The Lord speaks of celestial beings as “just and true” (verse 53) and “just men made perfect” (verse 69).
76:53 – Just and true
76:69 “just men made perfect”
In Phillipians 3:12-14, Paul discusses the idea of being made perfect as a “pressing toward the mark”. I like that thought. It is all about our earnest striving to get there, but it is through the merits of Christ that we are “made perfect” (see also Moroni 10:32-33, Alma 24:10, 2 Nephi 31:19)
Walking the path of the gospel is analogous to surfing or walking a tightrope. All Satan has to do is to push you off one side to get you to fall off the path. If we aren’t careful we get off balance – we say to ourselves, “I should do all I can and the Savior will do the rest”… what if all I can doesn’t include tithing? Will the Savior make up the difference? No – what is needed is that I live a celestial law. So it is important to teach that we should do all that we can, but we need to remember that celestial laws exist and can be lived in this mortal sphere.
It’s hard to keep that balance – just men made perfect is a great phrase, but we need to learn what that means. What is a just man?
A lot of this has to do with our attitude. I’m trying to be good, I want to do good. This is different than the attitude in 2 Nephi 28 where we hear we can eat, drink and be merry. The behaviors of both people may be similar, but its where our hearts are that matters.
Quotes on the attitude of Just Men Made Perfect
“No matter what the outward appearance is—if I can know of a truth that the hearts of the people are fully set to do the will of their Father in Heaven, though they may falter and do a great many things through the weaknesses of human nature, yet they will be saved.” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 389.)
“To look for salvation fifty years hence and do nothing for salvation at the present time is preposterous. God has placed the means of salvation within our reach, and the volition of the creature is at his own disposal. When his sons and daughters avail themselves of the means he has supplied for their salvation, doing good for themselves, it is gratifying to him.” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 390.)
The Lord will accept that which is enough, with a good deal more pleasure and satisfaction than that which is too much and unnecessary. It is good to be earnest, good to be diligent, to persevere, and to be faithful all the time, but we may go to extremes in these things, when we do not need to. (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 367.)
I do not believe that any man lives up to his ideals, but if we are striving, if we are working, if we are trying, to the best of our ability, to improve day by day, then we are in the line of our duty. If we are seeking to remedy our own defects, if we are so living that we can ask God for light, for knowledge, for intelligence, and above all for His Spirit, that we may overcome our weaknesses, then, I can tell you, we are in the straight and narrow path that leads to life eternal; then we need have no fear. (Heber J. Grant., Conference Report, April 1909, Third Day—Morning Session. 111.)
Serve God according to the best knowledge you have, and lay down and sleep quietly; and when the Devil comes along and says, “You are not a very good Saint, you might enjoy greater blessings and more of the power of God, and have the vision of your mind opened, if you would live up to your privileges,” tell him to leave; that you have long ago forsaken his ranks and enlisted in the army of Jesus, who is your captain, and that you want no more of the Devil. 4:270. (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 82.)
These are on one side of the balance – striving. Celestial glory does not require perfection now. Celestial glory is also not “do everything you want and the Savior will make up the difference”.
Most of the celestial verses are things that you will have and not so much things you must do. In section 76 we outlined some of the requirements for becoming a celestial person:
57- priest of the Most High= you must be an elder in the church
58-64 They are all part of the first resurrection
67- There are a lot of them!
68- Their names are written in heaven
D&C 85:3,7,9 – to get our names written in heaven we must learn to live consecration
D&C 76:70 Celestial bodies – seminary students always ask about celestial bodies. They are particularly concerned with how they will appear to their spouse in the next life. “What age will I be?” is a question I often hear in class. “What will I look like? Will I appear old?”
I love this quote by Brigham Young on this subject:
Those who attain to the blessing of the first or celestial resurrection will be pure and holy, and perfect in body. Every man and woman that reaches to this unspeakable attainment will be as beautiful as the angels that surround the throne of God. If you can, by faithfulness in this life, obtain the right to come up in the morning of the resurrection, you need entertain no fears that the wife will be dissatisfied with her husband, or the husband with the wife; for those of the first resurrection will be free from sin and from the consequences and power of sin. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886], 10: 24 – 25.)