Dr. Einar C. Erickson
Ancient Document Mormon Scholar
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Adam was endowed with the image and likeness of the Lords above while Eve is the queen of this world. And I God provided and sent the three visitors for their protection, and taught them the holy mysteries and the prayers, which they might recite. I told them further, I have provided to you this earth, a dwelling place fit for eternity. And then sitting near them I taught the manner of calling upon the Lord to bless them.




In November 1823 , Alvin Smith, the oldest child of Lucy Mack Smith and Joseph Smith Sr., passed away. A Presbyterian Minister in his funeral sermon stated that Alvin, because he was not a member of the church and had not been baptized into it, could not be saved, and had gone to hell. “ In JANUARY 1836 Joseph  received a vision of the celestial kingdom, Alvin was there. Joseph received another vision (D&C 137:6; Manuel p. 403)  …The voice  then came to Joseph declaring: “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God, also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom.” (D&C 137:7-9)…“In August 15. 1840, the prophet Joseph Smith preached at a funeral In Nauvoo and… For the first time in public, taught the doctrine  of salvation for the dead …one month later, the Prophet visited his father, who was ill and near death …[he] asked that the work be done for Alvin, just minutes before he died, he declared that he saw Alvin. The Prophet began teaching the doctrine of baptism for the dead as early as August 15, 1840. In the latter part of 1840 the Smith family rejoiced as Hyrum received the ordinance of baptism for his brother Alvin.” (Manuel p. 22, 403) …The first baptisms for the dead were done in local rivers and streams. This ceased until the font was ready in the Nauvoo temple. (D&C 124:28-31)…during the summer and fall of 1841… The Saints built a temporary wooden  baptismal font in the newly excavated basement of the temple…baptisms  for the dead were first  performed in this font on November 21, 1831…In 1842 the first sealings of couples were performed, and in 1843 the Prophet dictated the revelation (D&C 132) that describes the eternal nature  of the marriage covenants. Because the Temple would not be completed for some time, Joseph Smith chose to go forward with the temple endowment outside its sacred walls. On May 4, 1842, in the upper room of the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo the Prophet administered the first endowment to a small group of  brethren… The Prophet did hot live to see the temple completed….in 1845 and 1846 thousands of Saints received the endowment.” (Manuel p. 22) Preparatory to their going west.


“On the  third  of October in 1918…[I]was pondering over the scriptures …and reflecting upon the great sacrifice …made by the Son of God , for the redemption of the world…that through his atonement, and obedience to the principles of the gospel , mankind might be saved…my mind reverted to the writings of the apostle Peter to the primitive saints scattered abroad…where the gospel had been preached after the crucifixion of the Lord. I…read the third and fourth chapters of the , …first epistle of Peter “for Christ also hath once suffered for sins …being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the spirit by which  he went and preached unto the spirits in prison…For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6; Manuel p. 409)                                                                                     

“As I pondered over these things which are written the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead both small and great.  And I saw there were gathered together in one place an  innumerable company of the spirits of the of the just who had been  faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality…all these had departed the mortal life, firm in the  hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his only Begotten Son, Jesus ‘Christ….they were filled with joy and gladness and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.” (D&C 138:11-15)

“…awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption…their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame…the Son of God appeared declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful.  

And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall and from individual sins on conditions of repentance. But unto the wicked he did not go…where these were, darkness reigned, but among the righteous there was peace;…And  the saints rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed their knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death…But his ministry among those who were dead was limited to the  brief time intervening between the crucifixion  and his resurrection. …how was it possible for him to preach to those spirits and perform the necessary labor among them in so short a time. … my eyes were opened and I perceived that the Lord went not among the wicked and disobedient who rejected the truth, to teach them…from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to  them that were in darkness, even to all of spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead…the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel…Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins;…they  were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptisms for the remission of sins the gift of the Holy ‘Ghost by the laying  on of hands…And all other principles of  the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves  that they might be judged according to men in the flesh. And so it was made known among the dead as well as the faithful…  Our Redeemer spent his time during his sojourn in the world of spirits, instructing and preparing the faithful spirits of the prophets who had testified of him in the flesh…that they might carry the message of redemption unto all the dead, unto whom he could not go personally because of their rebellion that they through the ministration  of his servants might also hear his words .Among the great and mighty ones who were  assembled …were Father Adam…..and…glorious Mother Eve and ….Shem, the great High Priest, Abraham and Isaiah [and all] the [prophets down to] Elijah  …foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fullness of times for the redemption of the dead and the… sealing of the children to their parents …all these and many more….the Nephites and testified of the coming of the Son of God…mingled  in that vast assembly and waited for their deliverance… These the Lord taught, and gave then power to come forth…to be crowned with immortality and eternal life….Joseph Smith …and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth were reserved to take part in laying the foundation of the great Latter-day work….building temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead, were also in the spirit world. ….chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the church of Christ …I beheld  that the faithful elders of this dispensation when they departed from mortal life continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption through the sacrifice of the Only  Begotten Son of god …the dead who will repent  will be redeemed through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God And …they…who repent and who have paid the  penalty of their transgressions and are washed clean, shall  receive a reward according to their works.” (D&C 138:16-59)

“Spiritual progress is attained through the steps of faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to then end, including the endowment and sealing ordinances of the holy temple.”  (Nelson p.361) For all of the living and the Dead.


“Joseph, the friend of Pilate…knowing that they were going to crucify him, …came to Pilate  and asked for the Lord’s body for burial…Pilate sent to Herod and asked  him for the body, and …Herod said …”Pilate, had no one asked for him we should bury him, since a sabbath is dawning, for it is written in the law that the sun  does set  upon a murdered man…And he delivered him to the people…They took the Lord and pushed him as they ran, and said “let us greet the Son of God…And they took the Lord and pushed him …And they clad him in purple and seated him on a judgement seat saying “Judge justly King of Israel” And someone brought him a crown of thorns and put it on the Lords head, and others standing by spat on his eyes and others smote his cheeks. Others pierced him with a reed, and some beat him, saying, “with this honor let us honor the Son of God.” (Grant p. 41)…”They brought two malefactors and they crucified the Lord between them  but he was silent since he felt no pain…when they set up the cross they wrote on it “This is this the King of  Israel”…they laid their garments before it and cast lots on them.” (Grant p. 42)” [That he felt no pain was a belief of the Docetics, a Christian apostate group, first mentioned by Cerinthus c. 100]. Irenaeus asserted that St. John wrote his Gospel to confute Docetism.“ (Purvis p.70) “One of the Malefactors cursed them…what harm has he  done you?“…they ordered that his legs should not be broken, that he might die in torment.” (Grant p. 42)

“One….”said give him a drink of gall with vinegar”; and they fulfilled everything…And the Lord cried out, saying “My power, my power, you have left me.”…and…he was taken up.  And at that very hour the veil at the temple in Jerusalem was torn in two.…The Elders were afraid , and they came to Pilate, asking him and saying “Give us soldiers, so that we may guard his sepulcher for three days lest his disciples come and steal him and the people suppose  that he has risen from the dead and do  us harm.”  Pilate gave them Petronius, the centurion, with soldiers, to guard the tomb. And with them elders and scribes came to the sepulcher, and having rolled a great stone to exclude the  centurion and the soldiers, all who were together placed it against the door of the sepulcher, and they sealed it with the seven seals, and pitched a tent  there and kept guard. In the morning when the Sabbath had dawned, a crowd came from Jerusalem and the surrounding country to see the sealed sepulcher.” (Grant p. 43)

That part of the atonement was that Christ would suffer, the ‘Abba Cry’ “Father why hast thou forsaken me?” was really the moment of greatest distress. SUCH THAT HE BLED AT EVERY PORE~ (D&C 19:18)

“And Then they drew the nails from the Lord’s hands and they put him on the ground, and the whole earth was shaken and there was great fear …and it was found to be the ninth hour. The Jews rejoiced and gave Joseph his body so that he might bury it since he had witnessed all the good deeds which he (the Lord) had done. Taking the Lord, he washed him and wrapped him in linen and brought him to his own tomb, called Joseph’s Garden. …we were fasting, and we sat mourning and weeping night and day until the Sabbath.” (Grant p. 42)


