Replies to Thomas

Tag: archetype

God, His Counsel, and His Councils

Dear Joseph,

The story of the blind man and his haunting adversary was very interesting to me. Because of my reluctance to share my story (frankly, most people would say I was dreaming or in a lucid dream state—which I most definitely was not), I haven’t come across others who have had similar experiences in whom I could trust as being as honest as I am about it all. So thank you for helping me feel a little less alone in the world.

But I have a nagging question I want to ask. Whenever pain and suffering or even death are present in our lives, we are told that this life is a mere moment compared to what awaits us after we leave it. It is, in essence, insignificant in the grand scheme. So then why, I would like to know, do the choices and actions we make and perform during this fleeting inconsequential blip in our existence have eternal consequences? This life is either important or it is not. It cannot be both.

When I asked this question to the missionaries, I used the book of Job as an example. God put out a hit on Job’s entire family just to win a bar bet with Satan. Oh, but he got another, bigger and better family after the whole terrifyingly callous affair was over. But Job will be with his family, both old and new, in Heaven. So no harm no foul.

No! Foul, I say. Exceedingly foul. Forcing Job to demonstrate his devotion to God in his life on Earth was so important it was worth murdering an entire family, while those people who were murdered for Job’s sake—their very lives—were not worth preserving?

—Thomas


Dear Thomas,

There is one particular point you must recognize: though a blip, this life is not insignificant. As you said, “either life is important or it’s not. It cannot be both.” And you’re right, it cannot be both; and it is, in fact, the former: important. (I wrote to you somewhat on this point already).

So you ask, “then why… do the choices and actions we make and perform during this fleeting [totally consequential] blip in our existence have eternal consequences?”

You, as an eternal being, have spent eons preparing to come to this earth to go through the experience of mortality. There was no sugar coating on the concept of mortality either; you knew full and well that this life was going to be fraught with all manner of difficulty; you were fully aware that your bread would come by the sweat of your brow; and, as I once wrote to you about supporting Christ before this life, you even understood and accepted that not every soul would be saved that would go through this experience. Despite all of that, you made the choice to come here and go through with it all. Why? Because you knew it would be worth it—worth giving mortality a shot in order to progress. Remember that in eternity there is no existence without opposition, and there is no progression without overcoming that opposition, and where it is overcome there is faith.

Do not doubt it: you and I and Christ and every other person came here to face and overcome opposition—to go from grace to grace in faith.

If you overcome it, if you prize the good of life, you will be crowned with glory hereafter with Christ. The general vicissitudes of life are inherent by the nature of our fallen bodies and so we all will face opposition, an opposition that is common to all mankind (1 Corinthians 10:13), and even Christ—the only perfect one of us—was not exempt from this opposition because He—just like us—was born into the weakness of mortality:

“[…] Inasmuch as… children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
“And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves…” (Moses 6:55-56).

As C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it:

“[…] You find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later…. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.”

So, this life is full of imperfections and weaknesses that we must struggle with and ultimately overcome if we are to inherit “bodies celestial” (1 Corinthians 15:40). As you stand against the winds of life, and though your body perisheth away, your spirit will increase in glory. And it is precisely that glory—the glory that quickens your spirit—that will determine what body you will receive in the resurrection and what kingdom you will inherit (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:28-29).

Can you begin to see why the choices in this life are of great consequence eternally? When someone tells you that pain and death a suffering are but a brief moment in eternity, it is not meant to de-emphasize the importance of this life; it is meant to give hope that things will not always be this brutal; they are reminding you that this life takes place in the Telestial state—the bottom of the eternal bucket (as I have written before).

You said another interesting thing that I want to address:

“God put out a hit on Job’s entire family just to win a bar bet with Satan…. [So] forcing Job to demonstrate his devotion to God in his life on Earth was so important it was worth murdering an entire family, while those people who were murdered for Job’s sake—their very lives—were not worth preserving?”

For the sake of time, I am simply going to lay down a few principles to help you better understand Job. I do this with the full expectation that you may very well have more questions to ask when I’m through here.

First of all, God was not having a bar bet with Satan (though I recognize that you put a bit of intentional humor in there). What is happening is a very sacred event that often precedes the testing of a called individual.

“Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen.”

“Testing?” you may ask. “Isn’t this life already a test by itself?”

