Archive | October, 2012

Theories: Part One

19 Oct

I originally wrote this post speaking of this thought as a heresy.  I have since decided that this was an error, as I do not have the authority to make such a proclomation regarding any idea or theory.  So I have altered this blog to reflect a more understanding and less judgmental attitude.  In it I address a question that many people raise, and that I know some in the LDS church believe in.  I do not think it is a prevelant thought, but it does exist.  I give only my opinion, and this should be taken as just that, and only that.

So, here is the Question:  Did Heavenly Father Ever Sin?

Some people among the LDS have expressed the opinion that at some point in the distant past our Heavenly Father, the great Elohim, the Head of the Gods might have sinned. Their reasoning is simple. It is based in two simple concepts.
1. It is taught that God once lived a mortal life, and through his diligence and obedience to his father was exalted and became God.
2. It is also taught that if we are diligent and obedient to him we will become exalted and become gods.
Putting these two concepts together they reach the conclusion that since we, who are sinful, can become gods, then it stands to reason that our Heavenly Father, who was once as we are, also sinned while living in mortality.
This sounds reasonable enough, but hits a little snag when our Heavenly Father is described as being perfect. Those who cling to this view address this issue with the simple reasoning that since it is taught that all our sins will be washed away and forgotten, making us perfect, than it is not a problem to say the same of our Heavenly Father.

I wish to point out that there are actually few in the church who even bother to think of such things, and even less of those who actually form any kind of opinion regarding them.  However, it does seem generally accepted among those who do consider such topics that, since we really know so little concerning the eternal worlds, the possibility, however slim it is, is there.  Beyond this any thought on the subject is basically pointless as we will never really know until all things are reveal, and whether it is true or not makes very little difference when it comes to the plan of salvation and our progression.

Now, I do not recall any of the leadership addressing this specifically, or directly.  It seems that they are content to let the members believe as they choose.  This is fine with me, as some do receive comfort in the idea that since it is possible that Heavenly Father sinned, there is hope for us.  I am content to let people believe this, and will not argue the point too strenuously.

However, I will give my opinion regarding this matter, which is that I do not believe he ever did, as I believe he was the Christ, or savior of his generation, and thus he would have had to live a perfectly sinless life, just as Jesus Christ did.  I draw this conclusion from two different passages; one from the Testimony of John in the New Testament, and the other from the King Follett discourse, as delivered by Joseph Smith April 1844 conference.

John 5: 19-20
“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the son likewise.
“For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth…”

Here I take note of the statement that the Son only does what he saw his Father do previously.
Christ, as is clearly taught by all the prophets throughout time, lived a perfectly sinless life. From the day he was born till the day he died he did nothing that was contrary to the will of his Father in Heaven. If he did only what he saw his Father do then it stands to reason that his Father also lived a perfectly sinless life.

King Follett Discourse
Section: Power of the Father and the Son
“The Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, As the Father hath power in Himself, even so hath the Son power — to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious — in a manner to lay down His body and take it up again.”

This seems to make it clear that our Heavenly Father was the savior of his generation.  He had the needed power to perform the atonement, and did so, just as Jesus had that power and performed the atonement for us. This goes in hand with John 5: 19; one informs us that Jesus lived the same kind of life in mortality that the Father did, and the other shows us that he has the same power as his Father.

When I consider all this I think it clear that the idea that our Heavenly Father could have sinned at any time in the past is false.  However, it is not really important, and so I will not actively seek to correct anyone who disagrees with me.  I would question anyone who teaches he sinned in our church meetings, but not one who held the private belief that it may be possible.

