Are there Three Kingdoms in Heaven?
(Special thanks to Vicki for her research in this study)
The LDS church teaches that after we die there are four possible places where we will end up. Three of the places, or kingdoms, are preferable to the fourth, which is a place of outer darkness. The most preferable kingdom, which is also the highest place, is the celestial kingdom. The next is the terrestrial kingdom and the lowest of the possible good places is the telestial kingdom.
Although there are differences between each kingdom, there are similarities. Each of the three kingdoms has a specific glory and type of body. Which kingdom you enter, according to Mormonism, depends upon which laws you have kept and whether or not you are a Mormon.
This is the lowest of the kingdoms, and all who enter will be forever living apart from the presence of Father and Jesus. From the time of Adam to the end of time, most of all the adults (all non-Mormons) who lived worldly lives are said to have followed the "law of the world." Those who followed this law receive telestial bodies at the time of their resurrection and will live forever in the Telestial kingdom. The telestial glory is typified by the stars, as the people who will live here will be as innumerable as the stars. Because there are differences in the stars, there is also differences in the degrees of glory one may receive here.
Persons who were obedient to the terrestrial law are quickened in the resurrection with terrestrial bodies, according to Mormons. All who lived an upright and honorable but failed to live according to the standards whereby the human soul is sanctified by the Holy Spirit. They can, however, receive the Holy Spirit through the ministration of those living in the lowest level of the celestial kingdom.
They also inherit terrestrial glory which is not without its limitations. They will forever remain unmarried, cannot achieve the state of exaltation, and although they will have the presence of the Son, they will not receive the fullness of the Father. This glory is typified by the moon.
All those who rejected the Mormon gospel in life but accept it in the spirit world will live here. These people were either blinded by "crafty men" and did not live the gospel law or were LDS members who were not valiant and truly devoted to the church end up here. They will become ministering servants to those of the telestial kingdom. No marriages are permitted in this kingdom.
Only LDS members and children who die before the age of eight are permitted into this kingdom. Those who were totally obedient to the gospel (celestial) law receive celestial bodies which are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Their bodies will be immortalized allowing entrance into the celestial kingdom. The glory of this kingdom is typified by the sun. Those who gain a fullness of celestial glory will reach exaltation to become gods themselves.
This kingdom is also referred to as the Kingdom of God and has within it three levels. The lowest level is where faithful Mormons whose marriages were not sealed forever in the temple. They also become ministering servants to those of the terrestrial kingdom. The highest level are reserved for those whose obedience to the celestial law has been total, their marriages were sealed forever in the temple and their family unit continues. They become joint heirs with Christ. They will eventually become gods and be given a planet to populate with spirit children.
Does the Bible teach there are 3 kingdoms?
Does different rewards mean separate kingdoms?
According to Mormon apostle LeGrand Richards, one of Christendom's greatest errors is the teaching that there is one heaven and one hell. Richards wrongly points out that all those who go to heaven are given the same reward and everyone in hell will have the same punishment. He misrepresents the teachings of the Christianity. First Corinthians 3:10-15 and 2 Cor. 5:10 tell us that believers in Christ will have varying degrees of rewards in heaven. There are also varying degrees of punishment in hell described in Matthew 11:20-24.
Does different glories of the sun, moon, and stars mean 3 kingdoms?
In his book, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Richards states "The truth, as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, emphasizes the fact that every man will receive according to his works; that there is a glory like the glory of the sun, another like that of the moon, and still another like that of the stars, and that the glory to which one shall be assigned will be determined by the things he does and the kind of life he lives."
However, Mormonism twists the context of 1 Cor. 15:40-42. Paul is writing about the resurrection body, not kingdoms. He is describing what the resurrection body will be like. "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" (1 Cor. 15:35). Paul goes on to explain the difference between earthly bodies and heavenly ones (v.40), the corruptible earthly bodies to the incorruptible heavenly bodies (v.42), and gives more comparisons in verses 43 and 44. Paul is not giving a description of three kingdoms.
What about men, beast, birds, and fish?
Does the glory of the sun, moon, and stars (v.40) mean there are three different kingdoms? Let's apply this method of interpretation to the preceding verse, 1 Cor. 15:39. There is a flesh of men, beasts, birds, and fish. Does that mean there are four kingdoms?
Where is "telestial"?
While the King James Version uses the word "celestial" and "terrestrial" in referring to two different kinds of bodies, it never mentions the word "telestial." Not only does Mormonism twist the context of First Corinthians 15, it also adds another "kingdom" to make it fit their theology.
Righteous gathered into one barn.
In the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus tells us that all the wheat will be gathered into one barn and all the tares into bundles to be burned. The tares are all those who did not put their faith in Jesus. Matthew 25:32, 33 states that the righteous will be on his right hand and the bad on his left. He doesn't separate them into three groups.
The Bible teaches "kingdom," not "kingdoms."
The Bible always uses the word "kingdom" (singular), not "kingdoms" (plural) in referring to heaven. Although we could quote hundreds of verses, here are just a few:
Daniel taught there is only one kingdom. "And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:14).
Jesus taught there is only one kingdom. "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdomof their Father" (Matt. 13:43). Notice that Jesus only refers to 2 groups of people, "good seed" and the "tares" (Matt. 13:38).
Paul taught there is only one kingdom. "For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col. 1:13).
James taught there is only one kingdom. "Listen my beloved brethren; did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:5)
Peter taught there is only one kingdom. "For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you" (2 Pet. 1:11).
John taught there is only one kingdom. "And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Rev. 1:6).
Mormonism teaches there are three kingdoms, a doctrine that is foreign to Scripture. In fact, the word "kingdoms" is only used 3 times in the entire New Testament (Matt. 4:8, Luke 4:5, and Heb. 11:33), all referring to kingdoms of THIS world.
Why there can't be a "telestial kingdom."
In John 14:2,3 Jesus is talking about mansions (plural) in heaven, but He goes on to say "...that where I am, there you may be also." So no matter where you are in heaven Jesus is with you, which refutes the LDS teachings of their three kingdoms. Why? Because according to Mormonism, Jesus is not present with people in the telestial kingdom, and the LDS church says that the telestial kingdom is also a heaven.