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Where Do I Go When I Die?
From his book "Gospel Truth" By Elder George Q. Cannon, Chapter 3, (Nov. 1, 1893, JI 28: 675-6)
The spring of 1820 heralded the dawning of a brighter day, as celestial light pierced the blackness of the long night of heaven's silence. In the midst of that light stood two eternal beings whose very presence attested to the reality of the life beyond, as would the subsequent appearances of various messengers who would be sent to bestow the knowledge, keys, and powers pertaining to the eternal worlds. With the restoration of these heaven-sent truths, the shadows of doubt and skepticism have fled, and once again the warmth of heaven's light, with its glad tidings of great joy, is felt by men of peace and good will. Thus the living and the dead break forth in anthems of eternal praise to their King Immanuel. The mysteries of God have begun to be unfolded, and the Saints of the Most High are made partakers of that knowledge which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of unillumined man.
Let there be no mistake. Because of the opening of the heavens-the Vision
of the Glories, the Vision of the Celestial Kingdom, the Prophet's discourse
at the funeral of King Follett, the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead,
our latter-day prophets and current prophecy-those of the household of
faith have their perceptions and understanding extended beyond the bounds
of the Bible and of the visions of earth's most noble and inspired writers
and religious leaders. We rejoice in the teachings and testimonies of all
who have been commissioned to bear witness of heavenly things, but we owe a special debt of gratitude to the Prophet Joseph Smith and President Joseph F. Smith for their unique contributions to our understanding of these precious verities.
In that which we have written, we have sought to say "none other things than that which the prophets and apostles have written, and that which is taught" us "by the Comforter through the prayer of faith" (D&C 52:9). We alone assume responsibility for what follows, believing the principles contained herein to be true according to the best of our knowledge.
So, we live and then we die. Where do we go?
My beloved friends, in the name of Jesus Christ, here is your answer.
Ludlow, Daniel H., ed. Latter-day Prophets Speak: Selections from the
Sermons and Writings of Church Presidents. Salt Lake
City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1948.
The Spirit World
WHERE IS THE SPIRIT WORLD?
WHEN YOU lay down this tabernacle, where are you going? Into the spiritual world … Where is the spirit world? It is right
here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to
the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of the organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this
earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it to all eternity. Where else are you going? No where else, only as you may be
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:369, June 22, 1856
Is the spirit world here? It is not beyond the sun, but is on this earth
that was organized for the people that have lived and that
do and will live upon it No other people can have it, and we can have no other kingdom until we are prepared to inhabit this
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:372, June 22, 1856
It reads that the spirit goes to God who gave it. Let me render this
Scripture a little plainer; when the spirits leave their bodies
they are in the presence of our Father and God; they are prepared then to see, hear and understand spiritual things. But where is the spirit world? It is incorporated within this celestial system. Can you see it with your natural eyes? No. Can you see spirits in
this room? No. Suppose the Lord should touch your eyes that bodies with your you might see, could you then see the spirits?
Yes, as plainly as you now see bodies, as did the servant of Elijah. If the Lord would permit it, and it was His will that it should
be done, you could see the spirits that have departed from this world as plainly as you now see natural eyes.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:368, June 22, 1856
WHAT BEINGS EXIST IN THE SPIRIT WORLD?
The righteous and the wicked all go to the same world of spirits until the resurrection …
The great misery of departed spirits in the world of spirits, where they go after death, is to know that they came short of the
glory that others enjoy and that they might have enjoyed themselves, and they are their own accusers.
—Joseph Smith, Jr., Documentary History of the Church 5:425, June 11, 1843
There is a place called "Paradise," to which the spirits of the dead
go, awaiting the resurrection, and their reunion with the body
… This Paradise, however, is not the place for resurrected bodies, but for departed spirits.
—John Taylor, The Government of God—John Taylor, p. 39, Published August, 1852
No spirit of Saint or sinner, of the Prophet or him that kills the Prophet,
is prepared for their final state: all pass through the veil
from this state and go into the world of spirits; and there they dwell, waiting for their final destiny.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:294, August 15, 1852
The spirits of all men, as soon as they depart from this mortal body,
whether they are good or evil … are taken home to that
God who gave them life, where there is a separation, a partial judgment, and 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 expand in wisdom, where they
have respite from all their troubles, and where care and sorrow do not annoy. The wicked, on the contrary, have no part nor
portion in the Spirit of the Lord, and they are cast into outer darkness, being led captive, because of their own iniquity, by the
evil one. And in this space between death and the resurrection of the body, the two classes of souls remain, in happiness or in
misery, until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shah come forth and be reunited, both soul and body, and be
brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works. This is the final judgment.
—Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 7:621-622, June, 1904
Flesh and blood cannot go there [the spirit world]; but flesh and bones,
quickened by the Spirit of God, can.
—Joseph Smith, Jr., Documentary History of the Church 6:52, October 9, 1848
The spirits in the eternal world are like the spirits in this world.
