My friend at work who has been questioning mormonism made the statement that the mormon teaching of three levels of heaven is supported in the New Testement in 2 Corinthians --probably where Paul mentions "the third heaven." Ch. 12:2 Is this reference their basis for that concept? How would you respond to that reference to help her understand that this teaching is really not supported in the Bible?
The quick answer is that I Cor. 15 is not teaching about heaven (nor is it teaching about baptism for the dead). It is concerned with one thing: the Ressurection of the dead. Are men's bodies resurrected? Paul says yes.
He then tells us that the body that is raised is gloriously better than these old human bodies we now possess. To compare these bodies to the resurrected body would be like trying to compare the brightness of a star (as we perceive it here on earth) to that of the sun. The sun is incredibly brighter. So will our resurrected bodies outshine these earthly ones.
I have included some links to pusue this further.
Mormons also misunderstand Paul's obique reference to "baptism for the dead." Again, remember that he is concerned in this chapter only with arguing that the dead are resurrected. So he says, "If the dead are not resurrected why are (some unamed people somewhere) baptized for the dead--if the dead rise not at all?"
Nobody knows he was referring to when he mentions baptism for the dead. Perhaps some group was doing some occult rite like that. Maybe he was aluding to such a group that his hearers knew of. Or maybe he was saying that Christians are baptized into Christ and if He was not resurrected then we were vainly being baptized for the dead [unresurrected Christ). In no case does Paul here teach, nor does any other biblical passage teach, baptism for people who are dead. The Bible doesn't teach it and neither does the Book of Mormon.
Thanks for your interest in Through the Maze Ministries.
I am mailing you a packet of information I think you will find helpful.