Lesson 20: The Kingdoms of Glory
1900: Deseret Sunday School Union Leaflets
Lesson 203: Degrees of Glory
Different degrees of glory: –
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3.)
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. (I Cor. 15:40-42. See also Matt. 13:43.)
And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one. And the glory of the terrestrial is one even as the glory of the moon is one. And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world. (Doc. & Cov. 76:96-98.)
The Celestial glory: –
They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water I his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given, that by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power, and who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true. They are they who are the church of the first-born. They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things – they are they who are priests and Kings, who have received of his fullness, and of his glory, and are Priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchisedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son. wherefore, as it is written, they are Gods, even the sons of God – wherefore all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs, and they are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.
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These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ for ever and ever. These are they whom the shall bring with him when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people. These are they who shall have part in the first resurrection. These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.
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These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood. These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical. (Doc. & Cov. 76:51-70.)
The Terrestrial glory. –
And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the first born, who have received the fullness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament. Behold, these are they who died without law; and also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it. These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men. These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fullness. These are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fullness of the Father. Wherefore they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun. These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God. And now this is the end of the vision which we saw of the terrestrial, that the lord commanded us to write while we were yet in the Spirit. (Doc. & Cov. 76:71-80. See also Doc. & Cov. 88:99-100.)
The Telestial glory: –
and again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament. These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus. These are they who deny not the Holy Spirit. These are they who are thrust down to hell. These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work. These are they who receive not of his fullness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial; and the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial; and also the telestial receive it of the ministering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them, for they shall be heirs of salvation. And thus we saw in the heavenly vision the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding. And no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it.
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But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the sea shore. (Doc. & Cov. 76: 81-90,109.)
To the Teacher: – Read Doc. & Cov. section 76 throughout, with the references therein found. Read also “Degrees of Glory” in talmage’s “Articles of Faith,” lecture 22:18-27.
The Names of the Degrees of Glory. – The term celestial in its common usage is thus defined: Heavenly; having divine attributes; divinely excellent. In our theology it is applied to the highest of the heavenly glories – the glory of the abode of God. The term terrestrial is commonly applied to things of earth, as distinguished from heavenly things, therefore it signifies in every way a state inferior to that which is called celestial. The word telestial is not in common use except in the theology of our Church. It is applied to the lowest of the three kingdoms. the only English word approaching it in form is telestic, which is defined thus: “tending towards the end or final accomplishment; tending to accomplish a purpose.”
Church of the First-Born: – A name used in scripture to designate the Church of Christ, and more particularly those who are exalted to the highest or celestial glory, and who are therefore with Christ and the Father. Jesus Christ is often called the First-born. See Hebrews 12:23; also Doc. & Cov. 1:14, and the numerous references there found.
New Covenant: – The biblical writings before the coming of Christ were known as the Old Covenant, those of the days of the Savior and the years following as the New Covenant The terms Old and New Testaments came then to be applied to the books themselves. (See 1 Cor. 11:25; Jer. 31:31.) the Gospel as restored in the present dispensation is now known as the new and everlasting covenant See Doc. & Cov. 22:1. also see 1:22, and the many references there given.)
In our last lesson we studied the difference between salvation and exaltation in the kingdom of heaven. We saw also that for those who are saved or exalted many grades or degrees of glory are prepared; Christ illustrated this by saying that in His Father’s house are many mansions. The apostle Paul speaks of the glories, which he compares to the glory of the sun, of the moon, and of the stars; two of these he names as celestial and terrestrial. In the revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord names them as follows: Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial.
The Celestial glory is the highest of which any knowledge is given us. It is provided for those who have been obedient to all the commandments of God; those who have been faithful and valiant in the cause of truth. They are to be priests and kings of the Most High God, and are to dwell with God and Christ forever. They are to come forth in the first resurrection; they are called just men made perfect; their glory is compared to that of the sun.
The Terrestrial glory is the next in order below the celestial. It is provided for those who have not obeyed all the commandments of God, but who, nevertheless, have striven to be honorable, but have not been valiant in the cause of truth. Those who rejected the testimony of truth in the flesh, but afterward received it when Christ or His servants preached to them in the spirit world, will receive this glory.
