Unit 1, Day 1: The Plan of Salvation

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2016


Introduction

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance of a brief overview of the plan of salvation at the beginning of each year of seminary:

President Boyd K. Packer

“A brief overview of the ‘plan of happiness’ … , if given at the very beginning and revisited occasionally, will be of immense value to … students. …

“Young people wonder ‘why?’—Why are we commanded to do some things, and why are we commanded not to do other things? A knowledge of the plan of happiness, even in outline form, can give young minds a ‘why’” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” in Teaching Seminary: Preservice Readings [Church Educational System manual, 2004], 69–70, LDS.org; see Alma 12:32).

This lesson provides a brief overview of the plan of salvation and focuses on the central role of Jesus Christ and His Atonement in that plan.

Jesus Christ’s Role in the Premortal Life

How would you respond if someone asked you why Jesus Christ is important to you?

In today’s lesson you will learn about the role of Jesus Christ in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. As you study, look for truths that can help to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ.

  1. journal icon1.

    Draw the following chart in your scripture study journal. You will be writing doctrines in your chart as you study this lesson.

    Jesus Christ is Central to Heavenly Father’s Plan of Salvation

    Premortal Life

    Mortal Life

    Postmortal Life

       

Heavenly Father’s plan for our salvation consists of three main stages: our premortal life, which preceded our physical birth; our mortal life; and our postmortal life.

Read the following statement, and mark the words or phrases that describe the limitations we experienced in our premortal life:

“We lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before we were born on this earth [see Acts 17:28–29; Abraham 3:22–26]. We were not, however, like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body.

“God’s whole purpose—His work and His glory—is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings [see Moses 1:39]. He has provided a perfect plan to accomplish His purpose. We understood and accepted this plan before we came to the earth. …

“… In order to progress and become like God, each of us had to obtain a body and be tested during a time of probation on the earth” (Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service [2004], 48–49).

As Heavenly Father presented His plan of happiness, we learned that a savior would be required to carry out this plan. Lucifer, one of Heavenly Father’s spirit children, rebelled against Heavenly Father’s plan. He became known as Satan.

Read Moses 4:1–3, looking for what Satan demanded of Heavenly Father.

What did Satan demand of Heavenly Father? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

In Moses 4:2 we learn that Jesus Christ was the one chosen from the beginning to do the will of Heavenly Father. On your chart, in the “Premortal Life” column, write the following doctrine we learn from this passage: Jesus Christ was chosen in the premortal life to be the Redeemer of mankind.

After Jesus Christ was chosen to carry out Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, an earth needed to be created where we could obtain a physical body and gain experience.

Read Hebrews 1:1–2, looking for Jesus Christ’s role in the creation of the earth.

From these verses we learn the following doctrine: Under the direction of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created this earth. Write this doctrine in the “Premortal Life” column on your chart in your scripture study journal.

mountain lake
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    Think about the earth’s beauty and about times when and places where you have truly appreciated it. In your scripture study journal, respond to the following:

    1. a.

      Describe a time when you appreciated the beauty of the earth.

    2. b.

      How does knowing that Jesus Christ created this earth affect your feelings about Him?

Jesus Christ’s Role in Mortal Life

After coming to earth and gaining a physical body, we experience other obstacles that would prevent us from becoming like Heavenly Father and returning to His presence. Two of those obstacles are physical death and spiritual death. Physical death is the separation of our body and our spirit, and spiritual death is our separation from God. Read the following statement, and mark the words or phrases that describe these two obstacles we experience during our mortal life:

“In mortality we live in a condition where we are subject to both physical and spiritual death. God has a perfect, glorified, immortal body of flesh and bones. To become like God and return to His presence, we too must have a perfect, immortal body of flesh and bones. However, because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, every person on earth has an imperfect, mortal body and will eventually die. If not for the Savior Jesus Christ, death would end all hope for a future existence with Heavenly Father.

“Along with physical death, sin is a major obstacle that keeps us from becoming like our Father in Heaven and returning to His presence. In our mortal condition we often yield to temptation, break God’s commandments, and sin. … Although it sometimes appears otherwise, sin always leads to unhappiness. Sin causes feelings of guilt and shame. Because of our sins, we are unable to return to live with Heavenly Father unless we are first forgiven and cleansed.

“… As with physical death, we cannot overcome the effects of sin by ourselves. We are helpless without the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (Preach My Gospel, 50).

Before Jesus was born on earth, after Joseph learned that Mary was expecting a child, an angel visited him in a dream. Read Matthew 1:21, looking for what the angel proclaimed to Joseph.

From what the angel said Jesus would do, we learn that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins. Write this doctrine in the “Mortal Life” column on your chart.

We can be saved from our sins because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement. The Atonement includes Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and Resurrection.

Christ in Gethsemane, Crucifixion, resurrected Christ

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

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    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      What must we do to be saved from our sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

    2. b.

      According to Acts 2:32, what else must we do?

Jesus Christ’s Role in the Postmortal Life

Have you ever lost a beloved family member or friend to death?

Because of our knowledge of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, we know that at death the spirits of all people enter the spirit world.

Read 1 Peter 3:18–20 and 1 Peter 4:6, looking for what Jesus did immediately following His death.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 138:18–19, 30–32, looking for what Jesus Christ did to allow the gospel to be preached to everyone in the spirit world. (Doctrine and Covenants 138 is a revelation about the spirit world received by President Joseph F. Smith while he was pondering the Savior’s visit to the spirits of the dead while His body was in the tomb.)

Summarize what Jesus Christ did to allow the gospel to be preached to everyone in the spirit world: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Savior was resurrected on the third day after His death (see 1 Corinthians 15:4). When a person is resurrected, his or her spirit and physical body are reunited, never to be separated again (see D&C 138:17).

Jesus Christ with Mary

The resurrected Lord

Read 1 Corinthians 15:20–22, looking for how Jesus Christ’s Resurrection affects each of us.

On your chart, in the “Postmortal Life” column, write the following doctrine: Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected.

Read Revelation 20:12, looking for what will happen to each of us after we are resurrected.

The book of life can represent a person’s thoughts and actions in this life, as well as the record kept in heaven of the righteous (see Bible Dictionary, “Book of life”). We are judged not only according to our works but also our thoughts, words, and desires (see Mosiah 4:30; Alma 12:14; D&C 137:9).

Read John 5:22, looking for who will judge us. (You may want to write John 5:22 in the margin of your scriptures near Revelation 20:12.)

On your chart, in the “Postmortal Life” column, write the following doctrine: Jesus Christ will judge all mankind.

The ultimate purpose of Heavenly Father’s plan is to provide all of His children an opportunity to obtain eternal life, or exaltation, which means to become like Heavenly Father and live with Him forever in eternal families. Consider your family now and the family you hope to have one day.

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    In your scripture study journal, write why it is important for you to be able to live with Heavenly Father and your family members forever.

Read John 3:5, 16–17, looking for what each of us must do to receive eternal (or everlasting) life.

To believe in the Only Begotten Son means to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and live according to His gospel.

On your chart, in the “Postmortal Life” column, write the following principle: If we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and live according to His gospel, then we can receive eternal life.

  1. journal icon5.

    Think again about the question asked at the beginning of the lesson: “How would you respond if someone asked you why Jesus Christ is important to you?” In your scripture study journal, write your answer to this question based on what you learned and felt during your study today.

Consider using the chart you created in your scripture study journal to teach your family or others about Jesus Christ’s role in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation.

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    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied “The Plan of Salvation” lesson and completed it on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: