The near death experience of an apostle

In keeping with the instruction from Brother Brigham in yesterday’s post, I add today the words of Heber C. Kimball, also from remarks made at the funeral of President Jedediah M. Grant, who died of pneumonia at the young age of forty, while faithfully serving in the First Presidency with Brigham and Heber. Again, the source is the Journal of Discourses, Volume 4, pp. 135-138 and the date is December 4, 1856.

“Jedediah is not dead. I went to see him one day last week, and he reached out his hand and shook hands with me; he could not speak, but he shook hands warmly with me. I felt for him, and wanted to raise him up, and to have him stay and help us whip the devils and bring to pass righteousness.

“I laid my hands upon him and blessed him, and asked God to strengthen his lungs that he might be easier, and in two or three minutes he raised himself up and talked for about an hour as busily as he could, telling me what he had seen and what he understood, until I was afraid he would weary himself, when I arose and left him.

Jedediah teaches of the spirit world

“He said to me, brother Heber, I have been into the spirit world two nights in succession, and, of all the dreads that ever came across me, the worst was to have to again return to my body, through I had to do it. But O, says he, the order and government that were there! When in the spirit world, I saw the order of righteous men and women; beheld them organized in their several grades, and there appeared to be no obstruction to my vision; I could see every man and woman in their grade and order.

“I looked to see whether there was any disorder there, but there was none; neither could I see any death nor any darkness, disorder or confusion. He said that the people he there saw were organized in family capacities; and when he looked at them he saw grade after grade, and all were organized and in perfect harmony. He would mention one item after another and say, “Why, it is just as brother Brigham says it is; it is just as he has told us many a time.”

“He saw the righteous gathered together in the spirit world, and there were no wicked spirits among them. He saw his wife; she was the first person that came to him. He saw many that he knew, but did not have conversation with any except his wife Caroline. She came to him, and he said that she looked beautiful and had their little child, that died on the Plains, in her arms, and said, “Mr. Grant, here is little Margaret; you know that the wolves ate her up, but it did not hurt her; here she is all right.”

Organization and buildings there

President Grant explained to Heber C. Kimball the importance of being true to our calling in this life and the effects of not being faithful. “To my astonishment,” he said, “when I looked at families there was a deficiency in some, there was a lack, for I saw families that would not be permitted to come and dwell together, because they had not honored their calling here.”

“He asked his wife Caroline where Joseph and Hyrum and Father Smith and others were; she replied, ‘they have gone away ahead, to perform and transact business for us.’ The same as when brother Brigham and his brethren left Winter Quarters and came here to search out a home; they came to find a location for their brethren.

“He also spoke of the buildings he saw there, remarking that the Lord gave Solomon wisdom and poured gold and silver into his hands that he might display his skill and ability, and said that the temple erected by Solomon was much inferior to the most ordinary buildings he saw in the spirit world.” This is consistent with the reports of others who have visited the spirit world.

Beautiful gardens in the spirit world

“In regard to gardens, says brother Grant, ‘I have seen good gardens on this earth, but I never saw any to compare with those that were there. I saw flowers of numerous kinds, and some with from fifty to a hundred different colored flowers growing upon one stalk.’ We have many kinds of flowers on the earth, and I suppose those very articles came from heaven, or they would not be here.

“After mentioning the things that he had seen, he spoke of how much he disliked to return and resume his body, after having seen the beauty and glory of the spirit world, where the righteous spirits are gathered together. Some may marvel at my speaking about these things, for many profess to believe that we have no spiritual existence.

“But do you not believe that my spirit was organized before it came to my body here? And do you not think there can be houses and gardens, fruit trees, and every other good thing there? The spirits of those things were made, as well as our spirits, and it follows that they can exist upon the same principle.

Jedediah Grant returns to his body

“After speaking of the gardens and the beauty of every thing there, brother Grant said that he felt extremely sorrowful at having to leave so beautiful a place and come back to earth, for he looked upon his body with loathing, but was obliged to enter it again.” He was very clear that the mortal body is very coarse and debilitating to our more fine and pure spirits.

“He said that after he came back he could look upon his family and see the spirit that was in them, and the darkness that was in them; and that he conversed with them about the Gospel, and what they should do, and they replied, ‘Well, brother Grant, perhaps it is so, and perhaps it is not,’ and said that was the state of this people, to a great extent, for many are full of darkness and will not believe me.

“I never had a view of the righteous assembling in the spirit world, but I have had a view of the hosts of hell, and have seen them as plainly as I see you today. The righteous spirits gather together to prepare and qualify themselves for a future day, and evil spirits have no power over them, though they are constantly striving for the mastery. I have seen evil spirits attempt to overcome those holding the Priesthood, and I know how they act.

