning that every person’s spirit will be reunited with his or her body—“restored to their proper and perfect frame” and no longer subject to death (Alma 40:23; see also Alma 11:44-45).
Once resurrected, we will be appointed to a kingdom, or glory, where we will abide forever. In the Holy Bible we learn of the different kingdoms:
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. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:40-42).
The beautiful thing about having different kingdoms in heaven is that we will go where we are most comfortable (see Doctrine and Covenants 76). If we desire to serve God, and give Him our hearts and devotion there is no doubt that we will be able to abide in the Celestial Kingdom (the highest and holiest kingdom of heaven).
Our Savior Jesus Christ made that possible for each of us–it is simply up to us to accept His offering. It is there that we can receive all of the blessings that our Father desires to give to us–to become like Him. We are meant to live forever. And no, it won’t be a place where servants will fan us with palm leaves all day long and serve us grapes whenever we want. We will be doing what God does now… Serving, loving, working, “bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
I know that God created our spirits, and He did so with a wise purpose–to help us succeed and become like Him while we are here on earth and in the afterlife. Just like with our earthly children, we create them physically, and we hope that they will be able to have everything that we had and more. But we don’t want them just to “have” it; we want them to work for it–to be self-sufficient. And that is why we are here on earth. We are here, preparing for eternity and becoming spiritually self-sufficient.
Is there a purpose of life?
Sometimes we may look at others and think that they are better than we are…that is simply not true. God created us equal in opportunity to receive Him and grow to be like Him. In the Book of Mormon we learn a precious truth of our Savior:
…He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile (2 Nephi 26:33).
If you ever feel down, scared for the future, or feel like there is no purpose to your life, I re-invite you to be like a child and trust God. Get down on your knees and sincerely ask of God to testify of His love for you. I witness that He does love you, and when you receive that knowledge you will know that He not only wants you to live forever, but He wants you to have Eternal Life, with your loved ones, coupled with His richest blessings. He has provided a way for you to achieve this, through our Savior Jesus Christ. I close by extending the invitation to read and ponder these words by a Mormon apostle, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ):
In the great Composer’s symphony, you have your own particular part to play—your own notes to sing. Fail to perform them, and with certainty the symphony will go on. But if you rise up and join the chorus and allow the power of God to work through you, you will see “the windows of heaven” open, and He will “pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). Rise up to your true potential as a [child] of God, and you can be a force for good in your family, your home, your community, your nation, and indeed in the world (“Four Titles,” Ensign, May 2013).
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.