One important issue for any religious faith is what happens after this life is over. So let’s take a look at what Mormonism teaches about eternity compared to our own beliefs. To begin with, the Mormons teach that almost everyone goes to some level of heaven. The Mormons believe in three levels of heaven and the closest thing they have to an eternal hell is a place called outer darkness but almost nobody goes there. This is explained in the LDS instruction manual for students called Gospel Fundamentals. “Each of us will be assigned to one of four places according to how faithful to Jesus Christ we were. We will go to the kingdom we have prepared for by the choices we have made.” These four places are the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, the telestial kingdom and outer darkness. The celestial kingdom is where God the Father and Jesus live and eternity for those who are in the highest level of the celestial kingdom is called exaltation. The terrestrial Kingdom is for honorable people who never accepted the message of Mormonism or for Mormons who weren’t able to live up to the requirements for the celestial kingdom. Then the third – the Telestial Kingdom – is for people who followed the world rather than following Jesus and so you’ll find there are liars, thieves, adulterers, murders, false prophets like that. But don’t forget it’s still a form of heaven. And then outer darkness is reserved for Satan and his demons and the only people who go there are people who knew without a doubt the truth and the power of God but then who denied it.
By contrast to that, the Bible teaches that there are really only two forms of eternal destiny. There’s heaven and there’s hell and everybody’s going to go to one or the other. And we find this in John 3:26 “Anyone who believes in God’s son has eternal life, anyone who doesn’t obey the son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” There you see it’s just either life or judgment. Now take a look at John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins but they have already passed from death into life.” There’s either life or there’s condemnation.
The second thing the Mormons teach is that while everybody goes to some level of heaven, the focus in the highest heaven is on becoming gods. In the celestial kingdom, a person can continue to gress eternally toward godhood and in the LDS Church’s training manual called Gospel Principles, we read “Those who inherit the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, who become gods, must have been married for eternity in the temple.” So you see that a person has to fulfill all the ordinances of Mormonism in order to reach the highest level of heaven but once they become worthy of the celestial kingdom, what happens there is that they have the opportunity to become gods. What the Bible teaches is that the focus on heaven is really on our relationship with the one true God. What’s so amazing about the highest level of heaven is the presence of God that we’ll be able to experience. For example, take a look at Revelation 21:3-5 :I heard a loud shout from the throne saying “Look, God’s home is now among his people. He will live with them and they will be his people. God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said “Look, I am making everything new.” Now we’ll go down a few verses he says “I saw no temple in the city for the Lord God Almighty and the lamb are its temple and the city has no need of sun or moon for the glory of God illuminates the city and the lamb is its light.” The point of these verses is that the glory of heaven is that God the Father and Jesus Christ are there. We get to be present with them and so the focus of eternity is not on us and our achievement or on our exaltation. The focus is on God and His glory.
There’s one other thing that the Mormons teach about eternity and that’s that families are eternal. Mormons believe that families are forever. In fact, the family is the basic unit of salvation or at least the highest level of salvation called exaltation. Unless you’re united with a family for eternity, you cannot be exalted. That’s described in an important proclamation that the LDS Church issued about the family. It says this: “The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” Forever families might seem appealing. The Bible presents an even more appealing scenario because in Christ we become part of God’s eternal family through our trust in Jesus and his redeeming work. And so earthly families are superseded by this perfect glorious relationship that we’re going to have with God. That’s why Christians are often in the Bible called brothers and sisters in Christ. This is our forever family in Revelation chapter 19 shows all of God’s people together being presented to Jesus as a bride for him. That’s what our eternal marriage is and so eternity is not about our families and our achievements and our exaltation, the focus of eternity is on God and on his family and on his glory.