Yes, it is. But the nature of this test is that as you climb the ladder of spiritual glory (recall standing ‘against the winds of life’), the test intensifies—greater and greater sacrifices are required as greater and greater glory is obtained, going from grace to grace (I wrote briefly on these “levels” in my last letter to you; also, see Doctrine and Covenants 93:11-14,19-20). And the things that such a person will be called to pass through could aptly be called a test within the test of life itself.

Hence life itself is hard by the nature of our desire to gain a body to become more like God and what that takes, but life gets harder (for lack of a better term) the closer you want to be to God in his glory. This is why when Jesus was upon the Earth, He was bitterly opposed by Satan and men. It is also why when Joseph Smith restored the Gospel in its fulness, he was bitterly persecuted in like manner. It is how you can identify the truth upon this wicked world—it is despised.

You may notice this yourself as you have been approached with the truth of the Gospel: greater joy than you have before known is offered you but it requires a sacrifice at your hands to obtain it. It may be the sacrifice of the respect of your family members who disapprove of your choice to become a Mormon. It may be the sacrifice of keeping the commandments such as obtaining from your favorite alcohols and not working on Sundays resulting in a pay cut, etc. After joining the church, you will want to be sealed to your family for eternity and the journey to get your family to the point where you can all go to the temple may require additional sacrifice and the overcoming of additional opposition. (Often times, though those things are put on the personal altar of sacrifice, they are returned to us in a better form: new found refreshment from water, a more understanding family, a better paying job, etc.) But again, it all comes down to overcoming opposition. As Joseph Smith taught:

“It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice… unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice…” (Lectures on Faith 6:8).

So good old Job desired greater blessings of salvation and exaltation. When such a things happens, God calls together a heavenly council to discuss the progression of the individual and how his desire should be proved. In this case, as the meeting was being held Old Scratch came along to add his two cents and the council let him speak. As with any test of this life, God’s purpose in testing Job was to prove that Job would do all things that God had or would command (see Abraham 3:25), and so the devil’s role became one of the destroying angel sent to afflict Job to the bounds God had modified for the test (go read again for yourself; the council and all of this is fairly plain to read in Job 1:6-12).

(You see, Satan is usually bound in such a manner so as to not be able to afflict us beyond that which our cursings allow, those things that naturally stem from sin, but for the purpose of Job’s progression God changed the bounds.)

But an issue here is that Job’s family perished in the course of this test. That seems to disregard their tests of mortality, or at the very least puts theirs below Job’s in terms of importance. But this is simply a conclusion drawn of incomplete facts. When we have things that are true that appear to be contrary, we are simply missing a third truth. If it is true that this life is a test for each of us, and it is true that some people die to fulfill the measure of another’s test, then by what truth can we conclude that the testing of those who had prematurely perished was completed to the degree they desired or required?

I wrote to you already about those who are taken from us early in life, how they are purer than we are, but do you recall where that purity came from? The preexistence. There were those of us who made covenants and had the faith at that stage to forego the full vicissitudes of mortal life. And yet the fact that they were given a tabernacle of flesh and bone by a mother and a father means that they will come forth in the resurrection of the dead, clothed in glory immortal as our Heavenly Father now has. In other words, they stood against the wind of opposition to a degree many did not and had their spirits quickened before this life was and their covenants did not include having to perform a mission on this earth with their physical presence (there are other pure ones who have a mission to fulfill; Christ was the purest of all, yet He had a mission he had to fulfill physically).

So in the case of Job’s family, “what shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid” (Romans 9:14). They were either pure enough to be through with the test or sufficiently tested themselves according to their desires. Probably most importantly, they were sealed to the man who himself proved faithful to the end who would go on to receive his exaltation with God, exalting his family with him.

So your citation of Job as an example of someone who just had to be patient in order to wait out the troubles of this short life, which resulted in receiving a bigger and better family, is incorrect. Job’s life as a whole is not a story with a simple moral about the insignificance of the suffering life puts us through; it is the story of a man called of God to offer a sacrifice in righteousness made up of his own will and fortune that he might give his family more eternally. it is archetypical of the the wind of opposition which all the joint-heirs of Christ must pass through to be crowned with the highest of Celestial glory.

I believe that you can put it down as a principle: when a man or woman is obedient and true to God, and the winds of opposition are whipped up about them, there is a purpose and a progression to be had if they are faithful to God, His Counsel, and His councils. And it is only after you have passed or failed the council’s test that its true nature may be revealed, for, as the scripture says, “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your [faithfulness]” (Ether 12:6, emphasis added).