Summary and conclusion

This is an apostle relating the experiences of another apostle who visited the spirit world two nights in succession before he died. I categorize it as a near death experience, obviously because he died immediately afterward, but also because he testifies that his spirit left his body. I have read many near-death experiences and believe them to be real, not figments of the imagination.

I was especially intrigued with President Grant’s description of his ability to see the spirits of his family members the next day when they came to visit him. He states clearly that some had darkness in them and would not believe that what he was relating was true. Apparently, the amount of light in our spirits is directly related to our faith and our obedience to the truth.

This is one of the most powerful near-death experiences that I have read from our rich history of spiritual experiences in the church. It teaches us so much about the reality of the spirit world and that there is work for us to do there. It is so important that we prepare ourselves for the rest of our education when we get there. We can do that best by faithful obedience to truth here.

16 thoughts on “The near death experience of an apostle”

  1. Tim–I would like to comment on all your post. There that good. I’ve been reading, They Saw Beyond Death, by Gibson.The experience of an apostle really gets my attention. I’ve read this account in years by gone. Thanks for bringing it to your blog. I am motivated by the description of heaven. I look forward to the time when the Lord calls me there. Not in a rush though. I want to do all I can while I have breath to increase faith. I don’t want what Elder Grant said to come to pass in anyones life. Here is what he said:”To my astonishment,” he said, “when I looked at families there was a deficiency in some, there was a lack, for I saw families that would not be permitted to come and dwell together, because they had not honored their calling here.”I see “honoring callings” as more than church callings. I believe we were given “missions” to accomplish, especially with regards to particular individuals, usually within our family. Sometimes these souls are the ones who we feel deserve are best efforts the least, when in some cases, they are the ones we need to expend our best efforts on. I like what Carlfred Broderick says about “savior on mount zion”. I’m going to try to provide a link. Go to footnote # 9.

  2. Hi Jared,I agree with you that “honoring callings” refers to much more than church callings. I enjoyed reading the story from Carlfred Broderick about the blessing he gave as a Stake President to the woman whose husband had been excommunicated. Thank you for sharing that.I also had to look in my library to see if I had the book, “They Saw Beyond Death.” I found about twenty other books about those who have visited the spirit world but was surprised that I did not have that one. Thanks for pointing it out. I plan to add it to my collection of books on NDEs.I really enjoy President Grant’s testimony of the spirit world as related by Heber C. Kimball in the Journal of Discourses. Elder Nelson quoted it in his book, “The Gateway We Call Death.”Elder Nelson also told a very touching story in that last chapter, “The Veil is Sometimes Thin,” about Hugh B Brown receiving a visit from Harold B Lee who had died the year before. Of course, Elder David B. Haight shared with us in Oct 1989 General Conference about his own NDE after he had his heart attack.NDE’s – fascinating stuff. Although I have read some weird ones that may have been remembered incorrectly, and some that have been embellished, I am convinced that they are real and not just a figment of the imagination as some have claimed. One of my favorites is a very sad one from Angie Fenimore, “Beyond the Darkness.”Another favorite is Return from Tomorrow by George Ritchie. I have written a review of this one on my other blog, Holistic Research. I could go on and one about this subject as it is one of my favorites. Maybe someday I will share some of my favorite stories from my library that have helped me in my quest to understand and prepare for life in the spirit world. Cheers!

  3. Bryce Haymond

    Thanks for sharing this fascinating experience. It gives us a glimpse of the glories of the hereafter.

  4. Tim-I met George Richie at a lecture he gave. His book, Return from Tomorrow, is at the top of my favorites list too. I think my all time favorite is, I Stand All Amazed, by Elane Durham. Also, I Saw Heaven, by Lawrence Tooley. I just put, Elder Nelson’s, and Angie Fenimore’s book on hold at the library. Thanks for mentioning these books.

