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Inheritors Of The Telestial Kingdom


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When I was first taught the Restored Gospel, way back in the late spring and summer of 1970, I was absolutely thrilled to learn of the unique Latter Day Saint doctrine of the three degrees of glory.

Prior to my memorable encounters with the LDS missionaries in that bygone era, believe it or not, I was one of those rare individiuals who was actually engaged in a diligent personal search to try and find the Lord's one true church, if it actually existed. Many churches and their claims were investigated, but until I found the 'Mormons' my quest to find the true religion was filled with disappointment and disillusionment. But, happily, the reverse was true with regard to my investigation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

So much of what I learned from the LDS missionaries electrified me and inspired my imagination. Strangely, it seemed I somehow already knew (somewhere deep within my spirit) much of what I was being taught. But the doctine of the three degrees of glory must certainly be included in the list of the top five Latter Dat Saint teachings that had so powerfully and profoundly effected me. It just seemed so merciful and fair; so worthy of a God who is supposed to be the embodiment and epitomy of pure love and compassion.

So this leads me to my topic question: Speaking hypothetically, if you were engaged in a gospel discussion on the plan of salvation with a sincere non-member and you didn't have the scriptures at hand, and if he or she were to ask you what the Lord's qualifications are that have to be met in order for an individual to inherit the Telestial Kingdom of glory -- how would you answer their question?

There's a method to my madness here, so please don't esteem this topic question too unimportant or obscure to be of significant value to pursue. Believe me when I say a very interesting discussion might grow out of this basic question.

Edited by teddyaware
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Basically be a good person. Having been forgiven of all your sins. Knowing you aren't able to see God unless you have your baptism, endowments, and are married to someone you've never met performed vicariously by someone on the other side and only then will you meet your maker as you rise to the top.

Edit: I answered off the cuff. I guess my answer would be more for the terrestial.

Edited by Tacenda
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So this leads me to my topic question: Speaking hypothetically, if you were engaged in a gospel discussion on the plan of salvation with a sincere non-member and you didn't have your scriptures at hand, and if he or she were to ask you what the Lord's qualifications are that have to be met in order for an individual to inherit the Telestial Kingdom of glory -- how would you answer their question?

The Lord's qualifications are of course laid out in some detail in DC 76, but of course, assuming you don't have your DC with you (like on your smart phone), you could get fairly close to it by explaining that the Telestial is for the unrepentant thieves, liars, adulterers, murderers, and the rest of such ilk. The keyword I think being "unrepentant." We don't know which of the kingdoms anyone is going to inherit, except perhaps King David, where the Lord has indicated that he has lost his chance at the Celestial, so probably inherits the Terrestrial. If a bad person repents, who never had the chance to accept Christ in life, then who are we to judge which kingdom he or she will inherit?

At least that is my take.

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Basically be a good person. Having been forgiven of all your sins. Knowing you aren't able to see God unless you have your baptism, endowments, and are married to someone you've never met performed vicariously by someone on the other side and only then will you meet your maker as you rise to the top.

Sounds like you're describing the Terrestrial, Tacenda. He was asking about the Telestial.

The qualifications for the telestial are quite well set forth here in DC 76:81-90 & 98-106

81 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.

82 These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus.

83 These are they who deny not the Holy Spirit.

84 These are they who are thrust down to hell.

85 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.

86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;

87 And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial.

88 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.

89 And thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding;

90 And no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it

...

98 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;

99 For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.

100 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;

101 But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.

102 Last of all, these all are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud.

103 These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.

104 These are they who suffer the wrath of God on earth.

105 These are they who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.

106 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;

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my views have changed so drastically over the years I am not sure how or what to answer with. Speaking of salvation, the singular sense of heaven is more practical. The entire Bible and Book of Mormon spell it out so firmly. Three degrees of glory is problematic in discussing with your average person outside of the church. even in the church it is very confusing and contradictory. I believe we are already in the telestial kingdom as is spoken of in scripture so for me it is more of a question on what did I do to inherit the kingdom I now live in.

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I believe we are already in the telestial kingdom as is spoken of in scripture so for me it is more of a question on what did I do to inherit the kingdom I now live in.

Another very funny response! LOL! I didn't realize my question would be fodder for so much humor . I'm getting a very good laugh out of this.

"Three degrees of glory is problematic in discussing with your average person outside of the church. even in the church it is very confusing and contradictory."

Now this is the kind of response I was hoping for, Rob. What do you think is "confusing and contradictory" about the doctrine of the three degrees of glory?

