Friday, March 19, 2010

Gospel Principles: The Fall of Adam and Eve

Sunday March 21, 2010
"Chapter 6: The Fall of Adam and Eve,” Gospel Principles, (2009), 26–30

Goal of the Lesson

To develop an appreciation and gratitude for Adam and Eve for choosing to commence mortality for the rest of humankind.

1.      Adam and Eve Were the First to Come to Earth
2.      The Garden of Eden
3.      Adam and Eve's Separation from God
4.      Great Blessings Resulted from the Transgression

Adam and Eve Were the First to Come to Earth

What evidence helps us know that Adam and Eve were valiant spirits?

  • They were pioneers (Moses 1:34, 4:26) and generally speaking, you would have to be valiant and faithful to be a pioneer.  They were to “set the tone” for the rest of us.
  • Adam was Michael the archangel who led the battle against Satan and a third of the hosts of heaven (see D&C 27:11 and Revelation 12:7-9)
What can we learn from the examples of Adam and Eve?

The Garden of Eden

Under what conditions did Adam and Even live in the Garden of Eden?

From the book “When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they were not yet mortal. In this state, “they would have had no children” (2 Nephi 2:23). There was no death. They had physical life because their spirits were housed in physical bodies made from the dust of the earth (see Moses 6:59; Abraham 5:7). They had spiritual life because they were in the presence of God. They had not yet made a choice between good and evil.

God commanded them to have children. He said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over … every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Moses 2:28). God told them they could freely eat of every tree in the garden except one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of that tree God said, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Moses 3:17).

Satan, not knowing the mind of God but seeking to destroy God’s plan, came to Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tempted her to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He assured her that she and Adam would not die, but that they would “be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Moses 4:11). Eve yielded to the temptation and ate the fruit. When Adam learned what had happened, he chose to partake also. The changes that came upon Adam and Eve because they ate the fruit are called the Fall.”

Adam and Eve's Separation from God

What physical and spiritual changes occurred in Adam and Even as a result of their transgression?
  • Physically, they became mortal – subject to death. 
  • Spiritually, they were separated from the presence of God.
  • Because of these two changes, they had “fallen.”
Great Blessings Resulted from the Transgression

How does the Fall provide opportunities for us to become like Heavenly Father?

Joseph Fielding Smith said, "When Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden, he was in the presence of God our Eternal Father. He talked with the Father and the Father with him. But something happened, and it had to happen: Adam partook of certain fruit. My Bible, the King James Version, [speaks in a commentator’s note] of Adam’s Fall [as] “man’s shameful fall.” Well, it wasn’t a shameful fall at all.

Adam came here to bring mortality upon the earth, and that resulted in the shutting out from the presence of the Eternal Father of both Adam and Eve and their posterity. The Son of God comes upon the scene from that time henceforth as our Redeemer. … It is the Savior who stands between mankind and our Heavenly Father. … The Son is the mediator between mankind and the Eternal Father. You seldom hear a prayer that isn’t offered to our Heavenly Father in the name of His Beloved Son, and that’s right. Christ came into this world to represent His Father. He came into this world to teach mankind who His Father is, why we should worship Him, how we should worship Him. He performed the greatest work that was ever performed in this mortal world by the shedding of His blood, which paid a debt that mankind owes to the Eternal Father, and which debt we inherited after the Fall of Adam.

They Opened the Door

Adam did only what he had to do. He partook of that fruit for one good reason, and that was to open the door to bring you and me and everyone else into this world, for Adam and Eve could have remained in the Garden of Eden; they could have been there to this day, if Eve hadn’t done something.

One of these days, if I ever get to where I can speak to Mother Eve, I want to thank her for tempting Adam to partake of the fruit. He accepted the temptation, with the result that children came into this world. … If she hadn't had that influence over Adam, and if Adam had done according to the commandment first given to him, they would still be in the Garden of Eden and we would not be here at all. We wouldn’t have come into this world. So the commentators made a great mistake when they put in the Bible … “man’s shameful fall.”

