|Jesus Christ Statue at Temple Square|
The Plan of Salvation in a nutshell is God's plan for our lives. It explains where we came from, why we are here, and where are we going. It's so simple yet amazing. It allows us to learn and gain the things we need to become like our Father in Heaven. It gives us hope for the future and direction for what we have to do here in our lives. And my thought about it all is that it actually makes sense.
God's Purpose: Our Father in Heaven's purpose is "...to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Moses 1:39. In order to accomplish this, we needed to first gain physical bodies and then experience what it's like to make our own choices and learn from our experiences.
Pre-earth Life: Before we came to this earth, all of us lived with our Father in Heaven as His spirit children. He is literally the Father of our Spirits and loves us more than we can comprehend. So because of His love His purpose for us comes into play. A plan was made and we chose to accept it. Jesus Christ is the center of that plan and without Him it wouldn't work.
Earth Life: Once the plan was accepted Heavenly Father gave His son Jesus Christ to create the earth. Through Jesus Christ the earth was formed. This provided us with a place where we could gain physical bodies and be tried and tested and gain the experience necessary to obtain eternal life (living forever in God's presence).
Adam and Eve were the first of God's children to come to earth. They were placed in the Garden of Eden, still in God's presence and in a state of innocence where they could know no joy because they knew not any opposition. They were given the ability to choose called agency or free will. They were given a commandment not to eat of the forbidden fruit or else they would have to leave the Garden and God's presence. Satan tempted them thinking it would thwart the plan. They used their agency and chose to partake of the fruit. As a result they were cast off from God's presence and into the world which we live now. Because of the Fall Adam and Eve were able to have children and provided us the way where we could gain bodies of our own.
Because of the Fall we are subject to physical and spiritual death. Physical death comes as a result because our bodies get old and worn out and eventually die. It's the separation of our spirits from our bodies. Spiritual death is separation from God's presence due to sin. We all suffer both of these conditions because our bodies die and we mess up along the way. Without a mediator or help we are stuck and can't progress any further.
Jesus Christ was chosen to be our Savior in pre-earth life. He was the First Born of the Father and the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. Because of this He was able to suffer for our sins and shortcomings, died, and was resurrected. Because of Him everybody will be resurrected, regardless of their righteousness. He also provided a way for us to overcome spiritual death. This requires effort on our part though. In order to qualify for His saving grace, we must follow His teachings and obtain the necessary ordinances for salvation. This is called The Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is our purpose here on the earth now. "...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 labours." Alma 34:32. If we follow His teachings and become more like Him, we will be cleansed from our sins and overcome spiritual death.
After this Life: There will come a time for each of us when we will experience physical death, separation of our spirits from our bodies. However Christ has overcome that barrier for each and everyone of us and when the times comes we will all be resurrected. However before the resurrection occurs, our spirits need a place to reside till that time. This is called the Spirit world. There are two divisions of the Spirit world, Spirit Paradise and Spirit Prison (sometimes in the scriptures referred to as hell). Those who were righteous in this life will live in a state of rest in paradise. While those who were wicked or never had a chance to hear the gospel will be in a place called prison. However those in paradise can and do teach those in prison so that everyone will have a chance to hear the gospel and have a fair chance to accept or reject this. It is only a temporary place the Spirit world and it is not the end.
When the time comes we will all be resurrected, each and everyone one of us who has ever lived on the earth. Once again, we can thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for this. Once we are resurrected we will all be brought before the judgement seat. There God will judge us and if we qualified for the Savior's grace He will be our advocate with the Father. We will be judged according to our works in earth life and by the desires of our hearts. God is fair and will judge fairly.
Three Kingdoms of Glory: In God's house there are many mansions, each with it's different degrees of glories. Our placement in part's of God's house are determined by the judgement. He will judge us and place us where we most qualify for and are most comfortable with. The first glory is the Celestial Kingdom, symbolized by the glory of the sun. It is where God resides and where we experience the blessings of exaltation, progression, and eternal life. The second glory is the Terrestrial Kingdom, symbolized by the glory of the moon. It is a place where those who lived honorable lives but didn't accept the gospel will be placed. And the third is the Telestial Kingdom, symbolized by the glory of the stars. It is the place where those who were wicked and who did not repent of their sins will go.
So what does this mean for me?: Well it means a lot really. This is God's plan for our lives and we are presented with a wonderful opportunity to become like Him. Our life here on earth is but a minute in comparison with the vastness of eternity. Because of this plan we know who we are, God's children. We know what we must do in this life, and that is to look upon our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the way, and through Him we can be cleansed from our sins and return back to the presence of our Father in Heaven.
I know this plan is real. It's a plan of happiness, a plan of mercy, and plan of love. With it we can experience the greatest level of joy and happiness that a loving Father in Heaven wants us to have. Please take some time to consider this and ask God if it is true. With sincere study and pray, He will let you know what you can do to return and live again with Him.