Focus On The Things That Matter Most

“One of the great challenges each of us faces everyday is to not allow the concerns of this world to so dominate our time and energy so that we neglect the eternal things that matter most. We can be too easily diverted from remembering and focusing upon essential spiritual priorities because of our many responsibilities and busy schedules. Sometimes we try to run so fast that we may forget where we are going and why we are running.”

[David A. Bednar, General Conference, October 2017]

Upon Entering The Spirit World

It is important to understand that after Jesus died, he did not immediately enter the physical presence of his father, our Father in Heaven. Perhaps a misunderstanding on this point arises from the language of Alma, who stated, “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). Several of the early apostles and prophets of this present dispensation have helped us to understand Alma’s language. [8] Perhaps the clearest interpretation of Alma’s use of the phrase “taken home to that God who gave them life” was offered by President George Q. Cannon, counselor in the First Presidency for many years.

George Q CannonPresident George Q. Cannon (© Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

Alma, when he says that “the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, . . . are taken home to that God who gave them life,” has the idea, doubtless, in his mind that our God is omnipresent—not in His own personality but through His minister, the Holy Spirit.

He does not intend to convey the idea that they are immediately ushered into the personal presence of God. He evidently uses that phrase in a qualified sense. Solomon . . . makes a similar statement: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7.) The same idea is frequently expressed by the Latter-day Saints. In referring to a departed one it is often said that he has gone back to God, or he has gone “home to that God who gave him life.” Yet it would not be contended that the person who said this meant that the departed one had gone where God, the Father Himself is, in the sense in which the Savior meant when He spake to Mary. [9]

For the righteous, those who strive to live the gospel of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, the spirit world will be a place of peace, rest, and security. President George Q. Cannon gave us the assurance that “Satan is bound as soon as the faithful spirit leaves this tabernacle of clay and goes to the other side of the veil. That spirit is emancipated from the power and thralldom and attacks of Satan. Satan can only afflict such in this life.” 

President Cannon stated, “How delightful it is to contemplate the departure of those who have been faithful, as far as their knowledge permitted, to the truth which God has revealed! There is no sting nor gloom nor inconsolable sorrow about the departure of such persons. Holy angels are around their bedside to administer unto them. The Spirit of God rests down upon them, and His messengers are near them to introduce them to those who are on the other side of the veil.”

President Joseph F. Smith added this thought: “What is more desirable than that we should meet with our fathers and our mothers, with our brethren and our sisters, with our wives and our children, with our beloved associates and kindred in the spirit world, knowing each other, identifying each other . . . by the associations that familiarize each to the other in mortal life? What do you want better than that?” 

Elder Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke powerfully of the increased capacities of spirits in paradise to learn, grow intellectually, and increase in knowledge exponentially:

“When I speak of the future state of man, and the situation of our spirits between death and the resurrection, I long for the experience and knowledge to be gained in that state, as well as this. We shall learn many more things there; we need not suppose our five senses connect us with all the things of heaven, and earth, and eternity, and space; we need not think that we are conversant with all the elements of nature, through the medium of the senses God has given us here. Suppose He should give us a sixth sense, a seventh, an eighth, a ninth, or a fiftieth. All these different senses would convey to us new ideas, as much so as the senses of tasting, smelling, or seeing communicate different ideas from that of hearing.”

President Joseph F. Smith said of paradise, it is a place where the righteous can “expand in wisdom, where they have respite from all their troubles, and where care and sorrow [will] not annoy.” [24] Paradise will be a place where our spirit bodies will be free to think and act with renewed capacity, vigor, and enthusiasm that will prepare us for eternal life, which is made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The Savior’s Ministry to the Spirit World

Andrew C. Skinner

Andrew C. Skinner, “The Savior’s Ministry to the Spirit World” in With Healing in His Wings, ed. Camille Fronk Olson and Thomas A. Wayment (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013), 81–107.

Andrew C. Skinner is a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.

“We shall turn round and look upon [the valley of death] and think, when we have crossed it, why this is the greatest advantage of my whole existence, for I have passed from a state of sorrow, … pain, anguish and disappointment into a state of existence, where I can enjoy life to the fullest extent as far as that can be done without a body. My spirit is set free, I thirst no more; I want to sleep no more, I hunger no more, I tire no more, I run, I walk, I labor, I go, I come, I do this, I do that, whatever is required of me, … I am full of life, full of vigor, and I enjoy the presence of my heavenly Father, by the power of his Spirit” (“Discourse by President Brigham Young,” Deseret News, August 5, 1874, 427).

The Prophet Joseph Smith teaches of the Ten Lost Tribes

I have many times been pondering upon a subject, and seemed to come to a stand-still, not knowing how to gain farther information, relating to it, when upon going to meeting on the sabbath, the key would be touched by Joseph and the subject would be so plain I wondered why I had not seen it before.

I was in this situation in relation to the Ten lost tribes of Israel. I had read everything I could find relating to them. I had carefully studied the statistics of the Jews, and not withstanding they had been persecuted for hundreds of years, being murdered and driven, until they were now scattered all over the known world, yet they numbered several millions. I reasoned thus, had the `Ten Tribes’, suffered equal disaster, and they had increased in number, in the same ratio as the Jews, the would number nearly ten times as many–or nine times and a half as it is nine a half tribes instead of ten. If they have increased in this proportion, where is there habitable earth for this vast amount of people who are hidden from the rest of mankind? I could not see.

