| they must suffer | even as i |


I will try to make this short and sweet. In D&C 19:15-20, we read:

therefore | i command you to repent |

repent | lest i smite you by the rod of my mouth | and by my wrath | and by my anger | and your sufferings be sore |

how sore you know not |

how exquisite you know not |

yea | how hard to bear you know not |

for behold | i | god | have suffered these things for all | that they might not suffer | if they would repent | but if they would not repent | they must suffer | even as i | which suffering caused myself | even god | the greatest of all | to tremble because of pain | and to bleed at every pore | and to suffer | both body and spirit | and would | that i might not drink the bitter cup | and shrink | nevertheless | glory be to the father | and i partook | and finished my preparations unto the children of men | wherefore | i command you again |

to repent | lest i humble you with my almighty power |

and that you confess your sins | lest you suffer these punishments | of which i have spoken | of which in the smallest | yea | even in the least degree you have tasted | at the time i withdrew my spirit |

When I was a young man, reading this scripture, I had always thought that this spoke of the punishment of the devil and his angels and the sons of perdition, being cast out into outer darkness at the last and great day of judgment.

Today, however, as I was teaching one of my children about the afterlife (for there was a recent death in our extended family), I taught that this scripture also had application to all those souls who entered hell, that every soul who was bound down there would suffer in spirit even as Jesus suffered in spirit.

A description of the suffering of the Lord

The suffering of the Lord is described by the angel in this way: “he shall suffer temptations, and pains of body, hunger, thirst and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death” (Mosiah 3:7.) The Spirit told Alma that the Son of God “shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” and that “he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people” (Alma 7:11.) The Spirit also said that “he will take upon him their infirmities” (Alma 7:12.)

Christ’s physical body could sustain levels of suffering beyond our comprehension, without dying, allowing the pain to be piled on everlastingly. No mortal human, therefore, could experience what Jesus experienced, while in the physical, mortal body. But once dead, man’s immortal spirit is up to the task of infinite suffering.

Thus, all those who descend into hell will come to know how sore, how exquisite and how difficult to bear were the sufferings of Christ, for they will go through the same pain and anguish.

Now, there was much more that I taught my child, but I thought that this topic might make for some interesting discussion on this blog.

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10 Comments

  1. I think we will experience pain and suffering in this life too if we don’t repent. leviticus 26

  2. This part:

    The suffering of the Lord is described by the angel in this way: “he shall suffer temptations, and pains of body, hunger, thirst and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death” (Mosiah 3:7.) The Spirit told Alma that the Son of God “shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” and that “he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people” (Alma 7:11.) The Spirit also said that “he will take upon him their infirmities” (Alma 7:12.)

    reminded me of my thoughts written in the Unity of God post:

    Upon death, we will each of us find that the laws of physics which had [until that point] allowed us to:

    force air into our lungs by manipulating air pressure differences between our chest cavity and the atmosphere

    force gases to exchange at our lungs and tissues by taking advantage of the partial pressures of the various gases

    prevent our bodies from going right through physical objects [including the ground] by relying on the electromagnetic repulsion of the electrons surrounding our body and the electrons surrounding the other objects

    rob food of its low-entropy/high-energy value by chemically stripping the carbons and the electrons from the fats and starches and giving back out high-entropy/low-energy waste products

    etc.

    will have ceased to work “just so”.

    [The elements of this present, mortal environment] are currently voluntarily-submitting to God’s request — and this is why we are presently able to manipulate the elements that make up our mortal existence, according to a specific set of laws that we’ve observed, studied, and defined as “The Laws of Physics”

    Upon death — God’s merciful probation with the physical elements ends. The elements will again respond as they always have — according to the principles of free-agency, consent, and respect. If we have not learned to command our will in the universe according to the principles of righteousness — then we will find ourselves in an awful situation in the afterlife. For it will be impossible for your spirit [your “soul” or “consciousness”] to force the elements to do anything against their will.

    You will find yourself with an insatiable desire to eat, the feeling of unquenchable thirst, the perpetual sensation of suffocation — but have no way to alleviate the feelings. You will find yourself pulled-down by gravity into the central portion of the earth’s outer shell — a place of immense heat and crushing pressure, a “spirit prison” or hell.

    Once at the center of hell, gravity pushes you equally in all directions. Therefore, your body will act like an astronaut’s does while in orbit. You will have no power to move this-way or that-way. There is nothing your spirit could “act upon” in order to move around.

    In fact, the only way you will be able to “move” at all is by Satan moving you around [as he desires you to be moved] by pulling on the chains of hell attached to the base of your head [– making you entirely subject to his will].

