The fullness of the doctrine of Christ teaches that Heavenly Father loves His children so much that He wants all to live in a kingdom of glory forever — more specifically, to live with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, eternally.
“His plan gives us the teachings and the opportunity to make the choices that will assure us the destiny and the life we choose,” said President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, on Saturday morning, Sept. 30. “All of this is the result of our Heavenly Father’s loving plan for His children.”
In his concluding message of the opening session of October 2023 general conference, President Oaks detailed the kingdoms of glory that await God’s children after mortal life, adding that “the gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”
“Under that loving plan, there are multiple kingdoms — many mansions — so that all of God’s children will inherit a kingdom of glory whose laws they can comfortably abide.”
The revealed doctrine of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all the children of God — with limited exceptions — will ultimately inherit one of three kingdoms of glory, even the least of which “surpasses all understanding” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:89), President Oaks said.
The three kingdoms — celestial, terrestrial and telestial, as taught by the apostle Paul and the Prophet Joseph Smith — are inherited by God’s children according to the desires manifested through their choices.
The celestial kingdom has its own three degrees of glory, the highest being exaltation — dwelling in the presence of God and Christ forever.
God’s plan, founded on eternal truth, requires that exaltation can be attained only through faithfulness to the covenants of an eternal marriage between a man and a woman in the holy temple, which marriage will ultimately be available to all the faithful, President Oaks taught.
“That is why we teach that ‘gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose,’” he said, underscoring the Church’s “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
The gospel is more than to be learned — it is to be lived. President Oaks explained that it isn’t enough to be merely convinced of the gospel but for one to act so he or she is converted by it. Rather than just to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges its disciples to become something.
The Final Judgment, he continued, is not an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts — or what one has done — but in fact is based on the final effect of acts and thoughts — what one has become through conversion.
“The commandments, ordinances and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account,” he said. “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become. ...
“Because of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, when we fall short in this life, we can repent and rejoin the covenant path that leads to what our Heavenly Father desires for us,” President Oaks said.
Much is still to be learned of the three major periods in the plan of salvation — the premortal spirit world, mortality and the next life — and their relationship to one another, he said.
But, he emphasized these eternal truths:
- “Salvation is an individual matter, but exaltation is a family matter,” he said, quoting President Russell M. Nelson.
- “We have a loving Heavenly Father who will see that His children receive every blessing and every advantage that our own desires and choices allow.”
- He will force no one into a sealing relationship against his or her will. “The blessings of a sealed relationship are assured for all who keep their covenants, but never by forcing a sealed relationship on another person who is unworthy or unwilling.”
President Oaks concluded: “I testify of the truth of these things. I testify of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ‘author and the finisher of [our] faith’ (Moroni 6:4), whose Atonement, under the plan of our Father in Heaven, makes it all possible.”