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Your Pre-Earth Life

Who are you?
Where did you come from?
Why are you here?

Sometimes, in your search for happiness, you ponder the meaning of your life. You sift your memory for beginnings; you send your mind ahead for directions, but all you really know is now. And you are lost in the present.

Who are you? How did you come to be? Time—where does it take you? Toward death? And then what? Who are you? Where did you come from?

To understand why you are here, you must first understand your beginnings. At birth you did not suddenly flare into existence out of nowhere. You have always lived. Before you were born to your earthly parents, you lived in the presence of God. You, in fact, belong to the lineage of God. In pre-earth life you had identity, personality, and a spirit body in the likeness of the mortal body now housing that spirit. In that life with your Heavenly Father, who is the literal Father of your spirit, you advanced in knowledge and obedience until you were ready to come to this earth. Your pre-earth life ended when you were born to your mortal parents.

As the poet Wordsworth said:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
 (Ode [Intimations of Immortality].)

What of this pre-earth life? How can you know you existed before your mortal birth? What happened to you in this world of spirits, and why can't you recall your experience there?

Scriptural Evidence of Pre-Earth Life

Everyone Has a Spirit

It is fundamental with Christian doctrine that everyone has a spirit. The scriptures abound with evidence of this reality.

In the epistle to the Hebrews, reference is made to our spiritual parentage:

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9.)

There are other examples of the reality of the spirit. Jesus raised from the dead the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, after those about "laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead," and Luke records that Jesus took her by the hand, and cared, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway. (Luke 8:54, 55.)

Moses addressed the Lord as "the God of the spirits of all flesh" when he asked the Lord to set a man over the congregation, and Joshua was chosen. (See Numbers 27:15.)

Spirit Has Form

Your spirit has form similar to that of your physical body. This is evident from the reaction of the apostles to the appearance of the resurrected Christ:

They were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit." (Luke 24:37.)

That his apostles might understand the reality of the resurrection—that he had a body of flesh and bone and was not a spirit—the Savior said to them:

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. (Luke 24:39, 40.)

You Lived with God

Your spirit was with the Father before your physical birth. This truth is clearly shown from the scriptures.

The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah that he knew him before Jeremiah had been born. (Jeremiah 1:1-7.) And Jesus, passing by a man who had been blind from birth, was asked by his disciples:

Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (John 9:2, 3.)

The above question and Christ's answer are evidence that the Master taught that the spirit of man existed before physical birth and that our condition on earth might be determined by our course before we came.

The writer of Ecclesiastes spoke of the spirit returning to God:

The spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7.)

The New Testament affirms:

We are the offspring of God. (Acts 17:29.)

In modern revelation, the Lord has given even greater insight:

Man was also in the beginning with God. (Doctrine and Covenants 93:29.)

And again from the same latter-day volume of scriptures we read:

That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24.)

The Pre-Earth Life of Christ

The scriptures particularly emphasize the pre-earth life and glory of Christ. The manger in Bethlehem was not his beginning.

In the beginning was the Word [Christ], and the Word was with God. (John 1:1-5.)

Christ himself declared:

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (John 6:38.)

Again, he said:

What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before? (John 6:62.)

These words of the Savior uttered in prayer shortly before his betrayal are evidence of his pre-earth life and his standing with God:

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:4, 5.)

Jesus did not want to claim God as his Father only, but wanted all men to realize their relationship to him—"our Father." Jesus further emphasized this truth:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48.)

With the following significant words the Savior introduced himself to the people of the western hemisphere following his resurrection:

Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God . . . I was with the Father from the beginning. (3 Nephi 9:15 [Book of Mormon].)

Again, in the Book of Mormon, but this time some two thousand years before his physical birth, is the recorded appearance of the Savior to an ancient prophet.

Here are his words:

Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the word to redeem my people. Behold I am Jesus Christ. Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; . . . and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh. (Ether 3: 14-16.)

In the pre-earth life, Christ was with God and was his Son. Abraham and Jeremiah were with God. You were with God. You were his son or daughter.

So you are, in reality, a descendant of God.

He is your Heavenly Father in a very literal sense. You lived with him and associated with him before you were born on earth. You are of the lineage of God. What could be more glorious than to know that you once lived in the presence of God, "our Father," that you are, in very deed, his spirit child, and that you may ultimately enjoy his eternal companionship and association in the beautiful relationship of a father with his sons and daughters.

