What am I doing here on Earth?
Ludlow, Daniel H., ed. Latter-day Prophets Speak: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Church Presidents. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1948.
2 The Mortal Probation
A. PURPOSE OF THE MORTAL PROBATION
THE OBJECT of our being placed upon this earth is that we may work out an exaltation, that we may prepare ourselves to go back and dwell with our Heavenly Father; and our Father, knowing the faults and failings of men, has given us certain commandments to obey, and if we will examine those requirements and the things that devolve upon us we will find that they are all for our individual benefit and advancement. The school of life in which we are placed and the lessons that are given to us by our Father will make of us exactly what He desires, so that we may be prepared to dwell with Him.
—Heber J. Grant, Improvement Era 48:123, March, 1945
We have come to sojourn in the flesh, to obtain tabernacles for our
immortal spirits.…The object of our earthly existence is that we might
have a fullness of joy and that we may become the sons and daughters of
God, in the fullest sense of the word, being heirs of God and joint heirs
with Jesus Christ, to be kings and priests unto God, to inherit glory,
dominion, exaltation, thrones, and every power and attribute developed
and possessed by our Heavenly Father. This is the object of our being on
—Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 19:259, April 11, 1878
I sometimes wonder if people realize the purpose of their existence,
and the importance of the labor that men and women are expected to perform
while on the earth. … We have been placed here for a purpose. That purpose
is that we may overcome the evil temptations that are placed in our way,
that we may learn to be charitable to one another, that we may overcome
the passions with which we are beset, so that when the time comes for us
to go to the other side we may be worthy, by reason of the effort we have
put forth, to enjoy the blessings that our Father has in store for the
faithful… 12 We are not here to while away the hours of this life
and then pass to a sphere of exaltation; but we are here to qualify ourselves
day by day for the positions that our Father expects us to fill hereafter.
—George Albert Smith, Conference Reports, p. 59; 61-62, April, 1905
The object of our being here is to do the will of the Father as it is
done in heaven, to work righteousness in the earth, to subdue wickedness
and put it under our feet, to conquer sin and the adversary of our souls,
to rise above the imperfections and weaknesses of poor, fallen humanity,
by the inspiration of Almighty God and His power made manifest, and thus
become indeed the Saints and servants of the Lord in the earth.
—Joseph F. Smith, Conference Reports, p. 85, April, 1902
We are here to cooperate with God in the salvation of the living, in
the redemption of the dead, in the blessings of our ancestors, in the pouring
out (of) blessings upon our children; we are here for the purpose of redeeming
and regenerating the earth on which we live, and God has placed His authority
and His counsels here upon the earth for that purpose, that men may learn
to do the will of God on the earth as it is done in heaven. This is the
object of our existence.
—John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 21:94, April 13, 1879
The Lord designs to bring us up into the celestial kingdom. He has made
known, through direct revelation, that we are His offspring, begotten in
the eternal worlds, that we have come to this earth for the special purpose
of preparing ourselves to receive a fullness of our Father's glory when
we shall return into His presence. Therefore, we must seek the ability
to keep this law, to sanctify our motives, desires, feelings and affections,
that they may be pure and holy, and our will in all things be subservient
to the will of God, and have no will of our own except to do the will of
our Father… One of the chief difficulties that many suffer from is that
we are too apt to forget the eat obect of life, the motive of our Heavenly
Father in sending us here to put on mortality, as well as the holy calling
with which we have been called; and hence, instead of rising above the
little transitory things of time, we too often allow ourselves to come
down to the level of the world without availing ourselves of the divine
help which God has instituted, which alone 13 can enable us to overcome
them. We are no better than the rest of the world if we do not cultivate
the feeling to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect.
—Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses 20:189; 191, April 7, 1879
It is the wish of our Heavenly Father to bring all His children back
into His presence. The spirits of all the human family dwelt with Him before
they took tabernacles of flesh and became subject to the fall and to sin.
He is their spiritual Father and has sent them here to be clothed with
flesh and to be subject, with their tabernacles, to the ills that afflict
fallen humanity. When they have proved themselves faithful in all things,
and worthy before Him, they can then have the privilege of returning again
to His presence, with their bodies, to dwell in the abodes of the blessed.
If man could have been made perfect, in his double capacity of body and
spirit, without passing through the ordeals of mortality, there would have
been no necessity of our coming into this state of trial and suffering.
Could the Lord have glorified His children in spirit, without a body like
His own, He no doubt would have done so.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:43, January 8, 1865
IMPORTANCE OF OBTAINING A MORTAL BODY
We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. lie is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine's body to having none. All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him.
-Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 181, January, 1841
Our mortal bodies are all important to us; without them we never can
be glorified in the eternities that win be. We are in this state of being
for the express purpose of obtaining habitations for our spirits to dwell
in, that they may become personages of tabernacle.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:286, February 28, 1862
It is absolutely necessary that we should come to the earth and take
upon us tabernacles; because if we did not have tabernacles 14 we could
not be like God nor like Jesus Christ. God has a tabernacle of flesh and
bone. He is an organized being just as we are, who are now in the flesh.