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The Lord's qualifications are of course laid out in some detail in DC 76, but of course, assuming you don't have your DC with you (like on your smart phone), you could get fairly close to it by explaining that the Telestial is for the unrepentant thieves, liars, adulterers, murderers, and the rest of such ilk. The keyword I think being "unrepentant." We don't know which of the kingdoms anyone is going to inherit, except perhaps King David, where the Lord has indicated that he has lost his chance at the Celestial, so probably inherits the Terrestrial. If a bad person repents, who never had the chance to accept Christ in life, then who are we to judge which kingdom he or she will inherit?

At least that is my take.

Now, with the portion of your post highlighted above, we're getting somewhere! Are the inheritors of the Telestial Kingdom really unrepentant? If you believe so, please cite scriptural verses that sustain the validity of your point.

Edited by teddyaware
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So this leads me to my topic question: Speaking hypothetically, if you were engaged in a gospel discussion on the plan of salvation with a sincere non-member and you didn't have your scriptures at hand, and if he or she were to ask you what the Lord's qualifications are that have to be met in order for an individual to inherit the Telestial Kingdom of glory -- how would you answer their question?

If they were knowledgable enough about Mormonism to ask a question about the three degrees of glory, they would understand when I explained to them that I did not have my scriptures with me right now, but that this doctrine was taught in section 76 of the D&C, and encouraged them to read that section when they get a chance to understand more.

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If they were knowledgable enough about Mormonism to ask a question about the three degrees of glory, they would understand when I explained to them that I did not have my scriptures with me right now, but that this doctrine was taught in section 76 of the D&C, and encouraged them to read that section when they get a chance to understand more.

LOL! A very good practical answer, Zerinus. But not very thought provoking nor conducive to our discussion on this thread. So just for you I'll reframe the question:

Speaking hypothetically, if you and a sincere non-member were trapped on a desert island, with little hope of being soon found by rescuers, and if you didn't have your scriptures or a mobile divice with you, and if the two of you were engaged in a gospel discussion on the plan of salvation and he were to ask you what the Lord's qualifications are that have to be met in order for an individual to inherit the Telestial Kingdom of glory -- how would you answer his question?

Sorry if it bothers you that in this scenario you're not stranded with a good looking woman.

Edited by teddyaware
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When I was first taught the Restored Gospel, way back in the late spring and summer of 1970, I was absolutely thrilled to learn of the unique Latter Day Saint doctrine of the three degrees of glory.

Prior to my memorable encounters with the LDS missionaries in that bygone era, believe it or not, I was one of those rare individiuals who was actually engaged in a diligent personal search to try and find the Lord's one true church, if it actually existed. Many churches and their claims were investigated, but until I found the 'Mormons' my quest to find the true religion was filled with disappointment and disillusionment. But, happily, the reverse was true with regard to my investigation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

So much of what I learned from the LDS missionaries electrified me and inspired my imagination. Strangely, it seemed I somehow already knew (somewhere deep within my spirit) much of what I was being taught. But the doctine of the three degrees of glory must certainly be included in the list of the top five Latter Dat Saint teachings that had so powerfully and profoundly effected me. It just seemed so merciful and fair; so worthy of a God who is supposed to be the embodiment and epitomy of pure love and compassion.

So this leads me to my topic question: Speaking hypothetically, if you were engaged in a gospel discussion on the plan of salvation with a sincere non-member and you didn't have your scriptures at hand, and if he or she were to ask you what the Lord's qualifications are that have to be met in order for an individual to inherit the Telestial Kingdom of glory -- how would you answer their question?

There's a method to my madness here, so please don't esteem this topic question too unimportant or obscure to be of significant value to pursue. Believe me when I say a very interesting discussion might grow out of this basic question.

Just do what your doing now , and do not partake of the saving ordinances administered by the power of the Priesthood.

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Another very funny response! LOL! I didn't realize my question would be fodder for so much humor . I'm getting a very good laugh out of this.

"Three degrees of glory is problematic in discussing with your average person outside of the church. even in the church it is very confusing and contradictory."

Now this is the kind of response I was hoping for, Rob. What do you think is "confusing and contradictory" about the doctrine of the three degrees of glory?

