Thursday, February 20, 2014

Joseph Fielding Smith chapter 3~The Plan of Salvation

First~If you haven't already, let me beg of you~read the part "The Life and Ministry of Joseph Fielding Smith."  So wonderful!  I loved reading it and learning about our beloved former Prophet.  So many great things in there.  He truly was an amazingly great man!

Okay~This was my first lesson to teach in Relief Society this year and there was SO many information in this chapter.  It's definitely one of the longer ones.  I didn't even get to the last few pages, but I will give you my complete thoughts and insights.  

I started out with sharing the story at the very beginning about his reaction to his sister's death, while he was nearly done serving a mission.

"On April 29, 1901, Joseph Fielding Smith’s 18-year-old sister Alice died after an extended illness. Joseph was just finishing a full-time mission in England. His response to the news of Alice’s passing revealed his love for his family and his testimony of the plan of salvation. “It is a dreadful blow to us all,” he recorded in his journal. “I did not realize the seriousness of her illness although I knew she was sick. I fully expected to meet her again with the rest of the family within a few weeks, but the will of God be done. It is at such times that the hopes which the gospel present[s] to us are most welcome. We shall all meet again on the other side to enjoy the pleasures and blessings of each other’s presence, where family ties will no more be broken, but where we shall all live to receive the blessings, and realize the tender mercies of our Father in heaven. May I always walk in the path of truth, and honor the name I bear, that the meetings with my kindred may be to me indeed most sweet and everlasting, is my humble prayer."

How amazing!  I look at people with those thoughts and reactions regarding death of loved ones with such admiration!  Cory (my husband) has a cousin and his wife who, a little over a month ago, lost their six month old daughter.  Undoubtedly they struggle understanding it, but they make remarks about how even though they don't understand it and miss her terribly, they know He has other plans for her and He needed her on the other side.  They truly amaze me because I look at my children and I cannot even imagine losing one of them in this life and I'm not positive I would have enough faith to make it through with such comments and insight.  

"Serving as an Apostle and later as President of the Church, President Joseph Fielding Smith repeatedly testified of the hope that comes through an understanding of the gospel. He taught, “We have the plan of salvation; we administer the gospel; and the gospel is the sole hope of the world, the one way that will bring peace on earth and right the wrongs that exist in all nations.”

I then had someone read #1: While attending a sacrament meeting during the summer months, I was fortunate to hear messages from three students who were home from school for the summer. One of the talks especially interested me.

She had been working during the summer recess in a restaurant frequented by truck drivers. One driver who had a regular run stopped at the restaurant on the same day each week to eat. The regularity of the stop created an opportunity for short visits. He asked the young lady where she lived. She reported that she was home for the summer to earn money to return to school in the fall. His next question was, “Where do you attend school?” Her answer with pride: “BYU–Idaho.” He wanted to know more about the school, which led to a gospel discussion. Her first approach was to teach him about the Word of Wisdom. She was successful. She convinced him to give up smoking.
Then her shift was changed, and she no longer had the opportunity to serve him, so she wrote him a note and enclosed a Church missionary tract about the plan of salvation. After several days she received a note from the driver. It simply stated, “You’ve created a monster.” Thanks to this young woman he had found information which caused him to think about the changes he must make in his life. I do not know the full outcome of this little encounter between a waitress and a truck driver, but clearly his life was affected.
She then went on to explain how easy it is to let others know about the beauties of the gospel. Opportunities are there every day in our normal pursuits of life to open our mouths to let people know of the gospel truths that will bless them here and now and into the eternities to come.
Many people wonder, “Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?” Our Eternal Father did not send us to earth on an aimless, meaningless journey. He provided for us a plan to follow. He is the author of that plan. It is designed for man’s progress and ultimate salvation and exaltation.   ~Told by Elder L. Tom Perry

She was so ready and open to sharing the gospel.  She even remarks how easy it is to share the gospel. 
It really is true.  And the Plan of Salvation, or the Plan of Happiness, is a great starter point.  So many people love the fact that families are forever.  They like the thought that we are here for a purpose, not just to be here and that nothing happens after this life.  The Plan of Salvation resonates with lots of people!

