The Plan of Salvation is God’s plan of happiness for His Children; it is Heavenly Father’s plan to enable us to become like Him and receive a fullness of joy. Jesus Christ makes it all possible.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
~ Romans 8:16-17
God’s Plan of Salvation answers these 3 important questions about life:
- Where did I come from?
- What is my purpose in life?
- Where am I going after I die?
1. Where Did I Come From?
This first question is one many people ponder. Did you exist before this life? Did you live with God? Only in the restored gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are these types of questions fully answered.
Each of us is an eternal being. Life did not begin at birth and it will not end at death.
Each of us on this earth existed before we were born. We lived as spirit sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven (God). We wanted to become like Him. We knew of and accepted God’s plan for us to come to this earth, to gain a body, and to prepare ourselves to return and live with Him. We knew that Jesus Christ, His Son, would be essential to that plan. Scriptures like this one from the Old Testament help us understand how our lives did not merely begin at birth:
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.
~ Jeremiah 1:5
Agency has many different meanings in the world today. In this context, it means our ability to choose for ourselves. In the pre-earth life we had the choice of whether or not to follow God’s plan. In fact, you are on this earth because you made a choice to follow God. On the other hand, Satan opposed God’s plan and wanted to destroy our agency. Satan and his followers were cast out of heaven. In Revelation chapter 12, we read:
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
2. What Is My Purpose in Life?
The second question answered by the Plan of Salvation, and perhaps the most pertinent to our time in mortality right now, is what is my purpose in life? This question can be answered by understanding how the world began, the role of Adam & Even and the Savior Jesus Christ.
Under the direction of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created this earth as a place for us to live. It was created as a place for us to gain experience away from the presence of our Father in Heaven.
The Fall of Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were the first of God’s children to come to this earth and to gain a body. They lived in a place called the Garden of Eden.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
~ Genesis 1:26-27
While in the Garden, Adam and Eve were given their agency, or the ability to choose. God also gave them commandments. Satan (or the devil) tempted Adam and Eve and they chose to disobey God. Because of this choice they were separated from God’s presence physically and spiritually, and thus so are we.
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
~ Genesis 3:22-24
Mormons regard the Fall of Adam and Eve — their decision to disobey in the garden — as a crucial part of the God’s plan. The Book of Mormon explains why:
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
~ 2 Nephi 2:22-25
In other words, Adam and Eve had to fall so that all of God’s children could come to earth and progress through life.
Many Christian faiths are upset that Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s commandment. However, we know that it was simply part of God’s plan. Because of their choice each of us can come to this earth, gain a body, gain experience (away from God), and prepare to return to live with Him. This is your purpose in life.
Mormons believe that during this life we should keep God’s commandments, including the need to repent of our sins and to be baptized.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ
However, life is not always easy. And admittedly, life is much harder for some than others. But knowing that God loves each of us and has a plan for each one of us makes things easier to cope with.
When we make good choices we feel good. When we make mistakes we feel sorrow. We can turn to Jesus Christ when we’ve done wrong to be forgiven of our sins. This is made possible because of His Atonement. His atonement is his sufferings for us, his crucifixion, and his eventual triumph over death when he was resurrected.
Through Christ’s atonement, we are not punished for Adam’s sins; rather, we are accountable to God for our own life. When we make mistakes we must repent so that we can one day return to God and Christ.
» We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
» We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
~ Articles of Faith, 2 & 3
3. Where Will I Go After This Life?
At one point or another, we all question what happens to us when we die. Death is a natural part of God’s plan of salvation for his children, for it is by passing through death that we are eventually able to become resurrected and, if we have chosen to follow Christ, we will be able to return to God’s presence.
Death is not the end of our existence. Though death does bring much sorrow to those that are left behind, it is only for a moment in the grand scheme of things. Because God’s plan is for us to return to live with Him and be together with our families, we don’t need to fear.
When you die you will go to a place called the Spirit World — it is a temporary place where all of God’s children await resurrection and judgment. (See Alma 40, Book of Mormon for further explanation on this doctrine).
…there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works.
~ Alma 40:21
Resurrection and Judgment
Each of God’s children will be resurrected, or have their spirit and their body reunited in perfect form.
After resurrection, God will judge each of us. Though it is slightly more complex than this, simply put: if you have been righteous and kept God’s commandments you will be able to return to His presence. If you have not then you will not be able to live with Him and your family for all eternity. That is why it is of the utmost importance to follow Christ, to repent and prepare to return to His presence one day.
(You may be thinking, “but what about all those people who have never heard of Jesus Christ?” Thankfully, the Restored Gospel has answers to that question. First and foremost, God is a merciful God and will ensure that every one of His children will have the opportunity to accept Christ as their savior, whether in this life or the next. This is why Mormons place so much emphasis on temples and family history work. We believe that, through the power of Christ and proper priesthood authority, we can act as proxies for our deceased ancestors and be baptized and perform other sacred ordinances on their behalf so that they, too, can accept Christ as their savior. Click here to read more about Temples.)
Kingdoms of Glory
Mormon beliefs about heaven and hell differ in some ways from the traditional Christian belief. First, we do believe in a heaven, but rather than it being one single place, heaven is divided into three kingdoms of glory. Based on how we are judged by God we will dwell eternally in one of the three kingdoms of glory. The highest kingdom of glory (the Celestial Kingdom) is reserved for the righteous and it is where God and Christ dwell and where we can live with our families forever. The other two kingdoms of glory are also a glorious state of existence, but not as glorious as the Celestial Kingdom. God and Christ do not dwell here, and people assigned to these kingdoms cannot progress.
Second, Mormons also believe in hell, but not really the “fire and brimstone” type of scene described by many today. In fact, we believe relatively few individuals will go to “hell” in the traditional sense. Rather, even the worst of sinners will inherit some level of glory after this life, albeit it will never compare to the splendor and grandeur enjoyed by the righteous in the Celestial Kingdom. (Read 1 Corinthians 15 for more information on this doctrine.)
To summarize, Mormons believe that:
- We are spirit children of our Father in Heaven, that we lived with him before this mortal life.
- We chose to come to this earth to gain a body, be tested, and prepare to return to the presence of God.
- Adam and Eve fell to make it possible for the children of God to come to earth. Jesus Christ’s atonement makes it possible for all of us to return to God’s presence.
- After this life, all of humankind will be judged according to their works and the light and knowledge they had in this life. Everyone will have an equal and fair chance to accept Christ as their Savior.
- God and Christ dwell in the highest degree of heaven — the Celestial Kingdom — and we can dwell with Them and our families for eternity if we choose to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How Can I Know The Plan of Salvation is True?
Many of these teachings are found in the Bible and other scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Others have been revealed to us by modern prophets. To know for yourself that these teachings are true you should pray and ask God. You should also invite the Mormon Missionaries to your home so they can share with you more of these teachings and provide more details that I am not able to fit in this condensed version.