I am attempting to teach my children 30 of the most essential lessons from the Book of Mormon, during this month that we have leading up to school. This is sort of my first intensive and comprehensive study of the Book of Mormon that I will do with them. It's sort of an introduction to the main points and a way for me to discover what they have absorbed already about the gospel. It's trial by error, I am sure, but it's a start.
Our first lesson was about the Plan of Salvation, as taught in the Book of Mormon in sermons by several prophets and by Christ's apostles and by modern-day revelation.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to know where we came from and where we are going. I have found in my own life, that this knowledge creates a self-awareness and a confidence in course that is very comforting as I go through my time in mortality.
Here is an explanation of where we came from and where we are going, that I shared with my children during FHE tonight. It is called the Plan of Salvation or
God's Plan of Happiness:
The Pre-Mortal Existence: Before we came to earth, we knew and worshiped God as our Eternal Father. In time, God presented a plan for us, his spirit sons and daughters, to obtain physical bodies and to become, through experience, like Him. It was a risky plan. Not all of us would make it. But we would be able to choose for ourselves, to make and learn from our own mistakes. As part of the plan, God would provide a Savior to die for us, so that we could eventually return to live with our Father in Heaven.
God's perfect, firstborn son, Jesus Christ stepped forward to be that Savior and to fulfill God's plan as he had outlined it. This was his destiny, but a destiny that he himself chose to meet. He knew it would be hard, but he did it out of love for us, and in order to fulfill God's plan. He would give the glory to God share the blessings with all of us.
Lucifer, another one of God's spirit children also volunteered for the task. But he wanted to change the plan. He wanted to force everyone to follow God, by removing their ability to choose for themselves. This ability to choose is called agency. He also wanted to have all of the glory for himself instead of giving the glory to God. He wanted power for himself.
A war of ideologies erupted in this grand Heavenly council. Everyone who sided with God's plan won the right to continue in his plan by coming to earth in physical bodies. Everyone who chose to follow Lucifer was cast out and forfeited their opportunity to progress by coming to earth in physical bodies. Lucifer became Satan, and he and his followers continue to fight this pre-earthly battle of wills to this day, as disgruntled spirit beings.
Birth & Our Lives on Earth: The fun part! Life, or mortality, is a mixed bag, but we know that it was the only way for us to learn the important lessons like charity, humility, compassion, obedience, and sacrifice, that Heavenly Father wants us to learn. Every one of God's children must obtain a physical body if they are to become like their Heavenly Parents. One big mission in this life is teaching our bodies to obey our minds and our spirits. It is the mastery of the spirit over the body that creates a soul that is in perfect harmony with God, a soul that is strong and worthy of God's trust in eternity.
We come to earth in families. God created families as a mirror of the eternal family of which we are all a part. The ideal family unit consists of a mother and a father who are married to each other, and who love each other with complete fidelity. Many of us will fall short of that ideal, but we do the best that we can.
We do not remember life before earth, because when we are born that memory is held back. As a result, we are expected to walk by faith. But God has provided us with hints about what eternity is like, and where we came from, and the family unit is one of those hints.
Earth-life provides us with many opportunities to prove our loyalty to God. This is also a time to seek out the word and will of God, to accept his Son Jesus Christ, and to be baptized into his church.
Death: Everyone who is born, must also die. It is a part of life, a gateway to the next existence. When we die, our spirits and bodies separate. Our spirits return home to our Creator, and we enter into a time of rest as we await our next state. This state of waiting is called the spirit world.
The Spirit World: The spirit world contains the state of being that is commonly referred to as Heaven and Hell. When a person leaves earth having lived a good life, he or she enters into a sort of spirit Paradise or Heaven, where they are free from the cares of mortality.
The other state of being in the spirit world is called Spirit Prison or Hell. People who have willfully rebelled against God or who chose not to follow Christ will spend time in this place, paying for their own sins, because they refused to allow Christ to take their sins upon Him when they had the chance on earth.
Many people will not have the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ in mortality, but the Lord in his infinite wisdom and mercy has provide a contingency plan for them as well. The gospel will be preached to those in Spirit Prison who were not able to accept Christ's Atonement during their lives on earth.
If they accept Christ, they will be able to free themselves from this state of spirit Prison and enter into spirit Paradise. Baptisms performed in holy temples on earth, allow people who have died without hearing the gospel to qualify for all of the blessings of the gospel, regardless of the circumstances they were born into in mortality.
The Resurrection: Because Jesus Christ was resurrected, everyone who comes to earth will also be resurrected, and receive a perfected, immortal body in which to spend eternity. This is a gift guaranteed to all.
Final Judgment: After we are resurrected, we will receive a final judgment. In this perfect, resurrected state, we will have a perfect knowledge of our lives on earth. We will have a clear remembrance of all of the good and all of the bad that we have done. Jesus Christ will be there, pleading our case before the Father. After which each of us will enter into a kingdom of glory according to our demonstrated willingness to follow Jesus Christ.
Kingdoms of Glory: Christ himself told us that "In my father's house, there are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you." The places that he has prepared for each of us are the three degrees of glory to which Paul refers in the New Testament. They are called celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms, and they vary in glory as do the sun, moon, and stars. We strive for celestial glory, because that is where eternal family units exist. It is also where the complete glory of God exists. But each kingdom is a state of glory and rest that will make each of us stand amazed at the love Jesus offers us. Each is a reward. It is the reward that each of us is working toward. It is the bestowal of glory that will exactly match the desires of our hearts.
EVERYONE--(except the very vilest of sinners or those who sin against a full knowledge and understanding of God)--will be received into a kingdom with some degree of glory.
Outer Darkness: So what will happen to Satan and his beguiled followers who never received a body, but did their darnedest to meddle with our spiritual progression while on earth? They will finally be cast out into an existence called outer darkness, where no light or glory exists. This is truly hell, an eternal state of misery that is reserved for very few people who have come to earth. Very few. In fact, only those who have willfully rebelled against the spirit having had a full knowledge of God, will earn this distinction.
This represents a simplified version of my testimony of where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. This is the first time that I've written this out A-Z, and I hope that it answers some questions for my friends who might be reading this.
(For a more in-depth study, you might try the study guides drawn up by The Redheaded Hostess or the LDS website.)
After an initial run through of The Plan of Salvation, using these images from Sugardoodle, I asked my children to draw their own version and then teach it back to me.
Guy's came the closest. I think he got much of the main points.
Autumn's was intriguingly artful for a two year old.
Scarlett's had a lot of rainbows in it and a good base understanding of the plan.
After that we went for a long family bike ride together as a family.