Teachings Concerning
The Telestial Glory

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D&C 76

81 And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament.

82 These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus.

83 These are they who deny not the Holy Spirit.

84 These are they who are thrust down to hell.

85 These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work.

86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;

87 And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial.

88 And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.

89 And thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding;

90 And no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it.

 

98 And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world;

99 For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.

100 These are they who say they are some of one and some of another--some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch;

101 But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.

102 Last of all, these all are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud.

103 These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.

104 These are they who suffer the wrath of God on earth.

105 These are they who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.

106 These are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work;

107 When he shall deliver up the kingdom, and present it unto the Father, spotless, saying: I have overcome and have trodden the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.

108 Then shall he be crowned with the crown of his glory, to sit on the throne of his power to reign forever and ever.

109 But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;

110 And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever;

111 For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared;

112 And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.

 
 
 

From The Poetic Version
 

Joseph Smith

58. Again I beheld the telestial, as third,
The lesser, or starry world, next in its place,
For the leaven must leaven three measures of meal,
And very knee bow that is subject to grace.

59. These are they that receiv'd not the gospel of Christ,
Or evidence, either, that he ever was;
As the stars are all diff'rent in glory and light,
So differs the glory of these by the laws.

60. These are they that deny not the spirit of God,
But are thrust down to hell, with the devil, for sins,
As hypocrites, liars, whoremongers, and thieves,
And stay 'till the last resurrection begins.

61. 'Till the Lamb shall have finish'd the work he begun;
Shall have trodden the wine press, in fury alone,
And overcome all by the pow'r of his might:
He conquers to conquer, and save all his own.

62. These are they that receive not a fulness of light,
From Christ, in eternity's world, where they are,
The terrestrial sends them the Comforter, though;
And minist'ring angels, to happify there.

63. And so the telestial is minister'd to,
By ministers from the terrestrial one,
As terrestrial is, from the celestial throne;
And the great, greater, greatest, seem's stars, moon, and sun.

64. And thus I beheld, in the vision of heav'n,
The telestial glory, dominion and bliss,
Surpassing the great understanding of men, --
Unknown, save reveal'd, in a world vain as this.
 

69. As the stars are all different in lustre and size,
So the telestial region, is mingled in bliss;
From least unto greatest, and greatest to least,
The reward is exactly as promis'd in this.

70. These are they that came out for Apollos and Paul;
For Cephas and Jesus, in all kinds of hope;
For Enoch and Moses, and Peter, and John;
For Luther and Calvin, and even the Pope.

71. For they never received the gospel of Christ,
Nor the prophetic spirit that came from the Lord;
Nor the covenant neither, which Jacob once had;
They went their own way, and they have their reward.

72. By the order of God, last of all, these are they,
That will not be gathered with saints here below,
To be caught up to Jesus, and meet in the cloud: --
In darkness they worshipp'd; to darkness they go.

73. These are they that are sinful, the wicked at large,
That glutted their passion by meanness or worth;
All liars, adulterers, sorc'rers, and proud;
And suffer, as promis'd, God's wrath on the earth.

74. These are they that must suffer the vengeance of hell,
'Till Christ shall have trodden all enemies down,
And perfected his work, in the fulness of times:
And is crown'd on his throne with his glorious crown.

75. The vast multitude of the telestial world --
As the stars of the skies, or the sands of the sea; --
The voice of Jehovah echo'd far and wide,
Ev'ry tongue shall confess, and they all bow the knee.

76. Ev'ry man shall be judg'd by the works of his life,
And receive a reward in the mansions prepar'd;
For his judgments are just, and his works never end,
As his prophets and servants have always declar'd.
[Times and Seasons 4:82-85]

 
 

Telestial Salvation


Joseph Fielding Smith

Those who enter into the telestial kingdom, where their glories differ as do the stars of heaven in their magnitude, and who are innumerable as the sands of the seashore, are the ungodly, the filthy who suffer the wrath of God on the earth, who are thrust down to hell where they will be required to pay the uttermost farthing before their redemption comes. These are they who receive not the gospel of Christ and consequently could not deny the Holy Spirit while living on the earth.

They have no part in the first resurrection and are not redeemed from the devil and his angels until the last resurrection, because of their wicked lives and their evil deeds. Nevertheless, even these are heirs of salvation, but before they are redeemed and enter into their kingdom, they must repent of their sins, and receive the gospel, and bow the knee, and acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of the world.

