A series of questions and answers.
What would we think if our reward in the next life was, more or less, random except that the sons of perdition would still go to outer darkness?
If our reward at the judgement was random would we think God was just?
– No, the idea that God was just would be ridiculously false in that circumstance.
If our reward at the judgment was random, how would that affect people’s righteousness here? Would it be a small effect, or a massive difference?
– It would be a massive difference. There would be complete, or near complete, indifference to obeying God’s commandments if our eternal reward was not related to our obedience. Just ask yourself how well your teenagers would stick by God’s commandments if the truth they were supposed to stand by was that our judgment would be unrelated to our obedience.
What difference will we get in the answers to those same questions if, instead of asking them about this life, we ask them about the premortal life?
– No difference at all. It is the same thing. If we were told in premortality that our actions there would not affect the placement God gave us in this mortal life we would feel like it was terribly unjust. There would also be great indifference to obedience.
There is another side of this whole issue. What great gift can our children give back to their parents?
– They can give the gift of the spirit children they are worthy for God to send to them. Both the wicked and the righteous have children, but God’s spirit children vary widely in righteousness. Some he calls great and noble ones, others he does not. Some he said exercised exceeding great faith, others did not.
– The gift of children is given generally, but justice governs the placement of his spirit children. The same justice we want to have govern our destinies in the next life governs their destinies coming into this one.
What of a couple that chose not to marry in the temple? Is that where God will send his most noble ones?
– No. They will go to the most obedient. His spirit children are be judged and placed here in mortality according to their works and covenants in premortality.
What of a home where the mother works to “get a break from her kids”? What if there are two potential homes for one of his choicest spirits: one where the mother will be there even if impoverished because she knows how much her kids needs her, the other where the mother will work so they have a second car, and a nicer home? Who will he send his choicest spirit children to?
– His spirit children will be sent to the place they most deserve. His best spirits will go to his best spiritual rewards, for he is just.
That is justice for his most noble and great spirit children, and it is justice for us. We are the just reward of our spirit children. And they, in turn, are the prize we were worthy of obtaining. We love them. The most wicked of men love their children. The prize of children is part of the gift of mortality. But the prize of the best spirit children is given on condition of keeping the commandments and obeying our covenants.
Jacob taught the Nephites that they didn’t get greater family blessings than the Lamanites just for being church members. They actually had to be living the principles of family better than the Lamanites to get better blessings.
What does it mean that many of the last will be first and many of the first will be last?
– It means that many of the most righteous spirits will rebel in mortality, and many less righteous spirits will repent and find exaltation. For example, Abraham and Jacob were given a covenant that the most righteous spirit children would be his descendants. Yet Ruth, a gentile, earned a greater privilege than the rest of the women in Israel of her day, being allowed to be the ancestor of Christ. Also the pharisees, who were Israelites were righteous before this life, but crucified the very Christ they had followed in the premortal life. Our choices in the spirit world give us advantage or disadvantage here. But many who were first will be last, and many who were last will be first.
Life is complex, we can think of many difficult scenarios that it is not clear how they fit in. One man won the great prize of being born blind, that Christ could heal him and he could testify of the master, but nobody but Christ knew that about him. People can rationalize away such basic principles as the justice of God in rewarding his children according to their works simply because this life is complex and there are many cases where it is not clear to us how it all works. But the basic principles remain unchanged.
Those principles are that we are judged by our works. If not, then everyone’s works founder in apathy and God also ceases to be a just God. We were judged by our works in premortality by the placement and circumstances we were given here. Wealth was not a prize – the gospel was a prize. We are judged by our works here in mortality, for God gives us no spiritual blessing here in mortality except by obedience to that law upon which the blessing is predicated. We will be judged by our works in eternity, as the Book of Mormon testifies repeatedly.
Some obtained promises that, while they would not have the gospel, their children would.offer them the gospel through the temple after their death. There are many complexities, but the basic principles governing coming into this life from the previous ones are the same as the principles that govern going into the next. We are rewarded according to our works.
We will find in the spirit world the same complexities reign to some degree as here, and it will not be obvious to the wicked that there is a spirit paradise and a spirit prison any more than the wicked here are conscious of the great gulf that separates the wicked from the righteous here as Lehi saw portrayed in his vision.