Last week in Relief Society our lesson was on the Last Judgement. We learned that those who reject the Gospel in this life,but accept it in the next, will be assigned to the Terrestrial Kingdom. So what does it mean to “reject” the Gospel–I’m sure it’s more than telling the missionaries you aren’t interested. I know a lot of people married to non-members wait the year after their spouse has died, then have the work done and are sealed. So have these people not rejected the Gospel? I asked in class what constituted rejecting the Gospel, but didn’t really get an answer. One person said it wasn’t for us to judge, just God. Another said you had to have a testimony first, then turn your back on your testimony. But those answers did not satisfy me. Can you help?
Let’s turn to the source material to see who qualifies for the Terrestrial Kingdom (D&C 76:71-80).
1. Those who died without law (72).
2. Those who outright rejected the gospel, but receive it in the spirit world (73-4).
3. Honorable men blinded by men’s craftiness (75).
4. Those who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus (79).
The key to your question is verse 73:
“And also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh”. This has reference to Peter’s description of Christ’s descent to the spirit world to preach to those who “sometime were disobedient, when once the long suffering 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 3:19-21).
Before the flood, the world was given a chance to respond to Noah’s preaching and repent. They instead continued in their wickedness, a level of wickedness that caused God and the heavens to weep (Moses 7:29-40). They specifically were “without affection, and hate their own blood” (Moses 7:33). The life described sounds like a wholesale conversion to a telestial society, resulting in “the wrath of God on earth” (D&C 76:104). These disobedient remained in prison until Christ bridged the gap between paradise and prison. At that point, those who finally felt the urgency of repentance had the glory of the Terrestrial Kingdom opened to them.
Your friend is right that ultimately God is the Judge. The attributes described in section 76 are not intended to measure others, but ought to serve as a guide for introspection. I don’t know how much “law” an individual is under, unless that individual is me. Additionally, we don’t know if an individual will experience a change of heart when embraced by departed friends and family in the spirit world. We mercifully do the work for them to aid them in their progression.