Well, that was what the Lord expected Adam to do, because that opened the door to mortality; and we came here into this mortal world to receive a training in mortality that we could not get anywhere else or in any other way. We came here into this world to partake of all the vicissitudes, to receive the lessons that we receive in mortality from or in a mortal world. And so we become subject to pain, to sickness. We are blessed for keeping the commandments of the Lord with all that He has given us, which, if we will follow and be true and faithful, will bring us back again into the presence of God our Eternal Father, as sons and daughters of God, entitled to the fulness of celestial glory.

Privileged to Be Mortal

That great blessing of celestial glory could never have come to us without a period of time in mortality, and so we came here in this mortal world. We are in school, the mortal school, to gain the experiences, the training, the joys, and the sufferings that we partake of, that we might be educated in all these things and be prepared, if we are faithful and true to the commandments of the Lord, to become sons and daughters of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ; and in His presence to go on to a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever, and perhaps through our faithfulness to have the opportunity of building worlds and peopling them.

Brethren and sisters, let’s thank the Lord, when we pray, for Adam. If it hadn’t been for Adam, I wouldn’t be here; you wouldn’t be here; we would be waiting in the heavens as spirits pleading for somebody … to pass through a certain condition that brought upon us mortality.

We are in the mortal life to get an experience, a training, that we couldn’t get any other way. And in order [for us] to become gods, it is necessary for us to know something about pain, about sickness, and about the other things that we partake of in this school of mortality.

So don’t let us, brethren and sisters, complain about Adam and wish he hadn’t done something that he did. I want to thank him. I am glad to have the privilege of being here and going through mortality, and if I will be true and faithful to the covenants and obligations that are upon me as a member of the Church and in the kingdom of God, I may have the privilege of coming back into the presence of the Eternal Father; and that will come to you as it will to me, sons and daughters of God entitled to the fulness of celestial glory. (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Adam’s Role in Bringing Us Mortality,” Ensign, Jan 2006, 52–53)

From the June 2006 Ensign …

Most Christian churches teach that the Fall was a tragedy, that if Adam and Eve had not partaken of the forbidden fruit, they and all their posterity could now be living in immortal bliss in the Garden of Eden. But truth revealed to latter-day prophets teaches that the Fall was not a tragedy—without it Adam and Eve would have had no posterity. Thus, the Fall was a necessary step in Heavenly Father’s plan to bring about the eternal happiness of His children.

No Death, No Posterity, No Progress

“If Adam had not transgressed,” Lehi taught his son Jacob, “he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. …

“And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:22–25).

After Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened, and Eve expressed gladness at the opportunity their transgression made possible: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11).

Partaking of the fruit brought mortality, with its many opportunities to choose between good and evil, and enabled Adam and Eve to have children. Thus the Fall opened the door for Heavenly Father’s children to come into the world, obtain physical bodies, and participate in “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). “Therefore this life became a probationary state,” a time to learn and grow, to repent and overcome weakness, “a time to prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24).

Transgression, Not Sin

President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) said: “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!” 1

Regarding this distinction, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed: “This suggested contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: ‘We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression’ (emphasis added). It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall.” 2

Even though Adam and Eve had not sinned, because of their transgression they had to face certain consequences, two of which were spiritual death and physical death. Physical death came to Adam and Eve at the end of their earthly lives, but spiritual death occurred as they were cast out of the Garden of Eden, being cut off from the presence of God (see Alma 42:9).

Original Sin

The result of our first parents’ transgression, explained President Smith, “was banishment from the presence of God and bringing … physical death into the world. The majority … [of Christians] maintain that every child born into this world is tainted with ‘original sin,’ or partakes of Adam’s transgression in his birth. The second Article of Faith contradicts this foolish and erroneous doctrine.” 3 All descendants of Adam and Eve inherit certain effects from the Fall, but because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we are held accountable only for our own sins. Children who die before the age of accountability are “alive in Christ” (Moro. 8:12) and have no need of repentance or baptism (see Moro. 8:8–11).

