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President Nelson invites all to have an eternal perspective and ‘think celestial’

‘Your choices today will determine three things: where you will live throughout all eternity, the kind of body with which you will be resurrected and those with whom you will live forever. So, think celestial’

In the final moments of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, Oct. 1, President Russell M. Nelson shared what he has learned in nearly a century of living. 

“I have learned that Heavenly Father’s plan for us is fabulous, that what we do in this life really matters and that the Savior’s Atonement is what makes our Father’s plan possible,” he said.

After a recent fall that injured the muscles in his lower back, President Nelson, 99, participated remotely in the conference. His talk was prerecorded and, because of his injury, was delivered sitting down. During the message he also announced 20 new temple locations.

With the pain of his recent injury, President Nelson said he has “felt even deeper appreciation for Jesus Christ and the incomprehensible gift of His Atonement. … During my healing, the Lord has manifested His divine power in peaceful and unmistakable ways.”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks through video message during the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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An understanding of “God’s fabulous plan” takes “the mystery out of life and the uncertainty out of our future. It allows each of us to choose how we will live here on earth and where we will live forever.”

President Nelson shared the great news of God’s plan: “The very things that will make your mortal life the best it can be are exactly the same things that will make your life throughout all eternity the best it can be,” he said. “Today, to assist you to qualify for the rich blessings Heavenly Father has for you, I invite you to adopt the practice of ‘thinking celestial.’ Thinking celestial means being spiritually minded. ...

“Mortality is a master class in learning to choose the things of greatest eternal import,” said President Nelson. “Far too many people live as though this life is all there is. However, your choices today will determine three things: where you will live throughout all eternity, the kind of body with which you will be resurrected and those with whom you will live forever. So, think celestial.”

President Nelson noted that in his first message as President of the Church — shared on Jan. 16, 2018, from the annex of the Salt Lake Temple — he encouraged listeners to “begin with the end in mind. This means making the celestial kingdom your eternal goal and then carefully considering where each of your decisions while here on earth will place you in the next world.”

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President Nelson invited Latter-day Saints, when making choices, to “take the long view — an eternal view.

Eternal life is dependent on faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and on obedience to His laws, said President Nelson. The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob taught that “to be spiritually minded is life eternal” (see 2 Nephi 9:39).

“Obedience paves the way for a joyful life for you today and a grand, eternal reward tomorrow,” President Nelson said. “When you are confronted with a dilemma, think celestial. When tested by temptation, think celestial. When life or loved ones let you down, think celestial. When someone dies prematurely, think celestial. When someone lingers with a devastating illness, think celestial.  When the pressures of life crowd in upon you, think celestial. As you recover from an accident or injury, as I am doing now, think celestial.

As Church members focus on thinking celestial, they can expect to encounter opposition, he taught.

“As you think celestial, your heart will gradually change. You will want to pray more often and more sincerely,” President Nelson said. “ … His response to your prayers may surprise you and will help you to think celestial.”

Prayers shouldn’t sound like a shopping list. “Our prayers can be — and should be — living discussions with our Heavenly Father,” he said. 

Thinking celestial will lead to avoiding anything that takes away agency, such as addiction, President Nelson said. 

President Russell M. Nelson speaks through video message during the 193rd Semiannual General Conference.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks through video message during the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“Any addiction — be it gaming, gambling, debt, drugs, alcohol, anger, pornography, sex or even food — offends God. Why? Because your obsession becomes your god. You look to it, rather than to Him, for solace. If you struggle with an addiction, seek the spiritual and professional help you need. Please do not let an obsession rob you of your freedom to follow God’s fabulous plan.”

Thinking celestial will also help members obey the law of chastity, he said. “Few things will complicate your life more quickly than violating this divine law. For you who have made covenants with God, immorality is one of the quickest ways to lose your testimony.”

Many of the adversary’s most relentless temptations involve violations of moral purity, said President Nelson. “The power to create life is the one privilege of godhood that Heavenly Father allows His mortal children to exercise. Thus, God set clear guidelines for the use of this living divine power. Physical intimacy is only for a man and a woman who are married to each other.”

Much of the world does not believe this, “but public opinion is not the arbiter of truth,” he said. “The Lord has declared that no unchaste person will attain the celestial kingdom. So, when you make decisions regarding morality, please think celestial. And if you have been unchaste, I plead with you to repent. Come unto Christ and receive His promise of complete forgiveness as you fully repent of your sins.””

Thinking celestial will allow individuals to see trials and opposition in a new light, and faith will increase. “When someone you love attacks truth, think celestial, and don’t question your testimony,” he taught. 

President Nelson encouraged listeners to be prepared for deceptions from the adversary. 

“Seek guidance from voices you can trust — from prophets, seers and revelators and from the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, who ‘will show unto you [the] things what ye should do’ (2 Nephi 32:5). Please do the spiritual work to increase your capacity to receive personal revelation.” 

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks through video message during the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

President Nelson promised that the faith of those who think celestial will increase. 

“When I was a young intern, my income was $15 a month. One night, my wife Dantzel asked me if I were paying tithing on that meager stipend. I was not. I quickly repented and began paying the additional $1.50 in monthly tithing. Was the Church any different because we increased our tithing? Of course not. However, becoming a full-tithe payer changed me. That is when I learned that paying tithing is all about faith, not money. As a full-tithe payer, the windows of heaven began to open for me. I attribute several subsequent professional opportunities to our faithful payment of tithes.”

Paying tithing requires faith, and it also builds faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ, said President Nelson. “Choosing to live a virtuous life in a sexualized, politicized world builds faith. Spending more time in a temple builds faith. And your service and worship in the temple will help you to think celestial.”

“The temple is a place of revelation,” President Nelson taught. “There you are shown how to progress toward a celestial life. There you are drawn closer to the Savior and given greater access to His power. There you are guided in solving the problems in your life, even your most perplexing problems. 

“The ordinances and covenants of the temple are of eternal significance.”

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