—Joseph

Advertisements

A House Better Left Desolate

Dear Joseph,

The missionaries who have visited shared an analogy which I had no trouble accepting, and which I thought was actually pretty accurate all things considered. They said:

“Imagine a string that stretches from one end of this town to the other. Now draw the smallest dot you possibly can in the middle of that string. That dot represents your time here on Earth. The string before that dot is your pre-existence and the string after that dot is your time after your life on Earth.”

They brought it up to demonstrate how relatively insignificant all of our strife and struggles in this life ultimately are, but your mention of mansions gives me a thought. Here is what you said:

“For those who have seen a glimpse of their mansion prepared above, any sacrifice would be worth it just to spend some time there again. For some, their mansion contains their family.”

If our families are fostered during our time on Earth, just how significant, really, will they be once that veil of forgetfulness is lifted? Once you and your wife return to the full awareness of your individual existences, isn’t it possible that you could find yourselves as little more than blips on each other’s screens? I mean, Soul Mates 4-Eva is something I truly wish for the both of you, so let’s say it’s two hypothetical people. Might they not give two figs whether they spend eternity together once they recall all they once knew?

Also, I asked what the Mormon perspective on reincarnation is and they said nope. Not a thing. Absolutely not. It only now occurred to me to wonder… why not? What if it takes a fellow more than one trip to Earth to get all the experience he wants/needs before making a suitable candidate for ascension to God’s state of being?

—Thomas

P.S.

I want to say that your style of writing is so great that I went through and reread everything out loud just to hear it. Your sentence structure is especially appealing to my particular tastes.


Dear Thomas,

I want to begin this missive by addressing the analogy the missionaries shared with you about the string, and your resultant questions, particularly this one:

“Once you and your wife return to the full awareness of your individual existences, isn’t it possible that you could find yourselves as little more than blips on each other’s screens?”

I must admit that I have never thought about the hypothetical issue of what effect having temporary amnesia lifted might have on an eternal being. However, this is my take on it: much of our training before this life was to lead up to our eternal union with another of God’s children. Being sealed together for time and eternity is very much a crowning ordinance of this life.

Now, before I go on, and in case you haven’t been taught what the sealing ordinance is yet, let me sum it up for you:

Being a married couple, man and woman, is key to exaltation—and what we call a sealing (like the term hermetic sealing we find in mystical traditions throughout history [appendages of the true way, you see]) is a couple that has been joined together for eternity. It is to be married by God’s true and authorized servants (those who hold the keys of the kingdom) so that it may have binding power beyond the grave. In other words:

“…Shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be [bound as] one flesh;”
“[And by] the keys of the kingdom of heaven:… whatsoever [is bound] on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Genesis 2:24Matthew 16:19).

Again, Adam and Eve serve as great archetypes for this truth. They were sealed together in the Garden of Eden by one holding the keys and authority to do so (God Himself), as the scripture I quoted above from Genesis refers to. As also this verse: “And Adam said, This[, Eve,] is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Adam is here using covenant language to describe how He has become sealed to his wife, as we are also to do (remember that the rib is not literal, but sacred symbolism of deeper truths).

As a professor from China once shared with me, a sublime symbol of the sanctity of the family unit is that of a home. In a home with, let’s say, five beds in it, four of the beds are singly occupied by persons who all share the same blood (the children), but in one bed—the most important bed—sleeps two persons of differing blood. Why should this be? Because the union of man and woman is the sacred bond without which the house would become desolate. Hence, when these two are sealed together—when they become ‘bone of [their] bones, and flesh of [their] flesh’—the work of creation is allowed to continue, or in other words, the house can be built (and thence the town, which turns into a citadel, which turns into a whole kingdom, etc., ad infinitum). Is it no wonder, then, that we sometimes call this earth a home? (It may be of interest for you to know that this earth will become the Celestial Kingdom, truly the eternal home of the righteous who inherit it.)

