Posts Tagged ‘exaltation

13
Jan
12

Eternal Life

This Sunday, in their Gospel Doctrines classes, Mormons around the world will be looking at 1 Nephi 8-11.  This section from the Book of Mormon describes the vision of the tree of life.  The Book of Mormon supplies identification for the various elements in the vision.  I am going to concentrate on the fruit of the tree which, according to it, symbolizes eternal life.

The first point that needs to be made is that Mormonism defines eternal life differently than Christianity does.  It equates it with exaltation.  “Eternal life, or exaltation, is to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, where we will live in God’s presence and continue as families (see D&C 131:1-4).  Like immortality, this gift is made 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).” (True to the Faith, p. 52)

D&C 131:1-4 referenced in that quote says that celestial marriage (temple marriage for time and eternity) is essential for exaltation.  The next section of D&C (132) is also pertinent because it describes exaltation as nothing less than becoming gods!   In verse 19 it states: “they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things.”  Then in verse 20 it says, “then shall they be gods” not once but twice.

In short, Mormonism defines eternal life as becoming a god.  To obtain it requires “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel”.  One such ordinance is celestial marriage that can only be performed in Mormon temples.  Thus, according to Mormonism, many LDS members, not to mention non-members, will not have eternal life.

What does the Bible say?  John wrote:  “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)  Note that he says “ye may know that ye have eternal life”.   The tense is very important.  It is a present tense, not a future (will have).  They already had it!

They had it through believing.  John is echoing the words of Jesus that he himself recorded.  “That whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:15)  Eternal life then is the present possession of believers.  It’s the new spiritual life we now have with God through faith.  And most importantly, it is not something that we obtain through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.  It is God’s gift to us.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)

“Through Jesus Christ our Lord” – the key is not my obedience and my work, but Jesus’ obedience and his work.  As my Substitute, he obeyed God perfectly.  As my Substitute, he performed many wonderful works.  He died – as my Substitute.  He did it all – 100% – for me.  Faith is nothing more, or less, than humbly acknowledging that and totally relying on that.  And through faith we have the tremendous joy of having true eternal life – right now!

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13
May
09

Exaltation and Eternal Life

     Once again in the recent General Conference there were a number of references to exaltation and eternal life.  For example, Elder D. Todd Christofferson said,   “If we are faithful to the covenants made there, we become inheritors not only of the celestial kingdom but of exaltation, the highest glory within the heavenly kingdom, and we obtain all the divine possibilities God can give (see D&C 132:20).”

     D&C 132:20 says:  “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things aren’t subject unto them.  Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.” 

     In a similar vein Elder Quentin L. Cook said:  “The desire of our hearts, of course, is not only to acquire salvation and immortality but also to attain eternal life with a loving Father in Heaven and our Savior in the celestial kingdom with our families.”  This is in the same vein because eternal life equals exaltation and thus equals becoming a god.  (For example, as the True to the Faith Manual explains eternal life it simply says, “eternal life, or exaltation.”)

     With eternal life and exaltation regularly referred to and striving for it is regularly encouraged, it is puzzling to me that a common reaction I have received from Mormons when I asked them are they striving to become a god is denial!  Some have been quite fervent in saying that if they remain obedient, they might become like god, but they don’t think that they will become a god.  In fact this reaction has been so common that I find it refreshing when a Mormon agrees with this foundational teaching of Mormonism!  When that happens, we can at least talk about that issue and not debate whether or not Mormonism teaches that.

     Do me a favor.  The next time you are with your LDS friend or family member, ask them if they are striving to be a god.  I would be curious if you get the same reaction I often get.

     And to my LDS friends – is asking that question in anyway offensive – if it is asked sincerely and politely?

01
Nov
08

ETERNAL FAMILIES

 

     I use to see them more often, but I still sometimes see the bumper stickers that say, “Families are Forever”.   Even though I don’t see as many bumper stickers spending all eternity with your family remains one of Mormonism’s more attractive teachings.

     But what I have found is that a lot of Mormons don’t see the connection between having an eternal family and becoming a god.  But that is the connection Mormonism makes.  “Eternal life, or exaltation, is to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, where we will live in God’s presence and continue as families (see D&C 131:1-4)” True to the Faith, p, 52.  Note how the quote includes a reference to D&C 131.  That’s the same section that links exaltation with godhood.  “they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, to their exaltation. . .Then shall they be gods.”  (v. 19-20)  It’s obvious that official Mormonism links having an eternal family with being a god.  “Exaltation consists in the continuation of the family unit in eternity.”  (Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles, p. 130.

     Many Mormons, in the course of a discussion, have mentioned to me how they are looking forward to having an eternal family.  I then ask them if they are then also looking forward to becoming a god.  That is something almost every single one has quickly denied.  After I show them the link Mormonism makes between the two, they often don’t know what to say.

     But what many Christians don’t realize is that the subject of eternal families offers us a wonderful window through which we can witness Christ to our Mormon friends.  According to the Bible, one result of faith – of trusting that Jesus has done everything for us – is becoming a child of God – becoming a member of God’s eternal family.  That, my friends, is a lot more glorious, a lot more attractive, than having my own eternal family.  There is one family that is forever – God’s family.  And you don’t have to get married in the temple to become part of it.  It’s God’s gift to us. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

 




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