First Lessons

Learning was an important part of our premortal existence.

Joseph F. Smith saw in a vision many faithful spirits, including biblical prophets, gathered at the time of the death of Jesus Christ. Then, he noticed a number of people who had not yet been born, including his uncle, Joseph Smith, and his father, Hyrum Smith. “Even before they were born,” he said, “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” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:56).

Alma taught that people who do the work of God on this earth were foreordained: “called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works” (Alma 13:3). Abraham likewise saw many “noble and great ones” who were “chosen before [they were] born” (Abraham 3:22-23).

But Joseph F. Smith’s vision goes further. Not only were we chosen to fulfill specific roles before we were born, we were trained. To me this is mind-boggling. I can’t remember anything that happened before I was born, and yet somehow, what I learned is there, embedded in me, ready to be called into action when I need it.

Referencing this vision, President Russell M. Nelson declared:

You were taught in the spirit world to prepare you for anything and everything you would encounter during this latter part of these latter days. That teaching endures within you!

Stand as True Millenials,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults,” 10 January 2016

Today I will remember that I may have knowledge and skills which I have not yet discovered. I will be grateful for my premortal training, which prepared me for challenges I will yet face and for work I have yet to do.

3 thoughts on “First Lessons

Add yours

  1. Paul, this is a marvelous insight. I’ve always been struck by the (very)
    occasional glimpses into the preexistence, but I’d never focused on the
    personal implications of the JFS quotation before. This post is a keeper!

    I continue to be gobsmacked by Joseph Jr.’s vision of the next life in
    which not only his dead brother Alvin but his still-living parents,
    Joseph Sr. and Lucy, were presented as having inherited salvation. I
    wonder if it was a comfort to Lucy during those post-1840 years of
    widowhood and the post-1844 years of grieving the sudden deaths of
    Joseph Jr. Hyrum, and Samuel.



    1. Thank you for the comment.
      I hadn’t thought about Joseph’s parents still being alive when he saw them in the Celestial Kingdom. That does have some interesting implications, doesn’t it? I wonder if he treated them differently after that, deferring to them more often and having more confidence in their decisions. I agree with you that the vision must have been a comfort not only to Lucy but to the rest of the family as they lost family members over time. Thank you for sharing that observation.


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