Mormon Beliefs: Life Before Life
The doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called the Mormon Church teach of a "Pre-Mortal Life," which members of the Church often call the "Pre-Existence." We are eternal beings, not only looking forward, as we become immortal through the resurrection, but also looking backwards. We have always existed, and the path through immortality is meant to make us more like Heavenly Father.
Is the Idea of Pre-Mortal Life Supported by the Bible?
There are many scriptures in the Bible that allude to a pre-mortal existence.
- In Job 38:4–7 it says: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
- In Ecclesiastes 12:7 it says: "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." This indicates that our spirits existed before we were born into mortality.
- In Jeremiah 1:4-5 it says: " Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."
- Acts 17:28 says "For in him we alive, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring."
Mormon doctrine teaches that we are the spiritual offspring of God, that He is our Father in the spirit, and we dwelled with him before being born on earth with mortal bodies.
- Ephesians 1:3, 4 says: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love...."
- Hebrews 12:9 says: "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?"
Pre-Mortal Life is sometimes called the "First Estate."
- Jude 1:6 says: "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."
The scripture in Jude refers to the devil and his angels, who were cast out of heaven during Pre-Mortal Life for rebellion. As also in Revelation 12:9:
- "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
Other Scriptures Tell Us More About Pre-Mortal Life
- Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:26: "And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall [mortality] have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever."
- Book of Mormon, Alma 13:3: "And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such."
- Doctrine and Covenants 38:1: "Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made...."
- Doctrine and Covenants 93:29: "Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be."
We existed as individual "intelligences" before God created our spirits.
- Book of Mormon, Helaman 14:17: "But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord."
- Doctrine and Covenants 49:17: "And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made."
- Doctrine and Covenants 138:55, 56: "I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God. Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men."
- Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6:51: "And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh."
- Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:21-24: "I dwell in the midst of them all; I now, therefore, have come down unto thee to declare unto thee the works which my hands have made, wherein my wisdom excelleth them all, for I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences thine eyes have seen from the beginning; I came down in the beginning in the midst of all the intelligences thou hast seen.
- "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell...."
All Living Things were Created Spiritually Before They Were Created Physically
Genesis 2:5 says, "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground."
- Pearl of Great Price, Moses 3:5, says: "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air...."
A War in Heaven
The Bible speaks of a war in heaven, in which Lucifer (Satan) and his followers were cast out, never to have the opportunity to obtain mortal bodies. This stopped their ability to progress, since the next step after obtaining a mortal body is the resurrection to a perfect, incorruptible body. All who remained in heaven chose to follow Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation as ordained by God. Thus, all who have lived on earth, or will live on earth, were champions of Christ in the pre-mortal realm. (See Abraham 3:27; Moses 4:1; Jude 1:6; Tobit 6:17.) (See also Encyclopedia of Mormonism.