Friday, May 17, 2013

The Plan of Salvation -- Pre-Mortal Existence

Some call them the "Universal Questions of Life" while others label them "The Big Questions." Regardless of your name for them, there are a few questions that, at some time or another during one's lifetime, come up and are subject to serious thought. They are: 
  1. Did I come from somewhere before earth, or was conception/birth the beginning of my existence?
  2. Why am I here? Is there a purpose to getting an education, working, and having friends/a family?
  3. Is there any truth to the theory of the afterlife, or is death the end of my existence?
These questions have answers. However, to accept these answers as truth, you need to be willing to believe in the following:
  1. The existence of God
  2. Absolute truth found in the Holy Scriptures
  3. The idea that you have greater potential than you realize
This segment will be divided into 3 parts. This part will address the question "Where did I come from?" Part 2 will talk about our purpose on Earth. The final post will focus on what happens after this life, from death to after the judgment.

Did I come from somewhere before earth?
In Jeremiah 1:5, the Lord is speaking to the prophet and lets him know something very important:
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
If God knew Jeremiah, it makes sense that he knew all of us, too. Before we were born, we lived in Heaven with God. We call him our "Father in Heaven" because he is the father of our spirits. We are all spirit siblings. And it wasn't just humans up there. In the Book of Moses, we learn more:
And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the earth. (Moses 3:4-5)
Every living thing on the earth has a spirit form and was in heaven with us. This includes animals and plants. Thus, heaven wasn't a place like they generally portray in the movies (nothing but clouds, harps, etc.). It was a place of beautiful nature and peaceful surroundings. It was also a place of learning and growth. Heavenly Father was our great example and we wanted to be like him, but the time had come that we had progressed as far as we could in His presence. Much like elementary school, there's only so much that we could learn there before we had to move on to other things. Heavenly Father knew this, and he knew what we needed. He called all of us to a great counsel in which he told us that he would create a world for us to live on. While there, we would receive physical bodies that would give us the ability to learn more than we could as spirits. We would not remember our life in Heaven; a symbolic "veil of forgetfulness" would be upon us. This would be done because part of our experience on earth would be to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. In such a way, we would gain valuable experiences that would help us to become more like him.

Living away from God's presence on earth would lead to much growth and learning, much like moving away from home teaches you a lot more through experience than when you lived with your parents. However, a key part in growth and learning is making choices for yourself. God knew that leaving home--and leaving the presence of a divine being--would make us much more prone to sin, and we all knew that no unclean thing could dwell in God's presence. So, God let us know that someone would have to volunteer to take upon himself the responsibility for everyone's unclean thoughts, acts, behavior, etc. He would be known as a savior for everyone; if we relied on this person for help to overcome our weaknesses, accept the sacrifices that he would make, and rely on him for help, he would be our advocate (mediator) with the Father so that we could live with Him again. This person would have to lead a perfect life while on earth in order to do this. If he failed, no one would be able to return to God's presence. It would be up to us to choose to either rely on this savior or not go back to God.

Two of our spirit siblings volunteered for this task. One was Jesus Christ, the first-born of the spirit children, who said that he would do it the way God had prescribed. The other was Lucifer, a Son of the Morning (indicating that he was "in authority in the presence of God"), but he presented a different way of doing it: He said that if everyone followed him, we would all automatically go back to God's presence because he would force everyone to only do good. We wouldn't have to worry about making mistakes because he would choose for us. So, we had to make a choice. Our options were: 
  1. Support Jesus as the savior. This would mean that upon going to earth, we would have to learn of God and do what was right by His standards--regardless of the trials we would face--if we wanted to see him again. We would be able to learn from experiences, be they positive or negative. Some of us might not make it back, but that's a risk we'd have to take.
  2. Support Lucifer's way of redeeming us. This would mean that we would all be guaranteed re-entrance to God's presence, but we would not have the right to make our own choices because he would force us to always be good.
We know that the Father chose Jesus to be the savior, but not everyone in Heaven decided to follow him. Revelation 12:7-8 elaborates: 

"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven."

I know...the words "war" and "heaven" don't typically find themselves in the same sentence. Nevertheless, this is what occurred. Lucifer wasn't too happy that Jesus was chosen to be the savior. He decided to rebel against (1) the plan the God had put forth as well as (2) anyone who supported Jesus. And he wasn't alone. One-third of our spirit siblings in heaven liked his idea so much that they decided to rebel, too. The result is shown in the above scripture: they did not win. In addition, because of their rebellious actions and lack of desire to change their minds, they could no longer stay in God's presence. They were kicked out of heaven. Lucifer became known as the devil and those who followed him are known as "his angels." These spirit siblings will never have the chance to live with God again or come to earth with a physical body.

If you are on earth, CONGRATS! That means that you supported the plan in the way the God the Father presented it and you supported Jesus Christ as the savior of us all. 

Continue to Part 2: Earth Life

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