Posted on

Why We Live in an Open Enrollment

[Printable pdf copy]

Open enrollment is a term familiar to most people with health insurance policies.  During a specified window of time, the insured are given an opportunity to select their coverage plan for the coming term.  By analogy, it may be said that we are living in an open enrollment period, one in which we are choosing our care coverage for eternity.  Please allow me to explain.

Today if Ye Will Hear His Voice

As with other open enrollment periods, this earthly life affords us the opportunity to choose certain aspects of care that affect the unending part of our lives, that of our eternal existence.  Specifically, it determines our on-going relationship with God and the level of glory that we may expect to receive from Him on a never-ending basis.[1]

Stated another way, this life affords us the opportunity to choose our eternal reward and the corresponding bounds and conditions of our habitation in eternity.[2]

Matthew 16:30For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Matthew 25:35-37 Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Colossians 3:23-25And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ.  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done; and there is no respect of persons.

It is, therefore, very important to recognize just how limited this life is in scope and duration.  God did not intend for it to last forever.[3]  Rather, He gave it to us so we could make specific choices about our future beyond this life.[4]

Psalm 95:6-9Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker.  For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.  Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.

Hebrews 3:7-19exhort one another daily, while it is called Today lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin … For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end …

Hebrews 4:7Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Hebrews 9:27 – … it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment …

This limited period of time called Today is referred to in the Book of Mormon as a probationary state and the days of your probation.  It is a portion of time that God has set in place for us to prepare to meet Him before He ushers us on into eternity.

Alma 9:41Therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state, which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.

I Nephi 3:33-36Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.  Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment seat of God; And no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore ye must be cast off for ever.  And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things and deny them not.

The term probation makes it clear that our decisions and actions during this special window of time have serious, long-term consequences.  Certain conditions, called the conditions of repentance, define this preparatory state and its outcome.[5]  Briefly comprehended, those individuals who repent and come to Jesus Christ will obtain mercy and grace,[6] while those who rebel against Him will be judged without mercy.[7]

Alma 19:94Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only, on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state; yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice.

We would do well, then, to heed the call to be wise in the days of our probation!

Mormon 4:94Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.

My Reward Is With Me to Give

What exactly are the options being presented to us in this life, in this time of open enrollment?   And what are the possible outcomes of the choices we make, either good or evil?  According to the closing chapter of the Bible, our eternal reward will be directly connected to one of four final conditions to which we may be restored,[8] that of being:  1) unjust, 2) filthy, 3) righteous, or 4) holy.

Revelation 22:11,12He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be.

The redeeming work of Christ has made these four final estates possible and available to all mankind on an individual basis.  Without His atonement and intercession for us, one judgment – the original judgment – would have remained in place on humanity forever, which was death and eternal separation from God.[9]

Romans 5:12-14Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned … For I say, that through the offense, death reigned over all.

II Nephi 6:11-18For as death has passed upon all men, to fulfill the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; And the fall came by reason of transgression; And because man became fallen, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord; Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement; Save it should be an infinite atonement, this corruption could not put on incorruption.  Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man, must needs have remained to an endless duration.  And if so, this flesh must have lain down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.

In the Nephite record, these four eternal conditions made available to us in Christ are listed as:  1) unhappy, 2) filthy, 3) righteous, and 4) happy.[10]

Mormon 4:74And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy, shall be filthy still, and he that is righteous, shall be righteous still; he that is happy, shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy, shall be unhappy still.

Paul likened three of these final conditions or estates to three glories that differ in their measure of light.  In this comparison,[11] those who are holy shine like the sun, those who are righteous shine like the moon, and those who are unjust shine like stars.

I Corinthians 15:41-44There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory.  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

What about those who inherit the fourth estate, that of the filthy?  The Lord saves everyone except for these.[12]  They are they who suffer the second death with the devil and his angels in an eternal estate that is without glory, one that is devoid of light and truth.[13]

Isaiah 5:14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

I Corinthians 6:17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

II Nephi 6:36-40And it shall come to pass, that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment; and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God … they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames ascendeth up for ever and ever; and has no end.

