And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God. (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7)
Eternal life is defined as living forever in the presence of God. It is the ultimate reward for the faithful and the goal for which we should all strive. The death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ allow us the chance to obtain eternal life though our diligence. We must obtain godlike attributes now in order to qualify to live with God later.
What is Eternal Life?
In a book of modern scripture known as The Pearl of Great Price, we read an important passage given to the prophet Moses. God tells Moses:
For this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39).
The phrase “eternal life” should not be confused with the word “immortality.” In this case, they are not interchangeable. Immortality is a condition that happens to men and women because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everyone will be resurrected eventually and have an immortal body. This is a gift that will come to all mankind.
Eternal life, on the other hand, is the spiritual life that comes by living forever in the presence of God. This can be obtained by all mankind because of Jesus’ sacrifice, but must be earned through faith and obedience.
Everything that our Heavenly Father does for us is to help us achieve these two things: immortality and eternal life. He does this because He loves us and wants us all to experience eternal happiness with Him.
What Allows Us to Have Eternal Life?
In Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). On our own, none of us would qualify for eternal life. At times, we all sin and so disqualify ourselves from living in God’s presence. God is a completely just being and cannot allow us to sin without penalty.
Knowing this, God still wishes to show His children mercy and allow them to return to His presence to enjoy eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that whoso believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Jesus’ sufferings and death on the cross allow Him to pay the price for our sins. Unlike the gift of immortality, which comes to all, the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ depends on our faithfulness in following God’s commandments and repenting of our sins.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of modern scripture, Jesus speaks of His own sacrifice and warns of the consequences of rejecting the gift that He offers us.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-19)
How do We Qualify for Eternal Life?
Because God loves his children, He has told us in straightforward terms what we must do in order to obtain eternal life. This path that our Heavenly Father wants us to follow is sometimes referred to in the scriptures as the “strait and narrow path” (1 Nephi 8:20). We must have faith in Jesus Christ that He can save us, we must sincerely repent of our sins, and we must then be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost from a person who has the proper authority.
These steps are only the first that put our feet on the path that leads to eternal life. Nephi, a prophet from the Book of Mormon, wrote what should happen after we fulfill the initial requirements:
And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. (2 Nephi 31:18-19)
Choosing to follow Christ and walk that path to eternal life is not a one-time decision, but a life-long commitment. God does not promise that the path will be easy, convenient, or well-traveled. He does promise us, however, that the greatest of all of His gifts lies at the end.
More about “Eternal Life”
“Eternal Life” was written by Michael D. Young. The subject “Eternal Life” is important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you would like to know more about Mormons with no obligation, please click on the following links: