In its article under the heading “Eternal Life,” lds.org describes eternal life as “the quality of life that our Eternal Father lives”. Heavenly Father, our Eternal Father, is the Father of our spirits and will live forever. In Moses 1:39, Moses sees a grand vision. In his vision, the Lord says to Moses, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” However, there is a difference between immortality and eternal life.
Immortality and Eternal Life
Immortality means to live forever as a resurrected being. Immortality is a beautiful gift that will be given to every single one of Heavenly Father’s children; everyone who lives on earth, or who has lived on earth, will receive immortality. Jesus Christ overcame physical death and was the first person ever resurrected. Through the Atonement, we all will be resurrected and have immortality.
Eternal life, sometimes called “exaltation” in scripture, means to not only be immortal, but to live in God’s presence and have families eternally. The kingdoms of heaven do not share equally in the glory of God. Exalted people enjoy a fulness of His glory. The Doctrine and Covenants states that eternal life is “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). Those who gain eternal life will live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ forever. They will also be with their families—children, spouses—forever. This amazing gift is also possible through Jesus Christ’s Atonement, but also requires us to obey the God’s laws and ordinances while on earth.
Receiving Eternal Life
Nephi, a prophet in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, explains what is required of us in order to receive eternal life. Nephi states that the first step is following the example of Jesus Christ to be baptized and receive “a remission of [our] sins.” Nephi teaches that after baptism, we have entered the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:17-18). However, after entering the path, we must continue to walk down it. We must “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” We must “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end,” and then, “thus saith the father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).
In addition to being baptized, there are other covenants, or promises, we must make here on earth in order to receive eternal life. We must also make sacred covenants in holy temples, including the covenant of marriage. These covenants are very important; without them, we cannot receive eternal life. Our covenants are also eternal, meaning they can last forever, as can the marriage and family that are bound within the covenant.
Endure to the End
We can’t receive eternal life in an instant. Gaining a testimony isn’t enough; being baptized isn’t enough. As Nephi said, we must “endure to the end.” Qualifying for eternal life is done every day, with the good desires of our hearts, and the small acts of love, service, and obedience we give to our Father in Heaven and to His children. We can’t have a marathon of obedience, followed by an absolute disregard for His commandments, and expect to gain eternal life. We must continually strive to follow the counsel of Nephi to feast on the word of God, or the scriptures, and to love God and all people.
Eternal life is the gift we all are striving for. It’s the reason we are here on earth—to gain a body, be tested, and eventually return to God’s presence, which is eternal life. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called the Mormon Church, we strive each day to qualify for eternal life. We make sacred covenants with God, at baptism and in the holy temple to help us reach our goal of eternal life. We proclaim the gospel to the world in order to bring others to eternal life. We mostly strive to become more like God and to do His will. In so doing, we become better and kinder. At the judgment seat of God, it will be more important who we’ve become and not what we’ve done.
Sometimes it can seem daunting to endure to the end. The word “endure” makes it sound really hard. But that’s the way life is supposed to be—if it weren’t, our faith and testimonies would never grow. We have many tools and guides to help us endure to the end and gain eternal life, including scriptures, prayer, living prophets, and the temple. Heavenly Father loves us all, and wants us to have eternal life.