See also: D&C 88:67; 93:24; D&C 132:8-14; John 17:3
. . . everyone in the Church who is on the straight and narrow path, who is striving and struggling and desiring to do what is right, though is far from perfect in this life; if he passes out of this life while he’s on the straight and narrow, he’s going to go on to eternal reward in his Father’s kingdom. — Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “The Probationary Test of Mortality,” January 10, 1982
We don’t need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved. You don’t. There’s only been one perfect person, and that’s the Lord Jesus, but in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God and in order to pass the test of mortality, what you have to do is get on the straight and narrow path – thus charting a course leading to eternal life – and then, being on that path, pass out of this life in full fellowship. I’m not saying that you don’t have to keep the commandments. I’m saying you don’t have to be perfect to be saved. If you did, no one would be saved. The way it operates is this, you get on the path that’s named the “straight and narrow.” You do it by entering the gate of repentance and baptism. The straight and narrow path leads from the gate of repentance and baptism, a very great distance, to a reward that’s called eternal life. If you’re on that path and pressing forward, and you die, you’ll never get off the path. There is no such thing as falling off the straight and narrow path in the life to come, and the reason is that this life is the time that is given to men to prepare for eternity. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you’re working zealously in this life – though you haven’t fully overcome the world and you haven’t done all you hoped you might do – you’re still going to be saved. You don’t have to do what Jacob said, “Go beyond the mark.” You don’t have to live a life that’s truer than true. You don’t have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing. What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church – keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you’re on that path when death comes – because this is the time and the day appointed, this the probationary estate – you’ll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure. Now, that isn’t the definition of that term, but the end result will be the same. — Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “The Probationary Test of Mortality,” January 10, 1982
All the faithful Saints, all of those who have endured to the end, depart this life with the absolute guarantee of eternal life.
There is no equivocation, no doubt, no uncertainty in our minds. Those who have been true and faithful in this life will not fall by the wayside in the life to come. If they keep their covenants here and now and depart this life firm and true in the testimony of our blessed Lord, they shall come forth with an inheritance of eternal life. — Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “The Dead Who Die in the Lord,” Ensign, November 1976, p. 107
The profession into which we enter will merely provide money to support ourselves and our families while in this world and money to help build up the kingdom of God now. But all professions, occupations, and worldly positions are only temporary. They are transitory. They last only for this life; but all spiritual things and righteous acts live on eternally. . . .
Never did our Lord and Master say that making money was the greatest gift of God. He never said that having an important position in government, or in the industrial world, or becoming a doctor or a college professor, or engaging in any other occupation on this earth was the greatest gift of God. Nor did he say, “Behold, to accumulate a million dollars or a million, million dollars is the greatest gift of God.” But he proclaimed that exaltation or eternal life is the greatest gift of God. — Elder Milton R. Hunter, “Righteousness and Eternal Life,” BYU Devotional, March 28, 1972, pp. 4, 6
We must always remember that eternity is now and not some abstract time we look forward to in some far-distant future. You and I are living at this moment in a very important part of eternity. If we understand this truth, we will find it easier to make wise decisions in the many choices placed before us each day. We will be less likely to clutter our lives with frivolous, time-consuming dead ends that are unimportant in the eternal perspective.
Yes, brothers and sisters, we are living in one of the most critical parts of all eternity because we are living in the day of our mortal probation. Concerning mortality, the Lord said: “We will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25). We read in the Book of Mormon that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32).
The questions we might pose to ourselves are “Do I merit the blessings of eternity with the life I am presently living?” or “How am I spending eternity now?” If we make every earthly decision with eternity in mind, we shall have used our mortal probation wisely. — Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Being Righteous in Our Hearts,” BYU Devotional Address given January 21, 1997
You will be in school hundreds and thousands of years after you leave this life. . . . The essential things you learn will be learned in the family. — President Spencer W. Kimball speaking at the University of Utah
As members of the Church, if we chart a course leading to eternal life; if we begin the processes of spiritual rebirth, and are going in the right direction; if we chart a course of sanctifying our souls, and degree by degree are going in that direction; and if we chart a course of becoming perfect, and, step by step and phrase by phase, are perfecting our souls by overcoming the world, then it is absolutely guaranteed – there is no question whatever about it – we shall gain eternal life. . . .
The Prophet told us that there are many things that people have to do, even after the grave, to work out their salvation. We’re not going to be perfect the minute we die. But if we’ve charted a course, if our desires are right, if our appetites are curtailed and bridled, and if we believe in the Lord and are doing to the very best of our abilities what we ought to do, we’ll go on to everlasting salvation, which is the fulness of eternal reward in our Father’s kingdom.
