Ricks College Devotional

Daniel H. Ludlow

March 1995

 

It’s indeed an honor and a privilege for me, my brothers and my sisters, to be with you today. I’ve had this opportunity on three different occasions and I remember with fondness each of those visits here to the Ricks Campus. can feel of your spirit here——I feel good and I want you to know I feel at home.

 

I appreciate so much the prayer that Brother Balls has offered in our behalf today and I pray that it might be answered in our behalf that the spirit of our Heavenly Father might be here with us; and that we might learn more of our positions as Sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

 

I appreciate also very much the musical number of Brother Cundick and for the spirit that that number brought into this room. I’ve had the privilege of hearing Brother Cundick along with you and tens of millions of others as he played for the Tabernacle Choir over many years. But also I’ve had the privilege of being in private concerts with him in the Tabernacle and in the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake. And I’ve also heard him perform on the great organ at the BYU Jerusalem Center in Jerusalem, Israel. And every time, I am thrilled with his performance.

 

I was a little bit anxious to see what President Bennion was going to introduce as my topic today, and I notice he didn’t introduce one. He didn’t ask me to speak on a particular subject and I must confess to you that it was not until last week that I decided on that subject. The occasion was that I along with you and again hundreds of thousands of others were watching the funeral service of President Howard W. Hunter and listening to the remarks of the brethren who spoke. And as I looked at the floral offerings there at that funeral and saw the offering from Ricks College with the letter “R”, I decided today that I was going to talk about a subject related to that experience. I’ve had the opportunity of traveling to Israel with President Hunter on at least seven different occasions. What a great prophet and what a great loss for the Church as we heard at the time of his funeral.

 

When I decided to talk on the subject that I’m going to talk on today, I did not know, of course, and you did not know at that time, of the passing of a faculty member and his wife on this campus whose funeral has been held today as President Bennion indicated. I did remember, however, reading in the newspaper earlier this year of the loss of some of your students in a tragic accident right after the Christmas vacation. And therefore, I decided to talk about what happens to us when we leave this life——specifically to talk primarily about the post-earthly spirit world; but also if we have time, to say something about the resurrection--something about the final judgment. But if I don’t get to the latter two topics, I would like to share with you a few ideas concerning the second part of what we as Latter-day Saints refer to as the second estate.

 

I submit that we as Latter-day Saints know more about the purpose of life—-in this life and also in the life to come——than any other people on the face of this earth. I would also hasten to add that if we do NOT know more about the great eternal plan of progression and eternal life, then we ought to be ashamed of ourselves, because we have every opportunity to know more about this. We have everything that the world has by way of scripture and the works of poets and philosophers and others. But in addition to that, we have the words of living prophets, we have the words of modern scriptures that tell us a great deal about what’s in the future for each of us. And yet I’m afraid among some Latter-day Saints, I find there’s still uncertainty, still ambiguity concerning what lies ahead. I don’t believe that all members of the Church realize that in this second estate in which we are now participating, that we exist in two major states or conditions. The beginning of this second estate began when we were born into this world, and when our spirit body was joined with our temporal, mortal, physical body. Some of us do not realize that the second estate does not end at the time of death, but rather ends at the time of the resurrection. And therefore, we exist in two major states or conditions as part of the second estate.

 

The part that we are now in has a combination of both physical body and spirit body. And a part that we will all participate in the future when our spirits once again will leave our physical bodies (our physical bodies essentially will go back to mother earth) but our spirit will continue to live and exist as lively as before, in what we refer to as the post—earthly spirit world. And that post—earthly spirit world is also part of the second estate, and it’s also part of the future for each of us. And it’s also a part of the present so far as President Howard W. Hunter is concerned and so far as Brother and Sister Perry are concerned.

