My thoughts this week have been on the next life and eternity because I learned that a beloved sister-in-law passed away a week or so ago. I suppose that my brother was there to escort her into the next life, but I do not know. They married “until death do us part” instead of “for time and all eternity.” Therefore, their marriage ended when he died sixteen years ago because they had not been sealed as husband and wife for eternity. I do not know what authority he could use to claim her except his love for her. Is love enough? I do not know!
The Lord has made it plainly known that marriage can be for eternity, but the marriage must be performed here on earth by proper priesthood authority and in a House of the Lord, otherwise known as a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Russell M. Nelson, sustained as prophet, seer, and revelator by more than 16 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ, spoke on this topic in the April 2019 General Conference of the Church. He first spoke about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and how it affects you and me.
The Spirit in each of us naturally yearns for family love to last forever. Love songs perpetuate a false hope that love is all you need if you want to be together forever. And some erroneously believe that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ provides a promise that all people will be with their loved ones after death.
In truth, the Savior Himself has made it abundantly clear that while His Resurrection assures that every person who ever lived will indeed be resurrected and live forever, much more is required if we want to have the high privilege of exaltation. Salvation is an individual matter, but exaltation is a family matter.
When Jesus Christ was resurrected He overcame the power of death for Himself and all mankind. We can all be resurrected because He overcame death and was the first to be resurrected. When we are resurrected, our body and spirit will be reunited and will never separate again. We will be immortal because we will never die. This is known as salvation, or living for all eternity. President Nelson said that we work out our salvation individually and exaltation as a family and then continues with these words.
Listen to these words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ to His prophet: “All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise … are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:7).
So, what is required for a family to be exalted forever? We qualify for that privilege by making covenants with God, keeping those covenants, and receiving essential ordinances.
This has been true since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve, Noah and his wife, Abraham and Sarah, Lehi and Sariah, and all other devoted disciples of Jesus Christ – since the world was created – have made the same covenants with God. They have received the same ordinances that we as members of the Lord’s restored Church today have made: those covenants that we receive at baptism and in the temple.
The Savior invites all to follow Him into the waters of baptism and, in time, to make additional covenants with God in the temple and receive and be faithful to those further essential ordinances. All these are required if we want to be exalted with our families and with God forever….
My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ invites us to take the covenant path back home to our Heavenly Parents and be with those we love. He invites us to “come, follow me.”
My beloved brother and his wife did not follow Jesus Christ enough to go to the temple to be married for time and eternity. They were married for time only, and their marriage ended at death. Is there any hope that they can be together for eternity? Yes, there is, but it will take time. A year from now their children can take the names of their parents to the temple and perform the necessary ordinances by proxy for their parents. Then, the marriage for eternity will be in force if the parents choose to accept the ordinances.
I feel that my brother has been studying and learning for the past sixteen years and is now prepared to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to his wife. If she listens and accepts the gospel and its conditions, she will be prepared for the day when the children, acting as proxies for their parents, have the eternal marriage performed. Then the children can be sealed to their parents and become a family unit sealed together for eternity.
The Lord desires that all of us follow the covenant path and are sealed into the eternal family of Adam and Eve. However, he leaves that choice to each of us. When we choose to marry for eternity, we can enjoy some of the blessings of eternity right here in this life. If we choose to not perform the ceremony for ourselves, we lose blessings here and risk losing blessings for eternity. Jesus said, “Come, follow me,” and He meant for us to follow Him along the covenant path until we are back into the presence our Heavenly Parents to live with them for all eternity.