The Fall of Man

12 Oct

What we know from the Bible:
Genesis 2: 16-17 tells us that while in the Garden, Adam and Eve were told that they could eat of every tree except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Genesis 2: 25 we are told that while in the Garden, Adam and Eve were naked, and were not ashamed. Or in other words, they did not understand right and wrong, or Good and Evil. They were innocent.
Genesis 3 tells us the majority of the story concerning the Fall.
Verses 1-5 we have the beguiling of the serpant. How he tempted Eve telling her that if she ate she would be as god, having a knowledge of Good and Evil.
Verse 6 she conciders what the serpant says and eats of the fruit, then gives to Adam and he eats.
Verses 7-9 we have the change that was wrought in them, their eyes being open and knowing the shame of their nakedness. They no longer were ignorant, but knew Good and Evil. They had lost their innocence.
Verses 10-13 we see Adam passing the blame to Eve, who then passes it to the Serpant.
Verse 14 is the curse placed on the serpant. Before this time he either had legs or wings, as he was now cursed to go on his belly.
Verse 15 at first appears to be more of a curse on the serpant, but it is actually a curse on satan and a prophecy of the Atonement (Christ being the seed of the woman whose heel was bruised on the cross).
Verses 16-21 seem to be curses placed upon Eve, and than Adam. Pain and suffereing, as well as hard work.
Verses 22-24 tell us that Adam and Eve did indeed become like Gods, know Good and Evil (just as the serpant, or satan had said) and to prevent them from becoming immortal they were thrust out of the Garden and the Tree of Life Guarded.
Romans 5: 12 tells us that sin and death are the result of the fall.
1 Corinthians 15: 22 confirms this, also adding that Christ can save us from death.
2 Corinthians 11: 3 it is warned that it is by subtley that Eve was beguiled, and by subltey that we are beguiled.
1 Timothy 2: 14 we are informed that Adam was not deceived in partaking of the fruit, but Eve was, and so in her was the original sin.
These are all the references from the Bible reguarding the Fall of Man.
What do we learn from all this? Taking the reference from Timothy we can infer one of two things. Either Adam knew what he was doing when Eve offered him the fruit, or he was tempted first and did not succumb. The first possibility does not go along with what is said in Genesis 2:25 where we are told they did not have this knowledge, and were innocent. So the second must be true. Satan first tried to get Adam to eat of the fruit. He was not deceived, and did not eat. So satan than tempted Eve who ate, and then gave to her husband. The actual events that followed are given fairly well in Genesis 3.
We are told strait out that sin came into the world through the Fall of Adam, and from sin death. We are also told that we are redeemed from the Fall through Christ. Note that no where in the Bible does it call Adam’s actions a sin, only that the result was sin entering the world.
Besides the actual events, and this effect, what else do we get from the Bible. Not much. There is really nothing else stated directly in any of these verses. Some questions are left unanswered. Such as these:
Could Adam and Eve have children in the Garden?
What was God’s plan for them while in the Garden?
Why did God prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life which would have restored their immortality?
If Adam was not dedeived by the Devil, why was he deceived by Eve, or was he deceived by Eve?
The fourth question given I think we can answer with a little logic. In Timothy Paul tells us that Adam was not deceived. It does not say he was not deceived by satan, but was by Eve. It simply says that he was not deceived. (This may sound like a contradiction of a previous statement. However, when that statement was made we were only considering what was stated directly, not what could be seen through careful study.) So, Adam is not deceived, but Eve is and eats. She then tells Adam what she did. Adam is now faced with a dilemma. God has commanded him not to eat of the Fruit of this tree, but he has also commanded him to be fruitful and replenish the earth (See Genesis chapter 1). He knows that Eve cannot stay in the Garden. If he obeys the one command he will remain and how can he and Eve be fruitful. But, in order to be fruitful he must disobey the other. So, because he loves his wife Eve and does not wish to be separated from her, he eats so they will be cast out together. He was not deceived by anyone. He knew exactly what he was doing, but without understanding that it was wrong, or wicked, as he was innocent (much as a child makes a decission based on known consequences without understand the moral nature of it).
The other three questions cannot truly be answered through the Bible. It does not tell us what God had planned for in the Garden, nor does it tell us if they could bare children. However, there are still many who try to make the Bible answer these questions.