"We are all members of the family of our Father in Heaven. We lived and dwelt with Him before the foundations of this earth were laid. We saw His face, felt His love, and heard His teachings, and He ordained the laws whereby we are able to advance and progress and gain eternal family units of our own.

"This plan was designed to enable them to advance and progress until they obtain eternal life, which is the name of the kind of life our Father in Heaven lives. This plan is to enable the children of God to become like him and have the power and wisdom and knowledge which he possesses."

Someone read number 2: "Preach My Gospel:
“God is the Father of our spirits. We are literally His children, and He loves us. We lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before we were born on this earth. We were not, however, like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body.
“God’s whole purpose—His work and His glory—is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings. He has provided a perfect plan to accomplish His purpose. We understood and accepted this plan before we came to the earth” ([2004], 48).

"The experience and knowledge obtained in this mortal life, they could not get in any other way, and the receiving of a physical body was essential to their exaltation.

"The Fall was an essential part of man’s mortal probation. … Had Adam and Eve not partaken, the great gift of mortality would not have come to them. Moreover, they would have had no posterity, and the great commandment given to them by the Lord would not have been fulfilled.

"It brought pain, it brought sorrow, it brought death; but we must not lose sight of the fact that it brought blessings also. … It brought the blessing of knowledge and understanding and mortal life."

We all to often forget that part.  Yes, because of their decision to partake of the fruit..we experience sadness, anger, death, failure, etc.  But, because of their choice, we experience goodness, happiness, gratitude, etc.  We could not know or understand the good if we didn't know and experience the bad.  

#3~"~ “There are two purposes for life in mortality. The first is that we might gain experiences that we could not obtain in any other way. The second is to obtain tabernacles of flesh and bones. Both of these purposes are vital to the existence of man. We are now being tried and tested to see if we will do all the things the Lord has commanded us to do. These commandments are the principles and ordinances of the gospel, and they constitute the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every principle and ordinance has a bearing upon the whole purpose of our testing, which is to prepare us to return to our Heavenly Father and become more like Him.”  ~Elder L. Tom Perry

I paraphrased the first few paragraphs on pg.62 of the book and read the following:
"It is our duty to teach the mission of Jesus Christ. Why did he come? What did he do for us? How are we benefited? What did it cost him to do it? Why it cost his life, yes, more than his life! What did he do besides being nailed on the cross? Why was he nailed there? He was nailed there that his blood might be shed to redeem us from this most terrible penalty that could ever come, banishment from the presence of God. He died on the cross to bring us back again, to have our bodies and spirits reunited. He gave us that privilege. If we will only believe in him and keep his commandments, he died for us that we might receive a remission of our sins and not be called upon to pay penalty. He paid the price. …

… No man could do what he did for us. He did not have to die, he could have refused. He did it voluntarily. He did it because it was a commandment from his Father. He knew what the suffering was going to be; and yet, because of his love for us, he was willing to do it. …

The driving of the nails into his hands and into the Savior’s feet was the least part of his suffering. We get into the habit, I think, of feeling, or thinking that his great suffering was being nailed to the cross and left to hang there. Well, that was a period in the world’s history when thousands of men suffered that way. So his suffering, so far as that is concerned, was not any more than the suffering of other men who have been so crucified. What, then, was his great suffering? I wish we could impress this fact upon the minds of every member of this Church: His great suffering occurred before he ever went to the cross. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane, so the scriptures tell us, that blood oozed from every pore of his body; and in the extreme agony of his soul, he cried to his Father. It was not the nails driven into his hands and feet. Now do not ask me how that was done because I do not know. Nobody knows. All we know is that in some way he took upon himself that extreme penalty. He took upon him our transgressions, and paid a price, a price of torment.

