In 2016, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles held a question and answers session in Chile. Elder Bednar answered someone’s question about the final judgment. You can read his statement below and you will also find a video clip of his answer.
“How will I know where I’m going to go? I can answer that for you. You don’t have to die to find out.
If living the gospel for you is hard, if it’s a chore. “Uh, if I just wasn’t a Latter-day Saint I could have fun.”
If that’s what you’re like when you die, guess where you’re going to go? With other people who feel the same way – because that’s the law that you’ve learned to love.
If during the course of your life, a little bit at a time, you have learned to love living the gospel, guess where you’re going when you die?
With people who love living the gospel.
The Lord is not going to have to tell you when you come into His presence, you won’t think, “Gee, I hope he’s in a good mood today. I hope he gives me some extra points. So my grade will be a little bit better.”
When you come into His presence, you will go where you know you belong. Based on what we have desired to do and become while we have lived on the earth.
If you can look your Bishop in the eye because you’re worthy and clean, you already know what the day of judgment will be like.
There’s no awkwardness, no embarrassment, no shame. Living the gospel is not hard. Not living the gospel is what’s hard. And it is joyful to live it.”
This video from Elder Bednar speaks to a principle that Brad Wilcox, currently serving in the General Young Men’s Presidency, shared during a BYU Devotional in 2011. This is an excerpt from that talk:
I know a young man who just got out of prison—again. Each time two roads diverge in a yellow wood, he takes the wrong one—every time. When he was a teenager dealing with every bad habit a teenage boy can have, I said to his father, “We need to get him to EFY.” I have worked with that program since 1985. I know the good it can do.
His dad said, “I can’t afford that.”
I said, “I can’t afford it either, but you put some in, and I’ll put some in, and then we’ll go to my mom because she is a real softy.”
We finally got the kid to EFY, but how long do you think he lasted? Not even a day. By the end of the first day, he called his mother and said, “Get me out of here!” Heaven will not be heaven for those who have not chosen to be heavenly.
In the past, I had a picture in my mind of what the final judgment would be like, and it went something like this: Jesus standing there with a clipboard and Brad standing on the other side of the room nervously looking at Jesus.
Jesus checks His clipboard and says, “Oh, shoot, Brad. You missed it by two points.”
Brad begs Jesus, “Please, check the essay question one more time! There have to be two points you can squeeze out of that essay.” That’s how I always saw it.
But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “Let me stay.” No, he will probably be saying, “Get me out of here!”
Knowing Christ’s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement—not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.”
The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change.
Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin.
As Elder Bednar and Brother Wilcox have both testified, heaven will be heaven for those who choose to be and live heavenly.