Chapter 6: Our Premortal Life

Doctrines of the Gospel Teacher Manual, (2011), 15–17


Introduction

  1. You might begin class by singing the popular hymn “O My Father” (Hymns, 1985, no. 292), written by Eliza R. Snow, and then briefly discussing the lyrics.

  2. Consider why so many philosophers and poets have expressed a sense of existing before this life. Read to the class or make and distribute copies of the fifth stanza of William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.” Ask the students to note words or phrases that imply a belief in a premortal life.

    Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
    The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting,
    And cometh from afar:
    Not in entire forgetfulness,
    And not in utter nakedness,
    But trailing clouds of glory do we come
    From God, who is our home:
    Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
    Shades of the prison-house begin to close
    Upon the growing Boy,
    But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
    He sees it in his joy;
    The Youth, who daily farther from the east
    Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
    And by the vision splendid
    Is on his way attended;
    At length the Man perceives it die away,
    And fade into the light of common day.

Ideas for Teaching

  1. A.

    Intelligence, or the light of truth, is eternal and has always existed.

    1. Read the statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith in Supporting Statements A on page 13 of the student manual (see Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:401). Discuss Abraham 3:18 and Doctrine and Covenants 93:29. Ask the students to list what we learn about intelligence from those scriptures:

      1. 1.

        Intelligence is the light of truth.

      2. 2.

        Intelligence cannot be created.

      3. 3.

        Intelligence has always existed and will always exist.

  2. B.

    We lived as spirit children of God in a premortal existence.

    1. The greatest truth God has revealed regards his type of being and our relationship to him. Discuss the implications of the doctrine that we are children of God and that we lived with him before we came to this earth.

      Read the First Presidency’s Statement in Supporting Statements B on page 14 of the student manual (see Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund, in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:203).

    2. Read Doctrine and Covenants 138:53–56 and Abraham 3:22–25 to show that instructions and preparation for earth life began in the premortal existence, or the world of spirits. Discuss how our premortal schooling and development affect our present opportunities. Read in Supporting Statements B on pages 14–15 of the student manual President David O. McKay’s statement about our premortal advancement (see Home Memories of President David O. McKay, pp. 228–30).

  3. C.

    God the Father provided the plan of salvation whereby his spirit children could eventually become like him.

    1. Help the students understand that God the Father was the author of the plan of salvation by reading the statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in Supporting Statements C on page 15 of the student manual (see The Mortal Messiah, 1:48–49, n. 3).

    2. Using Chalkboard 1, contrast the plan of God the Father with Lucifer’s plan.

    3. Discuss Satan’s plan in the premortal existence as described by President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in Supporting Statements C on page 15 of the student manual (see Conference Report, Oct. 1949, p. 193).

Conclusion

The war in heaven has not ended; this earth is simply another battlefield. As in heaven, the contest upon the earth is for the soul of man. Discuss how knowledge of our divine origin as children of God can give us the perspective and power to overcome the adversary’s temptations. You may want to refer to the account in Moses 1:12–13 of Moses’ confrontation with Satan. Note in verse 12 that Satan addresses Moses as “son of man.” In verse 13 Moses corrects Satan by declaring himself to be “a son of God.”