“Let there be light,” Genesis 1:3
Most of us will recognize this as the declaration from God at the beginning of the creation. Yet in John 8:12, Christ said; “I am the light and the life of the world. So, in Genesis 1:4 “And God saw the light, that is was good: and God divided the light from the darkness;” what is God talking about? The creation or the coming Christ? But in Matt 5:16, The Sermon on the Mount, the Lord instructs us to “Let your light so shine before men.” So, what light do we have? The answer, of course, is found in Isaiah 2:5 “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.” Again we are talking about Christ and his light being manifest through us.
So when God said; “Let there be light;” was he talking about the sun or the Son? And just one more question, who was he talking to?
These are the types of things that rattle around in my head when I’m not paying attention to the mundane things of mortality. So, recently, when a friend of mine vented a little about zealots who think they know the purpose or the meaning of life, it caught my interest. Well, it just so happens that I do know. I really don’t think that I am a zealot in the negative sense, I just happen to be lucky enough to know the answer.
You see, membership has its privileges. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Within the prophetic teachings of the Church lies the answer to the purposes of life. Where did we get them? Well, they came from God himself through scriptures and modern day prophets. The Book of Mormon, as translated through the gift and power of God, teaches us: “Man is that he might have joy.” (I find that statement interesting in its similarity to Aristotle who deduced the purpose of man as happiness. Some, I suppose, might say that Joseph Smith plagiarized from Aristotle. Having read some of Joseph’s personal writings from the same time period as his translation of the Book of Mormon and having studied a little about his life; trust me, it is easier to believe that Joseph is a prophet of God than to accept the possibility that Joseph might have read and understood Aristotle in those early years.) On another occasion, one of Joseph’s revelations gave us God’s purpose; “behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and Eternal Life of man.” So, there you have it. The work of God is man and man is, that he might have joy.
Well, the wife tells me I can’t leave it there, I have to share the details. (By way of explanation, most of the details come from the book of Abraham translated from an ancient Egyptian scroll and considered scripture. (The Book of Abraham has some really cool stuff. Like I said, membership has its privileges. The rest is my interpretation, experience and testimony.) So, let’s start with the question, who was God talking to when he said; “let there be light?”
Before we were born as physical beings here on this earth, we were spirit children of our Father in Heaven. We lived with him in his heavenly realm. We were literally under aged spiritual offspring of God. While we were there, we learned and we grew and we developed but we could not get past a certain point simply because we had never experienced life without HIm. In the presence of God the Father, we could never come to know evil and thus appreciate righteousness. In other words, we could not come to know and appreciate the light without darkness. We could never experience joy because we had never tasted sorrow and “man is that he might have joy.” Our heavenly experience left us without a reference point for knowing and appreciating true joy.
So much of what we currently experience as true joy comes through our physical senses. The smell of a fresh rain storm, the touch of a new grandchild’s cheek, the sound of good music or a burbling brook, a good game of racquetball, the beauty of the earth’s scenic vista the taste of ice cream! True joy all. As spirit children we could not experience the physical world in the same way that our Father did. We noticed that unlike us, his spirit children, God has a physical body of flesh and bones. We did not have a physical body, we were spiritual beings. In order to become like him (not equal to) we would also need to gain a physical body. We would need to gain access to these wonderful physical senses in order to find true and eternal joy.”
To help us progress beyond these adolescent limitations, a loving Father held a council. Abraham tells us that during this meeting two plans were presented. The first from a “Son of the Morning,” Lucifer. Lucifer would create a world where we would gain a physical body but be denied our moral agency. The honor would be his. The plan he suggested would provide a body but it would not allow us to develop to our full potential as the offspring of God because there was no choice. Choice provides potential. The lack of choice limits potential.
The second plan was presented by the Father’s first born in the spirit. It was the plan which our Father wanted for his children. It would require an earth to be prepared where our adolescent spirits could be joined with a physical body. It would be an earth where we could experience opposites; good and evil, pleasure and pain, light and dark. To guide us through this life of opposition, God would provide us with a conscience and commandments which, if followed, would lead to light and joy. This life would thus provide us the opportunity to choose between the good and the evil. We would be able to prove to God and to ourselves that we will do whatsoever the Lord, our God commands. This life is a test.