Jesus Christ … had a fleshly tabernacle; He was crucified on the cross;
and His body was raised from the dead… We are precisely in the same condition
and under the same circumstances that God our Heavenly Father was when
He was passing through this or a similar ordeal. We are destined to come
forth out of the grave as Jesus did, and to obtain immortal bodies as He
did… This is the object of our existence in the world.
—Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 25:58-59, February 17, 1884
Man was created in the image of God, and he was the offspring of Deity
Himself and consequently made in His likeness; and being made in that likeness,
he was a Son of God, and the very object of his being planted upon the
earth was that he might multiply Why? That the spirits which had existed
with their Heavenly Father might have tabernacles to inhabit and become
mortal, and, through the possession of these tabernacles and the plan of
salvation, that they might be raised to greater dignity, glory and exaltation
than it would be possible for them to enjoy without these … God had a purpose,
therefore, in the organization of this earth, and in the placing of man
upon it, and He has never deviated one hair to the right or to the left
in regard to man and his destiny from that time until the present.
—John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 17:370, April 8, 1875
The object of man's taking a body is that through the redemption of
Jesus Christ both soul and body may be exalted in the eternal world, when
the earth shall be celestial, and obtain a higher exaltation than he could
be capable of doing without a body. For when man was first made, he was
made a little lower than the angels." But through the atonement and resurrection
of Jesus Christ he is placed in a position to obtain an exaltation higher
than angels. For, says the Apostle, "know ye not that we shall judge angels."
… Another object that we came here for and took bodies was to propagate
our species For if it is for our benefit to come. here, it is also for
the benefit of others. Hence the first commandment given to man was to
"Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth." (Genesis 1:28)
—John Taylor, Millennial Star 13:81, March 15, 1851 15
There were certain great principles involved in the organization of
this earth, and one was that there might be a place provided whereon the
children of our Heavenly Father could live and propagate their species
and have bodies formed for the spirits to inhabit who were the children
of God; for we are told that He is the God and Father of the spirits of
all flesh. It was requisite, therefore, that an earth should be organized;
it was requisite that man should be placed upon it; it was requisite that
bodies should be prepared for those spirits to inhabit, in order that the
purposes of God pertaining to His progeny might be accomplished, and that
those spirits might be enabled, through the medium of the everlasting gospel,
to return unto the presence of their Heavenly Father, as Gods among the
—John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 25:303-304, October, 1884
MORTALITY IS A STATE OF TRIAL FOR MAN
The whole mortal existence of man is neither more nor less than a preparatory state given to finite beings, a space wherein they may improve themselves for a higher state of being.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:334, December 5, 1853
Yours, as well as my eternal destiny, our future position throughout
the ages of eternity, depend upon the few hours, the few days, the few
weeks we spend in the flesh.
—Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 19:362, June 30, 1878
The trials and temptations have been very great to many of our people
and more or less, perhaps, to all of us. The Lord seems to require some
proof on our part, something to show that He can depend upon us when He
wants us to accomplish certain things in His interest. The reason is that
the condition in which we will be placed in the future, as time passes
along, as eternity approaches, and as we move forward in eternity and along
the line of our existence, we shall be placed in certain conditions that
require very great sacrifice in the interests of humanity, in the interests
of the Spirit of God, in the interest of His children and our own children,
in generations to come, in eternity.
—Lorenzo Snow, Conference Reports, p. 2, October, 1900
We are placed on this earth to prove whether we are worthy to go into
the celestial world, the terrestrial, or the telestial, or 16 to hell,
or to any other kingdom, or place, and we have enough of life given us
to do this.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:269, March 8, 1857
I heard the Prophet Joseph say, in speaking to the Twelve on one occasion:
"You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as
necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God,
and (said he) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and
wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not
be fit for an inheritance in the celestial kingdom of God."
—John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 24:197, June 18, 1883
We have been called to pass through trials many times, and I do not
think we should complain, because if we had no trials we should hardly
feel at home in the other world in the company of the prophets and apostles
who were sawn asunder, crucified, etc., for the word of God and testimony
of Jesus Christ.
—Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 23:328, December 10, 1882
We are here that we may be educated in a school of suffering and of
fiery trials, which school was necessary for Jesus our Elder Brother, who,
the Scriptures tell us, was made perfect through suffering. It is necessary
we suffer in all things, that we may be qualified and worthy to rule and
govern all things, even as our Father in heaven and His Eldest Son Jesus.
—Lorenzo Snow, Millennial Star 13:363, December 1, 1851
It has been decreed by the Almighty that spirits, upon taking bodies, shall forget all they had known previously, or they could not have a day of trial—could not have an opportunity for proving themselves in darkness and temptation, in unbelief and wickedness, to prove themselves worthy of eternal existence.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:333, June 19, 1859
There is not a single condition of life that is entirely unnecessary;
there is not one hour's experience but what is beneficial to all those
who make it their study and aim to improve upon the experience they gain.
