Traveling the Path of Light from Spirit, to Man, to God
For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth … for in heaven created I them. (Moses 3:5)
In this section we will explore the organization of holy spirit into a spirit personage and then the way in which that spirit takes upon itself a body and, through a long journey of sanctifying body and mind, arrives at Godhood.
Holy spirit has great potential but must find kinetic expression through organization. “Now, this Spirit always existed; it always operated, but it is not understood, and cannot be comprehended
except through organisms. If you see a living blade of grass you see a manifestation of that Spirit which is called God. If you see an animal of any kind on the face of the earth having life, there is a manifestation of that Spirit.”24 Brigham Young explains that its godly “attributes can be made manifest only through an organized personage. All [its] attributes are couched in and are the results of organized existence.”25 Elder John A. Widtsoe emphasizes that when we see any living manifestation of holy spirit, we also see God’s will impressed upon this medium through which He works. “Without the medium God would be helpless to execute, while still retaining all his power to invent. Without God, the medium would remain changeless, inert, throughout all eternity, having no power of initiation within itself.”26
This scintillating spirit can be found in all degrees of purity, that is, from electricity, which is one of the more gross forms of spiritual matter, “up through all the gradations of the invisible fluids, till we arrive at a substance so holy, so pure, so endowed with intellectual attributes and sympathetic affections, that it may be said to be on a par … in its attributes with man.”27 When a given quantity of this purest form of holy spirit element is organized in the size and form of Man, with every organ developed, formed, endowed, precisely after the pattern of Man’s outward body, we have a “spiritual body,” “an individual intelligence, an agent endowed with life, with a degree of independence, or inherent will, with the powers of motion, of thought, and with the attributes of moral, intellectual, and sympathetic affections and emotions.”28
Man, then, was organized in the premortal world out of the holiest and purest form of holy spirit. Begotten of loving heavenly parents (see d&c 76:24), we grew up in a heavenly environment.
Love was the air we breathed. The organized spirit
was born and matured in the heavenly mansions, trained in the school of love in the family circle, and amid the most tender embraces of parental and fraternal affection. In this primeval probation, in its heavenly home, it lived and moved as a free and rational intelligence, acting upon its own agency, and, like all intelligence, independent in its own sphere. It was placed under certain laws and was responsible to its great Patriarchal Head.29
We passed a long period of development in the spirit world. But we knew that our premortal state was transitory because we could witness throughout the sidereal heavens worlds organized and peopled with fellow spirits who left the premortal world, took upon them bodies, died, were resurrected, and received their exaltation on the redeemed worlds they once dwelt on.30 Even though we were already highly developed beings, we learned that a body would give us power to advance and be exalted in the scale of intelligence, both in time and eternity.31 We therefore knew that the next step on the journey was for us to come to the material world.
And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. … Nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created. (Moses 3:7)
Elder John A. Widtsoe explains one reason why Man had to come to a material dimension:
The universe is dual: spiritual and material, composed of “spirit-element” and “matter-element.” These two realms are closely interwoven, perhaps of the same ultimate source; yet they are distinct in their nature. Mastery of the universe means acquaintanceship with and control of both of these elemental divisions of the universe in which we live.32
In spite of the fact that the body would be made of a grosser material than the spirit, it “was necessary as an habitation for it that [the spirit] might be clothed with a body, perfect in its organization, beautiful in its structure, symmetrical in its proportions, and in every way fit for an eternal intelligent being; that through it, it might speak, act, enjoy, and develop its power, its intelligence and perpetuate its species. … They [the spirits] had the intelligence before, but now they saw a way through which to develop it.”33
The spirits knew that by the union of their spirit with a body of flesh they would be capable of continued increase, ultimate perfection, and eternal exaltation, “that the spirit, quick, subtle, refined, lively, animate, energetic, and eternal, might have a body through which to operate … [in order that the spirits not be left to] spend their force at random, or remain dormant, or useless, without those more tangible, material objects, through which to exercise their force. Thus, then, was the body formed as an agent for the spirit.”34
In the eternal plan, the spirit is to rule the body as its tool of divine
Through the history of Man on the earth, various philosophies and religions have regarded Man’s body as unworthy and unspiritual, to be rejected, to be vilified, to be renounced. But in the revelations we find that all the organs our body uses here have their spiritual counterparts and have taken their place in this world of form impressed with the image of a glorified, material
Heavenly Father and Mother.35 The true needs of the body are the needs of the spirit, which uses the body as an instrument for its development and its ministry. The body, therefore, is a precious treasure and treating it well, increasing in it the enlivening powers of holy spirit, magnifies the soul’s powers. The line between spirit and body is not always clear, composed as they are of varying forms of the same material, and so joy is often experienced through all parts of our whole being and vibrates along the entire continuum of material and spiritual.