Dallin H. Oaks
(Adapted from an October 1993 conference address. See Ensign, November 1993, pages 72–75.)

Questions like “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” and “Where are we going?” are answered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Prophets have called it the Plan of Salvation and “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). Through inspiration we can understand this road map of eternity and use it to guide our path in this life.

The gospel teaches us that we are the spirit children of heavenly parents. Before our mortal birth, we lived as the sons and daughters of the Eternal Father. We were placed here on earth to work toward eternal life. These truths give us a unique perspective and different values to guide our decisions from those who doubt the existence of God and believe that life is not part of an eternal plan.

Our understanding of life begins with a council in heaven. There the spirit children of God were taught his eternal plan, the “great plan of happiness,” as Alma called it. We had progressed as far as we could without a physical body. To realize a fulness of joy, we had to prove our willingness to keep the commandments of God in a circumstance where we had no memory of what took place before our birth on earth.

In our lives here on earth, we would become subject to death, and we would be soiled by sin. To reclaim us from death and sin, our Heavenly Father’s plan provided us a Savior, whose atonement would redeem all from death and pay the price necessary for us all to be forgiven of our sins if we keep his commandments and repent of our sins.

When we understand the Plan of Salvation, we also understand the purpose and effect of the commandments God has given his children. He teaches us correct principles and invites us to govern ourselves. We do this by the choices we make.

We who know God’s plan and have covenanted, or promised, to participate in it must desire to do what is right, and we must do all that we can all our lives. When we have done all that we can, we can rely on God’s promised mercy.