The Plan of Salvation: The Pre-existence
Mormons believe in a life preceding our existence on earth. Mormons call this the “pre-existence,” “pre-earth-life,” or “premortal existence.”
Before we were born on the earth, we lived in the presence of our Heavenly Father as His spirit children. In this premortal existence, we attended a council with Heavenly Father’s other spirit children. At that council, Heavenly Father presented His great plan of happiness or the “Plan of Salvation, which was ratified by all of us.”
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born
And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them
And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever (Abraham 3:22–26).
In harmony with the plan of happiness, the premortal Jesus Christ, the Firstborn Son of the Father in the spirit, covenanted to be the Savior (see Moses 4:2; Abraham 3:27). Those who followed Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were permitted to come to the earth to experience mortality and progress toward eternal life. Lucifer, another spirit son of God, rebelled against the plan and “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3). He became Satan, and he and his followers were cast out of heaven and denied the privileges of receiving a physical body and experiencing mortality.
And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him (Abraham 3:27–28).
And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—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.
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.
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 1-4).
Throughout our premortal lives, we developed our identity and increased our spiritual capabilities. Blessed with the gift of agency, we made important decisions, such as the decision to follow Heavenly Father’s plan. These decisions affected our life then and now. We grew in intelligence and learned to love the truth, and we prepared to come to the earth, where we could continue to progress.
None of us on earth has a memory of the premortal existence. This is because a “veil of forgetfulness” has been drawn over our minds. This veil is important for our progress. If we remembered the pre-existence, we would have no need to exercise faith during our lives on earth. For those of us who struggle, this seems at times unfair. But the Lord does not leave us comfortless. Each of us comes to earth with the Light of Christ as our guide and consience. That light grows brighter as we become more like Him. However, our conscience dulls as we indulge in wickedness. The Holy Ghost can visit us from time to time to enlighten our minds, testify of truth, and help us to feel the love of God. Baptism into the true church by one who holds the proper Priesthood Authority leads to confirmation, and the bestowal of the Holy Ghost as the permanent companion of the baptized member who continues to live worthily. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, one begins to get an inkling of one’s role and identity as an eternal being.
See also the following:
The Plan of Salvation: The Purpose of Life on Earth
The Plan of Salvation: The Spirit World
The Plan of Salvation: The Degrees of Glory