I did an unChristlike thing yesterday afternoon. My husband had been asleep for a few hours and I woke him up to ask him some of questions about section 76. (See last two posts.) He knows more about the doctrines of the gospel that anyone else I know. And I learned a lot. I hope he forgives me. :o)
Accepting Christ, but not the fulness of the Father, means not "becoming." Not being sanctified. It refers to those who believe that Christ is their Savior and have faith in Him, but haven't really gone beyond that to becoming a saint. These will inherit the terrestrial kingdom.
We also discussed what it means to "deny the Holy Ghost." You have to first "accept" him. So those who will dwell in the telestial kingdom who "receive not a testimony of Christ....[but also] deny not the Holy Spirit," haven't actually gained a knowledge that they have rejected. (Make sense? That's 76:82-83.)
In my mind, I've always pictured spirit paradise and prison very literally. I see us all walking around this gloriously beautiful place. Meadows, flowers, etc. We're all meeting up with relatives and talking and simply experiencing great joy. Those in "prison" I've always pictured as being in a type of prison. Holding cells, if you will, till missionaries get to them to teach them the gospel. And I've always wondered how spirits could be there and not accept the gospel. How could they not see that it was all true? Also, how could they NOT feel the Spirit testifying to them? And how could they still reject it? Isn't that kind of "denying" the Holy Ghost?
In a sense, it is. But it's not denying the Spirit as it refers to sons of perdition.
My husband taught me that spirit paradise and prison aren't quite as literal as I've pictured. The spirit world is more like this world than we know. And the term "prison" doesn't describe an actual prison as much as it describes the state they are in spiritually. They cannot progress. They are "damned," if you will. They aren't locked up, unable to go anywhere, patiently waiting to be taught the gospel. They are continuing their existence much as they did on earth. The truth will not be glaringly obvious. They could very easily say, "Look. You were wrong. I'm not in hell or even in prison! It was just a bunch of baloney."
This makes more sense to me.
Superman (husband) also pulled out his D&C student manual. Nearly every verse of section 76 has a quote by a prophet or apostle to explain it. I'll share a few with you.
Vs. 26-40 talk about sons of perdition. Joseph Smith taught, "What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? he must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned aginst the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy."
Vs. 37-39 raised a question in my mind. They read, "And the only ones [sons of perdition] on whom the second death shall have any power; Yea, verily, the ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the suffeings of his wrath. For all the rest shall be brough forth by the resurrection of the dead, thought the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made."
The beginning seems pretty clear. Sons of perdition will have no redemption, not no resurrection. It says the second death will have power on them. The first death is that of the body, the second death is that of the spirit. So while they'll be resurrected, they have basically denied their right to the saving power of Christ's atonement. (Makes sense. If they truly know who He is and what He's done and still deny Him, the Atonement would have no saving power for them.)
But when it says, "For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead...." it sounds like everyone but the sons of perdition will be resurrected.
This is simply me (and apparently many others) not understanding the language used. Pres. Geaorge Q. Cannon said, "A careful reading of these verses, however, and especially of the preceding paragraphs, will show that the Lord does not, in this language, exclude even the sons of perdition from the resurrection. It is plain that the intention is to refer to them explicitly as the only ones on who the second death shall have any power: 'for all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb.' This excluded class are the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power, and 'the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the suffering of his wrath.'
"This is by no means to say that they are to have no ressurection. Jesus our Lord and Savior died for all, and all will be reurrected -- good and bad, white and black, people of every rase, whether sinners or not; and no matter how great their sins may be, the resurrection of their bodies is sure. Jesus has died for them, and they all will be redeemed from the grave through the atonement which he has made."
Another question addressed is from 76:72-74. Do those who receive the gospel in the spirit world inherit the terrestial kingdom?
"A simple answer to this question is, yes, they will receive the terrestrial kingdom if they had heard the gospel in mortality and did not accept it. If they have not had that oppuortunity in mortality and fummy accept the gospell int he spirit world, they can inherit the celestial kingdom." (This is not a GA quote, but simply what the manual says.) It goes on with quotes from Melvin J. Ballard, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Bruce R. McConkie, but I think that summary is sufficient for this.
D&C 75:81-85 Those who inherit the telestial glory will pass through hell. I learned about this is D&C 19. This hell will not be endless, but the depths of which we know not. These people are those who do not receive a testimony of Christ, and therefore must atone for their own sins. When they are through, they will have earned a "glory" in the teletial kingdom.