Jesus testified that He is coming again for the very purpose of granting these four rewards of glory to their respective recipients.[14]  What exactly is the reward He is bringing with Him?  It is the glory of His Father.[15]

Sadly, not everyone will receive the fullness of His Father’s glory.  Some individuals will receive just a portion of His glory while others will receive none of His glory, i.e. they will receive none of His light and truth, none of His intelligence.[16]

Although all people were created in God’s image and likeness, not everyone is willing to abide in the glory of God.[17]  Therefore, Jesus is prepared to give two lesser measures of glory (intelligence[18]) to certain individuals, while He will give no glory to those who defile and dishonor and altogether reject the gift of His Father’s glory.[19]

In terms of the present analogy of comparing our probationary state to an open enrollment period (think insurance plan options), the four eternal estates of light – or lack thereof in the case of the fourth estate – described by Paul may be represented as four basic plan options:

Plan A:  Glory like that of the sun (the glory of the day)

Plan B:  Glory like that of the moon (the greater of the two night glories)

Plan C:  Glory like that of the stars (the lesser of the two night glories)

Plan D:  No glory

Described in terms provided in latter day revelation,[20] the benefits of each plan may be briefly summarized as:

Plan A:  Receives the fullness of the Father

Plan B:  Receives the presence of the Son, but not the fullness of the Father

Plan C:  Remains eternally separated from the Father and Son as servants

Plan D:  Remains as if no redemption was made (judged without grace or mercy)

You Were Bought With a Price

Amazingly and to the glory of Jesus Christ, He has paid the premiums for each plan of glory completely and endlessly![21]

I Corinthians 6:19,20What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

As our Redeemer Lord, Jesus did not pay this price just for some people, but for everyone, for all humanity.  He has covered the cost of salvation for the whole world, for each person who has lived, who is living, or who will yet live on this earth.[22]

I Timothy 4:9,10This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.  For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.

I John 2:1-3My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.  But if any man sin and repent, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; And he is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Tragically, not everyone will accept our Lord’s free gift of salvation[23] and will, therefore, remain as if there had been no redemption made for them[24] – except, that is, to be raised from the dead to be judged according to their works.[25]  (This is Plan D in the present analogy of comparing this life to an open enrollment period.)

Alma 8:97,98Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death; for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.

Several questions yet remain:  who exactly will inherit each of the three glories and who will receive no glory, i.e. no light and truth?  Our heavenly Father has assigned making these judgments, these determinations, to His Son, Jesus Christ.[26]

John 5:20-23 For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth; and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.  For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.  For the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father who hath sent him.

Colossians 1:16-18 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  And he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Psalm 2:10-12Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Remember, Jesus Christ’s work of atonement was completed on the cross of His sufferings for the whole world.[27]

Matthew 27:54-57Jesus when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost.  And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and the bodies of the saints which slept, arose, who were many.  And came out of the graves after his resurrection, went unto the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Hebrews 1:1-3 – God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Now, Jesus’ work of judgment and bestowing rewards of glory is yet before Him.[28]

Isaiah 62:11Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

Revelation 22:11,12He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be.

Alma 7:42-44Therefore prepare ye the way of the Lord, for the time is at hand that all men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been:  If they have been righteous, they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil, they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil.

After His work of judgment and assignment of glory, then comes Jesus Christ’s work of sustaining us and maturing us in His ways of everlasting righteousness[29] according to the measure of glory each person is to receive.[30]

Luke 12:40-43Verily I say unto you, Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching; for he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.  For, behold, he cometh in the first watch of the night, and he shall also come in the second watch, and again he shall come in the third watch.  And verily I say unto you, He hath already come, as it is written of him; and again when he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, blessed are those servants when he cometh, that he shall find so doing; for the Lord of those servants shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

Revelation 22:1-5And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him; And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.  And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light; and they shall reign forever and ever.

