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“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.” (Abr. 3:22–23.)
There we are told that the Lord promised that those who were faithful in that premortal world would be added upon, by having a physical body in this second estate of this earth’s existence and, furthermore, if they would keep the commandments as God taught by the revelations, they would have “glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.” (Abr. 3:26.)
Now, there are several precious truths in that scripture. First, we have a definition of what a spirit is, as it relates to our physical body. What did it look like in that premortal world (if we could see it apart from our mortal body)? A modern Latter-day prophet gives us an inspired answer:
“… that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created.” (D&C 77:2.)
The next truth we learn from this scripture is that you and I, having been spirits and now having bodies, were among those who passed that first test and were given the privilege of coming to earth as mortal individuals. If we hadn’t passed that test, we wouldn’t be here with mortal bodies, but would have been denied this privilege and would have followed Satan or Lucifer, as he came to be known, as did one-third of the spirits created in that premortal existence who were deprived of the privilege of having mortal bodies. These are now among us, but only in their spiritual form, to make a further attempt to thwart the plan of salvation by which all who would obey would have the great glory of returning to God our Father who gave us life.
So the Old Testament prophets declared with respect to death: “Then shall the dust [meaning our mortal bodies] return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7.)
Obviously we could not return to a place where we had never been, so we are talking about death as a process as miraculous as birth, by which we return to “our Father who art in heaven,” as the Master taught his disciples to pray.
A further truth is clearly set forth in that scripture [Abr. 3:22–23], that many were chosen, as was Abraham, before they were born, as the Lord told Moses and also Jeremiah. This was made still more meaningful by the Latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith, who declared, “I believe that every person who is called to do an important work in the kingdom of God, was called to that work and foreordained to that work before the world was.” Then he added this, “I believe that I was foreordained to the work that I am called to do.” (See Documentary History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 364.)
But now there is a warning: Despite that calling which is spoken of in the scriptures as “foreordination,” we have another inspired declaration: “Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. …” (D&C 121:34.)
This suggests that even though we have our free agency here, there are many who were foreordained before the world was, to a greater state than they have prepared themselves for here. Even though they might have been among the noble and great, from among whom the Father declared he would make his chosen leaders, they may fail of that calling here in mortality. Then the Lord poses this question: “… and why are they not chosen?” (D&C 121:34.)
Two answers were given—First, “Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world. …” And second, they “… aspire to the honors of men.” (D&C 121:35.)
Now then, to make a summary of what I have just read, may I ask each of you again the question, “Who are you?” You are all the sons and daughters of God. Your spirits were created and lived as organized intelligences before the world was. You have been blessed to have a physical body because of your obedience to certain commandments in that premortal state. You are now born into a family to which you have come, into the nations through which you have come, as a reward for the kind of lives you lived before you came here and at a time in the world’s history, as the apostle Paul taught the men of Athens and as the Lord revealed to Moses, determined by the faithfulness of each of those who lived before this world was created.
Hear now the significant words of that powerful sermon to “The Unknown God” preached by the apostle Paul, to those who were ignorantly worshipping images of stone and brass and wood, and I quote:
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth [now mark you this], and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” (Acts 17:24, 26–27.)
Here then again we have the Lord making a further enlightening declaration to Moses as recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy:
“When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” (Deut. 32:8.)
Now, mind you, this was said to the children of Israel before they had arrived in the “Promised Land,” which was to be the land of their inheritance.
Then note this next verse: “For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” (Deut. 32:9.)
It would seem very clear, then, that those born to the lineage of Jacob, who was later to be called Israel, and his posterity, who were known as the children of Israel, were born into the most illustrious lineage of any of those who came upon the earth as mortal beings.
All these rewards were seemingly promised, or foreordained, before the world was. Surely these matters must have been determined by the kind of lives we had lived in that premortal spirit world. Some may question these assumptions, but at the same time they will accept without any question the belief that each one of us will be judged when we leave this earth according to his or her deeds during our lives here in mortality. Isn’t it just as reasonable to believe that what we have received here in this earth life was given to each of us according to the merits of our conduct before we came here?"
Doctrines of the Gospel are revealed through the Spirit to Prophets... not through the intellect to scholars.
JST Matt 10:30
Think not, that I am come to send peace on earth;
I came not to send peace, but a sword.