I think we ought to have hope; I think we ought to have rejoicing. (Bruce R. McConkie, “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified,” Speeches, 1976 , pp. 400-401) — BYU Book of Mormon Conference, 14-16 August 2001, p. 46
This life is a part of eternity. This is one stage of our eternal lives. When we die, we will go on to purposeful, active, challenging living. The life on the other side of the veil will be somewhat like the life here. If we have been clean and decent and good here, we will go on in that same spirit. If we have been rascals, we will go in that same spirit. I believe that. I believe in the eternity of life. It is as much a part of my belief as anything that I know of, that this is not the end, that there will be another life, that we will be accountable to God our Father and to our Lord Jesus Christ, that we will have work to do, and that sometime we will all participate in the resurrection. That is my hope, my faith, my testimony. (El Pais newspaper, 7 Nov. 1997) — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, April 2002, pp. 3-4
Let us grasp the proffered gift of eternal life! We will end up either choosing Christ’s manner of living or His manner of suffering! It is either “suffer even as I” (D&C 19:16-17), or overcome “even as He . . . overcame” (Revelation 3:21). The spiritually settled accept that invitation, and “through the atonement of Christ,” they become and overcome! (See Mosiah 3:18, 19.) — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame,” Ensign, May 1987, p. 72
Remember that mortal life is a brief moment, for we will live eternally. There will be ample (I almost use the word time, but time does not apply here), there will be ample opportunity for all injustices, all inequities to be made right, all loneliness and deprivation compensated, and all worthiness rewarded when we keep the faith. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). It does not all end with mortal death; it just beings. — Elder Boyd K. Packer, BYU 18-Stake Fireside, March 1992, pp. 8-9
Whereas the bird is at home in the air, we are clearly not at home in time – because we belong to eternity! Time, as much as any one thing, whispers to us that we are strangers here. If time were natural to us, why is it that we have so many clocks and wear wristwatches? — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Patience,” Ensign, October 1980, p. 28
From eternity to eternity means from the spirit existence through the probation which we are in, and then back again to the eternal existence which will follow. Surely this is everlasting, for when we receive the resurrection, we will never die. We all existed in the first eternity. I think I can say of myself and others, we are from eternity; and we will be to eternity everlasting, if we receive the exaltation. (President Joseph Fielding Smith) — Robert Millet, “What We Believe,” BYU Devotional, February 3, 1998, p. 3-4
If we’re not occupying our time with things of eternity, we’re wasting our time. — President Harold B. Lee
My brothers and sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ transcends mortality. Our work here is but a shadow of greater and unimaginable things to come. — Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Virtue of Kindness,” Ensign, May 2005, p. 28
The very laws which govern eternity are planned to sustain an eternal growth, gathering together and increasing; so that the true servant of God cannot possibly suffer loss, but will reap eternal gain, though he, for the cause of truth, is poor and needy through the whole of his short life. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 2:129, April 17, 1853
If we live in such a way that the considerations of eternity press upon us, we will make better decisions. Perhaps this is why President Brigham Young once said that if he could do but one thing to bless the Saints, he believed it would be to give them “eyes with which to see things as they are.” (Journal of Discourses, 3:221.) . . . The more clearly we see eternity, the more obvious it becomes that the Lord’s work in which we are engaged is one vast and grand work with striking similarities on each side of the veil. — President Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, January 1977, p. 3
Singleness to God means the goal of eternal life. In the choice of your vocation, which will be most surely to help you on your road to eternal life? It is the same with your Church activity, your choice of company, your home, your mate. — Harold B. Lee, BYU Speeches of the Year, 19 April 1961, p. 9
In His great Intercessory Prayer, the Savior gives to all mankind the key to obtaining eternal life: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). — Elder John M. Madsen, Ensign, May 2002, p. 78
God stands revealed or remains forever unknown. — Elder Bruce R. McConkie
In response to Nephi’s own question, “after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done?” Nephi gives his answer. We must exhibit faith, hope, charity, feast on the words of Christ, and endure to the end. If we do these things, we shall have eternal life. Let’s look again at the structure of this verse to see that Nephi is really talking about faith, hope, and charity:
1) ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ—FAITH
2) having a perfect brightness of hope—HOPE
3) and a love of God and of all men—CHARITY
We should be clear that Nephi is trying to give us a formula for success, a recipe for redemption, and a handbook for eternal increase. He is trying to teach us the only and true doctrine of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost (v. 21) in as much plainness as is possible.
