manner of happiness

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There is nothing in the whole realm of gospel learning I find as exciting as the perfection that makes up the plan for our salvation. There is no possibility that such a brilliant concept could have been invented by a human. The scope of the plan is so perfect, and inclusive, so vast, yet so sublime as to provide room for endless fascination. Learning about this plan is what helps us live after the “manner of happiness.”

My hopes

Every time I read 2 Nephi 2 I see things I didn’t see before. Every time I think I have a grip on the doctrine I discover more to hold onto. There are conventions Lehi uses in describing the plan of salvation that can make it likely we miss important points along the way. He uses terms that take some thinking or explaining to help us grasp the bigger picture for those terms. For example, what are the “ends of the law?” I had to sit and muse over this for a while before I began to comprehend what he was trying to say.

Note: I have divided this article into two parts. The first part, directly below, talks about all the parts of the plan of salvation discussed in this chapter, but without all the scripture quotes from the chapter. The second part of the article is the same explanation, but is said with the assumption you have already read the first part, and is a running commentary on the actual verses of the chapter. It is longer than my usual articles, so be mentally prepared for that when you start. You can still get a lot out of the article just by reading the first half.

Necessary parts of the plan

Before getting into the explanations of how things work together, we need to see the skeletal frame of the plan. With that in place we can begin to fill in the holes.

God’s design

Moses 1:39 tells us why God has a family – his purpose and goal for having children.

39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Immortality already belonged to us, for we are as immortal as God, Himself. We have always existed. What we don’t have is immortality AND eternal life, which is God’s way of life. Eternal life is exaltation. It is the greatest expression of God’s love and the enjoyment that only exalted beings can experience. Eternal life is a life of community and happiness that no individual sorrow can overshadow. Lehi repeats this aim in verse 25 when he says that the purpose or goal of our existence is that “men are, that they might have joy.” Eternal life is what he is referring to.

An important side note here is that as much as God is capable of doing on His own, he cannot save His children by Himself. This is why there is a Godhead, consisting of God, the Savior, and the Holy Ghost. All three are Gods in their own right. It takes all three of them to bring about our exaltation. There will be more about the Godhead at the end of the article.

Everything in the plan of salvation has this state of being as the ultimate goal for God’s children. He took us from the sphere of Intelligences and gave us spirit bodies as the first step towards his aim of helping us achieve what He has achieved – ultimate joy and an exalted and glorified life in a family setting. Keep this in mind as you work through all the parts of the plan for our salvation. When he talks about the “ends of the law” this is what He is referring to. The laws He gave us that govern our spirit life and our mortal life are all designed with but one goal in mind, to bring about the exaltation of God’s children. There is more to it than that, but that is the best case scenario.

The Framework of the plan

Individual differences and abilities

We don’t know what the nature of our agency was in the premortal world. We do know that it was different than it is here. Lucifer was able to grow into the embodiment of evil before he came out in open rebellion against God when he was finally tossed out from God’s presence. I can’t imagine that Lucifer was as good as he could be, but then woke up one morning and decided to lead a crusade against the Creator Himself. No, I think his pride grew and developed over a long period of time, until he was finally faced with the fatal choice to either rebel or concede, but his pride would not allow his concession to God’s will. That is my person opinion.

We had agency of some sort in the premortal world. We were all able to exercise that agency in the sphere in which we had been created as spirit children. However, we needed to exercise moral agency to prove where the true desire of our hearts lay. We needed to be free to make choices that demonstrated that even under the most strenuous circumstances we would choose to obey our Father and choose to live the kind of life He wanted for us.

It is important to recognize that it is the nature of humanity that no two people are identical in desire, capability, propensity, etc. There are as many variations of desire toward goodness as there are children of God to express them. When describing His children to Abraham the Lord told Abraham that for every two spirits you put side by side, one of them will always be greater than the other one, and that Christ is greater than all of them. See Abraham 3:19.

19 And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.

This means that not everyone will want to be exalted, to be a god, to have a family. Many are perfectly happy with the idea of just having a glorified body; a resurrected body. That is sufficient for them. Those who seek godhood are but a small minority among the children of God. But God’s plan must provide a way for any of His children to become gods if they choose to do so, yet still have fitting rewards for those who want less than that. Only a God could come up with something so vast and inclusive as to be just, fair, and equitable for that diverse a group of people.