The Telestial glory is yet lower. It is provided for those who have not committed the unpardonable sin, but who have not received the gospel nor the testimony of Jesus. they are not to be redeemed until the last resurrection. Many of them are to suffer much before they come into this glory. Great numbers of people will reach only the telestial glory; for we are told that those who receive it are as innumerable as the stars in the heavenly firmament or as the sand on the sea shore.
What We May Learn from This Lesson.
1. That for those who are saved in the kingdom of heaven there are many grades of reward and glory. 2. Three main divisions of glory are named. 3. These are the Celestial, the Terrestrial, and the Telestial. 4. The Celestial glory is the highest of all. 5. It is for those only who have been faithful in keeping all the commandments of God. 6. They are called kings and priests to the Most High. 7. They are to dwell with Christ and the Father. 8. They are said to belong to the Church of the First-born. 9. Their glory, being the highest, is compared to that of the sun. 10. The terrestrial glory is the next lower. 11. It is compared in brightness to that of the moon. 12. It is provided for those who have not been faithful in all things, but who have tried to be honorable and good. 13. Those who rejected the word of God while they lived on the earth, yet who received it when it was preached to them in the spirit world, shall receive this glory. 14. The Telestial glory is yet lower. 15. It is for those who have not received the Gospel nor the testimony of Jesus, yet who have not committed the unpardonable sin. 16. Those who receive it are to be first punished for their sins. 17. They are not to be redeemed until the last resurrection. 18. Those who inherit this glory are many.
Questions on the Lesson.
1. Show by scripture that those who are saved will not all receive the same glory. 2. Quote the saying of Paul regarding the different degrees of glory. 3. Name the three degrees of glory as they have been named in modern revelation. 4. To what is the celestial glory compared? 5. The terrestrial? 6. The telestial? 7. Who are to receive the celestial glory? 8. When will they come from their graves? 9. Where are they to dwell? 10. For whom is the terrestrial glory prepared? 11. For whom is the telestial glory reserved? 12. State what you know as to the numbers who will receive the telestial glory. 13. Define the terms celestial, terrestrial and telestial. 14. what is meant by the Church of the First-born? 15. Define the term “New Covenant” as used in scripture.
1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley
Chapter 27: VISION OF THE KINGDOMS OF GOD (Section 76)
Never in the annals of time has mortal man received a more glorious vision than that recorded in the 76th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This revelation will stand as incontrovertible proof of the inspiration of Joseph Smith. At the conclusion of this revelation, the Prophet records the following:
Joseph Smith’s Estimate
“Nothing could be more pleasing to the Saints upon the order of the Kingdom of the Lord, than the light which burst upon the world through the foregoing vision. Every law, every commandment, every promise, every truth, and every point touching the destiny of man, from Genesis to Revelation, where the purity of the scriptures remains unsullied by the folly of man, go to show the perfection of the theory [of different degrees of glory in the future life] and witnesses the fact that that document is a transcript from the records of the eternal world. The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action; the continued duration for completion, in order that the heirs of salvation may confess the Lord and bow the knee; the rewards for faithfulness, and the punishments for sins, are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every honest man is constrained to exclaim: ‘It came from God.’” (DHC, Vol. I, p. 252.)
“In the month of February, while working upon the revision of the gospel according to St. John, they [Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon] came to the 29th verse of the fifth chapter, which, referring to those in their graves who shall hear the voice of the Son of God, it stands in the English version as follows: ‘And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.’ This passage was given to the Prophet by the Spirit as follows: ‘They who have done good, to the resurrection of the just; and they who have done evil, to the resurrection of the unjust.’ ‘This caused us to marvel,’ says the Prophet, ‘for it was given unto us of the Spirit. And while we meditated upon these things the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shown round about.’ Then followed a vision, the like of which, for beauty, for reasonableness, for value as doctrine, for comforting influence, for vindication of the mercy and justice of God – stands unsurpassed even in sacred literature. …” (CHC, Vol. I, p. 272.)
The introduction to this vision is a hymn of praise, exalting the majesty and wisdom and glory of God.
“Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior. Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doings none can find out. His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand. From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail. For thus saith the Lord – I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught. For by my spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will – yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.” (D&C 76:1-10.)
A Great Testimony
This is the testimony of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. In this glorious vision, these men beheld the Savior, which circumstances are described as follows: “And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness; And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: that he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father – That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” (D&C 76:20-24.) This is one of the greatest testimonies in all the history of the world.
