Members | Sign In
NFP > A Main Newsfeed (Easier to find where you left off.)

The Process of Achieving Eternal Life

posted Feb 28, 2017 00:03:22 by JulieK
Elder Bruce R. McConkie

We say that a man has to be born again, meaning that he has to die as pertaining to the unrighteous things in the world. Paul said, “Crucify the old man of sin and come forth in a newness of life” (see Romans 6:6). We are born again when we die as pertaining to unrighteousness and when we live as pertaining to the things of the Spirit. But that doesn’t happen in an instant, suddenly. That also is a process. Being born again is a gradual thing, except in a few isolated instances that are so miraculous they get written up in the scriptures. As far as the generality of the members of the Church are concerned, we are born again by degrees, and we are born again to added light and added knowledge and added desires for righteousness as we keep the commandments.

The same thing is true of being sanctified. Those who go to the celestial kingdom of heaven have to be sanctified, meaning that they become clean and pure and spotless. They’ve had evil and sin and iniquity burned out of their souls as though by fire, and the figurative expression there is “the baptism of fire.” Here again it is a process. Nobody is sanctified in an instant, suddenly. But if we keep the commandments and press forward with steadfastness after baptism, then degree by degree and step by step we sanctify our souls until that glorious day when we’re qualified to go where God and angels are.

So it is with the plan of salvation. We have to become perfect to be saved in the celestial kingdom. But nobody becomes perfect in this life. Only the Lord Jesus attained that state, and he had an advantage that none of us has. He was the Son of God, and he came into this life with a spiritual capacity and a talent and an inheritance that exceeded beyond all comprehension what any of the rest of us was born with. Our revelations say that he was like unto God in the premortal life and he was, under the Father, the creator of worlds without number. That Holy Being was the Holy One of Israel anciently and he was the Sinless One in mortality. He lived a perfect life, and he set an ideal example. This shows that we can strive and go forward toward that goal, but no other mortal—not the greatest, prophets nor the mightiest apostles nor any of the righteous saints of any of the ages—has ever been perfect, but we must become perfect to gain a celestial inheritance. As it is with being born again, and as it is with sanctifying our souls, so becoming perfect in Christ is a process.

We begin to keep the commandments today, and we keep more of them tomorrow, and we go from grace to grace, up the steps of the ladder, and we thus improve and perfect our souls. We can become perfect in some minor things. We can be perfect in the payment of tithing. If we pay one-tenth of our interest annually into the tithing funds of the Church, if we do it year in and year out, and desire to do it, and have no intent to withhold, and if we would do it regardless of what arose in our lives, then in that thing we are perfect. And in that thing and to that extent we are living the law as well as Moroni or the angels from heaven could live it. And so degree by degree and step by step we start out on the course to perfection with the objective of becoming perfect as God our Heavenly Father is perfect, in which eventuality we become inheritors of eternal life in his kingdom.

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 phase 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. Even though we have spiritual rebirth ahead of us, perfection ahead of us, the full degree of sanctification ahead of us, if we chart a course and follow it to the best of our ability in this life, then when we go out of this life we’ll continue in exactly that same course. We’ll no longer be subject to the passions and the appetites of the flesh. We will have passed successfully the tests of this mortal probation and in due course we’ll get the fulness of our Father’s kingdom—and that means eternal life in his everlasting presence.

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.

---Taken from a BYU Speech in 1976 "Jesus Christ and Him Crucified"
page   1 2 next last
22 replies
David.Clark said Feb 28, 2017 03:56:25
Great talk, JulieK! It reminds me a lot of Elder Bednar's general conference talk from 2007. 🙂
Formerly known as Alabama LDS
David.Clark said Feb 28, 2017 04:13:23
One interesting point ... In his talk, Elder McConkie said the following:
But nobody becomes perfect in this life. Only the Lord Jesus attained that state, and he had an advantage that none of us has. He was the Son of God, and he came into this life with a spiritual capacity and a talent and an inheritance that exceeded beyond all comprehension what any of the rest of us was born with.

