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
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24