Mormon Beliefs After Death
What do Mormons believe about life after death?
At the end of our mortal lives on earth, we all die. Mormons believe that life does not end with death. Mormons believe death is the departure of the spirit from a body that is no longer inhabitable. The spirit leaves the body and enters the spirit world, where he or she waits for resurrection and judgment. Mormon prophet Joseph F. Smith saw a vision of the Spirit World. His account, and the revelations of Joseph Smith, reveal that we enjoy felicity with our families and friends in the Spirit World, but that we also long to be resurrected, for only in the perfect union of our spirits with our bodies can we experience true joy. Joseph F. Smith saw that Christ Himself taught the spirits of the righteous during the three days that His body lay in the tomb. He saw that Christ ordained prophets who were already deceased to also go among the spirits of the rebellious to teach them the gospel, a work that is ongoing. While in the spirit world, those who did not have a chance to hear the gospel of Christ on earth are taught by these missionaries and other emissaries of Christ. The children of God who didn’t hear the gospel on earth may choose to accept it in the spirit world and may receive all the eternal blessings that come with that acceptance.
It is Mormon belief that after the resurrection people will be assigned to one of three kingdoms, each having a certain degree of glory (so glorious as to be unimaginable to us), based upon their faithfulness and the completion of temple ordinances. The sun, moon, and stars represent the three degrees of glory. Christ made it possible for each person to receive the highest degree of glory if the person obeys His commandments and applies His atonement to his life while on earth. This requires humility and repentance from sins. The Mormon Church teaches that this assignment to kingdoms will occur at judgment, the event at which our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will preside and we will be judged according to our deeds and intentions during our mortal life. Our bodies will be in their resurrected, perfected state, and we will be assigned to one of three kingdoms: the Celestial, the Terrestrial, or the Telestial. The Celestial kingdom is the highest and most glorious of all the kingdoms; next comes the Terrestrial, and finally, the Telestial. Mormons believe the Celestial kingdom is where we may live eternally as family units and with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Mormonism also teaches that each husband and wife—each eternal and worthy companionship created in sacred Mormon temples can eventually create worlds of their own. This is the ultimate goal of the plan of salvation–to inherit all that Christ has, including the power to create. Mormons believe that this state of being eternally with God and like God (although never supplanting God) equates to a fulness of joy. (See Mormon Beliefs:Why Mormons are called the “Godmakers.“)
The knowledge that family ties and friendships continue after death; the knowledge that teaching and missionary work in the spirit world “levels the playing field” for those who lived and died without receiving the gospel; the knowledge that all will be resurrected; the knowledge that nearly everyone who has ever lived will inherit a kingdom of unimaginable glory–all these things give Latter-day Saints a hope that transcends death.
Another glorious doctrine was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He learned through revelation that little children who die are resurrected at the age they had attained at death. In the afterlife, the mothers of these children may have the joy and recompense of raising them to maturity.
The doctrines of Mormonism bring much comfort to members who have lost loved ones. Mormon funerals are inspiring and hopeful. Mormon doctrine answers questions that can bring despair and confusion if left unanswered. God loves His children. His “mission statement” can be found in the Pearl of Great Price: “For this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).