Some might believe that Jesus Christ had an advantage in avoiding sin and being perfect because His mortal father was God. I don't believe that Jesus had some inherit advantage because of who His father was and I don't believe that that is what Elder McConkie is trying to communicate. I had understood that He was born and had to grow grace for grace to figure out who He was and that He was subjected to and susceptible to every temptation we all face. He did not fall to temptation because of the person He had become before this life, the very God of this world (which is what I believe Elder McConkie is saying). Nothing was handed to Him or made easier because, otherwise, it would devalue His offering. At least, that is how I understood it.
Formerly known as Alabama LDS
JulieK said Feb 28, 2017 04:43:25
Thanks David! That's a great talk also. Bednar is such a great teacher. Both apostles emphasize how it's a process.

I like what Bednar said here:
"The boiling-water-bath procedure enables the pickles to be both protected and preserved over a long period of time. In a similar way, we progressively become purified and sanctified as you and I are washed in the blood of the Lamb, are born again, and receive the ordinances and honor the covenants that are administered by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

“Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God” (Helaman 3:35)."

It's a process that we work on, step by step.

Do you think that pride can be a stumbling block as we reach the next level?
JulieK said Feb 28, 2017 04:49:01
David, do you think that the glory that we each achieved in the premortal life gives us an advantage in this life over someone who didn't obtain the same glory?
David.Clark said Feb 28, 2017 05:19:56
Yes, JulieK, I truly believe that pride is the stumbling block. Looking at all the characteristics of pride, it's evident that pride is the embodiment of Satan. The polar opposite is also true ... charity is the embodiment of Christ.

Mormon, in Moroni 7:48, pleads with us to seek charity with all the energy of our souls because we will then be like Him and appear as He appears when He comes. Taking the converse of Moroni 7:48, to the extent we are prideful, we are like Lucifer, appear like him, and are only comfortable in some degree of darkness proportional to the degree of pride we possess.

This just struck me. I wonder if Mormon saying that we will appear like Christ if we have charity is because we would be devoid of any degree of darkness due to pride and, then, be light just like Christ. We then, if we are so blessed to receive charity through this sanctification process, would be comfortable in the light with Christ.
Formerly known as Alabama LDS
David.Clark said Feb 28, 2017 05:31:02
I believe we carry into this life the strengths and weaknesses our spirits had before this mortal life. So, yes. Similarly, the Book of Mormon teaches that we will be, in the next life, the sum total of who we become in this life.

There's also some interesting discussion about the "doctrine of election" in the Bible Dictionary (which you've probably looked at) that indicates that there is an advantage.

The tricky thing is we cannot judge necessarily based on a person's circumstances in this life whether he or she was born in favorable circumstances or not. So, we can't look at someone and assume that they were faithful or not in the premortal life based on the limited perspective we have as mortals.
[Last edited Feb 28, 2017 05:36:37]
Formerly known as Alabama LDS
JulieK said Feb 28, 2017 05:44:02
I have been thinking that as we progress on the path towards eternal life -- progressing one step at a time -- that we could easily be tempted into feelings of pride as we reach those goals. It could be a sealing in the temple, the Baptism of Fire, greater relationship with the Spirit, greater knowledge, etc.

I see pride many times in how some members feel "better than others" because of their membership in the LDS church, or some who are looked down on because they don't have the ideal family life or haven't been able to receive all of their ordinances yet. We have to remember to have humble gratitude for our spiritual blessings and our perceived location on the path because the scriptures continually warn that the first will be last and the last will be first.

I am aware of how pride can not only hurt the person who embodies it, but also those around them. As you said, the goal is to develop the pure love of Christ. This is something that has been on my mind of late --- the essential need to pray fervently for charity and to reject any thoughts that try to take seed in my heart that can lead to pride. That part is humbling and causes daily repentance. . .
AliciaBlickfeldt said Feb 28, 2017 05:45:49
One of Mike's podcasts addresses this very thing. I want to say that it's #2. He said the same thing that you said about election in the Bible dictionary.

Plus Joseph Smith said we would have the ADVANTAGE in the world to come through gaining more knowledge than others. Stands to reason that this pattern would be in place before we came to earth.
AliciaBlickfeldt said Feb 28, 2017 05:47:56
Glory to God in all we do and say Julie.

If we can only keep this at the forefront of our minds!
JulieK said Feb 28, 2017 05:54:14
David, I asked the question about having an advantage in this life based on the previous station we obtained because of the quote you shared by Elder McConkie:

But nobody becomes perfect in this life. Only the Lord Jesus attained that state, and he had an advantage that none of us has. He was the Son of God, and he came into this life with a spiritual capacity and a talent and an inheritance that exceeded beyond all comprehension what any of the rest of us was born with.

