First Presidency Message

Life Is Eternal


Ezra Taft Benson

Life Is Eternal

Life is eternal. We are eternal beings. We lived as intelligent spirits before this mortal life. We are now living part of eternity. Our mortal birth was not the beginning. Death, which faces all of us, is not the end.

As eternal beings, we each have in us a spark of divinity. As one who has traveled over much of this world, I am convinced that our Father’s children are essentially good. They want to live in peace. They want to be good neighbors. They love their homes and their families. They want to improve their standards of living. They want to do what is right, and I know that God loves them.

As His humble servant, I have in my heart a love for our Father’s children everywhere. I have met them in so-called high places and low. I have visited with them in their homes, in their fields, on their small farms, in their shops, on the highways of the earth, and in the air. I have had the privilege of meeting with them in large and small meetings and worshipping with them in their churches.

As we travel through this topsy-turvy, sinful world filled with temptations and problems, we are humbled by the expectancy of death, the uncertainty of life, and the power and love of God. Sadness comes to all of us in the loss of loved ones. But there is gratitude also—gratitude for the assurance we have that life is eternal; gratitude for the great gospel plan given freely to all of us; gratitude for the life, teachings, and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank God for the life and ministry of the Master, Jesus the Christ, who broke the bonds of death, who is the light and life of the world, who set the pattern, who established the guidelines for all of us, and who proclaimed: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).

Yes, life is eternal. We live on and on after earth life, even though we ofttimes lose sight of that great basic truth.

Our affections are often too highly placed upon paltry, perishable objects. Material treasures of earth are merely to provide us, as it were, room and board while we are here at school. It is for us to place gold, silver, houses, stocks, lands, cattle, and other earthly possessions in their proper place.

This is but a place of temporary duration. We are here to learn the first lesson toward exaltation—obedience to the Lord’s gospel plan.

There is the ever-present expectancy of death, but in reality there is no death—no permanent parting. The Resurrection is a reality. The scriptures are replete with evidence. Almost immediately after the glorious resurrection of the Lord, Matthew records: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

“And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matt. 27:52–53).

The spirit world is not far away. Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us.

The prophet Brigham Young asked, “Where is the spirit world?” and then answered his own question:

“It is right here. … Do [spirits] go beyond the boundaries of this organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it to all eternity” (Journal of Discourses, 3:369).

“When the spirits leave their bodies they are in the presence of our Father and God, they are prepared then to see, hear and understand spiritual things. … If the Lord would permit it, and it was His will that it should be done, you could see the spirits that have departed from this world, as plainly as you now see bodies with your natural eyes” (Journal of Discourses, 3:368).

Yes, life is eternal. Death is not the end. To the sorrowful, inquiring women at the tomb, the angels proclaimed: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?

“He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5–6).

Nothing in history equals that dramatic announcement: “He is not here, but is risen.”

No other single influence has had so great an impact on this earth as the life of Jesus the Christ. We cannot conceive of our lives without His teachings. Without Him we would be lost in a mirage of beliefs and worships born in fear and darkness where the sensual and materialistic hold sway. We are far short of the goal He set for us, but we must never lose sight of it; nor must we forget that our great climb toward the light, toward perfection, would not be possible except for His teaching, His life, His death, and His resurrection.

May God hasten the day when people everywhere will accept His teaching, His example, and His divinity—yes, when they will accept as a reality His glorious resurrection, which broke the bonds of death for all of us.

We must learn and learn again that only through accepting and living the gospel of love as taught by the Master, and only through doing His will, can we break the bonds of ignorance and doubt that bind us. We must learn this simple, glorious truth so that we can experience the sweet joys of the Spirit now and eternally. We must lose ourselves in doing His will. We must place Him first in our lives. Yes, our blessings multiply as we share His love with our neighbor.

Today thousands of faithful missionaries throughout the nations freely carry this all-important message to the world. Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of mankind, the Redeemer of the world, the very Son of God. He is the God of this world, our Advocate with the Father.

Today, missionary messengers of truth and millions of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bear witness that God has spoken from the heavens, that Jesus Christ has appeared again unto man, that the Resurrection is a reality.

I testify to the truth which they bear, and I add my solemn witness in the name of Jesus Christ.

Discussion Helps

  1. 1.

    Life is eternal. We are eternal beings. We each have a spark of divinity in us, and we want to do what is right.

  2. 2.

    To help us, the Lord Jesus Christ broke the bonds of death and established guidelines for us to live by.

  3. 3.

    Our affections are too often placed on the perishable, material things of the earth.

  4. 4.

    We must learn that only through accepting and living the Lord’s gospel can we break the bonds of ignorance and doubt that bind us.

  5. 5.

    5. There is no death—no permanent parting. The Resurrection is a reality. Life is eternal.

[photos] Photography by Phil Shurtleff

[illustration] The Ascension, by Harry Anderson