  3. After of few zillion years, it won’t be so bad.

  4. I initially brought this subject up (to my child) because of a statement by someone that our recently departed relative was now in a better, happier place, being reunited with loved ones, in a celebration. This was understandably stated to comfort those who loved the deceased. My family consists of LDS and non-LDS, so there are diverse beliefs about all things, nevertheless, there seems to be consensus among everyone that when people die, they go to a better place, unless they are really, really wicked. This particular comment seemed to indicate a belief that there were three locations in the afterlife, corresponding to the three degrees of glory. One was paradise, where the celestial people go, one was spirit prison, where terrestrial people go, and one was hell, where telestial people go; hell being where people suffer and spirit prison being where people simply wait, without suffering, for the missionaries to arrive and teach them the gospel. In other words, the Catholic concept of limbo, seemed to have been adopted by the LDS family members.

    Now, I don’t know if this is peculiar to my family, because of Catholic influence, or if this has come from Mormon traditions, as well. I haven’t really talked much to LDS about the afterlife and who goes where. But, in the course of explaining about my departed relative, having lived, as far as we know, a terrestrial life, I felt it necessary to explain that terrestrial souls do not simply enter a third place called “spirit prison,” which is separate from hell, and just wait around, sitting, standing, walking, but essentially doing nothing, without anything to torment them except the boredom of the place and the memories of their lives.

    My understanding of the afterlife is fundamentally different from this idea, and to illustrate my point I pulled this scripture out (section 19) and applied it to the space between death and resurrection, to both terrestrial and telestial lives. I attempted to explain, to the LDS relative who originally made the statement, that terrestrial souls are not sinless. The difference between the two souls, terrestrial and telestial, is that telestial souls sin inwardly (hard hearts and blind minds) and outwardly (doing harm to others), while terrestrial souls repent of outward sins, but still remain in their inward sins (hard hearts and blind minds.) Thus, they still remain sinners, even hypocrites, for they appear to be good on the outside to others.

    And this is the point of section 19, that if a person doesn’t repent of their sins (inward or outward, it doesn’t matter), they must suffer in this manner, meaning after the manner of the suffering of the Lord. Also, that their suffering comes through the agency of Satan, the resident sadist in hell. Satan, hating all these people who are found within his realm, people who opposed him in their pre-mortal existence, this is his opportunity to “get back” at them for not having chosen him, as the one-third did.

    Of course, these afflictions he brings upon these people actually work into the purposes of the Lord, for through their sufferings they are finally brought to repentance and faith, after the missionaries arrive with the light of Christ to free them from their shackles.

    So, the idea of telestial and terrestrial people being reunited with their telestial and terrestrial family and friends, is, in a sense, sound, since they all go to the same place, but I cannot see happy celebrations taking place.

    Growing up, I remember seeing a church film, Man’s Search for Happiness, I think it was called, in which the pre-mortal existence and afterlife was depicted, I think, and it just showed people milling around, doing nothing. That image stuck with me and tainted my understanding of what happens after we die. I wouldn’t doubt that many LDS think that people aren’t really tortured, at all, by anyone, that they are merely tortured by their own minds. In a sense, that is true, since the tares are connected to their minds, but the suffering has a source external to them, which is the devil. Also, that “spirit prison” is jurisdiction of the Lord, thus is a place of justice, meaning those who are more wicked, suffer more than those who were less wicked. All such concepts are contrary to how I read and understand the scriptures.

    I attempted to explain that such statements actually lull people into a false sense of security, taking away any urgency to warn our neighbors, after we ourselves have been warned by the gospel. For, if boredom is the only lot of those who do not go to paradise, then there is no reason to go about preaching the gospel to every soul on this side of the veil. We can let the missionaries on the other side of the veil preach the gospel, for all things are done in fairness, and people deserve whatever they will get.

    In other words, the sense of fairness that God has given mankind takes away any urgency to warn our neighbors to immediately repent of their sins, if it is applied to the afterlife, for just about everyone is okay with people reaping what they sow, both here and there. But, when you realize that sin in mortality creates a situation in which you receive the maximum penalty (the suffering of the Lord) on the other side of the veil, which is totally unfair, it creates a sense of urgency to turn people from their sins, for who desires that a man who dies in his sins should receive greater punishment than what his sins really merit? There is no sense of fairness in that, and that is the point. This is why these warnings go forth, that we might understand that hell (or spirit prison) is not a place of justice and those people do not deserve the punishments that will be inflicted on them by the devil.

    The devil does not punish these people for the sins that they did in mortality, no, his motive is revenge upon them for not choosing him. Therefore, the devil has no justification, whatsoever, in his devilish work. And so on and so forth.

  5. As LDS, my wife and I had always understood something similar to the the “three degrees” you described above. My wife grew-up LDS — so I think the idea of “spirit prison” as a “neutral” place for “good” people to go and wait until the resurrection is common.

