Monday, September 15, 2008

Our Earth Life

In a previous post I talked about our premortal life. In this post I would like to focus on our mortal existence. This earth life is but a continuance of our life before.

One of the important aspects of our coming to this Earth was the chance to get a physical body. When we were only spirits, there were many things we couldn't learn and do. In addition, our Heavenly Father has a glorified physical body, and in order for us to become more like Him, we needed a physical body too.

In the last post, I recounted the Grand council in heaven. Those who chose to follow the Father's plan were allowed to come to this earth and receive a physical body. Those who chose to follow Satan were cast out of heaven, and will never have the chance to obtain a physical body. The scriptures give us an insight to the desire of these evil spirits to have a physical body.

Luke 8:27-33
27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.
29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)
30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.
31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
32 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them.
33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine's body to having none. All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not." (Chapter 17: The Great Plan of Salvation," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),206–16)
This mortal life is a probationary state for us. We are given free agency, according to the Father's plan, to choose good or evil. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma taught, " For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." Alma 34:32
I have mentioned this analogy before, but I often think of my dog and the training I gave him. I trained him not to sit on the couch. When I was in the room, he would never attempt to sit on the couch. The real test of his training was what he would do when I wasn't present. Would he, when no one was around, still obey the rule of not sitting on the couch? In a similar manner, we are here on this Earth with no memory of our former life, and our Father in Heaven. We must rely on faith, rather than first hand experience to believe in God. Will we, when we are not living in the physical presence of God, still choose to obey? This life becomes the truest test of our obedience.
In addition to gaining a body, learning, and being tested, this Earth life also provides us the opportunity to receive ordinances and make covenants with God that are necessary for our salvation. In John 3:5 we read, "5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." While in this physical body, we have the opportunity to receive the birth by water spoken of in this scripture by being baptized. The birth of the spirit mentioned is the ordinance of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. This ordinance with its accompanying covenant is but the first step in returning to live with our Heavenly Father. The act of being baptized allows us to follow Jesus' example when he was baptized to "fulfill all righteousness".
13 ¶ Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matt. 3:13-17
There are two obstacles that keep us from returning to live with our Heavenly Father. The first of these is death, and the second is sin. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, helped us to overcome both of these obstacles. This is what is known as the "atonement". Because Jesus Christ was resurrected, we all will be resurrected one day. Jesus Christ also suffered in the garden of Gethsemane to pay for the sins of the world so that if we repent, we can be forgiven. The Prophet Alma prophesied of the coming of Christ and said,
"8 And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
9 For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.
10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice." Alma 34:8-10
I bear witness that Jesus Christ did in fact suffer for our sins. If we repent, we can be forgiven of the wrongs that we do. I also know that He was resurrected, and after we die, we will also be resurrected one day. If it weren't for Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation could not have worked. All of the plan hinged upon Jesus's sacrifice that He made for us.
In the next installment, I will discuss our post mortal life, and what will happen then. If you have any questions about what I have discussed so far, please feel free to ask.


Max said...

Hey D!

This is certainly a very interesting way of explaining why we come to earth as flesh!

I agree with "in order for us to become more like Him, we needed a physical body too" although there may have a slight twist in why I agree with this...allow me to explain: God knows everything; there isn't a thing that we can experience that He hasn't (thus the existence of the Tree of Good and Evil). As spirits, we do not have access to evil, to the challenges of knowing how to make use of Good all the time despite the temptations to implement wrath (The Lord in His Ultimate Balance knows the exact measure of Good and Evil to be applied according the several situations), so we come as flesh to experience this.

Earthly life is a test: will we reach Equilibrium (and thus get closer to being Him -since we will never be Him)? Will we still be loyal and faithful to God? These are the huge challenges of incarnating!

Now, you say that God has a physical Isn't He Eternally incorporeal?
On the other hand I think I understand what you mean: you are referring to the Christian belief that Jesus was God; aren't you?

This is an excellent post, D!


Delirious said...

Actually Max, we believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate personages. We believe that Jesus Christ is the literal physical son of God. We believe they both have glorified physical bodies. We also believe that we are all eternal beings. We have always existed, but it wasn't until this Earth life that we obtained a physical body. In addition, we have been progressing for eternity, and will continue to progress and grow as we live in accordance with God's will. (equillibrium is the term you used.) We will never take the place of God, but we can progress to be like Him. He will always be our God, but we can continue to progress and grow and learn if we are faithful and live worthy of that progression.

Max said...

Hey D!

Ah ok, now I understood your perfectly! I wasn't sure of how the Mormon belief would view this...cause some Christians try to tell me that Jesus is God, and to me that is an anathema.

I also find your point of view on souls being eternal very interesting, and the way you explained it isn't so far from the reincarnation doctrine, except you do not believe in it (if I understood correctly)!

Thank you for taking the time to enlighten me, my friend! I love learning new things :D!