Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lesson 16: Ye Shall Be Called the Children of Christ

This week I did a handout, mostly because my shoulder hurt too much to write on the board. I'm a visual learner, so I feel like my learning is reinforced if I see it in writing. It's great too, as both a teacher and class member, to have an outline of where the lesson is going.

Last week we began discussing King Benjamin’s sermon. How would you summarize what he taught in chapters 2-3?

Serve others, serve God, we are all unprofitable servants & indebted forever, beware of contentions/evil spirit, keep the commandments, sin/guilt causes us to shrink from Lord’s presence, remember awful state of the unrepentant and the happy state of those who keep the commandments, salvation only possible through Christ’s Atonement, we must “put off” the natural man, we will be judged according to our works

Now, think back three weeks, to general conference. Do you remember President Monson’s closing remarks? He said,

“As your humble servant, I echo the words of King Benjamin in his address to his people when he said: “I have not commanded you to … think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen … by the hand of the Lord … and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.”

Is it a fair to compare King Benjamin’s sermon to general conference? Did we figuratively “pitch our tents” toward the Temple? Note that King Benjamin caused his words to be written so the people who were unable to hear it at the time could read them…if you were in that situation, have you read the words from conference?

What was the reaction of the people to King Benjamin’s sermon? (v. 1-2) How does our reaction to general conference compare?

Why do you think King Benjamin emphasized his people’s “nothingness” and unworthiness? Doesn’t that contradict our belief that “I am a Child of God” and “the worth of souls is great”?

How can King Benjamin’s words to his people give us hope when we are discouraged by our weaknesses?

From Nancy W. Jensen on the LDS Gospel Doctrine Plus blog: "Remembering our nothingness causes us to feel “poor in spirit,” but if we stop here, we just experience despair and guilt (downward spiral). Remembering God’s greatness and goodness and patience as well impels us to come unto him (upward spiral)."

Why is it essential for us to recognize our dependence on the Lord?

What did understanding their “carnal state” lead King Benjamin’s people to do? (See Mosiah 4:2.)

What caused them to become “filled with joy”? (See Mosiah 4:3.)

“God wants each of His children to enjoy the transcendent blessing of peace of conscience. A tranquil conscience invites freedom from anguish, sorrow, guilt, shame, and self-condemnation. It provides a foundation for happiness. It is a condition of immense worth, yet there are few on earth that enjoy it. Why? Most often because the principles upon which peace of conscience is founded are either not understood or not adequately followed.”

—Richard G. Scott, Oct. 04 GC

What enabled them to be forgiven of their sins? How did they know they had been forgiven? How can we know that we are forgiven after we repent?

What did King Benjamin teach about how we obtain a remission of our sins? (See Mosiah 4:1–10.)

What did he teach about how we retain a remission of our sins? (See Mosiah 4:11–26.)

How can we know we have obtained & retained a remission of our sins?


“There is a surefire way to determine if you have been spiritually reborn: Look at the way you treat others.”

—D. Kelly Odgen, Andrew C. Skinner (Verse by Verse: The Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 320)

Why do you think serving others helps us retain a remission of our sins? (Mosiah 4:26.)

How can we develop a generous heart regardless of our financial situation?

Mosiah 4:17-20 "Are we not all beggars?" I missed this connection, but my friend Julie was teaching today and showed President Uchtdorf's talk "The Merciful Obtain Mercy". I LOVE it!

Mosiah 4:27 What does it mean to do all things “in wisdom and order”? How can you be helped by this counsel?

King Benjamin taught his people that to avoid sin and maintain their commitment to God, they must watch their thoughts, words, and deeds (Mosiah 4:29–30). How are our thoughts, words, and deeds related? How will our words and deeds be affected when we watch our thoughts?

King Benjamin’s people experience a “mighty change” and covenant to do God’s will in all things.

How did the people know that King Benjamin’s words were true? (See Mosiah 5:2.) What effect did the Spirit of the Lord have on the people? (See Mosiah 5:2–5.)

Once we have experienced a “mighty change … in our hearts” (Mosiah 5:2), what challenges do we face in maintaining this change? How can we meet these challenges?

What does it mean to become children of Christ? (See Mosiah 5:2, 5–7.) What does it mean to “take upon [ourselves] the name of Christ”? (See Mosiah 5:8–11). What can we do each day to help us keep Christ’s name written in our hearts? (See Mosiah 5:11–15.)

King Benjamin asked, “How knoweth a man the master whom he has not served?” (Mosiah 5:13). How have you come to know Christ better through serving Him?

