I have great faith and trust that Heavenly Father will do the best for his children, but I would like clarification on the matter of those who will come forth in the morning of the first resurrection. I do a lot of family history and temple work, and so can’t help wondering about those who would have been valiant, but whose ordinances can’t be done before the Second Coming, because of the time period in which they lived. The more studying and reading I do on this subject, the more confused I become, please can you help?
Jenny, from Durban, KZN, South Africa
Those who come forth in the morning of the first resurrection are those, in all ages of the world, who, in mortality, received and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and who lived by the covenants of righteousness that they made with the Lord while in mortality. As we read in the Doctrine & Covenants—
And again we bear record–for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just– They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given– That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power; And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true (D&C 76:50-53).
But your question relates to those who had not heard the gospel preached to them, but who were of such a character that if they had heard it they would have believed, accepted and lived completely worthy lives in full compliance with all the principals of the gospel. We can divide that group of people into two sub-groups–those who have vicariously received all the saving ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ by proxies who acted in their behalf, and those whose vital statistics were unknown at the time of the resurrection.
Concerning those for whom the saving ordinances had been performed by proxies, they will also come forth in the morning of the first resurrection. They are called Christ’s at his coming (see D&C 88:99).
Now concerning those who were worthy in mortality, but whose saving ordinances had not been performed in their behalf, they will be resurrected, but they must wait until their ordinance work will have been done so that they can be resurrected to the celestial glory that they merit. According to Elder Milton R. Hunter—
“God revealed to the Prophet that there are three degrees of glory-the celestial, the terrestrial, and the telestial. If a person’s body at the resurrection is quickened by a portion of the celestial glory,” he shall later receive a fullness of that glory. The same holds true for the other two degrees of glory” (Elder Milton R. Hunter, Conference Report, October 1969, Afternoon Meeting, p.78).
This is why it is so vital to perform the necessary temple work for those who have already passed on to the other side. If they are worthy of a celestial glory and have not received the essential ordinances required for those who are to inherit a celestial kingdom, they must wait until the work will have been done so that they can be resurrected to the glory that they merit.
Temples will dot the earth during the millennium and the mortal strain during the millennium (the faithful saints who will be living when the Savior comes) will be in the temples day and night until all the savings ordinances will have been performed for all those who merit them.