Yes, he did receive grace for grace, but he came into this mortal life with the advantage of having been a god in the premortal life. He created this world. He was the Jehovah of the Old Testament. He wasn't like everyone else. He did have an advantage.

Being half God was the only way that He could perform the atonement. It would have killed anyone else who was all mortal.

But what makes me stand in awe is that all Jesus ever did in His entire life was look to His Father and obeyed everything the Father asked of Him, even when it frightened Him so much that He asked 3 times if there could be another way. He did all of this for His love of the Father and also His love for all of God's children. The scope of it is overwhelming to even ponder.

I hope that I don't come across disagreeable, I just think that I'm perceiving it a little different than you expressed. Which is ok . . . we're both on the path of learning. What do you think?

EDIT: I just reread what you expressed about Christ not having the advantage of not falling to temptation and perhaps I'm not understanding you completely. We know that He had a higher advantage because of the doctrine of election -- how did this not give Him an advantage in not falling to temptation? Perhaps His temptations were a lot stronger because of His station.
[Last edited Feb 28, 2017 06:02:34]
David.Clark said Feb 28, 2017 06:47:58
Amen, Alicia!!

JulieK , thank you for this discussion! I'm sorry for not articulating myself well. 😔 I agree with all that you're saying!!

I've heard it said something like, "well, of course, Jesus was sinless, His father was God." The implication being that things were easy for Jesus because He was born with a silver spoon in His mouth. That perhaps the temptation to sin was alleviated somewhat for Him.

As I believe you noted, Christ's ability to live a sinless life was not because He was given an easier path. The fact that God the Father is His mortal father did not give Him, by itself, powers to not be tempted. Christ's ability to live a sinless life is because of His valiency before this life unto even becoming a member of the Godhead. The advantage He had, I believe, was due to His hard work previously and not from a silver spoon.

Certainly, Christ needed the Father to be His mortal father so He could have power over death and atone for our sins.

I think we're on the same page. 🙂
Formerly known as Alabama LDS
David.Clark said Feb 28, 2017 06:56:41
JulieK, regarding pride, I agree completely! I find that the more diligent I try to be, that Satan tries to turn it around on me where I'm silently patting myself on the back for doing or being this or that. I'm having to be ever on guard for that.

Normally, the Nephites became prideful as they were blessed leading to tribulations. There was an exception in which their prosperity led them to turn to the Lord in greater measure and to further humble themselves. That's the model I'd like to follow so that greater sanctification leads me to greater humility before the Lord.
Formerly known as Alabama LDS
David.Clark said Feb 28, 2017 21:08:18
Am I seeing it wrong with Christ and temptation? It would not be the first time I was wrong... 😉
Formerly known as Alabama LDS
JulieK said Feb 28, 2017 22:27:33
O no, David, the 2nd time you explained it I understood your meaning much better. Sometimes I hate communicating with the written word cause the meaning can get jumbled for me at times. Thanks for clarifying it. I believe that we are feeling the same about it.

Also, your thoughts on pride are equal to mine. I believe that we all need to be careful as we search for greater spirituality and obtain it that we maintain the submissiveness and humility that it took to obtain that next level of spirituality that we achieved.

I fear that if we take a moment and pat ourselves on the back that pride will slip itself into our hearts and start to harden our hearts to our own peril. The Book of Mormon does give us great examples of this. I can look back in my own life and see great examples also. Just when I'm feeling so on top of the world and proud of what I've accomplished something comes along to knock my knees out from under me again. I know that it's by the graciousness of God that I receive opposition at that point --- most likely because I've stop looking up to God and began to look at myself and caring more what others are thinking.
Rebecca-SeanZaugg said Feb 28, 2017 23:29:40
Thanks for posting this. This is my first time commenting on something but I'm very interested in the baptism of fire. I've listened to all of Mike stroud's podcasts and the one on baptism of fire in which he talks about it as a single experience but this quote tends to make it seem more like a gradual experience. What are your thoughts? I've been a lurker here for awhile and feel like I know many of you but have been nervous to post. Rebecca
Login below to reply: