Heresy four: There are those who believe that the doctrine of salvation for the dead offers men a second chance for salvation.At what point does one who rejects the Gospel final reach that threshold where he or she is considered to have had an opportunity and rejected it? BRM above thinks that one who has a knowledge of the truthfulness of the Gospel but still refuses to obey the principles and ordinances has already passed that moment. I tend to disagree to the extent that we do not know all circumstances in a person's life that cause him or her to accept or reject truth and knowledge. We do not know of abuse, education, mental illness, disability, or hardships. Therefore I would leave it to God to decide.
I knew a man, now deceased, not a member of the Church, who was a degenerate old reprobate who found pleasure, as he supposed, in living after the manner of the world. A cigarette dangled from his lips, alcohol stenched his breath, and profane and bawdy stories defiled his lips. His moral status left much to be desired.
His wife was a member of the Church, as faithful as she could be under the circumstances. One day she said to him, "You know the Church is true; why won't you be baptized?" He replied, "Of course I know the Church is true, but I have no intention of changing my habits in order to join it. I prefer to live the way I do. But that doesn't worry me in the slightest. I know that as soon as I die, you will have someone go to the temple and do the work for me and everything will come out all right in the end anyway."
He died and she had the work done in the temple. We do not sit in judgment and deny vicarious ordinances to people. But what will it profit him?
There is no such thing as a second chance to gain salvation. This life is the time and the day of our probation. After this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
For those who do not have an opportunity to believe and obey the holy word in this life, the first chance to gain salvation will come in the spirit world. If those who hear the word for the first time in the realms ahead are the kind of people who would have accepted the gospel here, had the opportunity been afforded them, they will accept it there. Salvation for the dead is for those whose first chance to gain salvation is in the spirit world.
In the revelation recently added to our canon of holy writ, these words are found:
Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: 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;
For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts. [D&C 137:9]
There is no other promise of salvation than the one recited in that revelation. Those who reject the gospel in this life and then receive it in the spirit world go not to the celestial, but to the terrestrial kingdom.
A further reading of Alma 34:33 confirms that there does come a night of darkness for those who have not repented. If a person enjoys the privileges of the understanding of the gospel and subsequently rejects that truth, it becomes difficult to change that lifestyle.
I think that a person who puts off repentance limits his or her progression because of the difficulty of repenting in the next life. Elder Melvin J. Ballard clarifies:
It is much easier to overcome and serve the Lord when both the flesh and spirit are combined as one...Every man and woman who is putting off until the next life the task of correcting and overcoming the weakness of flesh are sentencing themselves to years of bondage, for no man or woman will come forth in the resurrection until the have completed their work, until they have overcome, until the have done as much as they can do. ("The Three Degrees of Glory", 22 September 1922)I like to think that BRM's use of Section 137 implies that one who would have accepted the Gospel in this life with the opportunity will accept it in the next life, keeping in mind certain life circumstances that affect what kind of people we are.
But the next logical question is whether Amulek's statement that we come to the night of darkness if we don't improve this life means that this person will not have an opportunity for repentance and full salvation while in the Spirit World? BRM thinks that one is disqualified from the Celestial Kingdom, I tend to agree but am not quite sure on this. This is exactly why we can't judge others because we don't know the desires of their hearts based on their life circumstances.