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HAROLD - I have been reading the King Follett Discourse given by Joseph Smith Sunday,April 7,1844 (conference Report)
Under the topic (The Forgiveness of sins) Joseph made the statement. "you mourners have occasion to rejoice, speaking of the death of elder King Follett, for your husband and father is gone to wait until the resurrection of the dead-until the perfection of the remainder: for at the resurrection your friend will rise in perfect felicity and go to the celestial glory, while many must wait myriads of years before they can receive the like blessings."
This gives me the feeling that there may be many more in the celestial kingdom than one would think, by paying the price for their sins first in the spirit world.
Could there even be progression from one kingdom to an another?
JOEL - There are of course many who have left this life without having had the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel. We know these milllions of spirits will receive that opportunity in the spirit world(1 Pet. 3:18-20, 4:6, D&C 138:27-32), and if even only a small percentage of them convert the actual number obtaining exaltation could be very large.
As far as I know there have never been any official church doctrines that suggest that there is progression from one kingdom to another.
According to scripture we will be placed in a kingdom that is right for us:
"For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory.
Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory." (D&C 88:22-24)
And we are also told:
"But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;
And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever;
For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the
mansions which are prepared;
And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end. (D&C 76: 109-112)
Elder John A. Widtsoe once said"
"The question is frequently asked concerning three men placed in the three glories, can the one in the lower glory, by acceptable living in that glory, be transferred into the next glory, and the one in the middle glory move into the higher glory? If you will stop to think, you will see how utterly impossible that is. Growth, the basis of judgment, means greater power, greater strength. Those who are placed in the highest glory have greater power for, or a greater rate of, increase. They move at the rate of, say, fifty miles an hour, while those in the next glory move at twenty-five miles an hour; and those in the lower have power to move at only ten miles an hour. In the course of time, the one in the lower glory may reach the point that was occupied by the one in the higher, but then the one in the higher glory will be miles and miles ahead. Start three automobiles at the same time moving ten, twenty, and thirty miles an hour, and you will see that
every second they are farther and farther apart, yet all are progressing." (Widtsoe, Evidences, p. 199.)
Spencer W. Kimball:
"After a person has been assigned to his place in the kingdom, . . . he will never advance from his assigned glory to another glory. . . . That is why we must make our decisions early in life and why it is imperative that such decisions be right." (Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, 109.)
Joseph F. Smith said:
"When we come forth out of the grave, . . . our spirits shall enter into [our physical bodies] again, and they shall become living souls. .
. . And then those who have . . . been subject and obedient to the celestial law will . . . be quickened by the celestial glory. And those
who have . . . been subject and obedient to the terrestrial law will . . . be quickened by the terrestrial glory. And those who have . . .
been subject and obedient to the telestial law, will . . . be quickened by a telestial glory." Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine)
Therefore, at the moment we are resurrected our fate has already been decided in regards which glory we will spend eternity in. There could be progression within each of the two lower kingdoms, but not the Celestial:
"In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase." (D & C 131:1-4).