In both the terrestrial and the telestial glories the inhabitants thereof will be limited in their powers, opportunities, and progression, because, like the sons of perdition, "they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received" (D&C 88:32). [Doctrines of Salvation, 2:22] 

 

Telestial for Those Who Live
After the Manner of the World


Spencer W. Kimball

Those who have lived after the manner of the world shall go to a telestial kingdom whose glory is as the stars. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.48) 

Joseph Fielding Smith

In passing it is only necessary to say, that in the telestial will go all those who have not been true; those who have professed and who have not performed (D.C. 41:1), the liars, sorcerers, adulterers, and all who refuse to walk in ways of truth. (The Way to Perfection, pp.205-206)

 
 

Liars, Adulterers, etc.
D&C 76:103

Joseph Fielding Smith

Into this kingdom will go all of those who have been unclean in their lives. See verses 98 to 112 in Section 76. These people who enter there will be the unclean; the liars, sorcerers, adulterers, and those who have broken their covenants. These people who enter there will be the unclean; the liars, sorcerers, adulterers, and those who have broken their covenants. Of these the Lord says: "These are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work" (D. & C. 76:106). Yet these, after they have been punished for their sins and having been turned over to the torments of Satan, shall eventually come forth, after the millennium, to receive the telestial kingdom." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2: 209.)

 

Neal A. Maxwell

Selfishness is actually the detonator of all the cardinal sins. It is the hammer for the breaking of the Ten Commandments, whether by neglecting parents, the Sabbath, or by inducing false witness, murder, and envy. No wonder the selfish individual is often willing to break a covenant in order to fix an appetite. No wonder those who will later comprise the telestial kingdom, after they have paid a price, were once unrepentant adulterers, whoremongers, and those who both loved and made lies. ("Repent of [Our] Selfishness" (D&C 56:8)," Ensign, May 1999, p. 24)

 
 

Murderers Go To
the Telestial Kingdom

Bruce R. McConkie

When the Lord paraphrases the language of Rev. 21:8 in latter-day revelation (D. & C. 63:17-18 and 76:103-106) he omits murderers from the list of evil persons. Their inclusion here by John, however, coupled with the fact that only those who deny the truth after receiving a perfect knowledge of it shall become sons of perdition, is a clear indication that murderers shall eventually go to the telestial kingdom, unless of course there are some among those destined to be sons of perdition who are also murderers.  (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3: 585)

 
 

Who Are Thrust Down to Hell
D&C 76:84

Joseph Fielding Smith



Glory of Telestial Kingdom
Surpasses All Understanding

D&C 76:89

Bruce R. McConkie

That glory granted the inhabitants of the lowest kingdom of glory is called telestial glory. In the infinite mercy of a beneficent Father it surpasses all mortal understanding, and yet it is in no way comparable to the glory of the terrestrial and celestial worlds. Telestial glory is typified by the stars of the firmament, and "as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world" (D. & C. 76:81-112; 1 Cor. 15:41), meaning that all who inherit the telestial kingdom will not receive the same glory. (Mormon Doctrine, p.778)

 

John A. Widtsoe

These kingdoms, though very different, are filled with the children of God the Father. Though those of the lower kingdom have not shown themselves worthy of the fulness of salvation, yet the love of the Father envelops them. Even the glory of the lowest, the telestial, "surpasses all understanding." (Evidences and Reconciliations, p.199)

 

Neal A. Maxwell

Dallin H. Oaks
The lowest degree is the telestial domain of those who "received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets" (D&C 76:101) and who have had to suffer for their wickedness. But even this degree has a glory that "surpasses all understanding" (D&C 76:89). Its occupants receive the Holy Spirit and the administering of angels, for even those who have been wicked will ultimately be "heirs of [this degree of] salvation" (D&C 76:88). ["Apostasy and Restoration," Ensign, May 1995, p. 86]

 

Apocryphal Statement: 
If You Knew How Great the Telestial Kingdom is
You Would Kill Yourself to Get There


[An often-repeated story associated with the telestial kingdom deals with something Joseph Smith was purported to have said:  "The telestial kingdom is so great, if we knew what it was like we would kill ourselves to get there."  Wilford Woodruff recounted a comment by the Prophet that may be the basis of that apocraphal story.  According to Charles Lowell Walker, Wilford Woodruff "refered to a saying of Joseph Smith, which he heard him utter (like this) That if the People knew what was behind the vail, they would try by every means to commit suicide that they might get there, but the Lord in his wisdom had implanted the fear of death in every person that they might cling to life and thus accomplish the designs of their creator."  -- From Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, "Eternity Sketch'd in a Vision," The Heavens Are Open (1992 Sperry Sympsoium, Deseret Book, 1993), p. 155.]



