Feeling Lucky? The Probability of Exaltation

I just read Odds Are, You’re Going to be Exalted by LDS author Alonzo L. Gaskill (2008, Deseret Book). In this slim volume Mr. Gaskill seeks to reassure Latter-day Saints that even though they are not actually doing “all [they] can do” (2 Nephi 25:23), they can still expect to be exalted in the celestial kingdom. The book promises to provide readers “evidence that the [LDS] plan of salvation works.”

Mr. Gaskill lays odds that “you’re going to be exalted” because almost everybody will be. He writes,

“…literally billions of our Father in Heaven’s children have already been guaranteed exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Those who die before the age of eight, individuals with mental handicaps that limit their accountability, translated beings from various dispensations, many of the billions to be born during the Millennium, and a significant percentage of those who receive the gospel in the spirit world—all these and more, according to what has been revealed, will be exalted through the great Plan of a merciful and loving Father in Heaven.” (41)

The rest of Heavenly Father’s children, Mr. Gaskill writes, will be exalted by obedience to laws and ordinances, the same laws Heavenly Father successfully obeyed as He completed His “conquest over sin,” and the same ordinances He participated in to achieve His exaltation (7-8). Indeed,

“The laws and ordinances by which men and women are exalted in the celestial kingdom of our God are eternal and do not change—and because they are eternal, they predate even God.” (8)

So all one must do to be exalted in the celestial kingdom is live as God the Father lived when He was mortal: achieve conquest over sin, keep the commandments, and be faithful to temple and baptismal covenants. This is but another way of describing one’s worthiness to have the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit (see LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, “The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament,” Ensign, 11/1998, 38). Mr. Gaskill explains,

“…the doctrine of sanctification is evidence of how very simple it is to ensure our exaltation. If one but keeps the Spirit, he or she will be clean and therefore saved! It is that simple!” (55; emphasis retained from the original)

Though Mr. Gaskill makes a valiant effort to give his readers some sort of assurance regarding their forgiveness of sins and future exaltation, he can’t quite break free of the LDS teaching that takes away that assurance: the necessity of personally achieving “conquest over sin,” “successfully obey[ing]” the commandments, and “be[ing] faithful to the covenants we make with the Lord.”

Mr. Gaskill also presents an opposite message (“desire” is the operative and only personal requirement, 6), yet he cannot escape the long-taught LDS imperatives of merit and personal worthiness (87, 43). Therefore, though Mr. Gaskill thinks the odds for forgiveness of sins and exaltation in the presence of God are in any Latter-day Saint’s favor, it’s clear the whole thing is still a gamble.

God said in His Word that we can know our eternal future beyond a shadow of a doubt. Through the apostle John God said,

“…God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13)

There’s no roulette wheel here that might pay off if you’ve chosen the right color and number. Instead, God offers confidence, assurance, and the peace that passes all understanding. My money is on God’s Son.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5
Romans 8:1
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Philippians 4:7

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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62 Responses to Feeling Lucky? The Probability of Exaltation

  1. 4givn says:

    Dmark,
    Glad you could join us. I don’t agree with what you stated about the missionaries rights. The fact is that if the person they are witnessing to tries the verification method of the BoM and doesn’t recieve what the mishes claim, then they tell the person that they weren’t sincere enough and so on. If themishes would just tell the folks that the BoM wasn’t for them, then that would be leaving it up to the person to make the decision for themselves. But they don’t, they tell them to keep on trying, to be REALLY sincere and so on. That my friend, is not leaving them to decide. That is a high pressure sales pitch. Then IF the person gives into the pitch, assuming that it is “CHRISTIANITY”, they join on and find out later that the “CHRISTIANITY” is the MILK before the MEAT.
    By the way, when the coffee gets bitter, we make a fresh pot. W/LOVE

  2. germit says:

    DMark: welcome to Mormon Coffee, I always wonder how long a poster has been listening in before jumping in. You guys have made some apologetic progress this past month, it seems to me, are you all from the NFC North ??
    Your point about the Mishies misses the point: whether or not they decide to bring up that Mr and Mrs Listener is flat wrong is kind of besides the point, your religion does that by virtue of making very specific truth claims that are radically different than (you would say BETTER than) those made by orthodoxy. So the ‘we’re right and you are wrong’ is built into the nature of what you are claiming to be true WHETHER THE MISHIES VOICE THAT OR NOT. The lipstick lady thread, which you might have missed reading, was an effort (which I for one applauded) to get this truth out in the open in the name of honesty. The LDS do NOT see orthodoxy as just “incomplete” or “some of the truth, but not as restored as what we LDS have”. These kind of statements are actually disinformation.
    As for doing one’s best, there seems to be a difference between having that as something to strive to attain to, and having that as a level one MUST have in order to be pleasing to GOD. I can’t see where we have put words in your leader’s mouths, we agree to disagree on what they meant by what they said.
    Lastly, there is probably not a single poster here at MC who believes that God ONLY speaks thru the Bible: but our own personal revelation from GOD is judged by that Bible, not the other way around, God still talks to us in many different ways, including answered prayer, the still small voice, etc. Glad to have you here. GERMIT

  3. faithoffathers says:

    LDSTITANIC,

    Thanks for the response.

