Gospel Principles Lesson #3

January 31, 2010 | 11 comments
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RS Lesson #3: Jesus Christ, Our Chosen Savior and Leader

Introduction
Story from Carlfred Broderick, a former stake president and professor of marriage and family therapy. There was an LDS family he knew who needed help with a wayward teen but they lived on the opposite side of the city, so he sent them to another therapist (who happened to be Jewish) who was a friend who he trusted:

After only a couple of weeks, I got a call from my friend. ‘Carl, I need some help with this couple you referred to me.’ ‘What’s the problem? They probably just need to loosen up the parental iron fist a little.’ ‘That’s right. If they don’t, this kid is about to run away from home or attempt suicide or do something else drastic. But, Carl, every time I suggest any movement in the direction of loosening up, they patiently explain to me that I just don’t understand their religious obligation, as Mormon parents, to keep this kid in line. Frankly, I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t want to attack their religious beliefs, but the situation is explosive.’ I thought a moment and then said, ‘Here’s what you do. First, tell them that during the time you have been working with them, you have developed a real curiosity about the Mormon religion. This will serve to get their attention. Then say that there is one issue that keeps coming up when you ask about it that has you mystified. You keep hearing about some ‘war in heaven,’ but you can never quite figure out what it is about.’ ‘That’s it? I just ask them to explain the ‘war in heaven’?’ ‘That’s it.’ ‘Carl, what’s the war in heaven?’ ‘It doesn’t matter; just do what I said and let me know how it goes.’ A few days later he called. ‘Carl, I can’t believe it. I did what you said, and it was like magic.’ ‘So tell me about the session.’ ‘Well, as you suggested, I told them that since I started working with them I had gotten sort of interested in the Mormon religion. You wouldn’t believe the response. Even the rebellious teenage kid promised to give me a copy of some book on the Church with the family picture in the front. Then I said there was just one thing that kind of confused me about their beliefs. . . . What was this war in heaven? Well, the mom didn’t as much as take a minute to collect her thoughts. In seconds she had launched into some story about a council in heaven and two plans and she gets about three minutes into it and she stops cold in her tracks and gives me a funny look and says, ‘All right, Doctor, you’ve made your point.’ From that moment on they were like putty in my hands. It was like magic.’ . . . Of course, there was no magic. This good LDS woman simply had the unnerving experience of explaining Satan’s plan to an ‘investigator’ and, in the midst of her explanation, recognizing it as substantially her own version of responsible Mormon parenting as she had outlined it to him the week before. She understood the gospel principle fully; she just had been blinded to its applicability to her everyday challenges as a parent.’

I like this story because it shows how what might seem like obscure gospel teachings have applications that can make a real difference in our lives. Also because that last sentence is scary and sad and I worry about it! Today’s topic concerns the selection of Jesus Christ as our Savior and the war and heaven and I’d like to focus our discussion on how these beliefs can impact our lives everyday.

A Savior and Leader Was Needed
–This sections asks why we needed to leave God’s presence and why we need a Savior. I’d like to explore those questions, but not in abstract theological terms but rather in concrete terms. What have you learned since you have left God’s presence and what benefit has a Savior been to you?
–From the manual: “When the plan for our salvation was presented to us in the premortal spirit world, we were so happy that we shouted for joy.” I find this fascinating: I think it would be pretty darn cool to be in God’s presence, what with no humidity and no whining, and I’m trying to imagine what benefit we would have seen in the plan of salvation–which, after all, requires a lot of hard work and listening to a LOT of whining–that would have made us shout for joy.
–“Here am I, send me.” I get the “send me” but I don’t know about the “here am I.” What work do those words do? NB that Satan also says “here am I.” (Other scriptural uses: Samuel, Isaac at Akadah, Esau taking blessing, Jacob, et al.)


Jesus Christ Became Our Chosen Leader and Savior

–(Combine with final section.)

The War in Heaven
–Think about a problem or trial you are currently facing as I read this section from the manual. Did you find anything here that helps you think differently about your problem?
–Literally playing “devil’s advocate:” Can we get into the minds of those who followed Satan in the pre-existence? What might have motivated them? In what ways might we be tempted to act according to those same motives today?
–I thought the discussion of evil spirits in this section was interesting. Where’s the line, when thinking about our misdeeds, between thinking Satan made me do it and taking responsibility for it? Another way of asking this might be: What’s the point of thinking that we are being tempted by evil spirits? Does it just make us take less responsibility for our choices?
–“The war in heaven” is a metaphor; there were not, you know, machine guns. Why is this a useful metaphor? At what point does the metaphor break down?

We Have the Savior’s Teachings to Follow
–“He taught the plan of salvation and exaltation by His word and by the way He lived.” I like the idea that he taught by the way he lived . . . . What incidents from Jesus’ life are particularly meaningful to you?