The words press forward seem to indicate moving with complete dedication along the path of perfection despite adversity or distraction. This same phrase was used in Lehi’s vision to describe those who caught hold of the iron rod. Those who continued faithful until they partook of the fruit of the tree were those who pressed forward through the mists of darkness. (See 1 Nephi 8:24.) Steadfastness in Christ connotes a firm determination to follow him. To feast upon the word of Christ conveys the thought of receiving strength and nourishment from the teachings and spirit of Christ. The same idea is found in the symbolism of the sacrament. The Lord suggests a similar idea in the D&C when he says, “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life.” (DC 84:85) To the Nephites he further stated that those who hungered and thirsted after righteousness would be filled with the Holy Ghost. — Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 121
The important truth is here taught that all institutions in this world, not founded on divine law but erected by human ingenuity, [will] cease to exist. . . . Man-made governments are obliterated, as are the sand castles children build on the tide-swept beach. Man-made religions and churches are swallowed up in death. Not a trace of them will be seen on the shores of eternity. Social customs and habits not sanctioned by God, will not continue. On the other hand, all institutions founded on the Word of God will remain throughout all eternity. The Church will remain. The family will remain. All the organizations of which God is the author are eternal. (D&C 132:13) (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 824) — Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 329
What promises are made in relation to the subject of the salvation of the dead and what kind of characters are those who can be saved, although their bodies are moldering and decaying in the grave? When His commandments teach us, it is in view of eternity; for we are looked upon by God as though we were in eternity; God dwells in eternity, and does not view things as we do. — Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 475
There is a distinction between immortality, or eternal existence, and eternal life, which is to have a place in the presence of God. Through the grace of Jesus Christ, immortality comes to all. . . , just or unjust, righteous or wicked. However, eternal life is “the greatest of all the gifts of God”(D&C 14:7). We obtain this great gift, according to the Lord, “if you keep my commandments and endure to the end.” If we so endure, the promise is, “you shall have eternal life” (D&C 14:7). (Pres. James E. Faust, “The Supernal Gift of the Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, p. 12) — Elder Ronald A. Rasband, “Moses, My Son,” Ensign, January 2010, p. 45
God the Father enjoys a fulness of eternal glory. It is His plan to provide an opportunity for His spirit children to become like Him. “For behold,” He says, “this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
Joseph Smith taught, “God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself” (History of the Church, 6:312).
Eternal life is exaltation in the presence of God. It is essential to the upward progress of man that he be given certain basic tools by which he can climb. No one reaches the celestial level in a single leap. Therefore, man has been given the privilege of repentance. This gift, together with the right of free choice, means that each one controls his own destiny. Samuel the Lamanite explained, “Whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves” (Helaman 14:30).
In the plan of God this earth was created as a home for man. It is his proving ground, the place of his mortal probation, the place where he is tried and tested to see if he “will do all things whatsoever the Lord [his] God shall command” (Abraham 3:25).
The ultimate destiny of the earth, like the ultimate destiny of man, is to become celestial. Following its celestialization, the earth will serve as the eternal home of all those who abide a celestial law (see D&C 88:22). “Therefore, it [the earth] must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory; for after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father; that bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified” (D&C 88:18–20). — Old Testament Student Manual, p. 61
We are not connected with a something that will exist only for a few years, some of the peculiar ideas and dogmas of men, some nice theory of their forming; the principles that we believe in reach back into eternity, they originated with the Gods in the eternal worlds, and they reach forward to the eternities that are to come. We feel that we are operating with God in connection with those who were, with those who are, and with those who are to come. — President John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 17:206
And what kind of existence can we hope for? Those who come unto Christ, repent of their sins, and live in faith will reside forever in peace. Think of the worth of this eternal gift. Surrounded by those we love, we will know the meaning of ultimate joy as we progress in knowledge and in happiness. No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) — President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Infinite Power of Hope,” Ensign, November 2008
George Albert Smith was blessed with a firm understanding of the purpose of life, and this enabled him to encourage others as they faced adversity. He frequently reminded the Saints that “we are living eternal lives” – that eternity doesn’t begin after this life but that mortality is a crucial part of eternity. “I sometimes have said to my friends when they seemed to be at the crossroads, uncertain as to which way they wanted to go, ‘Today is the beginning of eternal happiness or eternal disappointment for you.’” — Teachings of Presidents of the Church, George Albert Smith, Ch. 7, “The Immortality of the Soul”
It is not so important how many valuables you may have, how much property you may possess, and how many of the honors of men you may acquire, and all those things that are so desirable in the world. The thing that God has given to you that is worth more than all the rest is the opportunity to obtain eternal life in the celestial kingdom and have as your companions, throughout the ages of eternity, sons and daughters, husbands and wives with whom you have associated here on earth. — Teachings of Presidents of the Church, George Albert Smith, Ch. 7, “The Immortality of the Soul”
What is eternal life? In that glorious prayer of intercession offered by Jesus, our Redeemer just before he crossed the brook Cedron and received the traitor’s kiss that betrayed him into the hands of the soldiers, we find these words: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.) To know God and his Son is eternal life. There is the key. Life eternal is what I desire. I desire it more than I desire anything else in the world – life eternal for me and mine, for you, and for all the world. And there in the words of the Redeemer himself we have the secret. — President David O. McKay, General Conference, October 1966
