The Plan of Salvation and the Rising Generation

Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Annual Training Broadcast • June 12, 2018 • Conference Center Theater


 

I am grateful to speak to you today. I honor all of you for the great work you do. You are on the Lord’s errand to help the rising generation learn deeply in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is with that errand in mind that I have chosen to speak today about teaching the plan of salvation to those wonderful young people.

President Nelson has called all of us to rise up to the great privileges God has given us.1 That is a charge to us and to the rising generation. I know that we must all do more to help these precious young people learn Heavenly Father’s plan deeply. They need to know it and understand it in their minds and their hearts; they need to love it and live it; and they need to become what the Father has foreordained them to be. In the strength of the Lord and with the power of the Holy Ghost, we can do this great work. I know that is true.

Many years ago, I served a mission in Germany. In those days we used flannel boards and little cut-out circles to teach the plan of salvation. The circles represented the pre-mortal realm, mortality, the spirit world, and the three degrees of glory. If I remember right, the veil of forgetfulness was a squiggly line, and the Day of Judgment was a rectangle. Now, missionaries do not use flannel boards anymore, but believe me, the little circles are alive and well.

Here is an example from the Book of Mormon seminary lesson on the plan of salvation.2

I’m sure this diagram is helpful to the students, and the lesson is really a wonderful summary of the key aspects of the Father’s plan.

However, I am concerned about the circles, and I have two invitations for you as you teach the plan of salvation.

First, please guard against the students thinking that the diagram is the plan. It is not the plan, but it is very easy for the students to think that if they have the circles right, they understand the plan.

Second, please help the plan come alive in their minds and their hearts. Help them to know and love the Father’s plan. Now, I believe the way to do that is to take them deeper into the plan.

In that spirit, I have chosen to emphasize three principles in the Father’s plan that I believe will help the rising generation to know, love, and live that glorious plan.

Principle #1: Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life

So, principle number one: Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.3 The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is at the center of the plan of salvation. His atoning sacrifice makes everything in the Father’s plan possible. Listen to the words of Alma as He describes what the Savior did for us: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; …

“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and … he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, … that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. …

“The Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance.”4

I love these verses. Here, in beautiful language, Alma lays out the central role of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in the plan of salvation. Here is the Resurrection, provided to all. Here is forgiveness and redemption from sin for those that repent. Here is the love of Jesus Christ as He heals, lifts and strengthens us in our mortal journey. Here is the power of Jesus Christ to deliver us from death and sin, and open to us the blessings of exaltation and eternal life.

I want our students to know and understand just how central Jesus Christ really is to the Father’s plan and to their lives. Because of His atoning sacrifice, His light permeates all of God’s creations.5 Indeed, He is “in all and through all things, the light of truth.”6 That light gives life to all things and carries the “law by which all things are governed.”7 Think of that! Everything in God’s universe, the largest galaxies that contain hundreds of billions of stars, the smallest particles of matter, our mortal bodies, our immortal spirits, and our eternal progression are all governed by divine law through the love of our Heavenly Father and the marvelous Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is cosmic in its sweeping reach, and yet it is very, very personal. Indeed, the love, mercy, and power of our Savior bless our students one by one. The scriptures teach us that Jesus suffered every pain, sorrow, and adversity that our students experience in their mortal lives.8 He took upon Him the sins of all mankind that they might repent.9 Jesus knows each of our students intimately and perfectly. He knows their paths because He has already walked those paths.

They can turn to Him, have faith in Him, repent of their sins, and follow Him with confidence and trust that He knows the way. He is literally the only way to the things that matter most to them.10 He is the way to forgiveness and wonderful healing. He is the way to enduring joy. He is the way to the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and thus to divine strength, comfort, revelation, light, and power in their lives. He is the way to courage and patience, and to all divine attributes. He is the way to pure and perfect love, and to the peace that passes all understanding. He is the way to relationships of love and service that bring deep personal fulfillment, meaning, and purpose in their lives now and forever. He is the way to exaltation and eternal life with their Heavenly Father and their families. My dear brothers and sisters, please teach our students that all good things come from Jesus Christ.11 He is everything to them.