How agency affects us

In order for the plan to exalt God’s children to work, He had to overcome one giant obstacle. Only one of His children was capable of achieving (on his own steam and abilities) what needed to be done to become a God. That person was our eldest brother, who goes by many titles. I will refer to him mainly as the Christ or Messiah. The rest of the family was, and is, too weak to be able to become gods on our own.

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So our Father provided us with a set of laws that spelled out what would be necessary for us to become like Him. It included what kind of behavior we need to be able to exhibit, what kind of attitudes we must develop, and the character traits that define someone who is worthy to enter the celestial kingdom. These laws were still not something any of us could measure up to without making many mistakes along the way. We simply had no way to do what was required on our own. We needed help; divine help.

As the lawgiver, it is not possible for our Father to directly forgive us of our mistakes or our rebellions. To do so would be to violate His own laws. He must uphold justice, since they are His laws. But in His mercy he provided a way for us to receive mercy, even though He couldn’t give it to us directly. He provided us with a Savior. But what exactly is a Savior?

The purpose of the Savior was to fulfill all the requirements of God’s laws in such a way that his payment would eternally satisfy the demands of those laws. We do not understand how this is possible, but it is a requirement of the plan. Once paid or satisfied, God can never demand more from the one who paid the price to satisfy those laws. And that payment must stand absolute forever and ever. It had to be an eternal payment. If it wasn’t eternal in nature then he who “satisfied” the demands of justice would have to do so again.

Our Father chose our eldest brother, he who has the greatest capacity of us all to be the one to shoulder the responsibility for all of God’s children. In order for him to become our Savior we would have to leave our Father’s presence, most never to return. We would all be cut off from His presence. But according to the terms of God’s laws, if the rest of us would turn to Christ and obey his commandments, he could bring us back home.

But being the Savior of all of God’s children means saving ALL of God’s children according to the individual choices for goodness each person makes. So those who choose minimal goodness and obedience will still receive a glorified body, but with far less glory. Those who choose more goodness through greater obedience to Christ will receive more glory in their resurrected body. And those who obey him in all things, and strive to become like him will be able to be changed, exalted, and fully glorified. They will be able to live with God and Christ forever.

God’s love is such that He has perfect respect for our choices. But He is able to take even the least of us and exalt us if that is the true desire of our heart. We just need to remember that He will never force Himself or His ways on any of us. His love prohibits any violation of the agency we have been granted. If we are exalted it is because it is our choice. If we are damned, meaning to live away from His presence for eternity, it is because of our choice. The scriptures refer to this permanent separation from God as the second death or damnation. Our mortal death is the first death. So there are only really two basic outcomes of this plan. Either we do return to live with God and become exalted and progress in glory forever, or we are damned, stopped in our progress because we chose not to put in the effort required to become like God.

Even the damned are loved perfectly by our Father in Heaven and by Christ. We are damned because we choose to be. This is the natural result of the moral agency our Father has given to each of us to exercise. As you read the Book of Mormon notice that there is never a third option given. We are always told we are free to choose eternal life or eternal death, meaning separation from God. But no matter what our final choice, God’s love for each of us never changes. He is just honoring the agency as we choose to use it.

Separation from God

It was not possible to remain in the presence of the great lawgiver and break the laws He gave us. We had to leave His presence. To leave His presence is what it means to be cut off. In effect we all became temporarily damned, stopped in our eternal progress, and without a way back home. This is the same condition of Lucifer, now Satan, and the one third of the hosts of heaven who followed him. They became damned and without a way back into the presence of God. The one difference is that we have been given a Savior, whereas Satan and his followers cannot have the use of a Savior. They are eternally damned.

The advantage of being damned, and cut off from God’s presence is that we are now able to make any choice we want, and it doesn’t really matter, because we are already damned. Once you are damned, how much worse can it get, right? But there is a silver lining here. Because we have a Savior that we agreed to follow before we were cut off from our Father in Heaven, our Savior has promised each and every one of us that he would guarantee us a resurrected body and eventual forgiveness for our sins.

So most of those who come into mortality, even if they never choose to make covenants with Christ again, will still receive a resurrected body and some measure of glory for eternity. This much they have already been promised before ever coming to earth. Yes, there will literally be hell to pay first, but even the punishment of hell is temporary, and Christ will save them from that eventually. In the end they will be freed from hell and be awarded the glory they were willing to live for in mortality. I believe mortality also includes what happens to us in the spirit world once we leave our mortal frame. For now, most of what we know has only to do with our time in our bodies. We really don’t have a complete understanding of what will happen to us or what our opportunities will be once we leave this part of mortality, before the resurrection.

