Joseph Explains Where Your Spirit Comes From

by | Mar 7, 2023

marble statue of a lady

Authentic Joseph Smith (No. 12)

Part of the Joseph Smith, Jr. Series

All blue quotes by Joseph Smith (unless otherwise noted).

From Wilford Woodruff’s diary (April 1844)

At Your Own Risk

Perhaps I should say, “read this at your own risk.” Nonetheless, I marvel at the breathtaking benevolence of what Joseph reveals. I hope this is meaningful. study for you, too. This sermon rings the truest of anything I’ve ever heard about how we came to be. So simple…so straightforward.

benevolence: kindness, big-heartedness, advocacy, compassion

This is a profound doctrine, so expect some things you have never heard discussed in Church. I share this because they are great truths. Extensive and boundless eternal principles take time to ponder and reflect. But it is worth the effort because great truth is liberating and shines clarity on many other points.

Joseph often held back because he felt the Saints could not handle profound doctrines contradicting their traditional and cultural teachings and their complicated theories (this might undo some of the current, complicated theories you have heard as well).

This sermon comes just months before Joseph’s death.

Joseph has a gift for lifting our sights way up to experience an immortal view. He dares to tell truths out loud most of the world would label blasphemous or would kill him over. They pretty much did.

I feel fortunate that he thought us equal in grasping and understanding these concepts.

  • Please note that there are 4 main sections. For a faster read – skip the “Corresponding Scripture” sections. They are placed there for your convenience or for deeper study.
  • As you read, please remember this is Joseph Smith at his peak. Don’t let Wilford’s misspellings and grammar detract from Joseph Smith’s fullness of understanding and the profound insight he shares.
  • This is just a few months before he died. He knows all the jargon, its meanings, and certain terms like intelligences, etc. since he is the original author of such gospel terms. At the time of this sermon, Joseph had finished his translation of the Pearl of Great Price. He wrote almost all the verses in the Doctrine and Covenants. Joseph uses the exact words he meant to use – don’t be tempted to substitute the words spirit, soul, and mind for him as if he didn’t know better.
  • I invite you to read this just how Joseph said it – without anyone’s interpretations. This quote makes more sense than anything else I have read or heard on the topic of our origin.

1. The Soul

The soul, the mind of man, whare did it come from? The learned says God made it in the beginning, but it is not so, I know better. God has told me so. If you dont believe it, it wont make the truth without effect [without power], God was a self exhisting being, man exhists upon the same principle. God made a tabernacle & put a spirit in it and it became a Human soul,


  • God did not make your spirit
  • Your spirit is self-existing, just like God
  • Soul = body + your spirit

~Corresponding Scripture

18 Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal. (Abraham 3:18)

2. Coequal

Man exhisted in spirit & mind coequal with God himself. You who mourn the loss of friends are ownly seperted for a moment, the spirit is seperated for a little time. They [dead friends] are now conversant with each other as we are on the earth. I am dwelling on the immutability [unchangeable nature] of the spirit of man.


  • You existed as spirit and mind coequal with God himself
  • Death and separation are relatively very short
  • Those who have passed on are social and talk to each other
  • Your spirit is unchangeable.

coequal: having the same rank or importance

Does this seem impossible?

To clarify, God is the greatest of all, as recorded in Abraham 3:19

19 And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.

And He is the most Generous of all – and wants to give us all. While our stature is not equal to God, to Him, our importance is equal. It’s not logical, but the showered love and indulgences are real.

~ Corresponding Scripture

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)

38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. (Doctrine and Covenants 84:38)

20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them. (Doctrine and Covenants 132:20)

94 They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace;
95 And he makes them equal in power, might, and dominion. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:94-95)

Perhaps one of my favorites:

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
(Revelation 3:20-21)

3. Like a Ring

Is it logic to say the spirit of man had a begining & yet had no end? It does not have a begining or end. My ring is like the Exhistanc of man. It has no begining or end. If cut into their would be a begining & end; so with man if it had a begining it will have an end. If I am right, I might say God never had the power to create man’s spirit – God himself could not create himself. Intelligence is Eternal & it is self existing.


  • your spirit has no beginning and no end
  • your spirit’s existence is like a ring.
  • God doesn’t create spirits; he didn’t create himself
  • Intelligence is eternal and self-existing

4. Improvement and Knowledge

All mind that is susseptible of improvement, the relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. God has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences that thay may be exhalted with himself this is good d doctrin, it taste good, I can taste the principles of eternal life, so can you, they are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ and I know you believe it. All things that God sees fit to reveal to us in relation to us, reveals his commandments to our spirits, and in saving our spirits we save the body


  • If we have a coherent, functioning mind – our relationship with God requires efforts to study and advance in knowledge
  • God institutes laws and instructions so we may be exalted with Himself
  • All revelation, he reveals to our spirits
  • [Exhalting] the spirit, [exhalts] the body (to a level of glory for eternity).


Your spirit is of noble origin and is capable of rising to the level of the gods. Yet, that journey is a complete gift fueled by the grace of Christ, who paid the price so we could have what He has. I cannot find the words to wrap around my awe of Their Plan for you and me.

P.S. You and I have been around for a very long time.

Author’s Notes

The Joseph Smith Series comes from, in part, a book called “The Words of Joseph Smith.”

Note: usually, the book costs a small fortune ($150-$250) because it is out of print. But I found it for free at the BYU Religious Studies Center. (Thank you, BYU)

(P.S. I receive no compensation for any recommendations – I like sharing.)

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  1. Heather Steele

    So we became children of our Heavenly Parents upon faith in his only begotten’s Atonement.

    • Shawnie Cannon

      That is an interesting ponder and a lovely way to put it. I don’t know for sure – but we become Christ’s sons and daughters upon spiritual rebirth and joining his Kingdom. Perhaps that is a type and shadow of how the pre-existence is in some fashion since we always existed. We are adopted into the House of Israel upon joining the Church, etc. Perhaps another type and shadow of Joseph’s sermon.

  2. joelwaltercannon

    I was taught that the spirit was created, but our ‘intellect’ was without beginning. Not sure if that is scriptural or cultural. Here, Joseph makes me wonder if they are the same.

    • Shawnie Cannon

      I believe we have a lot of cultural teachings surrounding this topic – that scholars have since expounded upon. What Wilford Woodruff recorded seems to challenge a lot of the things I’ve heard over my lifetime.


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