Selected Teachings on
Eternal Life

Spencer W. Kimball (President)

If we are true and faithful, we shall rise, not alone in immortality but unto eternal life. Immortality is to live forever in an assigned kingdom. Eternal life is to gain exaltation in the highest heaven and live in the family unit. (Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 72)

Joseph Fielding Smith (President)

This plan of salvation is family centered. It leads to eternal life, and eternal life is the name of the kind of life which God, our Father, lives. This plan of salvation is designed to enable us to create eternal family units of our own which are patterned after the family of our Eternal Father. ("Sealing Power and Salvation," BYU, 1971)

Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)

Eternal life is the name of the kind of life which God lives and is therefore “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7); and because those who gain it become like God, they are one with him.  

Exaltation consists of an inheritance in the highest heaven of the celestial world, where alone the family unit continues and where each recipient gains for himself an eternal family unit, patterned after the family of God our Heavenly Father, so that every exalted person lives the kind of life which God lives and is therefore one with him….  

Thus, to be saved, to gain exaltation, to inherit eternal life, all mean to be one with God, to live as he lives, to think as he thinks, to act as he acts, to possess the same glory, the same power, the same might and dominion that he possesses.  

Thus also, the Father is the great Prototype of all saved beings, and he and his Son, who also has become a saved being, are the ones into whose "likeness" Joseph Smith said we should be "assimilated." (Lectures on Faith, cited in Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., 258.) (The Promised Messiah, 130-131)

After the Millennium ... [t]his earth will ... be an eternal heaven, and the meek, who are the God-fearing and the righteous, shall inherit it forever and ever.

In their state of glorious exaltation, earth's inhabitants will then be as their God. They will have eternal life, which consists of life in the family unit and the possession of the fulness of the power of the Almighty. This is the final day toward which all things point.

When the elect are exalted, when the family unit continues in the highest heaven of the celestial kingdom, when the Saints have spirit children in the resurrection, then the cycle begins again. It is, as it were, the age of the Sabbath, an eternal Sabbath in which there is rest from the toil and sorrow that went before.

Exalted parents are to their children as our Eternal Parents are to us. Eternal increase, a continuation of the seeds forever and ever, eternal lives—these comprise the eternal family of those who gain eternal life. For them new earths are created, and thus the on-rolling purposes of the Gods of Heaven go forward from eternity to eternity. (The Millennial Messiah, p. 22-23)

Eternal life is the name of the kind of life [God] lives. Those who so obtain become like him and are as he is. They live in the family unit and bear spirit children of their own; they have all power, all might, and all dominion. They know all things. He ordained and established the plan of salvation to enable them to advance and progress and become like him. It includes, first, an eternity of preparation as spirit beings in a premortal life. Then comes a mortal probation, on one of the earths provided, during which the faithful must remain in communication with their Father. They must receive revelation, see visions, enjoy the gifts of the Spirit, and know God, if they are to be saved. The plan of salvation is the same on all worlds and in all ages. (The Millennial Messiah, p. 37)

Our Heavenly Father has a name—He has many names, but one name that is of particular import and concern to us—and that is He is Eternal, THE ETERNAL. I’m not talking in the adjective sense, but in the noun sense. God is Eternal—that is His name. And so, in order to describe the kind of life that He lives, He has elected to take the particular name “Eternal” and add to it the word “life,” so that we’ll understand what kind of a life He lives. In consequence of which, Eternal Life is God’s life, or reversing it, God’s life is Eternal Life. They’re synonymous. (Ricks College Devotional, Nov. 1984)

When we as Latter-day Saints talk about marriage we are talking about a holy celestial order. We are talking about a system out of which can grow the greatest love, joy, peace, happiness, and serenity known to humankind. We are talking about creating a family unit that has the potential of being everlasting and eternal, a family unit where a man and a wife can go on in that relationship to all eternity, and where mother and daughter and father and son are bound by eternal ties that will never be severed. We are talking about creating a unit more important than the Church, more important than any organization that exists on earth or in heaven, a unit out of which exaltation and eternal life grow; and when we talk about eternal life, we are talking about the kind of life that God our Heavenly Father lives.

In this final glorious dispensation we have received the most basic truth of all eternity, and that truth concerns the nature and kind of being that God is. It is eternal life to know the Father and the Son (see John 17:3). There is no possible way to go degree by degree, step by step to the high exaltation we seek unless and until we come to a knowledge of the nature and kind of being that God is. Thus, when we talk about eternal life we are talking about the kind of life that God our Father lives; and when we speak of him we are speaking of a holy, perfected, exalted, ennobled man--an individual, a personage, a being with "a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's" (D&C 130:22). We are talking about someone who is a literal parent, who is the Father of the spirits of all men. You and I were born as members of his family. We have seen his face; we have heard his voice; we have received his counsel, personally as well as through representatives and agents; we knew him in the preexistence. Now a curtain has been dropped and we do not have the remembrance that we had then, but we are seeking to do the things that will enable us to be like him....

After he had begotten us as his spirit children, he gave us our agency, which is the power and ability to choose; he also gave us laws and allowed us to obey or disobey, in consequence of which we can and did develop talents, abilities, aptitudes, and characteristics of diverse sorts. He ordained and established a plan of salvation. It was named the gospel of God, meaning God our Heavenly Father, and it consisted of all of the laws, powers, and rights, all of the experiences, all of the gifts and graces needed to take us, his spirit sons and daughters, from our then-spirit state of low intelligence to the high, exalted state where we would be like him.

The Prophet Joseph Smith tells us that God himself, finding that he was in the midst of spirits and glory, ordained laws whereby they might advance and progress and become like him. Those laws included the creation of this earth; they included the receipt of a mortal body where we could be tried and tested in a probationary state and receive experiences impossible to gain in any other way; they included the opportunity to choose between right and wrong, to do good or to do evil, the opportunity to grow and advance in the things of the spirit; and they included the opportunity to enter into a marriage relationship that has the potential of being eternal. We started out on this course in the premortal life. Now we are down here taking the final examination for all the life that we lived back then, which also is the entrance examination for the realms and kingdoms that are ahead.

The name of the kind of life that God our Father lives is eternal life, and eternal life consists of two things: the continuation of the family unit in eternity; and an inheritance of what the scriptures denominate the fulness of the father or the fulness of the glory of the Father (see D&C 76:56), meaning the might, power, dominion, and exaltation that he himself possesses. In our finite circumstances we have no ability or power to comprehend the might and omnipotence of the Father. We can look at the stars in the heavens, we can view the Milky Way, we can see all the worlds and orbs that have been created in their spheres, we can examine all the life on this planet with which we are familiar, and by doing this we can begin to get a concept of the glorious, infinite, unlimited intelligence by which all these things are--and all these things taken together and more dramatize the fulness of the glory of the Father.

We are seeking eternal life--that is to say, we have been offered the privilege to go forward in advancement, as the children of God, until we become like our eternal Parent; and if we so attain it is required, it is requisite, it is mandatory for us to build on the foundation of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. It is required of us that we keep the commandments and sow the seeds of righteousness in order to reap the harvest of glory and honor. If we do all the things that the gospel requires of us we can make that kind of advancement. (Brigham Young University, 6 November 1977)

Brigham Young (President)

Eternal life is an inherent quality of the creature, and nothing but sin can put a termination to it. (Journal of Discourses, 10:22)