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The following scriptures came to my mind today, while discussing eternal life and related matters over email--
The original question that was put forth during the discussion was whether we could handle the blessings and responsibilities associated with the eternal worlds to come. Here are the conclusions I draw from the above scriptures and from others that I can't cite at the moment:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. --Isa. 55:8-9 [OT]
For now we see through a glass darkly...now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known. --1 Cor. 13:12
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. --1 Cor. 13:11
1. The way we view Heaven and Eternity is unavoidably and severely distorted. Few of us have a terribly accurate view...even living prophets are only able to see a small portion of what God is able to see.
2. There are two ways to look at the phrase "...we are children of our Heavenly Father." The first is the one people usually think of, that is, we're literally His offspring. But we are also children in the sense that we are spiritually immature. We were less mature in the pre-existance than we are now...we hope in the post-mortal world we will be more mature. This is but one way that our view of Eternity is distorted.
3. Our perceptions are distorted in at least two other, critical ways. a) We live upon a fallen earth--one that has not yet been taken to a higher sphere. Likewise our own bodies, though in God's image, isn't in a higher sphere yet, either. b) Our own experiences will also to some extent shape our perceptions.
4. It follows that we cannot base our attitudes or decisions about Eternity based on what we perceive is going to happen. I sometimes hear protestants refer to the eternal world as a place where we sit around and play harps all day...a type of celesial waiting room where seemingly not a great deal happens, except we provide the music-on-hold for the rest of the Universe. That thought doesn't seem very palatable. But that's precisely what the adversary wants us to think.
5. For Satan uses the separation we have from God--which separation we know is for testing purposes and for our progression--to try to tell us either-- a) That Eternity after the highest manner is simply a load of nonsense (to put it mildly); b) Eternity is just like our present life's experiences, multiplied by the number of digits in Pi; c) We cannot handle the blessings or responsibilities of Eternity--not in this life, nor after the Resurrection, nor EVER; or d) We are not worthy to progress to such a level. At that point, we may think less about the Temple or about eternal families. Then we don't repent as we should, and so on.
6. Do I have a clue as to everything that will happen after this life ends? Not really, apart from what I know from the scriptures, and apart from reassurances I receive through the Spirit. In this, I am not alone...in fact, I am certain I share this lot with the bulk of the human race. But this much I can say. At the very least, I will know more about the transactions of this Earth than I do now. I will probably learn about all of the good and all of the evil that has ever happened at any point in history (without somehow becoming corrupted in spirit by the latter). I will learn that my thoughts on earth--including the ones I have this instant--were but those of a child in a very real and profound way. And most fundamentally, provided I remain true to the covenants I have made, I will be given tools there that I don't have now, and once I have those tools, a lot of the things that I don't understand now will make sense. And perhaps the most important of these tools would be a direct and unobstructed access to the Godhead, along with a corresponding transformation of our bodies.
Somehow, in that day, I am satisfied that we will know how to experience the blessings and responsibilities that we will encounter, even if it doesn't happen in an instant. We will be able to receive all of it as soon as we are able. The Lord will not bring his children to the threshold of Eternity, and bid us to drink of the fountain of everlasting waters, only to take aim at us with a fire hose. --SJR