Thursday, February 11, 2016

February 7, 2016 - The Plan of Salvation: Overview

Found at: http://www.the-exponent.com/february-young-women-lesson-what-is-the-plan-of-salvation/

Most everyone (of our usual crowd ... there are a few that we're still missing) was there for class last week (and no one will be in class next week due to the Stake Broadcast ... so, instead of our class, we'll ALL be together with the rest of the Stake. Have fun seeing your friends from other wards ... but do try and pay attention and be spiritual and all. If I see you, I'll wave!).

So, for class we mostly just went over WHAT IS The Plan of Salvation/The Plan of Happiness. Because it's always good to have a refresher ... and I think that this was a really good class. Everyone participated (were we always all on task? No. But everyone was involved in class for the most part, which was AWESOME).

THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE (and next week's, too, since I won't be seeing you to give you a different one): READ "The Plan of Salvation" Section in True to the Faith.
(For bonus credit, you can also check out the whole page about the gospel topic of The Plan of Salvation over at lds.org.)

As I said, we really just talked about what happened to bring about the Plan of Salvation and why it was needed and what will happen at the end.

  • We all existed with our Heavenly Parents in the Pre-Existence. We were spirit beings. We are his spirit children, created from intelligences (Nothing comes from nothing, right?)
  • We knew that to progress (and to reach our goal of becoming like our Heavenly Parents) we would need to leave our heavenly home, come to Earth, receive mortal bodies, and learn and grow and develop those characteristics that our Heavenly Parents have.
  • Heavenly Father presented his plan to us ... in it, since we would be separated from him, we would need a savior to allow us to return home again.
  • Lucifer volunteered, but would not allow us to have agency. He would guarantee that EVERY SINGLE PERSON returned ... but, with this plan, without agency, it wouldn't get us any closer to our goal of becoming more like our Heavenly Parents.
  • Jesus volunteered, agreeing to atone for the sins we would make and the suffering we would create for ourselves and others as we worked towards becoming more and more like our Heavenly Parents.
  • As you can probably guess (since we do live in a world where Jesus was born, suffered, died, and was resurrected for us), Jesus was chosen. Lucifer (and those who followed him [being a third part of all Heavenly Father's spirit children]) rebelled. There was a war in Heaven. Lucifer's side was defeated. He was cast out as Satan, along with all his followers. They never got to receive bodies. They cannot progress. ... They're kinda mad/bitter about that. I can't blame them for being upset. It stinks.
  • The rest of us have the opportunity to receive a mortal body, to be born on Earth, make covenants with our Heavenly Father, and to progress towards the overall goal of becoming more like our Heavenly Parents.
There are a LOT of things, as we study the Plan of Salvation, that we learn ... It is a very simple, yet a totally complex topic.
  • We pass through a veil of forgetfulness as we come to Earth. If we didn't and we still knew EVERYTHING that we knew then, this life wouldn't be a test. We would already KNOW everything so we couldn't grow. 
  • Adam and Eve came to Earth. While in the Garden of Eden, they transgressed ... which allowed them to become mortal (they could die) and separated them from God (sin). This is refered to as The Fall. We're all subject to sin and death ... which is why we all NEEDED a savior.
  • Jesus is our Savior. Because He has undergone everything, He understands EACH ONE OF US PERFECTLY.
    I don't know about you, but this really is comforting to me. He knows exactly what I am going through, what you are going through. He understands us better than we understand ourselves. and He loves us perfectly. This is a wonderful thing. I can't comprehend it all, but, oh, I am very thankful for it.
  • Jesus was crucified and died for us. He also was resurrected, overcoming physical death. Because He overcame death, we will ALL be resurrected. We will be complete souls -- our spirit and body will be reunited. We will overcome physical death. (Even the really naughty people. This is a gift to EVERYONE.)
  • Because Jesus atoned for our sins (ALL our sins. All the sins we've made, all that we will make, all that we might make), we can repent ... this lets us overcome sin. You could also say (very truthfully) that sin is separating ourselves from God (like how death separates our bodies from our spirits), so sin is spiritual death.
    To overcome sin, we have the opportunity to repent. When we repent, our sins are forgiven. Heavenly Father won't hold them against us. Repentance isn't easy ... but it is the only way to bridge that gap we've set between ourselves and our Heavenly Parents.
    (I like to tell my kids that if you don't feel close to Jesus Christ or Heavenly Father, who moved? [The answer is us. They are perfect. They won't change. We ... leave lots of room for improvement.])
And that brings us (mostly) to what happens after we die ... so I'm going to bring up another diagram. It's not as pretty ... but I really like it:

This is the chart for Gospel Essentials class from http://www.vcaa.com/epistles/charts/plansal.htm
If you want MORE information, there's another, more in-depth, chart under the Gospel Doctrine link at that site.

So, you see, in that center section there, Spirit Paradise and Spirit Prison.
Those who hare righteous and have been baptized get to go to Paradise. They'll also get to help do missionary work to the unbaptized or unrighteous (but baptized) folks.

One things that I LOVE about the gospel is that Heavenly Father treats everyone equally. 
EVERYONE will get a chance to learn the fullness of the gospel and to choose for themselves, even if they didn't live in a time or place when it was preached on Earth. He really does love ALL His children.

