Question about the Nature of Humanity’s “First Estate”—Part Four

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Question: Does the “first estate” mentioned in Jude 1:6 and “second estate” in Abraham 3:26 mean that God’s children get just one chance at eternal life, or are there multiple mortalities or probationary states?

Answer: In Part One of my answer, I laid out the larger picture of God’s plan of salvation and exaltation from the scriptures we presently have available. In Part Two, I showed from the scriptures where a “first estate” fits into that general picture. In Part Three, I identified how God’s children attain the category of “sons of God” by its scriptural definition. In this final, Part Four, I will tie this discussion into what is called the “second estate.”

A single scriptural instance of “second estate” comes from the Book of Abraham: “Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever.

“And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him” (Abraham 3:22–28).

Based on this passage, it goes without saying that what we have learned thus far about a person’s keeping his “first estate” or “principality” (Greek arche) constitutes a test or precondition for attaining a greater glory. In so many words, the fact that “they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate” means that those who do keep their first estate are “added upon” with “glory.”

Because divine empowerment is an integral part of becoming a “son of God” (Doctrine & Covenants 45:8), such added promises and blessings would therefore include any “principalities and powers” that had been a part of a person’s “first estate.” These, however, would now become permanent and even enlarged based on the same principle of Jesus’ parable of the talents, where those who magnify them receive more.

From Isaiah’s theology of ascent on a ladder to heaven we further learn that covenants and promises operate through two phases: the first, conditional; the second, unconditional—unless the person subsequently falls from glory through transgression. We observe the same pattern in ancient Near Eastern emperor–vassal covenants. After a candidate proves loyal to his Lord under all conditions, their covenant’s promises and blessings turn unconditional.

But things don’t end there. Isaiah’s theology of ascent additionally teaches that keeping God’s law on one celestial level—as when a person becomes a “son of God”—is not the whole story. After a covenant turns unconditional on one level, the person may be presented with a higher law pertaining to a higher covenant. The promise that “they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever” (Abraham 3:26) represents an opportunity to advance to an even greater glory than the one gained theretofore.

As a case in point, Jesus’ three Nephite disciples qualified for such unconditional blessings upon attaining a translated state or the “spirit and power of Elijah.” Hence Jesus’ firm promise that “ye shall have a fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me a fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one” (3 Nephi 28:10). As discussed previously, the three disciples had reached a stage where they could indeed become “perfect as even as I, or your Father who is in heaven, is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48; cf. Luke 13:32).

In that manner do men become “heirs” of God or “gods” in their own right (Galatians 4:6–7; Doctrine & Covenants 76:54–58). In other words, keeping one’s first state” or principality” and being “added upon” with a greater glory, then keeping one’s “second estate” and having “glory added upon their heads forever and ever” (Abraham 3:26), lands a soul in the position of Jesus’ three Nephite disciples and other translated persons who thereafter are prepared to literally do “the works which ye have seen me do” and thus become “even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:21; 28:10).

For Abraham and other “noble and great ones” to be “chosen before thou wast born” to become “rulers” on this earth (Abraham 3:22–23), they must, through prior experience, have qualified as candidates for the “second estate” that is now offered them. Keeping or magnifying that second estate—by serving as “rulers” or “archons” to their fellow human beings—would result in glory being “added upon” their heads unconditionally or “forever and ever” (Abraham 3:26). A mortal probation pertaining to that end would represent a milestone in their advancement through “many steps” leading to that point, as the prophet Joseph Smith taught.

That must likewise have been the case with Jesus’ twelve Jewish apostles. Their “being clothed with robes of righteousness, with crowns upon their heads, in glory even as I am” (Doctrine & Covenants 29:12) compares with his three Nephite disciples becoming “even as I am” (3 Nephi 28:10). End-time candidates for “rulers” on the earth, such as those who reign with Christ when he comes, include God’s servant David and the 144,000 servants whom God empowers over the elements and commissions to restore the house of Israel.

One “like unto the Son of Man,” or “like unto God,” therefore, could qualify as the Savior of this world, he having hitherto kept his “second estate” as evident by the “many crowns” on his head (Revelation 19:12). Such a high calling might even be considered a “third estate,” completing a journey of becoming “perfect even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48; 3 Nephi 12:48). That another who had attained only his “first estate” or “principality” could regard himself as a candidate for this savior role speaks to incredible hubris. Small wonder that after being rejected he “kept not his first estate” but instead fell from the glory he had formerly attained (cf. 2 Nephi 2:17).

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The Isaiah Institute was created in the year 2000 by the Hebraeus Foundation to disseminate the message of the prophet Isaiah (circa 742–701 B.C.). Avraham Gileadi Ph.D’s groundbreaking research and analysis of the Book of Isaiah provides the ideal medium for publishing Isaiah’s endtime message to the world. No longer can the Book of Isaiah be regarded as an obscure document from a remote age. Its vibrant message, decoded after years of painstaking research by a leading authority in his field, now receives a new application as a sure guide to a rapidly changing world. To those who seek answers to today’s perplexing questions, the Book of Isaiah is God’s gift to humanity.

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