Lesson 19: The Plan of Salvation

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 105–9


Purpose

To help class members understand the grand scope of the plan of salvation and to encourage them to live according to their knowledge of the plan.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the scriptures in this lesson.

  2. 2.

    Review the material for this lesson in the Class Member Study Guide (35686). Plan ways to refer to the material during the lesson.

  3. 3.

    If you use the attention activity, obtain a picture, such as a photograph from a magazine. Cut a few small pieces from the picture. Make sure that class members will not be able to tell what the picture is by looking at the small pieces.

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Display the small pieces of the picture that you have brought to class, but do not display the picture (see “Preparation,” item 3). Tell class members that these small pieces are part of a bigger picture. Invite them to briefly guess what is in the picture. Then display the picture, putting the small pieces in place.

Point out that although the small pieces are important, they would have little meaning if they were not part of the big picture. Explain that experiences we have, decisions we make, and truths we learn are like small pieces of a big picture. They have less meaning if they are not put in the context of a bigger picture: the plan of salvation. A knowledge of the plan of salvation can help us make righteous decisions, find joy in mortality, and prepare for eternal life. This lesson discusses the plan of salvation.

Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. The plan of salvation is “one of heaven’s best gifts to mankind.”

Write on the chalkboard Heavenly Father’s Plan of __________.

Ask class members to complete the phrase. Encourage them to think of as many answers from the scriptures as they can. Write their responses on the chalkboard. After a minute or two, share any of the following answers that they have not mentioned:

  • What do these words teach about Heavenly Father’s plan?

  • The prophet Alma referred to Heavenly Father’s plan as “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). How can the plan of salvation bring us happiness?

  • The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “The great plan of salvation is a theme which ought to occupy our strict attention, and be regarded as one of heaven’s best gifts to mankind” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 68). What can we do to give the plan of salvation “our strict attention”?

Explain that this lesson is an overview of the plan of salvation. It shows how the principles of the gospel relate to each other as part of one great plan.

2. Premortal life

Explain that the plan of salvation can be divided into three parts: premortal life, mortal life, and life after death.

Write Premortal Life on the chalkboard. Point out that one significant blessing of the Restoration is our increased knowledge of our premortal life. This knowledge helps us understand life’s purpose and our part in God’s plan of salvation. As class members discuss the following questions, have them read the suggested scripture passages.

  • We are sons and daughters of God, and we lived in a premortal existence as His spirit children (D&C 76:24; 93:29). How does the knowledge that you are a child of God influence you?

  • Before the earth was created, Heavenly Father called a council in heaven and presented the plan of salvation to all His spirit children. What were some elements of the plan that Heavenly Father presented in the premortal world? (See 2 Nephi 2:24–26; Alma 34:8–9; Abraham 3:24–25. Answers could include the Atonement of Jesus Christ; the Creation of the earth; the Fall; time on earth during which we would receive a mortal body and be tested; and agency, or the power to choose good or evil.)

  • How did Jehovah, the Firstborn of the Father, respond to the plan of salvation? (See Moses 4:2. To show how the Savior obeyed the Father’s will, you may want to read D&C 19:16–19 and D&C 76:40–42. Emphasize that the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes the plan of salvation possible. The Savior is the central figure in God’s plan for our salvation.)

  • Lucifer rebelled against the plan of salvation, seeking to destroy our agency and gain Heavenly Father’s power (Moses 4:1, 3; D&C 29:36). He became Satan, and he and his followers were cast out of the Father’s presence and denied mortality (D&C 29:36–38; 76:25–27; Moses 4:4; Abraham 3:26). Why is it important for us to know about the existence of Satan and his followers?

  • How did we respond to the plan of salvation? (See Job 38:4–7. Explain that latter-day prophets have taught that verse 7 in this passage refers to the joy we all felt in our premortal existence when we accepted the plan of salvation.)

Explain that in the premortal world, Heavenly Father chose and foreordained noble spirits to carry forth His work on the earth (D&C 138:55–56; Abraham 3:22–23; see also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 365).

  • In what ways might our knowledge of premortal life influence our daily decisions? How can our knowledge of our premortal life help us when we face trials?

3. Mortal life

Point out that when we accepted Heavenly Father’s plan in our premortal life, we kept our “first estate.” Because of our faithfulness, we were given the opportunity to come to earth, which is our “second estate” (Abraham 3:26).

Write Mortal Life on the chalkboard. Explain that because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, we are in a fallen state in mortality (D&C 29:40). We are subject to physical death and also to spiritual death, or separation from the presence of God (D&C 29:41–42; Alma 42:9, 14; physical death and spiritual death will be discussed later in the lesson). From latter-day revelation we learn that the Fall is a necessary step in our eternal progress. Eve spoke of the blessings of the Fall: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11).

