February 2014 Relief Society Lesson
The Plan of Salvation
I had an epiphany this month. I have come to understand that every lesson we will have this year is about learning to know and understand the love our Father in Heaven has for us. The first thing that missionaries teach is that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us. If we know that he loves us, we will trust him and obey his commandments. If we know that he loves us we will see value in ourselves and others. If we know that he loves us we will accept his will. We will have more patience in our trials, having faith that Father knows what we need and how to mold us into that person. We will judge each other less because we will know that Father loves that person as much as he loves us. We will have a greater appreciation for our blessings, knowing that they come from Him. We must learn to know that he loves us! It is essential for us to know that. If we haven’t felt that from a parent, translate what you feel for your children or spouse or anyone else that you love dearly. We must learn to know and feel his love. I have come to believe that this knowledge makes possible a greater testimony, greater faith, greater love for each other.
In the book, True to the Faith we learn the definition of the Plan of Salvation
In the premortal existence, Heavenly Father prepared a plan to enable us to become like Him and receive a fullness of joy. The scriptures refer to this plan as the plan of salvation, the great plan of happiness, the plan of redemption and the plan of mercy.
The plan of salvation is the fullness of the gospel. It includes the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and all the laws, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel Moral agency, the ability to choose and act for ourselves, is also essential in Heavenly Fathers plan. Because of this plan, we can be perfected through the Atonement, receive a fullness of joy, and live forever in the presence of God. Our family relationships can last throughout the eternities.
You are a participant in Heavenly Father’s plan, and your eternal experience can be divided into three main parts; premortal life, mortal life, and life after death. As you come to understand the plan, you find answers to questions asked by so many: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go after this life?
So first question – Where did we come from?
Lets read the premortal section of the plan of salvation
Before you were born on the earth, you lived in the presence of your Heavenly Father as one of His spirit children. In this premortal existence, you attended a council with Heavenly Father’s other spirit children. At that council Heavenly Father presented His great plan of happiness.
In harmony with the plan of happiness, the premortal Jesus Christ, the Firstborn Son of the Father in the spirit, covenanted to be the Savior. Those who followed Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were permitted to come to the earth to experience mortality and progress toward eternal life. Lucifer, another spirit son of God, rebelled against the plan and sought to destroy the agency of man. He became Satan, and he and his followers were cast out of heaven and denied the privileges of receiving a physical body and experiencing mortality.
Throughout your premortal life, you developed your identity and increased your spiritual capabilities. Blessed with the gift of agency, you made important decisions, such as the decision to follow Heavenly Father’s plan. These decisions affected your life then and now. You grew in intelligence and learned to love the truth, and you prepared to come to the earth, where you could continue to progress.
Lets talk about agency
Agency was a gift that was given to us in the premortal world. Heavenly Father created us as agents who act, not as objects that are acted upon. This principle applies to all aspects of our mortal lives, including our efforts to learn the gospel.
We each have to learn the gospel for ourselves, no one can learn it for us and no matter how much we would like to we cannot give our learning to someone else. Learning the gospel is meant to be an active experience not a passive one. When we exercise our agency to seek the truth the Lord blesses us with increased light and knowledge.
Lets look up some scriptures to help us learn how to actively participate in learning.
John 7:17 (we must do Heavenly Fathers will to know His doctrine)
James 1:22 (Be doers of the word, not hearers only)
1Nephi 10:19 (If we diligently seek truth, we will find it)
D&C 50:24 (when we receive truth and act on it, we receive more truth)
D&C 88:118 (we seek learning by study and by faith)
Nephi was a prime example of learning for himself. His father had a vision of the tree of life, the iron rod, Nephi wanted to know for himself what the vision meant and how it applied. He asked! He studied it out in his mind, then he prayed and asked to know. He was granted the privilege of seeing the vision himself and because of his desire to know he asked questions, like, what does this mean?
Joseph Smith is also a great example of doing the work, and then asking to know. He read in the book of John, if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and he took it to heart. He first did the work, he prayed, he studied, he chose an appropriate time and place to ask. He really wanted to know, he expected to have a spiritual experience, so he chose a private place and a space of time where he wouldn’t be interrupted. Then he went to the grove and asked his question.
Can we do this? We study, we learn, we ask, the knowledge is given and testimonies grow.
