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- Includes mortal period

- Gives all privilege of agency- Brings happiness

Making decisions based upon Heavenly Father's plan of happiness can one day qualify all to return to His presence, said Elder M. Russell Ballard.

Elder Ballard of the Council of the Twelve spoke Saturday afternoon and outlined the purpose and meaning of life, which he called "Heavenly Father's plan of happiness." He said: " `The great plan of happiness' (Alma 42:8) is more commonly called the Plan of Salvation. It is beautiful in its simplicity to all who seek prayerfully to know and understand the true meaning and purpose of life."

He said the plan includes a mortal period where ability and willingness to be obedient are tested. Those who are obedient are promised a never-ending state of happiness.

"What a wonderful, warm and reassuring thing it is to know that the primary objective of the very God of heaven is `the immortality and eternal life of man' (Moses 1:39), or in other words, our eternal happiness and joy.

"Sometimes I wonder if we really appreciate what that means and how it should affect our lives. We must give adequate attention to the doctrines of happiness - real happiness, infinite and eternal. They should be the objective of everything we teach in the Church and of everything we do."

Blissful happiness is not provided at every step on earth, however. Elder Ballard said that often, "life is filled with harsh realities that tug at the heart and tear away at the soul."

He said that God observes natural law and "bad things sometimes happen." Much of the adversity on earth, however, is man-made and is caused by wrong choices made as people exercise their moral agency.

"We tend to think of agency as a personal matter," said Elder Ballard. "Often overlooked is the fact that choices have consequences; we forget also that agency offers the same privilege of choice to others.

"Much of the suffering we know in the world today would be eliminated if people throughout the world would understand and live the gospel."

However, he said, dealing with adversity is one of the chief ways in which mankind is tested. "Our faith in our Heavenly Father and in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, is the source of inner strength.

"If we are anchored to a correct understanding of who we are, why we are here on this earth, and where we can go after this mortal life, Satan cannot threaten our happiness through any form of temptation."

He noted that soon an era will begin in which the "Information Superhighway" will have the capacity to cut a wide path into homes.

"The computer, television, satellite, microchip and even the telephone all can bless and enhance our lives - or can make them miserable.

"Those who live according to Heavenly Father's eternal plan will not want to absorb any information that is illicit or untoward, nor will they destroy their spiritual sensitivity through immoral acts or the consumption of any harmful substance," he said.

"If they do any of these things, they will never find the inner peace and joy that living the gospel brings."