Think of the Savior carrying the united burden of every individual—torment—in some way which I say, I cannot understand; I just accept—which caused him to suffer an agony of pain, compared to which the driving of the nails in his hands and feet was very little. He cried in His anguish, to His Father, “If it be possible, let this cup pass!” and it could not pass [see Matthew 26:42Mark 14:36Luke 22:42]. Let me read you just a word or two here of what the Lord says in regard to that:
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of the pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” [D&C 19:16–19.]
"When I read that it humbles me. His love for humanity, for the world, was so great that he was willing to carry a burden that no mortal man could carry, and pay an awful price that no other person ever could have paid, that we might escape."
The class and I got into a discussion about what Christ did for us and how amazing it is that he did that in order for us to avoid it.  But, it's completely up to us if we have to suffer those things or not.  If we don't repent, we will have to suffer the physical pain that He did for us.  
I added in this talk I found on  Brother Gerrard compares the Plan of Salvation to a flight plan of a pilot.  There are normal, abnormal, and emergency procedures we should familiarize ourselves with each day in order to overcome those things in life that come up.  He asks, "Are you familiar with your flight plan of life—the Lord’s plan of salvation? Can you effectively use the normal, abnormal, and emergency procedures, or principles the Lord has provided? Do you study, practice, train, and rehearse these divine principles? Are you prepared in every respect to follow this great plan of salvation?
If not, then do as we do in the airlines—enroll yourself in a refresher course, the Lord’s recurrent training:
    Become more actively involved in Christ’s teachings.
    Always attend sacrament meeting, and keep the Sabbath day holy.
    Pay tithes and offerings more faithfully.
    Be morally clean.
    Pray regularly and with more purity of purpose.
    Hold family home evening.
    Study the scriptures.
    Give more of yourself to others.
    Show more love to family and friends.
    Be an example of goodness, compassion, and charity.
(and I put each of those on the board in large words as I read them)
The Prophet Joseph Smith told us, “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” We should all do likewise."
Then, back in the manual, President Smith gives us five things the plan of salvation consists of.  (I also put these up on the board in large words so everyone could read them)! 
"First, we must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; we must accept him as the Son of God; we must put our trust in him, rely upon his word, and desire to gain the blessings which come by obedience to his laws.
Second, we must repent of our sins; we must forsake the world; we must determine in our hearts, without reservation, that we will live godly and upright lives.
Third, we must be baptized in water, under the hands of a legal administrator, who has power to bind on earth and seal in heaven; we must, through this sacred ordinance, enter into a covenant to serve the Lord and keep his commandments.
Fourth, we must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; we must be born again; we must have sin and iniquity burned out of our souls as though by fire; we must gain a new creation by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Fifth, we must endure to the end; we must keep the commandments after baptism; we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord; we must so live as to acquire the attributes of godliness and become the kind of people who can enjoy the glory and wonders of the celestial kingdom."
"We are, all of us here in this mortal world, on probation. We were sent here primarily to obtain tabernacles [bodies] for our eternal spirits; secondly, to be proved by trial, to have tribulation as well as the abundant joy and happiness that can be obtained through a sacred covenant of obedience to the eternal principles of the gospel. Mortality, as Lehi informed his children, is a “probationary state.” (2 Nephi 2:21.) It is here where we are to be tried and tested to see if we will, when shut out of the presence of our Eternal Father but still instructed in the way of eternal life, love and revere him and be true to his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
"We came here to be tested and proved by coming in contact with evil as well as the good. … The Father has permitted Satan and his hosts to tempt us, but by the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord and the commandments given through revelation, we are prepared to make our choice. If we do evil, we have been promised that we will be punished; if we do good, we will receive the eternal reward of righteousness.
"...This life is the most vital period in our eternal existence"
I shared an experience I had with my son.  We were sitting in Sacrament meeting a few months ago.  He turned to me (he was 5 when this happened) and says, "So when we make good choices, we are following Jesus right?"  I confirmed.  He continued, "So that means when we make bad choices we are following Satan.  We either follow one or the other then, always, right?"  And although it's kinda something we all know, it took me back for a minute.  I told him he was right but my mind kept going.  I love the simple, honest wisdom of a child.  It's so simple but something so many of us constantly forget!  We are choosing, with every choice we make, whom we will follow: Christ or Satan!  
