Fighting Against What? And Why?
J. Mark Freckleton
We find it interesting that among the most vociferous critics of the Church are those who have left the Church. Giving up their membership seems to have left a spiritual void, and as nature abhors a vacuum, this emptiness fills quickly with bitterness. “Behold, ere he [or she] is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:38).
When the errant former member was born under the covenant – therefore selected before birth to participate in the building of the Kingdom of God on earth – such a fall from grace is tragic. One also wonders about the fall into antagonism of an erstwhile member who was never fully engaged in the gospel. But even a fall into bitterness, hatred and enmity of one who never held membership in the Church is sad.
It is sad because bitterness and hate always canker the soul. They erode away character and integrity; they sour joy. They are based on fear, as are all negative emotions. Fear is the antithesis of faith. Having lost faith, they now wallow in fear. They do not recognize this, of course, and would deny it loudly.
All these acerbic combatants against the Church have one primary commonality. In one regard they are all the same: they all at one time united with God against Lucifer when the Son of the Morning attempted to wrest the glory of God from his father.
Given the immensity of Lucifer’s fall from grace, we expect the resulting void to have filled with immense bitterness. Now he wants us to become miserable like unto himself. His hatred extends to all who contributed to his fall, that being all who did not follow him in rebellion, all who subsequently received a physical body and a second estate on earth. He especially resents the reality of a universal and eternal resurrection for humankind.
Now we see a supreme irony: people who in an earlier state stood by God and by truth against Lucifer have in mortality rejected God and have enrolled as agents for the father of lies in order to subvert truth. These souls, who once endangered themselves by resisting evil, supporting God and countering Lucifer, have now transformed themselves into enemies of God in service to Satan.
The vast majority of humankind will accept an existence of glory that we call terrestrial. These people are innocuous. In fact, the Lord refers to them as honorable. Their only shortfall is that they fail to be valiant in the testimony of Christ.
All the sons and daughters of God will have the opportunity to be valiant and most will not take it. Some few will take on the challenge and work, however imperfectly, to become valiant to the best of their ability. That suffices for them. A loving Heavenly Father will patiently work with them and bring them along until they grow to God-like effectiveness. They are valiant within their own weak capacity and become the just who are made perfect.
But more people – albeit many fewer than those who accept a terrestrial glory – will qualify for a telestial level of existence. We use the term, qualify, advisedly. To qualify for a Celestial glory, we must be valiant in the testimony of Christ. To inherit a Terrestrial glory, one need be merely a good person, not valiant, but also not wicked – these need only live according to social norms and the law of their society.
On the other hand, those who choose a Telestial realm must qualify pro-actively: they must live wickedly. To be worthy of a Telestial glory, one must do evil.
The revelation commonly called the “The Vision,” recorded as Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants, describes these Telestial souls as “liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whore mongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:103). They do not receive a testimony of Jesus, either in mortality or in the spirit world until they have suffered the torment of hell for at least the duration of Christ’s millennial reign as an unresurrected spirit, subject to the buffetings of Satan.
The common thread among these telestial souls is that in one way or another they fight against God. The evil they perpetrate harms other people. God’s declared work and glory is bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. The work and glory of those in a telestial state hurts the children of God by violating a marriage vow, taking a life, taking another’s possessions or living in deceit. They may love certain people in their lives, they may do good and kind things to people, but they also abuse the well-being of others, they do ill, they damage the happiness of God’s children.
It may make no difference in the end result whether a person leading a telestial life knew of the Church or not; but we have to think that the buffetings of hell may be more sore, exquisite and hard to bear for those who fought against the Church – and this greatly magnified for one who was once a baptized member.
They have not sinned against the Holy Ghost, and for that they inherit a kingdom of glory. This they receive because what they did in their pre-mortal state. But all that makes their turn toward evil in mortality all the more inconceivable and, in the end, painful.