Our Elders’ Quorum this week was on the Joseph Smith lesson #18, The Plan of Salvation. A couple of thoughts about celestialization and the nature of the kingdoms struck me as we studied, discussed, and pondered the Prophet’s words on this.
I did a little bit of inquiry into the phrases the scriptures often use for the highest degree of glory. Specifically, the phrase “celestial kingdom” occurs only a handful of times, seemingly introduced by the “Olive Leaf”, section 88:
…Bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.–D&C 88:25.
The other phrase that’s used, after Paul, is “celestial glory”–the emphasis being placed not on a physical location (although not the only meaning of kingdom, it’s the most common association), but on kind of being. We enjoy drawing maps of the plan of salvation, but the celestialized world we will inhabit is here. Perhaps the usage of “celestial glory” might be more instructive, by reminding us of the degrees of resurrected glory and salvation.
These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical–D&C 76:70
In addition, we read of the glories being distributed as celestially, as the sun, terrestrially, as the moon, and telestially, as the stars of the firmament, which differ from one another in glory. By conceiving of these not as physical spheres (which may or may not be accurate) but as glories, we are reminded of the intense individual concern the Lord has for each person, as they receive all they were willing to.
There are an infinite number of incorrect answers to any question; similarly, there are infinite gradation in the glories that those who reject Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father will receive. There are more ways to get close to accepting Jesus Christ without accepting, perhaps, the fulness of the Father, meaning the terrestrial kingdom receives of grace more glory. There is only one correct answer, for which a person must strive; to receive the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is the celestial glory.