Lesson 6: The Family Is Central to Heavenly Father’s Plan

The Eternal Family Teacher Manual, 2015


Introduction

Modern prophets and apostles have proclaimed that “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). This lesson will help students see that by being “more diligent and concerned at home” (D&C 93:50) they can make their families more central in their lives.

Background Reading

  • Robert D. Hales, “The Eternal Family,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 64–67.

  • David A. Bednar, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 17–20.

  • Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 1.1.1, 1.1.4, and 1.4.1 (if available).

Suggestions for Teaching

The family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan

Mention to your class that of all the topics addressed in recent general conferences, the family is among the topics most frequently discussed.

  • Why do you think Church leaders speak about the family so frequently?

Write the following truth from the family proclamation on the board, and ask students to share what it means to them:

“The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”

handout iconTo help students better understand how the family is central to our eternal destiny, distribute copies of the handout found at the end of this lesson. Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group to read one of the three sections of the handout and to discuss the questions included. Make sure each section is assigned.

After sufficient time, invite at least one person assigned to each section of the handout to share an overview of their small-group discussion with the class. Testify of the following truth: The family is a central part of God’s plan for premortal, mortal, and eternal life.

  • What experiences have helped you feel the central importance of the family in Heavenly Father’s plan?

Doctrine and Covenants 93:39–50

Making the family a priority

Prepare students to learn from Doctrine and Covenants 93 by explaining that this section records, among other things, the Lord’s instruction about the importance of bringing up children in “light and truth” and making our families a priority. Write the following references on the board:

Ask students to read at least one of the references (make sure each reference is read by at least one student). Ask students to look for whom the Lord was addressing and what instruction He gave. After sufficient time, ask students to report what they learned. Make sure that students recognize that the four men addressed were the First Presidency and the bishop of the Church in Ohio; thus, these scriptures remind all Church members, even those in leadership positions, to make their families a priority. You might suggest to students that they mark the repetition or pattern found in these verses—Church members should “set in order” their families (see verses 43, 44, and 50).

  • According to verses 42, 48, and 50, what can we do to help set our families in order? (Students should identify the following: teach children light and truth, repent, forsake unrighteous things, be more diligent and concerned at home, and pray always.)

Write the following principle on the board: We help fulfill the Lord’s commandment to set our families in order when we are more diligent and concerned at home.

  • What can a young adult do to be more diligent and concerned at home?

Display the following statement from a letter written by the First Presidency in 1999, and ask a student to read it aloud:

“The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility.

“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform” (First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999, quoted in Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 1.4.1).

  • In your experience, what are some “essential functions” and “divinely-appointed duties” that are best performed in the family?

Display the following statement, and encourage students to consider the blessings that come when each family member seeks to fulfill divinely appointed family duties:

“Wherever Church members live, they should establish a home where the Spirit is present. …

“A home with loving and loyal parents is the setting in which the spiritual and physical needs of children are most effectively met. A Christ-centered home offers adults and children a place of defense against sin, refuge from the world, healing from emotional and other pain, and committed, genuine love” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 1.4.1).

  • How do you help create a Christ-centered home for your family?

  • What difference does it make in your family?

Display the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and ask a student to read it aloud:

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“Put everything you do outside the home in subjection to and in support of what happens inside your home. Remember President Harold B. Lee’s counsel that ‘the most important … work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes’ … and President David O. McKay’s timeless ‘No other success can compensate for failure in the home’” (“That the Lost May Be Found,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 99).

Give students a moment to write down a few things they could do to be more diligent and concerned at home and to make their family more of a central focus in their lives. Encourage students to make a goal to follow through with one idea they have written. Testify that as students act on their goal, the Lord will strengthen them spiritually and help them see how their actions also strengthen their families.

Student Readings

Our Premortal, Mortal, and Eternal Families

Our Premortal Family

“The family is ordained of God. It is the most important unit in time and in eternity. Even before we were born on the earth, we were part of a family. Each of us ‘is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents’ with ‘a divine nature and destiny’ [‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World,’ Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129]. God is our Heavenly Father, and we lived in His presence as part of His family in the premortal life. There we learned our first lessons and were prepared for mortality (see D&C 138:56)” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 1.1.1).

“We worship the great God who created the universe. He is our Father in heaven. We came into being because of him; we are his spirit children. We dwelt with him in a premortal life in a family relationship. We knew him as intimately and as well as we know our mortal fathers in this sphere of existence” (Bruce R. McConkie, How to Worship, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [July 20, 1971], 2).

Discussion questions:

  • How was the family a central part of our premortal life?

  • How is it helpful to know that God is your Father and that you were a beloved member of His family in the premortal world?

  • What do you imagine your interaction with your Heavenly Parents was like?

Our Mortal Family

“As part of our Heavenly Father’s plan, we were born into families. He established families to bring us happiness, to help us learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and to prepare us for eternal life.

“Parents have the vital responsibility to help their children prepare to return to Heavenly Father. Parents fulfill this responsibility by teaching their children to follow Jesus Christ and live His gospel” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 1.1.4).

“God is the designer of the family. He intended that the greatest of happiness, the most satisfying aspects of life, the deepest joys should come in our associations together and our concerns one for another as fathers and mothers and children” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “What God Hath Joined Together,” Ensign, May 1991, 74).

Discussion questions:

  • In what ways is the family a central part of our mortal lives?

  • How might life on earth be different if we had been sent to earth as individuals without family relationships—no father, mother, siblings, ancestors, or posterity?

  • What experiences have helped you understand the role and importance of the mortal family?

Our Eternal Family

“The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

“While our individual salvation is based on our individual obedience, it is equally important that we understand that we are each an important and integral part of a family and the highest blessings can be received only within an eternal family. When families are functioning as designed by God, the relationships found therein are the most valued of mortality. The plan of the Father is that family love and companionship will continue into the eternities. Being one in a family carries a great responsibility of caring, loving, lifting, and strengthening each member of the family so that all can righteously endure to the end in mortality and dwell together throughout eternity. It is not enough just to save ourselves. It is equally important that parents, brothers, and sisters are saved in our families. If we return home alone to our Heavenly Father, we will be asked, ‘Where is the rest of the family?’ This is why we teach that families are forever. The eternal nature of an individual becomes the eternal nature of the family” (Robert D. Hales, “The Eternal Family,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 65).

Discussion questions:

  • In what ways is the family a central part of our eternal destiny?

  • What are some righteous actions family members could take to help bring about one another’s salvation?

  • When has a family member lifted or strengthened you in a way that inspired you to endure to the end?

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