Monday, November 16, 2009

2 Nephi - Chapter 9

I will never forget how startled I was, when, listening to Conference, I heard Elder Dallin H. Oaks define Hell as Spirit Prison - period.  I had, prior notions that the Outer Darkness to which Lucifer must spend eternity was Hell.  That is a very important distinction and Chapter 9 is wonderful at explaining why.  The Atonement was wrought by the Savior for the purpose of delivering us from Hell.  Hell, therefore, is not a permanent state determined to last forever.  All but a very few will one day emerge from that place, or as I prefer to see it, state.

Recently I had an interview with a young lady in the Detention Center.  She asked me a serious question from her heart, "Am I going to Hell?"  In deepest love and sympathy I asked her, "Sweet child, aren't you there already?"  She wept and nodded, full of grief at a state of being that had long brought suffering to her life.  I personally don't think Hell is geographically separate from Paradise.  My experience here on earth leads me to believe that Hell is primarily a state of mind and heart, not defined by boundaries, but by feelings and attitudes.  Hell can be pretty bad here, but must be worse after we leave mortality, because there we will be stripped of the myriad ways in which we self medicate.  The state of being which creates the pains of Hell exists on both sides of the veil, but the body only exists here.  We can drug, feed, satiate, sleep away, distract and otherwise anesthetise our bodies; but lacking bodies, we will be left to endure the agony of our circumstances unrelieved of full pain and anguish.

There is only one real, bonafide remedy for such pain and that is to give it to Christ.  A principle which applies there just as well as here.  I loved it when I heard John Lund describe Hell as God's Alternative High School.  "...death and hell must deliver up their dead (both physical and spiritual)", Jacob plainly declares.  It is the Savior's intention to empty the place, or in other words, to heal us all from the wounds of mortality.  A few years ago the Temple President quoted an early Church leader (wish someone could help me find the reference) saying some thing close to, "the vast majority of the people, for whose names we are laboring, are accepting the work we do here in the Temple."  What a glorious thing to know.

People are crossing from Prison to Paradise all the time.  I suspect there will come a time when I'll be occupied with assisting persons in Hell to make that transition, by teaching them the Gospel.  In a very real way, I am presently occupied at the Detention Center doing the same thing.  I have a notion that if someone is required to linger in Spirit Prison to teach the word, I would like it to be me.  If given the chance, I would choose to tarry until the last person has made the glorious discovery of redemption.


D1Warbler said...

A friend who is a former CES teacher and Seminary Principal says the leader you are speaking of who said that most of those for whom Temple work will be done will accept it was Wilford Woodruff. (I've also heard the quote before and thought it was either from Wilford Woodruff or Joseph F. Smith.) I'll keep looking to see where and when he said it.

D1Warbler said...

The quote can be found in the Relief Society and Priesthood Manual entitled: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff -- Lesson 18.

"We have a great work before us in the redemption of our dead. The course that we are pursuing is being watched with interest by all heaven." 15

"Our forefathers are looking to us to attend to this work. They are watching over us with great anxiety, and are desirous that we should finish these temples and attend to certain ordinances for them, so that in the morning of the resurrection they can come forth and enjoy the same blessings that we enjoy." 16

“ '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; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom, for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts' [D&C 137:7–9.] So it will be with your fathers. There will be very few, if any, who will not accept the Gospel. … The fathers of this people will embrace the Gospel." 17

"President Young has said to us, and it is verily so, if the dead could they would speak in language loud as ten thousand thunders, calling upon the servants of God to rise up and build Temples, magnify their calling and redeem their dead." 18

Footnote References from the above quotes are as follows:

15. Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, October 18, 1881, 1.

16. The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 150.

17. Millennial Star, May 28, 1894, 339–40.

18. Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, March 26, 1878, 1.

di said...

I will testify, that as I have engaged in this great redemptive effort I have felt a clamoring of ancestors to help me, await me, and receive the fruits of my research.

I also testify that Hell is real and not necesarily waiting for physical death.