“Chapter 7: The Plan of Salvation,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), 48–53
“Chapter 7,” Teachings: Brigham Young, 48–53
This life that you and I possess is for eternity. Contemplate the idea of beings endowed with all the powers and faculties which we possess, becoming annihilated, passing out of existence, ceasing to be, and then try to reconcile it with our feelings and with our present lives. No intelligent person can do it. Yet it is only by the Spirit of revelation that we can understand these things [see 1 Corinthians 2:11]. By the revelations of the Lord Jesus we understand things as they were, that have been made known unto us; things that are in the life which we now enjoy, and things as they will be [see D&C 93:24], not to the fullest extent, but all that the Lord designs that we should understand, to make it profitable to us, in order to give us the experience necessary in this life to prepare us to enjoy eternal life hereafter (DBY, 47).
If we could so understand true philosophy as to understand our own creation, and what it is for—what design and intent the Supreme Ruler had in organizing matter and bringing it forth in the capacity that I behold you here today, we could comprehend that matter cannot be destroyed—that it is subject to organization and disorganization; and could understand that matter can be organized and brought forth into intelligence, and to possess more intelligence and to continue to increase in that intelligence; and could learn those principles that organized matter into animals, vegetables, and into intelligent beings; and could discern the Divinity acting, operating, and diffusing principles into matter to produce intelligent beings and to exalt them—to what? Happiness. Will nothing short of that fully satisfy the spirits implanted within us? No [see D&C 131:7] (DBY, 49).
No human being has had power to organize his own existence. Then there is a greater than we. Are we our own in our bodies? Are we our own in our spirits? We are not our own. We belong to our progenitors—to our Father and our God [see Acts 17:29] (DBY, 50).
Things were first created spiritually; the Father actually begat the spirits [see D&C 76:24], and they were brought forth and lived with him. Then he commenced the work of creating earthly tabernacles, precisely as he had been created in this flesh himself, by partaking of the coarse material that was organized and composed this earth, … consequently the tabernacles of his children were organized from the coarse materials of this earth (DBY, 50).
I have heard that the celebrated Mr. [Henry Ward] Beecher, of Brooklyn, once said that the greatest misfortune that could ever happen to man was to be born; but I say that the greatest good fortune that ever happened or can happen to human beings is to be born on this earth, for then life and salvation are before them; then they have the privilege of overcoming death, and of treading sin and iniquity under their feet, of incorporating into their daily lives every principle of life and salvation and of dwelling eternally with the Gods (DBY, 51).
The spirits that live in these tabernacles were as pure as the heavens, when they entered them. They came to tabernacles that are contaminated, pertaining to the flesh, by the fall of man. The Psalmist says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” [Psalm 51:5]. This Scripture has established in the minds of some the doctrine of total depravity—that it is impossible for them to have one good thought, that they are altogether sinful, that there is no good, no soundness, and no spiritual health in them. This is not correct, yet we have a warfare within us. We have to contend against evil passions, or the seeds of iniquity that are sown in the flesh through the fall. The pure spirits that occupy these tabernacles are operated upon, and it is the right of him that sent them into these tabernacles to hold the pre-eminence, and to always give the Spirit of truth to influence the spirits of men, that it may triumph and reign predominantly in our tabernacles, the God and Lord of every motion (DBY, 51–52).
[The Father asked,] “Who will redeem the earth, who will go forth and make the sacrifice for the earth and all things it contains?” The Eldest Son said: “Here am I”; and then he added, “Send me.” But the second one, which was “Lucifer, Son of the Morning,” said, “Lord, here am I, send me, I will redeem every son and daughter of Adam and Eve that lives on the earth, or that ever goes on the earth.” “But,” says the Father, “that will not answer at all. I give each and every individual his agency; all must use that in order to gain exaltation in my kingdom; inasmuch as they have the power of choice they must exercise that power. They are my children; the attributes which you see in me are in my children and they must use their agency. If you undertake to save all, you must save them in unrighteousness and corruption” [see Abraham 3:23–28; Moses 4:1–4] (DBY, 53–54).
When there was rebellion in heaven, judgment was laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet, and the evil were cast out (DBY, 54).
The Lord Almighty suffered this schism in heaven to see what his subjects would do preparatory to their coming to this earth (DBY, 54).