  5. Hi Jared,Your mentioning of those two books prompted me to re-read them again, which I did today. I find it interesting to compare the two accounts. Although both stories related the love of the Savior in the life review and the importance of forgiving, especially oneself, Elane’s focus on the effect of coming into the presence of the Savior was intense and deep and all-encompassing.She described the amazing experience of becoming one with the Savior which caused her to not be able to harbor any of the old feelings of guilt, shame of self-loathing that were the result of her sexual abuse as a child and caused he to not be able to fully give or receive love in here life. I loved her description of the healing power of the Savior and his atonement. I can see why it is your favorite on the subject.I’ve got to warn you about Angie Fenimore’s book. It is about suicide and the hell that she encountered as she entered the spirit world. She did not go to the light at first but entered a state of purgatory that she described so well as an absence of any life, desire to live or to engage anyone else in anything. She got what she wanted – as close as ceasing to exist as she could.The reason I mentioned that it is one of my favorites is because I have had to deal with attempted and contemplated suicide in my family. This books has helped me to counsel others about what to expect if one willfully takes one’s own life. I also recommend Elder Ballard’s book on the subject – Some things we know, and some we do not.Happily, Angie’s story has a somewhat happy ending. I won’t give it away but I will mention that her life since returning to mortality has not be peaches and roses. However, like almost every NDE account I read, those who return have an increased desire to love and serve others, without desire for open reward. Perhaps it is the question that is asked in the life review, “What have you done for your fellow man?”I’ve got to tell you that I don’t always agree with the memories that some who have experienced NDE’s bring back with them. I suspect that they are unable to be precise in what they recall and attempt to clothe their ideas and feelings in words that are less than perfect. In some cases they describe things and future events that I find questionable. They usually explain their visions of the future as conditional.I am amazed at the depth of detail in some of the NDE descriptions. I wonder if perhaps they were not added to and colored by things that were learned over time after the experiences first occurred. No matter, I have enjoyed reading and studying them over the years and find great comfort in knowing that there exist witnesses of the spirit world who add validity to so many of the things we believe as a people about life there.

  6. While I find NDEs or visions into heaven interesting, I am also very skeptical. There is a growing scientific literature on the relationship of NDEs with malfunction of the parietal lobe of the brain — for example, see Frank Tong’s article. I am vastly more comfortable with heavenly visions that are clearly NOT NDEs and that come from prophets, such as: D&C Section 76 or D&C Section 138.Another notable exception for me might be the vision of Heber Q. Hale, which captured the interest of President Heber J. Grant.Obviously, the vision experience of Jedediah M. Grant is important because of his priesthood office and because of the supporting commentary by Heber C. Kimball.For me, though, there are just a handful that capture my attention — and the list above is just about it.

  7. s.faux,I agree that we should not take NDEs as authoritative visions. You are correct in that the canonized visions in the scriptures serve as the only source of doctrine. I do not agree with those who come back from NDEs and relate all they have seen in a manner that implies they are messengers from God. If God wants us to know something about the spirit world, he will reveal it though the authorized channels.I think this was evident when Curtis Taylor embellished the NDE related by Betty Eadie. Shortly after her book was published, I read accounts of Boyd K Packer in various Stake Conferences teach clearly the principle of the proper source of revelation about the spirit world. He may have even mentioned her experience as an example of false information.I do not doubt that she had an NDE, but as I wrote before, her memories were imperfect and were greatly embellished by Mr. Taylor. I had to laugh when I saw the title of the expose of Betty’s book. Douglas Beardall wrote, “Embarrassed by the Light.”Mr. Beardall is very critical of many false teachings contained in Betty’s book, and rightly so. For anyone who has read Betty’s book, I always recommend a careful reading of Mr. Beardall’s book as well. You may find the comments in the link above to the Amazon page to be interesting. This is not a simple issue. Both sides feel strongly. Perhaps we will just have to wait until we get there to really understand.

  8. I read the part about “callings” the same way. It is not so much about church callings but more about a higher type of calling.I am not sealed to my family (wonder why!!!!) and this has been the hardest thing for me. I know it does not matter. I KNOW. But still, the fact that neither for the church administration nor for Heaven’s administration my sisters and I were a family. And they are my world.My mission president left a month before me and during the last zone conference told us he wanted to give us all a blessing.It is not so much what he said that mkaes me feel that it was an inspired blessing but the words that he used. One sentance he said could not be “guessed” it could only be known or inspired and as much as I love him I must say that he does not have the culture it takes to “know”. He also told me that I WILL BE SEALED TO MY SISTERS and I don’t know if I told him I was not since from the outside we were churchwise administratively “normal”.BTW my name is Gwennaëlle :o)

