This article will discuss 1 Corinthians, Chapters 11-16.
Ordinances have always been an important part of worship and spiritual progress in the true kingdom of God on earth. They have no power, and no efficacy in heaven unless they are bound on earth by those having authority directly from Jesus Christ. Mormons call this “priesthood authority,” defining the Holy Priesthood as the power and authority to act in Christ’s name. This authority was lost after the death of the original apostles, but it has been thoroughly and completely restored in these modern times in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ at the hands of heaven messengers and the Savior Himself.
Paul begins with counsel to husbands and wives. The true order of marriage is that both husband and wife are servants together of the holy marriage covenant. God has always intended that marriage for eternity be made available to His children who are worthy and desirous of it, but it takes priesthood authority to perform the ordinance of eternal marriage.
Paul then discusses the sacrament. Partaking of the emblems of the body and blood of Christ renews the covenants we made at baptism, to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments. We are always fine-tuning our thoughts, desires, and behavior to draw closer to Christ. This repentance performed during the week has its culmination in the partaking of the sacrament to renew our vows. God then promises us that the Holy Ghost will ever be with us.
In 1 Corinthians 12 – 14 Paul teaches about spiritual gifts. Many people think of talents as overt and even entertaining, but there are many quiet gifts of the spirit that bless the lives of everyone in contact with the gifted. One may have the gift of patience, of ease of forgiveness, of perceiving quickly the needs of others, of inspiring others by bearing witness of Christ; the gift of teaching, of believing, of exercising faith unto healing, all bless us and others. Probably the gift most easy for Satan to counterfeit is the gift of tongues. This gift is meant to increase understanding, and unless that happens, the manifestation is not from God. God has set the standard of two gifts always appearing together, the gift of speaking and the gift of interpreting. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles spoke in tongues; the men gathered around all heard the gospel in their own language and were converted. Thus, understanding miraculously increased. Gibberish that no one understands is not the gift of tongues. The gifts of the spirit are all manifest in God’s True Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with the gift of tongues commonplace among the young Mormon missionaries who go out into the world by the tens of thousands.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul refers to the resurrection of Christ. Because Christ was resurrected, we will be resurrected. He is the Firstfruits of the resurrection. And He is STILL resurrected. That is His eternal condition and the most desirable condition in the eternities. He wants for us what He Himself enjoys. When body and spirit are united in immortality, only then can anyone experience a fullness of joy. Paul emphasizes the many witnesses of the resurrected Christ.
Paul also describes when people will be resurrected. The righteous who died before Christ rose with Him. The righteous who have died since will rise at His Second Coming, but the wicked will have to wait until Christ has finished His work, until after the end of the millennium.
1 Corinthians 15:29 says the following:
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?
Paul speaks of baptism for the dead as if was common knowledge among the Saints. Paul need not teach it, because they already knew it. Ordinances must be performed on earth. A spirit cannot be baptized. Yet the spirits of the dead still live, have volition and agency and the ability to learn and repent, possibly even more so than we who live in this coarse world. They may accept the gospel of Jesus Christ after they die, in what is called the Spirit World. Christ organized missionary work for them while He lay in the tomb for three days, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 138. The most illustrious ancient prophets are now preaching to the dead. We perform ordinances for them by proxy on earth, and they can accept or reject them as they will.
As the early Saints descended into apostasy, the ordinance of baptism for the dead became corrupted. Imagine, if you will, a Saint being baptized in the name of a deceased ancestor in a holy ordinance. Then visualize the corrupted version, wherein a dead body was baptized. A few hundred years after Christ, this corruption was banned as heresy, and true baptism for the dead was lost to men until it was revealed again by revelation to modern prophets, along with the restoration of the authority to perform the ordinance.
1 Corinthians 15:40 – 42 cannot be thoroughly understood without modern revelation. Most of the Christian world has no idea what Paul is referring to when he speaks of the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial Kingdoms of heaven. Verses are obviously missing here. Paul certainly had seen in vision what Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw in vision — the kingdoms of heaven. Section 76 is the record of the modern vision, and it is one of the most valuable and wonderful scriptures in our possession. We see not only what these kingdoms are like, but who will inherit them.