They will say that they could have had children. The reason being that God obviously intended them to, having commanded them to be fruitful. They take the curse in Genesis 3 to mean that child birth would have been painless in the Garden. While this is understandable, I would point out that verse 16 of chapter 3 states “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Her conception was to be multiplied, meaning she was to have more children. Now, why would God curse here with more children for her disobedience? To me this makes no sense.
As to the plan, people do not generally offer an explanation as to what that was, simply that we should all have lived in paradise, and that that was Gods plan. I would than ask “What was the point in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?” to be answered that Adam and Eve had to have a choice. Another question to ask is “If God wanted us all to be born and live in the Garden why would he have let the fall happen?” Or “Why did he just not simply create a new man and woman who would obey his commands?” These questions cannot be answered. If God intended for us to stay in the Garden than the Fall would prove that his plans can be frustrated, thus making him no longer all powerful. However, I would agree that the Bible makes the belief sound possible.
With no clear answer to these two very important questions to be found in the Bible, where do we find them? A clear picture of the Fall is given to us in the Book of Mormon. There are several points concerning the Fall that we know from the Bible that are confirmed by the Book of Mormon.
Sin and Death come from the fall: 1 Nephi 10: 6; 2 Nephi 9: 6; Mosiah 3: 16, 19; Alma 12: 22; 34: 9; 42: 6-7, 9; Helamen 14: 16; Mormon 9: 12; Ether 3: 2.
Fall was caused by the beguiling of Adam and Eve by the Serpant: Mosiah 16: 3.
Christ saves men from the fall: 2 Nephi 2: 4; Mosiah 3: 11; 4: 7; Mosiah 16: 14.
Now, besides this confirmation of that which is taught in the Bible, the Book of Mormon offers a few more points that clear up all confusion.
First, in 2 Nephi chapter two we are given the greatest discourse on the Fall ever recorded.
Why were they prevented from eating of the Tree of Life? In verse 21 we are told he did this to give us all a chance to repent. He lengthened our years, preventing Adam and Eve from partaking of the Tree of Life so that they, and all that were born to them, would havethe chance to repent of all sins. As it says, we are on probation, or in a probationary state. If Adam and Eve had Eaten of the Tree of Life they would have been condemned to hell. Knowing this God thrust them from the Garden and guarded the Tree of Life so that we all have the chance to repent and be saved.
Could they have had children while in the Garden? In verses 22-25 it tells us quite plainly that they could not have. They were in an eternal state, with nothing changing. They were innocent of all things. In these verses the last question is also answered. What was God’s plan for them while in the Garden? This tells us that his plan was to have them fall. They were not meant to remain in the Garden, in that state of innocence. This also clears the confusion as to how God’s plan could have been frustrated by the fall. As God not only knew it would happed, but had planned for it, we see that satan can do nothing against God, and actually assists in his ignorance.
One has said the if this was God’s plan than all the evil in the world can be blamed on God. This is most illogical. The same argument is made that if God created all men is he not to blame for their wickedness. To this people will always say that God gives us our agency and is not responsible for what we do with it. I agree, and the same logic applies to this understanding of the Fall. To show this even clearer I will quote from 2 Nephi 2: 11 which tells us “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born 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.” God does good because there is evil. God can no more prevent evil than he could stop doing good. If there is no evil there is no good, therefore there is no God.
Now, the same man said that in commanding Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit, yet intending them too, is deceitful. I would contend otherwise. In the same chapter of 2 Nephi this logic is applied to the Fall (verses 15-16) “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. 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.” God had to give men a choice. I believe this command was given because God knew the pain and suffering that would result. He loved Adam and Eve, and so he warned them of the consequences. Just as any father worries about his children, and warns them of what the world is like, knowing that they will have to leave home some day. While it was necessary God did not want his children to suffer. So he warned them. He gave them a choice. He also knew that if they had not been warned, if they did not have that opposition, than he would not be justified in thrusting them out when they ate the fruit. You cannot justly punish a person for a crime committed in ignorance.