 

There are many experiences in the past that we have shared. The fact that we are literally--as brother Balls has indicated in his opening prayer--the Sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father, the fact that we have been born of mortal parents on this earth--those are experiences that are common to all of us. Some of the experiences that will be common in the future will be the experience of death, which will be as sure as was the experience of birth, which will be the experience of the post—earthly spirit world, which for some may be a relatively long time; and yet for others--perhaps in this audience--a very, very brief time. And then our existence as resurrected beings and then also the appearance before our Heavenly Father and our Savior as part of the great plan of judgment. Those are experiences in the future that we will share in common.

 

What do we know about the post—earthy spirit world? Alma in the Book of Mormon said that it was made known to him by an angel that as soon as the spirits leave this life, they go into this what we call this post—earthly spirit world. These are his exact words:

 

“Now concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection, behold it has been made known unto me by an angel that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. Arid then shall it come to pass that 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 shall rest from all their troubles and from all their care, and sorrow.”

 

             And then he talks about a spirit prison where the spirits of the wicked will go—-all as part of the post-earthly spirit world.

 

As a result of that statement by the prophet Alma as revealed to him by an angel, and without additional reinforcement from other scriptures and from the prophets of this dispensation, some of us have erroneously concluded that the post-earthly spirit world is the same as the pre-earthly spirit world. 4 Because Alma said, “. . .it has been made known unto me by an angel that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body... are taken home to that God who gave them life.” (Some in the Church have erroneously concluded thatl somehow that veil is automatically removed at the time of physical death; and at the time of physical death that we automatically remember everything that took place in our pre-earthly existence as well as everything that has taken place in the first part of our second estate here in the earth. The fact of the matter is, the scriptures and the prophets do not teach that.

 

The prophet Brigham Young, for example on one occasion, talking about the statement of Alma that when we die our spirits are taken home to that God who gave them life, then made this comment in a General Conference of the Church.

 

“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’re in the presence of our Father and God in the sense that they are then prepared 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 you might see, could you then see the spirits? Yes-—as plainly as you now see bodies. The spirit world is on this earth that was organized for the people that have lived and that do and will live upon it.”

 

Later on another occasion, the Prophet Brigham Young said,

 

“Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes they do. Do they both inhabit the same kingdom? Yes they do. Do they go to the Son? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of this organized earth? No, they do not.”

 

Other prophets, seers and revelators have taught the same truth. In keeping with the revelation that in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every truth be established, I’d also like to quote from the prophet, seer, and revelator, Parley P. Pratt. He made the following comment.

 

“The spirit world is not the heaven where Jesus Christ, His Father, and other beings dwell who have by resurrection or translation ascended to eternal mansions and been crowned and seated on thrones of power. As to the location of the post— earthly spirit world, it is here on the very planet where we were born. A veil is drawn between the one sphere and the others whereby all the objects in the spiritual sphere are rendered invisible to those in the temporal sphere.”

 

I’ve often wondered since reading these statements by Parley P. Pratt and Brigham Young how that can be. It almost seems like to be a contradiction of Alma (where it says that the spirit goes back to that God who gave it life and that there’s a division between the righteous and the wicked). Whereas Brigham Young said that, “the spirit world is right on this earth. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do.” I don’t know in what terms the prophet Brigham Young or Parley P. Pratt could have explained to members of the Church how this could occur. But I think those of us living in the 1990s can understand easily how this could occur, and there’s no conflict or contradiction between the two.

 

Right now in this room at this very moment, there are hundreds of voices in addition to the individual voices of each one of us or the combined voices of all of us.. There are voices in this room of beings that we cannot at the present time see nor hear. And we could demonstrate this very easily, scientifically. I have here a little portable radio. This is not a VCR, it’s not playing back something that’s already recorded. It’s a portable radio; and all I need to do is turn this on (and at least I could do it in the building next door, but it seems like here, maybe all the steel in here is obstructing this). I can just turn this dial here, and I can hear voices    that actually exist in this room at this moment. And yet you cannot hear them with your natural ear, nor can I hear them with my natural ear. And yet all this little machine is doing is changing these voices from a frequency that our ear cannot interpret to a frequency that we can hear.

