Before we were born on earth, we lived with our Heavenly Parents as Their spirit children (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:55–56). At a council with all of His children, Heavenly Father presented a plan, known as the “plan of salvation” or “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:5, 8). The plan includes all the laws and ordinances of the gospel necessary to gain eternal life, “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:13).
Sadly, one-third of Heavenly Father’s spirit children did not accept the plan. They chose to follow Lucifer, who became the devil, and were cast out of the presence of God (see Revelation 12:7–9).
We are on earth because we chose to follow Heavenly Father’s plan. One significant purpose of mortality is to gain a physical body. On earth we can have joy and peace, but we will also face temptation, opposition, and adversity and experience trials. Earthly trials are part of mortality and can help us grow to be more like our Heavenly Father.
Essential to the plan is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Jesus overcame spiritual and physical death and took upon Himself our afflictions, sorrows, and sins (see Alma 7:11–13). This suffering, death, and Resurrection is referred to as the Atonement. The Atonement was necessary since “no unclean thing can dwell with God” (1 Nephi 10:21). It is through Christ’s sacrifice that we can repent and live with God again.
Also essential to God’s plan is agency, or the ability to choose. When we choose to repent of our sins, we choose to accept the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If we exercise our agency to keep the commandments, we have the blessing of participating in sacred ordinances, which are ceremonies that include making covenants or promises with God. These ordinances include baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordination for men, and temple ordinances.
Part of our Heavenly Father’s plan is that someday we will all die. Death is the separation of the spirit and the physical body. Our spirit, which existed in the premortal life, will live on after our death. If we lived righteously—repenting as needed—to the end of our mortal life, we will enter spirit paradise. The Book of Mormon prophet Alma described this as “a state of rest, a state of peace” (Alma 40:12).
Because of Christ’s Atonement, all of God’s children will be resurrected and our bodies and spirits will be reunited (see 1 Corinthians 15:20–22; Doctrine and Covenants 88:14–17). Resurrection will be followed by the Final Judgment, where God will judge us according to our desires and our obedience to the commandments (see 2 Nephi 9:15–17; Doctrine and Covenants 137:9). If we have qualified through repentance, we will be able to live forever with our loving Heavenly Parents (see Alma 40; 41; Doctrine and Covenants 76).
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“The Plan of Salvation”
Thomas S. Monson, “The Plan of Salvation,” Ensign, January 2017