Today I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament meeting. I chose the subject of the Final Judgment:
The Final Judgment
What is the final judgment going to be like?
Will it be like a courtroom, where Christ, acting as our Judge, gives out punishment according to the acts we have committed on earth?
Will we see our lives ‘pass before our eyes,’ as everyone in attendance gets to see what sins we have committed as we try to hide in shame?
I testify that this is NOT what the final judgment will be like.
It is important to remember that the final judgment, or interview with Jesus Christ, comes after the resurrection! The type of body you resurrect will determine which kingdom of God you enter: the Telestial, the Terrestrial, or the Celestial. In fact, all of the judgments that effect men and women happen before the ‘final judgment’ when you meet with Jesus Christ!
The final judgment will simply be a one-on-one interview with Jesus Christ to determine where you will spend eternity. There will be NO punishment meted out. There will be NO shame or guilt involved. It will be a wonderful experience for almost everyone, where a kind and loving Savior sits down with us to discuss our options for the future: Where do we desire to live? What do we desire to do for eternity?
In order to understand the true nature of the final judgment, one has to have a good understanding of the Plan of Salvation and when this judgment, or interview, will take place.
There are three judgments that come upon man:
In the pre-mortal life we faced a judgment as to whether we were worthy to come to this earth and obtain a physical body.
After death, our spirit leaves our mortal body and travels to the spirit world where a judgment is made whether we live in Hell with the wicked or in Paradise with the righteous.
At the time of the resurrection a judgment is made as to what type of body we will receive for eternity: Telestial, Terrestrial, or Celestial.
In each case, it is not God or Jesus Christ that makes the decision as to what judgment we face. In each case we are our own judges!
In the pre-mortal life we were given a choice: to follow God’s plan and accept Jesus as our Savior, or to rebel against God by following Lucifer and accepting him as our Savior. God did not make this choice for us! It was our choice of accepting God’s plan that gave us the opportunity to come to earth and gain a physical body.
And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
Spirit World Judgment
When we die our spirits leave our mortal bodies and travel to the Spirit World. A judgment is made as to whether we live in Hell, or outer darkness, with the wicked; or are permitted to live with the righteous in Paradise until we are resurrected. God does not make this judgment or decision as to where we will live! It is the condition of our spirit—the consequences of our actions—that determines where we will live until resurrected.
Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are 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. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil… shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil. Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.
How is it actually determined where we go, Hell or Paradise?
And now, my brethren, I would that, after ye have received so many witnesses, seeing that the holy scriptures testify of these things, ye come forth and bring fruit unto repentance. Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you. For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
It is not God or Jesus Christ that makes this judgment, but it is the condition of our spirits that determines where we go. And the condition of our spirit is determined by our choices and actions.
The Judgment at the Resurrection
At the resurrection a judgment must be made as to why type of body you will receive for eternity: a Telestial, a Terrestrial, or a Celestial body. It is not God or Jesus Christ that determines what type of body you will receive! Just like the judgment after your death and entrance into the Spirit World, it will be the condition of your spirit that determines what type of body you will receive for eternity.
How is it decided what type of body you will get in the resurrection?
D&C 88:22-24; 28-31
For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a Telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory. They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened. Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
If it is the very spirit within you that will decide what type of body you receive in the resurrection, how is the final state of your spirit determined? How does this happen?
The level of God’s spirit held within your body is determined by your actions. When you are born into this world you are innocent and full of the spirit of God. However, each time you sin, a portion of God’s spirit is removed, causing you to feel guilt. The spirit or ‘glory’ you have within you is diminished. If you remain in this condition, you cannot enter the highest kingdom of glory! But God provided a way for us to get that lost spirit or ‘glory’ back: when you repent of your sins, the spirit returns and you are made whole again. If you have repented fully, any loss of the spirit of God would have been corrected and you will be ready and worthy to enter Paradise upon your death and to obtain a Celestial body at the resurrection.
The level of God’s spirit held within your body is determined by your choices and actions. It is not God or Jesus Christ that makes this judgment, it is you, by your actions, that bring this about.
The consequence or punishment for sin is the withdrawal of a portion of God’s spirit
Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man.
And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples. Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.
Mosiah 3:22, 25-27
And even at this time, when thou shalt have taught thy people the things which the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, even then are they found no more blameless in the sight of God, only according to the words which I have spoken unto thee. And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls. Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever. And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever.
The consequence or reward for repentance is the return of God’s spirit. Repenting, keeping the commandments, and doing good works bring blessings and the spirit of God back into our lives. Doing these things reverses the consequences of our sins.
D&C 130: 20-21
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men. And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.
And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away. And I said: Lord, how is it done? And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.
The final judgment and interview with Jesus Christ
After you are resurrected there will be a ‘final’ judgment—a one-on-one interview with Jesus Christ. All of the decisions concerning who and what you are, and what kingdom of God you will be living in, will have already been decided! You have already been resurrected with an eternal body. Whatever glory your body has determines what kingdom you will be allowed into to live for eternity. So the ‘final’ judgment is not going to be one of meting-out more punishment for sins, or condemning you for how you lived your life, or shaming you for something you did during your life—all of those things have already been done, and your path is already set. The only left to determine is where you will live out your eternal life, and what will you be doing.
After you are resurrected you will be brought into a room to have a personal interview with Jesus Christ. It will be a wonderful, loving experience! Jesus will review the choices you made during your life—your desires and the decisions you made to obtain those desires. And based on Christ’s deep and personal understanding of you, He will present to you options for your future. He will show you ‘worlds without end’ He has made to provide you with a place to live; and He will discuss with you all of the millions of choices you have to spend your time—everything from simple pleasures of daily life to work, learning, service, travel, etc., etc. The choices are and will be beyond your wildest dreams! And the two of you will decide what will make you the most happy—what is it that you desire the most? And once you have made your decision about where you want to spend eternity, you will be sent off to live your life based upon your own agency and the choices you made.
How will it be determined where you will spend eternity?
And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh. And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness. These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.
And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.
O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me. I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.
As you can see, you and only you determine your destiny—not God. You choose your path in this life based upon the desires of your own heart—whether to do good or to do evil.
When you sin, a portion of the spirit of God leaves you, causing you to feel guilt. When you repent, a portion of the spirit of God returns to you, causing you to feel joy, and lose the feeling of guilt.
If you have fully repented, the spirit of God will have returned and you will receive a Celestial body.
If you have only partially repented, and you are left with only a Terrestrial level of God’s spirit within you, you will receive a Terrestrial body.
If you have not repented at all, you will be found with a Telestial level of God’s spirit within you and will receive a Telestial body.
At the final judgment, when you are sitting down with Jesus Christ, he cannot change who you are. You have already been resurrected! Who and what you are is already ‘set-in-stone’ for eternity. All the Savior can do for you now is to place you in the most positive circumstances He can. He will discuss with you the options available to you, based upon who you have become. And then the two of you, together, will decide where you will live and what you will do for eternity. And even then, your agency will prevail and you will be the one to choose.