Shortly before a Church conference on September 26, 1830, the Lord gave the revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 29 “in the presence of six elders” (D&C 29, section heading). When you studied Doctrine and Covenants 29:1–30 during an earlier lesson, you learned about the gathering of the Lord’s elect and the building up of Zion. This lesson focuses on the nature of the Fall of Adam as revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 29:31–50.
Ponder how you would respond in the following situations:
Situation 1: Imagine one of your friends is participating in inappropriate behavior that you know is harmful to him. On one occasion you try to encourage your friend to stop this behavior, but he tells you his choices aren’t a big deal because nothing bad has happened to him. What principles of the gospel could help your friend understand the importance of his choices?
Situation 2: Imagine one of your friends comes to you and says she is feeling a little discouraged. She tells you she doesn’t know if keeping the commandments is worth the effort. She explains that even though she has tried to do what God has commanded, she doesn’t see her circumstances as being any better than those of her peers who choose to sin. What principles of the gospel could help your friend continue to be obedient?
As you study the last part of Doctrine and Covenants 29, look for doctrines and principles that could be used to help individuals in these situations.
In 1830 the Church of Jesus Christ was restored and organized once again on the earth, and the fulness of the gospel was being revealed to the members of the Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 29, the Lord helped the early Saints understand more about the Fall of Adam and revealed some of the purposes of His commandments.
Doctrine and Covenants 29:31–33 teaches that God created all things spiritually. One meaning of this is that they could exist in His presence and were not subject to death. He prepared a way for His creations to become temporal, meaning they would be separated from His presence and subject to death. God also made a way for His creations to overcome death and return to His presence. This is all part of His plan to give His children the opportunity to become like Him.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 29:34–35, looking for how the Lord views the commandments He gives to us. Mark this truth in your scriptures: All of God’s commandments are spiritual. Each commandment God gives has a spiritual purpose and is intended to help us return to His presence.
As an example of the doctrine that all of God’s commandments are spiritual, consider the Word of Wisdom. In your scripture study journal, answer the following questions:
How might obedience to the Word of Wisdom affect us physically?
How might obedience to the Word of Wisdom affect us spiritually?
There may be physical consequences resulting from not obeying the Word of Wisdom, but the greatest consequences are spiritual in nature, especially to members of the Church who have covenanted to obey that commandment. Because all commandments from God are spiritual, including the Word of Wisdom, obedience brings spiritual blessings into our lives. On the other hand, disobedience to God’s commandments keeps us from receiving or causes us to lose spiritual blessings.
Ponder how knowing that God’s commandments are all spiritual could help the individuals in the situations you read about at the beginning of this lesson.
While God gives us commandments to bless us spiritually, notice in Doctrine and Covenants 29:35 that He allows us to be agents unto ourselves. This means God gives all of His children agency and allows them to choose if they will obey His commandments.
Draw the following chart in your scripture study journal. Then read Doctrine and Covenants 29:36–41, and fill in the choices and consequences of the people or groups of people:
“A third part of the hosts of heaven”
Consider writing the following principle in your scriptures: God has given us the gift of agency to make choices and receive the consequences of those choices.
Before Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he lived on the earth in the Garden of Eden and could dwell in God’s presence. After he ate the fruit, he remained on the earth but could no longer remain in God’s presence. Because Adam yielded to temptation and ate the forbidden fruit, all of us are in a temporal condition (subject to death) and separated from the presence of God. According to Doctrine and Covenants 29:41, what is this separation called?
In your scripture study journal, draw the following diagram:
On the diagram, under the phrase “Fallen Earth (Temporal),” write: Spiritual death is being cast out from God’s presence. Then answer the following question: Why do you think it is necessary for us to be separated from God’s presence for a time?
Read the following statement about the Fall and why we must be separated from God for a time: “The Fall is an integral part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation (see 2 Nephi 2:15–16; 9:6). It has a twofold direction—downward yet forward. In addition to introducing physical and spiritual death, it gave us the opportunity to be born on the earth and to learn and progress” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 57; see also 2 Nephi 2:25).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the Fall:
“The most important events that ever have or will occur in all eternity … are the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.
“Before we can even begin to understand the temporal creation of all things, we must know how and in what manner these three eternal verities—the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement—are inseparably woven together to form one plan of salvation. No one of them stands alone; each of them ties into the other two; and without a knowledge of all of them, it is not possible to know the truth about any one of them. …
“… Be it remembered, the Atonement came because of the Fall. Christ paid the ransom for Adam’s transgression. If there had been no Fall, there would be no Atonement with its consequent immortality and eternal life. Thus, just as surely as salvation comes because of the Atonement, so also salvation comes because of the Fall.
“Mortality and procreation and death all had their beginnings with the Fall” (“Christ and the Creation,” Ensign, June 1982, 9).
Ponder the following question: Who will return to God’s presence?
To understand the Lord’s teachings in Doctrine and Covenants 29, it is important to know that all people will return to God’s presence after they are resurrected. This is because the Atonement of Jesus Christ redeems all mankind from the physical and spiritual effects of the Fall (see Helaman 14:15–18).
In your scripture study journal, on the right side of the diagram, under the phrase “God’s Presence,” write: Through the Atonement, all mankind will be redeemed from physical and spiritual death caused by the Fall of Adam. Then answer the following question: If all of us will eventually be brought back into God’s presence, why do you think it matters whether or not we make good choices here on earth?
Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ offers forgiveness and eternal life to all those who exercise faith in Him and repent of their sins. Read Doctrine and Covenants 29:42–43, and look for what we must do to be worthy to remain in God’s presence. Ponder what things you might need to repent of so you can qualify to remain in God’s presence someday.
Although all mankind will be resurrected and will be redeemed from spiritual death and brought back into God’s presence to be judged, not everyone will remain there.
In your scripture study journal, on the right side of the diagram, draw a dotted line with an arrow pointing away from the presence of God. Then read Doctrine and Covenants 29:44–45, and answer the following questions:
What choices cause people to be unworthy to remain in God’s presence?
What are the consequences of their choices?
In your scripture study journal, next to the dotted line on the diagram, write: Those who do not exercise faith or repent cannot remain eternally in God’s presence.
The following shows how your diagram should look in your scripture study journal:
Review the two situations described at the beginning of this lesson. Then answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What did you learn today that could help the friend in situation 1?
What did you learn today that could help the friend in situation 2?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 29:49, and think about the Lord’s expectations for you. Make a goal to continue to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ in your life by repenting of your sins and preparing yourself to live in God’s presence once again.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 29:31–50 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: