To help class members understand the doctrine of foreordination and their own responsibility to help build up the kingdom of God and bring souls to Christ.
Prayerfully study the following scriptures from the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants:
Abraham 3:11–12, 22–23; Doctrine and Covenants 138:53–57. Abraham talks with the Lord face to face and learns that in the premortal life many “noble and great” spirits were foreordained to their mortal missions (Abraham 3:11–12, 22–23). President Joseph F. Smith learns more about the “noble and great ones” in a vision of the Savior’s visit to the spirit world before His Resurrection (D&C 138:53–57).
Abraham 3:24–28; Moses 4:1–4. Abraham and Moses are shown in vision that Jesus Christ was chosen in the Council in Heaven to be our Savior and that we chose to follow him. They are also shown that Lucifer (Satan) and the spirits who followed him were cast out of heaven.
Suggested Lesson Development
You may want to use one of the following activities (or one of your own) to begin the lesson. Select the activity that would be most appropriate for the class.
Point out that the scriptures become more meaningful to us when we apply their teachings in our lives. To do this, often we must put ourselves in the place of ancient prophets and their followers. However, in Abraham 3:22–28 we do not have to put ourselves in someone else’s place because these verses are about important events in which we participated. These events took place during our premortal life.
Draw 14 blank spaces on the chalkboard to represent the 14 letters in the word foreordination. Explain that the word represented by these spaces relates to the premortal life.
Give class members 14 chances to guess which letters form the word. When they guess a correct letter, write it in the appropriate space or spaces. When they guess a letter not used in the word, write it elsewhere on the chalkboard to prevent duplicate guesses.
When class members have filled in all the blank spaces or guessed the word, help them define its meaning. (Foreordination is God’s premortal ordination of his spirit children to fulfill certain missions during their mortal lives.) Explain that this lesson is about the premortal life, when many spirits were foreordained to do important things for Heavenly Father.
Scripture Discussion and Application
As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. Abraham learns that in the premortal life many spirits were foreordained to their mortal missions.
In the vision recorded in Abraham 3, the Lord showed Abraham the Council in Heaven that was held before the earth was created. (Note that latter-day prophets have indicated that the Council in Heaven was a series of meetings rather than a single meeting.) Who was present at this council? (Heavenly Father and his spirit children.) What do we learn about this council from Abraham 3:22–23?
Who are the “noble and great ones” described in Abraham 3:22–23? (The prophets and other Church leaders.) Explain that in 1918, President Joseph F. Smith saw some of these “noble and great ones” in a vision of the spirit world. Whom did President Smith see? (See D&C 138:53; see also the second additional teaching idea.)
What does it mean that Abraham was “chosen before [he was] born”? (See Abraham 3:23. He was foreordained to be a prophet.) What does it mean to be foreordained? (See the definition in the second attention activity.) What were the people mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 138:53 foreordained to do? (See D&C 138:53–56.)
Did foreordination guarantee that Abraham, Joseph Smith, and others would become prophets? What is the relationship between foreordination and agency? (Even though a person is foreordained to a calling, that calling is dependent on the person’s worthiness and willingness to accept it.)
In addition to foreordaining the prophets to their callings, God foreordained many “other choice spirits” to help build up his kingdom in different ways. What might we have been foreordained to do? (See D&C 138:56.)
President Ezra Taft Benson taught:
“God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the second coming of the Lord. Some individuals will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head—even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God has saved for the final inning some of His strongest children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. …
“… Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of us” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , 104–5).
How can we be sure that we are fulfilling our foreordained callings? (Answers may include by living the gospel, studying our patriarchal blessings, and seeking personal revelation. Remind class members that to fulfill these callings, we must be willing and worthy. See also D&C 58:27–28.)
2. Jesus Christ was chosen in the Council in Heaven to be our Savior; we chose to follow him. Lucifer (Satan) and the spirits who followed him were cast out of heaven.
Explain that in the Council in Heaven, Heavenly Father presented his plan of salvation and chose a Savior for us. Who were the two spirits who offered to be our Savior? (See Abraham 3:27; Moses 4:1–2.) How did their offers differ? (Jesus wanted to follow Heavenly Father’s plan and give him the glory. Lucifer wanted to follow his own plan and take the glory for himself.) Why did Heavenly Father choose Jesus Christ to be our Redeemer? (See Moses 4:2–3.)
Whom did we choose to follow in the Council in Heaven? How do we know we chose to follow Jesus Christ? (We have been born on earth to receive physical bodies.)
What do the terms first estate and second estate mean in Abraham 3:26? (First estate refers to the premortal life, and second estate refers to our mortal life. We kept our first estate by choosing to follow Jesus Christ instead of Lucifer.) What blessing did we each receive because we kept our first estate? (The opportunity to be born on earth.) What blessings will we receive if we keep our second estate? (See Abraham 3:26.) How can we keep our second estate?
What happened to Lucifer (Satan) and those who chose to follow him? (They were cast out of heaven and denied the opportunity to have physical bodies. See Moses 4:3; Abraham 3:28; Revelation 12:7–9; D&C 29:36–37.)
What are Satan and his followers doing now? (They are still trying to destroy our agency. They are on the earth today as evil spirits who tempt us to sin. See Moses 4:4.) What are some ways that Satan and his followers try to limit or destroy our agency? What can we do to recognize and resist their efforts?
How does it help you to know that you chose to follow Jesus Christ in the Council in Heaven? Encourage class members to continue making decisions to follow Christ, as they did in the premortal existence.
Bear testimony of Jesus Christ and his role as our foreordained Savior. Express your confidence in class members’ ability to fulfill their foreordained missions to help build up the kingdom of God.
Additional Teaching Ideas
The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.
1. “And we will prove them herewith”
Abraham 3:24–25 specifies one of the main purposes for which Jesus Christ, under the direction of Heavenly Father, created the earth. Why was the earth created? How does it help you to know that you chose to come to earth knowing that you would be tested here?
2. “The great and mighty ones”
In his vision recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 138, President Joseph F. Smith also saw some of the “great and mighty ones” who had lived on the earth before Christ was born. Whom did President Smith see? (See D&C 138:38–49. You may want to list these names on the chalkboard. Point out that class members will learn about most of these individuals during the coming year in Sunday School.)