Shortly before a Church conference that was held on September 26, 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation in the presence of six elders. Through the revelation, these elders learned about the Fall of Adam and Eve and about redemption from the Fall through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Share the following scenario with your students and then ask the question that follows:
Imagine that one of your friends comes to you and is a little discouraged. When you ask why she is discouraged, she tells you she doesn’t know if being good has been worth the effort. She explains that even though she has tried to keep the commandments, she doesn’t see her life being any better than the lives of her peers who choose to sin. In addition, she points out that nothing bad seems to happen to her peers because of their wrong choices.
How might you respond to your friend’s concerns?
Invite students to look for doctrines and principles as they study Doctrine and Covenants 29 that could help them respond to their friend’s concerns.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:31–32 aloud, and ask the class to follow along. To help students understand the teachings in these verses, explain the following before the student reads aloud:
At the Creation, Adam, Eve, the earth, and all things on the earth were in a spiritual state. Even though Adam and Eve had physical bodies, they were not subject to death and could dwell in God’s presence forever. However, as part of Heavenly Father’s plan, all His creations would become temporal. In other words, they would become temporary and subject to death. Following the resurrection, they will return to a spiritual state—physical but also immortal.
Invite another student to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:34–35. Ask students to look for the way the Lord views the commandments He gives us.
How did the Lord describe His commandments? (Students’ answers should reflect the following doctrine: All God’s commandments are spiritual. Write this doctrine on the board.)
How would you explain the Lord’s declaration that all His commandments are spiritual? What are some examples of spiritual blessings that come when we keep the commandments?
As students respond to these questions, you may want to point out that many commandments, such as the Word of Wisdom and the law of tithing, lead to temporal blessings. However, they lead to even greater spiritual blessings. While the temporal blessings eventually end, the spiritual blessings endure forever.
How might the doctrine written on the board help your friend in the scenario discussed at the beginning of the lesson?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 29:36–39 by explaining that the devil rebelled against God in the premortal spirit world and turned away “a third part of the hosts of heaven.” Because the devil and his followers rebelled, they were cast out.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:39 aloud, and ask the class to look for reasons why the Lord allows the devil to tempt us.
Why does the Lord allow the devil to tempt us? Why is it important for us to have choices between good and evil?
To prepare students to discuss the truths in Doctrine and Covenants 29:40–45, point out that in Doctrine and Covenants 29:35, the Lord mentioned a commandment He gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden (see also D&C 29:40). Invite students to read this commandment silently in Moses 3:16–17.
What commandment did the Lord give Adam? (The Lord commanded Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.) What did the Lord say would happen if Adam transgressed this commandment? (Adam would die. From the day of his transgression Adam was subject to physical and spiritual death.)
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:40–41. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the meaning of the phrase “spiritual death.”
According to this verse, what is spiritual death? (Students should express the following doctrine: Spiritual death is being removed from God’s presence.)
To help students understand the meaning of the phrase “the first death” in verse 41, explain that there are two spiritual deaths. The first is a result of the Fall and is temporary. The second is a result of unrepented sins and will be permanent for those who fail to repent and be obedient.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:42. Ask the class to follow along, looking for another kind of death that came because of Adam’s transgression.
What other kind of death came because of Adam’s transgression? (Temporal death; in other words, the death of the physical body. This death is the separation of the spirit from the body.)
To help students understand the consequences of the Fall for all mankind, invite them to read Helaman 14:16 silently. Ask them to identify who experiences the consequences of Adam’s transgression.
Who experiences the consequences of Adam’s transgression? (All mankind.)
Invite a student to read Helaman 14:17 aloud. Ask the class to look for what this verse says about how the consequences of Adam’s transgression will be overcome.
How will the consequences of Adam’s transgression be overcome? Who will receive these blessings?
Write the following scripture references on the board: Alma 33:22; 42:23. Explain that all people will return to God’s presence for judgment, but not all people will be worthy to dwell in His presence forever. Then invite students to silently read the scripture passages you have listed on the board, looking for evidence of this truth. After sufficient time, ask them to report what they have found.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:43–44 aloud. Point out the declaration that those who “believe not” in Christ “cannot be redeemed from their spiritual fall.” Explain that although all people will be redeemed from the Fall of Adam and Eve, those who refuse to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and repent will not be redeemed from their own spiritual fall.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:42–43 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the way we can be saved from the consequences of our own sins.
According to these verses, what do we need to do to be saved from the consequences of our own sins? (Students may use different words, but they should express the following doctrine: Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ offers forgiveness and eternal life to all those who exercise faith in Him and repent of their sins. Write this doctrine on the board.)
