Today’s “countdown to Conference” message comes from a sermon given by apostle Ezra Taft Benson at the April 1971 General Conference. I share these highlights:
LIFE IS ETERNAL
We are eternal beings. We lived as intelligent spirits before this mortal life. We are now living part of our eternity.
Our mortal birth was not the beginning; death, which faces all of us, is not the end.
“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting.
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.”
-William Wordsworth“Intimations of Immortality”
As eternal beings, we each have in us a spark of divinity…
We live on and on after earth-life, even though we ofttimes lose sight of that great basic truth.
Where Do We Go After Death?
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. One great spiritual leader asked, “But where is the spirit world?” and then answered his own question. “It is 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.”
“… 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. …” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, pp. 367–69.)
What Is It Like To Die?
In a certain home, a little boy, the only son, was ill with an incurable disease. Month after month the mother had tenderly nursed him, but as the weeks went by and he grew no better, the little fellow gradually began to understand the meaning of death and he, too, realized that soon he was to die. One day his mother had been reading the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and as she closed the book the boy lay silent for a moment, then asked the question that had been laying on his heart. “Mother, what is it like to die? Mother, does it hurt?” Quick tears filled her eyes. She sprang to her feet and fled to the kitchen, supposedly to go get something. She prayed on the way a silent prayer that the Lord would tell her what to say, and the Lord did tell her. Immediately she knew how to explain it to him.
She said, as she returned from the kitchen, “Kenneth, you will remember when you were a little boy, you would play so hard you were too tired to undress and you tumbled into your mother’s bed and fell asleep? In the morning you would wake up and much to your surprise, you would find yourself in your own bed. In the night your father would pick you up in his big strong arms and carry you to your own bedroom. Kenneth, death is like that; we just wake up one morning to find ourselves in the room where we belong, because the Lord Jesus loves us.”
“The lad’s shining face looked up and told her there would be no more fear, only love and trust in his heart as he went to meet the Father in heaven. He never questioned again and several weeks later he feel asleep, just as she said. That is what death is like.”
Death Is Not The End
Yes, life is eternal. Death is not the end. It is most fitting at this Easter time that our thoughts be turned to that most glorious event, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I have gratefully testified many times—
I know that Jesus is the Christ—the Savior and Redeemer of the world—the very Son of God. He was born the Babe of Bethlehem. He lived and ministered among men.
He was crucified on Calvary.
On the third day he rose again.
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.)
There is nothing in history to equal that dramatic announcement. “He is not here, but is risen.”
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.)
Read the entire address – Life Is Eternal – by Ezra Taft Benson, April 1971