When those who have come into this world and received 28
tabernacles, then died and again have risen and received glorified bodies, they will have an ascendancy over the spirits who
have received no bodies, or kept not their first estate, like the devil.
—Joseph Smith, Jr., Documentary History of the Church 5:403, May 21, 1843
THE TRANSITION FROM DEATH INTO THE SPIRIT WORLD
We shall turn round and look upon it (the valley of death) and think, when we have crossed it, why this is the greatest advantage of my whole existence, for I have passed from a state of sorrow, grief, mourning, woe, misery, pain, anguish and disappointment into a state of existence, where I can enjoy life to the fullest extent as far as that can be done without a body. My spirit is set
free, I thirst no more, I want to sleep no more, I hunger no more, I tire no more, I run, I walk, I labor, I go, I come, I do this, I
do that, whatever is required of me, nothing like pain or weariness, I am full of life, full of vigor, and I enjoy the presence of my
Heavenly Father, by the power of His Spirit… The spirits of the living that depart this life go into the world of spirits, and if the
Lord withdraws the veil it is much easier for us then to behold the face of our Father who is in heaven than when we are clothed upon with this mortality.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 17:142, July 19, 1874
I cannot help but think that in every death there is a birth; the spirit
leaves the body dead to us and passes to the other side of
the veil alive to that great and noble company that are also working for the accomplishment of the purposes of God, in the
redemption and salvation of a fallen world.
—Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 22:348, January 29, 1882
Whether the spirit remains in the body a minute, an hour, a day, a year,
or lives there until the body has reached a good old age, it is certain
that the time will come when they [the spirit and the body] will be separated,
and the body, will return to mother
earth, there to sleep upon that mother’s bosom. That is all there is about death.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 17:143, July 19, 1874 29
CONDITIONS OF THE SPIRIT WORLD
The brightness and glory of the next apartment is inexpressible. It is not encumbered … so that when we advance in years we
have to be stubbing along and be careful lest we fall down. We see our youth, even, frequently stubbing their toes and falling
down. But yonder, how different! They move with ease and like lightning. If we want to visit Jerusalem, or this, that, or the other place—and I presume we will be permitted if we desire—there we are, looking at its streets. If we want to behold Jerusalem as it was in the days of the Savior; or if we want to see the Garden of Eden as it was when created, there we are, and we see it as
it existed spiritually, for it was created first spiritually and then temporally, and spiritually it still remains. And when there we may
behold the earth as at the dawn of creation, or we may visit any city we please that exists upon its surface. If we wish to
understand how they are living here on these western islands, or in China, we are there; in fact, we are like the light of the
morning…Here, we are continually troubled with ills and ailments of various kinds, … but in the spirit world we are free from all this and enjoy life, glory, and intelligence; and we have the Father to speak to us, Jesus to speak to us, and angels to speak to us, and we shall enjoy the society of the just and the pure who are in the spirit world until the resurrection.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 14:231, September 16, 1871
If we are faithful to our religion when we go into the spirit world,
the fallen spirits—Lucifer and the third part of the heavenly
hosts that came with him, and the spirits of wicked men who have dwelt upon this earth, the whole of them combined will have
no influence over our spirits. Is not that an advantage? Yes. All the rest of the children of men are more or less subject to them,
and they are subject to them as they were while here in the flesh.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:240, September 1, 1859
Suppose that a man is evil in his heart—wholly given up to wickedness
and in that condition dies, his spirit will enter the spirit
world intent upon evil. On the other hand, if we are striving with all the powers and faculties God has given us to improve upon
our talents, to prepare ourselves to dwell in eternal 30 life, and the grave receives our bodies while we are thus engaged, with
what disposition will our spirits enter their next state? They will be still striving to do the things of God, only in a much greater
degree—learning, increasing, growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.
—Brigham Young Journal of Discourses 7:333, October 8, 1859
Some people dream, you know, and think and teach that all the glory
they ever expect to have in the world to come is to sit in
the light and glory of the Son of God and sing praises and songs of joy and gratitude all their immortal lives. We do not believe
in any such thing. We believe that every man will have his work to do in the other world, just as surely as he had it to do here,
and a greater work than he can do here. We believe that we are on the road of advancement, of development in knowledge, in
understanding, and in every good thing, and that we will continue to grow, advance and develop throughout the eternities that
are before us.
—Joseph F. Smith, Conference Reports, p. 8, April, 1912
If the veil could be taken from our eyes and we could see into the spirit
world, we would see that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and John Taylor had
gathered together every spirit that ever dwelt in the flesh in this Church
since its organization. We would
also see the faithful apostles and elders of the Nephites who dwelt in the flesh in the days of Jesus Christ. In that assembly we
would also see Isaiah and every prophet and apostle that ever prophesied of the great work of the Lord. In the midst of those
spirits we would see the Son of God, the Savior, who presides and guides and controls the preparing of the kingdom of God on the earth and in heaven… The Son of God stands in the midst of that body of celestial spirits and teaches them their duties
concerning the day in which we live and instructs them what they must do to prepare and qualify themselves to go with Him to
the earth when He comes to judge every man according to the deeds done in the body.