 

In this room, at this very moment, there are images of people in addition to the individual images of all of us here or the combined images of all of us here. And again, we can demonstrate that very simply, scientifically. I have here a little portable television set. And again, this is not a recorder-—I’m not recording something and just simply playing it back. And all I need to do is turn on this little set and I can see images of people. I can hear voices of people. We cannot see them in the room with our natural eyes and yet as Brigham Young said, “would our eyes be touched that we could see on the frequency that they exist, could we then see? Yes, as clearly as we now see bodies!”

 

In preparation for this discussion today, I went to some physics encyclopedias. I looked up sound for example. I have about eight or ten pages here on sound. Let me just read a sentence or two. “The ear of an adult human can hear sounds at frequencies ranging from 15 hertz (that is oscillations or cycles per second) to 15,000 hertz.” So that’s about the range that our human ear can hear. Yet in the preceding sentence it says that: “Bats emit short ultrasonic squeaks at frequencies as high as 150,000 hertz.” And then they talk about whales and they talk about birds and they talk about animals, etc. They even talked about human babies-—something that I did not know until I had read this--and that is that children can hear sounds at frequencies up to 20,000 hertz; whereas most adults can hear only up to 15,000. Maybe that helps to explain sometimes why the babies, for example, almost--you know--jump once in awhile; and you wonder what’s causing that type of reaction. The fact of the matter is the human ear can interpret only a very small part of the wavelengths that make up the sound of the universe.

 

I also thought it would he interesting to look up the word sight. I went to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The word sight does not appear. I couldn’t believe it. I went to the Encyclopedia Americana, thought they ought to know much more about it. The word sight did not appear except as what we call a blind entry-—to refer to you to “light” and “eye.” And then I realized that that’s really what sight is. Sight is a combination of the human eye as light is refracted or reflected onto the human eye. I looked up the word human eye, and found out that although we have a most remarkable eye, the fact of the matter is that many animals have different types of eyes. And in some of these animals, they are much more highly developed in certain areas than is the human eye. I did not know until last week, for example, that the visual spectrum for the bee does not extend as far into the red region as it does for man, but it reaches over 300 times [as far as man’s] in the near ultra-violet portion. Moreover, for bees——as for many insects-—near ultraviolet is a distinct color. And many flowers have patterns of ultraviolet reflectants--so called nectar guides--that are invisible to man, but are important visual clues to the insects.

 

When I looked up the encyclopedia article on light, it says: “The electromatic spectrum is a broad band of radiant energy which extends over a range of wavelengths running from trillionths of an inch to hundreds of miles. And wavelengths of visible light are measured in hundreds of thousandths of an inch.” In other words, our human eye (our physical eye) does not even comprehend one percent of the wavelengths that make up light particles in the universe.

 

Now do you understand how on this earth at this very time there is a post-earthly spirit world; and in that post—earthly spirit world that there are some who operate on certain “frequencies” if you will? And they’re in a state of peace and happiness and rest called paradise. And in this same physical space as it were-—but operating on entirely different frequencies-—are the wicked who are in a spirit prison, because they cannot interpret or not respond to those certain frequencies.

 

We have in our home the first television set that we purchased back in the 1950s. It’s about 7 inches. It’s a little black and white set that we bought when we were students at Indiana University. It does not have any type of stereo sound. We cannot get any color. We are not able to handle it by remote control, for example. We get only the very high frequencies on that particular little television set. In our living room we have a more sophisticated television set. It has color. We can operate it by remote control. We can get the ultra—high frequencies bands as well as the very high frequency. It does not have stereo sound, however, because it’s limited.

 

If you wanted to compare this with our spirits, the thing that we have common that we had with us before we came here on this earth, that we now have with us, that we will take with us throughout all the eternities to come, is our spirit——the thing with which you do your thinking, that part of your being which makes you different from every other person who has ever lived, who is now living, or who will ever live on this earth. Some people have said concerning death that you cannot take it with you. Concerning the spirit, you cannot leave without it. This eternal part of your being (which can neither be created nor destroyed) is the most important part of your being to you.

