SPIRIT WORLD ON EARTH
During one of Joseph Smith’s visits to the Johnson farm, he told Benjamin F. Johnson, “From a boy I have been persecuted. . . . Why should I not wish for my time of rest?” And then he said, “I would not be far away from you, and if on the other side of the veil I would still be working with you, and with a power greatly increased, to roll on this kingdom.”
This story highlights another important doctrine of the restored gospel: the spirit world is right here on earth, and the spirits of our departed loved ones are in reality among us. This doctrine is as comforting to the Latter-day Saints as it is unique among Christian beliefs. Our deceased family and friends are not gone, neither are they far away in some distant “heaven.”
It is important to remember that we are separated from the spirit worlds, both before and after, by a veil—not a wall. The spirit world is not some remote part of the cosmos; it is nearby. Our loved ones—both those who have yet to join our family and those who have departed—are very close by.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “They are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions.”
In the spirit world, the law of restoration is an absolutely perfect and just return for our actions in life. We get what we gave. We experience all the effects of our own choices.
The first question that pops up in response to this is, what about repentance? And must I still have that “life review” if I have repented? The answer is that when we repent, the Atonement of Jesus Christ cleanses and purifies us; we are made new creatures. So, yes we will have a “life review,” but it will be of the new creature, or the new life that Christ has created in us.
Another doctrine that gives us hope is that of the incredible work of salvation that goes on in the spirit world. It has a direct application to all of us, for we will all be involved in some way in that work. President Wilford Woodruff taught that the priesthood and offices we hold in this life go with us into the spirit world. We engage in the same types of service and ministry there that we use the priesthood for here.
A FAMILIAR PLACE
The doctrinal principle of “that which is temporal [is] in the likeness of that which is spiritual,” tells us that not only do we have an immortal spirit that generally looks like our bodies but also that, to a large degree, the spirit world looks and is organized like the earthly world. Brigham Young taught: