Relief Society Lesson 17: the Great Plan of Salvation
My comments and questions are in italics, and the manual stuff is in regular font. There’s lots of juicy stuff in this lesson for some good discussion, but it was hard to make this a smoothly flowing lesson. It feels like jumps are made from topic to topic. Please add your insights and presentation ideas for this lesson in the comment field.
From the Life of Joseph Smith
The Prophet later said: “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors. … Look at Hebrews 6:1 for contradictions—‘Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.’ If a man leaves the principles of the doctrine of Christ, how can he be saved in the principles? This is a contradiction. I don’t believe it. I will render it as it should be—‘Therefore not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.’ ”
Although this may not relate directly to the Plan of Salvation, I think it might be a good place to start discussion.
How is your scripture study of the Bible affected by the understanding that the Bible isn’t necessarily always translated correctly?
Teachings of Joseph Smith
This lesson dives right into the plan of salvation without defining much. If your ward has a lot of new converts, I would recommend spending some time going over the famous chart—I like this one because it could be cut out and put on the board. Um, maybe I’ve been in Primary too long.
“At the first organization in heaven we were all present and saw the Savior chosen and appointed and the plan of salvation made, and we sanctioned it.”
Anyway, point is, if there are investigators or converts looking confused, I’d have a quick overview of the chart as a back-up. Or if you’re lazy like me, ask the women to tell the story of the War in Heaven (hmm, is that capitalized?), or ask questions to elicit the definitions of the degrees of glory…have them explain the Plan.
What do you think of this statement? Do you find it comforting, disconcerting, relevant?
“The contention in heaven was—Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he would save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ. So the devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him.”
What does this say about free agency? Is this applicable to our daily lives? How so?
We are eternal beings; we can advance toward exaltation as we obey the laws of God.
“I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits. …
If I had my act together, I would find someone musically-inclined to perform “If You Could Hie to Kolob” for this section (note the lovely gender-equality in the use of the words, “God” and “Gods” without pronouns).
“Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.
“The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.”
Who are the weaker ones? What’s our responsibility to the “weaker?” This could be some really meaty discussion or could fall flat on its face (I suspect it would fall flat on its face in my ward).
Abraham 3:22–25—does this passage change how we define intelligences?
We came to earth to obtain a body, to gain knowledge, and to overcome through faith.
D&C 101:78—a helpful scripture for this section
“We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine’s body to having none. All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.”
The ultimate punishment is not having a body…how does this make you feel about your body? What does our society say about bodies these days?
“The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
What kind of knowledge are we talking about here?
God has given us moral agency and the power to choose good over evil.
“All persons are entitled to their agency, for God has so ordained it. He has constituted mankind moral agents, and given them power to choose good or evil; to seek after that which is good, by pursuing the pathway of holiness in this life, which brings peace of mind, and joy in the Holy Ghost here, and a fulness of joy and happiness at His right hand hereafter; or to pursue an evil course, going on in sin and rebellion against God, thereby bringing condemnation to their souls in this world, and an eternal loss in the world to come.”
What do we gain by having bodies?
How do you gain knowledge?
Is there a difference between spiritual and secular knowledge?
How do you feel when people exercise their agency in harmful ways? Is there anything we can do?
Eliza R. Snow recorded:
“[Joseph Smith] said he did not care how fast we run in the path of virtue. Resist evil, and there is no danger; God, men, and angels will not condemn those that resist everything that is evil, and devils cannot; as well might the devil seek to dethrone Jehovah, as overthrow an innocent soul that resists everything which is evil.”
Why do we feel guilty when someone makes bad choices? Is this productive?
What is Eliza saying here? How does this make you feel?
Close with testimony.