And, as you can see, there's a HUGE reason for temple work and family history to be done. We have ancestors and friends (whom we might not remember now, but we knew them back in the Pre-existence) who have been waiting for decades, centuries, millennia to have the opportunity to be baptized. And this is work that we can do.
(I've done temple work for some of my ancestors, only a very few of them people that I had met or knew -- my Grandma among them. And my husband has been baptized, confirmed, and done the work for my Pop-pop to have received all his covenants [well, besides being sealed to his wife, since she's still alive]. It is a very special experience to have the opportunity to perform this work for these individuals, to do something for them that they are not able to do for themselves. I very strongly recommend living so that you are always worthy to attend the temple and share these wonderful blessings with those who've gone on before without being able to do this work themselves. It allows you to do some very, very Christlike service. And I'd love for you all to have that opportunity. ... And if you don't have family names to do, there will always be names at the temple for you to serve those individuals. They will be grateful for the opportunity to choose to accept this work you've done for them).

Also, I made sure to mention in class that, even if we've done someone's temple work, that doesn't mean that they HAVE to accept it.

AGENCY is the whole reason for the Plan of Salvation. If we can't choose for ourselves, there's no point to even having this mortal experience ... which is why Satan's plan wouldn't have worked.

After being in the Spirit World (Paradise or Prison) and receiving a full knowledge of the gospel, we'll be judged. Jesus is our Mediator. He's earned the right to extend us mercy because he atoned for us. If we accept His Atonement (repent and forgive others), His mercy will fulfill the demands of justice.

Then, after that judgement, we will all be resurrected (not all at the same time. The righteous people will be resurrected first, then on down the line ... so, please do try to be Celestial Kingdom material so that (if I keep my covenants, too) we'll all see each other there. Sound cool?


Here's yet another good one
http://www.scripturecompanion.com/Downloads/Plan_of_Salvation_color.jpg

Then we'll be ready to go to our final place.
  • Celestial Kingdom - The highest glory. You need to be baptized, for sure. If you want to be able to achieve a higher level within the kingdom (and why not shoot for the best?), you'll need to make (and keep, naturally), your baptismal covenants, receive your endowment, and be sealed to your spouse (if you don't get married here on Earth, don't worry ... things will work out. Just be prepared to do it, right? Heavenly Father WANTS for you to get the best that He can offer. He's totally on your side. And, with Jesus Christ helping, you can't fail).

    In the Celestial Kingdom, we'll be with Heavenly Father. It'll be pretty awesome, so I hear.
    And we'll be there, sealed to our families. Which is awesome.
  • Terrestrial Kingdom - So, this place won't be horrible ... but it's not going to be the Celestial Kingdom. Jesus Christ will visit and minister to the people here, but they won't be able to be with Heavenly Father. And that's rather sad. But they'll be comfortable as they are ... so I guess that's okay.

    My Institute teacher, Brother Dale Kirby (who was AWESOME. Seriously, when you're out of high school, when you have an opportunity to take an Institute class, GO FOR IT. Trust me.) told us that the people here will be comfortable keeping the ten commandments, but they wouldn't be happy keeping the higher law. So it's not like they're bad people, by any means. They just don't really have a strong testimony of Jesus Christ. Well, at least not strong enough to be baptized into his Church ... But they'll get to know him better since he will come to teach and minister to them.
  • Telestial Kingdom - Here's where it's going to be pretty ... not great.
    Brother Kirby taught us that the people here wouldn't be happy keeping the ten commandments. And they wouldn't be comfortable around Jesus OR Heavenly Father ... so the Holy Ghost will visit them and teach them.
  • Outer Darkness is the worst place. Please don't go there, okay?
    The individuals who end up here have gone through a second spiritual death. They have no desire to repent. They will live under Satan's rule.

    This isn't just a place where people who've just made some REALLY BAD DECISIONS (e.g., Adolf Hitler, etc.) go ... No.

    The people who will inhabit this level of not-glory will have had a clear and full understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ ... but will have allowed themselves to fall away to the point they deny the Holy Spirit (after receiving it [Doctrine and Covenants 76:35]) AND Jesus Christ.
    And, what's sadder is that they've gotten to the point where they CAN'T repent. (The link takes you to an article from the April 1986 Ensign where H. Donl Peterson, BYU professor of Ancient Scripture, discusses the meaning of "Hell" in the Book of Mormon. It's actually a really great, rather deep, answer that gives a lot of information.
  • Those who will end up in Outer Darkness have chosen to live in a way where they do not get to receive any part of Heavenly Father's glory. 
And you know how I totally just gave a shout-out about Institute? You should totally check out the Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual chapter about Section 76. It's good stuff. Just because you're not in Institute doesn't mean that you can't check out those awesome manuals!

While we were talking about Outer Darkness, it suddenly occurred to me that those who are in Outer Darkness didn't just deny the power of the Holy Ghost. They also are denying him to be around them. This is something that had never occurred to me before. So, THANK YOU for helping me to get to a place where I was able to receive a little bit of revelation/inspiration as we taught each other. It was a really wonderful experience.

I know that this is crazy-long (AGAIN) ... but, well, the gospel is pretty awesome. And I just want you to know that these things are important. And knowing them will help you to be a better missionary and a better person. I love you guys and I really want you to be able to progress and be way better than I was at your age. If there's anything that you especially want to know or have been wondering, let me know and I'll work to research it (or, better yet, to help YOU research it). ^_^

Go be awesome! The world needs your righteous influence!
     Love,
          Sister Cox

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