What is the purpose of life?
Before we came here, God and Jesus Christ created an earthly home where we could gain a body, exercise agency, experience consequences, and fulfill our potential.
What were you made for? Being able to put our lives in context of where we came from brings clarity as we establish priorities and make choices during our lives here on earth. We begin to understand God’s unique point of view as we consider the brevity of our life on earth. He has a plan for our eternal salvation, and it began in our premortal life, where we learned, matured, and developed the spirit we each have today. Just as we are individuals now, with distinct personalities, genders, and aptitudes, so were we there. But there was a limit to our progression in that heavenly home, and much like Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden, we had to leave the presence of God in order to fulfill our potential—to test ourselves using a mortal body and the agency we gained by choosing to come to earth. In doing so we knew we would face pain and hardship, but we also knew that opposition was essential for us to achieve our potential.
Just as God perceived that Adam and Eve would eat the forbidden fruit, He also understands that we will sin during our time on earth.
Because God knew we would be imperfect and sin, He gave us the atoning sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. During our premortal life, Jesus was chosen to be our Savior, to balance the scales of justice for the sins we would commit while trying to progress in our earthly state. To come here we passed through a veil of forgetfulness so that we could relearn the things that we needed to in this mortal life, test ourselves, develop faith in God and Jesus Christ, and learn to love and serve each other. In this life, there are inevitably moments when we feel alone; understanding that we are part of an eternal family can help us through such times. Our shared purpose as a family is to continue our progress toward becoming like our Father in Heaven.
Jesus Christ used the wondrous laws of nature to create a beautiful world in which we could gain a body, exercise agency, prove ourselves, and progress. The Creation of the earth brought about necessary conditions of mortality. The Old Testament descriptions of the Creation are among the most moving passages in the scriptures, pointing to the care the Lord took to ensure our mortal home was a place of beauty. The bodies He gave us are equally beautiful and are created in His image. They are mysterious, complex mortal organisms, capable of housing eternal spirits with which we can learn, choose, thrive, and connect with each other.
The first two of Heavenly Father’s children to come to earth were Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, a paradise where they experienced no opposition and therefore had no understanding of joy or sorrow, pleasure or pain. They had perfect, immortal bodies, and they regularly spoke with God face to face. God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but after being tempted by Satan, they did. Like us, Adam and Eve were not perfect, and they faced consequences for their actions. God had told them that if they ate the fruit they would have to leave Him and the garden and that they would become mortal and eventually experience death. Their choice is known as “the Fall” because it compelled Adam and Eve to leave God’s presence, just as we did when we left our heavenly home to encounter our own share of opposition on earth.
We would never have been born if Adam and Eve had not made their decision to eat the fruit. After doing so, Adam and Eve became parents and understood the joy that came from belonging to their children and to each other. But they also suffered the consequences of sin, including eventual death, because of their choice—consequences that could be corrected only by the saving Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement allows us to repent of our own sins and to know good from evil.
While we often consider opposition to be a negative aspect of our lives, understanding opposition through the context of the Fall helps us better take advantage of the opportunity inherent in it. Knowing good from evil allows us to prove ourselves; it encourages us to study the scriptures, keep God’s commandments, and strengthen our relationship with Him—all of which better enable us to rise to life’s challenges. When we sin we have the chance to repent and change, to engage in a refining process that draws us closer to God, and to ultimately be redeemed through Jesus Christ’s Atonement. Like Adam and Eve, we left our premortal home to progress, and we can return to our earthly home the same way they did—by obeying God’s commandments, by overcoming opposition, and by seeking out God and becoming more like Him.
Why are we here on earth?
What is life all about? What am I doing here? Perhaps the best way to understand the answer to this frequently asked question is to view this life from the plan of our Heavenly Father.
Before we were born, we existed in spirit as sons and daughters of heavenly parents. We were loved, we were taught, and we were given the opportunity to grow and reach a greater potential.
Heavenly Father set forth a plan: He would create an earth where we would live away from His presence for a time. We would gain a physical body. We would experience both joy and sorrow, and we would make choices that would shape our eternal character. This time on earth is both a classroom and a test, and only we can determine how well we perform.
The goal of our earthly test is to return to our Heavenly Father as a more intelligent, more mature, and more compassionate being—to be more like Him. But we won’t all have the same experiences. Each life on earth is unique, and each one of us will experience life a little differently. Some lives include physical challenges; all involve temptations and difficulties of one kind or another. We each have specific strengths and weaknesses, and our Father knows us well. He knows how we can best grow from our experiences, and He gives us commandments to enable us to reach our potential. But it’s up to us whether we will choose to obey.
How can my life have greater purpose?
Our ability to grow and develop is left in our hands. Heavenly Father won’t make us do what He wants us to do—that’s the point of this life. But He will give us the help we need to succeed.
Heavenly Father provides us with scriptures and prophets to teach us of His plan. His commandments provide the pattern for how we should live to become more like Him. God is there to comfort us when we speak with Him in prayer. Through the calming reassurances of the Holy Ghost we can feel our Father’s love.
We may not choose the experiences we are given in our lives, but we do choose how we respond. We can be angry, refusing to move forward and stagnating in our progress. Or we can choose to use our experiences to become more compassionate, more purposeful, and wiser. As we learn about God and come to understand His purpose for us, we become more responsible for our choices. The more we know, the more He expects us to do our best and to help others do better too.
It’s no accident that we are put on this earth with our heavenly brothers and sisters who are experiencing their own mortal tests. “It is not good that the man should be alone,” God said in reference to the first man, Adam (Genesis 2:18). He sent us to earth with family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers so that we might both take and teach lessons about life at every turn.
It is our choice to help or to hinder, to learn or to leave things undone. It is our choice to prove that we can become more like Him. When we better understand why we are here and what we are working to achieve, we can make choices that will make our Heavenly Father proud, make our lives more purposeful, and ultimately help us return to His presence.