  9. Hi Gwennaëlle,I wish I understood a little better the relationship of your family. It would be a wonderful thing to be sealed to your sisters. Of course that means that you would be sealed to your parents as well. I wonder if the promise in the blessing is to be fulfilled while your parents are still alive or after they have passed on to the spirit world.I read and listened to Elder Scott’s talk in the last General Conference again this evening (click here for French). It was about healing from abuse. He said, “Satan uses your abuse to undermine your self-confidence, destroy trust in authority, create fear, and generate feelings of despair. Abuse can damage your ability to form healthy human relationships. You must have faith that all of these negative consequences can be resolved; otherwise they will keep you from full recovery. While these outcomes have powerful influence in your life, they do not define the real you.”He also told the story of a young woman who had been abused in her young life by her father. She had found healing in the atonement. She brought her parents in to see Elder Scott and said, “Elder Scott, this is my father. I love him. He’s concerned about some things that happened in my early childhood. They are no longer a problem for me. Could you help him?” Isn’t that amazing? I thought of you when I read this.I know that we can be healed from the effects of abuse and sin. The power of the atonement is real. There are a few mechanics involved such as finding the source of the painful memories and forgiving those who caused them. That can sometimes be the biggest hurdle to overcome in finding peace and the healing that we so desperately want and need. From personal experience, I promise you that they can be found and healed.God bless you in your journey to be baptized and healed. It is worth it and the Lord will help you through the process as you exercise faith in him and follow the counsel of your priesthood leaders – as hard as it may be. With much love in Christ. – Tim

  10. To maje it short: my mom got pregnant, did not want to get married to her boyfriend because she knew he was not up the task but he feared his parents so they did. He left just after the wedding coming back and forth as it pleased him. I was born. they got a divorce when I was 6. My mother remarried to my adoptive father when I was 10 and a half. My sisters were born when I was 14 and then 17 and they are my real family. We are a family just by being the three of us. And no you don’t have to be sealed to your parents. This ordinance is to seal you to the priesthood through your parents but the same way we will be given a choice to go on with our spouse or not I am sure that God has some kind of plan for people in my situation. I don’t care if it is not in this life. Yet sometimes I feel alone still, even if I know it does not matter.I liked Elder’s Scott talk but the issue is that the father did not HATE his daughter and he probably wanted to repent somewhere. My father does not want to repent since he has not done anything wrong.He went through two experts in spychology for them to find out that he is what they call a “pervert”. It is not to be taken in the common way we use it. Basically a pervert is someone with no major psychological issue but who does wrong just for the sake of it. Now this way to explain it is rather simple but this is to give you a general idea.Going back to the subject of your post there is someone I am looking to meet it is my great-great-grandmother. I know a little of her story and she sounds like someone I would have liked. She is someone I look up to. She is also someone who gave me the best part of my face: my nose! Nobody in the family has the same nose as mine. I am the only one since her. SO not only was she a good person but she also gave me something good that is right in the middle of my face:oP

  11. Hi Gwennaëlle,Yes, I’m sure the Lord makes provision for people in your situation who want the sealing ordinance but whose parents are not worthy to go to the temple. The sealing ordinance may have to wait until after one or both of the parents is deceased.If the parents are not worthy, then they will not be included in the family and the link will go back to another worthy ancestor. In this case, the important thing is to receive the sealing through the parents to the family. That’s wonderful that you want to get to know your great great grandmother. Perhaps she is someone who is looking out for you and trying to help you through your trials in this life.

  12. Tim-I finished reading “Beyond the Darkness” you referred me to–thanks. I enjoyed the read.I wanted to let you know, in case you missed it, that Fenimore left two informative comments on Amazon. As I read them I suspected she is now LDS. They are dated Jan 2 and 13, 2007.Take care.

  13. That’s great Jared. I too am fairly certain that she is LDS. She refers to it in her book, having attended Primary occasionally with a friend growing up. She also makes several references to her minister in a manner that seems obvious, at least to me, that he was a Mormon Bishop.Some have criticized her narrative of rising out of the darkness describing the Father and the Son as being a product of her Mormon education. Yet I don’t think she was very active at all in the years prior to the story she relates in her book. Her comments on Amazon rang true with me. Like Joseph Smith, she knows what happened to her and shared it in order to help others.I also read a transcript of a radio interview she did to promote her book when it was first published in which two things were revealed – Angie Fenimore is not her real name and she is definitely LDS. In that same interview she disclosed that she divorced her husband, claiming an abusive authoritative relationship. I no longer have the source but can probably find it again.Angie has suffered much in this life but has done a tremendous amount of good by courageously sharing her story. It has added richly to my understanding of the spirit world, especially of a side of it that most do not experience as they experience an NDE. And yes, I do believe it was an NDE and not a hallucination induced by the drugs she took to end her life.Angie: if you read this and I’ve got my facts all messed up here, please correct me. I don’t want to go sharing false information.

    1. And Angie did reply on my other blog:

      From: Angie Fenimore
      Sent: Friday, August 31, 2012 9:09 PM
      Subject: [Latter-day Commentary] New comment on The near death experience of an apostle.

      I am Angie Fenimore. Once in a blue moon, like tonight, I will Google myself and see what is being said. To clarify, I write under my real name. I’m always grateful to hear that I’ve made a difference. Thank you for sharing. You can find me at Facebook. I have a poorly tended author page and my regular page where I happily friend fans.

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