Basic Doctrines Series Part 2 – The Plan of Salvation w/Brent Top

July 5, 2019

Continuing our Basic Doctrines Series of Podcasts, on this episode we are going to cover The Plan of Salvation. On previous episodes we have had Mike Goodman on to help introduce the concept of “What is a doctrine and what is a policy or practice?” Following that episode we had Robert Millet on to expound on the Doctrine of The Godhead. This episode will feature Brent Top from BYU.

Brent Top image

Brent L. Top is a Professor of Church History and Doctrine and is currently serving as the Dean of Religious Education.  He was born and raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho and served a full-time mission to the Denmark Copenhagen Mission.  He received all of his degrees from Brigham Young University—a BA in history, a Masters degree in instructional media and a PhD in instructional science and technology. Prior to joining the BYU Religious Education faculty in 1987, he worked for the Church Educational System as a released-time seminary teacher, an institute teacher and an administrator.  Dr. Top served as Associate Dean of Religious Education from 1997-2002.  He held the endowed Professorship in Moral Education for two years prior to his call as President of the Illinois Peoria Mission (2004-2007).  He was appointed department chair in June 2009.  He is married to the former Wendy Cope from Idaho Falls.  They are the parents of four children and reside in Pleasant Grove, Utah where Brother Top currently serves as the President of the Pleasant Grove East Stake.

Official Teachings: The Plan of Salvation

Here is the official writings found on the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the basic doctrine of The Plan of Salvation:

In the premortal existence, Heavenly Father introduced a plan to enable us to become like Him and obtain immortality and eternal life (see Moses 1:39). The scriptures refer to this plan as the plan of salvation, the great plan of happiness, the plan of redemption, and the plan of mercy.

The plan of salvation includes the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and all of the laws, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel. Moral agency—the ability to choose and act for ourselves—is also essential in Heavenly Father’s plan (see 2 Nephi 2:27). Because of this plan, we can be perfected through the Atonement, receive a fulness of joy, and live forever in the presence of God (see 3 Nephi 12:48). Our family relationships can last throughout the eternities.

Related references: John 17:3D&C 58:27

Premortal Life

Before we were born on the earth, we lived in the presence of our Heavenly Father as His spirit children (see Abraham 3:22–23). In this premortal existence we participated in a council with Heavenly Father’s other spirit children. During that council, Heavenly Father presented His plan and the premortal Jesus Christ covenanted to be the Savior.

We used our agency to follow Heavenly Father’s plan. We prepared to come to earth, where we could continue to progress.

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. 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.

Related reference: Jeremiah 1:4–5

The Creation

Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth under the direction of the Father. The earth was not created from nothing; it was organized from existing matter. Jesus Christ has created worlds without number (see D&C 76:22–24).

The Creation of the earth was essential to God’s plan. It provided a place where we could gain a physical body, be tested and tried, and develop divine attributes.

We are to use the earth’s resources with wisdom, judgment, and thanksgiving (see D&C 78:19).

Adam was the first man created on the earth. God created Adam and Eve in His own image. All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26–27).

The Fall

In the Garden of Eden, God commanded Adam and Eve not to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; the consequence of doing so would be spiritual and physical death. Spiritual death is separation from God. Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the mortal body. Because Adam and Eve transgressed God’s command, they were cast out from His presence and became mortal. Adam and Eve’s transgression and the resultant changes they experienced, including spiritual and physical death, are called the Fall.

As a result of the Fall, Adam and Eve and their posterity could experience joy and sorrow, know good and evil, and have children (see 2 Nephi 2:25). As descendants of Adam and Eve, we inherit a fallen condition during mortality. We are separated from the presence of the Lord and subject to physical death. We are also tested by the difficulties of life and the temptations of the adversary. (See Mosiah 3:19.)

The Fall is an integral part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. It has a twofold direction—downward yet forward. In addition to introducing physical and spiritual death, it gave us the opportunity to be born on the earth and to learn and progress.

Mortal Life

Mortal life is a time of learning when we can prepare for eternal life and prove that we will use our agency to do all that the Lord has commanded. During this mortal life, we are to love and serve others (see Mosiah 2:17Moroni 7:45, 47–48).

In mortality, our spirits are united with our physical bodies, giving us opportunities to grow and develop in ways that were not possible in the premortal life. Our bodies are an important part of the plan of salvation and should be respected as a gift from our Heavenly Father (see 1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

Related references: Joshua 24:15Matthew 22:36–392 Nephi 28:7–9Alma 41:10D&C 58:27

Life after Death

When we die, our spirits enter the spirit world and await the Resurrection. The spirits of the righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise. Many of the faithful will preach the gospel to those in spirit prison.

Spirit prison is a temporary place in the postmortal world for those who die without knowledge of the truth and for those who are disobedient in mortality. There, spirits are taught the gospel and have the opportunity to repent and accept ordinances of salvation that are performed for them in temples (see 1 Peter 4:6). Those who accept the gospel will dwell in paradise until the Resurrection.

Resurrection is the reuniting of our spirit bodies with our perfected physical bodies of flesh and bones (see Luke 24:36–39). After resurrection, the spirit and body will never again be separated and we will be immortal. Every person born on earth will be resurrected because Jesus Christ overcame death (see 1 Corinthians 15:20–22). The righteous will be resurrected before the wicked and will come forth in the First Resurrection.

The Final Judgment will occur after the Resurrection. Jesus Christ will judge each person to determine the eternal glory that he or she will receive. This judgment will be based on each person’s obedience to God’s commands (see Revelation 20:12Mosiah 4:30).

There are three kingdoms of glory (see 1 Corinthians 15:40–42). The highest of these is the celestial kingdom. Those who are valiant in the testimony of Jesus and obedient to the principles of the gospel will dwell in the celestial kingdom in the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ (see D&C 131:1–4).

The second of the three kingdoms of glory is the terrestrial kingdom. Those who dwell in this kingdom will be the honorable men and women of the earth who were not valiant in the testimony of Jesus.

The telestial kingdom is the lowest of the three kingdoms of glory. Those who inherit this kingdom will be those who chose wickedness rather than righteousness during their mortal lives. These individuals will receive their glory after being redeemed from spirit prison.

Related reference: John 17:3

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