Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


In our pre-earth life, Heavenly Father called all of His children together and explained His plan for our eternal progression. He told us that if we followed His plan, we could become like Him, an exalted being. As part of His plan, we would need to leave His presence and come to earth for a time. He explained that this temporary separation was necessary in order that we might prove whether we would keep His commandments when we were no longer with Him. Another part of His plan provided that we would be judged and rewarded according to our faith and obedience.

The scriptures teach that there are three kingdoms of glory in heaven. In 2 Corinthians 12:2, the Apostle Paul mentioned that he knew a man who was “caught up to the third heaven.” Paul told us the names of two of the kingdoms in heaven: the celestial and the terrestrial (see 1 Corinthians 15:40-42). The celestial kingdom is the highest, and the terrestrial kingdom is second. The Lord revealed through latter-day revelation that the third kingdom is the telestial kingdom (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:81). We also know from latter-day revelation that the celestial kingdom has three heavens or degrees in it (see Doctrine and Covenants 131:1).

All those who prove faithful to the Lord will live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of heaven and will become exalted. They will live with Heavenly Father in eternal families. Exaltation is the greatest gift of God to His children (see Doctrine and Covenants 14:7).

Exaltation means to have eternal life or the kind of life that God lives. God is perfect and lives in great glory. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the Father of spirit children. He is a creator. If we are worthy of exaltation, we can become like our Heavenly Father.

Heavenly Father is perfect, and He created a perfect plan for the salvation of His children. He wants all of us to become like Him. His work and glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

By exercising faith in Jesus Christ, we can receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom as well as other special blessings. The Lord promised, “All things are theirs” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:59). Some of the special blessings given to exalted people are: 1) They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:62). 2) They will become gods (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:20-23). 3) They will be united eternally with their righteous family members and will be able to have eternal increase. 4) They will receive a fullness of joy. 5) They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have – all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20).

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to His commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fullness of the perfect day shall burst upon them” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols, [1954-56], 2:36; italics in original).

If we desire to receive exaltation and these special blessings, we must meet the requirements now (see Alma 34:32-34). President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “In order to obtain the exaltation we must accept the gospel and all its covenants; and take upon us the obligations which the Lord has offered; and walk in the light and the understanding of the truth; and `live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God’” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:43).

The first requirement for exaltation is to place our faith in Jesus Christ and continue in that faith to the end of our lives. We show our faith in Jesus Christ when we repent of our sins and obey His commandments. He commands us to receive certain ordinances. Those ordinances are: 1) We must be baptized. 2) We must receive the laying on of hands to be confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 3) Brethren must receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and magnify their callings in the priesthood. 4) We must receive the temple endowment. 5) We must be married for eternity, either in this life or in the next.

Other commandments besides the required ordinances are: 1) Love God and our neighbors. 2) Keep the commandments. 3) Repent of our wrongdoings. 4) Search out our kindred dead and receive the saving ordinances of the gospel for them. 5) Attend our Church meetings as regularly as possible in order to renew our baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament. 6) Love our family members and strengthen them in the ways of the Lord. 7) Have family and individual prayers every day. 8) Teach the gospel to others by word and deed. 9) Study the scriptures. 10) Listen to and obey the inspired words of the prophets of the Lord. 11) Receive the Holy Ghost and learn to follow His promptings to us.

To all those who are faithful disciples of Christ to the end of their mortal lives, the Lord promises, “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” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7. President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “If we will continue in God; that is, keep his commandments, worship him and live his truth; then the time will come when we shall be bathed in the fullness of truth, which shall grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained how to achieve exaltation: “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel – you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 268).

The Prophet Joseph Smith also taught: “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God. … He was once a man like us; … God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 345-346).

Heavenly Father loves each of His children. He desires all of us to return to Him. He knows our trials as well as our weaknesses and sins. He has compassion for our struggles and offers mercy to us. He wants us to succeed like He did. I can imagine the great joy felt by those who return home to our Father and hear Him say, “Well done…; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23).

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