- Understand true destiny
- Includes significant differences
Eternal life, to Latter-day Saints, means family life with a loving Father in Heaven and with progenitors and posterity, said Elder Dallin H. Oaks in the Sunday afternoon session.
Elder Oaks of the Council of the Twelve explained: "This is a family-centered Church, in doctrine and practice. Our understanding of the nature and purpose of God the Eternal Father explains our destiny and our relationship in His eternal family.
"Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them. Under the merciful plan of the Father, all of this is possible through the Atonement of the Only Begotten of the Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
"As earthly parents we participate in the gospel plan by providing mortal bodies for the spirit children of God," he said. "The fullness of eternal salvation is a family affair."
Elder Oaks explained that the restored truths of the gospel include significant differences from the doctrines of other Christian denominations. These differences explain why the Church sends missionaries to other Christians.
"In common with the rest of Christianity, we believe in a Godhead that consists of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost," said Elder Oaks. "However, we testify that these three members of the Godhead are three separate and distinct beings. We also testify that God the Father is not just a spirit but a glorified person with a tangible body, as is His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ."
He said that the original Bible teachings on this subject confirm this doctrine, but many Christians today believe God is a spirit, and that the Godhead is only one God. These concepts are attributable to Greek philosophy and were adopted into their theology in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicea, which was convened by the Emperor Constantine.
"Other councils followed and from their decisions and the writings of churchmen and philosophers there came a synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine in which the orthodox Christians of that day lost the fullness of the truth about the nature of God and the Godhead."
Subsequently, apostate belief in an abstract incomprehensible deity replaced belief in a tangible, personal God, said Elder Oaks.
The First Vision of Joseph Smith provided knowledge that was essential to understanding the purpose of mortal life.
"We believe that the purpose of mortal life is to acquire a physical body and, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, to qualify for the glorified, resurrected celestial state that is called exaltation or eternal life."
He explained the degrees of glory that awaits following the final judgment, and that even the least of these "surpasses all understanding."