One viewpoint is that most everyone, after this life, gets a second chance, even many chances, to repent and accept the Gospel, and then they have 1000 years during the millennium to sort it all out, repent and finally qualify for the Celestial Kingdom. This is probably reinforced by the whole concept of vicarious ordinances, and the hope that loved ones of past generations “make it”. The resulting “feeling” is that there’s no hurry, and God will keep working with us until we make it. It creates a mushy understanding of the cost of discipleship and the price of Eternal Life, which is not supported by any scripture I am aware of.
The other viewpoint is the theme of “Enter ye in at the straight gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because straight is the Gate and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) also (Luke 13:24-29)
Our goal then, is to find the “Straight Gate” – the one which few people find – one which even ½ of the 10 virgins failed to find.
The Book of Mormon labels people who profess righteousness, but have not learned to hear the voice of Christ, “Workers of Iniquity”.
37 O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice!
38 Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.
39 And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil. (Alma 5:37-39)
We Un-Blogged recently about the fulfillment of the parable of the 10 virgins would be in the latter days (our times) and that “those who have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived . . . shall abide the day [of my coming.]” (D&C 45:56-57)
It appears that one of the great “deceptions” of the latter days is the thinking that there is no real “straight gate” requirement, that there are multiple chances to “accept the gospel” and repent, and that half-hearted discipleship in this life can all be remedied in the next.
I do believe in vicarious ordinances and in salvation for those who have not had the chance to embrace the gospel in this life, and to pay the price of exaltation while in mortality. Salvation for such through vicarious ordinances and post-mortal repentance are glorious, saving and exciting truths. I also believe that people who are pressing forward in this life, and die while “enduring to the end” will have the opportunity to continue their journey to its full glory in the next life.
But, the scriptures say of those who have the full gospel, and the full opportunity in mortality, but who do not hearken to the Holy Spirit and exercise their agency to repent in this life:
32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. (Alma 34:32-35)
It may be shocking to label someone “wicked” who dies without learning to rely upon and obey the “Spirit of the Lord” until it has withdrawn from him – and even more shocking to consider that the devil will thereafter have “all power over you”. But, these are the words and teaching of the scriptures.
I have never been a teacher who holds forth damnation and hell as a motivation to repent. I am hoping to promote an understanding, and speak against a possible deception, if you will, in our thinking; one which has the potential to bite our spiritual heads off – whether we understand it or not.
The privileges and powers of these latter days are laid in a divine banquet before us. We have a fullness of every blessing available to us. We literally swim in the living waters of truth. For us, for someone so blessed, we do not have the option of lukewarm discipleship in this day, hoping for a “second chance” in the next life.
Not only do the scriptures not teach such a deceptive, and demotivating doctrine, but warn us against it as being the “Cunning Plan of the Evil One”.
26 For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.
27 But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!
28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel [promptings] of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. (2 Nephi 9:26-28)
© October 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.