Redemption

Christ guaranteed us redemption from our separation from God. But this redemption is conditional. When he paid for our sins, satisfying the laws of God, our personal forgiveness for the mistakes and willful rejection and breaking of God’s laws are only able to be forgiven based on our turning to Christ and obeying the commandments he gives us. This is what we refer to as accepting his atoning sacrifice or his atonement. Christ has prepared the way for us to return to God, our Father. He has paid for our sins. But we now must answer to Christ for our lack of obedience.

It is important to remember that just because Christ paid for our sins it doesn’t mean that all accountability for our sins have disappeared. They have only been transferred from our Father to Christ. We must now answer to Christ for our behavior and choices. Because Christ paid for our sins, he becomes our final judge. He, and only he will determine who is considered worthy of what degree of glory and of what kind of resurrected body. In every way conceivable Christ stands between us and God, and we can only get to God through Christ. The only direct access we have to our Father in Heaven is through the act of prayer. And even that must be done in Christ’s name or it is ignored. Christ has become our one and only path back to God, back to our home.

The role of opposition

In order for our earth life, as short as it is, to work, we had to be put in a neutral space. We had to be in a place where we were completely free to choose between ultimate or complete good and all it stands for, and ultimate or complete evil, and all it stands for. We also had to be taught the difference between the two. Afterall, we can’t really be held justly accountable for our choices if we don’t understand them or even what choices we have.

Conscience  The Lord has given us each a conscience that helps us recognize good from evil. Every living soul has it. The light of Christ fills the immensity of space and all that occupies that space. It is this light that gives us our conscience. As eternal beings we have always known the difference between basic good and evil, but mortality brings on a whole new level of choices between the two and the expressions of the two. We will be judged, in part by our willingness to choose to follow the light of Christ within us as our conscience. One of the purposes of the conscience is to lead us to greater light and knowledge that is inherent in anything that is good, which comes from God. And all good comes from God. If we become sensitive to our conscience and always follow it, when we are taught the truth about Christ, our Savior, we will find joy in it, and accept it. If we prefer not to have to deal with all of that then we will be judged in the end by what portion we were willing to accept when we were taught the truth.

We are only held accountable for truths we know, unless we are offered truth and we reject them. This is why the Lord tells us we cannot be saved in ignorance. He is referring to willful ignorance. For willful ignorance is the same as rebellion.

Resurrection and judgment

Book of Mormon

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The Savior’s role includes providing all of God’s children who enter mortality with immortal and resurrected bodies. His resurrection was the fulfillment of the final promise and condition of his role as Savior. The atoning sacrifice would have been worthless suffering if there was no resurrection to make exaltation possible. For what good is a reconciliation with God to people who have no way to return to His presence. We can only return to where He is if we have a resurrected body like His. Resurrection for all of humanity was the final step in the Savior’s mortal work. This was the sealing of Satan’s defeat. His final punishment won’t happen for a long time yet, but the resurrection signaled Satan’s ultimate loss. Now Satan is just doing as much damage to as many of God’s children as he can before his final consignment to perdition. He has lost his bid to prevent the Savior from fulfilling his promise to the Father to provide us with a way back home.

Now that we are all guaranteed a resurrected body, we can be brought back into the presence of the Savior to be judged. This is not the condemnation we often think of. The judgment is not a punitive or punishing judgment. It is a restoration, an eternal restoration of what was before. If we only wanted temporal happiness during mortality then that level of goodness will be restored to us again in a resurrected body of more limited capacity. If we wanted eternal joy, and lived our lives in mortality accordingly, then in the judgment that level of our goodness will be restored to us in the greatly increased capacity of our resurrected body.

Not all resurrected bodies are the same. Each body’s capacity is based on the worthiness or righteousness of the person entering that body. If we seek to have eternal increase (eternal posterity) that will only be possible if this is what we sought during our time between leaving our Father’s presence and the judgment, where the true desires of our hearts are restored to us in the form of our permanent resurrected body. Alma always refers to our final facing of our Savior as a restoration of all things. Those who chose evil in mortality will have evil capacities restored to them in the resurrection. Those who sought to be like Christ will have goodness restored to them again in their new and eternal bodies.

Summary of the plan

This is the basic outline of the plan of salvation as given to us by our Father in Heaven. This plan is why our Savior is at the center of everything we do. There is no way to become like God without a Savior, and without complete obedience to him. We must seek for his approval, since he is our final judge. But our Savior hasn’t taken over the plan God gave us and made it his own. He has shown us that to successfully become like him, our Savior, we must seek after and worship our Father in all things, and do all that we do in our Savior’s name, the Christ, our Messiah.

