Monday, June 3, 2013

The Plan of Salvation -- Earth Life

This is part 2 of a 3-part series on the Lord's plan for our eternal happiness. It presents answers to the questions:
  1. Did I come from somewhere before earth, or was conception/birth the beginning of my existence?
  2. Why am I here? I mean, really?
  3. Is there any truth to the theory of the afterlife, or is death the end of my existence?
Part 1, titled "Pre-Mortal Existence" answered question number 1. This segment will answer question number 2. But please remember that in order 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

Why Am I here? 
In my Pre-Earth Life post, I explained that our progression in God's presence was at a standstill. Therefore, God the Father created the earth in order for our progress to continue. So why is it that we have been sent here to learn and grow?

To put it simply: "As man is now, God once was; as God now is man may be" -Lorenzo Snow

God himself was once a mortal being like us. He lived on an earth, learned, grew, and after much time has become the deity that we now worship. Sound a little blasphemous? Jesus himself even mentioned that he was following the example of the Father when he spoke in John 5:19.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
Jesus Christ is our ultimate example. What we learn from him can also be applied in our lives: We never saw our parents grow up--do their homework, learn right from wrong, go to work, etc.--but we know that they did do those things because they are able to teach them to us. How could God the Father teach the Savior how to do what was right with a mortal body on earth if he himself never had a similar experience?

This brings me to the other reason we needed to come to earth in order to progress: we needed to gain a mortal body to house our spirits and help us learn. I do not fully comprehend the importance of having a physical body, but these examples can help illuminate the significance of it:
  1. In the New Testament, there is an account of unclean spirits trying to occupy someone's body. Jesus was called upon to cast them out. I now quote from the account:
    1. "Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine. . . . and they were about two thousand." (Mark 5:11-13)
    2. Two thousand unclean spirits (see citation #1) would rather try to possess one body than be without one. How privileged we are to have bodies of our own.

  2. When the resurrected Savior appeared to his apostles, he assured them that he really was alive (not a ghost) when he said, "A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24:39)
    1. Imagine the implications that go along with that. Think about the things we can learn and do with a physical body just because have flesh, bones, and blood in our veins. Also of note is that if a glorified, perfect being needs a physical body, that's saying something about it's importance.
Having a body would enable us to have experiences and learn in ways that a spirit cannot. With a body, we are able to experience things like pain, hunger, thirst, and sickness. Because of this, we also have an understanding of and appreciation for health, satisfaction, and joy (2 Nephi 2:11-13). In heaven, we could not fully understand the good that was there because we had never experienced the bad...basically, we were sheltered. The chance to "move out of our parents house," as it were, gave us a way to see what we were made of.

Being on earth and subject to both good and bad gave us the ability to make choices and learn from them. But having the ability to make choices also leaves us wide open for sin, transgression, and other mistakes that draw us away from God (see citation #2). This began with the decision that Adam and Eve made in the garden to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (a.k.a. the forbidden fruit). Since that time, we have all been cut off from God's presence due to our imperfections in thought, action, and behavior.  

But God is wise. He knew this would happen. In my Pre-Earth Life post, I talked about the great counsel that God held for all of us in which he chose Jesus Christ to be our savior. Why would God pre-plan to have a savior if he didn't think that (1) Adam and Eve would eat the fruit and (2) that every generation after them would continually mess up? He did know, and thus called Jesus to atone (mediate or make amends) for those imperfections. The Atonement of Christ makes it so that we are only responsible for the things that we do; Adam and Eve's transgression is not held over our heads because Christ has already atoned (made amends) for it. To further clarify, I present the example of a child born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This happens due to heavy drinking on the mother's part during pregnancy. The child carries the effects of his/her mother's actions throughout his/her life, but is most definitely not responsible for them. In the same way, the Atonement of Jesus Christ frees us of the responsibility for any type of sin or transgression that we may experience the effects of, but is not our own.

God gave each of us the privilege of having physical bodies to house our spirits and give us an increased capacity to learn through our own experiences and choices. He want us to choose to do things in a way that pleases Him. So, how do we do that? It's not like he's physically standing next to us, telling us what to do all the time. To start, God has given us his Holy Scriptures, which contain the teachings of prophets since Adam's time. In addition, our Heavenly Father has called a prophet and apostles that lead His church on earth today (Link 1, see citation #3). Through them, we can receive specific instruction for our times. We also have the power that comes from prayer--talking with God one-on-one--for help and guidance in Jesus' name through the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants to help us. All we need to do is seek him out and follow his counsels (Matthew 7:7-8, D & C 19:23). If we do these things, we will be better prepared for what's coming after this life. 

Continue to: After Death--Post-Earth Life

  1. Where do unclean spirits come from?: Link 1, Link 2 -- Ctrl + f search "rebellion"
  2. Difference between transgression and sin: Ctrl + f search "contrast between"
  3. What is a living prophet: Click Here 

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