I was in this train of thought, unable to obtain further information from any source, when as usual on a Sunday morning, I took my skiff and crossed the river to Nauvoo, to attend meeting.

Joseph addressed the congregation, and as if for special benefit, touched upon this subject which opened a new field for reflection to me. His subject was: The “restitution of all things spoken of by all the Holy Prophets since the world began,” quoting the twenty first verse of the third chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

In the course of his remarks he spoke of the earth being divided at various times. He said, “When Enoch and his city was taken away, a portion of earth was taken and would again be restored. Also in the days of Peleg, the earth was divided, see Genesis 10th Chapter 25 verse.” He then referred to the `Ten Tribes’, saying, “You know a long time ago in the days of Shalmanezer King of Assyria when the Ten Tribes was taken away, and never been heard of since.” He said, “The earth will be restored as at the beginning, and the last taken away will be the first to return, for the last shall be first, and the first shall be last in all things.” He illustrated the return by saying.

“Some of you brethren have been coming up the river on a steamboat, and while seated at the table, the steamboat run against a snag which upset the table and scatter the dishes; so it will be when these portions of earth return. It will make the earth reel to and for `like a drunken man,'” quoting 24th chapter Isaiah 20th verse. When speaking of the return of the Ten Tribes, he said, “The mountains of ice shall flow down at their presence,” and a highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.”

These remarks satisfied me, it was no longer necessary to hunt the place on this earth where the Ten Tribes were so long hidden, for the earth was divided and taken away, and will be the first to return, as it was the last taken away.

“He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land.”

“And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided. See [D&C 133:21-24] Appendix. Doctrine & Covenants.

I will introduce a poem upon this subject, by Sister E. R. Snow, as it was published in the Millennial Star 1851, pg. 272 entitled

An Address to the Earth

Thou, earth, wast once a glorious sphere of noble magnitude,
And didst with majesty appear, among the worlds of God.
But thy dimensions have been torn asunder, piece by piece,
And each dismembered fragment borne abroad to distant space.

When Enoch could no longer stay amid corruption here,
Part of thyself was borne away to form another sphere.
That portion where his city stood He gained by right approved;
And nearer to the throne of God His planet upward moved.

And when the Lord saw fit to hide the “ten lost tribes” away,
Thou, earth, was severed to provide the orb on which they stay.
And thus, from time to time thy size has been diminished, till
Thou seemest the law of sacrifice created to fulfil.

The curse of God on man was placed: that curse thou didst partake,
And thou hast been by turns disgraced and honored for his sake.
The vilest wretches hell will claim now breathe thy atmosphere,
The noblest spirits heaven can name have been embodied here.

Jesus the Lord thy surface graced; He fell a sacrifice;
And now within thy cold embrace the martyred Joseph lies.
When Satan’s hosts are overcome, the martyred princely rare,
Will claim thee their celestial home thy royal dwelling place.

A “restitution” yet must come, that will to them restore,
By the grand law of worlds, thy sum of matter heretofore.
And thou, O earth, will leave the track thou hast been doomed to trace
The Gods with shouts will bring thee back to fill thy native place.


Upon another occasion about this time, when addressing the Saints upon the coming of the Savior, Joseph said, “I prophecy that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man has already commenced, one pestilence will desolate after another, you hear of wars in foreign lands, but behold I say unto you they are nigh even at your doors, and not many years hence you shall hear of wars in your own land.” I testify of these things and that the coming of the Son of Man is nigh even at your doors. The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall be turned into blood. If our souls and our bodies are not looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, and after we are dead, if we are not looking forth for his coming; we shall be among them that call for the rocks to fall on us and hide us.”

“The time is coming when no man will have any peace, but in Zion, and her stakes. I know it I have seen it in vision! I saw men hunting lives of their own sons, and women killing their own daughters, and daughters seeking the lives of their mothers, and brother murdering brother. I saw armies arrayed against armies, I saw blood, desolation, fires–These things are at our doors!”

“They will follow the Saints of God from city to city, Satan will rage, and the spirit of the devil is now enraged. I know not how soon these things will take place and with a view of them, shall I cry peace, peace? No! I will lift up my voice and testify of them. How long you will have good crops, and the famine be kept off, I do not know.”

“The Son of Man has said, that the mother shall be against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, etc,, and when the fig tree puts forth her leaves, know then that summer is nigh.” Many times he spoke of these things.

(Autobiography of Wandle Mace, Chapter 7; Autobiography (1809-1846); Journal of Wandle Mace, typescript, HBLL

The Sign of the Coming of the Son of Man

While speaking at the April Conference of the Church in Nauvoo in 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith stated:

“It is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder…There will be wars and rumours of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places,the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet…”

(DHC 5:337)


John the Revelator appears in the Kirtland Temple and ministers to the Lost Ten Tribes

Elder Heber C. Kimball recorded an appearance of John in the Kirtland Temple:

“When the Prophet Joseph had finished the endowments of the First Presidency, the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishops, the First Presidency proceeded to lay hands upon each of them to seal and confirm the anointing; and at the close of each blessing the whole of the quorums responded to it with a loud shout of Hosanna! Hosanna! etc.

While these things were being attended to the beloved disciple John was seen in our midst by the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, and others.”  (In Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kiimball, pp. 91-92.)


According to John Whitmer’s account of a conference of the Church on June 3, 1831, in Kirtland, Ohio, “the Spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph [Smith] in an unusual manner, and he prophesied that John the Revelator was then among the Ten Tribes of Israel who had been led away … , to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion” (in History of the Church, 1:176).


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