Several Kingdoms Within the Telestial
D&C 76:98


D&C 76:98

And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world;

 

Poetic Version

69. As the stars are all different in lustre and size,
So the telestial region, is mingled in bliss;
From least unto greatest, and greatest to least,
The reward is exactly as promis'd in this.

 

Brigham Young

The glory of the telestial world no man knows, except he partakes of it; and yet, in that world they differ in glory as the stars in the firmament differ one from the other. The terrestrial glory is greater still, and the celestial is the greatest of all; that is the glory of God the Father, where our Lord Jesus Christ reigns. (Journal of Discourses, 6:293).

 

James E. Talmage

For these are they who are
of Paul, and of Apollos

D&C 76:99-100


Joseph Smith

70. These are they that came out for Apollos and Paul;
For Cephas and Jesus, in all kinds of hope;
For Enoch and Moses, and Peter, and John;
For Luther and Calvin, and even the Pope.

71. For they never received the gospel of Christ,
Nor the prophetic spirit that came from the Lord;
Nor the covenant neither, which Jacob once had;
They went their own way, and they have their reward. [Times and Seasons 4:82-85]

 

Bruce R. McConkie

James E. Talmage


Telestial Inhabitants as Innumerable
as the Stars in Heaven

D&C 76:109


James E. Talmage

Evidently a considerable part of the human family will fail of all glory beyond that of the telestial kingdom, for we are told: "But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore." They are thus not wholly rejected; their every merit will be respected. "For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared; And they shall be servants of the Most High, but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end." (Articles of Faith, p. 408)

 


Every Knee Shall Bow and Tongue Confess
D&C 76:110


Joseph Fielding Smith


Brigham Young

Telestial Resurrection Comes at the End Millennium
D&C 76:85


D&C 88

100 And again, another trump shall sound, which is the third trump; and then come the spirits of men who are to be judged, and are found under condemnation;

101 And these are the rest of the dead; and they live not again until the thousand years are ended, neither again, until the end of the earth.

 

Joseph Fielding Smith

Will the earth go back to the telestial order after the millennium? No, but the people on the face of the earth, many of them, will be like the Nephites who lived 200 years after the coming of Christ. They will rebel against the Lord knowingly, and the great last struggle will come, and the devil and his forces will be defeated; then the earth will die and receive its resurrection and become a celestial body. The resurrection of the wicked will take place as one of the last events before the earth dies. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:87)

 

Bruce R. McConkie

When the Lord comes, those who died in him and who were true and faithful in the gospel cause, who took the Holy Spirit for their guide, and who were sanctified by obedience to celestial law -- all these shall rise from the grave with celestial bodies. These bodies qualify for celestial glory found only in a celestial kingdom. They are Christ's, the firstfruits. Theirs is an inheritance of glory everlasting. After the Second Coming, those who lived a terrestrial law shall be called forth; their glory and kingdom shall be terrestrial. Then after the Millennium the residue of men, including those who lived a telestial law, will conte forth. Those who have lived a telestial law shall gain telestial bodies and shall merit and gain a telestial glory found in a telestial kingdom. The sons of perdition, after their resurrection, will be cast out eternally with the devil and his angels. (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pp. 651-652)

 
 

Suicide and the Telestial Kingdom


M. Russell Ballard

The act of taking one's life is truly a tragedy because this single act leaves so many victims: first the one who dies, then the dozens of others--family and friends--who are left behind, some to face years of deep pain and confusion. The living victims struggle, often desperately, with difficult emotions. In addition to the feelings of grief, anger, guilt, and rejection which the victims of such a family feel, Latter-day Saints carry an additional burden. The purpose of our mortal lives, we know, is to prove ourselves, to eventually return to live in the celestial kingdom. One who commits suicide closes the door on all that, some have thought, consigning himself to the telestial kingdom.

Or does he? What is the truth regarding suicide?

The prophets have taught us some important principles about suicide, but it is possible that many of us have misunderstood. Let's review some of the fundamental teachings of the prophets on this matter.

First, President George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency made a clear statement about the seriousness of suicide when he said: "Man did not create himself. He did not furnish his spirit with a human dwelling place. It is God who created man, both body and spirit. Man has no right, therefore, to destroy that which he had no agency in creating. They who do so are guilty of murder, self-murder it is true; but they are no more justified in killing themselves than they are in killing others. What difference of punishment there is for the two crimes, I do not know; but it is clear that no one can destroy so precious a gift as that of life without incurring a severe penalty." (Gospel Truth, 2 vols., Salt Lake City: Zion's Book Store, 1957, 1:30; italics added.)

