“An Eternal Hope in Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1978, 71
My dear brothers and sisters, we came together to wait upon the Lord, to be cleansed and edified by his Spirit, and to know in our hearts the spirit of true worship.
We have not been disappointed. The Lord has been with us by the power of his Spirit, and it has been good for us to be here.
I hope we will go forth now, believing the doctrines that have been preached, taking the counsels of the Brethren, and basking in the same spirit that has uplifted and edified us while here.
Let us conclude in a tone of testimony and in the spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving to him whose we are, who has given us all that we have, and in whose work we are engaged.
Our beloved brother Paul, after acclaiming “that Christ died for our sins …
“And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures,” then said:
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:3–4, 19).
Then he taught and testified that even as Christ is risen from the dead, so will all men come forth from the grave; each will then be judged according to his works, and each will receive his appointed place in the mansions which are prepared.
In that resurrected state, Paul said, there are “celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial, and bodies telestial; but the glory of the celestial, one; and the terrestrial, another; and the telestial, another” (JST, 1 Cor. 15:40).
Now this system of revealed religion which has come to us by revelation is a very practical religion. It deals with flocks and herds and properties; it teaches us how to get along with each other here and now; it is a way of life that turns a dreary and drab mortal existence into a glorious and exhilarating experience.
But it is much more than this. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the eternal plan of salvation. It is the plan devised and announced by God, the Eternal Father, for the salvation of all who will believe and obey.
We are eternal beings. We have no way of comprehending how long we dwelt in the presence of God as his spirit children. We are here in mortality for a moment of testing and trial. Then we will come forth in the resurrection, receive an inheritance in whatever kingdom we deserve, and go on living the commandments to all eternity.
This life consists of a brief yesterday, a few short hours of today, and a few moments tomorrow. The oldest men among us scarcely live longer than a hundred years. But the life that is to be is forever. It will have no end. Men will rise from the grave and not die after. Life is eternal, unending; never after the resurrection will the children of our Father taste death.
We have a hope in Christ here and now. He died for our sins. Because of him and his gospel, our sins are washed away in the waters of baptism; sin and iniquity are burned out of our souls as though by fire; and we become clean, have clear consciences, and gain that peace which passeth understanding. (See Philip. 4:7.)
By living the laws of his gospel, we gain temporal prosperity and maintain health of body and strength of mind. The gospel blesses us today.
But today is just a grain of sand in the Sahara of eternity. We have also a hope in Christ for the eternity that lies ahead; otherwise, as Paul said, we would be “of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).
How great would be our sorrow—and justly so—if there were no resurrection! How miserable we would be if there were no hope of life eternal! If our hope of salvation and eternal reward should fade away, we would certainly be more miserable than those who never had such an expectancy.
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20).
Now the effects of his resurrection shall pass upon all men, “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
Now “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49).
Now provision has been made whereby “this corruptible shall … put on incorruption, and this mortal shall … put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54).
Then shall all men stand before the bar of the great Jehovah to be judged according to the deeds done in the flesh.
Those who have lived after the manner of the world shall go to a telestial kingdom whose glory is as the stars.
Those who have been decent and upright and who have lived respectable and good lives will go to a terrestrial kingdom whose glory is as the moon.
Those who have believed in Christ, who have forsaken the world, who have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide and been willing to lay their all on the altar, those who have kept the commandments of God—they shall go to a celestial kingdom whose glory is as the sun.
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Paul asks. (1 Cor. 15:55).
There is no victory in the grave, for death is replaced with life. Immortality is a free gift for all men through the atoning ransom paid by the Son of God.
But, Paul says, “The sting of death is sin,” meaning that if men die in their sins, they will suffer the prescribed penalty and gain a lesser glory in the realms ahead (1 Cor. 15:56).
“But thanks be to God,” the ancient apostle continues, “which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
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.
And so Paul exhorts the Saints:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
We have an eternal hope in Christ. We know this life is given us to prepare for eternity, “and that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy” (D&C 130:2).
We believe, and it is our testimony, and we proclaim it to the world “that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17).
We know, and it is our testimony, and we also proclaim it to the world that to be saved men must “believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:18).
Thus, with Nephi, “we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Ne. 25:23, 26; italics added.)
Also, with Nephi, we know the course all men must pursue to gain an eternal hope.
“The right way,” he said, “is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Ne. 25:29).
We glory with Paul in these words spoken of our beloved Lord: in him “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
“And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” (Col. 1:14–19.)
And again with Paul we say:
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philip. 2:9–12.)
Now, relive with me this beautiful testimony of Peter:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:13–18.)
To the testimonies of these mighty men and apostles of old—our brethren in the ministry of the same Master—I add my own testimony. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
He is my friend, my Savior, my Lord, my God.
With all my heart I pray that the Saints may keep his commandments, have his Spirit, and gain an eternal inheritance with him in celestial glory.
My beloved brethren and sisters, as we come to the final moments of these glorious two days together, my heart goes out to you in love and gratitude. Everywhere I go, there is a great outpouring of love and kindness, and for that I am humbly thankful. It is manna to my soul. Your prayers and your love sustain me. The Lord hears your prayers and blesses me and my Brethren with health and strength and directs us in the affairs of his kingdom here upon the earth. For this all of us are deeply grateful.
In return, I extend to you my love and grateful thanks. As you return to your wards and stakes, your missions, and to your individual homes around the world, I pray our Heavenly Father to bless you and your families. Let the messages and spirit of this conference radiate and find expression in all that you do henceforth—in your homes, in your work, in your meetings, and in all your comings and goings. Let us be better Latter-day Saints now than we have ever been before. I pray the Lord to bless you; and as his servant, I bless you and bid you a fond farewell.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.