Supposedly, in LDS doctrine, the telestial kingdom is reserved for the "unrepentant"- those who do not accept the gospel either in this life or the next but are also not considered sons of perdition. Here-

"Also in the spirit prison are those who rejected the gospel after it was preached to them either on earth or in the spirit prison. These spirits suffer in a condition known as hell. They have removed themselves from the mercy of Jesus Christ, who said, “Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:16–18). After suffering for their sins, they will be allowed, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to inherit the lowest degree of glory, which is the telestial kingdom." (Gospel Principles ch. 41, The Postmortal Spirit World)

The quoted scriptures from section 19 concerning the unrepentant pertain specifically to eh sons of perdition not any of the saved. All men must "repent" in order to be saved from hell eternally (after resurrection and judgment). God has no power to save anyone unless they come under the power of the atonement by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. It is thus contradiction to teach that man can be saved without repentance as long as he suffers himself for his own sins as the manual states but yet the scriptures make clear that no man can be saved after resurrection and judgment if he has not accepted Christ, repented of all his sins, and become born again. Now I personally testify that Christ's gospel requires repentance of all of ones sins in order to be saved from hell eternally. No man will ever find salvation without strict obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. If man does repent and finds salvation, at any point, he thus cannot be denied access to Gods throne within his very kingdom, fore- he is cleansed from all his sins and able to abide His presence.

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Speaking hypothetically, if you and a sincere non-member were trapped on a desert island, with little hope of being soon found by rescuers, and if you didn't have your scriptures or a mobile divice with you, and if the two of you were engaged in a gospel discussion on the plan of salvation and he were to ask you what the Lord's qualifications are that have to be met in order for an individual to inherit the Telestial Kingdom of glory -- how would you answer his question?

I would inform them that that doctrine is taught in D&C 76, and would relate to them what is written in that section about it verbatim from memory to the best of my ability.

Now this is the kind of response I was hoping for, Rob. What do you think is "confusing and contradictory" about the doctrine of the three degrees of glory?

I find nothing confusing or contradictory about the doctrine of the three degrees of glory as taught in section 76 of the D&C.

Edited by zerinus
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Now, with the portion of your post highlighted above, we're getting somewhere! Are the inheritors of the Telestial Kingdom really unrepentant? If you believe so, please cite scriptural verses that sustain the validity of your point.

Please see Gospel Principles, chapter 46, where it says regarding those who inherit the Telestial Kingdom:

These people did not receive the gospel or the testimony of Jesus either on earth or in the spirit world. They will suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millennium, when they will be resurrected. “These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.” These people are as numerous as the stars in heaven and the sand on the seashore. They will be visited by the Holy Ghost but not by the Father or the Son. (See D&C 76:81–88, 103–6, 109.)

Now, I did quote to you already the relevant parts of DC 76. See my earlier post.

By the way, the words "did not receive" in the quote above does NOT mean they never heard it. It means that they heard it but they rejected it. Rejecting it means they did not repent of their sins.

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Supposedly, in LDS doctrine, the telestial kingdom is reserved for the "unrepentant"- those who do not accept the gospel either in this life or the next but are also not considered sons of perdition. Here-

"Also in the spirit prison are those who rejected the gospel after it was preached to them either on earth or in the spirit prison. These spirits suffer in a condition known as hell. They have removed themselves from the mercy of Jesus Christ, who said, “Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:16–18). After suffering for their sins, they will be allowed, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to inherit the lowest degree of glory, which is the telestial kingdom." (Gospel Principles ch. 41, The Postmortal Spirit World)

The quoted scriptures from section 19 concerning the unrepentant pertain specifically to eh sons of perdition not any of the saved. All men must "repent" in order to be saved from hell eternally (after resurrection and judgment). God has no power to save anyone unless they come under the power of the atonement by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. It is thus contradiction to teach that man can be saved without repentance as long as he suffers himself for his own sins as the manual states but yet the scriptures make clear that no man can be saved after resurrection and judgment if he has not accepted Christ, repented of all his sins, and become born again. Now I personally testify that Christ's gospel requires repentance of all of ones sins in order to be saved from hell eternally. No man will ever find salvation without strict obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. If man does repent and finds salvation, at any point, he thus cannot be denied access to Gods throne within his very kingdom, fore- he is cleansed from all his sins and able to abide His presence.

I don't see any contradiction at all.

Section 19 describes the suffering that those who do not repent must endure, i.e. they must suffer "even as I" (the Lord). This includes both those who are destined for the Telestial Kingdom and those who are Sons of Perdition. Of course the SoP must suffer for their sins in the same way. But they are not destined for a Kingdom of Glory, so out they go.

