Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, scene 2, line 72
Mortal life is too short. We know that each one of us, regardless of our cultural background, educational attainment or even economic status will face this inevitable event called death. We also have had experience of losing someone—either a family or a very close friend. We know how it feels to long for the presence of a loved one who already passed away. Some of us suffered even just the thought of departing this life and leaving loved ones behind. We try to be the best we can and do everything we can in order to live life to the fullest. But, does our existence only last until death? Here is what the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe (often called Mormons) about the afterlife.
Our Spirits Are Eternal
Mormons believe that we are all spirit sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father (Psalm 82:6; Acts 17:29). We existed and lived with Him even before we were born on this earth. Being born in this mortal life gave us an opportunity to have a physical body. A living person both have spirit and body combined. Life on earth is not perfect nor our physical bodies, therefore death is inevitable. During death, the spirit and the body are separated. Then, our physical body becomes dust again while our spirit continues to live. So, what happens to our spirits when we die?
Our physical bodies will be buried in the earth while our spirits go to a place called the Spirit World. This is where our spirits wait, prepare and learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ until. Jesus Christ taught in the parable of the “Rich Man and Lazarus” the importance of living our lives righteously in order to have peace in the spirit world (Luke 16:19-31). In the Spirit World, our state will either be a state of happiness—Paradise or a state of misery—Prison or sometimes called Hell. The prophet Alma from the Book of Mormon clearly explained these two states:
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—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good… 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 (Alma 40:12-14).
Opportunities for Continuous Learning in the Afterlife
God is just and merciful. He knows that not everyone has the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ on earth. Therefore, He made it possible for those who died before hearing the Gospel to have an opportunity to learn in the Spirit World before the resurrection.
When Jesus Christ died, His body rests in the tomb and His spirit went to the Spirit World. When He was on the Spirit World, He organized and taught His gospel to the spirits there. He also caused His gospel to be preached to the spirits in prison (John 5:25-29; 1 Peter 4:6). If the spirits there accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ and repent of their sins, they can be forgiven and can have peace and joy. To fully receive happiness in the spirit world, ordinances should be done in behalf of the deceased in the temples on earth.
The only way to have peace and joy in the Spirit World is to accept and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we strive to follow the commandments of God while in this life, we will have eternal joy when we live again.
Our Spirit and Body Will be United and Immortal
Many accounts from the scriptures testifies that Jesus Christ and lived again (Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18; see also 3 Nephi 11:1-17). Jesus Christ overcame death through His atoning sacrifice for us. Through Him, life after death is possible for us. Each one of us will have the opportunity to live again whether we are good or bad (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Alma 11:44). We will all be resurrected, which means that our bodies and our spirits will be reunited again to its perfect form and will never be separated again, thus becoming immortal. As a loving parent, Heavenly Father wants to give the best for us and to inherit all that He has. The only way to be with our Him is to have a perfect body, meaning a body that will never be subject to death.
Death as part of God’s plan is just the beginning of our never-ending life. Death is similar to transferring to a new home where we can learn and prepare to be with our Heavenly Father so we can live with Him again in a state of unending joy, peace and progression.