I have been internalizing an idea for a while now that I find very comforting and uplifting. You see, I am of the opinion that for centuries the Christian world has defined our existence and our relationship with God from the wrong point of view. They have been selling – and we have been buying – what I call “the Great Lie”. This lie is that we are sinful by nature, that we must be raised from our fallen state, and that without redemption we are doomed to an eternity of hellfire and damnation. Satan would have us view ourselves in this way, but I maintain that this is not our nature and this is not who we are. True, we have all sinned. True we exist in a fallen state (One must wonder, “Fallen from what?”). It is true, indeed, that we must be redeemed from this fallen state, but this condition does not define us; it is actually more the aberration in our existence. Consider, instead, that for countless millennia before inheriting our second estate, we existed as children of God – His spirit children – living in His presence. We were not sinners and we were not fallen; and for eternity after this, we have the promise of returning to that pre-mortal dwelling place. So, given this perspective, I am prompted to ask, “Who are we really?”
We are certainly not by nature desperate beings competing with each other to become one of the privileged few who qualify for the great prize. We are not mortal pawns in a game of good vs. evil, tossed about like Job at the whims of capricious and unjust Gods who save some but not others. Our promised redemption is not a reprieve from a default fate of eternal torture, it is the reward for having kept our first estate. It is an infinitely wise manifestation of the pure love of Christ; a blessing poured out on each of His children. Beyond that, exaltation is a promise contingent upon our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel; a promise made to all who will humble themselves and follow Christ’s example. Both universal redemption and conditional exaltation fulfill the promise between our Heavenly Father and us, His spiritual offspring, made during the Great Council. So, contrary to the Christian doctrine that has developed over the past 1800+ years, we are children of God striving to return to the celestial existence from which we came and to which we hope to return. Our nature is to be divine, not sinful.
In this, our second estate, most are blinded to both our previous existence and our eternal destiny. We struggle, we tire often, and many, resigned to their perceived fate and having lost sight of their divine nature, survive on a vague, instinctive hope that there must be something more. Without realizing it, they somehow sense that if their eternity were to be like this mortality, it’s going to be a very, very long and hard existence. Many lose faith, shake their fist at God, and deny their eternal existence. I doing so, they deny themselves and foster a spirit of frustration and confusion. Some even lose hope completely and terminate their life on their own terms. When these things happen, Satan has won. The “Great Lie” has served its purpose.
I simply cannot believe that a just, loving God would create us and then condemn the majority of His creations to such a fate, either in mortality or in the eternities. He would certainly not condemn us to an eternity of endless torture, which is consistently a component of pre-restoration Christian doctrine. Instead, He has made it known to those who will listen that His love is extended to all of His children. The scriptures make it clear that redemption is a free gift promised to all; wrought in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross of Calvary by our lord, Jesus Christ. We received this promise when we kept our first estate and came, on the wings of faith and a child-like trust in our Heavenly Father and His Only Begotten Son, to this earth. In addition, we each have the opportunity to return to live with Him if we develop sufficient faith, manifested by our obedience, in this life. Salvation is not a rescue, and is not conditional, it is a promise. Exaltation, or eternity in the presence of God, is conditional upon our faith and obedience, and is the ultimate fulfillment of our divine nature.
I personally refuse to submit to Satan’s lie. I am a child of God who has chosen to overcome this temporary fallen condition to become even greater than I was before coming to this earth. I choose to embrace my divine nature. When I know myself this way, I cannot help but aspire, however imperfectly, to a higher standard. I find that I seek after joy because it is my nature. I find beauty all around me, and see God Himself in all of His creations. I treasure the ability that I have to love, because I know that this is what distinguishes me from the unfortunate multitude who could not trust enough, and thus followed Satan into ultimate oblivion. Understanding these things, I am driven to be true to myself, and I know that if can do that, I am promised greater joy than I can imagine – even exaltation. This joyful existence is the promised eternal state for which I was created. This……is who I am. This, then, is the Great Promise.