Then follows a vision of Lucifer and the Sons of Perdition and a description of the dreadful consequences of knowing the truth and then forsaking it and being overcome by the evil one. No sentence in this revelation, descriptive of this torment and suffering should be omitted. Accordingly we quote verses 25-48.
Lucifer and the Sons of Perdition
“And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him – he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning! And while we were yet in the spirit, the Lord commanded us that we should write the vision; for we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ – wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about. And we saw a vision of the sufferings of those with whom he made war and overcame, for thus came the voice of the Lord unto us: thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power – They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born; For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity; Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come – Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame. These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels – And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath. For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made. And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us – That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him; Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him. Wherefore, he saves all except them – they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment – And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows; Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof; Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again; Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation.”
Sons of Perdition – Are They Resurrected?
There are few references in the Doctrine and Covenants which have called fort more comment or lead to more controversy than that with reference to the Sons of perdition. Who are they? What will be their lot? The writer heard President Charles W. Penrose speak on this subject in the April conference, 1922. We quote: “There was an angel in the presence of God, of great authority and power, and he was called a Son of the Morning, a bright luminary among the spirits in the celestial world, and he rebelled against the Father and tried to get the glory that belonged to the Son, and he was turned away and cast down with those who followed him, and he was called perdition, and the heavens wept over him when he was cast out. Then those, who by his power, while they are in the flesh, after receiving the testimony of Jesus Christ, the spirit of prophecy; after receiving the Holy Ghost, turn away from its light altogether and deny the Holy Ghost and deny the Father and Son; when they thus turn away, they come under Satan’s power and his dominion and are called Sons of Perdition, and these are the exception to the rule spoken of in that revelation. All the rest are brought forth by the resurrection of the dead into some degree of glory, as explained, not in that single verse, as some people think it ought to have been, but throughout the whole revelation, and we learn clearly that those who are eventually saved, redeemed, brought out of darkness, brought out of punishment, they are brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, into one of these degrees of glory, all but these exceptions. He says he saves all except them; they shall go away with the devil and his angels into everlasting punishment.
“Now then, some of our brethren have taken the notion in their heads that when he says all except them, that it means they will not be resurrected. I would like briefly to refer you to the 88th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, in which this subject is elaborated; that is, the things revealed in the 76th Section in regard to these three different degrees of glory into which all these persons are brought forth to salvation, are congregated and arranged and organized with these exceptions. … it says: ‘they who remain – ’ who are they that remain? It tells us these are the exceptions, these who go away with the devil and his angels and are called Sons of Perdition, and they who remain shall also be quickened; but they shall return to their own place, because they would not receive that which they might have had, but frittered away their time and season for repentance, and they go away into everlasting punishment with the devil and his angels. Read Section 29 of the Doctrine and Covenants, particularly verses 26 to 30; also 88:32 to 33.” (Conference Report, April 6, 1922, pp. 30,3 1.) The scriptures declare: “They will be quickened,” but where will they go? The clear inference is that they will find no place among the three kingdoms.
The Second Death
Frequent references have been made in these lessons to the second death. quoting Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. I, p. 288: “After man became a mortal being, the Lord gave him another law. What was it? ‘You have now got into a condition that you know good and evil by experience, and I will give you a law adapted to your capacity,’ says the Lord, ‘And I now command you, that you shall not do evil.’ What is the penalty? Second death. What is that? After you have been redeemed from the grave, and come into the presence of God, you will have to stand there to be judged; and if you have done evil, you will be banished everlastingly from His presence – body and spirit united together; this is what is called the second death. Why is it called the second death? Because the first is the dissolution of body and spirit, and the second is merely a banishment – a becoming dead to the things of righteousness; and as I have already remarked, wherever a being is placed in such a condition, there perfect misery reigns; I care not where you place them; you may take nay of the celestial worlds, and place millions of beings there that are dead to righteousness, and how long will it be before they make a perfect hell of it? they would make a hell of any heaven the Lord ever made. It is the second death – the penalty attached to the commandment given to the posterity of Adam, viz., ‘you shall cease to do evil. …’”
The sons of perdition committed high treason against God, the greatness of their punishment and the end thereof, no man knoweth; neither is it revealed, nor will it be revealed, except to those who partake of it. This punishment for sins, self-inflicted, is terrible to be borne. The Lord in his goodness warns and forewarns his children against the bitterness, the remorse, the suffering, and the sorrow which follow sin.
