“Lesson 10: Teaching the Plan of Salvation (Part 1)” Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 10,” Missionary Preparation
The plan of salvation is Heavenly Father’s plan for the happiness of His children. It is centered on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and teaches why the Atonement is necessary. Heavenly Father’s plan also answers the questions “Where did I come from?,” “What is my purpose in life?,” and “Where will I go after I die?” Prospective missionaries should have a clear understanding of the doctrine of the plan of salvation and be prepared to explain it simply and testify of it with power.
Consider having the class sing the hymn “I Am a Child of God” as part of the opening devotional. To begin the lesson, have students silently review the lyrics to the first verse of “I Am a Child of God,” and ask them to look for any doctrines or principles found in the lyrics.
I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.
(“I Am a Child of God,” Hymns, no. 301)
After a few moments, invite students to explain any important doctrines or principles they found in the hymn. If needed, you might consider asking the following questions:
What do these lyrics indicate about our life before we came to earth?
What do these lyrics indicate about the purpose of life here on earth?
Tell students that as missionaries, they will have the opportunity to teach about the purpose of life. Have one or more students read aloud the first two paragraphs of the section titled “Pre-Earth Life: God’s Purpose and Plan for Us” on page 48 of Preach My Gospel.
You might also share the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“No more profound truth has been conveyed to us in the restoration than the knowledge of our premortal existence. No other church knows or teaches this truth. The doctrine is given only in outline form, but salient facts are repeated often enough in the revelations to assure us of certain fundamental truths” (Our Father’s Plan , 14).
How can knowing about our premortal life and that we lived as spirit children with our Father in Heaven help give greater meaning to our lives? (As students respond, you might choose to emphasize this principle: When we understand that we are Heavenly Father’s children, we find greater meaning in our life on earth.)
After students have watched the video, ask the following questions:
What were some blessings people in the video described that came from knowing they are children of God?
How has the knowledge that you are a child of God helped you find greater meaning in your life?
Have several students take turns reading aloud the final four paragraphs on page 48 of Preach My Gospel. Instruct the class to look for doctrines and principles that teach what God’s purpose is for His children and how the plan of salvation fulfills that purpose. Then ask:
What is God’s plan designed to do for His children? (Among their responses, students might include the doctrine that the plan of salvation makes it possible for all of God’s children to enjoy the blessings of immortality and eternal life. If clarification is needed, you might refer to the definitions of immortality and exaltation on pages 58–59 in Preach My Gospel. Emphasize that eternal life is the kind of life that God lives.)
To help students understand this doctrine, have them read and memorize Moses 1:39. After they have had a few moments to memorize and practice reciting this passage, ask:
How could teaching investigators that God’s purpose is to bring about our immortality and eternal life impact the choices they make in their daily lives?
Give students a moment to ponder the role of missionaries in assisting Heavenly Father in His work “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Invite students to share their thoughts with another student or write their thoughts in a study journal.
Have a student read aloud the section titled “The Creation” on page 49 of Preach My Gospel. Instruct students to look for the significance of the Creation in God’s plan of salvation. Then ask:
Why do we consider the creation of the earth to be a significant part of God’s plan of salvation? (In order to progress and become like God, each of us had to come to earth to obtain a body and be tested during a time of probation.)
To help students understand the importance of receiving a physical body, display and read aloud the following statement, which was made by Sister Susan W. Tanner while she was serving as the Young Women general president. Have students look for why each of us was excited to receive a physical body.
“In the premortal realm we learned that the body was part of God’s great plan of happiness for us. As it states in the family proclamation: ‘Spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.’ In fact, we ‘shouted for joy’ (Job 38:7) to be part of this plan.
“Why were we so excited? We understood eternal truths about our bodies. We knew that our bodies would be in the image of God. We knew that our bodies would house our spirits. We also understood that our bodies would be subject to pain, illness, disabilities, and temptation. But we were willing, even eager, to accept these challenges because we knew that only with spirit and element inseparably connected could we progress to become like our Heavenly Father (see D&C 130:22) and ‘receive a fulness of joy’ (D&C 93:33)” (“The Sanctity of the Body,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 13).
In the premortal world, what truths did we understand that made us excited to come to earth and receive a physical body?
Why were we willing and eager to come to earth even though we knew we could face difficult challenges in mortality?
