The Lord revealed to Moses, "For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39).
This is a familiar verse of scripture among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is most commonly used when talking about God's plan for the salvation for His children. According to LDS doctrine, all of us were born to God as spirit children, eons of time before our earth was ever created. Since God lives in heaven, we too lived there with Him. That's why we refer to God as our Father, who is in heaven or, put another way, our heavenly Father.
However, God has a glorified body of flesh and bones while we possessed only a body made of a spirit material. Furthermore, even though God lives in a place of pure righteousness, He nonetheless knows about both good and evil, while we only knew about good, having had no exposure to evil or wickedness. It was in this sinless environment that we were nurtured, grew, and were taught by our heavenly Father. However, there was one thing that He couldn't teach us and that was to know and understand what evil was.
He could give us an intellectual knowledge about evil but that's not the same as knowing it. To gain that kind of knowledge we had to experience it for ourselves, but such an experience was impossible while living in a world where evil did not nor could exist. Therefore, in order for us to gain that kind of knowledge, we had to go some place where wickedness was allowed to be present. That meant we would have to temporarily leave our heavenly home and go live somewhere else.
As Latter-day Saints, we believe that God, our Father, presented a plan to us that would allow us to gain this knowledge, along with a physical body, thereby helping us to become more like Him. The plan called for Him to build an earth on which we could gain a physical body and where evil and wickedness could be present, thereby allowing us to learn, through our own experiences, what evil was and, more importantly, learn, through the exercise of our own free will, to voluntarily choose to do good instead of doing evil.
However, there was a danger to this plan because, by being exposed to evil, if we ever chose to engage in any form of wickedness, even just once , we would be tainted with sin. And the more we participated in unrighteous behavior, the more tainted we would become. This was like God saying that we could go out and play in the mud to learn what it was like but then telling us that we weren't allowed to get dirty. That was an impossible situation!
But that wasn't the worst part of the plan. Since no unclean person or thing can dwell in a perfectly righteous heaven, anyone who became tainted with sin in the least degree would never be allowed to return to their heavenly home and enjoy the family relationship we once had with our heavenly Father. I'm sure that this plan didn't sound very appealing to us until our Father told us the rest of it.
He explained that there was a way to have our sins washed away as though we had never done anything wrong, but it would require someone sinless to pay the penalty for all of our sins. Since that was something our Father was not able to do Himself, He had to choose one of our brothers to fulfill that role. The person He selected we knew back then as Jehovah, but today we refer to him by the name of Jesus Christ.
However, this plan had two parts. By paying the penalty of sin for all men, Jesus would save all men from the consequences of their sins. But, since all men were free to choose to do good or to do evil, that meant some people would do more good than others. Therefore, it was only fair and just that those who chose a path that would help them become as righteous as our Father in heaven is should receive a greater reward than those who chose to follow a different path.
The key phrase here is "as our Father in heaven." It isn't enough simply to be righteous. Our Father's plan for us is to be worthy and capable of inheriting all that He has, and to do that we have to learn to become as righteous as He is. In order for that to happen we must learn to keep certain rules and follow certain procedures. We call these rules "commandments" and the procedures we refer to as "ordinances." Those who chose to follow this path will receive a greater reward for their efforts than those who don't.
For this reason, our Father's plan provided two kinds of rewards. Because of the atonement of Christ, all men would become immortal, meaning that all men will be resurrected to live forever with a physical body along with having gained a knowledge of good and evil. However, there is a second reward that is given only to those who voluntarily commit themselves to the ordinances of God and valiantly strive to keep the commandments He gives. That reward is called "eternal life" which means that they will be crowned as kings and queens, and be made priests and priestesses unto God (Revelation 1:6), and inherit all the power, dominion, and glory that our Father has (Revelation 21:7). When that happens, we will become just like Him (1 John 3:2) and will be able to do all that He can do.
This is the plan God presented to us and it is to this end that our Father in heaven works hard to help us not only achieve immortality but, more importantly, to gain eternal life. And the more people He can help achieve eternal life the more glory and honor it brings Him.