(the rest I had planned but because of time I didn't get to finish)
"Physical death, or the death of the mortal man, is not a permanent separation of the spirit and the tabernacle of flesh, notwithstanding the fact that the body returns again to the elements, but is only a temporary separation which shall cease at the resurrection day when the body shall be called forth from the dust to live again animated by spirit. This blessing comes to all men through the atonement of Christ, irrespective of their goodness or wickedness while in mortality. Paul said there should be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15), and the Savior said that all who were in their graves should hear his voice and should come forth “they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29).
"Every fundamental part of every body will be restored to its proper place again in the resurrection, no matter what may become of the body in death. If it be burned by fire, eaten by sharks, no matter what. Every fundamental part of it will be restored to its own proper place.
"Spirits cannot be made perfect without the body of flesh and bones. This body and its spirit are brought to immortality and blessings of salvation through the resurrection. After the resurrection there can be no separation again, body and spirit become inseparably connected that man may receive a fulness of joy. In no other way, other than birth into this life and the resurrection, can spirits become like our eternal Father.
"The Scriptures say that eternal life—which is the life possessed by our Eternal Father and his Son, Jesus Christ,—is the greatest gift of God [seeD&C 14:7]. Only those shall receive it who are cleansed from all sin. It is promised to those “who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true. They are they who are the church of the Firstborn. They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things.” [D&C 76:53–55; see also verse 52.]
This plan of salvation is family centered. … [It] is designed to enable us to create eternal family units of our own.28
Those who receive the exaltation in the celestial kingdom will have the “continuation of the seeds forever.” They will live in the family relationship.
We are taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ that the family organization will be, so far as celestial exaltation is concerned, one that is complete, an organization linked from father and mother and children of one generation to the father and mother and children of the next generation, and thus expanding and spreading out down to the end of time.
These glorious blessings of eternal inheritance … do not come except through willingness to keep the commandments and even to suffer with Christ if need be."
Some was to read #4: 
“What I think all of us need to do is to determine where we stand in every field of mortal endeavor. Then, based on the general overall concepts that are clear and plain, we make a determination on how we will live in this field or in that field in order to pass the probationary estate in order to succeed in the test of mortality. If we make the right choices, we’ll go on to eternal reward, and if we do not, then we’ll get some lower and lesser place in the kingdoms that are prepared.
“… Everyone in the Church who is on the straight and narrow path, who is striving and struggling and desiring to do what is right, though [he] is far from perfect in this life; if he passes out of this life while he’s on the straight and narrow, he’s going to go on to eternal reward in his Father’s kingdom” ~Elder Bruce R. McConkie

"When we have come out of the world and have received the gospel in its fulness, we are candidates for celestial glory; nay, we are more than candidates, if we are faithful, for the Lord has given unto us the assurance that through our faithfulness, we shall enter into the celestial kingdom. …
… Let us live so that we will be assured of our place, and so we will know, through the lives we live, that we shall enter into His presence and dwell with Him, receiving the fulness of the blessings that have been promised. 
"It is necessary for us, in our humility, and in the spirit of repentance, to press on and on; keeping the commandments unto the end, for our hope and our goal is eternal life, and that is life in the presence of the Father and of the Son; “And this is life eternal,” said the Lord,” that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” [John 17:3.
"I am sure that we all love the Lord. I know that he lives, and I look forward to that day when I shall see his face, and I hope to hear his voice say unto me: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34.)
And I pray that this may be the happy lot of all of us, in our own due time."
This lesson was so long!  It was MUCH more reading that I normally care to do, but it was just so packed with information there wasn't much choice of ways to teach it than to read directly from him on this one!  It really held so much in it and I really enjoyed preparing and teaching this lesson!!
Have a happy day~Kasey
Links to the lesson and talks I used:

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