In April 2019 and again in April 2020 General Conference, President Dallin H. Oaks offered members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints an insight into one of his assignments as a member of the First Presidency. President Oaks said in his April 2019 talk on repentance:
My message today is one of hope for all of us, including those who have lost their membership in the Church by excommunication or name removal. We are all sinners who can be cleansed by repentance.
A year later in April 2020, President Oaks said in a talk on the Plan of Salvation:
In conclusion, I share the conviction that has come to me from many letters and by reviewing many requests to return to the Church after name removal or apostasy. Many of our members do not fully understand this plan of salvation, which answers most questions about the doctrine and inspired policies of the restored Church. We who know God’s plan and who have covenanted to participate have a clear responsibility to teach these truths and do all that we can to further them for others and in our own circumstances in mortality.
In light of what President Oaks said here, do we understand God’s Plan? Obviously there are a lot of aspects of it that we can’t understand, but what are the things we can understand from scripture, from prophetic teachings, and from our own experiences? The following is a set of questions we can ask to gauge our level of understanding of the Plan of Salvation.
- Who/what are we referring to when we say “God?”
- Where did we live before our mortal existence?
- How did we live in premortality?
- Did we have agency?
- Did we have emotions?
- Did we have opinions?
- What were we doing?
- In premortality, did we live in any kind of a system? Were there roles? Was there any kind of order or structure?
- Why was God’s plan presented? What did it entail? What was the objective of the plan?
- Why was an opposing plan presented? What did it entail? What was the objective of the opposing plan?
- Who was Satan?
- What did Satan desire?
- How did Satan operate in preexistence?
- Why was Satan called “the accuser of our brothers and sisters?” (Rev 12:10) What was he accusing people of?
- Why did people follow Satan? What was the appeal of his ideas and his plan?
- Why did people follow Christ? What did we understand differently that led to our acceptance of God’s plan versus the plan presented by Satan?
- What are we doing here in mortality?
- What is our eventual goal for after this life and into the eternities?
- Why are there so many different and unfair experiences of life?
- What is the role and function of the family in mortality and in eternity?
- What did Christ do in mortality? What does Christ do presently?
- What is Satan doing in the world presently? Are we seeing his plan at work in the world? If so, what is it?
- What is opposition and what purpose does it serve in the plan?
- What is the purpose of the Church in God’s plan?
- Do other belief systems serve a purpose in God’s plan?
- What is Israel, and what is Israel’s role in God’s plan?
- What does it mean to live a life of faith?
- Why is faith a necessary part of God’s plan?
- What is the purpose of commandments?
- What is repentance?
- What is conversion?
- Why does God use prophets and numerically small groups of people to influence the world? Is there a viable alternative to this aspect of God’s plan? What eternal laws are met by operating this way?
- How will people who never received the gospel in mortality have a chance to learn and embrace God’s plan into the eternities?
- What is “heaven?” Where and when do people experience it?
- What is “hell?” Where and when do people experience it?
- What is the Millennium? What will people be doing during that time?
- What does it mean that Satan will be “loosed for a season” after the Millennium? What is he going to do during that time? What purpose does that serve?
- What is judgment? What is going to happen on judgment day?
- What are “kingdoms,” and how do they work?
- What kinds of people feel comfortable in different “kingdoms,” and why?
- How do people spend their time in each “kingdom?” What do they want, and how do they go about getting it?
…and a bonus question: can any of this be known? How?