    The Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God is the Melchezidek Priesthood. In Alma 13, it states that those who hold this Priesthood were “called and prepared from the foundation of the world.” It also says that all men were intitially on “equal ground.” These are references to pre-mortal life.

    Helaman 14:7 also states that “the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.” This suggests we had been in the presence of God before this life.

    You also asked, “So you are willing to admit that in ANY organization splitting and sectarianism will happen? Then Joseph was wrong to make this a basis for declaring a total apostasy.”

    My point is that it is man’s nature to break away from those he does not agree/get along with. Very well illustrated unfortunately in religion. I don’t follow why this makes Joseph wrong for declaring a total apostacy. Help me out.

  4. germit says:

    FoF and others: blessings on everyone, as a KC Chiefs fan, I’ll be wearing sack cloth and ashes till 2012 or so….
    I’ll jump in for TITANIC (clean this up as needed TITAN) If splitting up into groups is the distinguishing mark of apostasy, then we are STILL in that phase, because your group as well as ours is splitting off into other groups. So find a better indicator of that condition, or else join us in the ‘apostasy wagon’. Hope that’s what TITANIC had in mind.
    REGGIE: you wrote “it’s either there was a continual line of priesthood/truth/leadership or else there was an apostasy and it was restored”
    Well, you have both the catholic (Roman, Greek Orthodox, Serbian, etc..) and LDS options but have glossed over the protestant answer: no continual priesthood has been needed other than the one described in Hebrews that has been blogged to death here on Mormon Coffee. Obviously, Jesus never lost the priesthood that HE had, but your rejoinder will hold up the need for an additional authority (as the catholics also do, you are much more like our friends from the Vatican than most LDS realize, by the way)

    Before the thread closes, do any LDS want to weigh in on how PRINCIPLES and IDEAS/LAWS can pre-date the maker of those things?? This striked me as some kind of odd gnosticism…what am I missing ???? GERMIT

  5. Jeffrey says:

    There has been a huge amount of new LDS people visiting this blog. I’m counting almost 1 per day! It’s great! And for every new poster, there are probably 2 or 3 people just reading (and those people are typically the ones that arent as I call “die-hard LDS”, or in other words the ones that despite the false prophecy’s, the inconsistency’s, and other evidences that lead towards the LDS gospel being false, will not ever change their views).

    In other words, I’m glad you new posters/lurkers (even though I dislike the word lurker) are here.

    I think MRM should have a “what Christians believe” link on the blog here – Why? because I can’t count how many times an LDS person on here thinks that Christians believe that God no longer speaks to us and that the books of the Bible are his last words, so to speak. I would make a hefty bet on what Germit said – that there is probably not a single Christian on this blog that thinks the Bible is the only way God can/does speak to us. I also agree with his statement that it is his primary way of speaking to us and that all new revelation is supposed to be judged by what is said in his Word.

    This is why Christians have a problem with the LDS church’s new revelation (which I dont consider new anymore since a prophet of the church hasn’t come up with anything new in how long now?)

    We judge those doctrines by the Bible. When Joseph Smith said there are many God’s, we looked to the Bible as God’s authoritative word on the matter, and guess what, no where does it mention many God’s, and in fact God said there is only He, one God, and knows of no other Gods.

    What do Mormon’s do? They do as LDS authority does, and that is discredit the Bible as incomplete and worthless in the sense that it does not contain the “to-do” list of salvation into the celestial kingdom. They deny that Jesus is the only WAY to the Father. They have to add “marry a LDS woman/man”, get baptized, learn your handshakes and new names, etc.

  6. LDSSTITANIC says:

    Germit…good looking out…I guess I have beat that drum enough. Other points might be argued but you can’t argue the apostasy based on the different denominations.

    faithoffathers…egads now I have to call you “out of context” in your own book! Helaman 14:16 Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death—that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual.
    17 But behold, the resurrection of Christ aredeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.

    There is the context…no pre-existence here. We were cut off from the presence in the garden and the redemption brings us back. Heck…I agree with that.

    As far as the priesthood…I see order of God…order of the Son…Melchizedek was in this order…nowhere do I see order of Melchizedek here…am I still missing something?

  7. faithoffathers says:

    LDSTITANIC,

    Were you in the garden? I don’t think I was. Yours is a good point, but we seem to be interpreting these verses from Helaman from our respective religious corners. LDS believe we each follow Adam and Eve in the sense that we are separated from God, which we define as spiritual death. This is why our second article of faith says “we believe men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” We are each separated from Him because we each lived with Him before. But I can see why you could interpret this verse this way!

    Jeffrey- why do you and so many others here repeatedly claim that LDS “deny that Jesus is the only WAY to the Father.” Do you really want me to list all the quotations from our scripture and prophets stating that Christ is the only way to the Father? You have to know you are not being truthful. Why? Having differences in believe about faith/works, etc. is no excuse. Can I start telling everybody I know that evangelicals deny the merits of Christ simply because your belief is different from mine. Please do not tell me that I do not believe Christ is the only means of salvation.