From the Bible we know that the fall happened, and that it was Eve who truly caused it. We also know how it happened, and that death and sin are the results.
From the Book of Mormon we know why it happened, and how it is truly the greatest blessing to all of God’s children, next to salvation.

Authoritative Church Doctrine

10 Oct

Many people try to claim that the LDS church is confusing as to what its doctrine is. Others try to claim things as doctrine which aren’t, or try to deny what is. For this purpose I would like to discuss what it means to be doctrine in the church, and why some things, though once taught by the leaders, are not doctrine.

To determine whether something is official doctrine there are only a few things to consider.
First is what the source is. There are many sources, and not all are as good as others. Here are the various types in order of doctrinal importance.
1. We do have a set of scriptures that we call the standard works for good reason. They are the standard of doctrine that all else is compared to. Thus the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price are the first and most authoritative of all sources of doctrine. If a doctrine is found taught in these sacred scriptures it is official doctrine of the church.
2. Church published manuals and magazines are reviewed by those who have the authority to declare and clarify doctrine. If something is not made clear in the standard works we should first turn to these sources for instruction. This includes church magazines, like the Ensign and Liahona; as well as manuals for Sunday school and priesthood/relief society meetings. It also includes any book that was specifically commissioned by the church and written by one of the First Presidency or the Twelve Apostles (like Jesus the Christ).
3. Books and other material produced by the leaders of the church that are not directly commissioned by it, or overseen by its leaders. This would include books like “Mormon Doctrine” and the “Journal of Discourses.” These men are the leaders of the church, and so know the doctrine; but acting in this capacity they are not declaring the mind and will of God, but their own thoughts and understanding of it.
4. Books and material produced by members, regardless of how educated they are, such as FAIR and that produced by BYU professors.
5. Anything not falling into one of the previous categories has no authority to pronounce doctrine, and thus is rightly ignored.
One note needs to be made: For several years the manuals and material produced for Sunday school and other church auxiliaries was not overseen by the leadership. As such any manual produced before the unification of material was established does not go in category two, but rightly belongs with Category four.

To place all these in perspective there are two things that must be considered when determining if something is doctrine.
The first is whether or not it is taught by a more authoritative source or not. If it is than we have a firmer grasp on whether it is doctrine or not. If the idea is not in at least the first or second category it is not official doctrine. This does not make it false, only unofficial.
The second is whether it contradicts a more authoritative source. If it does than the idea is most likely false and not official doctrine.

So, say an idea is taught in the Journal of Discourses, but it is not found in any source that holds more authority. It is not found in either the standard works or church publication. This means that it is not official doctrine and doesn’t really matter. However, it does not contradict those categories either, and so it may be true, and may not be.

This is just a brief rundown of how doctrine is known and how one can evaluate the source of information regarding it.

What is the Gospel? Part III: Ordinances and Commandments

9 Oct

We know we have kept our first estate, for we are here in mortality. So how do we keep our second estate? In our definition we read that we must “endure to the end, faithfully living the gospel.” So, now we must know how to live the gospel.

We have been told what we must do, and it is truly very simple. The beautiful part about it is that it is a progression. We are not expected to do it all at once. In truth we cannot do it all at once. We accept a part and live it, and then we are given more, and must live that. But we have the assurance that as long as we are faithful to what we have we will not be accountable for what we do not have. God has told us that He will “judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.” (D&C 137: 9) So, if we are faithful to the part we have, we have an assurance of salvation for that faith. It is important to keep this in mind or the true spirit and mercy of the gospel may be missed.

So, what is required? There are many ordinances that we have been given, each accompanied with a covenant made with God. Each must be entered into in the proper order, and only when we are sufficiently prepared to make the covenants they carry. Here is a list of the required ordinances.
1. The gospel begins with faith in Christ. One must first believe before they can continue. (Article of Faith 4)
2. One must repent of their sins and come to Christ before anything can be done. (Article of Faith 4)
Note: These first two are not actually ordinances, but are required before one can begin the ordinances, and so I include them.
3. Once the first two requirements are fulfill the person must enter into a covenant with God through the ordinance of baptism by immersion in water, just as Christ was. (Article of Faith 4)
4. Once we are baptized with water we are baptized with the spirit when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Article of Faith 4)
5. Then we must worthily partake of the sacrament as often as we are able to renew these covenants. (D&C 20: 75; D&C 46: 4)
6. For men we will also receive the priesthood; first the Aaronic, or lesser priesthood, and then the Melchizedek, or Higher priesthood. This is required because it is through the priesthood that all the ordinances are administered. (D&C 84: 19)
7. When we are sufficiently prepared we will enter the temple receive of the final ordinances of washing, anointing and endowment. (D&C 124: 39)
8. Lastly, when we have found one who we are willing to share eternity with we enter the temple again and are sealed to them for all eternity. (D&C 131: 1-4)

