“Unit 1: Day 1, The Plan of Salvation,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)
“Unit 1: Day 1,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide
Have you ever wondered why God has commanded us to do some things and not do others? An overview of Heavenly Father’s plan for our salvation, sometimes called the plan of happiness, can help us better understand the purpose of His commandments. President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, “A knowledge of the plan of happiness, even in outline form, can give young minds a ‘why’” (“The Great Plan of Happiness” [address to CES religious educators, Aug. 10, 1993], 3, si.lds.org).
This lesson provides a brief overview of the plan of salvation. It focuses on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which is, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “the central fact, the crucial foundation, and the chief doctrine of the great and eternal plan of salvation” (“Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign, Mar. 2001, 8).
God revealed the purpose of His plan of salvation to Moses as they spoke face to face on a mountain. Read Moses 1:39, and look for what God stated is His purpose.
Do you know the difference between “immortality” and “eternal life”? Immortality is living forever in a resurrected state. Through Jesus Christ’s Atonement, all who come to earth to receive a physical body will receive this gift. Eternal life, or exaltation, is living forever as families in God’s presence. This gift is also available through the Atonement, but only to those who qualify.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “As used in the scriptures, eternal life is the name given to the kind of life that our Eternal Father lives. … God’s life is eternal life; eternal life is God’s life—the expressions are synonymous” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 237).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“Immortality is about quantity. Eternal life is about quality. …
“Eternal life is the culmination of existence. As spiritual children of God, you and I are heirs to this priceless fortune, benefactors to a glorious future, recipients of grace.
“If immortality is God’s work, then eternal life is God’s glory” (“What Is the Difference between Immortality and Eternal Life?” New Era, Nov. 2006, 8).
Eternal life includes living in God’s presence, becoming like Him in body and character, and receiving all that He has, including having an eternal family.
From what you have learned from Moses 1:39, complete the following doctrinal statement concerning Heavenly Father’s plan: The purpose of Heavenly Father’s plan is for us to receive .
In our pre-earth life we lived as spirits in the presence of our Heavenly Father. There we learned about His plan for our happiness and how following that plan would help us fulfill His purposes for us. (See D&C 138:55–56; Abraham 3:22–28.)
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
From your understanding, how were we different from our Heavenly Father in the pre-earth life?
What did Heavenly Father present to us and put in place to help us become like Him?
- Our Heavenly Father’s plan requires us to leave His presence and experience life on earth. Our life on earth is often called mortality. Ponder for a moment why we needed to leave God’s presence and how mortality helps us grow and become more like our Heavenly Father. Write your thoughts in your scripture study journal.
Concerning our mortal life on earth, President Spencer W. Kimball said: “God has given us a plan. He has sent us all to earth to obtain bodies and to gain experience and growth” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 25; emphasis added). How does obtaining a physical body and gaining experience here on earth help us to become more like Heavenly Father? What role do such challenges as temptation, sickness, sorrow, pain, discouragement, disabilities, and other mortal difficulties have in our efforts to receive eternal life and become more like Heavenly Father?
One major obstacle we face in mortality is sin. Sin prevents us from becoming like our Heavenly Father and returning to live with Him (see D&C 20:18–20; Moses 6:57). Not only does sin make us unclean, but to sin is also contrary to the nature of God—we cannot continue to sin and still reach our objective of becoming like Heavenly Father (see Alma 41:10–11).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:40–42, and mark the way Heavenly Father provided to overcome sin.
The truth that Jesus Christ suffered and was crucified for the sins of all people is a central doctrine in Heavenly Father’s plan for us and can give hope to all of Heavenly Father’s children. Take a moment to reflect on what the Savior’s sacrifice means to you.
In paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus Christ did not, however, eliminate our personal responsibility. Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:22–23; 25:13, 15, and look for what is required in order for us to receive the cleansing power of the Atonement and return to live in Heavenly Father’s presence. You may want to mark what you find.
- According to Doctrine and Covenants 18:22–23; 25:13, 15, what must we do to come unto Jesus Christ and receive the blessings of His atoning sacrifice? Write your answer in your scripture study journal.
If we are obedient to the principles and ordinances of the gospel, we can overcome sin through the grace and Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Moroni 10:32–33). Because of the Atonement, as we keep the covenant we make at baptism, we can repent and be forgiven of our sins and receive the guidance of the Holy Ghost to direct us along the path toward eternal life.
In addition to sin, there is another obstacle that must be overcome in order to receive eternal life. Read Alma 12:24, and identify the obstacle.
When we die, our spirits and our bodies separate. If our spirits and bodies were separated forever, it would be impossible to become like God. We cannot be like Heavenly Father without a body of flesh and bones (see D&C 93:33–34; 130:22).
Read Alma 11:42–45, and identify how the separation of our spirits and bodies that occurs at death is overcome.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ good news for everyone?
How does the hope of the Resurrection bring you joy?
As you read earlier, immortality is a gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that all people will receive, regardless of whether they did good or evil during mortality (see Alma 11:42–45; D&C 138:14–17). Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected and will live forever. Eternal life, however, is God’s gift only to those who obey the laws and ordinances of His gospel (see D&C 14:7).
- In your scripture study journal, summarize what you have learned about Heavenly Father’s plan for our happiness. Find a time to teach what you have learned about Heavenly Father’s plan for our salvation to a family member or friend face to face. You might draw the accompanying diagram as you explain it. Be prepared to share your experience with your teacher.
This lesson has presented only a brief overview of the plan of salvation. In your study of the Doctrine and Covenants this year, you will learn many more truths related to the plan of salvation. As you learn more about the plan, watch for what God has done for you, and be sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings about what you need to do to receive the full blessings Heavenly Father offers.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied “The Plan of Salvation” lesson and completed it on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: