During my young mission to Japan, the only audio visual presentation we had was a slide show entitled, Man’s Search for Happiness, which had a soundtrack that was played on a tape recorder. Today, most people have never seen a photographic slide and have never listened to a cassette tape. However, in the business, traffic, technology and commotion of today’s world mankind is still searching for happiness and most of the world has yet to learn of our Heavenly Father’s great plan of salvation. Despite great advances in knowledge and worldwide access to vast amounts of information through the internet and other technologies, mankind’s greatest questions remain the same: “Who am I, and where did I come from?” “What is my purpose in being here?” and, “What happens after death?”.
The answers to these questions are what we know as the plan of salvation. This plan has also been called the plan of redemption, the plan of mercy and the plan of happiness. Whatever it is called, there is only one plan, and that plan was put into effect by our loving Heavenly Father to accomplish His purpose and work, which is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”1
In answer to the question, “Who am I, and where did I come from?”, we know that we are literal, spirit children of God. God is our father. We are His children. The Apostle Paul declared, “we are the offspring of God.”2 The Lord told Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.”3 The Lord has taught that “Man was also in the beginning with God”4 and that we “received [our] first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord.”5 We came from God to earth to learn to follow His plan, and have joy, regardless of the economic or other circumstances of our life.
As children of God, we have the greatest of potential and purpose. Through keeping God’s commandments and by doing the works of righteousness during our lives, we know that not only will we have joy, but we will receive “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”6 An apostle of the Lord has taught that “life offers you two precious gifts; one is time, the other freedom of choice.”7. Another prophet taught that not only did Adam fall “that men might be; and men are that they might have joy” but that Jesus Christ came to do the will of the Father and perform the atonement “that he may redeem the children of men.” Because of the atonement of Christ, we are “free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon . . . And [we] are free to choose liberty and eternal life” because of the Savior’s atonement, or “to choose captivity and death” through our unrighteous choices. In this life, we strive and learn to “choose eternal life” and happiness, and not choose sin and those things that will bring unhappiness and even spiritual death.8 A fundamental part of the plan of salvation is that we each have our moral agency. We are free to determine how we will use our time in this life. It is through choosing righteousness that we prove ourselves able to choose good over evil, righteousness over sin, happiness over the grief that comes from sin. We also know that each will receive an eternal reward according to those choices, for as President Thomas S. Monson has taught, our “decisions determine destiny.”
“Who am I, and where did I come from?” “What is my purpose in being here?” and, “What happens after death?”
Just as you lived before mortal birth, just as you live in this life, so you will continue to live after death. After death, we know that “the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.”10 These spirits will either be received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, or into a condition where they will be taught and have the opportunity to accept the gospel and repent, so that “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God. And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.”11
We also know that in the Lord’s time, all will be resurrected. “The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.”12 Not only will every son and daughter of God be resurrected, each will receive a reward according to their works.
The righteous who have been valiant in following the Savior, who have received needed temple ordinances and kept the associated covenants, will receive God’s greatest gift, even eternal life, which is to live with God and even become as He is.13 This is why we urge every individual and every family to make every effort to qualify for a temple recommend and to make whatever sacrifice is needed to qualify to go to the temple and receive those ordinances.
I bear testimony of the Savior and of our Heavenly Father’s great Plan of Salvation. We are God’s children, and we are here to learn to choose Him and His commandments. Just as we live now, we will be resurrected and we will each receive a reward according to our works in this life. Let us choose the happiness and joy that comes from keeping His commandments and receiving His ordinances.