Today was my first time teach Gospel Doctrine class. I was just called last week, set apart, and given a manual. I was sent right to the task to prepare the lesson. As I was reading different stories and sources that correlate with the topic, I came across the following quote that I thought was very appropriate:
“The goal of gospel teaching is not to show how much the teacher knows, nor is it merely to increase knowledge about the Church. The specific goal of teaching in the Church is to help bring about worthwhile changes in the lives of the members. The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles” (Then an Elder of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Thomas S. Monson, 1970).
Old Testament Sunday School: Lesson #2
11 Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made;
12 And he said unto me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
Abraham was chosen before he was born (v. 23). He was foreordained in the pre-mortal existence to be a prophet and leader in God’s kingdom.
“Foreordination is God’s pre-mortal ordination of His spirit children to fulfill certain missions during their mortal lives” (Old Testament teacher’s manual, pg. 5-6).
So Abraham was among the chosen spirits foreordained to be leaders in the Lord’s Church throughout mortality, as well as into the spirit world and into the eternities.
On October 3, 1918 Joseph F. Smith received a series of communes with the Lord through the Holy Ghost. He had been reading the 3rd and 4th chapters in the 1st Epistle of Peter, when his heart and eyes were opened and he received his lesson of understanding concerning our premortal life, and the spirit world.
53 The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work,
56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.
57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.
Some of the other “noble and great ones” are Moses, Adam, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, John Taylor, Wilfred Woodruff, Nephi, Alma, and basically all of the prophets of old and of today.
But foreordination did not guarantee that Abraham, Joseph Smith, and the “other noble and great ones” would reach their calling. That was dependent on how they chose to live their lives. There is a distinct relationship between foreordination and agency. With the veil intact, we cannot remember what happened in our premortal existence, and without that knowledge, we have to strive to choose righteousness in order to take steps toward our foreordained ministry. The manual states, “Even though a person is foreordained to a calling, that calling is dependent on the person’s worthiness and willingness to accept it.”
I have hinted at this, but prophets are not the only of God’s children who were foreordained in the premortal life. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:
“God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the second coming of the Lord. Some individuals will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head—even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God has saved for the final inning some of His strongest children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. …
“… Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of us” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , 104–5).
Each one of us accepted our mortal life before we came to earth. We understood what our specific mission would be. We understood what our trials would be, and we gladly accepted them with the understanding that we could become like God if we choose righteous paths and endured to the end. Your bishop was foreordained to be the bishop for your ward at this time, as well as your stake president and other leaders in the church. Relief Society, Primary, Young Women, Young Men, all of the leaders were foreordained to be the leaders of those auxiliaries at this time.
How about you? What were you foreordained to do? How can we even begin to learn or understand what we individually were foreordained to accomplish in the name of our Father in Heaven? We can turn to our patriarchal blessings. We can pray, and as we study the scriptures and our patriarchal blessings, we can understand step by step what we are called to do.
Another great thing about this lesson is found in 138:56, “Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.”
The “noble and great ones” were taught by Heavenly Father before they came to earth! They were schooled by many, I’m sure. Jesus Christ, Father Adam, and many other great men/prophets, and women who were foreordained.
Knowing what we all have foreordained callings in our lives, we have to understand, that we too were taught and educated by our Father in Heaven before we came to earth. This is one of my very favorite aspects of this lesson. It is one of many evidences of God’s love for each of us.
Those foreordained to be leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can come from all different walks of life. Vaughn J. Featherstone came from a home where family prayer never took place. In fact, he grew up being afraid to even ask if they could pray together. President Thomas S. Monson alternately grew up at about the same time, in a prayerful home. A home that studied the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the ancient prophets, and the latter-day prophets. But both men grew up with righteous desires, and ultimately both became leaders for the world-wide Church of God.
Consider Abraham. He grew up during a time of idolatry and wickedness. His father worshiped idols. In fact, his father allowed Abraham to be sacrificed. But when Abraham was on the altar, and angel of God stopped the ceremony and saved Abraham from his father’s wickedness. Abraham didn’t learn righteousness from his father. But he was a good man. He had righteous desires, and turned out to be one of God’s very favorite prophets of old. So blessed was he, that Abraham was promised that his seed would be as numerous as the sands of the sea (The Abrahamic Covenant). This comparison came from the following blog
LDS Gospel Doctrine Plus.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: “What we insistently desire, over time is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.”
My mom and dad are on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo Illinois. About 3 weeks ago now, my mom ended her letter with the following statement that I felt really belonged with this lesson.
She said, “Here is a closing thought, something that came into my mind yesterday as I was leaving the temple. No matter what your background, where your are from, where you have been, what you have done, who your parents are, what they did, or what they taught you– whatever your past is should not limit you as to what you can become because you are a child of a loving Heavenly Father. You have unlimited potential to become like Him. The decision is yours. It’s up to you.”
To read their latest letter click here –> Christmas Well Wishes.
Take the time to understand the doctrine of foreordination, and what Father in Heaven needs you to do to help His work move forward. You are a child of God. He loves you perfectly and completely. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I wish there was a way to record all of the comments that were made, so that I could share more fully the conversation during the class, but you will just have to let the Spirit direct you personally.