“Until the end  of the nineteenth century the only gospels or  collections of saying of Jesus which were known were the Four canonical gospels and the fragments…During the winter of 1886-1887 a French archaeological expedition was digging in Christian graves at Akhmim in Upper Egypt …found a  small bound  volume containing thirty parchment leaves from the eighth or ninth century…written in Greek fragments of the gospel of Peter and Apocalypse of Peter as well as the Jewish Book of Enoch…rejected -by Origen in the third century, and Eusebius in the fourth…Eusebius reproduced part of a letter written in about 190 By Serapion of Antioch.…Christians in the village of Rhossus…complained to Serapion [who] had rejected it…but later…he found …passages…which favored heresy…he sent a list to Eusebius  which Eusebius did not copy to Rhossus.” (Grant pp. 40-41) [We are using the translation of these documents by Grant in 1969.] (Grant p. 41) The documents were put in a Christian burial at that early date.

“Modern revelation attests that the transition from time into eternity is immediate. As we breath our last breath, our spirit leaves our body and takes up its abode in the world of spirits.” (Millet p. 606)


“On the night when the Lord’s Day was dawning, and the soldiers were on guard two by two in a watch, there was a great voice in heaven and they saw the heavens opened and two men [angels, who were young men, no wings!] who came down from there and had a great light and drew near the tomb. and that stone which  had been cast at the door rolled away of its own accord and made way in  part, and the tomb was opened, and both the young men entered when those soldiers saw this they awakened the centurion and the elders (for they too were there on guard) and  who  they were  recounting what they had seen, again they see three men coming out of the tomb, and the two supporting the one, [and a cross following them, and the heads of the two reaching to heaven] more Docetic false doctrine] and that of the one conducted by them surpassing the heavens, [Docetism] And they heard a voice from the havens saying , “Have you preached to those who  sleep?...” And a response was heard…”Yes.”” (Grant p. 43)

Note that the emphasis is on- preached, he taught them something! In the vision of President Smith he taught a great deal as highlighted in the above summary of the account of the vision. Compare the above and what follows to the discussion in the book: Our Lord of the Gospels, by J. R. Ruben Clark. (Clark pp. 421-457)  


They took counsel, with one another to go and report these things to Pilate. And while they were still considering it the heavens appeared opened again, and a man descended and entered the sepulcher…[who he was and what  he did we do not know.] Those about the centurion hastened at night to Pilate  and …recounted everything they had seen…saying “Truly he was the Son of God.”  Pilate answered and said “I am clean of the blood of the Son of God”…They all came and asked him to order the centurion and the soldiers  to say nothing of what they had seen. For “it is expedient before God,…to be guilty of a very great sin before God, and not to fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and be stoned.” Then Pilate ordered the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing.” (Grant pp. 41-42)  And from that time informed members  go to those who sit in darkness and  temples are busy doing work for the dead, a work that will be the chief activity of the Millennium.

President Lorenzo Snow said: ”I believe strongly too, that when the Gospel is preached  to the spirits in prison, the success attending that preaching will be far greater than that attending the preaching of our elders in this life. I believe there will be very few indeed of those spirits who will not gladly receive the Gospel when it is carried to them.” (Millet p. 601)                              


CLARK, J. Ruben Jr., Our Lord of The Gospels, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1954

GRANT, Robert M. & David Noel Freedman, The Sayings of Jesus, Double day & Co., Inc., Garden City, New York. 1969

MANUEL, Joseph Smith, Teachings of Joseph Smith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2007

MILLET, Robert OL., Camille Fronk Olson, Andrew C. Skinner, Brent L. Top, LDS BELIEFS. A Doctrinal Reference. Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah. 2011

NELSON, Russell, Teachings of Russell Nelson, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 2018  

PURVIS, J. S. Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Terms, Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., New York, 1962   

All research and opionions presented on this site are the sole responsibility of Dr. Einar C. Erickson, and should not be interpreted as official statements of the LDS doctrine, beliefs or practice.
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