I was doing a little studying about the Spirit World and come upon an outstanding article by someone named Dale C. Mouritsen. It comes from the January 1977 Ensign and can be seen here. Why do we not have this kind of stuff in the Ensign today? Maybe we do and I don’t notice. The article is 7 pages long and for those who don’t want to read the entire thing, or would like an opportunity to comment on the article I would like to provide a small and simple review of the highlights.
There is a quote from Joseph Smith that says that saints should study about life and death ‘more than any other subject’ and that ‘if we have any claim on Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important subject.’ (Teachings p. 324)
There are several after death experiences repeated in this article. These experiences were reported by modern day prophets and apostles and their families and provide some interesting perspective. One of the experiences comes from Heber J. Grant. He apparently had a wife die, and then later had two sons die. Prior to his second sons death he had a dream about his wife returning with a messenger to take the son to the spirit world. Just prior to the boys death he and his then current wife felt the presence of the mother of this boy and were greatly comforted . This brings comfort to me as well. I often wonder about going to the spirit world and wondering where to go and what to do. This article let me know that there will be people waiting for us, and that there will be much good to do when we get there.
The article provides a great scriptural reference for the spirit world of Alma 40:11-13.
It appears that the primary work done in the spirit world may be missionary work. The spirit world is referred to as a prison for some. This article states that it is chiefly a place of learning and waiting. Presided Lorenzo Snow made what I find a thrilling statement regarding the Spirit World. He believed ‘that when the gospel is preached to the spirits in prison, the success attending that preaching will be far greater than that attending the preaching of our Elders in this life. I believe there will be a very few indeed of those spirits who will not gladly receive the Gospel when it is carried to them. The circumstances there will be a thousand times more favorable.’ (Millennial Star 56:50) I greatly look forward to this. I sometimes believe that our Heavenly Father will win his battle with Satan not just on principle but in numbers as well. I hope this is true.
In terms of location, Joseph Smith taught that the spirit world is very close to us. (Teachings p. 326) Brigham Young taught that the spirit world is on this earth (Discourses p. 376)
Ella Jensen visited the spirit world and was then raised from the dead by Lorenzo Snow. She recalled that ‘Some [spirits] inquired about their friends and relatives on the earth. Among the number was my cousin. He asked me how the folks were getting along and said it grieved him to hear that some of the boys were using tobacco, liquor and many things that were injurious to them.’. (Improvement Era, October 1929, p.974) Joseph F. Smith said ‘Indeed our deceased loved ones are greatly concerned about our well-being and happiness and can be appointed, when there is a need, to bring messages of warning, reproof, or instruction to us’. (Gospel Doctrine, p.436) I have felt that this is the case for our ancestors having an interest in us. It appears that the veil works both ways, but can be open according to the will of God. Perhaps there is also a perfecting the saints work going on in the spirit world as well, including mortal saints here.
Apparently there are no infants in the spirit world. All who reside there are in adult form as men and women.
Some worry about children who die but do not get sealed to anyone in the temple. But it appears that normal relationships that can lead to eternal marriage and sealing are part of ‘life’ in the spirit world. Melvin J. Ballard made this amazing observation:
‘You mothers worry about you little children who have died. We do not perform sealing for them. I lost a son six years of age, and I saw him a man in the spirit world after his death, and I saw how he had exercised his own freedom of choice and would obtain of his own will and volition a companionship …’ (Sermons and Missionary Service of Melvin J. Ballard, p.260). I have not thought much about this previously, but it certainly makes sense. It seems to me that the preexistence, mortal life, and the spirit world constitute what may be a continuous probation.
Wilford Woodruff raised his wife Phoebe from the dead and reported this:
‘her spirit left her body, and she saw it lying upon the bed, and the sisters weeping….. two messengers came into the room…One of the messengers informed her that she could have her choice: she might go to rest in the spirit world, or, …. she could have the privilege of returning to her tabernacle and continuing her labors upon the earth. …. At the moment that decision was made the power of faith rested upon me, and I administered unto her, her spirit entered her tabernacle…(Leaves From My Journal, 1909, pp.59-60).
I was very excited to read such an outstanding article, and I highly recommend it for anyone who seeks a greater understanding of the spirit world. I would be glad to read your comments.