President Spencer W. Kimball made an equally strong statement in 1976. "It is a terrible criminal act for a person to go out and shorten his life by suicide," he said. (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 187.)

Those statements on their own might seem to leave no room for hope. However, although they stress the seriousness of suicide, the statements do not mention the final destination of those who take their own lives.

The late Elder Bruce R. McConkie, formerly of the Quorum of the Twelve, expressed what many Church leaders have taught: "Suicide consists in the voluntary and intentional taking of one's own life, particularly where the person involved is accountable and has a sound mind. … Persons subject to great stresses may lose control of themselves and become mentally clouded to the point that they are no longer accountable for their acts. Such are not to be condemned for taking their own lives. It should also be remembered that judgment is the Lord's; he knows the thoughts, intents, and abilities of men; and he in his infinite wisdom will make all things right in due course." (Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 771; some italics added.)

Not long ago I was asked to speak at the funeral of a dear friend who had committed suicide. Knowing the person and the circumstances as I did, and researching the doctrine on the subject, I had some difficult moments in preparing for my remarks. I know that any fully rational person who contemplates suicide must realize what a terribly selfish act this is. Peace came to me only when I recognized that only the Lord could administer fair judgment. He alone had all the facts, and only He would know the intent of the heart of my friend. I was reconciled with the idea that a lifetime of goodness and service to others must surely be considered by the Lord in judging the life of a person. In the Lord's mercy, perhaps the words of Alma will apply:

"The plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.

"And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good." (Alma 41:2-3.)

I feel that judgment for sin is not always as cut-and-dried as some of us seem to think. The Lord said, "Thou shalt not kill." Does that mean that every [page 8] person who kills will be condemned, no matter the circumstances? Civil law recognizes that there are gradations in this matter--from accidental manslaughter to self-defense to first-degree murder. I feel that the Lord also recognizes differences in intent and circumstances: Was the person who took his life mentally ill? Was he or she so deeply depressed as to be unbalanced or otherwise emotionally disturbed? Was the suicide a tragic, pitiful call for help that went unheeded too long or progressed faster than the victim intended? Did he or she somehow not understand the seriousness of the act? Was he or she suffering from a chemical imbalance that led to despair and a loss of self-control?

Obviously, we do not know the full circumstances surrounding every suicide. Only the Lord knows all the details, and he it is who will judge our actions here on earth.

When he does judge us, I feel he will take all things into consideration: our genetic and chemical makeup, our mental state, our intellectual capacity, the teachings we have received, the traditions of our fathers, our health, and so forth.

We learn in the scriptures that the blood of Christ will atone for the sins of men "who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned." (Mosiah 3:11.)

Thus, a person who has never heard of the Word of Wisdom, for example, and who becomes an alcoholic will be judged differently from one who knows the Word of Wisdom, and understands it, and then chooses the course that leads to alcoholism.

President Kimball's The Miracle of Forgiveness gives us insight into the accountability of some who commit suicide. "A minister acquaintance of mine, whom I knew rather well, was found by his wife hanging in the attic from the rafters," President Kimball wrote. "His thoughts had taken his life. He had become morose and despondent for two or more years. Certainly he had not come to suicide in a moment, for he had been a happy, pleasant person as I had known him. It must have been a long decline, ever steeper, controllable by him at first and perhaps out of hand as he neared the end of the trail. No one in his 'right mind,' and especially if he has an understanding of the gospel, will permit himself to arrive at this 'point of no return.' " (The Miracle of Forgiveness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, p. 106; italics added.)

Thankfully, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught this enlightening doctrine:

"While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard. … He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, 'according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil,' or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. … We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ed. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 218.)

I draw an important conclusion from the words of the Prophet: Suicide is a sin--a very grievous one, yet the Lord will not judge the person who commits that sin strictly by the act itself. The Lord will look at that person's circumstances and the degree of his accountability at the time of the act. Of course, this gives us no reason to excuse ourselves in committing sins, nor will the Lord excuse us, if I understand correctly. We must constantly strive to do our best in emulating the Savior in every aspect of our lives. At the same time, however, let us remember that spiritual growth comes "line upon line," that the key--in the spirit world as well as in mortality--is to keep progressing along the right path. ( "Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not," Ensign, Oct. 1987, pp.7-8)