Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. But is that really so important? Yes. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without agency, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27). I know with all my heart that I am here because I chose God’s perfect plan of happiness. And I know that that includes pain and suffering and trials, but all for our benefit, learning and growth.
Living Prophets & Apostles:
1. You and I were among those who used their agency to accept Heavenly Father’s plan to come to earth, to have a mortal life, to progress. “We shouted for joy … to have the opportunity of coming to the earth to receive bodies [for we knew] that we might become, through faithfulness, like unto our Father, God.” Now we are here on earth, where opportunities to use our agency abound; for here “there is an opposition in all things.” This opposition is essential to the purpose of our lives.
2. Agency used righteously allows light to dispel the darkness and enables us to live with joy and happiness.
3. Our agency is essential to the plan of salvation. With it we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.”
4. Our agency—our ability to choose and act for ourselves—was an essential element of this plan. Without agency we would be unable to make right choices and progress. Yet with agency we could make wrong choices, commit sin, and lose the opportunity to be with Heavenly Father again. For this reason a Savior would be provided to suffer for our sins and redeem us if we would repent. By His infinite Atonement, He brought about “the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice.”
5. Some who do not understand the doctrinal part do not readily see the relationship between obedience and agency. And they miss one vital connection and see obedience only as restraint. They then resist the very thing that will give them true freedom. There is no true freedom without responsibility, and there is no enduring freedom without a knowledge of the truth. The Lord said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32.)
6. Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God. We are the sons and daughters of God, willing followers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and “under this head are [we] made free.” (Mosiah 5:8.)
Any Prophet, Apostle, or General Conference Address:
7. “…one of God’s most precious gifts to man is the principle of free agency—the privilege of choice which was introduced by God the Eternal Father to all of his spirit children in the premortal state. This occurred in the great council in heaven before the peopling of this earth. The children of God were endowed with freedom of choice while yet but spirit beings.”
8. “Four great principles must be in force if there is to be agency: 1. Laws must exist, laws ordained by an Omnipotent power, laws which can be obeyed or disobeyed; 2. Opposites must exist—good and evil, virtue and vice, right and wrong—that is, there must be an opposition, one force pulling … the other. 3. A knowledge of good and evil must be had by those who are to enjoy the agency, that is, they must know the difference between the opposites; and 4. An unfettered power of choice must prevail. Agency is given to man as an essential part of the great plan of redemption.”
9. Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws. As Alma counseled his errant son Corianton, “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).
10. “Next to life itself, free agency is God’s greatest gift to mankind.”3 Then it was no small thing for Satan to disregard man’s agency. In fact, it became the principal issue over which the War in Heaven was fought. Victory in the War in Heaven was a victory for man’s agency.