Principle #2: The Sons and Daughters of God Have Eternal Identity and Purpose

Each of our students has an eternal identity and purpose. Each one of them “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”12

Heavenly Father’s plan is designed to help every one of our students fulfill their eternal identity and purpose through the mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to highlight three dimensions of their eternal identity that I feel are very important for them to understand.

I begin with the fact that our students are the spirit children of God. Please help them to know and feel that He really is their Father in Heaven. Through His Beloved Son, Heavenly Father has blessed our students with the opportunity and the capacity to learn deeply in His eternal plan—to grow in knowledge and understanding, to gain the capacity for effective righteous action, and to become like Him. This is the overarching purpose of this most fundamental aspect of their eternal identity.13

A second critical part of their eternal identity is to be a mother or father, a husband or wife, in an eternal family.14 Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God because that is the nature of eternal life.15 In the eternal perspective of our Father in Heaven, our students are mothers and fathers in His kingdom. That is their eternal identity, and that is His plan. Their eternal purpose, therefore, is to create a celestial marriage and an eternal family.

Finally, our students need to know that they are the seed of Abraham, the covenant people of the Lord. God promised Abraham that his seed would take the gospel of Jesus Christ and the holy priesthood (including the ordinances of salvation) unto all nations to bless all the families of the earth on both sides of the veil.16 This is the gathering of scattered Israel and it is an important part of the Father’s plan.17 Our students are the seed of Abraham, and their eternal purpose is to do God’s work as His trusted servants. They have an important place, an important role, in the Father’s plan.

Step back for a moment and think about the awe-inspiring, truly amazing blessings Heavenly Father desires to give our students. And yet, some of our students may wonder if God has an identity and purpose like this for them. Some may feel that becoming like Heavenly Father, working as His trusted servant, or being sealed to an eternal, beloved companion and having children may be out of their reach. When they look in the mirror, they may not see what I have described today. If that is the way some of your students feel, please encourage them to take another look. Tell them to look into the mirror with the eye of faith and see not only their own faces but also the face of the Lord Jesus Christ beside them with power and glory and never-ending, perfect love. He did not come to leave them out of His blessings.18

Principle #3: All Things on Which Jesus Christ puts His Name Are Part of the Plan

Jesus Christ is not only at the center of the Father’s plan, but His name, His power, His work, and His character are woven throughout. I want our students to know and understand that all things on which the Lord Jesus Christ puts His name are part of the Father’s plan.

Think for a moment what those things are. Where has the Savior put His Name? Here is a list of those things that carry the name of Jesus Christ that I believe are most important for our students to know and understand:

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: The name of the Church is a witness that it was created by and is led by the Lord Jesus Christ; it is His Church.19 The Church is the kingdom of God on the earth. Through the Church the Lord and Savior supports individuals and families in their quest for eternal life and prepares the earth for His Second Coming. The Church—the Lord’s true and living church—is a critical part of the Father’s plan for the salvation of His children.

  • The Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God: The holy priesthood is the power and authority of God. It is given to man so that faithful Latter-day Saints may do the Lord’s work with His authority and with His power. It is through that power and authority that we receive the ordinances of salvation and obtain the great blessings of the Father’s glorious plan.20

  • The House of the Lord: We live in a time of great temple building all across the earth. We rejoice that the Lord has made it possible for so many of His faithful children to receive their temple blessings, including the sealing of eternal families, on both sides of the veil. The ordinances of the House of the Lord connect us to the powers of godliness; they are essential to the Father’s plan of happiness for His children.21

  • The prophet of the Lord: Speaking of His prophet, the Lord said: “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth.”22 The prophet of the Lord is a seer and a revelator. His words are the words of the Lord for us, for our blessing in this life, and our exaltation and eternal life in the life to come. The prophet of the Lord is a wonderful part of the Father’s plan.

  • The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ: The Book of Mormon is a witness that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer, that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration, and that the Lord has established His Church in the latter days. It also contains beautiful teachings about the Father’s plan, of which it bears powerful testimony.23 For all of these reasons the Book of Mormon is an important part of the great plan of salvation.

  • Heavenly Father’s children: Jesus Christ puts His name on Heavenly Father’s children who make and keep sacred covenants. He has put His name on you who teach, as you attend the temple.24 He intends to put His name on your students, and on the testimonies they will bear to the world as they participate in the gathering of Israel.25 This is the Father’s plan.