Lets read the mortal life portion of the plan of salvation
You are now experiencing mortal life. Your spirit is united with your body, giving you opportunities to grow and develop in ways that were not possible in your premortal life. This part of your existence is a time of learning in which you can prove yourself, choose to come unto Christ, and prepare to be worthy of eternal life. It is also a time when you can help others find the truth and gain a testimony of the plan of salvation.
Why is learning an important part of Heavenly Father’s plan?
In order to live it or teach it, you must know it!
Why do we have lessons on the same subjects over and over in our lives?
We learn from the scriptures that if we are obedient and teachable, we will continue to learn throughout our lives, and that the Lord wants us to learn so that we can magnify our callings
Lets read – 2Nephi 28:27-30 and D&C 98:11-12
We learn line upon line, however
Each time we learn something, we learn more or something different
Lets read the life after death part
When you die, your spirit will enter the spirit world and await the resurrection. At the time of the resurrection, your spirit and body will reunite, and you will be judged and received into a kingdom of glory. The glory you inherit will depend on the depth of your conversion and your obedience to the Lord’s commandments. It will depend on the manner in which you have received the testimony of Jesus.
Have you heard of the Doctrine of Christ?
The “doctrine of Christ” is that all men everywhere must have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. The doctrine of Christ is the only way to be saved in the kingdom of God. It is the foundation of the church and the central message of its missionaries.
The 4th article of faith is………
We believe the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are, first faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second, repentance, third baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
That is the doctrine of Christ, that is the beginning of a testimony, it could not be more simple! So the glory we receive after this life depends on our knowing, learning, understanding and living the doctrine of Christ.
Once we know these things we need to teach them, who do we teach? What opportunities have you had to teach? Who were your most effective teachers?
(One sister shared her experience when she was 12 at a Family Home Evening with her Aunt. Her Uncle had just passed away and her Aunt expressed how she was now going through the only test of this life that would cause her to question her faith. But she bore testimony of the atonement and how it wasn’t just for sin but as part of the plan it provided her with salve for her heart and soul and through this test she had learned how much her Father in Heaven loved her)
(Another sister of a handicapped child talked about how she had been taught by the missionaries about the special spirit her daughter was. That her life was not a punishment but a blessing. She later used that same lesson to help a young single mother who had become quite bitter at being punished by the handicap of her child. She watched over the years as this mother changed her life and her spirit as she came to understand that she and her child were loved by God)
Lets read about the blessings we receive through knowledge of the plan
A testimony of the plan of salvation can give you hope and purpose as you wrestle with the challenges of life. You can find reassurance in the knowledge that you are a child of God and that you lived in His presence before you were born on the earth. You can find meaning in your present life, knowing that your actions during mortality influence your eternal destiny. With this knowledge, you can base important decisions on eternal truths rather than on the changing circumstances of life. You can continually improve your relationship with family members, rejoicing in the promise that your family can be eternal. You can find joy in your testimony of the Atonement and the Lord’s commandments, ordinances, covenants, and doctrines, knowing that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.
Serious blessings! That paragraph needs to be read and reread until we have it burned on our minds and memories.
Ok, it’s been a big lesson, lots to learn and remember, and after all of this we know that we are commanded to teach one another. How can we feel like we know enough to even try?
Show dvd of Elder Neil L Anderson – you know enough
We can learn through music, we discussed last time the importance of the hymns in our life and the things we can learn from them. We know the spirit can speak to us through music, we know we can find peace there. The first presidency has told us in the preface to the hymnbook the importance of good and sacred music in our meetings and in our homes. I think we all know the basics of it. So this week we are going to just feel it. I’ve asked Connie Whitney and Alison Hardy to play the closing hymn for us so that we can have some sacred music to end with that will help us to digest all that we have learned today.
(My daughter Alison played the violin and Sister Whitney accompanied her on the piano. They played More Holiness Give Me and it was a beautiful way to end the lesson)
Remember that all this is possible because you have a Father in Heaven who loves you. He has given us this Plan of Salvation, also called the plan of happiness to help us grow and learn and become like him. He wants us to succeed!
Of this I testify………
I am having such a wonderful experience preparing these lessons. It is a spiritual boost, a lesson beyond lessons, a chance to finally begin to understand some of the most wonderful of blessings. I have always struggled to feel and understand Heavenly Fathers love for me and His true desire to see me succeed and be happy. I am the most human of humans and have difficulty seeing beyond this life, or seeing the sacrifices and hardships of this life as worth it all. So these lessons are proving difficult, fantastic, tear enducing and joy filling experiences. I can only hope that the sisters I teach are getting half as much out of it as I am.