Sunday, November 22, 2009

Is there life after death?

e was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. (from the Bible, Luke 16:19-25)

Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that 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; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; 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. (from the Book of Mormon, Alma 40:11-14)

Many are paralyzed by the fear of dying, the fear of the unknown. Some justify wickedness, cruelty, and selfishness because they believe that when a man is dead, he ceases to exist. Christ's parable as recorded in Luke and the prophet Alma's teaching as recorded in the Book of Mormon make clear several points about what happens after death: 1) Immediately after a person dies, his or her soul lives on and is consigned to one of two distinct states of being: happiness or misery. 2) A state of happiness is enjoyed by those who were righteous during their lives, and a state of misery is experienced by those who were wicked and impenitent. 3) These states of being are temporary, lasting only until the resurrection of all mankind.

From childhood I have been taught by loving parents, teachers, leaders and the scriptures themselves that there is life after death. I have been taught that my thoughts, words, and actions in this life have a great and lasting effect on what I will experience after I die. This vital truth, taught clearly in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, has given hope and purpose to my life. I do not fear death any more than I fear pain and separation. I know that if I strive to do what is right, I will receive peace, happiness, and joy while I await my resurrection. I also know that I will yet be reunited with those I love who have gone before me. Because of my knowledge regarding the state of mankind after death, I have experienced peace in this life that cannot be felt by those who believe that death is the ultimate end.

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