The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

“Salvation consists in the glory, authority, majesty, power, and dominion which Jehovah possesses and in nothing else; and no being can possess it but himself or one like him.” (Lectures on Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), 7:9) So taught Joseph Smith to the School of the Prophets in the winter of 1834-35. Both the Prophet of the Restoration and Paul the Apostle taught that Christ had gained salvation because he had put all enemies under his feet, the last enemy being death. It is just so with all men. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), pp. 297, 301, 305; 1 Cor. 15:25; Heb. 2:8)

Salvation is eternal life. It is life in the highest heaven, life among the Gods and the angels. The word salvation means exactly the same thing as eternal life, but simply lays stress upon one’s saved condition, his state being one of deliverance from death and sin through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Exaltation is another word with which we have come to identify the glories of the celestial kingdom; exaltation has the same meaning as eternal life; it has the same meaning as salvation. To be saved is to be exalted, the latter term simply laying stress upon the elevated and ennobled status of one who so qualifies to dwell with and be a part of the Church of the Firstborn, the Church of the Exalted. Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written:

We are ofttimes prone to create artificial distinctions, to say that salvation means one thing and exaltation another, to suppose that salvation means to be resurrected, but that exaltation or eternal life is something in addition thereto. It is true that there are some passages of scripture that use salvation in a special and limited sense in order to give an overall perspective of the plan of salvation that we would not otherwise have. (2 Ne. 9:1 – 27; D&C 76:40 – 49; 132:15-17.) These passages show the difference between general or universal salvation that consists in coming forth from the grave in immortality, and specific or individual salvation that consists of an inheritance in the celestial kingdom….

Since it is the prophetic purpose to lead men to full salvation in the highest heaven of the celestial world, when they speak and write about salvation, almost without exception, they mean eternal life or exaltation. They use the terms salvation, exaltation, and eternal life as synonyms, as words that mean exactly the same thing without any difference, distinction, or variance whatever. (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978), p. 129; italics added; cf. p. 306; Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), pp. 144-54.)
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Eternal marriage is the gate through which those intent upon eternal life must enter. “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees,” Joseph Smith explained. “And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.” (D&C 131:1 – 4.) The Prophet also taught: “Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and Be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), pp. 300-301; italics added.) The scriptures thus speak of one qualifying for the blessing of eternal lives (see D&C 132:22-25). To have eternal lives is to possess eternal life in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, to be worthy of salvation, and to be a candidate for exaltation. The phrase eternal lives simply lays stress upon the right of a worthy man and woman to enjoy “the continuation of the seeds,” the everlasting perpetuation of the family unit. (See Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), p. 238)

Robert L. Millet & Joseph Fielding McConkie
Life Beyond
Bookcraft (1986)

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