—Wilford Woodruff, “The Vision" by Lundwall, p. 96, April 7, 1893
Spirits are just as familiar with spirits as bodies are with bodies,
though spirits are composed of matter so refined as not to be
tangible to this coarser organization.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:371-372, June 22, 1856 31
You may ask if they are baptized there? No. Can they have hands laid
upon them for the gift of the Holy Ghost? No. None of
the outward ordinances that pertain to the flesh are administered there, but the light, glory, and power of the Holy Ghost are
enjoyed just as freely as upon this earth; and there are laws which govern and control the spirit world, and to which they are
—Brigham Young Journal of Discourses 2:138, December 3, 1854
SPIRIT BEINGS WATCH OVER MORTALS
Our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful and worthy to
enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing
from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, of reproof and instruction to those whom they had learned to love in the
—Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 22:351, January 29, 1882
Spirits can only be revealed in flaming fire or glory. Angels have advanced
further, their light and glory being tabernacled; and
hence they appear in bodily shape.
—Joseph Smith, Jr., Documentary History of the Church 6:51, October 9, 1843
I believe that those who have been chosen in this dispensation and in
former dispensations, to lay the foundation of God's work
in the midst of the children of men, for their salvation and exaltation, will not be deprived in the spirit world from looking down
upon the results of their own labors, efforts and mission assigned them by the wisdom and purpose of God, to help to redeem
and to reclaim the children of the Father from their sins. So I feel quite confident that the eye of Joseph, the Prophet, and of the
martyrs of this dispensation, and of Brigham, and John, and Wilford, and those faithful men who were associated with them in
their ministry upon the earth, are carefully guarding the interests of the kingdom of God in which they labored and for which they strove during their mortal lives. I believe they are as deeply interested in our welfare today, if not with greater capacity, with far
more interest, behind the veil, than they were in the flesh… they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now
more than ever.
—Joseph F. Smith, Conference Reports, p. 2-3, April, 1916 32
The spirits of the just are … blessed in their departure to the world
of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us,
and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith.
—Joseph Smith, Jr., Documentary History of the Church 6:52, October 9, 1843
THE VISION OF THE REDEMPTION OF THE DEAD
As I pondered over these things which are written (1 Peter 3:18-20; 1 Peter 4:6) the eyes of my understanding were opened,
and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great. And there were gathered
together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality, and who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered
tribulation in their Redeemer's name. All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through
the grace of God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand. They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death. Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fullness of joy. While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful, and there He preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance. But unto the wicked He did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, His voice was not raised, neither did the rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets behold His presence, nor look upon His face. Where these were, darkness reigned, but among the righteous there was peace, and the Saints rejoiced in their redemption, and 33 bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell. Their countenances shone and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them and they sang praises unto His Holy Name.
I marveled, for I understood that the Savior spent about three years in His ministry among the Jews and those of the House of
Israel, endeavoring to teach them the everlasting gospel and call them unto repentance; and yet, notwithstanding His mighty
works and miracles and proclamation of the truth in great power and authority, there were but few who hearkened to His voice
and rejoiced in His presence and received salvation at His hands. But His ministry among those who were dead was limited to
the brief time intervening between the crucifixion and His resurrection; and I wondered at the words of Peter wherein he said
that the Son of God preached unto the spirits in prison who sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God
waited in the days of Noah, and how it wags possible for Him to preach to those spirits and perform the necessary labor among them in so short a time. And as I wondered, my eyes were opened, and my understanding quickened, and I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the wicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them; but behold, from among the righteous He organized His forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men. And thus was the gospel preached to the dead. And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord, and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound; even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel. Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets. These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. 34
And so it was made known among the dead, both small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful, that redemption had
been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross. Thus was it made known that our Redeemer spent His
time during His sojourn in the world of spirits, instructing and preparing the faithful spirits of the prophets who had testified of
Him in the flesh, that they might carry the message of redemption unto all the dead unto whom He could not go personally
because of their rebellion and transgression, that they through the ministration of His servants might also hear His words
I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of
the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in
darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead. The dead who repent will be redeemed,
through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, and after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are
washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation. Thus was the vision of the redemption of the dead revealed to me, and I bear record, and I know that this record is true, through the blessing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, even so. Amen.
—Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 22:166-170, December, 1918
This Vision of the Redemption of the Dead was submitted October 31, 1918 to the Counselors in the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve and the Patriarch, and by them unanimously accepted.
Once again the information you have just read is
true and correct. I know it to be so by the power of the Holy Ghost.
invite you to come to the same conclusion by the same manner. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
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