One of the most glorious doctrines explained in Christ’s restored church concerns what happens to us after we die. In our last two Zone Conferences, I’ve been teaching the missionaries more about what happens to those who pass from this life–where they are, and what they are doing, and how they might interact with us as missionaries here.
Every transfer, as we interview, I prepare some handouts for the missionaries that they can read and study for their own edification. Below is the information I shared with them this last time, about the Spirit World and how those in the Spirit World might interact with us.
In Gospel Principles, the Spirit World is simply explained in this way:
Heavenly Father prepared a plan for our salvation. As part of this plan, He sent us from His presence to live on earth and receive mortal bodies of flesh and blood. Eventually our mortal bodies will die, and our spirits will go to the spirit world. The spirit world is a place of waiting, working, learning, and, for the righteous, resting from care and sorrow. Our spirits will live there until we are ready for our resurrection. Then our mortal bodies will once more unite with our spirits, and we will receive the degree of glory we have prepared for (see chapter 46 in this book).
Many people have wondered what the spirit world is like. The scriptures and latter-day prophets have given us information about the spirit world.
You can read more about this here:
Here is the information from the handouts:
We Are Often In the Presence of Unseen Heavenly Messengers
And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.325)
[Vision given to Joseph Smith in January 1836 part of which is recorded in D&C 137] Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God standing above his head, with a drawn Sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it. (History of the Church, 2:381)
They are just as busy in the spirit world as you and I are here. They can see us, but we cannot see them unless our eyes were opened. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.378)
Harold B. Lee
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits.” Now listen to this: “Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 326.) It may be that when the anxieties of the passing of this day shall have gone, in the quiet loneliness of your home, in a day not too intense because of the motherhood requirements, there will come times when you will say, “My, he seemed to be so close to me. I seem to have felt his nearness.” And it will be real. It will be something you can’t deny. (The Teachings of the Harold B. Lee, pp. 59-60)
Where is the spirit world? Is it away up in the heavens? That isn’t what the scriptures and our brethren explain. They have told us the spirit world is right here round about us, and the only spirits who can live here are those who are assigned to fill their missions here on earth. This is the spirit world. And if our eyes could be opened we could see those who have departed from us—a father, mother, brother, a sister, a child. We could see them, and sometimes when our physical senses are asleep, sometimes our spiritual self—and we have ears, spiritual ears, and spiritual eyes—sometimes they will be very keen and awake, and a departed one may come while we are lying asleep and come into our consciousness. We’ll feel an impression. We’ll wake up. Where does it come from? It comes from the spirits of those whom we are sealed to. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 58)
Ezra Taft Benson
I am sure many of you know that the veil can be very thin–that there are people over there who are pulling for us–people who have faith in us and who have great hopes for us, who are hoping and praying that we will measure up–our loved ones– parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and friends– who have passed on. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.31)
Visitors, seen and unseen, from the world beyond, are often close to us. This is part of eternity which we are living today–part of God’s plan. There is no veil to the Lord.
(Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.35)
Sometimes actions here, by the priesthood of God, the First Presidency and the Twelve, as we meet in the temple, have been planned and influenced by leaders of the priesthood on the other side. I am sure of that. We have evidence of it. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.35)
On the other side of the veil, the righteous are taught their duties preparatory to the time when they will return with the Son of Man to earth when He comes again, this time to judge every man according to his works. These righteous spirits are close by us. They are organized according to priesthood order in family organizations as we are here; only there they exist in a more perfect order. This was revealed to the Prophet Joseph. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.35-36)
Jeffrey R. Holland, “As For Times of Trouble,” BYU Devotional, March 18, 1980; see New Era, Oct. 1980, p.15
In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike-and they will-you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:16-17) as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.
My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. “[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved.”13 On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.
God made this provision in the beginning; he knew that man would fall and would pass through these ordeals, for known to God are all things from the commencement of the world. It is written here in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that the planet on which he lives is a great Urim and Thummim, which reveals everything pertaining to this lower world and its inhabitants. And the holy beings who reside there can gaze upon us mortals whenever they please, looking also into the future or the past; hence they know it as it is.
The Lord has given his angels charge concerning us; they are our friends, and their eyes are over us.
Joseph Fielding Smith, as quoted in Life Everlasting, pp. 83-84:
I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. We begin to realize more and more fully, as we become acquainted with the principles of the Gospel, as they have been revealed anew in this dispensation, that we are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors, to our friends and associates and co-laborers who have preceded us into the spirit world . . .