Commandments in the Garden

The Lord gave Adam and Eve commandments in the Garden of Eden, two of which were to multiply and replenish the earth (see Gen. 1:28) and to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (see Gen. 2:17). These two commandments were designed to place Adam and Eve in a position where they had to make a choice. President Smith taught: “The Lord said to Adam that if he wished to remain as he was in the garden, then he was not to eat the fruit, but if he desired to eat it and partake of death he was at liberty to do so.” 4 Faced with this dilemma, Adam and Eve chose death—both physical and spiritual—which opened the door for themselves and their posterity to gain knowledge and experience and to participate in the Father’s plan of happiness leading to eternal life. ("The Fulness of the Gospel: The Fall of Adam and Eve,” Ensign, Jun 2006, 48–49)


Bear testimony of the importance of the Fall.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Spiritual Guidance and Earthquakes

Last Sunday, I taught a lesson in Elder Quorum about spiritual guidance.  The lesson was based on two talks from General Conference.  I spent most of the time discussing Elder Scott's talk.

Richard G. Scott, “To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 6–9
Russell M. Nelson, “Ask, Seek, Knock,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 81–84

The day before I gave that lesson, I watched the news reports on Chile being the latest nation impacted from a string of powerful earthquakes that have rocked many nations including Haiti, Japan, Taiwan.

The 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile, however, has brought about a very powerful faith-promoting story.  Here is the link to the story found on the Meridian Magazine website.  It is interesting to note, after reading Elder Scott's talk above, that of all the things he could have taught this mission president and his wife, he chose to council them on spiritual promptings.  I'm sure we'll hear more of this story in General Conference next month.

Editor’s Note: President Larry Laycock and his wife, Sister Lisa Laycock head the Santiago Chile East Mission and had spent the two weeks prior to the 8.8 earthquake visiting each missionary apartment and preparing them for an earthquake. They brought specific instructions on what to do, supplied water purification bottles for the missionaries, told them how to create a 36-hour kit for emergencies and how to stay in communication should an earthquake strike. They prayed with each missionary and dedicated their apartments. Why? Because of a special experience that alerted them to what was coming. They told their missionaries, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”

They have 171 full-time proselyting missionaries in this mission.

Special thanks to the Laycocks for allowing Meridian to publish this letter that Sister Laycock sent to her family shortly after the earthquake sharing their remarkable experience of kindness from the Lord. They are in Chile with their son, Landon.

Dear Everyone,

I am writing to let you all know how very grateful we are for your prayers, concern, and love. Please keep praying! We need the Lord's help and guidance in order to do all He would have us do to learn what He would have us learn from this earth quake tragedy, and to minister in the way He would have us minister.

During the past few days, we have witnessed many events which serve to remind us that the Lord is in charge and that as missionaries and members of His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are performing His work, and as President Monson teaches, "When we are on the Lord's errand, we are entitled to His help." I want to share with you a few miracles that will help you to understand our profound feelings of gratitude.

When we were set apart for this calling, Elder Scott of the Council of the Twelve Apostles taught us many important lessons. He spoke from personal experience when he was a mission president in Argentina. One message that he shared with us is this: "At times, during your mission, you will be awakened in the middle of the night or the early morning hours with thoughts of specific things you should do for certain missionaries. Do not ignore these thoughts. They are promptings from the Holy Ghost who will communicate with you in the stillness of the night or the peace of the early morning hours. He will speak to you then because that is when you are still enough to hear."

Elder Scott further instructed us to keep a notebook beside our bed so that we could record these precious promptings. He said that by the next morning, we would be likely to forget the promptings if we didn't write them down.

We have been astonished at the fulfillment of Elder Scott's prophetic words. We have received many promptings in the exact manner that Elder Scott described. We are so thankful that Elder Scott taught us how to recognize and act upon these precious promptings. Had he not taught us, we may not have given these promptings the attention they require.