Everything we have mentioned here—and many others we could name, like every meetinghouse in the world and our prayers to Heavenly Father—are things on which Jesus Christ has put His name. They are part of the plan and the fulfillment of prophecy. As Paul said long ago, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times [the Father] might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”26

Brothers and sisters, please help our students know that these things which are so familiar to them—the Church, the priesthood, the temple, the prophet, the Book of Mormon, themselves—all carry the Savior’s name because they all are here to bring us to Jesus Christ, who is the way to peace in this life and exaltation and eternal life in the world to come.

I am going to close today with a thought about the role of the Father’s plan in the daily lives of our students. The thought comes from King Benjamin’s address to his people. At the very beginning of his remarks, he said, “Hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.”27

I love the phrase “that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view,” and I want to apply it to our students. Now, King Benjamin makes clear that the “mysteries of God” he intends to unfold to his people’s view are the essential elements of the Father’s great plan of salvation. For our purposes, King Benjamin’s statement has two meanings. First, it means that if the hearts and minds of our students are open and we teach with the Spirit, our students will see and understand the plan. But there is another meaning. If they understand the plan in their hearts, the plan will become the way they see themselves and the world around them. The plan will become their view. Our students will see the plan, and the plan will help them see.

How can our students truly see the plan? Our classes are an important part of that process, and Heavenly Father has done more to unfold His plan to their view. Please teach our students that they can see the plan:

  • In the birth of a baby, and every time someone dies.28

  • In the temple, in the ordinances for the dead.29

  • In the ordinance of the sacrament on the Sabbath day.30

  • In repentance, as they pray to Heavenly Father for forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ.31

  • In the Book of Mormon, that powerful testament of Jesus Christ.32

  • In seeing, listening to, and following the Prophet of God.33

  • In priesthood blessings.34

  • In seminary and institute where they feel the love of Christ, His light, and His power.35

  • Every single time they pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ.36

Please help our students know and feel this beautiful truth: when they see these things, they are seeing the Father’s plan in action. If their hearts are open, the Holy Ghost will witness to them that the plan of salvation is true, and it is for them.37 As their faith in Jesus Christ and their understanding grows, the plan will become their perspective on life and themselves. They will see themselves in the plan, and they will begin to see the world around them as the Lord sees it.

The plan will become the framework they use to understand the issues and problems and challenges they face. In fact, that is precisely what we teach in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Let me quote: “To examine doctrinal concepts, questions, and social issues with an eternal perspective, we consider them in the context of the plan of salvation and the teachings of the Savior. … This allows us to reframe the question … and view ideas based on the Lord’s standard of truth rather than accepting the world’s … assumptions.”38

If our students follow this pattern, the plan of salvation will be the way they understand themselves and their responsibilities and opportunities and blessings. It is how they will find meaning and purpose in their lives. With the Holy Ghost guiding and teaching them, they will come to have what Paul called “the mind of Christ.”39

My dear brothers and sisters, I pray that the Father’s plan will be in your hearts, that you will see yourselves in the plan, and that the plan will become how you see the world.40 I bear witness that the Father’s plan is true. God our Father lives. Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. I know He lives. This is His Church. You are on His errand, to teach the Father’s plan to the rising generation by the power of the Holy Ghost. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

© 2018 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. English approval: 3/18. Translation approval: 3/18. Translation of “The Plan of Salvation and the Rising Generation.” Language. PD60006246 xxx

Show References

    Notes

  1.  

    1. See Russell M. Nelson, “Ministering with the Power and Authority of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 68–75.

  2.  

    2. Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2017], 17.

  3.  

    3. See John 14:6.

  4.  

    4. Alma 7:11–13.

  5.  

    5. See Doctrine and Covenants 88:7–13.

  6.  

    6. Doctrine and Covenants 88:6.

  7.  

    7. Doctrine and Covenants 88:13.

  8.  

    8. See Isaiah 53:4; 2 Nephi 9:21; Mosiah 3:7; Alma 7:11–13; Doctrine and Covenants 18:11.

  9.  

    9. See 2 Nephi 2:7, 9; Alma 34:15–16; Doctrine and Covenants 19:16.

  10.  

    10. See John 14:6; Mosiah 3:17; Alma 38:9; Helaman 5:9.

  11.  

