Young Women Lesson: Why is it important to understand the plan of salvation?
Introduce the Doctrine
The Plan of Salvation
Share this diagram and discuss these questions. If the young women are stumped by the questions, invite them to look for answers in the referenced scriptures.
- The scriptures refer to this plan as “the plan of salvation” (Alma 24:14; Moses 6:62), “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8), “the plan of redemption” (Jacob 6:8; Alma 12:30), and “the plan of mercy” (Alma 42:15). What do these different titles for the plan mean? What is merciful about it? How can it make us happy? What does it redeem us from and save us from?
- What is the path that leads us out of our fallen condition? What are the first steps we must take to get on that path? (2 Nephi 31:17–19) Where does the strait and narrow path lead? What must we do to stay on it? (2 Nephi 31:19–21).
- What are some of the ways the gift of the Holy Ghost helps us overcome our fallen condition and press forward on the path? (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13; 3 Nephi 27:20; D&C 45:56–57).
Overcoming Spiritual Death and Temporal Death
Invite the class to silently read Alma 12:24-25, looking for the answer to the question:
- What is temporal death? How does the plan of redemption redeems us from temporal death?
24 And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.
25 Now, if it had not been for the plan of redemption, which was laid from the foundation of the world, there could have been no resurrection of the dead; but there was a plan of redemption laid, which shall bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, of which has been spoken.
Invite the class to silently read Alma 12:32 and Alma 12:35-36, looking for the answer to the question:
- What is the “second death”? (Note, the second death is often referred to as “spiritual death” in latter-day saint theology.)
32 Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for on such the plan of redemption could have no power, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God. …
35 And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.
36 And now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first.
Invite the class to silently read Alma 12:33-34, looking for the answer to the question:
- How does the plan of redemption redeems us from spiritual death?
33 But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son;
34 Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.
Invite the class to silently read Alma 12:28-30 and 32:22-23, looking for the answer to the question:
- How does God teach us the plan of redemption?
- Why is it important to understand the plan of redemption?
28 And after God had appointed that these things should come unto man, behold, then he saw that it was expedient that man should know concerning the things whereof he had appointed unto them;
29 Therefore he sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory.
30 And they began from that time forth to call on his name; therefore God conversed with men, and made known unto them the plan of redemption, which had been prepared from the foundation of the world; and this he made known unto them according to their faith and repentance and their holy works.
22 And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word.
23 And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.
Repentance as a Process, not a Punishment
Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. But this feeling of being penalized is engendered by Satan. He tries to block us from looking to Jesus Christ, who stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us. The word for repentance in the Greek New Testament is metanoeo. The prefix meta- means “change.” The suffix -noeo is related to Greek words that mean “mind,” “knowledge,” “spirit,” and “breath.” Thus, when Jesus asks you and me to “repent,” He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit—even the way we breathe. He is asking us to change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies. —Russell M. Nelson
- How can we reframe repentance as an opportunity rather than a punishment?
- How can we readjust our attitudes if we feel like avoiding repentance?
Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Whether you are diligently moving along the covenant path, have slipped or stepped from the covenant path, or can’t even see the path from where you are now, I plead with you to repent. Experience the strengthening power of daily repentance—of doing and being a little better each day. —Russell M. Nelson
- How does defining repentance as “doing and being a little better each day” change your perspective on repentance?
- How is repentance liberating?
Becoming like Christ
Invite the young women to individually read from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3-16 and look for attributes that Jesus wants us to develop during our mortal lives. (Note: the Topical Guide defines “poor in spirit” as “meek.”) As they read, ask them to think about these questions. Discuss the questions after reading.
- Can you think of people in the scriptures or in your own lives who exemplify these principles?
- Have you been trying to develop any of these attributes? How is it going?
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Finding Your Unique Purpose
In addition to the purposes we all share as part of the Plan of Salvation, we each have a unique role to play within God’s plan:
You know you are a child of God, a son or a daughter of a loving Father who has structured a glorious plan for the salvation and happiness of each of His children. …What a blessing it is to have this solid, revealed-from-on-high doctrine as a foundation upon which to build our lives and as a foundation for our trust and hope in eternal happiness. It is the foundation for our faith and hope that our Father in Heaven has made such happiness available to His sons and daughters. But are these glorious, majestic understandings enough? They are certainly critical underpinnings for our eternal progression, but to reach our divine, eternal potential, I think they are only the beginning. We are each individuals with singular talents, strengths, opportunities, and challenges. We are as individual as are our fingerprints or our DNA. Unfortunately we cannot discover our individuality as easily as we can identify ourselves with our fingerprints or our DNA. We believe we are foreordained to come to earth at a particular time into particular circumstances and that our particular set of gifts, attitudes, and talents—if properly developed and employed—will enable us to fulfill our foreordained purpose. …For us to move in the desired direction for our own life, we must come to know ourselves. We must study, stretch, and test ourselves and ponder the results of our stretching and our testing and other observations. We need to become familiar with our own particular set of gifts and talents. …Why is this getting-to-know-yourself process so important? Because it will enable you to do more with your life. It will permit you to come closer to realizing your full potential. It will let you build on and use your strengths, your gifts, and your talents to carry out your purpose in God’s plan. –Elder Robert C. Oaks Reference C
- Why do we need the Plan of Salvation as a foundation to achieve our potential?
- How can we “study, stretch, and test ourselves” to discover our unique mission in life?
Esther was an example of a woman who channeled her unique circumstances, privileges, opportunities and talents to fulfill a divine role that only she could accomplish:
In the Old Testament we read about Esther and Mordecai, who worked for King Ahasuerus. Mordecai took in Esther as his own daughter after her parents passed away. He brought her to the palace. Esther pleased the king, and he made her his queen (see Esth. 2:17). Meanwhile, Haman, a leader in the king’s court, became angry with Mordecai because he would not pay obeisance to Haman. Therefore, Haman plotted to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews. Realizing the grave danger which loomed over his people, Mordecai pled with Esther to seek help from the king: “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esth. 4:14). Consider Esther’s dilemma: It was against the law to approach the king without being summoned. Such an act was punishable by death. If she were to remain quiet, she would likely enjoy a life of luxury and ease. She could live the life of a queen or risk her life to save her family and her people. She counted the cost and chose to heed the longings of her people and of her heart. She asked Mordecai to gather all the Jews in Shushan and fast three days for her, and she and her handmaids would do the same. Then she said, “I [will] go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish” (Esth. 4:16). Spiritually prepared, Esther approached the king. She was received by him, and she invited the king and Haman to a feast she had arranged. During the feast, Haman’s plot was unveiled, and Mordecai received great honors. Esther, born for such a time, had saved a nation. …Sisters, like Esther, we must prepare for our time because our time has come. –General Relief Society President Mary Ellen Smoot Reference D
- What were Esther’s unique circumstances, privileges, opportunities and talents that put her in a position to save her people?
- What unique circumstances, privileges, opportunities and talents do you have that you could use for the good of others and to fulfill your own destiny?