. . . And therefore, I claim that we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; they can comprehend better than ever before, the weakness that are liable to mislead us into dark and forbidden paths. They see the temptations and the evils that beset us in life and the proneness of mortal beings to yield to temptation and to wrong doing; hence their solicitude for us and their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves. (Conference Report, April 1916, p.3)
Elder John A. Widtsoe taught: “These are trying days, in which Satan rages, at home and abroad, hard days, evil and ugly days. We stand helpless as it seems before them. We need help. We need strength. We need guidance. Perhaps if we would do our work in behalf of those of the unseen world who hunger and pray for the work we can do for them, the unseen world would in return give us help in this day of our urgent need. There are more in the other world than there are here. There is more power and strength there than we have here upon this earth.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1943, p. 39)
Horace Cummings recorded:
‘Concerning the work for the dead, [Joseph] said that in the resurrection those who had been worked for would fall at the feet of those who had done their work, kiss their feet, embrace their knees and manifest the most exquisite gratitude.’ The Prophet added, ‘We do not comprehend what a blessing to them these ordinances are.’
(Truman G. Madsen “Joseph Smith the Prophet, p. 99, Book craft.)
Dallin H. Oaks
The veil is very thin in the temples, especially when we join in worshiping through music. At temple dedications I have seen more tears of joy elicited by music than by the spoken word. I have read accounts of angelic choirs joining in these hymns of praise, and I think I have experienced this on several occasions. In dedicatory sessions featuring beautiful and well-trained choirs of about thirty voices, there are times when I have heard what seemed to be ten times thirty voices praising God with a quality and intensity of feeling that can be experienced but not explained.
Jeffery R. Holland
My testimony today is of the angels and ministers of grace who will always defend us if, as the prophet Alma commanded us, we “take care of …sacred things,” we “look to God and live” (Alma 37:47).
Neal A. Maxwell
All over the world, faithful Latter-day Saints are protected from the powers of the evil one and his servants until they have finished their missions in mortality. For some the mortal mission is brief, as with some valiant young men who have lost their lives in missionary service. But for most of us the mortal journey is long, and we continue our course with the protection of guardian angels.
John A. Widtsoe
Whoever seeks to help those on the other side receives help in turn in all the affairs of life…Help comes to us from the other side as we give help to those who have passed beyond the veil.” Ensign, May 1980.
Boyd K Packer “Angels will coach you.”
Jeffery Holland “Ask angels to help you.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf “Though it may seem that you are alone, angels attend you.”
Boyd K. Packer “I know that angels minister unto men.”
Julie B. Beck “Angels will be our associates and we will be participants in amazing miracles”
Henry B. Eyring “I know that the promise of angels to bear us up is real.”
Elaine S. Dalton “He may even send His holy angels to tutor you. Now the challenge is this: Will you be in such a place that angels can enter?”
Robert D. Hales “I also learned that I would not be left alone to meet these trials and tribulations but that guardian angels would attend me.”
Gordon B. Hinckley ”You cannot afford to do anything that would place a curtain between you and the ministering of angels in your behalf.”
One day while baptismal rites were being performed, I distinctly heard a voice at the east end of the font, very close to the ceiling, calling the names of the dead to witness their own baptism, allowing a moment for each spirit to present itself. After hearing many names called, I noticed a difference in the pronunciation of some of them. It seemed that the spirit who was calling must have a different list to ours.
I was so impressed at the time that I placed my arm about the shoulders of Brother W. T. Morris, clerk, who was passing, and called his attention to the sound of the voice, but it was not discernible to him.
This occurrence had taken place in March of 1928, and it continued to prey upon my mind for some months, until one day in October I had gone to an upper room of the Temple, as was my custom, to offer secret prayer, asking for the assistance of God in my work, and to thank Him for showing me that there was a recording angel in His house, to keep a perfect record of that which transpired. I had finished my prayer and was about to leave the room when the question flashed through my mind, “But where and how does He get these names? Some of them were not pronounced the same as ours.”
God knew my thoughts; I never asked of Him to know. The explanation came to me in these words:
“Every spirit that comes to earth has a guardian angel, whose duty it is to keep a record of the individual’s parentage, the conditions under which it was born, its inheritance, environment, thoughts and desires, and when the individual’s life is completed, the guardian angel’s mission ends. It returns, makes its report and hands in the record it has kept. This record is placed upon the other book, spoken of as The Book of Life.”