 

The Savior, for example, in comparing the spirit body with the physical body said, “Fear not those who can destroy the body” (referring to the physical body), “but fear those who can destroy the soul.”

 

Do you realize that the power that you build into your spirit will be the power that you will take with you throughout all eternity? The power that you build into your spirit--the frequencies to which you are able to respond-—will determine at the time of death, whether you are in a paradise or in a spirit prison. Do you realize that at the time of the resurrection, for example, that your spirit is going to be the power that will bring forth your body out of the grave? Or you might be given the right to exercise that spirit by Priesthood keys; because Brigham Young said that resurrection is an ordinance in the Priesthood. And just as sometimes we have to receive those keys from others in order to exercise them, why we must RECEIVE the keys, but then we exercise those particular keys.

 

Have you ever thought about what power is going to bring your body out of the grave at the time of the resurrection, and that it is your spirit and the power of your spirit that will bring forth that body? You have read in Corinthians and elsewhere and in modern scripture that there are three degrees of glory and even one degree not of glory so far as the resurrection is concerned. And after describing those Paul said, “so likewise is the resurrection from the dead.”

 

Did you think that our Heavenly Father was going to determine whether or not you are resurrected with a celestial body or a terrestrial body or a telestial body? Have you not read Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants that indicates that your spirit will resurrect the body that it has power to resurrect? If you have built into your spirit obedience to celestial law, then your spirit will have the power to resurrect a celestial body. If you have not built into your spirit the power of celestial law--and you build that in by obeying the law, therefore you gain power over the law--and if you have not built that power into your spirit, your spirit cannot resurrect a celestial body. Worlds without end, it cannot do it.

 

If your spirit has learned to obey terrestrial law and therefore has made terrestrial law subject to it, your spirit will have the power to resurrect a body of a terrestrial order at the time of the resurrection. But if you have not built that power into your spirit, your spirit will not have power to resurrect a terrestrial body. Worlds without end, it cannot do it.

 

And therefore, can you see why the prophets (both ancient and modern) have warned us that we’re going to be held responsible f or every thought that we have had, for every word that we have said, for every deed that we have done? Because it’s through those means that we’re either building power into our spirits, or that we are failing to build those power[s] into our spirit.

 

I don’t know today what your concept of a final judgment might be. I’m afraid too many of us might be influenced by what we’ve seen in the 0. J. Simpson case. And of course you know what makes up a judgment--you have a judge, you have a defense attorney (a whole battery of them), you have a prosecuting attorney (or a whole battery of them). There are all kinds of witnesses called, there’s all kinds of testimony taken; and then there’s a jury that decides whether you’re innocent or guilty. That’s sort of like the final judgment, some of us think. Now that’s not the way the final judgment is at all.

 

There will be a judge there--in fact there will be JUDGES (in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every truth be established). There will be no prosecuting attorney. There will be no defense attorneys, save it might be your advocate-—the Savior. There will be no witnesses called. There will be no juries to render the verdict. There will be your spirit and the judges.  And those judges will be those appointed by our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Let me read just a statement and almost conclude with this statement by John Taylor (the third great prophet) concerning this idea. In the Journal of Discourses, Volume 24, beginning on page 232, the prophet John Taylor made the following statement.

 

“We may succeed in hiding our affairs from men, but it is written that for every word and every secret thought we shall have to give an account on the day when accounts have to be rendered before God, when hypocrisy and fraud of any kind will not avail us. For by our words and by our works we shall be justified, and by them we shall be condemned. Now this is remarkable,”

 

President Taylor continued.

