As spirit children of God, we lived in our pre-earth life with our Heavenly Father. He presented the plan by which we could continue our progression and experience mortality on earth. In the Grand Council in Heaven, we accepted Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation and chose to come to earth, gain bodies, and be tested so we could become more like Him (see Abr. 3:25). As part of the plan, Heavenly Father provided His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, to overcome death and to atone for our sins. By faithfully following His plan, we can return to Heavenly Father.
We lived with our Heavenly Parents in our pre-earth life. Unfortunately, one-third of our Father in Heaven’s spirit children did not accept His plan. They chose to follow Satan, then known as Lucifer (see 2 Ne. 24:12; D&C 76:26), who rebelled and sought to take away our agency. Lucifer wanted God’s power and glory for himself. A war of ideas was fought in heaven between Satan’s followers and God’s. Satan and his followers were cast out. You are on earth because you chose Heavenly Father’s plan.
When we come to earth, we forget our heavenly home and who we were before we came here. The Lord created the earth to be a dwelling place and a testing place (see Abr. 3:25) for Heavenly Father’s children. He also granted us agency. Earth life is a time when we are tried to see if we will use our agency to do God’s will. Earth life is also a time when we gain bodies, live in families, and experience joy as we follow Heavenly Father’s plan for us. We are accountable for how we take care of our bodies and how we use our agency. The Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost help guide us while we are away from our heavenly home.
Also, while we are here, and if we have the opportunity to hear the gospel, we need to receive those ordinances that will help us return to God’s presence: baptism, confirmation, certain temple ordinances, and celestial marriage. Ultimately, we are here so we can progress and become more like our Heavenly Father.
Death is a separation of the body from the spirit. It is a part of God’s plan. When you die, your spirit will go to the spirit world, and your body will return to the elements of the earth until the resurrection.
The spirit world consists of paradise and spirit prison. In paradise are righteous souls of those who were baptized and were faithful to their testimony of Jesus on earth (see 2 Ne. 9:18). In spirit prison are those who have not yet accepted God or who were unfaithful to their knowledge of Him in this life. Because of the Savior’s Atonement, those in spirit prison have the opportunity to be taught and to accept the gospel. To learn more about the spirit world, read Doctrine and Covenants 138.
At some future day, the Lord will return to the earth, and the Saints will be resurrected and caught up to meet Him. Resurrection is the reuniting of body and spirit through the power of Christ’s Atonement. The Lord will also judge all people. After a period of peace called the Millennium, terrestrial inhabitants (see D&C 45:54) will be resurrected. Those of the telestial kingdom will go through hell and suffer before being released to the telestial kingdom (see D&C 76:81–86). Those who have been faithful to their covenants and have been cleansed from their sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ will enter the celestial kingdom, where God dwells. The very most wicked, called the sons of perdition—those who continue to fight against Christ—will be sent to outer darkness, where there is no glory. To learn more about the kingdoms of glory, read Doctrine and Covenants 76 and 88.
COUNCIL IN HEAVEN
WAR IN HEAVEN
SONS OF PERDITION
“You elected to have this earth experience as part of His plan for you. The prophets call it ‘the plan of mercy,’ the ‘eternal plan of deliverance,’ ‘the plan of salvation,’ and, yes, ‘the great plan of happiness.’ You were taught this plan before you came to earth and there rejoiced in the privilege of participating in it.”
—Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 73.