    11. See Moroni 7:24.

  12.  

    12. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 145.

  13.  

    13. Their mortal experience is an opportunity to grow and learn. It is a trial of their faith in Jesus Christ “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25) amidst the temptations, trials, and challenges of mortal life. Through the redeeming and strengthening power of Jesus Christ, they may overcome the natural man, grow in knowledge and understanding, serve and obey, experience joy and happiness, and become more and more like the Father and the Son.

  14.  

    14. See “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” 145.

  15.  

    15. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states clearly that each human being is a “spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.” Eternal life is the life Heavenly Father lives, and it is married life.

  16.  

    16. See Genesis 17:9; Abraham 2:8–11.

  17.  

    17. As the Lord taught Abraham, this is an important part of the plan of salvation: “Thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations; … and in thy seed … shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abraham 2:9, 11). The Lord has scattered the children of Abraham “upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations” (1 Nephi 22:3), and He has promised that “all the people who are of the house of Israel, will I gather in … from the four quarters of the earth” (1 Nephi 19:16). The ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant and the gathering of scattered Israel is a latter-day work. It is in our days that “the remnants of the house of Israel, should … come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer” (1 Nephi 10:14).

  18.  

    18. Even if these blessings of identity and purpose seem distant to some of your students, they are not any less real. For example, in God’s eternal plan, every one of them will have an eternal companion, if they are faithful. And every one of them will have children that will bless their lives, whether here in mortality or in the world to come. All of our students are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers in God’s eternal plan. That is who they really are.

  19.  

    19. See Doctrine and Covenants 1:30; 115:4.

  20.  

    20. See Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–22.

  21.  

    21. See Doctrine and Covenants 84:21.

  22.  

    22. Doctrine and Covenants 21:5.

  23.  

    23. 2 Nephi 9:6–22 is a beautiful example of a statement of the plan and a testimony of its truth. See also Alma 41 and 42.

  24.  

    24. See Mosiah 1:11; 5:7–12; Doctrine and Covenants 109:26.

  25.  

    25. See Doctrine and Covenants 1:20–23. Note that your students have covenanted to be willing to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ.

  26.  

    26. Ephesians 1:10.

  27.  

    27. Mosiah 2:9.

  28.  

    28. See Moses 6:57–62.

  29.  

    29. See Doctrine and Covenants 128, especially verses 11–18.

  30.  

    30. See Doctrine and Covenants 20:75–79; see also Doctrine and Covenants 59, especially verses 2, 8–9, 21–24.

  31.  

    31. See Doctrine and Covenants 20:17–29.

  32.  

    32. See Book of Mormon, title page; 2 Nephi 25:18; 3 Nephi 911; Doctrine and Covenants 1:29; 20:8–9.

  33.  

    33. See Ephesians 4:11–15; Doctrine and Covenants 21:1–6; 84:36–38.

  34.  

    34. See Doctrine and Covenants 42:44–46.

  35.  

    35. See 1 Corinthians 2; Alma 5:7; 3 Nephi 18:24–25.

  36.  

    36. See 3 Nephi 18:18–21; Doctrine and Covenants 45:1–5.

  37.  

    37. This is one of the most important assignments the Holy Ghost has: He is a witness of the Father and the Son, and thus of the great plan of salvation. See 3 Nephi 11:32; 28:11; Moses 1:24.

  38.  

    38. Doctrinal Mastery Core Document [Church Educational System manual, 2018], 4.

  39.  

    39. 1 Corinthians 2:16.

  40.  

    40. In 1993 President Boyd K. Packer spoke to Seminaries and Institutes of Religion teachers. In that talk, he said, “I have an assignment for you. You expected that, didn’t you? You are assigned to prepare a brief synopsis or overview of the plan of happiness—the plan of salvation. Design it as a framework on which your students can organize the truths you will share with them. At first you may think that a simple assignment. I assure you, it is not. Brevity and simplicity are remarkably difficult to achieve. At first you will be tempted to include too much. The plan in its fulness encompasses every gospel truth. … This may be the most difficult, and surely the most rewarding, assignment of your teaching career” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Great Plan of Happiness” [address given at the Church Educational System Symposium, Aug. 10, 1993], 3).