The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the “Mormon Church,” teaches true principles about the plan of happiness, which is God’s course of spiritual and physical progression for His children. During this life on earth, many people wonder: Where did we come from? What is the purpose of life on earth? What happens when we die? God’s plan of happiness answers these questions.
Where Did We Come From?
Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) believe that mankind existed before this lifetime in the presence of God, our Heavenly Father, as His children. “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and … has a divine nature and destiny” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). Instead of having physical bodies, each soul lived as a spirit.
In that sphere, called premortal life, Heavenly Father taught His children about His plan for them to return to live with Him again. Earth would be created for God’s children to receive a body, experience mortality, and use their moral agency to choose how to live their lives. Ultimately, life on earth would determine each soul’s eternal destination. God chose His Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world, for He knew mankind would sin on earth and need a way to repent and return to Him.
Lucifer, one of God’s spirit children, rejected God’s plan and offered an alternative of his own, saying he would force everyone to return to live with God again. Because his plan would save all of God’s children, he wanted all of God’s glory. God cast Lucifer and all who followed him (one-third of the hosts of heaven) out of His presence for their rebellion. Lucifer, also known as Satan, and his followers attempt to lure mortal people away from the pathway back to God.
The earth was created and Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden. They still walked and talked with God. God commanded them to multiply and replenish the earth and not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan tempted them to eat of the fruit. Eve realized that she and Adam would not be able to keep the first commandment to multiply and replenish the earth without partaking of the fruit. She partook of the fruit. Adam partook also. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. Sin and death entered the world. Adam and Eve began to have children. All mankind are their descendants.
“Eve…was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11).
What Is the Purpose of Life On Earth?
Mortality offers each person an opportunity to receive a physical body and to choose to follow God’s commandments. Living a righteous life is a process. God knew every person would sin while in this life and so provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, to overcome sin and death. Jesus sacrificed His perfect, sinless life to redeem man from the requirements of eternal laws and enable him to return to God’s presence.
Every tenet and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reflects the mission and atoning sacrifice of the Savior Jesus Christ. The Savior Himself revealed commandments, covenants (two-way promises of an obligation fulfilled by man and a promised blessing by God), and ordinances (ritual acts, like baptism, that teach literally and metaphorically of man’s journey back to God’s presence). Heavenly Father requires compliance with His commandments, covenants, and ordinances because He knows they enable each person to overcome the lusts of the flesh and to become more like Him. Knowing that decisions in this life affect eternal outcomes strengthens a Latter-day Saint’s resolve to be obedient to all of God’s commandments.
Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) believe that family relationships can continue after death. Procreation through marriage relationships is the avenue Heavenly Father designed for His spirit children to be born on earth.
While on the earth, many people live and die without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ. God’s plan of happiness is also merciful and every soul will have the opportunity of learning everything required to return to His presence.
Where Do We Go When We Die?
Part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation and happiness includes life after death. After death, the body and spirit separate. While the body is buried in the ground, the immortal soul goes to the Spirit World. The Spirit World is divided into two parts: Paradise and Spirit Prison. Those persons who adhered to God’s commandments during mortality go to Paradise. Those persons who choose to reject God’s commandments or who did not have the opportunity to learn of God during mortality go to Spirit Prison. People from Paradise are sent to Spirit Prison to teach everyone there of Jesus Christ and God’s commandments to ensure that every soul has the opportunity to learn everything necessary for his or her salvation. Those who reject Jesus Christ must pay the price for their own sins while in Spirit Prison.
Latter-day Saints believe that at a future time, Jesus Christ will return triumphantly to the earth and will reign for a thousand years. These two events are called the Second Coming and the Millennium.
Eventually, every soul who lived on the earth will be resurrected, meaning their spirits and perfected bodies will be reunited forever. God’s final judgment will then occur. A soul’s eternal destination will be determined based on his or her life choices, which includes correctly accepting Jesus Christ’s grace and atonement. Based on God’s judgment of his or her life, each man or woman will be sent to one of three kingdoms of glory named the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial Kingdoms. These three kingdoms are symbolized, respectively, by the glory of the sun, moon, and stars. God dwells in the Celestial Kingdom, and there family relationships sealed by ordinances will continue eternally.
The Plan of Happiness
God desires that each of His children return to live with Him again, but the precious gift of agency, or free will, allows everyone to truly direct his or her own life.
I am grateful for the opportunity to choose! I have made many mistakes and sometimes the choices seem difficult, but God is so merciful! Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can repent of my sins and become clean before God again. Because of God’s plan of happiness, my life has purpose and an eternal goal.
One of my favorite scriptures promising happiness in this life and the next if we obey God comes from the admonition of a prophet–king in the Book of Mormon to his people. King Benjamin advised:
I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it (Mosiah 2:41).
Understanding and following God’s plan of happiness brings peace in this life and hope for the next. I invite you to learn more by asking Mormon missionaries to teach you about God’s plan of happiness!