19. “The Plan of Salvation”

One of the great mysteries for all people is why we are here. The Doctrine and Covenants has much to say about our purpose on earth.
The Plan of Salvation

“Plan of Salvation, Plan of Redemption,” Gerald N. Lund, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
The Father is the author of the Plan of Salvation; Jesus Christ is its chief advocate; the Holy Spirit helps carry it out, communicating God’s will to men and helping them live properly.

“The Good Samaritan: a Type and Shadow of the Plan of Salvation,” John W. Welch, BYU Studies, Vol. 38, no. 2
A chart in this article briefly explains how the parable works: A man (Adam, all men) went down (left premortal existence) from Jerusalem (holy place, presence of God) to Jericho (a low place, a fallen world) and fell among thieves (became subject to evil) who wounded him (effects of sin) and departed, leaving him half dead (foreshadowing two deaths, physical and spiritual). The priest and Levite passed by (they had only partial authority) but the Samaritan (Jesus Christ) bound his wounds with oil and wine (covenants and atonement) and took him to the inn (the church) and said he would come again (the Second Coming).

Premortal Life

“Premortal Life,” Gayle O. Brown, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Premortal life is characterized by individuality, agency, intelligence, and opportunity for eternal progression.

“The ‘Hymn of the Pearl’: An Ancient Counterpart to ‘O My Father,'” John W. Welch, James Garrison, BYU Studies, Vol. 36, no. 1
The Hymn of the Pearl dates back at least to the early Christian era and tells of a soul’s journal from a premortal home, through mortality, and back to heavenly parents.

“From Arcadia to Elysium in The Magic Flute and Weimar Classicism: The Plan of Salvation and Eighteenth-Century Views of Moral Progression,” John B. Fowles, BYU Studies, Vol. 43, no. 3
The idea of life as a journey of progression and ascension from one plane of existence to a higher one is found in Mozart’s Magic Flute and contemporary thought.

Purpose of Life

“Purpose of Earth Life: LDS Perspective,” James P. Bell, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
The purposes of life are 1. To obtain a body; 2. To grow in knowledge; 3. To be tested; 4. To fulfill preordained missions; 5. To exercise agency; 6. To establish relationships.

“Purpose of Earth Life: Comparative Perspective,” Huston Smith and Daniel C. Peterson, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Religions tend to present life as meaningful when it conforms to a cosmic plan—a plan that is either intentionally instituted by God or is grounded in the nature of a cosmos that is divine in origin.

“Why Bad Things Happen at All: A Search for Clarity among the Problems of Evil,” John S. Welch, BYU Studies, Vol. 42, no. 2
The author writes, “I have been unable to explain away evil, suffering, and injustice, or their tragic consequences. They exist. But by giving meaning to their existence, I begin to understand God’s purposes in allowing these elements to enter our lives during this creation.”

Life after Death

“‘The Great World of the Spirits of the Dead’: Death, the Great War, and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic as Context for Doctrine and Covenants 138,” George S. Tate, BYU Studies, Vol. 46, no. 1
Joseph F. Smith endured the sorrow of the deaths of many loved ones and felt the horror of World War I. In October 1918, Smith received a comforting vision of God’s love and of Christ and saints ministering and preaching the gospel among the spirits of the dead. The vision teaches that the dead who repent will be redeemed and become heirs of salvation.