  6. I found Man’s Search For Happiness on YouTube.

    Watching it again, I see that the video is almost entirely correct, except for this part of the narration:

    After death, though your mortal body lies in the earth, you, your spirit self, being eternal, continue to live. Your memory of this life will remain with you and the knowledge of your life before birth will be restored. Like coming out of a darkened room into the light, through death you will emerge into a place of re-awakening and find loved ones waiting to welcome you.

    The first part in bold is simply not true, according to my understanding, for the knowledge of our pre-mortal life only returns when we are resurrected. The second part is partially true, or is true for those who will enter paradise, but is not true for those who enter hell. As all go to paradise, initially, I suppose we could say that all souls will find loved ones waiting for them, in the sense that those residing in paradise love the sinners as much as the saints, and they will be waiting for them, but they will only welcome those who are to enter into paradise. All the others will be dragged down to hell, into the regions of darkness.

    The picture painted by this film, then, as far as the afterlife is concerned, is the same one portrayed by my LDS relative who attempted to console the other non-LDS relatives. So, I guess this misunderstanding doesn’t come from Catholicism, after all. It’s a 100% Mormon-made perversion, recorded into celluloid under authority of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles and sent far and wide to the ends of the earth. Btw, according to the YouTube comments, the narrator of this film was Richard L. Evans, who, I believe, was an apostle.

  7. Reminds me of what my grandmother told me. She said my Grandfather visits her sometimes in her dreams (actually she says her dreams seem pretty real).
    There were some times were my Grandfather comes to her room and is very tired, and she asks him what he’s doing and he replies: “i’m working for the Lord. There is a lot of work to do.”. Once she said he came with very dirty clothes and looked like he lost weight and he told her he only came quick to asure her that everything is fine, that she had to stay strong and that he must go back now but will visit her soon.
    It’s been over a year, i wonder if he did visit her again. It really doesn’t seem like the souls are on vacation in the spirit world.

  8. I like to quote St. Alphonsus of his “equally” impressive understanding of the passion and the atonement, touching on the post above :

    Behold, our most loving Saviour, having come to the
    Garden of Gethsemani, did of his own accord make a
    beginning of his bitter Passion by giving full liberty to
    the passions of fear, of weariness, and of sorrow to come
    and afflict him with all their torments : He began to fear;
    a?id to be heavy? to grow sorrowful, and to be sad. 1

    He began, then, first to feel a great fear of death, and
    of the sufferings he would have soon to endure. He
    began to fear ; 3 but how? Was it not he himself that
    had offered himself spontaneously to endure all these
    torments ? He was offered because He willed it.” Was it

    1 “Coepit pavere et taedere.” — Mark, xiv. 33.

    8 ” Contristari et moestus esse.” — Matt. xxvi. 37.

    8 ” Coepit pavere.”

    4 ” Oblatus est, quia ipse voluit.” — Isa. liii. 7.

    not he who had so much desired this hour of his Pas-
    sion, and who had said shortly before, With desire have 1
    desired to eat this Pasch with you ? l And yet how is it
    that he was seized with such a fear of death, that he
    even prayed his Father to deliver him from it ? …

    ….And there appeared to Him an angel, . . . strengthening
    Him. Strength came, but, says the Venerable Bede,
    this rather increased than lightened his sufferings :
    “Strength did not diminish, but increased his sorrow.” 2
    Yes, for the angel strengthened him, that he might suffer
    still more for the love of men and the glory of his
    Father.

    …: Ami His sweat became as
    drops of blood trickling down upon the ground. .’ So that, ac-
    cording to the Evangelist, this bloody sweat was so
    copious that it first bathed all the vestments of our
    Blessed Redeemer, and then came forth in quantity and
    bathed the ground.

    Ah, my loving Jesus, I do not behold in this garden
    either scourges or thorns or nails that pierce Thee; how,
    then, is it that I see Thee all bathed in blood from Thy
    head to Thy feet ? …

    THE ASCETICAL WORKS.
    Volume V.
    The
    Passion and the Death
    of Jesus Christ.
    by St. ALPHONSUS de LIGUORI

    http://archive.org/stream/passiondeathofje00ligu/passiondeathofje00ligu_djvu.txt

  9. I really dig this part:

    ….And there appeared to Him an angel, . . . strengthening
    Him. Strength came, but, says the Venerable Bede,
    this rather increased than lightened his sufferings :
    “Strength did not diminish, but increased his sorrow.” 2
    Yes, for the angel strengthened him, that he might suffer
    still more for the love of men and the glory of his
    Father.

  10. oh! if you can post any additional insight you can have and I’m happy to read from them, LDS A, thanks for your feedback in the quote…


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