Gospel Principles 3: Jesus Christ, Our Chosen Leader and Savior
[I have written this lesson as I might present it. I hope the various parts and links are helpful primers for other readers and teachers’ lessons. Only the italicized text is taken from the manual]
“I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.”
I have always enjoyed the Book of Mormon passages like the above from 2 Nephi 33:6 that testify of Jesus Christ. Having belted the words to Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam all through primary, I was surprised as a child the first time I was told that I was not a Christian by my best friend who was the daughter of a minister. I remember quoting the first Article of Faith to her to prove that I was. “We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” I later found various scriptures to prove my point. I always believed in Jesus Christ and found that in sharing that tenet with other Christian friends, who at times mocked my Mormonism, we found common ground (although I generally did not quote scripture ;-p]. I learned to love Jesus although my understanding of him changed over time. I began to see the complex theological differences that some people use to differentiate Mormons from classic Christians. However, I knew that I believed Christ was my Savior and always preferred the lessons like these that focused on understanding what that meant, rather than on other aspects or tangents of the gospel. As I was preparing for my mission, I devoured two addresses
that I will incorporate into this lesson/ discussion.
In the spirit of the Book of Mormon’s 2 Ne. 25:26 which reads “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, [and] we prophesy of Christ,” Elder Nelson testifies and teaches of “Jesus the Christ, Our Master and more.” He focuses on ten distinguishing attributes/ titles of Jesus Christ including Creator, Jehovah, Advocate with with the Father, Immanuel, Son of God, Anointed One, Savior and Redeemer, Judge, Exemplar, and Millenial Messiah with the caveat that “He (Christ) has numerous names, titles, and responsibilities, all of eternal significance.”
Therefore, I find it intriguing that the Gospel Principles manual introduces the Jesus Christ, usually known as our Savior, also as our Leader, focusing on the pre-existence and our need to choose to follow Jesus Christ to return to live with our Heavenly Father.
When the plan for our salvation was presented to us in the premortal spirit world, we were so happy that we shouted for joy (see Job 38:7). We understood that we … would sin and some of us would lose our way … [and that] we needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, “Whom shall I send?” (Abraham 3:27). … Jesus was willing to come to the earth, give His life for us, and take upon Himself our sins. He, like our Heavenly Father, wanted us to choose whether we would obey Heavenly Father’s commandments …to prove ourselves worthy of exaltation. Jesus said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2). Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, “Behold, here am I, 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). …Under his plan, we would not be allowed to choose. He would take away the freedom of choice that our Father had given us. Satan wanted to have all the honor for our salvation. Under his proposal, our purpose in coming to earth would have been frustrated (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay , 207). After hearing both sons speak, Heavenly Father said, “I will send the first” (Abraham 3:27). When Jesus lived on earth, He taught: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. … And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38, 40).
• Points for discussion: What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ was chosen to be our Savior? How does he lead us back to eternal life? How does having a Leader who emulates the will of the Father help us? How do we choose to follow Christ? How does knowledge of the pre-existence help us understand the role of Jesus Christ?
Because our Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to be our Savior, Satan became angry and rebelled. There was war in heaven. Satan and his followers fought against Jesus Christ and His followers. The Savior’s followers “overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). In this great rebellion, Satan and all the spirits who followed him were sent away from the presence of God and cast down from heaven. A third part of the hosts of heaven were punished for following Satan (see D&C 29:36). They were denied the right to receive mortal bodies. Because we are here on earth and have mortal bodies, we know that we chose to follow Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. Satan and his followers are also on the earth, but as spirits. They have not forgotten who we are, and they are around us daily, tempting us and enticing us to do things that are not pleasing to our Heavenly Father. In our premortal life, we chose to follow Jesus Christ and accept God’s plan. We must continue to follow Jesus Christ here on earth. Only by following Him can we return to our heavenly home.
• Points for discussion: Why do you think so many spirits chose to follow Satan? Does it motivate you to continue to follow Christ by knowing you already chose to follow him? How does it feel to know that Satan has an army to dissuade us from following Christ? How is the concept of the War in Heaven unique to Mormon Theology?
I am going to share a story from Gospel Principles Lesson 3 at Times and Seasons by Julie Smith [another great resource for lesson prep].
“”Story from Carlfred Broderick, a former stake president and professor of marriage and family therapy. There was an LDS family he knew who needed help with a wayward teen but they lived on the opposite side of the city, so he sent them to another therapist (who happened to be Jewish) who was a friend who he trusted:
“After only a couple of weeks, I got a call from my friend. ‘Carl, I need some help with this couple you referred to me.’ ‘What’s the problem? They probably just need to loosen up the parental iron fist a little.’ ‘That’s right. If they don’t, this kid is about to run away from home or attempt suicide or do something else drastic. But, Carl, every time I suggest any movement in the direction of loosening up, they patiently explain to me that I just don’t understand their religious obligation, as Mormon parents, to keep this kid in line. Frankly, I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t want to attack their religious beliefs, but the situation is explosive.’ I thought a moment and then said, ‘Here’s what you do. First, tell them that during the time you have been working with them, you have developed a real curiosity about the Mormon religion. This will serve to get their attention. Then say that there is one issue that keeps coming up when you ask about it that has you mystified. You keep hearing about some ‘war in heaven,’ but you can never quite figure out what it is about.’ ‘That’s it? I just ask them to explain the ‘war in heaven’?’ ‘That’s it.’ ‘Carl, what’s the war in heaven?’ ‘It doesn’t matter; just do what I said and let me know how it goes.’ A few days later he called. ‘Carl, I can’t believe it. I did what you said, and it was like magic.’ ‘So tell me about the session.’ ‘Well, as you suggested, I told them that since I started working with them I had gotten sort of interested in the Mormon religion. You wouldn’t believe the response. Even the rebellious teenage kid promised to give me a copy of some book on the Church with the family picture in the front. Then I said there was just one thing that kind of confused me about their beliefs. . . . What was this war in heaven? Well, the mom didn’t as much as take a minute to collect her thoughts. In seconds she had launched into some story about a council in heaven and two plans and she gets about three minutes into it and she stops cold in her tracks and gives me a funny look and says, ‘All right, Doctor, you’ve made your point.’ From that moment on they were like putty in my hands. It was like magic.’ . . . Of course, there was no magic. This good LDS woman simply had the unnerving experience of explaining Satan’s plan to an ‘investigator’ and, in the midst of her explanation, recognizing it as substantially her own version of responsible Mormon parenting as she had outlined it to him the week before. She understood the gospel principle fully; she just had been blinded to its applicability to her everyday challenges as a parent.’” “”
• Points for discussion: Have you ever had a similar experience in which you needed to be unblended? How can you remember the big picture when life gets complicated?
In the Living Christ, The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared “As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth. He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
• Points for discussion: How does the Christ’s example motivate you? What can we learn from our attributes/ titles that Christ has [if time, discuss]? Why do we need to first remember that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Leader?
I love being able to follow Jesus Christ. Although I have declared my belief in him since I was little, I do not pretend to understand everything he did or to be a perfect follower/ believer. As I said at the beginning and as witnessed through out, I can not be the same knowing that he is my Savior. And so,
“I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.”
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Other Links of Interest that could be incorporated:
Note: This lesson was originally written for the Relief Society audience in 2010-2011, when the Gospel Principles manual was temporarily used as curriculum for Relief Society, Elders Quorum and High Priest classes. The lesson may require adaptation for Gospel Principles classes, which are mixed gender and primarily serve new members and investigators of the church.