1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley
Chapter 28: DEGREES OF GLORY (Section 76)
Degrees of Glory
To appreciate the glorious doctrine revealed in this vision, one should have a knowledge of the ideas prevailing among Christians of that period. There were, according to those notions, two places – heaven and hell. Heaven was a state and place of glory, peace, rest, joy – the glory unspeakable, the joy enduring forever. Hell, a state and place of enduring misery, sorrow and suffering, the least of which suffering was to be the most frightful physical torture of which man can conceive. If one gained heaven by the narrowest margin, he entered upon a complete enjoyment of all its joy, equal with the angels and holiest of saints. If he missed it by the narrowest margin, he was doomed to everlasting torment, equal to the wickedest of men. This applied even to little children, dying in their innocence.
It was left for Joseph Smith to lift the veil of darkness from men’s futures and restore the forgotten Christian principle that in God’s kingdom, there are many mansions, that every man shall be rewarded according to his works, and that there are glories celestial, terrestrial, and telestial in the kingdoms of God.
D&C 76:50-70, 92-96 incl., Section 130:1-4.
Requirements for entering this kingdom are stated in these references. They may be summarized as follows:
1. Those who come forth in the morning of the resurrection of the just. (Verse 50.)
2. Those who were baptized according to the commandments. (Verse 51.)
3. Those who overcome by faith and are sealed by the Holy spirit of promise.
4. Members of the Church of the First born. (Verse 53.)
5. Those who are priests and kings unto God.
Joseph Fielding Smith commenting on this said: “To enter the celestial [kingdom] and obtain exaltation it is necessary that the whole law be kept. The word of the Lord is that they of the celestial world are those sanctified from all unrighteousness. (D&C 88:21, cf. verse 18.) to become sanctified there are certain definite covenants we must keep in faithfulness, living by ‘every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.’ ‘They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power.’ These are they ‘who overcome by faith and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.’ (D&C 76:51-53. See also verses 54-56.) And they who are not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise and whoa re not just and true, need not expect these great blessings.” (WP, p. 206.) Continuing, he said: “Do you desire to enter into the celestial kingdom and receive eternal life? Then be willing to keep all of the commandments the Lord may give to you. Baptism and confirmation are the ordinances by which we come into the kingdom of God. But these ordinances of themselves will not grant us a place of exaltation! The man who is baptized and confirmed, who pays his tithing, keeps the Word of Wisdom and attends to the ordinary duties required of the members of the Church, is entitled to enter that kingdom. yet he may be merely a servant there. If that is all he is willing to do, he cannot be exalted. he will not become an heir and receive the fulness of that kingdom. Other ordinances and obligations will be required of him if he obtains exaltation and becomes in every sense of the word an heir, possessing ‘all that the Father hath.’” (WP, p. 207.)
Church of the First Born
Who are those referred to as the Church of the Firstborn? Again Joseph Fielding Smith speaks with clearness on this important subject: “Each person baptized into the Church is under obligation to keep the commandments of the Lord. He is under covenant, for baptism is a ‘new and an everlasting covenant.’ (D&C 22:1.) When he has proved himself by a worthy life, having been faithful in all things required of him, then it is his privilege to receive other covenants and to take upon himself other obligations which will make him an heir, and he will become a member of the ‘church of the Firstborn.’ Into his hands ‘the Father has given all things,’ He will be a priest and a king, receiving of the Father’s fulness, and of his glory.” (WP, p. 208.)
From reading this revelation, it is shown that there will be many who will enter into the celestial kingdom who will not be partakers of the blessings of the Church of the First-born. To receive this glory and exaltation, they must become the sons of God and the daughters of God through covenant and obedience. All of those who overcome by faith and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds upon all those who are just and true, who have entered into covenant in the temple of God, and have had sealed upon them the blessings of exaltation in the Celestial kingdom, are become thereby sons and daughters unto God.
References: 76:71-80, 91-97.
Who are those of the Terrestrial order typified by the moon? What are the qualifications for entering that glory? A careful reading of verses 71 to 80 will answer these questions. Three classes are named:
(1) Those who died without the law (Verse 72).
(2) Those who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it. (Verse 74).
