Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that all people dwelt with God before this life and that every individual has the opportunity to dwell with God after this life in a state of eternal joy. Mormons believe that our existence is analogous to a three-part play that consists of a premortal existence; a mortal life on earth of learning, testing and growth; and a postmortal existence as resurrected beings.
Latter-day Saint teachings state that where we go after this life depends primarily upon the degree to which we accept and follow Jesus Christ, as well as on the desires of our hearts and how we translate those desires into works. In addition, our destination after this life depends on whether we participate in the essential rites (such as baptism) that aid us in the process of repentance, progression and sanctification.
Latter-day Saint understanding of scripture provides a view of the afterlife that expands upon the common notions of heaven and hell. In his epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul describes the condition of postmortal bodies with a comparison to the sun, the moon and the stars. Latter-day Saint revelation given to Joseph Smith builds upon this pattern. Mormon scripture describes the three corresponding states of postmortal existence as the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom and the telestial kingdom. Though all three are understood to be degrees of glory, Mormons believe the highest state — the celestial kingdom — to be where God is (or, as those of other faiths understand it, heaven).
As all human beings inherit different circumstances, Mormons believe that a just and merciful God will account for our varying degrees of knowledge and access to truth. With this in mind, Mormon scripture teaches that all will eventually “enjoy that which they are willing to receive,” and to those that so desire, “all that [the] Father hath shall be given unto” them (Doctrine and Covenants 88:32; 84:38). In other words, a person’s reward in the afterlife will be determined by what they really desire in this life. To those who most desire to follow God and live as He lives, the New Testament promises that they shall be “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). Latter-day Saints believe this includes eternal family relationships. Mormon scripture teaches that the “same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there [in eternity], only it will be coupled with eternal glory” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:2). The promise of growing to become more like God and ultimately returning to His presence with our families motivates Latter-day Saints to do their best to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
See also Plan of Salvation