What becomes a trial to one person is not noticed by another.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:292, May 25, 1862
"WHAT IS MAN, THAT THOU ART MINDFUL OF HIM?"
What is he? He had his being in the eternal worlds; he existed before he came here. He is not only the son of man, but he is the Son of God also. He is a God in embryo and possesses within him a spark of that eternal flame which was struck from the blaze of God's eternal fire in the eternal world, and he is placed here upon the earth that he may possess true intelligence, true light, true knowledge,—that he may know himself—that he may know God—that he may know something about what he was before he came here—that he may know something about what he is destined to enjoy in the eternal worlds—that he may be fully acquainted with his origin, with his present existence, and with his future destiny—that he may know something about the strength and weakness of human nature—that he may understand the Divine law, and learn to conquer his passions, and bring into subjection every principle that is at variance with the law of God—that he may understand his true relationship to God; and finally, that he may learn how to subdue, to conquer, subject all wrong, seek after, obtain, and possess every true, holy, virtuous, and heavenly principle; and, as he is only a sojourner, that he may fulfill the measure of his creation, help himself and family, be a benefit to the present and future generations, and go back to God, having accomplished the work he came here to perform.
—John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 8:3-4, February 19, 1860
OUR IDENTITY WILL NEVER CHANGE
We will progress and develop and grow in wisdom and understanding, but our identity can never change. We did not spring from spawn. Our spirits existed from the beginning, have existed always, and will continue forever. We did not pass through the ordeals of embodiment in the lesser animals in order to reach the perfection to which we have attained in manhood and womanhood, in the image and likeness of God. God was and is our Father, and His children were begotten in the flesh of His own image and likeness, male and female …
They change from worse to better; they may change from evil to good, from unrighteousness to righteousness, from humanity to immortality, from death to life everlasting. They may progress in the manner in which God has progressed; they may grow 18 and advance, but their identity can never be changed, worlds without end—remember that God has revealed these principles, and I know they are true.
—Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era. 12:595;598, June, 1909
THE SOUL IS COMPOSED OF SPIRIT AND BODY
We are called mortal beings because in us are seeds of death, but in reality we are immortal beings because there is also within us the germ of eternal life. Man is a dual being, composed of the spirit which gives life, force, intelligence and capacity to man, and the body which is the tenement of the spirit and is suited to its form, adapted to its necessities, and acts in harmony with and to its utmost capacity yields obedience to the will of the spirit. The two combined constitute the soul. The body is dependent upon the spirit, and the spirit during its natural occupancy of the body is subject to the laws which apply to and govern it in the mortal state.
—Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 23:169, June 18, 1882
All spirits came from God, and they came pure from His presence, and
were put into earthly tabernacles, which were organized for that express
purpose; and so the spirit and the body became a living soul. If these
souls should live, according to the law of heaven, God ordained that they
should become temples prepared to inherit all things.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:291, August 15, 1852
What is the body without the spirit? It is lifeless clay. What is it
that affects this lifeless clay? It is the spirit, it is the immortal part,
the eternal being, that existed before it came here, that exists within
us, and that will continue to exist, and that by and by will redeem these
tabernacles and bring them forth out of the grave.
—Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 25:250, July 18, 1884
THE BLESSINGS OF LIVING A WORTHY LIFE
A man or a woman who places the wealth of this world and the things of time in the scales against the things of God and the wisdom of eternity, has no eyes to see, no ears to hear, no heart to understand.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 15:18, April 28, 1872 19
Upon our lives here is predicated the degree of perfection in which
we shall arise, as well as the time when that event shall take place. A
man will not awake on the resurrection morning to find that all that he
neglected to do in mortal life has been put to the credit side of his account
and that the debit side of his ledger shows a clean page. That is not the
teaching of the gospel. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but
he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
He whose every act has fitted him for the enjoyment of eternity will be
far in advance of the man whose all has been centered on the things of
—Heber J. Grant, Millennial Star 56:201, March 31, 1904
All intelligent beings who are crowned with crowns of glory, immortality,
and eternal lives must pass through every ordeal appointed for intelligent
beings to pass through, to gain their glory and exaltation. Every calamity
that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few,
to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. If we obtain the glory
that Abraham obtained, we must do so by the same means that he did… we
must pass through the same experience and gain the knowledge, intelligence,
and endowments that will prepare us to enter into the celestial kingdom
of our Father and God … Every trial and experience you have passed through
is necessary for your salvation.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:150, August 26, 1860
Will you spend the time of your probation for naught and fool away your
existence and being? You were organized and brought into being for the
purpose of enduring forever, if you fulfill the measure of your creation,
pursue the right path, observe the requirements of the celestial law, and
obey the commandments of our God. It is then, and then only, you may expect
the blessing of eternal lives will be conferred upon you. It can be obtained
upon no other principle.
—Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:113-114, February 27, 1853
Again, I bear humble testimony of the truthfulness of all that you have just read. There is so much more to learn and it is all available to you through the restored truth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
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