Repentance is an eternal law, the law of the Lord, and he has commanded his children to obey its terms and conditions.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "A New Witness for the Articles of Faith", Article 4
For whatever reason it never dawned on me that the doctrine of repentance is an eternal law. I always figured it was tied to mortality and to our progression, to our weakness because of the fall.
All through my life, I've understood that God created His Plan of Salvation so we all could come to earth, receive a physical body, then return home. Adam and Eve were sent down here, but there was a problem, they could not have children in the state of innocence they were in. They didn't know good vs evil. But they knew they needed to populate the earth because God said so, so they partook of the fruit to have that knowledge and be able to have children. As their descendants on earth now, we are all subject to good vs evil. We are subject to two deaths: physical and spiritual.
But this was part of God's plan. He provided a way to overcome those two deaths. Jesus Christ is God's answer. Jesus Christ is the ONLY answer. Through Him, we overcome physical and spiritual death. Overcoming physical death is a gift that we all get from Christ. Overcoming spiritual death, however, requires action on our part. Christ made it possible, He opened the gate, but we need to enter in and walk the straight and narrow.
And because we will fail and fall and trip along the way, the doctrine of repentance will make it so we can get up and start walking again. Repentance means to change, to improve. It's a process. Over and over, this is the process until we are perfect.
Now, because this is an eternal law, I am pondering two things: one, God must follow eternal laws to remain as God so what does this mean exactly? He cannot change. He cannot improve. He's already reached perfection. He is already saved. Repentance must also have another significance related to perfection. Afterall, I don't know much.....yet. 🙄
And, two, Elder McConkie's words from another talk he gave said that as long as we get through the gate (baptism) and are on the path, no matter how far along it when we die, we'll be okay. We need not fear or worry.
The doctrine of repentance will allow us to get on that path and progress and progress and progress....but it's a tool we must use.