Lesson 4: The Family and the Great Plan of Happiness

The Eternal Family Teacher Manual, 2015


Introduction

With the creation of Adam and Eve, the human family was established on earth. The Fall of Adam and Eve made it possible for children to be brought into the world, and the Atonement in turn enables us to overcome the negative effects of the Fall. This lesson will help students better understand how the Creation, Fall, and Atonement work together for the salvation of families.

Background Reading

  • M. Russell Ballard, “The Atonement and the Value of One Soul,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 84–87.

  • Julie B. Beck, “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Ensign, Mar. 2011, 12–17.

Suggestions for Teaching

Moses 1:27–39; Doctrine and Covenants 49:15–17

Moses learned the purpose of the earth’s creation

Bring a small container of sand and a glass of water to class. Invite a student to dip a finger into the water and then into the sand. Then ask the student to estimate how many grains of sand are stuck to the finger.

  • How many grains of sand do you think are in the container of sand? On the shores of the seas?

Ask students to turn to Moses 1, which records a series of visions that Moses beheld. Ask a student to read aloud Moses 1:27–29, and invite students to look for what the Lord showed Moses.

  • According to these verses, what did Moses see in vision?

  • What thoughts might you have had if you had experienced this vision?

Ask students to read Moses 1:30 and mark the two questions Moses asked the Lord (why and how the earth and its inhabitants were created). Help students develop their personal scripture study skills by encouraging them to look for questions and their answers in the scriptures as they study.

Invite students to read Moses 1:31–33 and look for how the Lord answered Moses’s two questions.

  • According to verse 31, why did God create the world?

  • What doctrine do verses 32–33 teach about how Heavenly Father created worlds? (Students should identify the following doctrine: Under the direction of the Father, Jesus Christ created the earth and worlds without number.)

Invite students to read Moses 1:36–39 and identify Moses’s additional desire and the Lord’s response.

  • What was Heavenly Father’s purpose in creating the earth and its inhabitants? (Students should identify the following doctrine: The earth was created to help bring about the immortality and eternal life of man. Note that immortality is living forever in a resurrected state, while eternal life is living as God lives, meaning living forever as part of an eternal family.)

  • How does the creation of the earth help fulfill Heavenly Father’s work and glory? (Use Doctrine and Covenants 49:15–17 to show that the earth was created as a mortal dwelling place for families.)

Testify that the earth was created to help bring about the immortality and eternal life of God’s children. The family unit is designed to help us attain eternal life, which means that we live forever as part of an eternal family—the life that God lives.

2 Nephi 2:19–25; Moses 3:16–17; 5:9–11

The Fall of Adam and Eve was an essential part of God’s plan

Explain that God gave Adam and Eve specific instructions in the Garden of Eden. Ask students to silently read Moses 3:16–17, and then ask:

  • What did the Lord say would happen to Adam and Eve if they ate the forbidden fruit?

Explain that when Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit they brought upon humankind two kinds of death.

Write the following on the board:

Spiritual death = separation from God

Physical death = separation of the spirit and the physical body

Invite students to study 2 Nephi 2:19–25 and make a list of additional consequences of the Fall.

  • How did partaking of the forbidden fruit enable Adam and Eve and all humankind to become more like Heavenly Father?

Display the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“The Fall was an essential part of Heavenly Father’s divine plan. Without it no mortal children would have been born to Adam and Eve, and there would have been no human family to experience opposition and growth, moral agency, and the joy of resurrection, redemption, and eternal life” (“The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Mar. 2008, 35).

