Date: July 20, 2016 07:21PM
It begins with the Book of Abraham, chapter 3:
22 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;
23 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.
The church has published many sermons and lessons expanding on these verses, saying that Joseph Smith was God's "choicest" spirit of all. For instance, Ezra Daft Benson taught:
“So it was with Joseph Smith. He too was there. He too sat in council with the noble and great ones. Occupying a prominent place of honor and distinction he unquestionably helped in the planning and execution of the great work of the Lord to ‘bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,’ the salvation of all our Father’s children [Moses 1:39]. His mission had had, and was to have, impact on all who had come to earth; all who then dwelt on earth and the millions yet unborn."
The church has also taught that other church leaders were also among the "noble and great ones." Basically, the "choicier" spirits in the pre-existence are born into the more righteous, spiritual, active families on earth. Brigham Young taught:
"The spirits which are reserved have to be born into the world, and the Lord will prepare some way for them to have tabernacles. Spirits must be born, even if they have to come to brothels for their fleshly coverings, and many of them will take the lowest and meanest spirit house that there is in the world, rather than do without, and will say, “Let me have a tabernacle, that I may have a chance to be perfected.”.....This revelation, which God gave to Joseph, was for the express purpose of providing a channel for the organization of tabernacles, for those spirits to occupy who have been reserved to come forth in the kingdom of God, and that they might not be obliged to take tabernacles out of the kingdom of God."http://jod.mrm.org/3/264