This is what we commonly understand is the meaning of the verse found in Moses 1:39, however, when we take the time to contemplate what this statement implies, we gain a more profound understanding of the nature of God and what it means to inherit eternal life. Therefore, let's take a closer look at what God's plan for our salvation involves.
In order for God to accomplish His goal for us it required Him to do a number of things. The first was to select someone to be the savior of His children. The scriptures tell us that God selected Jehovah, who was His first born son in the spirit, and asked for our approval. But Lucifer objected to this choice and wanted the position for himself. As a result, there was a vigorous debate which eventually led to a war being fought in heaven over this issue.
Next, Jehovah had to be groomed and trained to fulfill His mission. The apostle John informs that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2). "The Word" spoken of here is referring to Jesus Christ. From the very beginning, He was with God and was given the task of creating all things. During His mortal ministry Jesus declared, "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28). "The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me" (John 14:24).
Jesus knew and fully understood what His Father expected of Him. He knew that His mission was to sacrifice His life to save ours, declaring, just before His death, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world" (John 18:37). Even in Gethsemane, when His agony was so great that He sweat great drops of blood and wanted to shrink from His assignment, He knew what the Father expected of Him and performed His required duty despite the difficulty of the task (Matthew 26:39).
After God had presented His plan for our salvation and the redeeming Savior had been chosen, His next step was to create a place where His children could go in order to gain the knowledge of good and evil and where they could be tested to see what choices they would make. Even here, Jesus was being groomed for His mission. The apostle John tells us that when it came to the creation of the earth "All things were made by him (Jesus); and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). During this period of creation the scriptures tell us that God worked for six days, laying the foundation of the earth, and filling it with life sustain water, providing it with life-giving light, and placing upon it all manner of plants and animals before crowning his work with the creation of man who was made in God's image.
Then God planted a garden for man, eastward in Eden and gave him commandments to care and tend the garden, to give names to all the animals, to have children, and instructed him on what fruit he could and shouldn't eat. Later, God came back to the garden to speak with Adam and his wife and when He discovered that they had eaten that which they had been commanded not to partake of, He made coats of skins for them and taught them to offer sacrifices to Him. Later He sent angels to teach them the meaning of these sacrifices (Moses 5:6).
These heavenly messengers were necessary because, in order for Adam and Eve to learn how and why it is important to choose good over evil, they needed someone to teach them. However, as men began to populate the earth God selected and train special individuals to be teachers. The scriptures refer to these individuals as prophets. Yet, teachers are most effective when there is a means provided for them to teach others, and so there had to be some way of organizing people so they could be taught. Regardless of its form, we refer to this kind of an organization as a "church."
God does all of this in order to bring about our immortality and eternal life. But this earth is not the only planet He has created. He revealed to Moses, "And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten… For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them… And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come" (Moses 1:33,35,38).
The purpose of God creating all of these worlds is to "bring to pass the immorality and eternal life of man." This is what He does for a living. In fact, this is all He does because this is the only thing that brings Him glory and honor.
On this earth, a man's glory comes from what he does. For example, Mozart is recognized for his accomplishment as a musician. Galilleo is honored for his work as an astronomer. Isaac Newton is credited for his discovery of scientific principles. The Egyptians are admired for the great pyramids they built. Alexander the Great is famed for his great military conquests. The founding fathers of America are revered for their efforts to make America a free country.
It's the work that people do that gives them their honor, glory, admiration, and reputation. Not many people are honored or admired simply because of things they did in their private life. It is the extraordinary things people do in the pursuit of their vocation that distinguishes them and makes them memorable, and the same principle applies to God. It is what He is able to accomplish that brings Him glory and honor.
If that is so, then what else does God do besides helping His children to become immortal and exalted? From what we can learn from the scriptures, there doesn't seem to be anything else. As Christians we believe that God controls the entire universe but, as we have already seen, His purpose in doing so is to create worlds without number in order to populate them with people for the purpose of bringing to pass their immorality and eternal life. This then is God's only work, and the reason why is because it is the only thing that brings Him glory and honor.
