God is the creator and ruler of our universe. He is also our Heavenly Father. President Joseph F. Smith taught, “All men and women are … literally the sons and daughters of Diety. … Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (“The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909 pp. 78, 80).
Every person on earth today, every person who has ever lived on earth, and every person who will live on earth were spirit brothers and sisters in heaven. We are one very big family. Jesus Christ was the first spirit born to our heavenly parents and is our elder brother. Our heavenly parents have resurrected bodies, and we resemble them. Through our heavenly parents, we have the potential to develop our divine qualities and become perfect as they are perfect. We have agency and can choose to become like our heavenly parents – or not.
In our heavenly home Heavenly Father called us all together in a Grand Council and presented to us his plan for our eternal progression. He told us that we could become like Him if we followed His plan. He told us that we would have resurrected bodies and have all the power in heaven and on earth. He also told us that we could become heavenly parents and have spirit children of our own.
Heavenly Father told us that He would prepare an earth where we could live and be tested. In order to be tested, a veil would be placed over our memories and we would forget our heavenly home. “This would be necessary so that we could choose good or evil because of our natural desire for good or evil. We would not be influenced by the memory of living with our Heavenly Father. Thus we could obey him because of our faith in him, not because of our knowledge, or memory of him. He would help us recognize the truth when we heard it again on earth.”
Another important thing we learned in the Grand Counsel was the person for education on earth. Our Heavenly Father wanted each of us to receive a fulness of joy. He told us that not all of us would want to have the fulness of joy and would make other choices. He told us that we would have trials in our earthly lives such as sickness, disappointment, pain, sorrow, and death; He explained that these trials would give us experience and be for our good. If we chose, our trials would purify us rather than destroy us. We could learn endurance, patience, and charity through these difficult tests.
Heavenly Father also taught us that we would all sin because of our weaknesses; however, He would provide a Savior that would overcome death with resurrection and provide a way that we could overcome our sins. He told us that we could become exalted and become like our heavenly parents if we obeyed his word and followed his example. Then we would receive a fullness of joy.
While in our heavenly home, some of our spirit siblings prepared themselves to become leaders on earth. There in our heavenly home, God foreordained some of children to become leaders on earth. Jesus, Adam, and Abraham were some of these leaders.
We were not all alike in our heavenly home. We were given different talents and abilities, and we were called to different missions in our earth life. Heavenly Father knows each of His children by name and loves each of us. Even though we have forgotten who we were and what we did in our pre-earth life, Heavenly Father remembers. He chooses when and where He will send His spirit children and does so where we can learn the lessons that we personally need. We can use our talents and personalities to do good, but we will never be forced to do so. He gave us our agency in that we can choose to obey our Father or not. Our obedience or disobedience will determine the blessings we receive.
We were happy in our heavenly home, but we could not progress beyond a certain point unless we went away to “school” for a while. While we are away from our heavenly home, we are tested, tried and given opportunities to gain experience, particularly experience in choosing good over evil.
I know that our physical bodies are blessings to help us gain experience and knowledge here on earth. I know that when our earthly education is complete and our physical bodies die, we will be reunited with them once again through resurrection. Then our bodies will be immortal and never die again. I know that we can receive fulness of joy like our heavenly parents if we pass all our tests here on earth. I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and desires that we return home to Him. I know He is longing for each one of us to be there because I know that He loves us!