Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected. After we are resurrected, we will stand before the Lord to be judged according to our desires and actions. Each of us will accordingly receive an eternal dwelling place in a specific kingdom of glory. The Lord taught this principle when He said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2).
There are three kingdoms of glory: the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom. The glory we inherit will depend on the depth of our conversion, expressed by our obedience to the Lord’s commandments. It will depend on the manner in which we have “received the testimony of Jesus” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:51; see also Doctrine and Covenants 76:74, 79, 101).
The celestial kingdom is the highest of the three kingdoms of glory. Those in this kingdom will dwell forever in the presence of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. This should be your goal: to inherit celestial glory and to help others receive that great blessing as well. Such a goal is not achieved in one attempt; it is the result of a lifetime of righteousness and constancy of purpose.
The celestial kingdom is the place prepared for those who have “received the testimony of Jesus” and been “made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:51, 69). To inherit this gift, we must receive the ordinances of salvation, keep the commandments, and repent of our sins. For a detailed explanation of those who will inherit celestial glory, see Doctrine and Covenants 76:50–70; 76:92–96.
In January 1836 the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation that expanded his understanding of the requirements to inherit celestial glory. The heavens were opened to him, and he saw the celestial kingdom. He marveled when he saw his older brother Alvin there, even though Alvin had died before receiving the ordinance of baptism. (See Doctrine and Covenants 137:1–6.) Then the voice of the Lord came to the Prophet Joseph:
“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” (Doctrine and Covenants 137:7–9).
Commenting on this revelation, the Prophet Joseph said, “I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 137:10).
From another revelation to the Prophet Joseph, we learn that there are three degrees within the celestial kingdom. To be exalted in the highest degree and continue eternally in family relationships, we must enter into “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” and be true to that covenant. In other words, temple marriage is a requirement for obtaining the highest degree of celestial glory. (See Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4.) All who are worthy to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage will have that opportunity, whether in this life or the next.
Those who inherit terrestrial glory will “receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father. Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:77–78). Generally speaking, individuals in the terrestrial kingdom will be honorable people “who were blinded by the craftiness of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:75). This group will include members of the Church who were “not valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:79). To learn more about those who will inherit terrestrial glory, see Doctrine and Covenants 76:71–80, 91, 97.
Telestial glory will be reserved for individuals who “received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:82). These individuals will receive their glory after being redeemed from spirit prison, which is sometimes called hell (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:84; Doctrine and Covenants 76:106). A detailed explanation of those who will inherit telestial glory is found in Doctrine and Covenants 76:81–90, 98–106, 109–112.
Some people will not be worthy to dwell in any kingdom of glory. They will be called “the sons of perdition” and will have to “abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:32; 88:24). This will be the state of “those who know [God’s] power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy [God’s] power” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:31; see also Doctrine and Covenants 76:30, 32–49).
“Life after Death,” ComeUntoChrist.org
“Charting the Plan,” New Era, July 2006
“I Have a Question,” Ensign, April 1986
“In the House of the Lord,” New Era, June 1975
“Plan of Salvation,” Newsroom
“The Three Kingdoms of Heaven,” Scripture Stories—Doctrine and Covenants Stories, episode 19
“Visions in the Kirtland Temple,” Scripture Stories—Doctrine and Covenants Stories, episode 29