Before this life, we looked forward to this moment with raptured attention because we knew that although a blip, a short time of suffering, this life was also to be the staging ground of the most important decisions we would make in eternity (including the decision to be sealed by authority). The missionaries’ analogy, I believe, was meant to emphasize how truly brief our trials would seem on the eternal scale; it was not, however, meant to imply any insignificance of the decisions made in this life. I would add to their analogy that at the blip the string bends or pivots upward in differing degrees depending on the choices made at the blip. Thus, in the eternal scale, the greater the angle with which one’s string is pivoted at this point, the greater the heights that string will ever attain to compared to the others.

The sealing ordinance is key to attaining the highest trajectory, for we cannot inherit God’s creative powers, which He seeks to bestow upon us, without it—we would not be able to create functional worlds as He does. Allow me to briefly touch upon a sacred doctrine: it would be folly for a man, who grows up to become a God, to create a world singly, for “the house would become desolate.” As the prophet wrote:

“Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it” (1 Nephi 17:36).

When my wife and I come out of our “deep sleep” as it were, and awaken to the reality of our eternal preexistence, I believe that we will be more in love than ever before, partly because we will realize just how lasting and meaningful the things we did on this earth really were, and just how profound an impact our choice to be sealed together will have had in our eternal trajectory. And we will have the eternities to allow this love to continue to blossom.

“So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them” (Abraham 4:27).

Now, on to your other question:

“Why not [have reincarnation]? What if it takes a fellow more than one trip to Earth to get all the experience he wants/needs before making a suitable candidate for ascension to God’s state of being?”

I will say that according to the principles of the plan of salvation, a person is supposed to gain their body as an eternal piece of their identity, not something that gets swapped around or reinvented in another womb. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:42), meaning, our bodies are ‘sown’ or planted or birthed in a fallen state, but in the ‘resurrection of the dead,’ they will finally be ‘raised’ or reaped or finalized in perfection. So your body is organized once in the womb and then again in the resurrection, though the second time it is merely a perfected form of that which you before received. Reincarnation then seems to run against that grain.

With that said, I’m sure that you are aware of some historical or news-worthy instances of what appear to be reincarnation in the sense of someone being reborn into mortality. I am also aware of such cases, but they have always been superficial, meaning that there’s been room enough for someone to have been pulling an elaborate ruse. There may have even been cases of mild possession by a spirit. Given said superficiality, I would not hold such cases as proof of something that runs against revelation: your spirit inhabits one unique mortal frame and then goes on to the spirit world until the resurrection reunites your spirit with your body, no more to be separated.

Reincarnation also cannot be a true principle because it flies in the face of the sanctity of the family unit. When a mother in the sealing covenant begets a child, that child belongs to that mother for ever. The opportunity for a family to be sealed is offered to all through missionary work in this world and proxy ordinance work in the temples for those who have died without a chance to hear the Gospel who are now in the spirit world (have the missionaries taught you this yet?). As I wrote before, ALL will have the opportunity to accept or reject the message in faith.

If all may be sealed—parents to children and children to parents—all the way back to Adam and Eve, then to what family would a spirit who inhabited two mortal tabernacles be sealed? It is an indivisible division and it leads to disorganization. The kingdom of heaven is not messy but perfectly orderly, and you will not find such a headache arise in its arrangement. Your body is an eternal part of your identity when you come into it at birth, and the atonement of Jesus Christ was wrought that you might keep it so.

And if you are wondering about the millions of children who have died as infants who did not get to experience the full test of mortality, I have somewhat to write about that (so much so that we may need to keep it to another letter). Suffice it for now to say that we must also consider their millions of mothers, who have wept millions of tears at not being able to raise their children. If the child was reincarnated into another family, would that not be injustice to the mother who suffered the loss? Alas, the plan of salvation is perfect in its preparation and completeness thanks to Jesus Christ.

Let me write for you a couple quotes to put your mind at ease concerning the issue:

“…Little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.
“But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!…
“For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.
“Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy.
“And he that saith that little children need baptism denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at naught the atonement of him and the power of his redemption” (Moroni 8:11-12, 15, 19-20)

“This world is a very wicked world; and it … grows more wicked and corrupt. … The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again….
“A question may be asked—‘Will mothers have their children in eternity?’ Yes! Yes! Mothers, you shall have your children; for they shall have eternal life, for their debt is paid….
“Children… must rise just as they died; we can there hail our lovely infants with the same glory—the same loveliness in the celestial glory.”

Joseph Smith

Can you not see, Thomas, that God’s house is ordered, fair, and just? Without those principles, which God Himself embodies, this world would be a house better left desolate.