(3) The honorable men of the earth who were blinded by the craftiness of men (Verse 75).
The following quotation amplifies this: “Into the terrestrial kingdom will go all those who are honorable, and who have lived clean, virtuous lives, but who would not receive the gospel, but in the spirit world repented and accepted it as far as it can be given unto them. Many of these have been blinded by tradition and the love of the world, and have not been able to see the beauties of the gospel. Into this kingdom, or glory, will also go these who are without law, and therefore redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ. (See Mosiah 3:11 and 15:24; Moroni 8:22; D&C 29:50.) Another class is those who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus. All who enter this glory, ‘receive not the crown over the Kingdom of our God,’ which is reserved for the faithful in the celestial kingdom. Jesus Christ, the Son, will visit them but not the Father, and they receive blessings by ministrations of those from the celestial. Their glory is far greater than the glories in the telestial. (Verse 91.) The Lord will make them as happy, and will bless them as far as he can but their blessings are restricted while those of the celestial are unlimited.” (CHMR, Vol. II, pp. 58, 59.)
References: 76:81-90, 98-113
All resurrected people, and that includes all people, who are not entitled to a place in the celestial or terrestrial kingdoms will have a place in the telestial, except those who are classed as the Sons of Perdition. Nowhere else are the conditions for a place in the telestial kingdom laid down with such plainness as in the following verses (81-90): “And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament. These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus. These are they who deny not the Holy Spirit. These are they who are thrust down to hell. These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work. These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial; And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial. and also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation. And thus, we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding; And no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it.”
“And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world; For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas. These are they who say they are some of one and some of another – some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch; But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant. Last of all, these all are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up into the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud. These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. These are they who suffer the wrath of God on earth. These are they who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. These are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work; when he shall deliver up the kingdom, and present it unto the Father, spotless, saying: I have overcome and have trodden the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of almighty God. Then shall he be crowned with the crown of his glory, to sit on the throne of his power to reign forever and ever.
“But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore; And heard the voice of the Lord, saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever; For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared; And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God an Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end. This is the end of the vision which we saw, which we were commanded to write while we were yet in the spirit.” (Verses 98-113.)
Brigham Young makes the following illuminating comments: “In the book of Doc. and Cov. these glories are called telestial, terrestrial, and celestial, which is the highest. These are worlds, different departments, or mansions, in our Father’s house. Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another’s sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the Celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them. They never can become Gods, nor be crowned as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold scepters of glory, majesty, and power in the celestial kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please. … Will this apply to any of you? Your own hearts can answer.” (JD, Vol. I, p. 312.)
Who Will Be Among the Elect
Our life in the hereafter will be a result of the life we lead in this world, and every soul will find the place and conditions that best fit him. All the ordinances of the gospel pertain to the celestial Kingdom of God, but we are not told what ordinances, if any, the Lord will require of those who enter the other kingdoms. Brigham Young in one of his discourses informed the elders that they were not sent out to preach salvation for the terrestrial or the telestial kingdoms but to bring people to repentance and into the celestial kingdom of God.
This great vision closes with a grand epilogue recorded in the last five verses. Read them. “… Thus the innumerable degrees of merit amongst mankind are provided for in an infinity of graded glories. The Celestial kingdom is supremely honored by the personal ministrations of the Father and the Son. The Terrestrial kingdom will be administered through the higher, without a fulness of glory. The Telestial is governed through the ministrations of the Terrestrial, by ‘angels who are appointed to minister for them.’ It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement within each of the three specified kingdoms will be provided for; though as to possible progress from one kingdom to another the scriptures make no positive affirmation. …” (AF, p. 409.)
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2.)
In these comforting words of the Master to his disciples, this great doctrine, the degrees of glory, is clearly implied; but the world was in darkness as to its full meaning until the Lord gave to Joseph Smith this marvelous vision, making clear that in the world to come men will be rewarded according to their works, and will go to the place in which they are best fitted to live.
Nowhere else in all scripture is the question – “where do we go from here?” – so completely and so satisfactorily answered as in this revelation. The way that leads to the highest, the Celestial glory, is plainly marked, and the appeal made to all men is to strive for it.
Even the place provided for the least deserving, for those of the lowest degree of glory, is glorious beyond our imagination. “And thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding; and no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it.” (D&C 76:89, 90.)