What Shall I Do to Gain Eternal Life?

at the temple

Like the lawyer described in Luke 10:25, many of us today ask the question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” At the 2018 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, President Russell M. Nelson beautifully answered this question for us:

Pres. Nelson

“Eternal life is so much more than a designation of time. Eternal life is the kind and quality of life that Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son live. When the Father offers us everlasting life, He is saying in essence, ‘If you choose to follow My Son—if your desire is really to become more like Him—then in time you may live as We live, and preside over worlds and kingdoms as We do.’

“…With our thoughts and feelings so focused on the Savior of the world, what, then, do we need to do to receive these gifts offered to us so willingly by Jesus Christ? What is the key to loving as He loves, forgiving as He forgives, repenting to become more like Him and ultimately living with Him and our Heavenly Father?

“The key is to make and keep sacred covenants. We choose to live and progress on the Lord’s covenant path and to stay on it. It is not a complicated way. It is the way to true joy in this life and eternal life beyond.” (“Four Gifts That Jesus Christ Offers to You,” 2018 First Presidency's Christmas Devotional, Dec. 2, 2018)

So, how do we follow and stay on the covenant path? The decisions we make are critical to our salvation and exaltation.

Re-examining Our Time

First, we need to decide what we will do with our time. We are constantly bombarded as to how “busy” everyone is. We need to re-examine our lives, shift things around, and invest our time in things of most worth in our future and our families. At the conclusion of the October 2018 general conference, President Nelson counselled, “I plead with you to take a careful look at how you spend your time. …I promise you that the Lord will bring the miracles He knows you need as you make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples” (“Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Nov. 2018).


When we put our lives in order, the rest will all fall into place as promised. I remember clearly when I was serving in the temple every Wednesday morning. Often, the phone would ring, someone would be at the door, or something would just happen to disrupt me from attending the temple. I personally called my family and friends, including those who lived out of town, and explained that I would not be available Wednesday morning each week. I asked them not to call or come by. To my surprise, everyone was supportive. The house was absolutely silent. The unexpected additional blessing was peace and quiet as I left the world behind and prepared to enter the Lord’s house.

Cardston Alberta Temple

Guided by Scripture Study and Temple Work

It is important to stop and assess our standing with the Lord. We need to chart our course and repeatedly course correct as necessary. To help us along our way, President Nelson has warned, “Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work. …In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018).

Ever important and always in the forefront are our ancestors waiting for us to get their ordinances completed. I cannot imagine the heartache of billions of people waiting for someone, somewhere to get their work done and release them from bondage. Many have waited since time immemorial. What an honor and privilege to participate in this great work. As President Hinckley made clear, “This work, unselfishly given in behalf of those on the other side, comes nearer to the unparalleled vicarious work of the Savior than any other of which I know” (“Rejoice in This Great Era of Temple Building,” Ensign, Nov. 1985).

Drawing Nearer to God

We can learn important lessons that will help us in our daily lives from the story of Mary and Martha described in Luke 10:38-42.

Mary and Martha with Jesus

Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, Relief Society General President, explained:

“Martha lived in the small village of Bethany, where she ‘received [Jesus] into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word.’ Both women loved the Lord. And ‘Jesus loved Martha, and [Mary].’ In fact, their relationship breached convention, for at that time women were not usually able to discuss the gospel with men.

“On one occasion Martha was making dinner and, as the scripture says, ‘was cumbered about much serving.’ In other words, she was stressed out!

“Mary, on the other hand, ‘sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word,’ while Martha became increasingly upset that no one was helping her. Does that sound familiar? Do you think she was thinking, ‘Why is Mary sitting there while I’m sweating over this stove?’ So Martha turned to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.’

“The Lord’s gentle invitation to Martha may have surprised her. ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’

“The Savior’s response strikingly clarified what mattered most. On that evening in Martha’s home, the good part was not in the kitchen; it was at the Lord’s feet. Dinner could wait” (“Choosing Charity: That Good Part,” Ensign, Nov. 2003).

In our daily lives, we ought to make choices that help us draw nearer to God.


As individuals and families, we carefully need to plan and fit spiritual things into our lives. Following the example of Mary, we should seek ways to choose “that good part” (Luke 10:42).