Second only to “Where do we come from?” is the ever consuming question “Why are we here?” This question has been, is now, and will be asked by youth around the world. For those who are members of the LDS Church, or who are simply looking for answers, it is vital to know the truth in order to stay on the right track.
1. To gain a body of flesh and bones.
2. To gain experiences we could not otherwise obtain without that body.
At a certain point in our pre-mortal life we could go no further in knowledge or growth. Something had to be changed in order for us to continue on our path to becoming like our Heavenly Father. The only way it could happen was with a physical body. We had to be separated from our Father, to be given the chance to prove ourselves worthy of the opportunity to return.
In order to prove ourselves we needed experiences. Sometimes these experiences are extraordinary and fulfilling. Other times we question why we are asked to endure such pain.
When I was fifteen my father told me he had a lump in his neck and would be going into surgery to have it removed. Looking back I realize I didn’t fully grasp what he was really trying to say. The situation was serious.
The lump in his neck was cancerous. By the grace of God doctors caught it early enough for my dad’s life to be spared. I can’t even begin to tell you what it was like to watch him endure the chemotherapy and radiation. Yet I know for a fact he learned so much more in that awful year than he could have learned in a lifetime.
There are experiences in this mortal life we are called on to bear. Many of these things we agreed to in the pre-existence, with the realization that they would help us attain the knowledge and lessons necessary to carry us through this life. We had goals set even before we came down here, and we knew what we would have to endure to accomplish those goals.
As I have previously mentioned I wrote to some Christian friends on a bulletin board I frequent. These ladies are not of the LDS faith, and I wanted their perspective on the ideas of the Plan of Salvation. I found the concepts of these friends interesting as to our purpose here on earth.
For the most part they believe that God created us to come to earth and praise Him. If we accept Him as our Savior, we are saved through the atonement. Of course we need to do all the good works we can, though they’re not vital. One woman wrote: “Your good works will not have any bearing on your salvation status, but may win you crowns in Heaven.” I admit I don’t fully understand this comment, but neither have I been raised in their church.
Elder L. Tom Perry, a leader of the LDS Church, said,
“Many people in the world today continue to struggle to find answers to life’s most basic questions. The cries of the people only grow louder and many, many times more confusing. There are so many avenues to broadcast more and more different messages. I guess it should not be surprising that people are confused.
“Centuries ago [the Apostle] Paul predicted: ‘The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.’”
The ladies from the bulletin board kept giving me links to many sites where their ideas and views were better explained by different men and women who blatantly contradicted each other. They were indeed ‘telling fables.’ Is it any wonder the people of today are so lost, or don’t know just what to believe any more?
I was pleased to see that all of the women agreed on one thing: the importance of the atonement. About a year ago when I was very sick, both with a virus and being pregnant with my last baby, I received a blessing in which I was encouraged to study up on the Plan of Salvation. So I opened up my scriptures and looked it up in the index, thinking I’d be reading about the pre-existence, earth life, and what would come after.
Imagine my surprise when every single scripture I read spoke of the Atonement. It took a lot more studying in different books for me to grasp the reason: the entire plan is made possible through Jesus Christ. If he had never accepted the responsibility in the pre-existence, we would not have had a Savior, and coming to earth would have meant an eternal separation from our Heavenly Father.
Elder Perry said,
“He is the centerpiece of the eternal plan of the Father, the Savior who was provided as a ransom for mankind. God sent His Beloved Son to overcome the Fall of Adam and Eve. He came to earth as our Savior and Redeemer. He overcame the obstacle of physical death for us by giving up His own life. Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will all be resurrected, regardless of whether we have accomplished good or evil in this life…But the glory we attain to in the next life will depend on our performance in this life.”
Why are we here? We came to this earth to gain a body, to experience pain and sorrow, joy and happiness, so that we might grow into someone worthy to walk again with our Heavenly Father.