 

“Look at the millions of human beings that inhabit this earth and that have inhabited it from the creation up to the present time. Then if we could discover the thoughts and reflections of these numerous millions of human beings, it is so vast and complicated that it seems as if it would be almost a thing impossible for God to comprehend the whole and judge of the whole correctly. How shall this be done? My understanding of the thing is that God has made each man a register within himself, and each man can read his own register. Now if you are in possession of a spirit or intellectuality of that kind whereby you are enabled to read your own acts, do you not think that that being who has placed that spirit and intelligence within you holds the keys of that intelligence, and can read it whenever he pleases? Is not that philosophical, reasonable, and scriptural? I think it is! Well then, upon this principle, we can readily perceive how the Lord will bring men into judgment, will bring into judgment the actions of men when he shall call them forth at the last day. Then the secret thoughts of all men are revealed before Him with whom we have to do. We cannot hide them. It would be in vain for a man to say then ‘I did not do so and so.’ The command will be, ‘Unravel and read the record which you have made of yourself. Let it testify in relation to these things.’ If a man has acted fraudulently against his neighbor, has committed adultery or anything else and wants to cover it up, that record will stare him in the face. He tells the story himself and bears witness against himself. It is written that Jesus will judge not after the sight of the eye or after the hearing of the ear, but with righteousness shall he judge the poor and reprove with equity the meek of the earth. It is not because someone has seen something or heard anything by which a man will be judged and condemned, but it is because that record that is written by the man himself in the tablets of his own mind--that record that cannot lie--will in that day be unfolded before God and angels and those who shall sit as judges.”

 

No prosecuting attorneys, no witnesses called, no jury verdict. It will be your spirit, that spirit that has the power to remember everything it has ever seen, everything it has ever heard, everything it has ever done. And then, the judges who will have access, of course, to the mind of our Heavenly Father in making that judgment.

 

Of course, we also have the statement of the Lord in several of the scriptures where he says that if we have repented of the things that we have done, then He will remember those things no more—-those things that we have done wrong. It does not say he CANNOT remember, it says he WILL not remember. In other words it will not be a matter of judgment so far as we are concerned.

 

What an exciting period, my brothers and sisters, we have yet ahead of us. Sometimes we get enthused about this life that we are in. But if we understood the post-earthly spirit world (where Brother and Sister Perry and where President Hunter are) why then all of a sudden we can see that new opportunities new privileges (will be available to us]. Brigham Young said concerning the spirit world,

 

“The brightness and glory there is inexpressible. We are not encumbered. We move like ease and like lightning. If we want to visit Jerusalem or this that or the other place--and I presume we’ll 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, for it was created first spiritually and then temporally, and spiritually it still remains.”

 

I don’t know how many of you had the opportunity to hear the initial public statement of President Hinckley as the Prophet of the Lord on television yesterday. If you’ve not had that opportunity, I’m sure it’s been recorded and here on campus. You ought to listen to his statement once again. He offered the highest compliment to you, the youth of the Church in which he said that he thought that the youth of the Church today is the greatest youth that’s ever been on this earth, and I agree with him on that. I am confident if we had time and would have some of you share your patriarchal blessings with us, that there are many in this audience who have been told that you’ve been reserved at the side of our Heavenly Father to come forth at this critical time in the history of the earth--a time when we see the wicked becoming more and more wicked——a time when we see the world itself becoming more and more evil. But also a time when we see the righteous becoming more and more righteous, all in preparation for the second coming of our Savior. And therefore, my prayer would be the same one that Brother Balis offered at the beginning today--that we might come to appreciate more fully the fact that we are sans and daughters of a Heavenly Father who has a great eternal plan of progression and eternal life for each one of us. I hope that we will study that in our classes, not only here at Ricks, but in your classes of the Church and other classes that you might take that you never feel the need to outgrow an understanding of the things of the spirit. Brigham Young said, “Could we live to the age of Methuselah and spend our lives in searching after the principles of eternal life, we would find that we have been but children, just commencing to learn the things which pertain to the eternities of God.”

 

And that is my testimony also. We are only children at the beginning of this great quest f or knowledge concerning the life eternal, progression, and the life that rests in the future for those who are worthy to live with our Heavenly Father. That we might learn the things that we need to know about these things that still lie in the future for each of us,that we might learn

to live the laws that have been given to us by our Heavenly Father so that we can return to his presence, is the prayer that I would ask f or all of us this day. And I ask it in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.