Exaltation is eternal life—the kind of life God lives. Heavenly Father's plan enables his children to return to live with Him forever as exalted beings, ultimately becoming gods. This concept does not belittle the power of God. All Christians know that Christ promises to give all he has to those who are willing to repent and follow him. If Christ is willing to give all he has to those who inherit eternal life, what is it he bestows on them? Glory? Certainly, but what else?
- And then shall the angels be crowned with the glory of his might, and the saints shall be filled with his glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him (emphasis added) (Doctrine and Covenants 88:107).
What does it mean to become equal with Christ? It means to become like him. To become god-like means to qualify for exaltation, progress in knowledge, and to develop in the eternities the power to create. This is God's purpose—to lead His children back into His presence where they can be like Him.
- For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39).
Opposition and Agency
On this earth there is opposition for a reason. Man must have his agency. Man has the freedom to choose between good and evil. The Lord has proclaimed his gospel through prophets and scripture and continually strives with man.
- Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
- And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit (2 Ne. 2: 27-29).
To choose to believe in Christ is not enough to gain eternal life. The believer must press on in righteousness, enduring in righteousness, repenting of sins and transgressions, and exercising charity towards his fellow men.
- For 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 (emphasis added) (2 Nephi 25:23).
- And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
- Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life (2 Ne. 31: 18, 20).
The Power of the Atonement
Central to His plan is the atonement of Jesus Christ. Exaltation is only possible through the merciful grace of Christ's infinite atonement. The atonement of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift ever given to mankind, and the most important single event in human history. During the atoning sacrifice of our loving Savior, he suffered the punishment for all of the sins of mankind. Because of this payment to the demands of the eternal law of justice, the atonement of Jesus Christ provides a way so that men and women may repent of all their sins and become "perfect in Christ." Exaltation means becoming perfect even as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are perfect, not through one's own power or ability but through the power and authority that Jesus Christ has been given by Heavenly Father.
Exaltation Brings a Fulness of Joy
Exalted beings receive a fulness of joy, love, knowledge, and power, and live in eternal family relationships. They dwell in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and rejoice with them in everlasting celestial life.
John the Revelator saw visions of the end of the world and of the glories of exaltation. He wrote of the Savior's promises to the faithful in the following passages:
- Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name (Revelation 3:12).
- Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne (Revelation 3:20 - 21).
- He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son (Revelation 21:7).
It is impossible for mortal man to understand the feelings of joy and love that exalted beings will have, but Mormons believe that all men and women ought to make every possible effort to study Christ's teachings, follow his example, and prepare themselves to live as John also describes:
- Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure (1 John 3:2 - 3).
The pure and innocent (repentant) of mankind will be exalted. Also, little children are not old enough to understand how to repent. They are saved and exalted through the power of Christ's atonement:
- They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.
- And these are those who have part in the first resurrection; and these are they that have died before Christ came, in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them. And thus the Lord bringeth about the restoration of these; and they have a part in the first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord.
- And little children also have eternal life (Mosiah 15: 23-25).