Give students a moment to ponder the following question: How would you explain to an investigator how our mortal experience helps us progress to become like our Heavenly Father? If time permits, invite them to study the scripture references in the Scripture Study box below “The Creation” on page 49 of Preach My Gospel. After a minute or so, have students turn to someone sitting next to them and explain their answer to the question.
Write the following headings on the board:
What Adam and Eve could do in the Garden
What Adam and Eve could not do in the Garden
Invite students to study 2 Nephi 2:22–25 and the “Agency and the Fall of Adam and Eve” section on page 49 of Preach My Gospel. As they read, have half of the class make a list of what Adam and Eve could do in the Garden of Eden (they could live forever in an innocent state, they could use their own agency to make decisions). Have the other half of the class make a list of what Adam and Eve could not do in the Garden of Eden (they could not progress or experience opposition, they could not experience joy or sorrow or pain or misery, they could not sin, they could not experience disease or suffering, they could not have children). After a few minutes, ask students to share what they found. As they respond, consider having a member of the class write students’ responses on the board.
Draw students’ attention to the terms physical death and spiritual death on page 49 of Preach My Gospel. Perhaps all of the students will understand that physical death refers to death of the physical body. Help them to understand that spiritual death refers to separation from God’s presence. Both deaths are a result of the Fall of Adam. It is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can overcome both deaths.
You can deepen students’ understanding of the Fall’s importance in the plan of salvation by displaying the following quote from President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) and having a student read it aloud to the class:
“When Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord passed a sentence upon him. Some people have looked upon that sentence as being a dreadful thing. It was not; it was a blessing. I do not know that it can truthfully be considered even as a punishment in disguise.
“In order for mankind to obtain salvation and exaltation it is necessary for them to obtain bodies in this world, and pass through the experiences and schooling that are found only in mortality. The Lord has said that his great work and glory is, ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ [Moses 1:39]. Without mortality this great blessing could not be accomplished. Therefore, worlds are created and peopled with the children of God, and they are granted the privilege to pass through the mortal existence, with the great gift of agency in their possession. Through this gift they choose good or choose evil, and thus receive a reward of merit in the eternities to come. Because of Adam’s transgression we are here in mortal life. …
“The fall of man came as a blessing in disguise, and was the means of furthering the purposes of the Lord in the progress of man, rather than a means of hindering them” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:113–14).
Why is it appropriate to view the Fall of Adam and Eve as a crucial part of God’s plan of salvation? (The Fall of Adam and Eve allowed God’s spirit children to obtain physical bodies and made it possible for them to progress and become like Him.)
Invite students to review the “Teaching about the Fall” box on page 50 of Preach My Gospel. Then have students explain the doctrine of the Fall in their own words to the student sitting next to them.
“The plan of redemption, with its three divisions, might be likened to a grand three-act play. Act 1 is entitled ‘Premortal Life.’ The scriptures describe it as our first estate (see Jude 1:6; Abraham 3:26, 28). Act 2, from birth to the time of resurrection, is the ‘Second Estate.’ And act 3 is called ‘Life After Death’ or ‘Eternal Life.’
“In mortality, we are like actors who enter a theater just as the curtain goes up on the second act. We have missed act 1. The production has many plots and subplots that interweave, making it difficult to figure out who relates to whom and what relates to what, who are the heroes and who are the villains. It is further complicated because we are not just spectators; we are members of the cast, on stage, in the middle of it all!
“As part of the eternal plan, the memory of our premortal life, act 1, is covered with a veil. Since we enter mortality at the beginning of act 2 with no recollection of act 1, it is little wonder that it is difficult to understand what is going on. …
“If you expect to find only ease and peace and bliss during act 2, you surely will be frustrated. You will understand little of what is going on and why things are permitted to be as they are.
“Remember this! The line ‘And they all lived happily ever after’ is never written into the second act. That line belongs in the third act, when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right. …
“There exists something of a script for this great play, the drama of the ages. It outlines, in brief form at least, what happened in act 1—the premortal life. While there is not much detail, the script makes clear the purpose of it all, and it reveals enough of the plot to help you figure out what life is all about.