Everything Jesus the Christ does is under the direction of our Father in Heaven. At no time has the Father stepped aside or given up His position over His family. He is still in charge of everything that takes place. Jesus, to this day, still seeks to know and then do our Father’s will. He teaches us to follow his example and do likewise. It requires all three members of the Godhead to get us back home to God. Our Father gave us the laws by which we must live and behave. Our Savior redeemed us from the Fall, our first separation from God. And the Spirit is our tutor, he who teaches us and molds us to be as much like Christ as we are willing to become. The Spirit teaches us the words of Christ. He directs us and prompts us in all things spiritual in nature. It is from the Spirit that we receive our testimonies, our revelations, and our changes of heart as we seek to become like our Savior. And it is our Father who answers our prayers and directs the Spirit to do these things for us. Why? Because our Savior is also our Intercessor, our go between. He pleads at the throne of our Father on our behalf. It is only because of his personal worthiness that our Father answers our prayers. This is why we do all things in Christ’s name. 

Lehi’s desires

In the Come, Follow Me lessons we are told that Lehi in this chapter was expressing to his son the desires of a dying father’s heart. More than anything he wanted his children to understand the nature of our mortal lives, and what is at stake here. He wanted his children to choose goodness over evil, and to worship God above anything and everything. He was trying to show them why there had to be opposition in this life, why things have to be hard. We must learn to face our obstacles and rely on our Savior if we want the joy that comes from eternal life, the ultimate gift of God.

Sometimes we refer to the Savior’s payment for our sins as the ultimate gift from God. Or we may refer to the gift of resurrection as His ultimate gift to us. But these are just means to an end. The ultimate gift God wants for all of His children is to share in the life He lives, eternal life. This is the point of all that is contained in the plan of salvation. This is the “end of the laws”, the purpose or reason for all the laws that are encompassed in His great plan of happiness. Lehi just wanted what God wants for us, for his children to be happy, eternally.

Part 2, commentary on the verses

Now that I have given an overview of the plan of salvation and how it works, and why it works, let’s look at what Lehi said to Jacob, his oldest born in the wilderness. He may be speaking specifically to Jacob, but his message is to his whole family, and by extension to each of us. Now is the time to liken the scriptures unto ourselves and see how they apply in our own lives.

And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.

The plan of salvation was not haphazard. It was not made up as time went along. Every step of the plan was designed and built into the very creation of the universe itself. For when Christ was chosen as our Savior, and he created all things, included in those things were the kingdoms of glory God’s children would inhabit after the resurrection. We are told over and over again in the scriptures that in the Father’s house are many mansions. That means they have already been built, and all that has been made has been made by the hands of Christ, our Savior.

The other point Lehi makes here is that salvation, the process of helping us return to God is without price, unless you consider experiencing the love of God as something undesirable and costly. This is opposed to the cost and misery that accompanies sin. Yeah, free is good.

And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

Our conscience teaches us the basics of what is good and what is not. It is the nature of the laws of God that cause us all to be condemned. If we were able to live all His laws without the need for a Savior then we wouldn’t be here like this, would we? Only through obedience to the Savior and the commandments he has given us, through continual repentance, can we receive the mercy we need to bypass the judgment of God’s laws and become like Christ. Continual repentance is how we access the Savior’s atoning sacrifice on our behalf. Repentance is the only way to activate the atonement and be made clean and pure before the laws of God. This is what it means to be justified – to be uncondemned by God’s laws. When there is no condemnation we are justified. And when we become justified we also begin to become pure of heart, which makes us holy. It is this change of heart, this loss of desire to be rebellious or stubborn before our maker that makes us more like Christ.

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

To be redeemed is to be taken from a fallen state and to receive our original worth once again. Think of something in a pawn shop. It was once of great worth, but was sold cheap. To get it back someone must come back to the shop and buy it back in order to give it its original worth once again. This is what christ did for us, he redeemed us from our fallen state.

Verse 7 is where Lehi points out that the Savior couldn’t achieve the point or ends of all of God’s laws, which was to offer exaltation to all His children, unless he was willing to offer himself as a sacrifice for our sins. But that forgiveness that we all seek if we want to be like Christ can only come to those who are willing to be humble and penitent, which is to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. The “ends of the law” cannot be answered or met for anyone but those who have a broken heart and are contrite. No one else can successfully become like Christ.