Nevertheless, we are saddened to learn, as the authorities travel about the stakes and missions of the Church, that there are still many of the Saints who are not reading and pondering the scriptures regularly, and who have little knowledge of the Lord’s instructions to the children of men. Many have been baptized and received a testimony, and have “gotten into this strait and narrow path,” yet have failed to take the further required step – to “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end.” (2 Ne. 31:19, 20)
Only the faithful will receive the promised reward, which is eternal life. For one cannot receive eternal life without becoming a “doer of the word” (see James 1:22) and being valiant in obedience to the Lord’s commandments. And one cannot become a “doer of the word” without first becoming a “hearer.” And to become a “hearer” is not simply to stand idly by and wait for chance bits of information; it is to seek out and study and pray and comprehend. Therefore the Lord said, “Whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.” (D&C 84:52) — President Spencer W. Kimball, “How Rare a Possession – The Scriptures,” Ensign, July 1985
This is a world in which we are to prove ourselves. The lifetime of man is a day of trial, wherein we may prove to God, in our darkness, in our weakness, and where the enemy reigns, that we are our Father’s friends, and that we receive light from him and are worthy to be leaders of our children – to become lords of lords, and kings of kings – to have perfect dominion over that portion of our families that will be crowned in the celestial kingdom with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. — Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young “Preparing for Eternal Progression,” p. 85
The other fruit of the gospel named in the quotation – “eternal life in the world to come” [John 16:33] – must be a glorious thing, for the Lord has said that “he that hath eternal life is rich” (D&C 6:7) and that the “gift of eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (D&C 14:7) He who obtains it will obtain an exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Father in heaven. Speaking of such the Lord says, among other things:
“They are they who are the church of the Firstborn . . . into whose hands the Father has given all things – They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory; . . . they are gods, even the sons of God. . . . These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever. These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people . . . who shall have part in the first resurrection . . . who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just. These are they whose names are written in heaven . . . whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical. (D&C 76:54-56, 58, 62-65, 68, 70) — President Marion G. Romney, “Fruits of the Gospel,” General Conference, 1 October 1949
This gift of eternal life in the world to come may not, of course, be fully realized during earth life. An assurance that it will be obtained in the world to come may, however, be had in this world. As a matter of fact, the blessings of the celestial kingdom are promised only to those who have such an assurance. According to the Vision, a successful candidate for these blessings must qualify on three counts: First, he must have “. . . received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name” and been “. . . baptized after the manner of his burial”; second, he must have received “the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power”; and third, he must be “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.” (D&C 76:51-53)
The Prophet Joseph taught that one so sealed would have within himself an assurance born of the Spirit, that he would obtain eternal life in the world to come. He urgently and repeatedly admonished the Saints of his day to obtain such an assurance by making their calling and election sure. It is this assurance within a person which brings to him the peace in this world which will sustain him in every tribulation.— President Marion G. Romney, “Fruits of the Gospel,” General Conference, 1 October 1949
We will be in this world only a short time. The youngest and strongest of us are simply preparing for the other life, and before we get into the glory of our Father and enjoy the blessings that we hope to receive through faithfulness, we will have to live the laws of patience, and exercise forgiveness toward those who trespass against us, and remove from our hearts all feelings of hatred toward them. . . .
May we have the Spirit of the Master dwelling within us, that we may forgive all men as He has commanded, forgive, not only with our lips but in the very depths of our hearts, every trespass that may have been committed against us. If we do this through life, the blessings of the Lord will abide in our hearts and our homes. — Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, pp. 252-253
There could not be placed before men more glorious prospects than are placed before the Saints. No mortal man could wish anything greater or that will ultimately prove more satisfactory. Everything that pertains to perfect peace, happiness, glory and exaltation is before the Latter-day Saints. We should enjoy the spirit of this, and keep it actively before us. We should not let our prospects be darkened in the least by doing that which is not acceptable before the Lord. — Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, p. 89
When we think of eternal life, what is the picture that comes to mind? I believe that if we could create in our minds a clear and true picture of eternal life, we would start behaving differently. We would not need to be prodded to do the many things involved with enduring to the end, like doing our home teaching or visiting teaching, attending our meetings, going to the temple, living moral lives, saying our prayers, or reading the scriptures. We would want to do all these things and more because we realize they will prepare us to go somewhere we yearn to go. — Elder L. Tom Perry, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 2008
I regret ofttimes, in the times of distress and trouble that come to those whom we admire and love, that we are not able to lift from their shoulders the sorrow into which they are plunged, when they are called upon to part with those they cherish.
But we realize that our Father in heaven can bind up broken hearts and that He can dispel sorrow and that He can point forward with joy and satisfaction to those blessings that are to come through obedience to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, for we do understand and we do have conviction that it is the will of our Father in heaven that we shall live on and that we have not finished our existence when these bodies of mortality are laid away in the grave. — Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, p. 45