—Joseph

P.S.

“…Your style of writing is so great….”

Thank you for the compliment! I value good use of language and see it as a mark of intelligence in others. So if you think my language is pleasing to the eye or ear, then I am humbled indeed.

The Devil Told the Truth

Dear Joseph,

“…The original Hebrew word for ‘created,’ as found in [Genesis 1:1], does not actually mean ‘to make’ as we often assume it does. It means ‘to organize.'”

Very interesting, I had never heard this before.

I’m also interested to learn from that Wikipedia article about Genesis 1:1 that the Hebrew word “Elohim” is closer to the English word “god” than the English word “God.” This translation fits in better with the God-was-an-ancient-astronaut theory that’s become popular lately, what with those Ancient Aliens-type shows on TV and all.

Kind of makes me wonder about who Adam and Eve were too. Why doesn’t God want us to learn deeper truths? Is He afraid that if we find out the truth we won’t respect him the way he wants us to? If we find him out he won’t be able to control us anymore? It’s these kinds of shady wordings that make me wonder if he’s just trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

You know, I can’t read Hebrew (yet…), but you’d think that in the couple-thousand pages of The Bible we’d find some other passages to explain what was happening during the first couple pages. Someone could have at least tried to tie it in to the big Bible-thumping topics of death, Hell, or maybe even Jesus Himself, maybe?

—Thomas


Dear Thomas,

Yes, knowing a bit of Hebrew can be very enlightening. There’s a lot more to learn as one considers upon all of the implications that the word “Elohim” brings to our interpretation of the creation, but it would take several more letters to properly introduce the subject. It is an important one though, so I will be sure to bring it back up if we get away from that topic in our future discourse. Suffice it to say for now that you are straddling some deep truths, one of which is the fact that it is not only more similar to the English “god” rather than “God,” but that it is actually plural, therefore meaning “gods.”

“I saw a humorous meme recently that depicted God as a cartoonish caricature with the caption: ‘Create the entire universe out of nothing; need Adam’s rib to make one more thing.’ That made me wonder, how can God get away with that one?”

I want to return to this idea of Eve being created from Adam’s rib. In my last letter to you I explained that God does not create from nothing but organizes from preexisting matter. So what are the implications with the creation of Eve? How did God make an entire person from a rib?

But before I continue, I want to be sure of one thing: your kids were delivered by a stork like mine, right?

When we as parents tell our children that they were delivered by a stork, what we are really doing is speaking to a child about a subject that we cannot fully explain without a much deeper conversation that would get their little minds focused on a subject far outside what we want them to be focused on, right? Likewise, when God explained to Moses, the author of Genesis, how the world was created, He explained it in terms the mind of man could comprehend—for now. If Jesus Christ taught in parables to reach multiple levels of comprehension at once, would we not expect the premortal Jehovah to also so teach?

Was the world created in six days, as we know them, or were there six generally-divisible periods that Moses used the word “day” to describe? The geologic record, so far as it is interpreted correctly, seems to indicate the latter.

Were the heavens and the earth created at the same time, the “beginning,” or have the “heavens” been around a lot longer than the earth? The cosmic record, so far as it is interpreted correctly, seems to indicate the latter.

God knows the answers to such questions as these, and He also considers them to matter less to us, His children, than the clearer fact that He was at the head of it all.

It’s not that God doesn’t “want us to learn the deeper truths”—He desires to share with us greater truth and light on the subject—but He must wait until we are prepared. The fact that the Hebrew version of the creation makes bare some of the deeper truths by virtue of the language itself should be evidence enough that God is not arbitrarily “pulling the wool over our eyes.” The same goes for the creation of Adam and Eve: there is a deeper understanding (that, frankly, is slightly clearer in the original Hebrew), but, like the truth behind the stork that delivered you and me, it is meant for spiritually matured minds.

Most of Christianity looks down upon Adam, and especially Eve, for committing the first sin, the “original sin,” and believes that life wouldn’t be so hard for the rest of us if it wasn’t for their introduced of sin into the world. This is an old sectarian notion and is false. In all actuality, this couldn’t be further from the truth: “Adam fell that men might be” (2 Nephi 2:25, emphasis added).

