In John 5:24 Jesus says: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” It is important to note the tenses. They are not futures. “Hath” is a present tense. “Is passed” is in the past tense. When Jesus speaks about eternal life, he is not talking about something that lies in the future. The person who hears Jesus’ words and believes already has eternal life. This is possible only because of Jesus – because with his perfect life he fulfilled God’s commandments for us and with his death he paid for all our sins.
Mormonism, however, defines eternal life differently. “Eternal life, or exaltation, is to inherit a place in the highest degree of celestial kingdom, where we live in God’s presence and continue as families (see D&C 131:1-4). Like immortality, this gift is possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, it requires our ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’ (Articles of Faith 1:3).” (LDS Church Manual, True to the Faith, p. 52) A little bit later it says, “be assured that eternal life is within your reach.”
Jesus says believers have eternal life. Mormonism says it is in our reach. Mormonism teaches that because it says that eternal life requires something from us: obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. But Jesus never mentions that. In fact, if anything was required of us, Jesus couldn’t have said that believers already have it. He too would have to talk about it being in our reach – not being in our possession.
But he didn’t say that because eternal life isn’t conditioned on our obedience. It is God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ our Lord. To him be all praise and glory!