Nearly two-and-one-half weeks ago, I was awakened at around 4:00 AM by just such a prompting. I did not hear a voice, but the thought was as clear as if it had been in the form of spoken words: "There is going to be an earthquake. Prepare your missionaries." I sat up in bed and immediately remembered Elder Scott's counsel. That morning I told Larry what had happened. He immediately set to work organizing our missionaries to prepare for an earthquake.

In talking with our office missionaries to arrange for them to put together a list of everything we would need to both Spanish and English...we discovered that the Lord had also let two of our office missionaries know of the possibility of an earthquake (in the form of dreams) and the need to prepare our mission.

We set a goal and arranged our schedule so that we could visit every apartment in the mission to check for safety and to review with our missionaries what to do in case of an earth quake. What a wonderful experience we have had as we have met with them and shared scriptures with them about being spiritually and physically prepared. "...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30).

We instructed every missionary to have a "go-bag" (36 hour kit). We reviewed our emergency action plan with them of where to go and what to do if they had phone service and in case they did not. We gave everyone a paper with all instructions in English and Spanish, and we reminded them that "this life is the time to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32-34). We shared with them our thoughts and feelings about the need for spiritual and physical safety.

Some of them became frightened and asked us if we knew something they didn't know. We smiled and repeated "...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." We didn't want to unduly alarm them, but we did want to impress upon them the need to be prepared. We tearfully reminded them of our recent transfer conference where we had shared our feelings about our dear Elder McKay Burrows who was unexpectedly called home in January while serving his mission in he was prepared in every way to meet God. We reissued our challenge to "be prepared" in every way. Then we knelt with them in their apartment and dedicated each apartment, asking for a blessing of safety and security to be upon every apartment.

When the earthquake came, we were prepared. We did not experience the panic that many felt. We knew we were prepared. Because of the words of the Lord's chosen Apostle, Elder Scott, we had listened and heeded the quiet, but clear promptings of the Holy Ghost. We were blessed with peace in the midst of chaos. We learned an important lesson: our preparation helped us to avoid panic and fear, but the Lord, in His wisdom, allowed us to experience enough discomfort to know that He has all power. He is in charge. We are nothing without Him. We are dependent upon Him for every breath we take. Only He can save us from death and destruction. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is our perfect example. If we follow Him, we will be saved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of His Gospel.

As the earthquake became more violent, the mission home groaned and wailed. The power died, so the whole city was black. The windows made a hideous screeching sound, and flying objects banged against swaying walls. The printer/fax machine, books, book ends, and fifty-pound television burst from the entertainment center and crashed to the floor, cabinets emptied, drawers flew open, the refrigerator moved, water sloshed out of the toilets, the floor jolted up and down as we ran across it trying to hold onto the walls to keep from falling down, and the piano toppled over like a small toy. As we made our way to the back yard, I remember thinking, "God is all-powerful. He is our only refuge from this horrible mess." I prayed and prayed for Him to still the earth.

When we reached the back yard, we watched in terror. By the light of the moon we could see the swimming pool water form giant waves and crash out onto the rocks. House and car alarms screamed into the night...some from being crushed by falling debris and others, I guess, from the bizarre movement of the earth. I am not sure if the intense rumbling sounds came from the earth itself or from everything else that was shaking so violently. Finally, it stopped.

When the calm came, we had to sit down because our legs were weak and unstable. My legs stayed wobbly all day and night yesterday. Today the muscles in my legs hurt like I ran a marathon. The aftershocks have been extremely unsettling. Each one begins like the one last night started. We just close our eyes and wait to see if it escalates or dies down. .I have never experienced anything like this!

We were awakened this morning by a very strong after shock. Larry jumped out of bed and yelled, "Welcome to another glorious day in Chile!" We just had to laugh. We moved a mattress into the floor in our bedroom and made Landon sleep in our room. He was in his room with the door locked the night before and we couldn't wake him up. He never locks his door, but he was playing a joke on Larry because every morning Larry wakes him at 5:30 AM for seminary by tickling him unmercifully. So Landon had decided to stop him.