Read Moses 5:9–11 with students. Help them state the truths recorded in these verses by asking:

  • What truths did Adam and Eve learn after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden? (Students should understand the following truths: Because of the Fall, Adam and Eve could bear children and their posterity could progress toward eternal life.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask students to look for reasons why we were excited to come to earth:

Elder Richard G. Scott

“One of the most exhilarating moments of your life—when you were filled with anticipation, excitement, and gratitude—you are not able to remember. That experience occurred in the premortal life when you were informed that finally your time had come to leave the spirit world to dwell on earth with a mortal body. You knew you could learn through personal experience the lessons that would bring happiness on earth, lessons that would eventually lead you to exaltation and eternal life as a glorified, celestial being in the presence of your Holy Father and His Beloved Son” (“First Things First,” Ensign, May 2001, 6).

  • How does understanding the purposes of the Fall and mortality affect the choices you make in this life?

2 Nephi 9:6–12

The Atonement overcomes the effects of the Fall

Read aloud the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“This past January our family suffered the tragic loss of our grandson Nathan in an airplane crash. Nathan had served in the Russian-speaking Baltic Mission. He loved the people and knew it was a privilege to serve the Lord. Three months after I officiated at his eternal marriage to his sweetheart, Jennifer, this accident took his life” (“The Atonement and the Value of One Soul,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 84).

Explain that because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, all of us are subject to unfortunate and tragic experiences such as the one that occurred in Elder Ballard’s family. Fortunately, Heavenly Father has provided a way for the effects of the Fall to be overcome.

Invite students to study 2 Nephi 9:6–12, looking for how the Atonement of Jesus Christ can help each of us overcome physical and spiritual death. You might encourage students to consider marking key words and phrases in their scriptures as they read. Then invite students to share their findings.

  • What doctrine do these verses teach about the relationship between the Fall of Adam and the Atonement of Jesus Christ? (Ensure that students understand the following: The Atonement of Jesus Christ provides the way for all of Heavenly Father’s children to overcome both physical and spiritual death. You might encourage students to note the frequent scriptural connection between the Fall and the Atonement as they study their scriptures. Consider sharing this quotation: “A connection is a relationship or link between ideas, people, things or events. … Prayerfully identifying, learning about, and pondering such connections … yields inspired insights and treasures of hidden knowledge” [David A. Bednar, “A Reservoir of Living Water” (Church Educational System fireside for young adults, Feb. 4, 2007), 4, lds.org/media-library].)

Ask a student to read aloud the following, which is a continuation of the statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard:

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“Nathan’s being taken so suddenly from our mortal presence has turned each of our hearts and minds to the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. …

“The Savior’s precious birth, life, Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering on the cross, burial in Joseph’s tomb, and glorious Resurrection all became a renewed reality for us. The Savior’s Resurrection assures all of us that someday we, too, will follow Him and experience our own resurrection. What peace, what comfort this great gift is which comes through the loving grace of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. Because of Him we know we can be with Nathan again” (“The Atonement and the Value of One Soul,” 84).

  • How does the response of Elder Ballard’s family to the death of their family member illustrate how the Atonement of Jesus Christ can help families cope with the universal effects of the Fall?

  • What does the Atonement make possible for Nathan’s family and for each of our families in eternity?

Allow students a moment to ponder the following question before calling on them to respond:

  • In what ways has the Atonement of Christ helped your family overcome some of the effects of the Fall? (As part of the discussion, explain that only those who have been made perfect through the power of Jesus Christ’s Atonement will be able to live together eternally in marriages and families.)

Conclude by displaying and inviting a student to read this statement by Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society general president:

Julie B. Beck

© Busath.com

“In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a theology of the family that is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live. God created a man and a woman who were the two essential halves of a family. It was part of Heavenly Father’s plan that Adam and Eve be sealed and form an eternal family.

“The Fall provided a way for the family to grow. Adam and Eve were family leaders who chose to have a mortal experience. The Fall made it possible for them to have sons and daughters.

“The Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together eternally. It allows for families to have eternal growth and perfection. The plan of happiness, also called the plan of salvation, was a plan created for families” (“Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Ensign, Mar. 2011, 12).

Encourage students to ponder their testimonies of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement and what they can do to invite the power of the Atonement to be a greater force in their own lives and in the lives of their families.

Student Readings