In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith sometime in June 1830, we are told of our Heavenly Father’s declared intention: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” 1 According to this decree, the Father’s desire is to provide all of us with the opportunity to receive a fulness of joy, even the fulness that He possesses in His perfected and glorified state. 2
During these momentous latter days, we declare that God our Eternal Father lives. We testify that we existed in His presence, prior to this life, as His spirit children. During our premortal existence, we were tutored in conditions which provided us with the opportunity to develop our talents and abilities. In that blessed, premortal abode, we were “left to choose good or evil.” Alma states that we chose good by exercising “great faith” and performing “good works.” Thus, we kept our first estate, while our Father, in turn, foreordained us to receive certain privileges in this lifetime. 3
Likewise, latter-day revelation reveals that our Heavenly Father ordained a great plan of happiness for all of His spirit children who had kept their first estate. 4 It embraced the prospect that we could one day become like our Father in Heaven and possess all of the attributes and rights He now enjoys. The Apostle Peter reminded the Saints that our Lord’s “divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” so that “by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” 5 Peter’s statement may be considered bold, and we admit that it would take a lifetime, and more, to accomplish; nevertheless, his thoughts find resonance in the Savior’s charge, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” 6
The Father’s plan also required all who had kept their first estate to be tried and tested in a mortal or second estate. In this environment, we are required to act for ourselves and prove to ourselves and to God whether we would keep all of His commandments and overcome sin and opposition. 7
Since the Fall of Adam and because of the nature of mortal mankind, man developed a predisposition to violate the laws of God and thereby become enslaved to the demands of justice. Nevertheless, because of our Heavenly Father’s foreknowledge and through the great plan of happiness, He devised a plan of mercy. It furnished a way for the exacting requirements of justice to be appeased through an infinite Atonement. 8
The Atonement, King Benjamin taught, allows man to put off the natural man as we yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit. 11 Consequently, it is our testimony that all who come unto Christ by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel are able to exercise faith unto “everlasting salvation and eternal life.” 12
We also testify that compliance with all of the conditions of the great plan of happiness, after the Great Apostasy, was not possible until our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, reestablished the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. 13
Our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, declared, “The Prophet Joseph’s account of these events is true, that the Father bore witness of the divinity of His Son, that the Son instructed the boy prophet, and that there followed a train of events which led to the organization of ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.’” 14
It is the heartfelt desire of all the faithful to keep their second estate. We are not left alone to find our way back home. The Lord has set up His kingdom on the earth wherein the elect of God can be gathered.
In the Lord’s loving care, He has provided us with all of the essential resources required to forge our way through the many pitfalls placed before us by the evil one. 15
These indispensable resources include the ordinances and covenants of the gospel, in which the power of the Atonement is manifest. 16 We also have the holy scriptures, which provide us with a standard to discern truth from error. 17
Importantly, we live in a blessed day in which the Lord has placed His watchmen, even the living apostles and prophets, in our midst. They hold all the necessary keys and authority which are essential to administering the ordinances of salvation and exaltation. 18
Above all, as baptized members of the church of Christ, we have the incomparable gift of the Holy Ghost. The Savior, on the eve of His suffering for our sins, told His disciples, that the “Spirit … will guide you into all truth.” 19
John the Revelator, in heavenly vision, saw the fulfillment of our Father’s plan and recorded the condition of those who had come out of great tribulation and had washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. He saw how they who had overcome the world stood before the throne of God and served Him in His temple. The Lord was in their midst, while the faithful hungered and thirsted no more, and God wiped away all the tears from their eyes. 20
We need not fear but with faith follow our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness. Our call to all is to come and receive of the grace and mercy of the Lord, for He is mighty to save and will never forsake us! 21
May the Lord bless us in this great endeavor, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
See Alma 42:15.
See Moses 4:2.
Doctrines of the Gospel: Student Manual (1986), 22.
See Mosiah 3:19.
D&C 1:30; “Special Witnesses of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2001, 20.
See Deut. 7:7–18.