God's Plan for You

To the end that you might further progress, God, in pre-earth life, presented his plan of salvation whereby you would be permitted to come to earth, to gain a physical body, and to mature in righteousness so that you could prepare to someday dwell again with him. You would be born into this earthly existence without memory of your pre-earthly past so that you could live by faith and have freedom to choose between good and evil.

But God did not intend that you be left without hope or faith or without answers to life's greatest questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? What comes after earth life? His plan for [p.6] your eternal happiness and progress would be taught on earth. You would have the opportunity to develop Christlike attributes; prove yourself, and further prepare for everlasting life. It was recognized that you would make mistakes and commit sin. But you would have the opportunity to repent because a Savior would be provided who would take upon himself the transgressions of all those who would accept him, repent of their sins, and obey his commandments. There would be prophets, revelation from God, and prayer. There would be scriptures, commandments, the Lord's church, and the Holy Ghost to give direction in life. Eventually, death would separate your spirit from your physical body, but through the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, Jesus Christ, the resurrection of your physical body to again be united with your spirit would be assured. And, if you would be faithful in obeying God's commandments, you would be privileged to live joyfully with him forever.

Nevertheless, you were to be accountable for your own life. In a day of final judgment, you would be judged according to your works.

Satan's Opposition

God's plan to allow you to progress through freedom of choice was not without opposition. One of the spirit children, Lucifer, dissented. What happened is best understood by reading modern revelation. Lucifer said:

Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. (Moses 4:1 [Pearl of Great Price].)

Lucifer's selfish motives were also cited by Isaiah:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! . . . For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . . I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell. (Isaiah 14:12-15.)

In contrast to the proposal of coercion by Lucifer was the willingness of Jesus, the firstborn of God's spirit children, to support without reservation his Father's plan:

Be assured that you are here, not by accident or chance, but as part of a glorious, everlasting plan.

But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever. (Moses 4:2 [Pearl of Great Price].)

Both ancient and modern scriptures make it clear that, led by Lucifer, part of God's spirit children rebelled against the Father. Lucifer and his followers were then cast out from God's presence, becoming the devil and his "angels."

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Moses 4:3, 4 [Pearl of Great Price].)

Lucifer's rebellion and ultimate fate are also described in the book of Revelation:

And there was war in heaven: . . . and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:7, 9.)

The Book of Mormon, speaking of Satan, declares:

He became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. (2 Nephi 2:17, 18 [Book of Mormon]. See also Isaiah 14:12-15; Luke 10:18; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Doctrine and Covenants 29:36-40; 76:25-29; Abraham 3:27, 28 [Pearl of Great Price].)

The great plan contemplated the earthly mission and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ who, despite Satan's opposition, would undertake the work "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39 [Pearl of Great Price].)

You are Here to Find Joy

So here you are on earth, with no memory of what went before, and only faith to whisper what comes after. Be assured that you are here, not by accident or chance, but as part of a glorious, everlasting plan.

By a still, small voice within us, and through revelation to his appointed prophets, God our Eternal Father guides the affairs of his children.

You are here on earth to learn, to find that fulness of joy that comes through doing the will of your Heavenly Father. After speaking to the eleven apostles about keeping the commandments, Jesus said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." (John 15:11.)

In 1830, God reestablished his church and restored the fulness of his gospel once more among men through a modern prophet, Joseph Smith.

By revelation, our Savior made known again the plan of salvation and exaltation. Resurrection comes as a gift to every man through Jesus Christ, but the reward of the highest eternal opportunities you must earn. It is not enough just to believe in Jesus Christ. You must work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve, know his laws and live them.

This is the way to peace and happiness and the fulness of everlasting life. It is your Heavenly Father's way.

We invite you to explore it, to test it, to pray and search and seriously consider. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21.) Only if you are unafraid of truth can you find it, but the truth is worth searching for. It leads to limitless opportunities for you and your loved ones with you—always and forever.

Be assured that you are a spirit child of God. You are of his lineage. He has a plan of progression for you and for all of his children.

Whence cometh man? You now understand part of the answer to this great question, which has challenged inquiring minds through the ages. A deeper understanding will provide greater meaning, purpose, and joy to you in this life and forever.

The knowledge that clearly answers this great question is obtainable through God's church.

In his church are also found the answers to other great questions, and the course is given for you to follow if you would someday dwell again in the presence of God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

To the extent that you realize the importance of obtaining these answers, you will be prompted to inquire concerning their source—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; See Premortal Existence home page)

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