According to modern prophets, Jesus Christ “taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2000, 2). In this lesson, students will learn that in pre-earth life, their faith that Jehovah (Jesus Christ) would work out the Atonement enabled them to overcome Satan in the War in Heaven. Students will also see that in the premortal world, Jehovah far excelled all of God’s children in all divine attributes.
Richard G. Scott, “Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer,” Ensign, May 1997, 53–54, 59.
Write the word war on the board, and ask students what images come to mind when they think about war. Then invite them to scan Revelation 12:7, 9 and identify the war described there (the War in Heaven). Ask students to explain their understanding of what took place in that war.
Display the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:
“What kind of war [was the War in Heaven]? The same kind that prevails on earth; the only kind Satan and spirit beings can wage—a war of words, a tumult of opinions, a conflict of ideologies; a war between truth and error” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:518).
According to Elder McConkie, how was the War in Heaven similar to the war Satan wages against God’s children in mortality?
Invite one student to read Revelation 12:10 aloud and another student to read Moses 4:3 aloud. You may want to suggest that students cross-reference these two passages by writing Moses 4:3 in the margin of their scriptures next to Revelation 12:10 and vice versa. Explain that “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10) was Satan. Then ask:
According to Moses 4:3, how was Satan cast out of the premortal world?
Ask students to read Revelation 12:11 silently. Help them to state a principle taught in this verse by asking the following questions:
How would you summarize what verse 11 teaches about the effects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ? (Students should identify the following truth: Because it was certain that Jesus Christ would complete the Atonement, its effects were already in place in the premortal world. He is thus referred to as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” [Revelation 13:8; see also Mosiah 4:7; Moses 7:47].)
How can you use what is recorded in Revelation 12:11 to help you in your personal war against Satan in this life? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: We can overcome Satan by relying on Jesus Christ, who worked out the Atonement, and by bearing and being true to our testimony.)
Tell students that in the premortal life, we prepared to come to earth. Display the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44), and ask a student to read it aloud:
“God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 210).
Follow up by asking the following questions:
What do you learn from Joseph Smith’s statement about Heavenly Father’s desires for us? (Heavenly Father wants us to advance and to develop spiritually—to become more like Him.)
Write the following questions on the board, and ask students to study Abraham 3:24–25 to discover the answers:
After sufficient time, ask students to share their answers with the class. Then invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 138:55–56 for insights into what was done to prepare God’s children to succeed in mortality. To help students liken this passage to themselves, ask:
According to these verses, how did we prepare to come to earth?
Invite students to ponder for a moment what attributes the Savior possessed in the premortal world. Invite a student to read Abraham 3:19, 21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what is taught about Jesus Christ. After students respond, give students a copy of the following statements by Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) and Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask them to read the statements and mark words and phrases that teach about the Savior:
“In intelligence and performance, [Jesus Christ] far surpasses the individual and the composite capacities and achievements of all who have lived, live now, and will yet live! (See Abr. 3:19.)” (Neal A. Maxwell, “O, Divine Redeemer,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 8).
“Being subject to law, and having their agency, all the spirits of men, while yet in the Eternal Presence, developed aptitudes, talents, capacities, and abilities of every sort, kind, and degree. During the long expanse of life which then was, an infinite variety of talents and abilities came into being. …
“The Lord endowed us all with agency; he gave us laws that would enable us to advance and progress and become like him; and he counseled and exhorted us to pursue the course leading to glory and exaltation. He himself was the embodiment and personification of all good things. Every desirable characteristic and trait dwelt in him in its eternal fulness. All of his obedient children started to become like him in one way or another. There was as great a variety and degree of talent and ability among us there as there is among us here. Some excelled in one way, others in another. The Firstborn excelled all of us in all things” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:23).
Follow up by asking students what stood out to them in these statements. If needed, ask:
What do you learn from these two Apostles about Jehovah’s unique attributes in the premortal world? (Students should understand that in the premortal world, Jehovah surpassed the composite capacities and achievements of all Heavenly Father’s children.)
Give students several minutes to ponder the Savior’s premortal ministry and write down any thoughts and feelings they have. Invite several of them to share with the class what they wrote. Conclude the lesson by encouraging students to think about how knowing about the Savior’s premortal ministry and unique attributes can help them to have greater love for and faith in Him.