These are the required ordinances of the gospel, and we must enter into all of them in order to attain the highest goal of our Father’s plan of Happiness. However, as I pointed out, these must be done in order, and when we are sufficiently prepared. If the desires of our hearts are right, but we are unable, for whatever reason, to fulfill any of these ordinances, it will not be held against us.
For instance, I know of a woman who had faith in Christ and had repented of all her sins. She was preparing for baptism, but a week before the ordinance was to be performed she was killed in a car crash. But, since her heart was right before God she will be treated as if she had been baptized and had fulfilled all the later requirements. This is the true mercy of the Gospel and the atonement of Christ.

Besides the ordinances there are also commandments that must be obeyed. The reason for this is that disobedience breaks the covenants made in the ordinances, and thus nullifies their effects. When we are baptized we covenant to obey the commands of God, and we renew this covenant every time we partake of the sacrament. (D&C 20: 77, 79) When we receive the Holy Ghost we covenant to be guided by His promptings. Similar covenants are made with each ordinance, and thus obedience becomes vital.
I will not list every command ever given, as that would take far too long. I could list the Ten Commandments given to Moses, but that would be just a start. It is sufficient to say that if God commands something we need to do all that is in our power to fulfill that command, and trust in God that everything will turn out according to His plan. If we do this we will be secure and assured a glorious resurrection and a throne in heaven, having received the fullness of joy and happiness that God desires for all his children.

What is the Gospel? Part II:The Plan of Happiness

5 Oct

The plan of happiness is best described as a series of stages, or estates, through which we progress. Once we have passed the tests and trials of one, as decreed by our Heavenly Father, we move to the next. This is called keeping our estate.
In this plan there are three basic estates.

First Estate: Spirit existence and pre-mortal life. We all lived before this mortal existence as spirit children of deity. God told Jeremiah that “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee.” (Jeremiah 1: 5) In his great vision Abraham saw “…the intelligences that were organized before the world was…” (Abraham 3: 22).
We were tested and tried in that existence. While there we developed peculiar talents and interests, and learned all that we could. But there came a point at which we could progress no farther. So, our loving Father called us all into a grand counsel and presented to us the plan of happiness, by which we would be enabled to continue in our progression. At this time Lucifer stood up in opposition to this plan, while Jehovah stood in support of it. John, in his revelation, saw that “there was war in heaven” (Revelation 12: 7) for Lucifer, who became Satan, fought against God. This was a great trial for all of us, and Lucifer managed to draw one third of the spirit children with him (D&C 29: 36).
This was the final test. Those who chose to follow Lucifer in his rebellion kept not their first estate. Jude tells us that “the angels which kept not their first estate…[God] hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness.” (Jude 1: 6)

Second Estate: Mortality. Abraham, in his vision, heard Christ declare that “they who keep their first estate shall be added upon…” (Abraham 3: 26) Those of us who live in mortality kept our first estate, have been given physical bodies, and are now in our second estate. We have been added upon, for we are no longer just spirits, but have been given physical bodies. This was necessary for our progression, for without physical bodies we could not advance farther in our Father’s plan.
Now, in this life we are all tried and tested. This was the purpose of creating this Earth. This we learn from Abraham’s vision as well, for he also heard Christ declaring “we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3: 25).
For this purpose God has granted unto all men a certain amount of time in mortality to prepare and learn, so that they may pass the test. Alma tells us that “there was a time granted unto man to repent, yeah, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.” (Alma 42: 4) Amulek declared that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yeah, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” (Alma 34: 32). Christ has declared “I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works shall be.” (Revelation 22: 12)
Thus we see that, just as our actions and choices in our first estate lead to either condemnation or blessing, so too will our actions and choices in this estate lead to condemnation or salvation.