This test naturally requires us to have our moral agency. Also, to preserve the validity of the test, the memories of our time with our Father have been forgotten. The choice of what we will ultimately become is ours to make. We, our inner selves, will choose according to our true desires. Some of us will choose the evil or darkness and accompanying sorrow and some of us will choose righteousness or light and joy. We are thus separating ourselves into those who choose light and those who choose darkness. That is the only way that we can progress to the ultimate level of our potential. As stated, choice is the catalyst that provides potential. Without exercising choice we cannot progress. Accordingly, moral agency is the key to our divine growth. This eteranl plan, the Plan of Happiness (man is that he might have joy), has been accepted by God and by us. The scriptures tell us that we not only approved of the plan but that we shouted for joy at the opportunity.
Well, after Lucifer’s plan was rejected, Lucifer being a selfish brat, pitched a hissy fit and he was given, along with all of those sons and daughters that felt the same way, what he choose. They choose darkness and they were given darkness. Even before this life we had our agency. Those of our brothers and sisters that did not want to participate in this test and face the accompanying potential and possible failure were not forced to go along. It was their choice. Having given up future choices, they simply lost potential. Thus their progress has been stopped. Lucifer in his fallen state became known as Satan. He and his followers were temporarily sent to the earth to provide the opposition for our test. They do a stellar of job of presenting evil in a tempting way.
The accepted plan, The Plan of Happiness, had some details to overcome. First, God, being God, could not create an earth that included evil. It just isn’t him. So a scenario was set up which allowed our first parents to make that choice. The earth was created but it was up to Adam and Eve, with a little encouragement from Lucifer, to bring opposition or evil into this world. The scriptures tell us that first Eve and then Adam chose mortality and to be separated from God or spiritual death. They did so in order that we, their physical children, could experience opposition and thereby appreciate and choose the light. We had accepted the plan and so Adam and Eve’s choice coincided with ours. We, like our first parents, had all chosen mortality and to experience opposition in accordance with the plan. This choice of mortality had also brought another detail into the mix, physical death.
Simply by being children and having the opportunity to choose, all of us will choose wrong, at least occasionally. That meant that we would be not be able to return to our Father because “no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God.” Since we were all going to “goof up,” some more than others, a way had to be prepared for all of us, no matter how many bad choices we had made, to repent. That way would preserve choice but it would also require a sacrifice for atonement. The first born, he who would become the Christ, volunteered to pay the price of sin for us. It was his choice. He did it to bring honor to the Father. Along the way, he would also overcome physical death and make possible the resurrection. The resurrection ensures that we can retain these wonderful physical bodies, in their perfected and eternal form, in the next life. Christ, the light of the world, overcame both spiritual and physical death.
There are three pillars to the plan of happiness. The creation of this boarding school or earth with its sun and moon and stars; the fall into spiritual darkness and death in the Garden of Eden; and the Atonement and Resurrection which allows us to choose the spiritual light and return to our Father. Because of the plan, and if we so choose, we can return to our Father in Heaven and there experience true eternal life or joy.
Christ said: “I am the Light and the Life of the World.” Christ is the light in that through the atonement he brought the opportunity to choose spiritual light back to Adam’s children who were in darkness because of sin. He also brought life back into a world of death through the resurrection.
“And God saw the light that it was good.” As with many scriptures, this declaration has more than one meaning. He is both praising the earth with its sun, moon and stars for being obedient but he can also be seen as praising his first born son, the Christ, for being obedient. It means both were good, the light of the sun and the light of the Son.
“God divided the light from the darkness.” The earth in its rotations experiences both day and night. Again however, there is a possible second meaning. Having given us our agency, our choices are separating us, his children, into those who obey and those who don’t. We are dividing ourselves into those that prefer darkness or evil and those that prefer the light or righteousness.
Who was God talking to when he said “Let there be light?” He was probably talking to us, his spiritual children. To paraphrase God according to my understanding, he in essence said: My family…
Let there be light, an earth with a sun.
Let there be light, an atonement and resurrection, a Son.
Let there be light, obedient children who chose righteousness.
Let there be light, worthy children and heirs to my kingdom.
Let there be light or righteousness that you may find joy.
God, our Father, is so succinct, he simply said:
“Let there be light! And there is.
And because there is opposition to light you have a choice. Choose wisely my spiritual siblings, please, choose to follow Christ and continue to progress.
Samuel Waen Jensen