2. The Plan of Salvation

2. The Plan of Salvation, Doctrinal Mastery Core Document (2018)

2. The Plan of Salvation

Christus hand and creation mural

2.1. In the premortal existence Heavenly Father introduced a plan to enable us to become like Him and obtain immortality and eternal life (see Moses 1:39). To fulfill this plan and become like our Father in Heaven, we must come to know Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, and have a correct understanding of Their character and attributes (see John 17:3).

2.2. The scriptures refer to Heavenly Father’s plan as the plan of salvation, the great plan of happiness, the plan of redemption, and the plan of mercy. This plan includes the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and all of the laws, ordinances, and doctrine of the gospel. Moral agency—the ability to choose and act for ourselves—is also essential to Heavenly Father’s plan. Our eternal progression depends on how we use this gift (see Joshua 24:15; 2 Nephi 2:27).

2.3. Jesus Christ is the central figure in Heavenly Father’s plan. The plan of salvation enables us to become perfected, receive a fulness of joy, enjoy our family relationships throughout the eternities, and live forever in the presence of God.

Related references: Malachi 4:5–6; 3 Nephi 12:48; D&C 131:1–4

Premortal Life

2.4. Before we were born on the earth, we lived in the presence of our Heavenly Father as His spirit children (see Abraham 3:22–23). In this premortal existence we participated in a council with Heavenly Father’s other spirit children. During that council Heavenly Father presented His plan and the premortal Jesus Christ covenanted to be the Savior.

2.5. We used our agency to follow Heavenly Father’s plan. Those who followed Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were permitted to come to the earth to experience mortality and progress toward eternal life. Lucifer, another spirit son of God, rebelled against the plan. He became Satan, and he and his followers were cast out of heaven and denied the privileges of receiving a physical body and experiencing mortality.

Related references: Jeremiah 1:4–5; Hebrews 12:9; 2 Nephi 2:27; 3 Nephi 11:10–11

The Creation

2.6. Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth under the direction of the Father (see D&C 76:22–24). The Creation of the earth was essential to God’s plan. It provided a place where we could gain a physical body, be tested and tried, and develop divine attributes.

2.7. Adam was the first man created on the earth. God created Adam and Eve in His own image. All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26–27). Gender is an essential characteristic of each person’s premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

The Fall

2.8. In the Garden of Eden, God joined Adam and Eve in marriage. While Adam and Eve were in the garden, they were still in God’s presence and could have lived forever. They lived in innocence, and God provided for their needs.

2.9. God gave Adam and Eve their agency while they were in the Garden of Eden. He commanded them not to eat the forbidden fruit—the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Obeying this commandment meant that they could remain in the garden. However, Adam and Eve did not yet understand that if they remained in the garden they could not progress by experiencing opposition in mortality. They could not know joy because they could not experience sorrow and pain. Furthermore, they could not have children.

2.10. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and they chose to do so. Because of this choice, they were cast out from God’s presence and became fallen and mortal. Adam and Eve’s transgression and the changes they experienced as a result, including spiritual and physical death, are called the Fall. Spiritual death is separation from God. Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the mortal body.

2.11. The Fall is an essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. As a result of the Fall, Adam and Eve could have children. They and their posterity could experience joy and sorrow, know good from evil, and progress (see 2 Nephi 2:22–25).

2.12. As descendants of Adam and Eve, we inherit a fallen condition during mortality. We are separated from God’s presence and are subject to physical death. We are also tested by the difficulties of mortal life and the temptations of the adversary. While we are not accountable for Adam and Eve’s transgression, we are responsible for our own sins. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome the negative effects of the Fall, receive forgiveness for our sins, and eventually experience a fulness of joy.

Related references: Genesis 1:28; Mosiah 3:19; Alma 34:9–10

Related topic: The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Mortal Life

2.13. Mortal life is a time of learning, during which we prove that we will use our agency to do all that the Lord has commanded and prepare for eternal life by developing divine attributes. We do this as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repent, receive saving ordinances and covenants such as baptism and confirmation, and faithfully endure to the end of our mortal lives in following the example of Jesus Christ.

2.14. In mortality our spirits are united with our physical bodies, giving us opportunities to grow and develop in ways that were not possible in the premortal life. Because our Father in Heaven has a tangible body of flesh and bone, our bodies are necessary for us to progress and become like Him. Our bodies are sacred and should be respected as a gift from our Heavenly Father (see 1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

Related references: Joshua 24:15; Matthew 22:36–39; John 14:15; 2 Nephi 2:27; 3 Nephi 12:48; Moroni 7:45, 47–48; D&C 130:22–23

Related topics: The Godhead; The Atonement of Jesus Christ; Ordinances and Covenants; Commandments

Life after Death

2.15. When we die, our spirits enter the spirit world and await the Resurrection. The spirits of the righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise. Those who die without knowledge of the truth and those who are disobedient in mortality enter a temporary place in the postmortal world called spirit prison.

2.16. Every person eventually will have the opportunity to learn the principles of the gospel and receive its ordinances and covenants. Many of the faithful will preach the gospel to those in spirit prison. Those who choose to receive the gospel, repent, and accept the ordinances of salvation that are performed for them in temples will dwell in paradise until the Resurrection (see 1 Peter 4:6).

2.17. Resurrection is the reuniting of our spirit bodies with our perfected physical bodies of flesh and bone. After resurrection we will be immortal—our spirit and body will never again be separated. Every person born on earth will be resurrected because Jesus Christ overcame physical death (see 1 Corinthians 15:20–22). The righteous will be resurrected before the wicked and will come forth in the First Resurrection.

2.18. The Final Judgment will occur after the Resurrection. Jesus Christ will judge each person to determine the eternal glory that he or she will receive. This judgment will be based on each person’s desires and obedience to God’s commands (see Revelation 20:12).

2.19. There are three kingdoms of glory: the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom (see 1 Corinthians 15:40–42). Those who are valiant in the testimony of Jesus and obedient to the principles of the gospel will dwell in the celestial kingdom in the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and with their righteous family members.

Related references: Luke 24:36–39; John 17:3; D&C 131:1–4

Related topics: The Atonement of Jesus Christ; Ordinances and Covenants