Third Estate: Heaven and Hell. This is the final destination of all the children of God, including those who did not keep their first estate. The rewards of heaven and the punishments of hell are reserved for those whose actions and choices lead to that destination.
The one thing that all men will receive, regardless of their actions in this life, is a resurrection, when the “soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yeah, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yeah, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (Alma 40: 23) This resurrection comes to all men, as is testified to by Jacob, the brother of Nephi (2 Nephi 9: 12-13).
Now, after this resurrection all men will receive according to their works in mortality. For this reason there are varying levels, or degrees of glory, each matching a certain level of righteousness. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, made this comparison: “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial, and bodies telestial; but the glory of the celestial, one; and the terrestrial, another; and the telestial, another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars…” (JST 1 Corinthians 15: 40-41)
Here we have three distinct degrees of glory that the heavens are divided into (more on this later). Depending on our personal righteousness and willingness to accept and follow Christ we will receive a reward in one of these glories, with the more righteous receiving a greater glory than the less righteous.
But, lest we forget, in this final estate there is also hell, or an outer darkness; a realm that is not a kingdom of glory in heaven, but is wholly separated from God. This is the place reserved for Satan and his angels; those who kept not their first estate. It is also where those who actively rebel against God in this life will go. This is the second death, or the permanent separation from God.

One final point needs to be made, for the question arises as to what happens between physical death and the receiving of our reward in heaven. This is not an estate, but a waiting period; a time and place where the spirits of men go after death to await the resurrection. The righteous spirits will be “received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace…” and the wicked in “…a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them…” (see Alma 40: 12-14) I say no more about this right now, but will at a future time.

What is the Gospel? Part I: Simple Understanding

3 Oct

In all my years on the various blogs that exist this question seems to be frequently asked: What is the gospel according to the LDS church?
Many have tried to claim that it is complex and confusing; that there is no logic to it. Others will say that it all depends on which Mormon you ask. So, to clear up the confusion, I have decided to explain here what the gospel is; it’s simplicity and logic.

If you go to LDS.org, under gospel topics, looking under the word gospel, you will read the following.
“The gospel is our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness…In its fullness, the gospel includes all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom.”

This is a very simple definition of the gospel, and is not confusing. The gospel is the plan set by our Heavenly Father, in which certain ordinances and commandments must be followed, to bring us to exaltation and eternal happiness.
You will also read that “The central doctrine of the gospel is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” So, the entire plan hinges on this event. It is because of the atonement that “The Savior has promised that if we endure to the end, faithfully living the gospel, He will hold us guiltless before the Father at the Final Judgment (see 3 Nephi 27:16).”

One last thing must be mentioned concerning the Gospel. It is universal, in that it applies to all men who accept and live it. Regarding this, the Apostle Peter said, “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34–35).
President N. Eldon Tanner, who was a member of the First Presidency, taught: “Regardless of country, clime, or condition, the gospel of Jesus Christ applies to every individual just the same. It is a way of life that each can accept, and if lived, will bring greater joy, success, and happiness than anything else in the world” (“Christ’s Worldwide Church,” Ensign, July 1974, 6).
The power and effects of the Atonement touch not only those who have lived since the time of Christ, but all those who have ever lived from the time of Adam, allowing all men the same opportunity of salvation. Truly its power is remarkable, for Peter tells us that Christ “went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3: 19) so that “they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4: 6)
This universal application of the gospel is one of its most glorious aspects, and one that should not be ignored or misunderstood. The mercy of a great and loving God allows all men the same opportunity to accept and live the gospel.

So, the gospel is the plan by which all men, no matter where or when they lived, may come back into the presence of our Heavenly Father, if they fulfill the required ordinances and are obedient to his laws. This is all well and good, but unless we know what the plan of happiness is, and what ordinances and commandments it requires, then this definition does us no good. So, let us look at this plan, and understand what it includes.
In my next two blogs I will give a brief description of what the Plan of Happiness is, and what are the required ordinances of the Gospel.