Testify that the Fall of Adam and Eve was part of Heavenly Father’s plan for our happiness. Although we lived in God’s presence before we were born, each of us needed to come to earth, receive a physical body, and learn through experience to use our agency to follow Jesus Christ. Our spiritual state when we receive eternal life will be greater than the spiritual state we experienced in the premortal spirit world. Invite a student to read the following explanation from True to the Faith:
“Immortality is to live forever as a resurrected being. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone will receive this gift. Eternal life, or exaltation, is to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, where we will live in God’s presence and continue as families (see D&C 131:1–4). Like immortality, this gift is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, it requires our ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’ (Articles of Faith 1:3)” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 52).
To help students understand the importance of making choices that will help them receive the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement, invite a student to read aloud the following counsel from President Thomas S. Monson:
“Don’t put your eternal life at risk. If you have sinned, the sooner you begin to make your way back, the sooner you will find the sweet peace and joy that come with the miracle of forgiveness.
“… You are of a noble birthright. Eternal life in the kingdom of our Father is your goal. Such a goal is not achieved in one glorious attempt but rather is the result of a lifetime of righteousness, an accumulation of wise choices, even a constancy of purpose. As with anything really worthwhile, the reward of eternal life requires effort.
“… May we be filled with gratitude for the right of choice, accept the responsibility of choice, and ever be conscious of the results of choice” (“The Three Rs of Choice,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 69–70).
Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 29:46–50, we see that the consequences of transgressing God’s laws are different for little children and for others who are not accountable before God. We also see the great power and mercy of Jesus Christ. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:46–47 aloud.
What does this mean for little children who die before they reach the age of eight? (They are saved in the celestial kingdom. See also D&C 137:10. You may want to point out that according to Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 17:11 [in the Bible appendix] and Doctrine and Covenants 68:25, little children begin to become accountable before the Lord at age eight. For additional teachings on this topic, see Moroni 8 and Doctrine and Covenants 137:10.)
How does this passage enhance your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
To conclude, invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:49 silently and ponder the Lord’s expectation for them personally. Invite a few students to share what it means to them to be able to return to Heavenly Father’s presence and remain there eternally. After a few students have responded, encourage students to make choices that will enable them to dwell in the Lord’s presence eternally.
The following chart describes the changes that came upon Adam and Eve because they ate the forbidden fruit:
Before the Fall
After the Fall
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“Natural and spiritual laws which govern life were instituted from before the foundation of the world. … They are eternal, as are the consequences for either obeying or disobeying them. They are not based on social or political considerations. They cannot be changed. No pressure, no protest, no legislation can alter them” (“For Time and All Eternity,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 22).
President Joseph Fielding Smith explained the second spiritual death:
“The second death is spiritual; it is banishment from the presence of the Lord. It is similar to the first spiritual death, which has passed upon all men who have remained unrepentant and who have not received the gospel. Those who have suffered the first spiritual death or departure, which is a shutting out from the presence of God, have the privilege of being redeemed from this death through obedience to the principles of the gospel. Through baptism and confirmation they are born again and thus come back into spiritual life, and through their continued obedience to the end, they shall be made partakers of the blessings of eternal life in the celestial kingdom of God.
“Those who partake of the second death are those who have had the spiritual light and have rebelled against it. These remain in their sins in their banishment” (Doctrines of Salvation, ed. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:222–23).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the salvation of little children before they become accountable before God:
“Among all the glorious gospel verities given of God to his people there is scarcely a doctrine so sweet, so soul satisfying, and so soul sanctifying, as the one which proclaims—Little children shall be saved. They are alive in Christ and shall have eternal life. For them the family unit will continue, and the fulness of exaltation is theirs. No blessing shall be withheld. They shall rise in immortal glory, grow to full maturity, and live forever in the highest heaven of the celestial kingdom—all through the merits and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah, all because of the atoning sacrifice of Him who died that we might live …
“Are all little children saved automatically in the celestial kingdom?
“To this question the answer is a thunderous yes, which echoes and re-echoes from one end of heaven to the other. Jesus taught it to his disciples. Mormon said it over and over again. Many of the prophets have spoken about it, and it is implicit in the whole plan of salvation. If it were not so the redemption would not be infinite in its application. And so, as we would expect, Joseph Smith’s Vision of the Celestial Kingdom contains this statement: ‘And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.’ [D&C 137:10.] …
“How and why are they saved?
“They are saved through the atonement and because they are free from sin. They come from God in purity; no sin or taint attaches to them in this life; and they return in purity to their Maker. Accountable persons must become pure through repentance and baptism and obedience. Those who are not accountable for sins never fall spiritually and need not be redeemed from a spiritual fall which they never experienced. Hence the expression that little children are alive in Christ. ‘Little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten,’ the Lord says. (D&C 29:46.)” (“The Salvation of Little Children,” Ensign, Apr. 1977, 3, 4–5).