As class members discuss the following questions, have them read the suggested scripture passages.

  • What are some purposes of mortal life? (Write class members’ responses on the chalkboard. Answers could include those listed below.)

    1. a.

      To receive a physical body. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181).

    2. b.

      To prove our faithfulness through obedience to God’s commandments (Abraham 3:25–26). This includes repenting of our sins and receiving the ordinances of salvation (Alma 12:24; D&C 29:42–43; Articles of Faith 1:3).

    3. c.

      To live in families and to seal children to their parents through temple ordinances (Moses 2:28; D&C 93:40; 131:1–4; 138:48).

      The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles proclaimed that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. … The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

  • How does your understanding of the purposes of mortality make a difference in your life? How does your understanding of these purposes influence the decisions you make?

  • As part of our mortal life, Satan is allowed to tempt us (D&C 29:39). Why? (See D&C 29:39; see also 2 Nephi 2:11–13.) Why is agency an important part of the plan of salvation? (See D&C 58:27–28; 101:78; 2 Nephi 2:25–27.)

4. Life after death

Emphasize that our life does not end at physical death. Write Life after Death on the chalkboard. As class members discuss the following questions, have them read the suggested scripture passages.

  • When we die, our spirits will enter the spirit world (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 309–10.) How will our works during mortality influence our life in the postmortal spirit world? (See Alma 34:34; 40:11–14.)

  • People who do not receive the gospel on earth will have that opportunity in the spirit world (D&C 137:7–9; 138:30–34). What can we do to help them receive all the blessings of the plan of salvation? (See D&C 128:6–8, 15. Answers could include that we can do family history work and can perform priesthood ordinances for them in temples.)

  • Remind class members that the Fall brought physical and spiritual death into the world. How will we be delivered from physical death? (See Alma 11:42; D&C 88:14–16; 93:33. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected, or “raised from this temporal death.” Our spirits will reunite with our bodies, and we will be able to “receive a fulness of joy.”) How can we be delivered from spiritual death? (See Alma 42:11–13, 15; Articles of Faith 1:3.)

Explain that after we are resurrected, we will return to the presence of God to be judged according to our works (Alma 11:43–45; D&C 76:111). We will inherit a place in the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, or the telestial kingdom based on the manner in which we have “received the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:51; see also verses D&C 76:50, 79–82). The next lesson includes a discussion of these three kingdoms of glory.

  • In what ways does the knowledge of life after death help us during mortality?

Conclusion

Have a class member read the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“There are three parts to the plan. You are in the second or the middle part, the one in which you will be tested by temptation, by trials, perhaps by tragedy. …

“Remember this! The line ‘And they all lived happily ever after’ is never written into the second act [of a play]. That line belongs in the third act, when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right. …

“Until you have a broad perspective of the eternal nature of [the plan], you won’t make much sense out of the inequities in life. Some are born with so little and others with so much. Some are born in poverty, with handicaps, with pain, with suffering. Some experience premature death, even innocent children. There are the brutal, unforgiving forces of nature and the brutality of man to man. We have seen a lot of that recently.

“Do not suppose that God willfully causes that which, for His own purposes, he permits. When you know the plan and the purpose of it all, even these things will manifest a loving Father in Heaven” (The Play and the Plan [satellite broadcast, 7 May 1995], 1–2).

Emphasize that a knowledge of the plan of salvation can help us make righteous decisions, find joy in mortality, and prepare for eternal life. Express your feelings about the role of Jesus Christ in the plan of salvation. As prompted by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Ideas

You may want to use one or both of the following ideas to supplement the suggested lesson outline.

1. “The Plan of Salvation” video presentation

If the videocassette Teachings from the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History (53933) is available, consider showing “The Plan of Salvation,” a four-minute segment. Consider using some or all of the following questions after the presentation:

  • How is our mortal life like the experience of the young man who found himself onstage in the second act?

  • How does the revealed knowledge of the first act (premortal life) help us in the second act (mortality)? How does knowledge of the third act (life after death) help us in the second act?

  • When the young man found himself onstage, he did not know who the villain was or who the hero was. What problems can arise if we do not know who the villains and heroes are in our lives?

  • What did the young man do to gain knowledge about the play? What serves as the “script” in our lives?

2. Counsel for parents

Read Alma 12:32 with class members. Before reading, explain that the word them in this verse refers to Adam and Eve.

Emphasize that Adam and Eve already had a knowledge of the plan of redemption when they received commandments. Then ask the following questions:

  • Why is it helpful to have a knowledge of the plan of redemption when we receive commandments? How can parents follow this teaching pattern with their children?