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

This is why missionary work is so important to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is through missionary work that we teach the plan of redemption God gave us in the premortal councils to all the nations of the earth. Can there be anything more important to the immortal souls of all the earth than this message? All must come to understand that forgiveness and lasting spiritual growth cannot happen unless we rely on “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.” Remember that there is no other way to return to God and be saved in His kingdom without Christ.

Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.

We call Christ “the firstfruits unto God” because God often refers to his harvest in the scriptures. The salvation of His children is His harvest. We are the reason for all His work in the universe. A farmer in his field seeks his temporal (physical) salvation that comes from a bountiful harvest. To God that bountiful harvest is the return of as many of His children as he can get. His desire is that all of us will choose to return to Him, though He knows full well most of us will not make that choice. He still does all in His power to help us want to make that choice.

10 And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement

Oh how lovely was that morning
16×20 image to celebrate the bicentennial of the Restoration, on framed canvas.

We could not return to God as the spirits we were when we left His presence. The purpose of receiving a mortal body was to ultimately gain an immortal and resurrected body. This resurrected body was made possible by Christ’s atonement, which ended with his resurrection. Now we will all return to face Christ in our final state as resurrected beings. With the atonement completed, we will all be held accountable for our behavior and choices during our time away from God, our Father. The laws of God require that those who turn to Christ and follow him be rewarded, while those who do not turn to Christ receive a punishment for their refusal to obey the commandments. Remember that the punishments of hell are necessary, because we cannot ignore the laws of God. But because of the sacrifice of Christ, even those in hell will eventually be released and assigned to their kingdom of glory, based on the level of goodness they have been willing to accept and live by.

11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.

These two verses are philosophical in nature. They look at the plan of salvation and ask the question, “What if?” What if there was no opposition in all things? Well, if there weren’t opposition in all things then how could we make appropriate choices between good and evil, which is one of the main tests we must all face in mortality. Life and death, spiritual life and spiritual death are based on our choices. Life eternal comes from choosing good, and spiritual death comes from rejecting good in favor of evil. Without the ability to choose between these two things we become beings without purpose, for there can be no happiness without goodness, which causes happiness. There could be no misery, because evil causes misery. Therefore, without opposition in all things there is no point to our creation or the creation of the universe or the earth. This would violate and nullify the wisdom and the justice of God.

13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

Another question is to ask, but if there are no laws of God then aren’t we then free to choose? It is the laws of God that define what sin is. To disobey a law, either by commission or omission is to sin. So without laws there can be neither righteousness nor wickedness, neither happiness nor misery. Wicked never was happiness, so if there isn’t something (like the laws of God) to cause things to act for themselves or to be acted upon then all things are without purpose, and existence is pointless.

14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.

Verse 15 tells us why there were two trees in the garden of Eden. The one brought death, and with it knowledge and accountability. The other tree maintained the status quo of Adam and Eve living forever in their innocent condition. In order not to infringe on their agency in any way, the choice between these two things had to be freely made by Adam and Eve.

16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.

18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.

The use of our moral agency in mortality hinges on these two things, the enticement to do good and the enticement to do evil. The one comes from God and the other from the Devil. Both of them are on the extreme end of the spectrum, the one being perfectly good and the other being completely evil or opposing all that God stands for and seeking His destruction.

19 And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth.

20 And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth.

21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.

This is where each of us are in the plan of salvation. We are each in the middle of our time in mortality. Because of our parent’s behavior (Adam and Eve) we came into this world and upon our first transgression or sin we became cut off from the presence of God, for no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God.

22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

The Fall of Adam and the Redemption brought by Christ are the two sides of the same coin. The one would have had no purpose without the other. Lehi reminds us in verse 25 that the whole purpose of our existence to God is for us to experience joy. This is all He wants for us. This is why he wants us to choose His goodness, so we can become righteous and experience the same joy He lives with all the time.

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

This is where we are first introduced to this idea that there are only two real choices we make in this life. We either choose eternal life or eternal death – either life eternally with God in happiness, or life eternally somewhere else without that happiness that comes from being like God. There is no third state. No neutral state between happiness and misery. We choose either one or the other, either life or death.

28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;

29 And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

30 I have spoken these few words unto you all, my sons, in the last days of my probation; and I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet. And I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls. Amen.

These are the final wishes of Lehi. He is speaking to all of his sons and daughters. Like our Heavenly Parent, he pleads with them to choose the better part and follow the Savior. He assures them he has chosen “the good part” and that his words to them was with one object only, “the everlasting welfare of your souls.”

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2 Nephi 2 – Plan of Salvation

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