Not only do Mormons believe in heaven, but we also believe that we lived in heaven before we came to this earth. In fact, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in heaven before and after this life -- and in actuality this life that we're now living, is only a blip in the total scheme of things: Our eternal journey to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father, and become like Him -- also referred to as the Plan of Happiness.

This week my 10th grandchild was born, a boy. In Mormon theology we believe that this new little person had his beginning in heaven, where he lived as a spirit (no body) with a distinct personality and gender. He was part of the larger family of God, as we all are, as a literal spirit child of our Heavenly Father and Mother. In Latter-day Saint homes, with the birth of every child here in mortality, the event is considered more of a family reunion than a first meeting.

When a newborn smiles we like to think that they're contemplating heaven -- or perhaps seeing angels. When he cries we might say he misses his heavenly home. Among other of these tender spiritual thoughts we are always drawn to to the belief that heaven is a wonderful place, filled with familiar loved ones, and in particular our perfect Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ -- our elder brother.  Mormons believe that in order for us to develop faith in Jesus Christ, at birth a veil of forgetfulness has been place over our minds, so that we don't recall our life before we came here. Learning to listen to the Spirit, to learn and understand the things of God, we believe, is a lifelong endeavor, and part of the test of mortality. 

As in death Mormons believe that at birth the veil between heaven and earth is thin, making spiritual experiences of eternal realities much more acute. As miraculous as birth into this life is considered, death is also a miraculous transition, resulting in another reunion with family and loved ones. However, upon our return to heaven we believe that every person who has ever been born will ultimately stand before that God who gave them life, and will account for the choices that they made, according to the light and truth received while here.

At the very center of Mormon teachings, about heaven, are LDS temples that stand as symbols of Heaven, where God's Spirit resides, and eternal families are sealed through priesthood authority, for time and all eternity. Mormons believe that we can be together forever -- meaning the basic family unit that we create during this life, as God has ordained, and those precious relationships, can extend into the next life, and throughout eternity. In holy temples we make covenants to live our lives in keeping with God's laws, ensuring that this possibility becomes a reality.

Mormons believe that the choices we make in this life will greatly affect our happiness not only in this life, but ultimately determine our destiny in the next. We experience this reality in our daily lives, here, as we strive to live lives of service, integrity and keeping our temple covenants. This way of life, with its accompanying adversity, to Mormons, is clearly the path to happiness.

As opposed to many other Christian faiths, Mormons believe that pretty much everyone goes to heaven -- but, as the Apostle Paul taught, just to different degrees of glory. Heavenly Father resides in the highest degree of Glory, the Celestial, and we also believe that this is the only kingdom of glory where there is marriage, and where the family unit exists. Mormons don't believe in hell, as a destination, rather we believe it to be a period of time to recognize personal sin, the need for Jesus Christ, and to repent. Mormons believe that "hell" is a state of being -- and only temporary. Few people will become sons of perdition, and spend the eternities in outer darkness.

The Plan of Happiness is God's way to bring His spirit children to the place that they can become like Him, if they choose it. Mormons believe that God, our Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, are perfected Beings, with Glorified, resurrected bodies of flesh and bone. And we believe that God desires this for each of us, His children.

Mormons believe that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He being the first fruits of the resurrection -- overcoming physical death,  everyone will be resurrected, regardless of their choices in this life, or their acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ. This is salvation (lowercase s) -- and is a free gift to all mankind.

Salvation (uppercase S), or Eternal Life, is to qualify for the kind of life that God lives: In the highest degree of Heaven, the Celestial Kingdom and in an Eternal Family. Jesus Christ took upon Himself our sins and weakness, in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering for our sins, and died for us on the cross --  so that we could be made clean,  if we will accept Him as our Savior and Redeemer, repent of our sins, and follow Him.

For a deeper understanding of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I recommend reading this talk by Bruce R. McConkie, who explains this doctrine very well: The Purifying Power of Gethsemane

In the Pearl of Great Price we learn in Moses 1:39: (Underlining added for emphasis on the two parts of the Atonement -- salvation and Salvation/Eternal Life.)

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

As a member of the LDS Church I am so grateful to have an understanding of the purpose of this life, and a knowledge of where my life originated, and where I will go after this life. This is just a brief overview of what Mormons believe about heaven, before and after this life. I hope you'll take the time to follow the many links that are included in this post, that will give you a much better understanding of these Mormon beliefs.

As I contemplate the seeming beginnings and endings of this life, the Spirit whispers to me that there is so much more. Whether in birth or death, of which I have been witness to both, I have felt the thinning of the veil between heaven and earth, that tells me that we have always existed and that we always will...

Kathryn Skaggs

Learn more what Mormons believe about heaven -- before and after this life: -- 

Our Heavenly Father's Plan

"Before we were born, we lived with God in heaven as spirits. All of our spirit brothers and sisters were there, too—everyone who has lived or will live on earth including Jesus Christ. In this “pre-earth life,” each of us was an individual with a divine nature and destiny. God gave all of us the gift of agency, or the right to choose for ourselves. Because He is the Father of our spirits, we call Him our Heavenly Father."

The Atonement of Jesus Christ - Jeffrey R. Holland

Choose Eternal Life

"Your eternal destiny will not be the result of chance but of choice. It is never too late to begin to choose eternal life!"

Gospel Topic: Eternal Life

The Celestial Kingdom

"The highest of the three degrees or kingdoms of glory in heaven, where one is in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The glory of the celestial kingdom is compared to the glory of the sun in the scriptures." --

What Do Mormons Believe About Eternal Life?

"Heaven is the place where God lives and the future home of those who do God’s will and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. The hope of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the purpose of life on this earth is to teach us and prepare us that we, along with our families, might live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ eternally."

Mormon Messages Video: Why Mormons Build Temples

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