Yesterday’s Gospel Doctrine class, which I teach, discussed the condition of spirits, after death, in the Spirit World. I made the point of doctrine that, contrary to the belief of some Latter-day Saints, God does not live, or visit the spirits, in the Spirit World; those who die do not return immediately to the “loving arms of their Savior” as so often local obituaries read, and therefore a literal interpretation of Alma’s remarks to his son Corianton on this subject, found in Alma 40:11, would be incorrect. However, there remained some doubt among certain class members that the spirits of young children, under the age of 8, go to the Spirit World, but, rather, are ushered immediately into the presence of God in the Celestial Kingdom. I failed to persuade some of these people because I could not be specific in reciting the sources of my understanding of this doctrine. Could you please help by reminding me where such information may be obtained? Children are treated no differently with respect to their point of arrival after death; only their release from the responsibilities of mortality and subsequent lack of critical judgement sets them apart from the rest of us poor souls. Best wishes,
Richard, from Utah
You seem to propose two questions- do spirits meet with the Savior upon their arrival in the spirit world, and do children who die under the age of eight years go to the spirit world or directly to the celestial kingdom. You suggest that Alma’s words to Corianton 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 (Alma 40:11) should not be taken literally. However, if you read the following two verses, they reveal that there will be at least a partial judgment of spirits as they enter the spirit world, separating the righteous from the wicked.
And 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 care, and sorrow. (Alma 40:12-13).
And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil–for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house–and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil
Who makes this judgment? We read in 2 Nephi 9:11 that it is the Savior himself, for he employeth no servant there.
Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name (2 Nephi 9:41).
So I would suggest that indeed the Savior does visit the spirit world. One such specific occasion will be when he declares redemption to the righteous-
I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand. They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death (D&C 138:15-16).
Concerning little children bypassing the spirit world, before they may take up their residence in the celestial kingdom of God they must be resurrected. That resurrection will occur, without doubt, in the morning of the first resurrection when the Savior comes in power and great glory.
And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven–They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God (D&C 88:97-98).