One of the great chapters in the Book of Mormon is Alma 13. I always believed that Alma 13 was referring to the pre-mortal realm where we used agency to follow the Son of God. In fact the first verses seem to suggest that this is the case on account of our works and faith before the foundations of the world:
3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
4 And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.
From verses 3 and 4 we see that it’s on account of our exceeding faith and good works that we are called to an holy calling. The purpose of this holy calling is to give us the manner for which we should look forward to redemption. Since we are called and prepared from the foundation of the world, the implication is that before the world was formed roughly 6000 years ago, we as spirit children of God demonstrated faith. What was this faith centered in? The redemption provided by Jesus Christ! So before the world was formed, we exercised great faith in Christ. What were the works we performed? We bore testimony to other spirits of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. This all made perfect sense in light of the restored truths of Joseph Smith.
However, deep down I always wondered if this interpretation was true. I’ve never heard it preached by an Apostle or Prophet in this manner. In fact I am remiss because I always ignored the words “according to the foreknowledge of God” (emphasis added). Foreknowledge would suggest that the works and faith would be performed while on this Earth during our mortal sojourn. Meaning those who receive the priesthood, will receive it because of their faith and exceeding good works on the Earth, not during the period before its creation.
Other than a misconstruction of these verses, there is nowhere else in the Book of Mormon that directly refers to a pre-mortal existence. 2 Nephi 24 does refer to Lucifer falling from Heaven, but this is a direct quote from Isaiah 14. Would such a critical doctrine as the answer to “where we came from” be left out of this revealed text? These verses do have a reminiscent feel to them when compared to Ephesians 1:4
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
And so I wonder what occurred “before the foundation of the world”?