For this months Ensign review i’ve decided to pick up on the article entitled Service and eternal life by President Henry B. Eyring, First councillor in the first presidency.
The first paragraph of his article has already given me a point of discussion,
“The Savior is our example of unselfish service. His perfect life was devoted to serving Heavenly Father and all of His Father’s children. The united purpose of the Father and the Son is to give all of us the gift of immortality and the blessing of eternal life (see Moses 1:39).”
Immortality is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ, to all men,: by which they come forth in the resurrection to die no more, weather they have obeyed him or rebelled against him…” ( Joseph Fielding Smith, the way to perfection, p.329)
Eternal life in the LDS Church means Exaltation…
3rd LDS President, John Taylor
“Hence, through His atonement, believers in Christ, and those who obey his laws, partake of His glory and exaltation, and are inheritors of the Godhead: whilst those who do not obey His law although resurrected cannot inherit this exaltation; they are raised from the dead, but cannot inherit a celestial glory without being obedient to a celestial law…”
This is I think one of the most important things that any LDS person can come to know and understand. Firstly that God is much bigger, much more powerful, and much more Glorious than you have been led to believe. God makes this point to Job in a dialogue we read in Job 38
Job 38 (ESV)
The Lord Answers Job
1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Dress for action[a] like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9 when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.
16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.
19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
20 that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
The Lord goes on further with this questioning but i’m sure you’ve got the idea.
In these verses God is asking Job a series of rhetorical questions, the purpose of this being to show job how much greater God is than a mere man, who could not possibly know or do any of the things God is describing. Secondly that although, yes God does want to give eternal life to those who love Him…
( Biblical Christianity understands the concept of Eternal Life to mean spending an eternity with God, enjoying relationship with him. This is what I am referring to…John 17:3 ‘ And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’.. )
…and trust in His Son, This is not his primary focus. Gods purpose is to glorify himself, and rightly so. For any Human to be self seeking this would be sinful, but for God, who is the most righteous, most glorious, most loving… ( I could go on for ever!) It is good and right for Him to seek His own glory, and to command our worship of Him.
1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
Speaking of His Crucifixion Jesus said, “the hour has come, Father glorify your Son that the Son may Glorify you.” Jesus is about to face the crucifixion and his first concern, his priority, is Gods glory. Again in verse 4 he says “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” Why did Jesus heal, set people free from demons and do all kinds of miraculous signs? Yes to heal, to set them free, to help them believe who he was. But his first priority was to glorify his Father.
Lets look at another text that shows Gods concern for his Glory.
Isaiah 48:9-11 ESV
9 “For my name’s sake I defer my anger,
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried[a] you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name[b] be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.
Did you catch that?
For my name’s sake! For the sake of my praise!
For my own sake! For my own sake! How should my name be profaned! My glory I will not give to another!
God’s ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of his name. I’m laboring this point because its important to understand. God does not seek our glory but his own. At this point I want to bring up a verse which might seem to contradict what I am saying.
1 Corinthians. 15:42-44, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
These verses are speaking of our bodies, in the resurrection we know we will receive bodies, which are different, like Jesus when he was resurrected. He had open wounds yet did not bleed. He could appear and disappear, and it seemed that he was able to change his appearance so that he would not be recognised. This was Jesus’ glorified body and we will receive our own.
What about our works? wont we be rewarded, Glorified for faithfully following God?
To Him be the Glory…
10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
Whatever reward or ‘Crowns’ may be given to us, it’s all for His glory.
The Bible does talk about rewards…
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
But nowhere in the bible are we told that we will become a God. Or that we would have any glory of our own. If anyone were to look upon our glorified bodies, it would be His glory that they might see, that’s what it means to share in His glory. That like a beautiful sunset or a awe inspiring view, if we were looked upon someone might say, how awesome is God, the glory is all His, we just get to enjoy it by seeing Him for who He is and communing with Him eternally.
I’ll pick up on one more point made by President Eyring, he goes on to say…
“King Benjamin told his people in the Book of Mormon of the joy that comes from feeling forgiveness from sin through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Then he taught them that to retain a remission of their sins, they must teach their children to serve one another and they must be as generous as they could to meet the temporal and spiritual needs of those around them. (See Mosiah 4:11–16.)”
This is a topic which has been addressed several times on this blog and will probably be addressed several more. “To retain a remission of their sins.” It saddens me deeply that people in the LDSChurch are taught to believe that they are forgiven of their sins.
but then they have to retain that forgiveness. Its like me giving someone a gift, lets say a new sofa, and then saying ‘oh by the way, I’ve set up a payment scheme in your name, they have your account details, a payment will be taken each month!’ Would that seem like a gift to you?
This idea is a contradiction of Biblical Grace, Jesus teaches us about Gods grace in the parable of the prodigal Son,
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give methe share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
Did the Son in this parable deserve anything from the father based on his works or his actions?
No! In fact if his Father had rewarded him according to his actions he may have even rejected him completely. But his Father did not reward his actions, not at all, his Father had a heart of Grace ( undeserved kindness, ) and mercy towards him, the son repented, and sort reconciliation with the Father. This is how we are to approach God. This is what Jesus was saying through this parable. We can come to our Father in heaven who is waiting for us to seek reconciliation with Him, not on the bases of what we have done, but on the bases of his grace and mercy and in the name of His Son who he gave as an atonement for our sins.
As always I look forward to any comments or Questions