By: Boyd K. Packer
From the book: Mine Errand of the Lord
The course of our mortal life, from birth to death, conforms to eternal law and follows a plan described in the revelations as The Great Plan of Happiness. The one idea, the one truth I would inject into your minds is this: There are three parts to the plan. You are in the second or the middle part, the one in which you will be tested by temptation, by trials, perhaps by tragedy. Understand that, and you will be better able to make sense of life and to resist the disease of doubt and despair and depression.
The plan of redemption, with its three divisions, might be likened to a grand three-act play. Act I is entitled “Premortal Life.” The scriptures describe it as our First Estate.40 Act II, from birth to the time of resurrection, the “Second Estate.” And Act III, “Life after Death or Immortality and Eternal Life.”
In mortality, we are like one who enters a theater just as the curtain goes up on the second act. We have missed Act I. The production has many plots and sub-plots that interweave, making it difficult to figure out who relates to whom and what relates to what, who are the heroes and who are the villains. It is further complicated because you are not just a spectator; you are a member of the cast, on stage, in the middle of it all! (95–06, p. 2)
Within these three epochs of truth rest all we know of the plan of salvation. They encompass all that is taught in the scriptures, and in the temple endowment—indeed all that has been revealed to us.