When we couldn't open his door, in the middle of the quake, we thought he was trapped, so we screamed and banged. Landon thought that everything was falling off the walls because we were banging so hard on the door. I think we scared him more than the earthquake did!

Today, we attended a strong ward where Larry was invited to speak. The entire chapel and beyond was filled. People were so humble and so teachable. Larry taught the importance of doing the small things. He taught about Jesus Christ and the opportunity we have to love one another and to share what we have with others.

It was a great blessing for us to be with these beautiful Chilean people. Some have lost their homes...or at least parts of their homes. But they are strong and they want to serve the Lord. He taught of the scripture in Luke 21:11,13 which says, "and great earthquakes shall be in divers places...and it shall turn to you for a testimony." He also welcomed the sweet young woman who was in the congregation with the missionaries...her first time attending church...and then he invited her to be baptized from the pulpit. He asked her to please invite us to her baptism, and she said, "I will." The Lord always knows what His people need.

Landon was reading in Alma 15:17 today. He said, Mom listen to this. This is what is happening here in Chile just like in happened in Ammonihah. The people were humbled and "checked as to the pride of their hearts and began to humble themselves before God, watching and praying continually that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction."

Our hearts are filled to the brim with gratitude for all of the blessings we have received in the Chile Santiago East Mission. We see miracles every day. In the midst of great pain and suffering, we can always find our Savior. He stands with His arms open, pleading for all of us to humble ourselves and come unto Him. He loves us. He invites us to accept His gift...the atonement. He invites us to repent. He wants us to love one another and to serve one another. He wants us to bring our families and those we love to Him. We can do it. We can do all that He asks, no matter how difficult it may seem. "With God all things are possible"

We are having a devotional tomorrow for all of our missionaries to talk about the last week of Christ's life in preparation for Easter. We want to remind our missionaries to teach and preach with increased vigor of Christ. Last Monday in our office meeting, Larry suddenly stopped in the middle, and said, "During the prayer, I had a very strong impression that March 2010 is going to be our best baptizing month we have ever had in this mission."

Now we know why he received that feeling. We are going to prepare to bring many souls to the waters of baptism in March. Please continue to pray for us and for the people of Chile. Please pray for the missionaries to have strength and courage to do all that is being required of them, even in difficult times.

We are so thankful that the tsunami did not turn out badly in Hawaii. Who would ever think that an earthquake in Chile could threaten the shores of Hawaii? Thankfully, the Lord is in charge. He is the one to whom we must turn for refuge from every storm. He has the power to save us.

Editor’s Note:
The letter ends here, but President and Sister Laycock told us:
“We’ve never experienced anything like the earthquake. We have had 90 aftershocks, some stronger than others. Our legs are wobbly. It is a scary feeling to experience an aftershock because it brings back all the feelings we had during the earthquake.

“We love being with our missionaries. Because they were prepared, they were immediately able to turn their attention to helping others. They were never concerned about themselves. They were concerned with those who need help and by mid-morning the day of the earthquake, we were able to dispatch them to help others. We told them to investigate the needs of their neighbors and help in any way they could.

President Laycock noted, “The Spanish translation of Luke 21:13 says that there will be earthquakes in many places, and it will give you the occasion to bear testimony. We met with 10 sisters this morning, and one of them mentioned a neighbor next door whom they always asked if she would have time to speak with them, and she always said no. Yet in the crescendo of the toll of the earthquake, she was speechless with fear and not prepared. When the sisters said, ‘Could we pray with you?’, she answered, ‘I have time to pray with you.’ It opened the door to a teaching opportunity to share the gospel.

President and Sister Laycock said, “Everyone we talk to has been so willing to talk about Christ and God’s power. We’ve been sharing God’s love with them. We are seeing God’s love everywhere. People are reaching out to one another. They are serving one another. The news reports looting. We are seeing a different side. We are seeing people who want to communicate with God, who are sincerely looking for the truth.”