But they [the rebellious spirits] must go from heaven, they could not dwell there, they must be cast down to the earth to try the sons of men, and to perform their labor in producing an opposite in all things, that the inhabitants of the earth might have the privilege of improving upon the intelligence given to them, the opportunity for overcoming evil, and for learning the principles which govern eternity, that they may be exalted therein (DBY, 54).
You cannot give any persons their exaltation unless they know what evil is, what sin, sorrow, and misery are, for no person could comprehend, appreciate and enjoy an exaltation upon any other principle (DBY, 55).
Do you think that the Lord has his eye upon a great many? … I do not think there is anybody now on the earth, that has lived before us, or that will come after us, but what he knew. He knew who would be his anointed; he had his eye upon them all the time, as he had upon Moses, Pharaoh, Abraham, Melchizedek, and Noah, who was a chosen vessel to build the ark and save a remnant from the flood (DBY, 55).
It is a mistaken idea that God has decreed all things whatsoever that come to pass, for the volition of the creature is as free as air. You may inquire whether we believe in foreordination; we do, as strongly as any people in the world. We believe that Jesus was foreordained before the foundations of the world were built, and his mission was appointed him in eternity to be the Savior of the world, yet when he came in the flesh he was left free to choose or refuse to obey his Father. Had he refused to obey his Father, he would have become a son of perdition. We also are free to choose or refuse the principles of eternal life. God has decreed and foreordained many things that have come to pass, and he will continue to do so; but when he decrees great blessings upon a nation or upon an individual they are decreed upon certain conditions. When he decrees great plagues and overwhelming destructions upon nations or people, those decrees come to pass because those nations and people will not forsake their wickedness and turn unto the Lord. It was decreed that Nineveh should be destroyed in forty days, but the decree was stayed on the repentance of the inhabitants of Nineveh. God rules and reigns, and has made all his children as free as himself, to choose the right or the wrong, and we shall then be judged according to our works (DBY, 55).
This is the plan of salvation. Jesus will never cease his work until all are brought up to the enjoyment of a kingdom in the mansions of his Father, where there are many kingdoms and many glories, to suit the works and faithfulness of all men that have lived on the earth. Some will obey the celestial law and receive of its glory, some will abide the terrestrial and some the telestial, and others will receive no glory (DBY, 56).
Millions of [people] have passed away, both in the Christian and in the heathen worlds, just as honest, virtuous and upright as any now living. The Christian world say they are lost; but the Lord will save them, or at least, all who will receive the Gospel. The plan of salvation which Jesus has revealed, and which we preach, reaches to the lowest and most degraded of Adam’s lost race (DBY, 60–61).
How can we know that the “life that you and I possess is for eternity”? What difference does it make to you to know that life is eternal?
What was God’s “design and intent” in organizing the world?
President Young taught that a principal purpose of life is “to possess more intelligence and to continue to increase in that intelligence.” What is the relationship between growing in intelligence, or light and truth (see also D&C 93:36; 130:19), and gaining eternal happiness? How has this been true in your own life?
How do you feel knowing that you are a literal spirit child of our Heavenly Father? What difference has that made in your life?
Why is “to be born on this earth” the “greatest good fortune that … can happen to human beings”? Read and ponder Doctrine and Covenants 93:33. What blessings are associated with your spirit and body being inseparably connected?
According to President Young, what is the consequence of the Fall of man? What mistaken conclusion do some people come to regarding the Fall? What is the role of the Spirit of Truth in the “warfare within us” between good and evil? How can we make the Spirit of Truth a more dominant force in our lives?
According to President Young, what role does our agency play in gaining our exaltation? Why did God the Father reject Lucifer’s proposal to act for each of us? (See also 2 Nephi 2:15–16.)
Why did the Lord allow a “schism in heaven”? What is the “labor” of those who were cast out of Father’s presence? Why must there be “an opposite in all things”? Why must we understand “what evil is” and “what sin, sorrow, and misery are” in order to obtain exaltation? (See also 2 Nephi 2:11.)
What can you do to fulfill the Lord’s wishes and grow to the height of your capacity?
How can God decree or foreordain certain events and still leave us our freedom of choice?
When will Jesus Christ’s saving work be finished?
Through Christ’s Atonement, all but the sons of perdition “are brought up to the enjoyment of a kingdom in the mansions of his Father.” President Young also stated there are “many kingdoms and glories.” Why are there so many kingdoms? Who determines what kingdom a person will go to?
How does the Savior’s Atonement “reach to the lowest and most degraded” as well as to the “honest, virtuous and upright”?