At the LDS Church’s most recent General Conference held in Salt Lake City a little over a week ago, Elaine Dalton took the stand. Directing her remarks to the general membership of the Church, Mrs. Dalton delivered a talk she entitled, “Look toward Eternity!“Near the beginning of her talk, Mrs. Dalton asked,
Do you understand why it is so important to remain clean and pure?…I desire for every young man and woman, every young adult, and indeed each one of us to feel and know the importance of living a worthy and pure life. It is our personal worthiness that will qualify us to fulfill our individual earthly missions.
Mrs. Dalton identified our “earthly mission”: making the choices that will enable us to return to Heavenly Father’s presence and claim all the blessings He has in store for us.
It is, therefore, our personal worthiness that will qualify us to spend eternity in the presence of God.
In her talk Mrs. Dalton gave a nod to the need for Jesus Christ and faith:
It is through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that we can resist temptation. Our faith will enable us to shun evil.
To become unspotted from the world requires not only faith, but repentance and obedience. We must live the standards and do those things which will entitle us to the constant companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost…
Personal worthiness is essential to enter His holy temples and to ultimately become heirs to “all [the] Father hath.” … we can confidently enter the holy temples of God with a knowledge that we are worthy to go where the Lord Himself goes. When we are worthy, we can not only enter the temple, the temple can enter us. The Lord’s promises of salvation and happiness become ours… (emphasis retained from the original)
So the bottom line (for a Mormon) when looking toward eternity is personal worthiness. It is necessary to be clean and pure by one’s own merits. Our choices, our obedience, our purity, our worthiness will “qualify” and “entitle” us to go where the Lord goes and receive salvation.
Apparently, though grace through God’s mercy is available, it’s not a good idea to count on it.
According to Mrs. Dalton, she and her husband were given counsel on their wedding day from LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Always live in such a way that when you need the Lord’s blessings, you can call upon Him and receive them because you are worthy. There will come times in your life when you will need immediate blessings. You will need to live in such a way that they will be granted–not out of mercy but because you are worthy.”
President Hinckley’s counsel is antithetical to the teachings of the New Testament. There the apostles put God’s mercy at the very heart of His blessings and promise of eternal life. Consider these passages:
- It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:16)
- When the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works or righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
- Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 1:21)
Mrs. Dalton expressed her gratitude for the counsel given her by President Hinckley:
Daily, these holy habits and righteous routines have helped steady us on the path that leads back into our Father’s presence. And today I say, “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter-days.”
I, too, am filled with deep gratitude, but not for a prophet who’s unbiblical pronouncements place me under the heavy burden of making myself worthy of Heaven. I am thankful for the sure promises of God found in His Holy Word. With King David I wholeheartedly throw myself upon the astonishing mercy of Almighty God:
listen to my cry for mercy;
in Your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
Do not bring Your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before You…
Let the morning bring me word
of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
-from Psalm 143-