Perhaps we can understand this principle from a different perspective. As members of the LDS Church, we attend a myriad of church meetings but we spend a great amount of our time working for a living, whether we are self-employed or are employed by someone else. However, when a member of the Church is called to the position of a General Authority, they stop working for someone else and spend all of their time, for the rest of their life, working for the Church.
As a General Authority, their duty is to assist in the teaching of the gospel, perfecting the saints, redeeming the dead, and helping the poor and the needy. Nearly all of them spend far more than forty hours a week in doing the work of the Lord. In fact, once they've received their calling, their efforts are totally devoted to doing one thing - serving the Lord in His efforts to bring about our salvation. This work then becomes their full-time employment.
We refer to the earthly head of the LDS Church as the President, but the real head is Jesus Christ. If the President spends all of his energy on strengthening, guiding, and directing the affairs of Christ church, is it unreasonable to think that Christ Himself does any less? It is certain that Christ devotes His entire energy to overseeing the work of His church, both on this physical earth and in the spirit world. And it is very possible that Christ's work also extends to other worlds besides our own.
And what about the Holy Ghost? His work is to bring people to Christ and He does this in a myriad of ways. He does this by testifying of Christ in the hearts of people and testifying of the truth of all things. He is also tasked with the duty of strengthening the believers in Christ in their efforts to live the gospel until we can measure up to the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13) and become perfect, even as our Father in heave is perfect (Matthew 5:48). He is also a teacher, a guide, and a comforter. But perhaps His greatest work is that of a sanctifier whereby He is able to cleanse us of our sins, purify us and prepare us to live with a holy God. Because of the importance of His work, it is inconceivable that He spends His time doing anything else.
But if it is God's work of salvation that brings Him glory, who is it that He saves? We know He saves His children, but is there anyone else He does this work for? From what we learn in both ancient and modern scripture, the answer seems to be that He saves only His children. In other words, God spends all of His time working hard just for the sake of helping His own children become like Him. That means, God's full-time job is that of being a Father. That's all He does!
When understood in this light, the role of fatherhood and motherhood takes on a very significant meaning.
As Latter-day Saints, we believe that all who have ever lived on this earth, those who are currently living on this earth, and those who will yet live on this earth, are all literal children of our heavenly Father. He begat each and every one of us as spirit beings. Yet, as incomprehensible as that number of children is, it is only two-thirds of the children God has borne because one-third of His children chose to follow Lucifer and will never be allowed to experience mortal life.
Since God is able to beget an unimaginable number of spirit children and He spends all of His energy on helping them to become like Him, then those who inherit eternal life will likewise do the same thing. To have eternal life means to become heavenly parents who will have innumerable children where they will spend all of their time and energy helping their children to become perfect, exalted beings like themselves.
In this life we say that someone who has six, eight, or even twelve children has a very large family, but compared to the number of children God has, the largest family on earth seems insignificantly small. But, if God's plan for us is to inherit eternal life and become like Him, then what God is doing is teaching us to become eternal parents by giving us an opportunity to practice being earthly parents. By learning how to be righteous parents here on a small scale, we are learning the skills necessary to be righteous parents on a much larger scale.
Because of this understanding, we also learn something else. The scriptures tell us that Jesus is the king of kings (Revelation 19:16) and that those who inherit eternal life will likewise be made kings. A king is someone who rules over a kingdom and a kingdom is composed of people. A king does not rule over empty land, nor does he rule over a land full of plants and animals. Without people over whom he rules, a king has no kingdom. Furthermore, those who live within his kingdom must be willing to obey the king's orders. This is why a king can't rule over animals because they have no ability to obey him.
In a righteous kingdom, the duty of a king is to provide for the safety and wellbeing of his subjects so they can dwell in happiness and peace and where their needs are met. This is also the duty of a father with the assistance of his wife. That is why it is said that a father is the king of his castle.
If those who inherit eternal life will be crowned as kings and queens, then it is obvious that they will preside over a kingdom, and since a kingdom can only exist where there are people who willingly obey their king, then the question is: "Who will they rule over?" The answer is: "The same people God rules over - His children." Those who inherit eternal life will become heavenly fathers and mothers and will be crowned as kings and queens whose kingdom will consist of their own children. When that time comes then we will truly be just like God.