Living Eternally with Heavenly Father? or !
One of the things we encourage Christians to share with Mormons is their confidence that they will live eternally with Heavenly Father. (The reason we word it that way and not just talk about going to heaven is because Mormonism teaches that all but a very few people will go to heaven. Only the worthiest or most faithful, according to Mormonism, will live with God the Father in the highest kingdom of heaven. We want Mormons to be thinking of that and not about the lower kingdoms of LDS heaven. Thus our talking about living eternally with Heavenly Father.)
There are a couple of reasons we encourage Christians to express their confidence about their eternity. One is because this automatically puts the spotlight on Christ as we immediately explain that we can be confident because Jesus has done everything for us. Far too often when Christians talk to Mormons they debate Mormonism with them rather than witness Christ to them. That often results in a Mormon becoming defensive and shutting their ears.
How much better it is to talk about the great things Christ has done! That brings divine power to bear on Mormons. As Paul said: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The message of Jesus’ saving work for humanity is a strong magnet the Holy Spirit uses to draw people to Christ. Nobody has ever been argued into heaven. But millions have been drawn there through the gospel.
There is another reason why we encourage this as well. And that is that most Mormons are unsure of their eternal destiny. An LDS leader made this very point at the last General Conference. He began his address by saying: “My heart sank during a recent meeting with wonderful Latter-day Saints. The question was asked, ‘Who desires to live with Heavenly Father again?’ Every hand went up. The next question was ‘Who has confidence you’ll succeed?’ Sadly and surprisingly, most hands went down” (Elder Randall K. Bennett).
We have witnessed the same thing. Most Mormons we talk to tell us that they aren’t confident that they will live with Heavenly Father. In fact, a surprising number categorically state that they won’t be living with him. They say that because they are convinced that they aren’t worthy enough and they will never be worthy enough.
The more one learns about Mormonism, the more one realizes why so many feel that way. In Mormonism, spending eternity with Heavenly Father mainly depends on what the person does and not on what Jesus has done for them. (This is obscured for many Christians because Mormons do talk about Jesus saving them. But what they mean by that is that all will be resurrected and will return to God’s presence on Judgment Day to be judged. What kingdom you will be sent to depends entirely on what you have done.) Elder Bennett illustrates that. After making the statement quoted above, he focused his talk on telling LDS members what they needed to do to become worthy of living with Heavenly Father.
The biblical message stands in stark contrast to that. It is all about Jesus separating us from our sins as far as the east is from the west. It’s all about Jesus keeping every single commandment perfectly for us. It’s all about God the Father welcoming us into his presence solely on the basis of Christ’s work for us.
Mormonism places a question mark behind the phrase, “living eternally with Heavenly Father”. The Bible puts an exclamation point behind it. Thank God for that. Thank him by sharing this wonderful news with Mormons.