When we Latter-day Saints talk about the pain and inconvenience of sacrifice, we are often consoled by the idea that it will be for a "brief moment" (to borrow a phrase), that it is perhaps part of a test or a preparation, and that there will come a time when all sacrifice will be behind us and all that will be left would be to enjoy the bliss we have earned because of it. It sure sounds nice, but how can it be true?
We know that our education comes "line upon line" (2 Nephi 28:30) and that this earth life is equipping us for something more. What could possibly be built on top of the necessity to learn how to sacrifice? Perhaps sacrifice is a way of life in the hereafter for those who learn their lessons well. Perhaps those who cannot abide that law are not suited to a life like the Father's. Brigham Young has something to teach us about that. In fact, he's the only one I know of who articulated the reason. And there are several indications he learned it from Joseph Smith.
One day Joseph was cutting wood when some of the brethren came by and said "Brother Joseph we have some questions to ask, and we will cut your wood while you answer them!" The Prophet said, "All right." So they asked him, "What about the creation of the world - How was it inhabited?" To which he replied, "Now regarding Adam: He came here from another planet [as] an immortalized being and brought his wife, Eve, with him, and by eating of the fruits of this earth became subject to death and decay and he became of the earth, earthy, was made mortal and subject to death." (An 1877 statement of Ansel Call, preserved by John M. Whitaker; John M. Whitaker Papers, Special Collection, Univ. Of Utah)
Now notice what Brigham Young taught in probably his most notable sermons on the topic:
It is clear from a multitude of his statements that President Young's understanding of the nature of "eternal lives" was that those who qualified to receive a fullness of the Father would not only devote their effort to creating spirit bodies for their own posterity but also would literally condescend again to mortal conditions in order to be the first parents of those spirits on an earth.
Funny enough, we can find ample support for Brigham Young's teaching on Adam-God in ancient Egyptian artwork and writings. Below are depictions of the god Osiris, father of Horus (his posthumously begotten son - interesting, right?) with wheat growing from his dead body.
These images of Osiris bring to mind this saying of Jesus:
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (John 12)
It appears that Adam, the father of our spirits and first father of the human race, had power to lay down his life. How's that for omnipotence? I know, I know... we will hear folks say that resurrected beings can't die, and for the most part they're right. The tricky bit comes when we're talking about EXALTED resurrected beings, the ones who have put all enemies under their feet, including death. Of them it is written: "...they are gods, even the sons of God-- Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s" (D&C 76:58-59). Sure sounds to me like gods aren't confined by an inability to lay down their lives and take them up again if they choose. Why else would Joseph Smith have made this statement about Jesus following the example of His father?
"The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again." (King Follett Sermon)
The idea of our anticipated heavenly zen being routinely punctuated by periods of sacrifice apparently doesn't appeal to everyone, including one of Adam-God's most vocal opponents, Orson Pratt, who had this to say:
So, running with the premise that Brigham Young is correct (of which I am confident), I guess this is the place where we ask ourselves...Do we have the stuff? Do we have what it takes to, time and again, establish our posterity on the frontiers of creation through real sweat and toil, sorrow and pain, as did Adam and Eve? And what will it take to demonstrate that we have "the stuff," while in this probation?
What say ye?