You might hear the terms “plan of salvation” or “plan of happiness” a lot when learning about Mormons, or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons believe that God wants us to be happy and that He will give us as many opportunities as He can for us to be redeemed and happy. God’s plan is to “bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). God didn’t create us to discard us; He truly wants us to return to Him. The Plan of Salvation works through the atonement of Jesus Christ and there are many elements which help it function in our daily lives.
The eternal life spoken of above, which it is God’s work to bring to pass, is to live with God again. Mormons believe we lived with God before we lived on earth and learned there of His plan for us to gain bodies, learn and progress, and eventually return to live with Him again as gods and goddesses to create new worlds and have an eternal increase. To accomplish this, we couldn’t live as spirits with God forever. We needed to come to earth go gain bodies and learn from our own experience how to discern and choose good from evil.
God created the earth and created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They were immortal and were unable to have children in this state. Thus, they had to transgress God’s law and become mortal in order to have children. The Fall of Adam and Eve was a necessary part of the Plan of Salvation. Now we are each born into the world, but each become subject to physical death (the death of the body) and spiritual death (separation from God) through the effects of the Fall. God provided a Redeemer to pay for our sins. Through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent of our sins. He also redeems all men freely from physical and spiritual death, both the effects of the Fall.
Christ overcame death through His Resurrection. He extends the gift of resurrection to each of us. At the Final Judgment, each of our spirits will be reunited with our bodies eternally, never to be separated again. We will each also be brought back into the presence of God to be judged according to our works here on the earth. Thus Christ redeems each of us from physical and spritual death. However, whether we are able to remain in God’s presence depends upon our choices and actions while in this life.
Each of us lived with God before we came to earth in what Mormons call the Pre-Existence. Here we made a decision to follow God’s plan and to come to earth to gain a body. After being born into this life, we experience the pains, sorrows, joys, and happiness of mortality. We are given the opportunity to repent of our sins and to have families here which can stretch into the eternities. When we die, our spirits return to the Spirit World. This is not the presence of God, but is a place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached to those who had no opportunity to hear it while they lived on the earth. After the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we will each be resurrected and judged. Mormon doctrine teaches that there are three kingdoms in heaven: the Celestial (which is the highest), the Terrestial, and the Telestial. If we have performed all necessary ordinances and have lived righteous lives, we will be able to live again in the presence of God in the Celestial Kingdom and have eternal progression and increase. If we did not follow all of the commandments and did not accept the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but still lived good lives, we will go to the Terrestial Kingdom. If we rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will go to the Telestial Kingdom. Those who were most wicked, who had the fullness of the gospel and then rejected it, denying the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, will be sent to a place called Outer Darkness, where they will receive no more light and influence from God.
The Plan of Salvation is in place to give each of us the chance to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and to show God, as well as ourselves, that the final judgment will be just. There is so much hope and joy in this plan.