I actually find that the Gospel Principles manual in Chapter 46 does not correctly describe the personal atonement of those who do not accept Christ and His Atonement. It may be that this manual is glossing over the details for the sake of newbies in the Church. Or somebody just hosed it.

Where it says: "They will suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millennium, when they will be resurrected" it is incorrect. The suffering as described in DC 19 must take place in the resurrected body. An unembodied spirit cannot suffer; it must be embodied in order to do so. And the suffering of the atonement is so intense that a mortal soul cannot endure it and remain living; hence their body must be immortal in order to do so. Their resurrection is delayed until the last -- their suffering in Hell is the suffering of being apart from their body in an unpleasant place, but it is not the suffering of their atonement -- that awaits their resurrection. After they are resurrected then they are required to atone, whereupon they enter the Telestial Kingdom.

But the Sons of Perdition go into Outer Darkness instead.

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Supposedly, in LDS doctrine, the telestial kingdom is reserved for the "unrepentant"- those who do not accept the gospel either in this life or the next but are also not considered sons of perdition. Here-

"Also in the spirit prison are those who rejected the gospel after it was preached to them either on earth or in the spirit prison. These spirits suffer in a condition known as hell. They have removed themselves from the mercy of Jesus Christ, who said, “Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:16–18). After suffering for their sins, they will be allowed, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to inherit the lowest degree of glory, which is the telestial kingdom." (Gospel Principles ch. 41, The Postmortal Spirit World)

The quoted scriptures from section 19 concerning the unrepentant pertain specifically to eh sons of perdition not any of the saved. All men must "repent" in order to be saved from hell eternally (after resurrection and judgment). God has no power to save anyone unless they come under the power of the atonement by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. It is thus contradiction to teach that man can be saved without repentance as long as he suffers himself for his own sins as the manual states but yet the scriptures make clear that no man can be saved after resurrection and judgment if he has not accepted Christ, repented of all his sins, and become born again. Now I personally testify that Christ's gospel requires repentance of all of ones sins in order to be saved from hell eternally. No man will ever find salvation without strict obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. If man does repent and finds salvation, at any point, he thus cannot be denied access to Gods throne within his very kingdom, fore- he is cleansed from all his sins and able to abide His presence.

Thank you so much for your excellent response, Rob! You are very perceptive! With the highlighted portion of your post, you have hit the bullseye and have provided me with the perfect segway. You see, it's for the very purpose of addressing this "confusion" that I started this thread's topic.

As you know, for those who follow the path of logic and reason, entry of the unrepentant wicked into a kingdom of glory (the Telestial Kingdom is one of God's many mansions above which he has prepared for the blessed) doesn't make much sense. After all, how would people of such unrepentant wickedness even come to appreciate a state of existence so glorious and wonderful, we are told, that it is incompressible to man while in mortality.

When I return from work, we will begin to see if the scriptures have something to say that will allay the nagging confusion on this important portion of God's plan of salvation. And we will see if other nagging questions are answered in the process.

In the meantime, if there's somebody out there who already knows where I'm going with this please do beat me to the punch, as I'm very curious to know if there are any folks out there who have discovered what I have.

Edited by teddyaware
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The only requirements for the Telestial Kingdom is to believe in Christ and repent. Alma 36 suggests this, wherein Alma suffered in hell for his sins and rebellion until he remembered his father's words, believed on them, and repented. Immediately, he was rescued from hell, where he could see God on his throne from a distance, wishing he was there.

D&C 19 also teaches this, wherein we are commanded to repent or suffer, even as Jesus suffered.

This is the concept of Justification. Because of the grace of the atonement, we only need believe and repent to be made clean from sin. We are rescued from spiritual death and hell, and become worthy of the Telestial Kingdom.

For those who then seek out the Lord, they may then be Sanctified to a level of heaven. The Holy Spirit comes upon the believer, making him more and more holy, until he can stand in the Lord's presence and full glory, and be like Him.

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I am still not any the wiser as to where the contradiction is. And I am not bound by what is written in the Gospel Principles manual; I am only bound by what is written in the scriptures and the revelations we have received.

There is always a loss of doctrinal accuracy when people try to express things in their own words rather than using the language that the scriptures themselves employ---no matter how well-intentioned they might be. For this reason I am not interested in defending doctrine as taught in secondary sources, but only as it is taught in the standard works.

Edited by zerinus
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Thank you so much for your excellent response, Rob! You are very perceptive! With the highlighted portion of your post, you have hit the bullseye and have provided me with the perfect segway. You see, it's for the very purpose of addressing this "confusion" that I started this thread's topic.

