Did We Exist Before Life?

Among the ideas promoted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (i.e. the Mormons) is the belief that everyone existed in another world before coming to earth. This idea permeates much of their literature. “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal (physical) body” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [1998], 335). Thus, all men and women are literally the physical offspring of God the Father and pre-existed in another realm before coming to earth.


In studying with the Mormons, I was told we each chose to come to earth to do God’s work and that our knowledge of pre-existence gradually departs after birth. The passage they turned to for biblical evidence of this notion was Jeremiah 1:5, which states, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” They say this is proof God literally knew Jeremiah in person before sending him to the womb. But that is a faulty interpretation. When God told Jeremiah that He knew him before birth, He was referring to Jeremiah’s calling as a prophet. That verse further states as much: “before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” He had already devised the plan to send Jeremiah before he was born, in the same way He foretold of John the Baptist’s ministry centuries before it occurred (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:10). These prophecies did not demand a prior existence of either man and are no different than a couple naming their children before they are born. God is unique. He can see the future before it unfolds and is able to call “those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17). 


The only human to exist in a life before this one was Jesus, who occupied heaven before coming to earth to become a man (Philippians 2:6-7). But no one else made this transition. Every other human received his beginning in this life by the One who “forms the spirit of man within him” (Zechariah 12:1). Hence, Jesus told His opponents, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23). That statement would have no meaning if everyone has a prior existence.


Friends, we are on this planet because our Creator placed us here. The only hope we have of experiencing eternal life is through His Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 5:11). We did not have it before Jesus, nor will we have it apart from Him. And we certainly have no hope of reincarnation and returning to this world until we advance to enlightenment. If we want to find heaven, we must follow Jesus now (Hebrews 5:9) by obeying His gospel (Acts 2:37-41) and living in holiness (1 John 3:1-3). Only then will we reach God’s dwelling place, which will be an original, first-time experience for us (Matthew 25:34).


Mike Thomas