From the beginning man has sought the power of immortality, the elixir of life that would somehow prevent them from growing old. The ancient Patriarchs lived many hundreds of years through certain means that was available to them. The Egyptians attempted to also extend their lives eating an unknown powdered gold recipe called “ormus.” The pseudo-science of alchemy was determined to unlock the Philosopher’s stone, as they called it, so they could live forever. Today, science searches for the hidden gene that may prevent aging.
In contrast to this, Jesus offered His followers “Eternal Life” if they followed Him according to the will of the Father. What kind of immortality was He teaching His followers?
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 13:14-16
Jesus, the man from the little village of Nazareth, offered everlasting, or “Eternal Life,” to all those that would follow Him according to the will of His Father. He compared Himself to the brazen serpent (a resurrected being of light) raised up on the cross, that all one must do is look and they would not die. However, Jesus was not teaching the extension of the physical life, but the immortal glory of being in the presence of God.
One of the most profound writings of Joseph Smith is this translation from the Book of Moses. In this passage, the Lord reveals the details regarding how we receive the gift of Eternal Life:
“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, [in the similitude of the physical birth] which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul [the physical body], even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, [Eternal Life] of water [baptism], and of the Spirit [baptism of fire], and be cleansed by blood [Gift of the Holy Ghost], even the blood of mine Only Begotten [because of the Atonement]; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; For by the water ye keep the commandment [as a witness to the Father that you accept His Son]; by the Spirit ye are justified [separated from sin by the cleansing of the baptism of glory or fire], and by the blood ye are sanctified [made holy by the atonement of Christ, which lifts one to be able to stand in the presence of God];Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven [counted among the exalted]; the Comforter [the attributes of having received the gift of the Holy Ghost:]; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.” Moses 6:59-61
This information helps us to understand how we receive Eternal Life, but what is it exactly?
“Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John. This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—” D&C 88:3-5
The Lord made the promise to His Apostles that He would send them the Holy Ghost, which would abide in their hearts. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the promise of Eternal Life.
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove [quarreled] among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life [the promises of the Sarament]; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. [The Atonement] As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. [This is Eternal Life, to know God. John 17:3]
This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” John 6:48-58
The hope that we may live in the presence of God is to have Eternal Life. All life is eternal in that our spirits do not go away, but Eternal Life is to know what God knows, and to have our spirits elevated in light and glory.