“That script, as you should already know, is the scriptures—the revelations. Read them. Study them. They tell you what man is, why God is ‘mindful of him,’ and why we are made ‘a little lower than the angels’ and yet ‘crowned … with glory and honour’ (Psalm 8:4–5).
“The scriptures speak the truth. From them you can learn enough about all three acts to get your bearings and get direction in your life. They reveal that ‘ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;
“‘And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come’ (D&C 93:23–24)” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Play and the Plan” [Church Educational System fireside, May 7, 1995], 2–3; si.lds.org).
Then ask questions like the following:
In what ways does a three-act play symbolize some of the elements of the plan of salvation?
According to this analogy, why is it difficult for many people to understand the purpose of life on earth?
According to this analogy, where can we find the script for this grand three-act play?
How can the scriptures help God’s children better understand their purpose in God’s plan?
Explain to students that when missionaries teach the plan of salvation, they help investigators to better understand the purpose of mortality and how we can return to live again with Heavenly Father (see Alma 12:32–34). Have students read the section titled “Our Life on Earth” on page 50 of Preach My Gospel. After they have had sufficient time to read the section, ask:
How would you explain the purpose of this life in one or two sentences?
Tell students that it is important for investigators to understand that our preparation to return to God’s presence depends on the decisions that we make during our life on earth. Decisions to follow God’s commandments can help us draw closer to our Heavenly Father, while breaking God’s commandments keeps us from returning to His presence. Write the following on the board:
What are the consequences of sin? (As needed, encourage students to review the second paragraph of “Our Life on Earth” on page 50 of Preach My Gospel. Though they will use slightly different words, students should understand these truths: Sin leads to unhappiness and causes feelings of guilt and shame. It makes us unclean and unworthy to enter God’s presence. Sin prevents us from returning to our Father in Heaven unless we are forgiven.)
How will understanding the consequences of sin help prepare investigators to accept the message of the Atonement?
Remind students that in this life we all experience a spiritual death—we are separated from God’s presence. Ask students:
How does the gospel of Jesus Christ help us to overcome spiritual death and return to God’s presence? (As students respond you may want to ask them how faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the gift of the Holy Ghost each help us to overcome the effects of the Fall and prepare us to return to God’s presence.)
It is important that students be given the opportunity to practice explaining the elements of the plan of salvation that are covered in this lesson. This will help them to better understand the doctrines and principles that they will be teaching to investigators.
Divide students into pairs. Give sufficient time for pairs to prepare to teach a five- to ten-minute lesson about the purpose of our life on earth. Have students review the material on pages 49–50 of Preach My Gospel, including scriptures from the Scripture Study boxes. If available, they may also study pages 2–9 of the missionary pamphlet entitled The Plan of Salvation. As students are preparing, walk around the class and help them to prepare simple and brief explanations of the elements of the plan of salvation. Reaffirm that using scripture passages in their message and testifying of the doctrines and principles they teach will add power to their lesson.
After students have had enough time to review the material and prepare a short lesson, assign each pair of students to teach another pair. Then have them rotate so that each pair has the opportunity to teach once. As each pair concludes their teaching experience, have them discuss the following with the students they taught:
What did the teachers do well?
What methods could have made the presentation even more effective?
After each pair has had the opportunity to practice and evaluate their teaching, invite class members to share insights from their experiences with the rest of the class.
Conclude the lesson by writing the following statements on the board and asking students to consider how these principles can increase their desire to serve a mission:
Invite a few students to share what they feel as they ponder these statements. Consider concluding the lesson by asking students if any of them would like to bear testimony to the class of the doctrines related to the plan of salvation.
Invite students to deepen their understanding of the plan of salvation and improve their teaching skills by choosing one of the following activities to work on outside of class:
Review the “Key Definitions” section on pages 58–59 of Preach My Gospel. Practice explaining each of the terms in your own words using simple statements of truth.
Review the scripture passages found in the Scripture Study boxes on pages 49–50 of Preach My Gospel. Select one or two passages that you would want to use to teach each of the different parts of the plan of salvation and mark them in your scriptures. Consider committing one or more of these passages to memory.
Create an outline for teaching the plan of salvation. Consider using the lesson plan ideas on pages 55–58 of Preach My Gospel as a reference.
Think of a time when your knowledge of the plan of salvation has blessed your life. Write a summary of that experience in your study journal or share it with a friend.