Lesson 1: Our Choice to Follow Christ

"Lesson 1: Our Choice to Follow Christ," The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, (1996)


Objective

Class members will realize that they chose in pre-earth life to follow Christ and that they will want to choose again in this life to follow him.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    From parents, get a picture of each class member when he or she was very young, or learn a story about each class member’s early life.

  2. 2.

    Prepare to use the voting ballots found at the end of the lesson.

  3. 3.

    If you think there will be time, with the bishop’s or branch president’s approval, invite a member of the ward Sunday School presidency or the bishopric and a member of either the Relief Society presidency or the Young Women presidency in the ward to visit the class and briefly explain how their choice to follow the teachings of Christ has affected their lives.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Class activity and discussion

Use the pictures or stories you have collected about class members to look back in time. Talk about the way they looked and the things they did when they were very young. Try to involve every class member.

  • What if you could look back even beyond the time of your birth—back to your life with our Father in Heaven? What were some of the things you might have said and done then? (Lead the class to a discussion of how they made commitments—solemn promises—in their pre-earth life to follow Christ there and here on earth.)

In Our Premortal Life We Chose to Follow Jesus Christ

Read the following to the class:

Before we lived on this earth—before this earth was formed—we lived with our Father in Heaven. We were his spirit children. In fact, all people who have ever lived on the earth are spirit children of our Father in Heaven.

The firstborn spirit son of our Father was Jesus Christ. He was our Elder Brother. He became a member of the Godhead while he was in heaven, before he came to this earth.

Our Father in Heaven wanted all of his spirit children to become like him, their Father. His plan to help his spirit children become exalted is called the plan of salvation.

At a council in heaven the Father presented this plan. It was for us, his spirit children, to go down to earth and get a body of flesh and blood. We were to be tested while we were away from his presence, to see if we would be faithful and keep the Father’s commandments.

The plan required a savior. Heavenly Father knew that we would commit sins while we were on the earth being tested. Since nothing unholy or sinful can live in the presence of the Father, a savior was the only way we could be redeemed, allowing us to go back to Heavenly Father and become like him. A savior would atone for the sins of people who repented and obeyed the Father’s commandments.

When Heavenly Father presented the plan of salvation, he said, “Whom shall I send?” Jesus said, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27). But another of Heavenly Father’s spirit children, named Lucifer, said, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27). He said, “Send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). But Jesus said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2).

Heavenly Father said, “I will send the first” (Abraham 3:27). Then Lucifer became angry. He rebelled against God, “and, at that day, many followed after him” (Abraham 3:28). The Lord told Joseph Smith that “a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me” (D&C 29:36).

All the faithful children stood on the side of our Father in Heaven and Jesus and against Lucifer and the spirits who followed Lucifer (see Revelation 12:7).

Lucifer was cast out of heaven to earth, and he was called Satan, the devil. All the spirits who sided with him against Heavenly Father and Christ were also cast out of heaven to earth with him (see Revelation 12:9).

Everyone born on this earth chose to follow Heavenly Father and Christ rather than the devil. The devil and all the spirits who were cast out of heaven to earth with him will never get bodies, and they will never return to our Father in Heaven.

We, on the other hand, chose to follow Christ and are on this earth with physical bodies. We can return to our Father in Heaven if we continue to follow Christ.

Now that we are here on the earth we are still in the war against Satan. How do we stand for Christ and against Satan? It is by the things we think and say and do. It is by the friends we choose, the movies we watch, the words we say, the service we give to other people. It is by the way we keep the Word of Wisdom, pay our tithing, attend our meetings, honor the priesthood, obey our parents, and keep all the commandments of God.

Thought questions

  • What will you choose? Will you choose to follow Christ now, as you did when you were in heaven? Will you choose to stand against the devil now, as you did in heaven?

The World Is Filled with Trials and Temptations

Scripture discussion

Read and discuss with the class the following scriptures and the teachings of President Ezra Taft Benson:

  1. A.

    Doctrine and Covenants 1:35.

  2. B.

    Revelation 12:17.

  3. C.

    2 Timothy 3:1–7.

  4. D.

    2 Timothy 3:13.

  5. E.

    Ezra Taft Benson: “As I have sought direction from the Lord, I have had reaffirmed in my mind and heart the declaration of the Lord to ‘say nothing but repentance unto this generation.’ (D&C 6:9; 11:9.) This has been a theme of every latter-day prophet, along with their testimony that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.

    “Repentance was the cry of our late and great prophet, Spencer W. Kimball. This theme permeated his talks and the pages of his writings, such as his marvelous book The Miracle of Forgiveness.And it must be our cry today, both to member and to nonmember alike—repent.

    “Watchmen—what of the night? We must respond by saying that all is not well in Zion. As Moroni counseled, we must cleanse the inner vessel (see Alma 60:23), beginning first with ourselves, then with our families, and finally with the Church” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, p. 3; or Ensign, May 1986, p. 4).

Activity

Tell the class members that every day almost everything we say or do is a choice to follow Christ or to follow Satan. These choices are like daily votes for good or evil.

Hand out and discuss the ballots you have prepared. Ask the class members what each choice is a vote for.

Class visitors

Ask your adult guests to discuss how the choice to follow Christ has influenced their lives.

Testimony and Challenge

Tell the class members that all the prophets and apostles have testified of Jesus Christ. Read Ether 12:41; then read the testimony of President Spencer W. Kimball:

“To the testimonies of these mighty men and apostles of old—our brethren in the ministry of the same Master—I add my own testimony. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

“He is my friend, my Savior, my Lord, my God” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1978, p. 110; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 73).

Challenge the class to choose to follow Christ in this life, just as they chose to follow him in the premortal existence. They can choose to follow Christ by choosing the right, and not choosing evil, in the choices they make every day.

Bear your testimony to the class.