All this gave me to understand that in this other book is preserved the names and perfect dates of every spirit that ever came to earth.
It is also made plain therein, how all things will be proven by two or three witnesses; for instance, in case a child is left on a doorstep, the guardian angel of the child, that of the father and of the mother constitute three witnesses to all things which transpire between any two persons. Also, God can give into the Temples a perfect record of the Lamanites, for instance, or any other people who have no earth record.
God is perfect. His record is perfect. We will be judged from the books.
I bear record that this testimony is true for I received it from an angel in the house of the Lord.
“A Testimony Received by John Mickelson Lang in the St. George Temple in the Year 1928,” an unpublished manuscript, as recorded in Temple Manifestations by Joseph Heinerman, pp. 75-76.
George Q. Cannon
Now, this is the truth. We humble people, we who feel ourselves sometimes so worthless, so good-for-nothing, we are not so worthless as we think. There is not one of us but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are children of God and that He has actually given His angels . . . charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.
A VISION OF FREDERICK WILLIAM HURST
In the fall and winter of 1892-3, I worked at painting in the Salt Lake Temple. Although
sick, I felt strongly impressed to go and do my very best.
At noon the third day after beginning, President Woodruff called all of the workmen together. He said he had been told that some of the workmen had stated that it would be impossible to have the temple completed by April 6. He said when he looked at this body of men he didn’t believe a word of it. Some of you may be sick and weak (I thought he was talking to me) he continues, some of you may be give out at night, but you will be here in the morning if you are faithful. You are not here by accident, you were ordained in the Eternal World to perform this work. Brethren, I will be here April 6th to dedicate this building. I know what I am talking about for this was shown me in a vision 50 years ago in the city of Boston.
At times during that winter I as so sick with vomiting I dare not ride on a street car. I had two miles to walk to my lodging at Creighton Hawkins’ home, which was located in the first Ward. Often the Brethren would say to me: “You can’t go to work tomorrow.” I thought of President Woodruff’s promise and didn’t miss a day all winter, but was constant until the work was finished.
Along about the 1st of March, 1893, I found myself alone in the dining room, all had gone to bed. I was sitting at the table when to my great surprise my older Brother Alfred walked in and sat down opposite me at the table and smiled. I said to him (he looked so natural): “When did you arrive in Utah?”
He said: I have just come from the Spirit World, this is not my body that you see, it is lying in the tomb. I want to tell you that when you were on your mission you told me many things about the Gospel, and the hereafter, and about the Spirit World being as real and tangible as the earth. I could not believe you, but when I died and went there and saw for myself I realized that you had told the truth. I attended the Mormon meetings.” He raised his hand and said with much warmth: “I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart. I believe in faith, and repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, but that is as far as I can go. I look to you to do the work for me in the temple.” He continued: “You can go to any kind of sectarian meeting in the Spirit World. All our kindred there knew when you were trying to make up your mind to come and work on the temple. You are watched closely, every move you make is known there, and we were glad you came. We are all looking to you as our head in this great work. I want to tell you that there are a great many spirits who weep and mourn because the have relatives in the Church here who are careless and are doing nothing for them.”
Three different times during our conversation I leaned over the table towards him and said: “Alfred, you look, talk and act perfectly natural, it doesn’t seem possible that you are dead.” and every time he replied: “It is just my SPIRIT you see, my body is in the grave.” There was a great deal more that he told me but these are the important items as I remember them. He arose and went out through the door that he had entered.
As I sat pondering upon what I had seen and heard, with my heart filled with thanks and gratitude to God, the door opened again and my brother Alexander walked in and sat down in the chair that Alfred had occupied. He had died in 1852 in New Zealand. I did the work for both he and Father in April 1885. He had come from a different Sphere, he looked more like an angel as his countenance was beautiful to look upon. With a very pleasant smile he said: “Fred, I have come to thank you for doing my work for me, but you did not go quite far enough,” and he paused. Suddenly it was shown to me in large characters, “NO MAN WITHOUT THE WOMAN, AND NO WOMAN WITHOUT THE MAN IN THE LORD.”
I looked at him and said: “I think I understand, you want some person sealed to you.”
He said: “You are right, I don’t need to interpret the scriptures to you, but until that work is done I cannot advance another step.” I replied that the Temple would be completed and dedicated in about four weeks, and then I would attend to it as quickly as possible.
“I know you will,” he said, and then got up and left the room, leaving me full of joy, peace, and happiness beyond description.