I’ll never forget the day I attended a zone conference as a veteran missionary and being stumped by my Mission President. He liked to challenge me and I love and respect him to the end of the Earth. He served as an Area Authority Seventy before and after his time as Mission President and recently returned home after serving as District President in Jordan.
“Elder Turner, what does it require to obtain the Telestial Kingdom?” he inquired.
“Oh, that’s easy. Don’t deny the Holy Ghost,” I responded.
“Good Job. Now what is the requirement to obtain the lowest degree of Celestial Glory?” he asked.
“You must be baptized by authority and keep your baptismal covenant.”
“Excellent,” he replied. “Now what does it take to obtain the Terrestrial Kingdom?”
I stayed in stunned silence. Nobody else in the room knew the answer either. I knew it must be more than, “be a good person” but I wasn’t sure exactly what to say.
“You must obey the Ten Commandments,” he replied after an elongated pause.
This made complete sense to me. In Doctrine & Covenants, we learn that those who obtain Telestial Glory are “liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves to make a lie.” That sure sounds like a place for Ten Commandment breakers to me. But why does it matter for members who are dead set on vying for the Celestial Kingdom? I would argue that it matters for two reasons: As members of the church who have made covenants, it is far more probable that we fall all the way to Telestial Glory rather than Terrestrial Glory after having made covenants and broken them. Secondly, it brings perspective to how we view members of other faiths.
In Principles of the Gospel, we find out that millions of people of other faiths will abide during the Millennium. Why would that be? The Earth will be in a Terrestrial state during the Millennium and their faith encouraged them to keep the lower law, or the ten commandments, as they tarried on this Earth. Some members of the church take issue with our claim to absolute truth, but we can concede that other faiths are teaching truth. They simply teach a lower law while promising lower blessings. There is no hope for becoming like our Heavenly Father or enjoying an Eternal Family with endless progression, increase, and glory. They are promising a place in the Millennium, as ministering angels, and out of hell. The Terrestrial Law guarantees all of that.
It’s no wonder that President Gordon B. Hinckley stated on countless occasions to members of other faiths, “bring all the good that you have and let us add to it.” President Russell M. Nelson was even more forceful in this last Conference when he declared to those resistant to making baptismal covenants, “In this life, you have never settled for second best in anything. Yet, as you resist fully embracing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, you are choosing to settle for second best.”
Let us not be bashful in declaring the truth of the everlasting Gospel and the Celestial Law found in Christ’s Church. While countless churches follow Christ, only one church is headed by Christ and has His law and priesthood authority. A better understanding of the Plan of Salvation will allow us to boldly proclaim our faith.
- “Come Follow Me” -President Russell M. Nelson, April 2019
- “The Millennium” -Gospel Principles, Chapter 45
- Doctrine & Covenants 76 and 88.
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