After we go through this life, eventually we all die. The Christian world then believes that you either go to heaven or hell, but members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe that is it a little more glorious and hopeful than that.
When you die, your body dies, but your spirit continues to exist. Once you have died, you aren't suddenly a holy being. You are the same person you were before you died. In fact, one scripture reads (Alma 34:32-34):
So, death bed repentance doesn't work.
We believe that once you die, you go to one of two places: Spirit Paradise or Spirit Prison. Where you go is determined by what you did and who you became in the mortal life. We also believe that they are not acutal places, but states of mind. Where you dwell depends on who you were in mortality and whether you were baptized by one with authority from God and kept the commandments that He gave you.
However, this isn't the end of the journey, this is just another stopping point and where one of the greatest mercies of the plan of salvation takes place.
What if you didn't have the chance to be baptized or accept the gospel of Jesus Christ? What if you lived your entire life on some rock, isolated from the rest of mankind? Is it fair that you would go to spirit prison and never have a chance to accept the gospel? What if you would have accepted it, if you had only had the chance? (Little children who die without baptism are not damned. Read the blog I wrote about that here.)
The Lord has prepared a way for all men to come to him. In Corinthians 15:29 it says:
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?This implies that baptism for the dead occurred when Christ's church was on the earth. What is baptism for the dead?
Baptism for the dead is when the living stand in proxy for those who have died without having the opportunity to be baptized in this life. Proxy means a person authorized to act for another. Baptism can only occur in the flesh under the proper authority, so similarly to how Christ suffered in proxy for our sins, we have the opportunity to be baptized in proxy for those who have gone on before. This doesn't mean that they are forced to accept being baptized as a member of God's church. Instead, this just opens the door for their spirit to accept the gospel if they want to. Otherwise, there would be no chance for them to do so. We learn in 1 Peter 4:6:
for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.For
I know that death is not the end of life and that all men are given opportunities to come to Christ and be forgiven of their sins so they can dwell with their Heavenly Father again. He is a just God, and He wants ALL his children to return to Him if they will only do the things that He has required of them. I know that God's ways bring us enduring happiness in this life and the next.
Next Monday I'll discuss what happens after Spirit Paradise and Spirit Prison.