My wife and I are preparing to teach a Temple Preparation class. Here are our notes for lesson 1.
Lesson One Instruction Plan
The Temple Teaches the Plan of Salvation
Total time: 45 minutes
Time: 10 minutes
In ancient times, when prophets would want to communicate with God, they would travel to a high mountain—symbolic of leaving Earth and approaching heaven itself. Moses, for example, spoke with God face to face in a high mountain.
Read Moses 1:27-30
Question: What question did Moses ask God?
Read Moses 1:31-40 & the chapter headings for Moses 1-6
Question: How did God respond to Moses’s question?
This is where we originally got the Book of Genesis—direct revelation from God to Moses on the mountain top. Moses went to commune with God, and learned about the creation, the fall, and the redemption made possible by Christ.
The temple is often referred to as the “Mountain of the Lord,” because it is where we go to commune with God and symbolically visit His throne. And, like Moses, we too are taught about the creation, the fall, and the redemption made possible through Christ. In short, the temple can be our own mountaintop where we can experience in a tangible way the kind of revelatory experience that Moses had, in our own personal encounter with God.
Time: 15 minutes
In the temple, we learn about the Plan of Salvation.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said that the temple “becomes a school of instruction in the sweet and sacred things of God. Here we have outlined the plan of a loving Father in behalf of His sons and daughters of all generations. Here we have sketched before us the odyssey of man’s eternal journey from premortal existence through this life to the life beyond. Great fundamental and basic truths are taught with clarity and simplicity well within the understanding of all who hear.”
Let’s review and re-familiarize ourselves with the basics of the Plan of Salvation.
Have each person draw a diagram of the plan of salvation, and include on it all the details they can remember. This is intended to be a review, so don’t spend too much time on this section.
For Premortal Life, read Abraham 3:22-27; Moses 4:1-4
For The Fall, read 2 Nephi 2:19-25
For Mortal Life, read Alma 34:32
For Death and Resurrection, read 1 Corinthians 15:22
For Three Degrees of Glory, read 1 Corinthians 35, 40-42
It’s important to remember that the Fall brought about both physical and spiritual death. Physical death is the separation of the body and the spirit. Spiritual death is a separation from God. Christ helps us overcome both by bringing us back to life and helping us return to God’s presence.
Question: Where did you first learn about the Plan of Salvation?
Question: Why is it important to know about the Plan of Salvation?
Question: How has knowing about the Plan of Salvation helped you in your life?
Time: 20 minutes
The temple helps us to understand and personalize the Plan of Salvation. In the temple, awe learn how to apply the story of the creation, the Fall, and redemption to our own lives. Let’s start with a quote from Bruce R. McKonkie:
The three greatest events that ever have occurred or ever will occur in all eternity are these:
1. The creation of the heavens and the earth, of man, and of all forms of life;
2. The fall of man, of all forms of life, and of the earth itself from their … paradisiacal state to their present mortal state; and
3. The … atonement, which ransoms man, all living things, and the earth also from their fallen state. …
These three events—the three pillars of eternity—are inseparably woven together into … [the] plan of salvation.
Why are these three events so crucial? Because, McKonkie explains, the atonement is only possible because of the fall, and the fall is only possible because of the creation. These three events serve as the foundation for the Plan of Salvation.
Read Alma 22:13, Mormon 9:12, Alma 18:36 & 39
Note: These three passages are just a few examples among many that describe the Plan of Salvation in these three stages: creation, fall, redemption.
The Lord explains to Adam, “The fall … bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world … even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven.” We conceptualize it this way: creation makes birth possible, the fall makes death possible, and the atonement makes rebirth possible.
There’s two ways in which this happens. The creation makes physical birth possible. The Fall of Adam makes physical death possible. And Christ makes resurrection possible. These are the physical effects of the creation, the fall of Adam, and the Atonement of Christ. They are universally experiences. We all are born, die, and then are resurrected by Christ, no matter how good or bad we’ve been.
If spiritual death is separation from God, then spiritual life is life with God.
Read John 17:3
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God. This is a form of spiritual life. After they violated God’s commandment, they were separated from God. This is spiritual death. They were then instructed to turn to Christ and His Atonement for redemption, and take upon themselves His name and His attributes. This is spiritual rebirth.
This is a path each of us journey through in our own lives. We are born into this world innocent. Before we become accountable, we are as Adam and Eve, innocent with God in the Garden of Eden. We each then sin, and separate ourselves from God, just like Adam and Eve did. Sin disqualifies us from the presence of the Spirit. And then we must be spiritually reborn through Christ. This is a path that every person takes in this life. We travel from a state of innocence with God, to a state of fallen separation from God, and then we must personally journey back to God by turning to Christ.
In other words, Adam and Eve’s story is our story—we can liken the story unto ourselves, and put ourselves in Adam and Eve’s roles. Where are we in the story? Physically, we’ve been born, and are still awaiting physical death and physical rebirth through Christ (resurrection). Spiritually, we have been innocent, and we have sinned and experienced spiritual death, and are now seeking spiritual rebirth through Christ. We are journeying back into God’s presence.
This journey back to God has three different stages, which each represent three different ways of living our lives. Through Christ, we are raised from a Telestial life (a life of sin) to a Terrestrial life (a life of righteous living). Then, again through Christ, we are raised from a Terrestrial life (a life of righteous living) to a state of exaltation, a way of life that qualifies us to enter into the presence of God Himself and dwell with Him in the Celestial Kingdom. This is the process of spiritual rebirth through Christ’s atonement.
Brigham Young said, “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father.”
The temple is a symbolic mountaintop where, like Moses, we can figuratively approach God’s throne and converse with Him. In the process, we can, like Moses, view and be instructed in the “why” of this earth and mortal existence, which includes the story of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement, which are the three central pillars of the Plan of Salvation. During this story, we can liken ourselves to Adam and Eve, as we, with them, experience the creation, the fall, and the journey back to God through Christ. In this way, the temple helps make the Plan of Salvation relevant in our daily lives.