Conclusion
–President Packer has compared mortality to being thrust on stage during the second act of a three-act play and having people be mad at you because you don’t know your lines! Needless to say, the action is confusing . . . but when we know the script, we can understand the second act and we can take great comfort in knowing that all of the conflicts of this act will be resolved in the third act.

11 Responses to Gospel Principles Lesson #3

  1. Clair on January 31, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I always perk up at the name of Carlfred Broderick. He wrote a thin book on marriage that was an enormous help to me 25 years ago. And I enjoyed his son Carl as a fellow ward member at UCLA.

    Thanks for those thoughtful questions. My first impression is that we cannot get into the minds of those who followed Satan in any literal or likely way. We just don’t know enough about that existence. We can, however, apply the story to our lives and choices.

    As in your question, I have wondered what difference it makes to believe in an active adversary. Sometimes I think my bad ideas and bad actions are all my doing. Is that prideful? On the positive side, knowing of our active Advocate, our Comforter and our Savior has been helpful in dealing with daily trials.

  2. Alison Moore Smith on January 31, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Julie, I always love your lesson plans. Thank you for sharing these insights. Again.

  3. Chelsea McKell on February 10, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Thank you for posting this! I’m teaching RS this Sunday so I just did an online search in hopes that someone had posted something that would help. I’ll use several parts of this. Thankyou!

  4. Florence on February 12, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Thank you for this wonderful lesson, this helps me a lot!

  5. Darrell on February 13, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I’ve been researching for the lesson on Sunday as well.

    Relative to those who followed Satan, I wonder if he enticed them with promises (that he couldn’t or had no intention of delivering (see Alma 30:60)) of power or if they followed him because of his Charisma – why did so many people follow Hitler – either because of potential rewards of power over others or because they were enthralled with his speaking ability. I believe Satan was that persuasive that many were blinded by his true motive. He deceived Eve who obviously was one of the most gifted and righteous of Father’s children. How hard would it be to deceive others? It is also clear to me that Cain barely gained his Second Estate because no matter how much the Lord tried, he “loved Satan more than God”. It is something that he found a kindred spirit and in that aspect is how I believe others were deceived and followed Satan.

    I’m also struck by how much of Satan’s plan was not so much to really help us get back to Father’s presence as it was a grab at getting Father’s power for himself. I’m now convinced he didn’t care, he just wanted our agency so that he could make himself God. (see D&C 29:36 – give me thine honor which is thy power” – think about that part).

    Even those these lessons are supposed to be about basic doctrine, there is much to be learned for those who want to dig deeper.

  6. Beth on February 13, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks for the insightful questions; your wording on the evil spirits was much appreciated (I was trying to get there!) Do you have the reference for President Packer’s comparison to a 3-Act play?

    I’m teaching this lesson in RS tomorrow and will be talking a little bit about how in the Sacrament Prayer it is said that we should “always remember Him.” To remember something, you have to know it in the first place. I like how this has the dual meaning of knowing the Saviour in the pre-existence, and then renewing our knowledge and understanding of Him continually in this life.

    I also plan to focus on the verb “seeth” in the scripture from John 6:40 (in the manaul), “that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.” So, I’m going to talk about the active processes of remembering and seeing the Saviour in these latter-days, in our everyday lives.

  7. Julie M. Smith on February 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    “Do you have the reference for President Packer’s comparison to a 3-Act play?”

    Er, too lazy to find it . . . but I believe CES actually made a video out of it . . . I can remember a teen boy on stage and a girl hissing at him because he doesn’t know his lines . . .

  8. Keith on February 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I think the three act play was first mentioned in one of Elder Packer’s conference talks in the 80s. Regardless of that, here’s a report of a more recent version http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/58775/New-missions-10-announced-in-seven-areas.html
    and a link to the talk itself http://emp.byui.edu/huffr/The%20Play%20and%20the%20Plan%20–%20Boyd%20K.%20Packer.htm

  9. Keith on February 13, 2010 at 3:53 pm
  10. Derek on February 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    I really liked the first story. As a parent I always felt the pressure to teach my children and then have them follow these teachings. I have always found it hard to let them make their own choices when I knew what the consequences would be. Also, I was afraid of being seen as a ‘failure’ as a parent.
    Where is the line between letting them do anything they want, and insisting that they follow family rules and expectations? They are all grown now and raising their own children.
    A friend recently commented in church that if she knew how her children would have turned out, then maybe she wouldn’t have been so hard on them when they were growing up. I think we have all heard similar statements over the years. I spoke to her afterwards and said that maybe the reason they turned out they way thay did was exactly becuase of the way she was so hard on them.
    Thanks for posting these lesson helps.

  11. Beth on February 14, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Thanks, Keith for posting the link to President Packer’s 3-Act play metaphor.