If you’ve come to know the devil and his tactics in your life (and we all have by virtue of being on earth), I will open your eyes to the fact that he hasn’t changed his ways in the five- or six-thousand years since the day he tempted Eve: the devil will tell nine truths to get someone to accept one lie. “What!” the world will exclaim, “the devil tell a truth?” Yes, if that’s what he must do tell a lie—one more lie than God would ever give. In Genesis 3:4-5 we get to hear Satan do just that:

“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

The one lie here was that neither Eve nor Adam should “surely die;” the rest was true. Let me give you some context: Adam and Eve were created in the Garden in a state of innocence and, well, we’ll call it ignorant bliss—like someone who eats only ramen noodles every day, it’s not until they taste filet mignon that they realize just how good something can taste; conversely, it’s not until they taste dirt and crab grass that they realize just how good ramen noodles can taste. In other words, we cannot know the sweet until we taste the bitter. God designed the mortal experience that we each go through (not just Adam and Eve) to be the bitter, that we might become like Him (and “the gods,” as the devil mentioned [think Elohim here]), “knowing good and evil.”

That’s what this life is about: we are on to the next stage of becoming like our Father in Heaven, the father of our spirits. Adam and Eve didn’t make a mistake, they made a decision.

Note, for instance, in the next verse, Genesis 3:6, it doesn’t say that Eve “fell for the serpent” or “was deceived in that moment” or something, but that she “saw” that what the serpent said was mostly true, meaning that she logically analyzed her situation and made her own decision. In our doctrine, we praise Eve for making the decision that would allow us the opportunity to not only know the sweet, but to receive a physical body at all. There is an even deeper layer of symbolism we could delve into with respect to this decision, particularly pertaining to why Adam and Eve could not create children before it, but suffice it to say that, like them, it is crucial that we are introduced to a fallen world—something far different than the Garden of Eden—to take that next step towards becoming like our Father in Heaven (recall the council in Heaven).

However, the fall of Adam truly brought sickness and death and sin into the world, which could truly be considered as a step away from God, but without it—without opposition—we could not be tested to progress in an eternal sense. You wouldn’t take a test with the a copy of the answer key open on every student’s desk (at least, that wouldn’t be much of a test), and likewise we cannot be tested within the confines of the Garden of Eden—a place where God Himself could come and walk about; life is a closed-book test, and we are separated from God by the very nature of this sinful world.

So, if a fall away from God was needed to get the test started, and we have Adam and Eve to thank for that, how do we un-fall if we pass the test? How can Adam’s decision be praiseworthy when all we’ve got to show for it now is death, disease, and sin?

Actually, this—the nature of our current fallen state and all—was known from the “beginning.” In the council of “the gods” before the world was (the afore mentioned council in Heaven), a plan was presented whereby we could return to God’s presence—with Adam and Eve too—despite all of our unworthy, mortal baggage. The central figure of that plan is none other than Jesus Christ, our savior and redeemer.

Christ was chosen in the premortal council in Heaven to be the “Atoning One,” the person who could bring us back “At-one” (atone) with God—the only one who had the power to swallow up our death, disease, and sin. For that reuniting with and inheriting of the Father and His glory to be complete, it was known far in advance that we would need bodies of flesh and bone (like the Father has) and no uncleanliness (like the Father is). Adam and Eve then came to get the process started whereby we could do just that, and in so doing they become archetypes of the journey we are all taking:

  • They forgot all, and we have forgotten all;
  • They came to a fallen world to know good from evil, and we come to a fallen world to know good from evil;
  • They gained bodies of flesh and blood (which blood is signified in scripture as a symbol of “corruption”), and we now have bodies of flesh and blood;
  • They will be resurrected to immortality and bodies of flesh and bone (without blood, or a body of “incorruption,” like the father), and we too shall be resurrected to the same;
  • They had their sins remitted through obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we too may so choose to become clean and thus enabled to enter into the Father’s presence.

“…You’d think that in the couple-thousand pages of The Bible we’d find some other passages to explain what was happening during the first couple pages. Someone could have at least tried to tie it in to the big Bible-thumping topics of death, Hell, or maybe even Jesus Himself, maybe?”

Maybe with the context I have laid, these words of Paul, found in 1 Corinthians 15:45-54, will perhaps make more sense to you than they have in the past:

“The first man [Adam] is of the earth, earthy: the second man [Jesus Christ] is the Lord from heaven….
“And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

With this doctrinal foundation laid, we can talk in a little more depth about what really happened during the creation.

—Joseph