    I really do not want to start yet another discussion of faith/works, but had to call you on such a false, blanket statement. It seems almost every thread turns into such a discussion, which nobody wins.

  8. LDSSTITANIC says:

    faithoffathers…actually I live in Jackson County so technically I am in the garden…ha!!

    I understand that you believe in the pre-existence…but not based on the context of Helaman 14. It simply says that men are “spiritually” cut off due to the Fall. Eisogesis would be needed to redefine the simple meaning here to expand into anything more.

    By the way…did you ever have any luck locating the meaning of cureloms and cumoms? Inquiring minds want to know…

    I think you are out of posts for the day so I won’t hold my breath waiting for a reply…Blessings!

  9. Jeffrey says:

    FoF,

    perhaps I should clarify what I meant.

    I know that Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is necessary for your salvation to “come unto the father”, but in Mormonism, Jesus Christ himself isn’t sufficient enough for you to “come unto the Father.” You have to admit that or else reject the doctrines of temple marriage (also polygamy if you subscribe to D&C 132 and teachings by prophets of your church such as Brigham Young), baptism, secret handshakes, and for your wife to be with the Father in the celestial kingdom, she better hope you remember her new name. Also lets not forget that Jesus’s grace isn’t sufficient for you unless you do ALL YOU CAN DO. Now tell me where I’m wrong here, FoF.

    So in Mormonism, it is Jesus PLUS all that stuff I mentioned in order to live in the celestial kingdom with God the Father.

    In Christianity, it is Jesus Christ. Him alone. His work.

    THAT is what I meant by HE is the Way. He didn’t say me, plus all these ordinances. I was in no way saying LDS believe they don’t need Jesus as well.

    Is that wrong? Do you only need Jesus Christ to come unto the father as the Bible states?

    Really excited to hear a reply.

  10. jackg says:

    DMark said: “Doing the best we can with what we have and are capable of, is jut plain old integrity and personal responsibility. We do our best, we ask Christ to fill in the rest and have faith in him that he will.”

    I think what you are talking about in the first part of your statement is what I would call synergism. Synergism combines the efforts of God and humans. Is that kind of what you’re saying? If that’s the case I can agree with you. We are not merely to be acted upon, but we respond with works. I see the Bible as pointing me to the belief that my works are evidence of my faith and that, in and of themselves, they do not save me. I am justified by faith, and my works prove that or not. So, basically, works reveal the authenticity and genuiness of our faith and our conversion to Christ. Am I explaining myself clearly enough? Your last comment about Christ filling in the rest reflects 2 Nephi 25: 23, and it is a position that I believe is backwards in comparison to what the Bible teaches about grace. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)), and “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2: 4-5). I can’t see that grace is merely an appendage to our works in light of God’s Word. This is one reason why I no longer believe the BOM to be true. The BOM must be tested against the Bible, not the other way around.

    FOF said, “Jeffrey- why do you and so many others here repeatedly claim that LDS “deny that Jesus is the only WAY to the Father.””

    Question: Are you stating this: I believe in Jesus Christ, and to believe in Jesus Christ means I believe in JS as prophet and in his teachings and the teaching of subsequent prophets because Jesus Christ has sent them to the earth to guide us; therefore, if I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in…

  11. Arthur Sido says:

    Cluff,

    from waaaay back up the thread…sorry, I haven’t checked the posts in a few days

    “Why do I need to leave the LDS church to do that? Fill me in please!

    We turn to Christ EVERY time we repent, and for a bonus we get to renew the covenant of baptism when we take the sacrament on Sunday.”

    Who is this Christ that you turn to? He is a created being, the spirit brother of Satan, of the same nature as you and I. That Christ has no power to save, because He is different from us only in that He is older and had a better plan than Satan.

    Going back to Hebrews and beating that drum again. Christ is not our older brother, He is God in the flesh, the God-man, unique, uncreated, perfect in every respect. As a man He could receive the penalty for sin, as God He was able to do so pefectly for all of His sheep. The person and work of Christ testifies through the Bible that the God who judges man also provided a means for man to be saved, by His Son on the cross. He sent His Son because we could never be saved on our own merit, and we are saved in spite of our works. Man will never be right with God based on our own works, indeed we would never even be justified before God because we repent. It is ONLY by the blood of Christ that one is saved, the perfect Lamb of God who was slain and like the Passover lamb it is His blood that covers us and causes God’s wrath to pass over us. Even the most faithful, most penitent among us is a sinner and that sin bears a penalty. Either you are going to pay it or Christ is. It is not a cooperative deal. It is all of Christ, or it is none of Christ. It is His blood or yours, someone must bear the penalty of your sins. Ask yourself who it is going to be.

    Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb 9:22)

    You don’t have to leave the mormon church to be saved, but if God saves you, you will flee from that place of your own accord.

  12. Jeffrey says:

    FoF,

    any comments on my last post?

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