There are few people who can answer the question, “What is the purpose of life.” Even fewer who can answer the questions of where we came from and what happens after this life. Granted, there are myriad details about the heretofore and the hereafter that Mormons don’t know, but, relatively speaking, we know a lot.
Taking the Plan of Salvation—or “Plan of Happiness”—in rough chronological order from life before birth to life after death, we recently (in our YSA Seminar Series) identified 21 principles inherent in the plan. For each of these, we identified a statement to test our agreement of those principles. See which of them you agree with and which you think we got wrong. These principles help answer such difficult questions, “Why does God let horrible things happen to good—even to innocent—people?” “Why do people go to war in the name of religion?” And, “Why doesn’t God give me all the things I ask for?”
Family: I am a child in a large, eternal family. I have a father and a mother.
Nature of God: God has a physical body. He is perfect in his character and decision-making. He has the understandable motivations of a father and wants me to become like Him.
I Need to Grow: I am not like my heavenly parents in some ways. I lack an immortal body and I lack mastery of choosing right over wrong.
Mortality is Essential: To become like my heavenly parents, I must receive a body—even if only a temporary one for now—and I must master choosing right over wrong. To do this, I must come to earth.
The Veil: Even though I have long existed before mortality, I cannot access any memories of pre-mortal life while I am on the earth—and this is good.
Agency: In order to grow, each person must have freedom to make their own decisions.
Choice and Opposition: In order to make decisions, I must have choices between good and evil and I must be free to make them. In fact, I cannot make a good choice unless the possibility also exists for me to make a bad choice. I must be confronted with both good and bad.
Consequences: My ability to choose between good and evil would not be complete unless I am permitted to experience the full consequences—whether good or bad—of my choices.
Intervention: God may but is generally not likely to intervene and spare me from negative choices—or spare me from the negative choices of other people when I am innocent. He is not likely to step in and “fix” things for me.
Faith: Learning to make the best choices involves exercising faith—trusting in someone I cannot see, in a plan that cannot strictly be “proven” to me as true, and without a perfect knowledge that those choices will lead to the best outcome for me.
Sin and Death: All sins—any sin—separates me from God and disqualifies me from being with Him—period. Any sin on my part causes a spiritual “death” which separates me from God.
Justice: God is just and He administers justice. Justice cannot be cheated. He doesn’t bend or break the rules for me. This applies to both God the Father and God the Son.
Proxy: Within the rules of eternity, one person can stand in for another. Within the rules of eternal justice, one person can pay another person’s penalty—at least provided that the one paying the penalty is perfect or has god status.
Repentance: If I have acted in a way that separates me from God, the Savior can reconcile me back to Him if I change my heart, change my behavior, rely on the Savior, and re-orient myself toward following my Father in Heaven.
Mercy: God the Father—and God the Son—possess the attribute of mercy in its perfection. They are kind and generous without becoming unjust.
Grace: Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sins and is our judge. If we are to receive all the mercy He can give us, it will be solely because He offers us—and we receive—His grace.
Covenants: Covenants (which always include ordinances) are the means through which I qualify for Christ’s grace. I must make them under proper priesthood authority and keep them.
Time: Time matters! Though growth will continue after this life, this life is the time to prepare to meet God and there is a sense of urgency both to become the best I can and to help as many as I can.
Immortality: After this life, I will live, eventually with a resurrected body, and will never die.
Glory: After this life, I will live in a state of glory.
Eternal Life: If I keep make and keep the right covenants and thereby qualify for Christ’s grace, I will receive that grace and I will not only return to live with my Heavenly Parents, but I will become like them.