Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Fruit of the Tree of Life and Eternal Life

Lehi saw a vision of the Tree of Life (See 1 Nephi 8). In his vision he saw some pressing forward until they arrived at the tree and tasted its fruit. Some of them "after they had tasted of the fruit...were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost" (1 Nephi 8:28).

Nephi, the son of Lehi, wished to "know the things that [his] father had seen" (1 Nephi 10:1) and then had a glorious vision recorded in 1 Nephi 11-14. After his vision, he explained the vision to his brothers in 1 Nephi 15. At the close of his explanation of the vision he had something quite remarkable to say:

Wherefore, the wicked are rejected from the righteous, and also from that tree of life, whose fruit is most precious and most desirable above all other fruits; yea, and it [i.e., the fruit] is the greatest of all the gifts of God (1 Nephi 15:36).

This should make any LDS seminary graduate to raise his eyebrows. What is the greatest of all the gifts of God?

The Doctrine and Covenants states that "eternal the greatest of all the gifts of God" and also that "there is no greater gift than the gift of salvation" (14:7; 6:13). So salvation or eternal life is the greatest gift a child of God can receive, and this is synonymous with the fruit of the tree of life!

So, apparently some can partake of the fruit of the tree of life (which is eternal life or salvation) and then fall away. Since this life is the time to prepare to meet God, and since salvation cannot be lost after death, in what ways can we partake of eternal life and salvation in this life?

PS. There are a few Biblical references to having "eternal life" in this life. I won't point them out to you specifically, but they're there.


JayFlow22 said...

I would say that to God...there is no now and later. He can see my outcome from the beginning.
Just as the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world...
If I will endure this mortal life faithfully, then eternal life is already mine.
It's an idea that is hard for me to think about...but if I'll be getting eternal life, then I already have it.
I don't know if this'll help your discussion along or not.
The "partakers, then all away-ers" remind me of David. He was all set for exaltation and eternal life, but then committed murder and lost it all.

BYU said...

As you pointed out, the scriptures certainly do not teach "once saved always saved no matter what," but I do think they teach the idea that I can be saved here and now, I can possess eternal life here and now, etc. Retaining these things until they are brought into full completion, however, is up to my faithfulness to God

Bryce Haymond said...

I believe one of the greatest ways that we can taste of eternal life in this mortal life is by procreation. Having posterity is one of the unique characteristics of Godhood that he allows us to participate in a small way while we are yet mortal. And if we are righteous in this God-given stewardship while we are here, he will endow us with endless seed, just as he promised Abraham (Gen. 22:17). If we are not obedient to the gospel, and abuse this power, this divine gift will come to an end at death. This is the great Abrahamic covenant, the token of which was circumcision, and for good reason (Gen. 17:11).

Andrew I. Miller said...

Excellent points, everyone!