It is taught by the LDS Church that all those born to this Earth have kept their first estate. This is from their website under Doctrines of the Gospel student manual. But this doctrine does not come through Joseph Smith’s teachings. In other words, Joseph Smith never taught this.
So what entails keeping one’s first estate, and what do the scriptures actually say about this? The answer to the later question exclusively comes from Abraham 3:22-26.
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.Abraham 3:22-28
The conclusion, or assumption, that all those who were born to Earth kept their first estate is only one of a few conclusions that can be made. Another conclusion is that while those who followed Satan did not keep their first estate, were there others who did not follow Satan, but yet did not keep their first estate? If the latter is true, these souls would have to 1) not follow Satan, and yet 2) also not make a covenant to follow Christ, from the pre-existence, but are still being allowed to make this decision on Earth. Is there such a group?
Moses 4:1-4 sheds light on this quandary:
And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.Moses 4:1-4
We will get back to that last phrase.
One of the names (of many) for those who are of the house of Israel is “those of the first covenant.” From Mormon 7:10:
And ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; therefore ye are numbered among the people of the first covenant; and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen.Mormon 7:10
Those who are of the first covenant are those who have kept their first estate. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 511)
Alma 13:1-12 gives us a much more specific description:
And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
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. 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.
Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things—
Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.
Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish; Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.
Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many [whole of the house of Israel], who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.Alma 13:12
There can be no doubt but that a covenant was made before the foundation of this world, or in the pre-existence. THESE are the ones who kept their first estate. These are the ones whom the Lord calls the covenant people of the Lord. These are the ones of the first covenant made in heaven.
The question is, are these Gentiles?
When the Gentile woman (a Greek woman, Mark 7:26) came to Jesus wanting her daughter healed, he said to her, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and then in one remark Jesus hinted as to who both groups were, saying, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” (see Matthew 15:24-26) The Gentile woman’s answer showed her knowledge of her lower status, which humility allowed her daughter to be healed, by Jesus’ authority.
Does this sound like these Gentiles “hearkened unto my voice” in the pre-existence? (from Moses 4:1-4) They did not. Neither did they make a covenant in the pre-existence.
But there’s more evidence. Seventy years after Jerusalem was taken over by Babylon (King Nebuchadnezzar), and the house of Israel were put into bondage, they began coming back under King Cyrus. But as pertaining to priesthood, there was a problem. They were at that time a mixture of Gentiles and Jews (or house of Israel). A Gentile could not obtain the priesthood, but one of the house of Israel was of the covenant seed, and had the right to the priesthood by blood lineage. From the D&C:
The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.D&C 107:40
Hence, in the aftermath of organizing the priesthood and church at that time, a genealogical record needed to be verified—because they didn’t want Gentiles to fain claim to the priesthood. Fain claiming to the priesthood is what the Pharaoh did in the young days of Abraham:
Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.
Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;Abraham 1:26-27
There is a record of this in the books of both Nehemiah and Ezra. From Nehemiah:
And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name. These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.
And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim [revelation from a seer].Nehemiah 7:63-65
And then from Ezra 2:
And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name: These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.
And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.Ezra 2:61-63
The conclusion, from the scriptures, is that Gentiles did NOT keep their first estate, but can be numbered among the house of Israel when they make the same covenant, which includes realizing from whence their blessings come (Mormon 5:10). For, their (your) blessings come through the recovery of the remnant of Joseph, whereby they (you) can be numbered among the house of Israel. This is the doctrine, also, put forth by the Book of the Remnant. From 3rd Nephi 16:
And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.
But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.3rd Nephi 16:12-13
And now behold, this I speak unto their seed [a remnant of these people of the Book of Mormon], and also to the Gentiles who have care for the house of Israel, that realize and know from whence their blessings come. For I know that such [righteous Gentiles] will sorrow for the calamity of the house of Israel; yea, they will sorrow for the destruction of this people; they will sorrow that this people had not repented that they might have been clasped in the arms of Jesus.Mormon 5:10-11
Do you sorrow for the Native Americans in their need to be recovered from their fallen status? Do you know from whence your blessings come? Because their salvation is near and dear to the Lord. The marvelous work and wonder will occur, and the Lord will recover the apple of his eye (Zech 2:8) for a second time, but where will your efforts lie in this process?