Premortal Life

“Premortal Life,” Topic and Questions (2023)


Gospel Study Guide

Premortal Life

Our life with God before we were born

At some point, most people will wonder what will happen when they die. But have you ever wondered about whether you existed before being born and, if so, who you were then?

We know from the scriptures that before we came to earth, we lived with God and worshipped Him as our Eternal Father. We also received instruction and preparation for our mortal lives and chose to follow our Father’s plan for our salvation.

This plan of salvation included our coming to earth. As part of the mortal experience, we would receive mortal bodies and a veil would cover the memories of our premortal life. Here on earth we must exercise our moral agency, or our ability to choose. In a Grand Council held during our premortal life, Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sins and overcome death, and Jesus willingly accepted the role. We learned that our progression to become like our Heavenly Father would require placing our faith in Jesus Christ and obeying God’s commandments.

What Is the Premortal Life?

“Premortal life” refers to the life we lived before we came to the earth as mortal beings. In the premortal life, all people lived with God as His spirit children.

Topic overview: Premortality

Related gospel study guides: Plan of Salvation, Mortal Life, Spirit World, Jesus Christ, Children of God

Section 1

You Lived with God before You Were Born

woman pondering premortality

Before we were born, we had spirit bodies and lived with God as spirit daughters and sons of heavenly parents (see Moses 3:4–5). There we “knew and worshipped God as [our] Eternal Father.” 1 This was a time of learning and preparation, and God knew us (see Jeremiah 1:5) and helped us prepare for our life on earth (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:56).

Things to think about

  • The truths taught in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” help us understand how our premortal life fits into Heavenly Father’s plan for our happiness. Read the first three paragraphs of the proclamation, paying special attention to references to our premortal life. How does your understanding of our premortality help when you face challenges? Why do you think God has revealed these truths about the premortal life?

  • We don’t know much about our premortal life. However, we do know that “many … received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:56). Considering what you know about God’s plan of salvation and exaltation and the gospel of Jesus Christ, what lessons might we have learned during this time? Study Doctrine and Covenants 138:53–57, paying special attention to (verse 56). If you have your patriarchal blessing, reading it may also be helpful. How can knowing you were prepared for your mortal life give you confidence during hard times?

Activities for learning with others

  • President Russell M. Nelson reminded Church members, “Who are you? First and foremost, you are a child of God.”2 Invite everyone to share why their identity as children of God is important to them. Then read Hebrews 12:9; Doctrine and Covenants 76:24; Acts 17:29; and Romans 8:16 together. What insights do you gain from these scriptures? What do you learn from these scriptures about what it means to be a child of God? Share your ideas with the group.

  • Think of stories others have told you about your childhood. Even though you don’t remember being a baby or toddler, what happened to you then can still affect you throughout your life. Invite the group to share a few examples. Just as we can’t remember our early childhood, we can’t remember our premortal life either. How does this fact affect the way we think about our premortal life?

Learn more 

Section 2

Jesus Christ Was Chosen in the Premortal Life to Be Our Savior

Jesus Christ chosen as our Savior

In the premortal life, Heavenly Father called a Grand Council to present His plan for our eternal progression. We learned we would come to the earth, where we could exercise our moral agency and become more like God (see Abraham 3:23–26). Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and He willingly accepted that role (see 1 Peter 1:19–20). As our Redeemer, He would make it possible for us to return to God’s presence by overcoming death and sin.

However, Lucifer (Satan) sought to destroy the agency God gave His children (see Moses 4:1–3). He also wanted to receive God’s glory (see Isaiah 14:12–15; Doctrine and Covenants 76:25–29). This caused a great division among God’s children (see Abraham 3:27–28; Revelation 12:7). Those who followed Lucifer were cast out of heaven with him (see Revelation 12:8–9; Doctrine and Covenants 29:36–37). All who accepted Jesus Christ as the Savior were able to progress and receive a physical body on earth.

God gave us the gift of moral agency. Read 2 Nephi 2:27–29, paying attention to the role agency plays in our lives. Why is the gift of agency a critical part of Heavenly Father’s plan and of our mortal experience? What does the casting out of Lucifer and his followers teach you about the importance of agency?

Jesus Christ was foreordained to be our Savior. What does the title “Savior” mean? Read John 3:17; Acts 2:21; Helaman 14:15; and Moses 1:6. What do you learn from these verses about Jesus Christ’s role?

Activity for learning with others

During our premortal life, we knew God and Jesus Christ. In mortality, we have no recollection of this time and must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). If you are teaching younger children, you might invite them to walk across the room blindfolded to help them understand what this means. As a group, study some of the scriptures listed under “Faith” in the Guide to the Scriptures. Then discuss the role that faith in Jesus Christ plays in our journey back to our heavenly home.

Learn more

  • Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2020, 93–96

  • Guide to the Scriptures, “Council in Heaven,” Gospel Library

  • Guide to the Scriptures, “Savior,” Gospel Library

Other Resources about the Premortal Life