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Second Chance Theory

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
President Spencer W. Kimball

by Elder Bruce R. McConkie

There is no such thing as a second chance to gain salvation by accepting the gospel in the spirit world after spurning, declining, or refusing to accept it in this life. It is true that there may be a second chance to hear and accept the gospel, but those who have thus procrastinated their acceptance of the saving truths will not gain salvation in the celestial kingdom of God.

Salvation for the dead is the system by means of which those who "die without a knowledge of the gospel" (D. & C. 128:5) may gain such knowledge in the spirit world and then, following the vicarious performance of the necessary ordinances, become heirs of salvation on the same basis as though the gospel truths had been obeyed in mortality. Salvation for the dead is limited expressly to those who do not have opportunity in this life to accept the gospel but who would have taken the opportunity had it come to them.

"All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel," the Lord said to the Prophet, "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." (Teachings, p. 107.)

This is the only revealed principle by means of which the laws pertaining to salvation for the dead can be made effective in the lives of any persons. There is no promise in any revelation that those who have a fair and just opportunity in this life to accept the gospel, and who do not do it, will have another chance in the spirit world to gain salvation. On the contrary, there is the express stipulation that men cannot be saved without accepting the gospel in this life, if they are given opportunity to accept it.

"Now is the time and the day of your salvation," Amulek said. "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors .... For after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed." (Alma 34:31-35; 2 Ne. 9:27; 3 Ne. 28:34; Luke 9:62.)

An application of this law is seen in the words of the resurrected Christ to the Nephites. "Therefore come unto me and be ye saved," he said in repeating with some variations the Sermon on the Mount he had previously given the Jews, "for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (3 Ne. 12:20.) Thus salvation was forever denied those Nephites unless they gained it by virtue of their obedience during mortality. On the same basis, there is no such thing as salvation for the dead for the Latter-day Saints who have been taught the truths of salvation and had a fair and just opportunity to live them.

Those who have a fair and just opportunity to accept the gospel in this life and who do not do it, but who then do accept it when they hear it in the spirit world will go not to the celestial, but to the terrestrial kingdom. This includes those to whom Noah preached. "These are they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it." (D. & C. 76:72-74.)

Thus the false and heretical doctrine that people who fail to live the law in this life (having had an opportunity so to do) will have a further chance of salvation in the life to come is a soul-destroying doctrine, a doctrine that lulls its adherents into carnal security and thereby denies them a hope of eternal salvation. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, pp. 181-196.)

Book of Mormon, p. 685-7
Copyright by Bookcraft

by President Spencer W. Kimball

No progression between kingdoms. After a person has been assigned to his place in the kingdom, either in the telestial, the terrestrial, or the celestial, or to his exaltation, he will never advance from his assigned glory to another glory. That is eternal! That is why we must make our decisions early in life and why it is imperative that such decisions be right. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.50)

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

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