Before we were born we all lived with God. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them; male and female created he them.” Thus, men and women were created, spiritually first, as God’s own offspring—spirit sons and daughters with a divine potential. Like all loving fathers, God wanted to provide us with a way to become all that he is, a way for us to gain His inheritance; with this end in mind, he created a plan for us to learn and grow, that one day we could be perfected and able to live in His presence, with our families, for all eternity. Families are central to God’s great plan because it is in our earthly families that we can learn to adopt the attributes of Christ and feel a portion of God’s love for His children.
In order for us to progress toward exaltation (or our goal of eternal life with God), we had to do two things: the first was to gain a physical body, and the second was to prove that we were willing to keep God’s commandments, even without our memory of the premortal life. So, under the direction of our Father, Jesus Christ created the world as a place for us to live and grow as families. Adam and Eve were the first human inhabitants of the Earth, but in order for them to progress according to God’s plan (and therefore give way for us to live and progress), they had to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, bringing upon mankind the first spiritual death, a separation from God and a fall to mortality. In Abraham 3:26, God says, “And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; . . . and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”
All people who came to Earth to receive their bodies thereafter have kept their first estate, and those who keep God’s commandments while on the Earth will keep their second. It is important that we keep God’s commandments now so that we may be worthy to receive the ordinances that will, in part, qualify us for exaltation; these ordinances include baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordination (for men), endowment, and sealing. The sealing ordinance is where we are sealed to our families for time and all eternity. No one can inherit all the kingdoms of God without having this sealing ordinance; this reiterates to us the importance God places upon the family unit and our responsibilities to our families, to both our ancestry and our progeny.
In Helaman 10:7, we read that with the right power and authority, “whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven. . . .” Because of this beautiful promise, our sealing to our family is not broken when we die. Those who have proved faithful on earth will live in spirit paradise, and have a mission to prepare those in spirit prison, people who have not accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to receive their saving ordinances by proxy on Earth.
When Christ returns at the Second Coming, all people will be resurrected. This will be a glorious day, when we are not only reunited with our physical bodies, but also reunited with the members of our families. After the millennium (a period of a thousand years without temptation), we will be judged of God by our works and the desires of our hearts. He will place us in one of three kingdoms: either the telestial, the terrestrial, or the celestial, each increasing in glory. Those who qualify to live in the celestial kingdom will live in the presence of God, having completed their second estate, and having been perfected through the power of the Atonement of Christ.
It is very important that we learn about and apply the Atonement in our lives, because without the Atonement we cannot enter into God’s presence again. 2 Nephi 25:23 says, “For we labor diligently to write [of Christ], to persuade our chidren, and our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” And we can’t stop there; it is our responsibility to teach the doctrine of Christ to all members of our families, that we might be surrounded by our central unit of happiness with God our Father forever and ever.
Written by Cari Taylor