Their Works Do Follow Them

While this life does not last forever, the consequences of our choices and actions in it do last forever.  For it is written that our works follow us.[31]

Note:  To continue reading in the Expanded version of this study letter, select the following link to open a full printable pdf copy:

A pdf copy of the original, condensed version of this study letter may be opened by selecting the following link:

Footnotes / Partial List

[1] e.g. I Thessalonians 4:17 with Hebrews 7:24

[2] cf. Acts 17:26 with D&C 85:9a,b

[3] Revelation 21:1-8 with Luke 17:39, II Peter 3:10-14, Isaiah 65:17-25, Isaiah 66:22 & Ether 6:8-12

[4] cf. Deuteronomy 30:19 & Joel 3:14 with Joshua 24:15, Jeremiah 21:8, John 1:18 & Romans 6:23

[5] D&C 16:3c-e & Mosiah 2:9-24 with Alma 3:19-21 Alma 19:94, Helaman 2:70-75 & Helaman 5:64-74

[6] D&C 3:16a-18, D&C 16:3c-f, Alma 9:55 & Helaman 2:71-75 with II Nephi 7:41-44 & Hebrews 4:15,16

[7] Mosiah 1:79-85, Mosiah 1:126-130 & Alma 19:107-111 with James 2:13 & Revelation 14:9-11

[8] Alma 19:55-80 with Alma 8:99-107 & Helaman 5:85,86

[9] cf. I Corinthians 15:55-57 with Colossians 2:13-15 & Mosiah 8:70-91

[10] cf. I Nephi 3:238-256 & Mosiah 1:88 with I Nephi 2:49 & Alma 21:77; cf. Matthew 5:1-18 with James 5:11, I Peter 3:14 & I Peter 4:14

[11] Romans 1:20 with Genesis 6:66 IV

[12] D&C 76:4a-4k & Revelation 14:9-12 with Hebrews 6:4-9 & Hebrews 10:26-31

[13] Revelation 20:14, Revelation 21:7,8, John 8:44, II Peter 2:4-10, & Jude 1:5-8 with I Corinthians 6:9,10, Galatians 5:19-21 & Ephesians 5:3-5

[14] e.g. Revelation 22:12-14 with Isaiah 40:9-31 & Isaiah 62:6-12

[15] Matthew 16:30, Mark 8:41, Luke 9:26, Luke 21:36, Revelation 1:7 with III Nephi 13:17-19

[16] cf. D&C 90:6a with I John 1:5-10

[17] Genesis 1:27-29

[18] D&C 90:6a with D&C 83:7a-7d, D&C 85:2a-3b & D&C 85:10a

[19] Matthew 25:42 with Revelation 14:9-12

[20] D&C 76:3a-7w with D&C 85:5a-8b; see also Mosiah 8:70-91 with Mosiah 8:53 & Alma 8:96-98

[21] Acts 20:28 & Helaman 2:71 with I Peter 1:18,19 & Revelation 5:9

[22] John 3:14-22, Romans 5:15-18 & Titus 2:11-15 with Alma 16:190-197 & Numbers 21:6-9

[23] Hebrews 3:7-19 & D&C 85:7 with Romans 5:6-21

[24] Mosiah 8:77,78, Alma 8:95-98 & Alma 9:21-32 with Revelation 9:19-21, Revelation 16:8-11, etc.

[25] Jacob 4:8-17 with Revelation 3:17-22

[26] Hebrews 1:1-14 & Hebrews 2:1-18

[27] John 19:28-30 with John 3:16&17 & John 17:4,5

[28] See also Isaiah 40:10 with Luke 12:40-43; cf. Hebrews 1:1-3 & Hebrews 4:3-12

[29] Matthew 11:29,30 with Isaiah 2:2-4 & Micah 4:1-3

[30] Matthew 16:30, Mark 8:41, Luke 9:26, etc. with I Corinthians 15:41-44, Revelation 22:11 & Psalm 73:25

[31] cf. III Nephi 12:24 with Alma 15:56, Alma 19:65-71 & D&C 63:4b,c