This life is the time to prepare for salvation and exaltation. In God’s eternal plan, salvation is an individual matter; exaltation is a family matter. (Russell M. Nelson, “Salvation and Exaltation,” Ensign, May 2008, 7–10)
Let’s take a look at the definition of salvation: “In the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the terms “saved” and “salvation” have various meanings. As used in Romans 10:9-10, the words “saved” and “salvation” signify a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. Through this covenant relationship, followers of Christ are assured salvation from the eternal consequences of sin if they are obedient.”
Salvation is entirely up to each one of us, individually. A covenant relationship with Jesus Christ is something precious given to us by the Lord. When we left our heavenly home we set forth on this mortal journey with great excitement and energy, determined to accomplish the purposes of our mortal probation. Before leaving we made promises, covenants, with our Savior. Things that we promised to accomplish on His behalf. For example, we may have made promises to:
- Marry and raise a family up unto God, or
- To teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, or
- To mentor parentless or single parent children, or
- To live our lives in such a way as to emulate Jesus Christ, or
- To be a true and loyal friend, or
- To be a mother, or
- To be a father, or
- To be a scientist who cures disease, or
- To be a doctor who save lives, or
The possibilities are literally endless. The greatest promise we made was to reach the fullest of our potential as children of God. This is where salvation is dependent on us. How badly do we want to return to Jesus Christ?
First and foremost, we must have faith that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God. We must have faith that He is our Savior and Redeemer. Elder Nelson tells us:
The development of faith in the Lord is an individual matter. Repentance is also an individual matter. Only as an individual can one be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. Each of us is born individually; likewise, each of us is “born again” individually. Salvation is an individual matter. (Ibid Elder Russell M. Nelson)
In other words, it us up to us to make the best of what our Father in Heaven has given us. He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem the world . . . all the children of God, no matter when or where they’ve lived, live or have yet to live. No matter their race, culture, creed or religion, Jesus Christ is the Messiah to us all.
Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, even accepted Him as real as you or I, then it is our job to become better people.
Once we have become all we can become, individually, it is time to continue the progression on to exaltation, which is indeed, a family matter. We cannot become exalted until we are part of a family, our family. The definition of exaltation is: “Eternal life is the phrase used in scripture to define the quality of life that our Eternal Father lives. The Lord declared, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Immortality is to live forever as a resurrected being. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone will receive this gift. Eternal life, or exaltation, is to live in God’s presence and to continue as families (see D&C 131:1–4). Like immortality, this gift is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, to inherit eternal life requires our “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3).”
Mormons believe deeply and strongly in the eternal family. It is one of the greatest parts of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. It is the thing that keeps us moving forward through all obstacles, trials and tragedies . . . the thought that we can be with our family forever and do so in the presence of God is truly a goal worth fighting for.
Elder Nelson tell us:
Individual progression is fostered in the family, which is “central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” The home is to be God’s laboratory of love and service. There a husband is to love his wife, a wife is to love her husband, and parents and children are to love one another.
Throughout the world, the family is increasingly under attack. If families fail, many of our political, economic, and social systems will also fail. And if families fail, their glorious eternal potential cannot be realized.
Our Heavenly Father wants husbands and wives to be faithful to each other and to esteem and treat their children as an heritage from the Lord. In such a family we study the scriptures and pray together. And we fix our focus on the temple. There we receive the highest blessings that God has in store for His faithful children. (Ibid)
Our family units on earth are patterned after the eternal family we left behind, in heaven. When an apostle of the Lord tells us that the family is central to exaltation, the greatest level a child of God can reach, then it is a very important thing to remember. Through the power of prayer we are able to gain the strength and courage we need to keep moving forward.
Family means love. Family means support. Family means strength. Family means courage. Family means . . . everything.
Resurrection, or immortality, comes to every man and every woman as an unconditional gift.
Eternal life, or celestial glory or exaltation, is a conditional gift. Conditions of this gift have been established by the Lord, who said, “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.” Those qualifying conditions include faith in the Lord, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and remaining faithful to the ordinances and covenants of the temple. (Ibid)
Do not fear if you are alone. The Lord knows the true intent of your heart and although life may seem lonely at this time, you truly have only to live up to the potential of being a child of God and leave the rest in the hands of God. You are descended of a long line of ancestors, going back to Adam and Eve, who will stand with you in the eternities. Your job is simply to do all you can to become the person God needs you to be, keep your heart and mind open to the possibilities He will present to you and trust that you are in His care. Despite all the world presents to you, trust in Jesus Christ. Trust that family is eternal.
If family is not in the future for you, families can be formed through the bonds of friendship as well as through the bonds of church members. Trust that the Lord will place people in your path who will help you to ease the sorrow. On your knees, if you will pour your heart out and listen, I mean really listen, then the Savior will offer that comfort you need until your eternal family bonds are formed.
Simply believe, that through your attained salvation, exaltation can be found if you have not walked away from the opportunities the Lord has placed in your path.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you. They love you more than you can possibly know or ever understand. A way and path has been provided, through Jesus Christ, to find our way back to our heavenly home and that exaltation, and family, awaits.