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.

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4 Responses to “What is the Gospel? Part II:The Plan of Happiness”

  1. el cigaret October 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Excellent weblog right here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink in your host? I want my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

    • shematwater October 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      This is actually a free blog done through wordpress.com. Beyond that I really don’t know anything technical about it. You would have to ask them.
      However, thank you for the support. I hope you enjoy everything else I write in the future.

  2. Enki January 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    I understand angels to be a different class of being than humans. Jude 1:6 means that they left their particular domain. What event is the writer talking about? Many suggest its Genesis 6:1-4 I am not sure what else could be fitting. I am not sure that the Bible mentions mortality as being the second estate, or heaven or hell being the third estate. Its probably a reasonable explanation of LDS doctrine, but I am not sure that people would see this using only the bible. Otherwise its a very concise and clear article, well done.

    • shematwater January 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

      Enki

      Most people don’t see it, even in the church. This is partly why I made this brief series.
      Speaking of the third estate, I know of only two other times that this term was used, so it is not common, even among members. The two times it was used can be found here http://www.lds.org/search?lang=eng&query=%22third+estate%22

      As to the second estate, you are right that it does not use this term in the Bible. In truth, it appears only once in the Scriptures and that is in the Book of Abraham, chapter three, verse 26. This chapter is also the only place other than Jude that the term First estate is used.

      Now, speaking of the meaning of the various Bible passages, that can get tricky. Most people think that angels are of a different class, or race of being. However, the Bible never teaches this. It is actually very silent on the topic of Angels; merely declaring when they appear and what they say. It never says what they are, or who they are. Thus, all the ideas and theories concerning them are speculation with no direct biblical support.

      I would be happy to discuss where I see these things in the Bible, but prefer to keep my comments short. Please tell me if you are interested.

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