As you know, for those who follow the path of logic and reason, entry of the unrepentant wicked into a kingdom of glory (the Telestial Kingdom is one of God's many mansions above which he has prepared for the blessed) doesn't make much sense. After all, how would people of such unrepentant wickedness even come to appreciate a state of existence so glorious and wonderful, we are told, that it is incompressible to man while in mortality.

When I return from work, we will begin to see if the scriptures have something to say that will allay the nagging confusion on this important portion of God's plan of salvation. And we will see if other nagging questions are answered in the process.

In the meantime, if there's somebody out there who already knows where I'm going with this please do beat me to the punch, as I'm very curious to know if there are any folks out there who have discovered what I have.

Can't wait to see what is going to have wait until you return from work!
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Speaking hypothetically, if you were engaged in a gospel discussion on the plan of salvation with a sincere non-member and you didn't have the scriptures at hand, and if he or she were to ask you what the Lord's qualifications are that have to be met in order for an individual to inherit the Telestial Kingdom of glory -- how would you answer their question?

I would wonder why one would want to aim so low, but my response would be to reject Him in thoguht, word, deed, or desire, etc.. I would try to explain that the Lord only qualifies people to return to Him, but that we are free to choose not to, and instead receive anything less, which the telestial kingdom represents.

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Supposedly, in LDS doctrine, the telestial kingdom is reserved for the "unrepentant"- those who do not accept the gospel either in this life or the next but are also not considered sons of perdition. Here-

"Also in the spirit prison are those who rejected the gospel after it was preached to them either on earth or in the spirit prison. These spirits suffer in a condition known as hell. They have removed themselves from the mercy of Jesus Christ, who said, “Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:16–18). After suffering for their sins, they will be allowed, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to inherit the lowest degree of glory, which is the telestial kingdom." (Gospel Principles ch. 41, The Postmortal Spirit World)

The quoted scriptures from section 19 concerning the unrepentant pertain specifically to eh sons of perdition not any of the saved. All men must "repent" in order to be saved from hell eternally (after resurrection and judgment). God has no power to save anyone unless they come under the power of the atonement by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. It is thus contradiction to teach that man can be saved without repentance as long as he suffers himself for his own sins as the manual states but yet the scriptures make clear that no man can be saved after resurrection and judgment if he has not accepted Christ, repented of all his sins, and become born again. Now I personally testify that Christ's gospel requires repentance of all of ones sins in order to be saved from hell eternally. No man will ever find salvation without strict obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. If man does repent and finds salvation, at any point, he thus cannot be denied access to Gods throne within his very kingdom, fore- he is cleansed from all his sins and able to abide His presence.

Whatever degree of repentance of which we are capable must be effectuated prior to our resurrection and judgment, so I take all this to mean that “eternal” or “endless” punishment is experienced in a resurrected condition. Such a condition would be anything less than the highest degree of glory.

Suffering “even as [Jesus]” (which eventually requires a body) is not a substitute for repentance. It is the simple consequence of not repenting. One’s unrepentant state, to whatever degree it exists, continues after the resurrection and after the suffering, and is reflected in a lesser glory. D&C 88:27-32 indicates that bodies are resurrected according to the nature and corresponding glory of the spirit.

I would add that being in an unrepentant state does not necessarily allow one to continue committing sin as a resurrected being, since his freedom of movement and agency to act will have by that time been correspondingly diminished, perhaps due to the effects of the punishment he couldn’t handle any other way, perhaps due to the law of the kingdom in which he dwells (D&C 88:36).

Before suffering for one’s own sins, one (in agreement with Jesus as Judge) has already confirmed his lack of repentance, or in other words, his rejection of the very grace required for exaltation, and that he is willing to enjoy a lesser glory. This is in opposition to the Holy Spirit of Promise confirming his repentance and readying him to enter into the highest glory by the grace of God.

Repentance and calling and election may occur in the redemption of the dead in the post-mortal spirit world.

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Where it says: "They will suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millennium, when they will be resurrected" it is incorrect. The suffering as described in DC 19 must take place in the resurrected body.

Maybe this is too fine a point, but to "suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millennium, when they will be resurrected" may be correct in that they suffer the consequenes of a sinfful life in the spirit world/prison until they repent, with some suffering in hell longer than others, with the worst not repenting at all and being delayed from resurection until the very last. Now that I think of it, this may actually be merciful, allowing them as much opportunity as possible to repent prior to resurrection.

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