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CINDY - What can you tell me about life after we die. What evidence is there of it?
JOEL - After we have lived this life and have died and our spirits have separated from our bodies and
While our bodies lay in the ground our spirits which we have ben told look just like our bodies go to the spirit world
The Spirit world is separated into two parts: paradise and spirit prison
So where is the spirit world? According to statements of some past church leaders the spirit world might somehow exists with us on the earth. Brigham Young once said:
"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 you might see, could you then see the spirits? Yes, as plainly as you now see bodies, as did the servant of Elijah. [Elisha. See 2 Kings 6:17.] 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 bodies with your natural eyes. (Journal of Discourses 3:368)
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “They are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith.”
I don't know if we can call that official church doctrine or just inspired speculation on the part of these prophets but it does make some sense to me at least that the spirit world is very close.
Part of our beliefs is that the spirits of all those who were faithful latter-day saints will find themselves in Paradise in a condition of happiness and peace. The rest of the spirits will be in spirit prison. Spirit prison is not as bad as it sounds, because we know by latter-day revelation that those who go there will have the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel and move from spirit prison into paradise.
In President Joseph F. Smiths vision of the dead he first repeats what we find in the book of Peter:
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
“By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
“Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:18–20.)
“For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6.)
And then with regards to this preaching activity president Smith said:
"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."
This then is how all those who did not have the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel in this life will get that opportunity there.
The reverend Billy Graham recently passed away and I came across a quote of his about death that I though was pretty good.
"Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God."
The knowledge of life after death is a comforting principle and nice to know and we have faith that it is true doctrine but for most of us death remains, as Shakespeare put it, "the undiscovered country from which no visitor returns"
We do of course know of a few who have returned from the spirit world at least for a short visit: God the Father, Jesus Moroni Peter Jame and John John the baptist to name a few. Of course there is no real scientific way to prove the existance of a life after daeth. But there are a few other recorded incidents of those who have been visited by spirits.
Parley P. Pratt recorded the appearance of his deceased wife to him as he lay suffering in a Missouri dungeon with but one absorbing thought. "Shall I ever, at any time, however distant it may be, or whatever I may suffer first; shall I ever be free again in this life?" The answer came in this manner:
"After some days of prayer and fasting, and seeking the Lord on the subject, I retired to my bed in my lonely chamber at an early hour, and while the other prisoners and the guard were chatting and beguiling the lonesome hours in the upper apartment of the prison, I lay in silence, seeking and expecting an answer to my prayer, when suddenly I seemed carried away in the spirit, and no longer sensible to outward objects with which I was surrounded. A heaven of peace and calmness pervaded my bosom; a personage from the world of spirits stood before me with a smile of compassion in every look, and pity mingled with the tenderest love and sympathy in every expression of the countenance. A soft hand seemed placed within my own, and a glowing cheek was laid in tenderness and warmth upon mine. A well-known voice saluted me, which I readily recognized as that of the wife of my youth, who had for one or two years been sweetly sleeping where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. I was made to realize that she was sent to commune with me, and answer my question.
Knowing this, I said to her in a most eager and inquiring tone: Shall I ever be at liberty again in this life and enjoy the society of my family and the Saints, and preach the gospel as I have done? She answered definitely and unhesitatingly: "YES!"
(Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. 261, 262.)
Then there is John Wells, who at one time was a member of the Presiding Bishopric. "A son of Bishop Wells was killed in Emigration Canyon on a railroad track. His boy was accidently run over by a freight train. Sister Wells was inconsolable. She mourned during the three days prior to the funeral, received no comfort at the funeral, and was in a rather serious state of mind.
"One day soon after the funeral services while she was lying on her bed relaxed, still mourning, she says that her son appeared to her and said, 'Mother do not mourn, do not cry. I am all right.'
"Now, listen. He said that as soon as he realized that he had died and was in another environment he tried to see his father, but he couldn't reach him. His father was so busy with the duties in his office he could not respond to his call. Therefore he had come to his mother. He said to her, 'You tell father that all is well with me, and I want you not to mourn any more.'" (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 415)
A couple lessons taught here. First this visitation is another testament to the reality of life after death and secondly we should not be so busy that we miss out on opportunities to have such spiritual experiences.
There are other stories of departed spirits who have appeared to loved ones and such experiences are very personal and real to them, but for the rest of us we still have to go on faith that there really is something after this life.
An agnostic friend once asked me, What happens if you die and there is no heaven. Think how disappointed you will be.
Of course the obvious answer to that question is If I die and no longer exist how can I experience that disappointment?
To me it's not a waste of time in this life to do all I can to become the kind of person that will influence where I end up in heaven.
If there is no life after death and I no longer exist, I won't know it.
So to me it's a win/win situation.
Of course this Paschal's wager type of thinking is not the reason we try to live a good life. We live the commandments and gospel because we love God and want to be with him and expect to be with him again in His kingdom.