There may be those who view this life as a test which will only include a list of do’s and don’ts that occur in this mortal life. And if you have enough check marks in the proper column you’re in good shape. I do not agree with this notion. Certainly I believe in the commandments and the ordinances, yet I feel that the final judgment will mostly come down to who you are, what you have become, and the progressive path you are on. But even those who agree with this more-or-less so far, may feel that this mortal life is the only criteria, or period of time, that this test will be evaluated on, thus neglecting the pre-existence as a part of who we are, and what we have become.
I chose the term final test for this post to express the idea that our journey through the plan of salvation may be similar to taking a college class with a semester worth of homework, reading, lab work, quizzes, tests, semester projects, etc., and an important final test at the end. This may be more similar if the final test is a very practical, hands-on type of test. If you follow this so far, this would mean that preexistent spirits, on the verge of coming to earth are not idiot infants, but intelligent, mature, capable beings who have made a remarkable amount of progress so far, completing a ‘semester’ worth of course work. They have learned much and are now ready to take one last practical final exam before receiving their grade or judgment.
If this is a nearly correct way of looking at things, then it may give us a better perspective of how we should work out our own salvation. I also think it answers a few questions. I believe that once we reach the end of our journey and look back we will discover that the path of our existence was more of a smooth continuous path with not so jagged transitions from intelligence, to spirit, to mortality, to spirit world, to a resurrection of glory. One stage leading into the next as a continuation.
There is some scriptural based evidence for significant preexistent progress that I would like to review. This includes:
Jesus as a spirit child of Heavenly Father gaining God hood status prior to being born on earth.
A group of preexistent spirits being referred to as being ‘Nobel and great’ (Abraham 3:22-23)
Children who die before the age of accountability being celestial (D&C 137:10)
One third of the host of heaven being cast out as a result of the war in heaven (D&C 29:36-38)
The first three go together in my mind. Christ and a certain number of spirits were all noble and great prior to coming to earth. For many of them coming to earth may have been a type of technical necessity. Christ needed to fulfill his role as savior, but his status as a God was never in question based on his preexistent progress. There may have been a huge number of noble and great spirits that may have included all children who die before accountability kicks in. The last piece of evidence I state shows the other side of the spectrum. It appears some spirits may have ‘progressed’ in the wrong direction to such an extent that they were not even allowed to participate in the plan of salvation. A type of judgment has already occurred for them, having failed the prerequisites for the course.
It seems to me that we existed for a very, very long period of time as spirit beings. It appears we had agency, intelligence, memories, etc., at that time. It is evident that significant progress, even to the status of god hood, was possible during the pre-existence. All that experience and progress has gone into who we are, and will be part of our final judgment. Which leads me to believe that this life is like a type of practical final exam which is a continuation of where we had progressed to prior to entering mortality.