“And again, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of all these things, and had consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king over his people, and had given him all the charges concerning the kingdom, and also had appointed priests to teach the people, that thereby they might hear and know the commandments of God, and to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made, he dismissed the multitude, and they returned, every one, according to their families, to their own houses.” (Mosiah 6:3)

How can the organization of the church help us better live the gospel?

1)Teaching and 2) renewing of covenants are both important tools for remembering.

Excerpts from Donald L. Hallstrom's talk, “Converted to His Gospel through His Church” (April 2012 general conference):

“Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. It is possible to be active in the Church and less active in the gospel. Let me stress: activity in the Church is a highly desirable goal; however, it is insufficient. Activity in the Church is an outward indication of our spiritual desire. If we attend our meetings, hold and fulfill Church responsibilities, and serve others, it is publicly observed.

By contrast, the things of the gospel are usually less visible and more difficult to measure, but they are of greater eternal importance. For example, how much faith do we really have? How repentant are we? How meaningful are the ordinances in our lives? How focused are we on our covenants?

I suggest three fundamental ways to have the gospel be our foundation:

1. Deepen our understanding of Deity. A sustained knowledge of and love for the three members of the Godhead are indispensable. Mindfully pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, and seek direction from the Holy Ghost. Couple prayer with constant study and humble pondering to continually build unshakable faith in Jesus Christ. “For how knoweth a man the master … who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13).

2. Focus on the ordinances and covenants. If there are any of the essential ordinances yet to be performed in your life, intently prepare to receive each of them. Then we need to establish the discipline to live faithful to our covenants, fully using the weekly gift of the sacrament. Many of us are not being regularly changed by its cleansing power because of our lack of reverence for this holy ordinance.

3. Unite the gospel with the Church. As we concentrate on the gospel, the Church will become more, not less, of a blessing in our lives. As we come to each meeting prepared to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118), the Holy Spirit will be our teacher. If we come to be entertained, we often will be disappointed. President Spencer W. Kimball was once asked, “What do you do when you find yourself in a boring sacrament meeting?” His response: “I don’t know. I’ve never been in one” (quoted by Gene R. Cook, in Gerry Avant, “Learning Gospel Is Lifetime Pursuit,” Church News, Mar. 24, 1990, 10).

In our lives we should desire what occurred after the Lord came to the people of the New World and established His Church. The scriptures read, “And it came to pass that thus they [meaning His disciples] did go forth among all the people of Nephi, and did preach the gospel of Christ unto all people upon the face of the land; and they were converted unto the Lord, and were united unto the church of Christ, and thus the people of that generation were blessed” (3 Nephi 28:23).

The Lord wants the members of His Church to be fully converted to His gospel. This is the only sure way to have spiritual safety now and happiness forever.”

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lesson 14: For a Wise Purpose

Lesson links:

Teaching Our Children
Enos 1:1 What does it mean to teach our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? How can we do better?

I love President Eyring's April 1996 general conference talk, A Legacy of Testimony. Here's an excerpt:

"Hearts were touched by the proclamation on the family read by President Hinckley last fall because we want for our families what God wants for them: that they will live in love and righteousness. But in our thoughtful moments we know that we will need help. We will need to invite the powers of heaven to guide our families in days when we are not there and to face spiritual dangers we may not foresee.

Our families can be given a gift to know what God would have them do and to learn it in a way that will encourage them to do it. God has provided such a guide. It is the Holy Ghost. We cannot give that to our family members as a companion, but they can earn it. The Holy Ghost can be their constant companion only after they have been faithful and after they have received the ordinances of baptism and the laying on of handsby those with proper authority. But even before baptism, a child or an adult can have the Holy Ghost testify to their hearts of sacred truth. They must act on that testimony to retain it, but it will guide them toward goodness, and it can lead them to accept and keep the covenants which will in time bring them the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We would, if we could, leave our families a legacy of testimony that it might reach through the generations.

What we can do to create and transmit that legacy comes from an understanding of how testimony is instilled in our hearts. Since it is the Holy Ghost who testifies of sacred truth, we can do at least three things to make that experience more likely for our families. First, we can teach some sacred truth. Then we can testify that we know what we have taught is true. And then we must act so that those who hear our testimony see that our actions conform with what we said was true. The Holy Ghost will then confirm to them the truth of what we said and that we knew it to be true."

I highly recommend reading the whole talk.

In verse 3, Enos recalls the words he "had often heard his father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints." I loved a question in my father-in-law's gospel doctrine notes about this verse:

"When your children reminisce about what they have heard you speak, what will they think about? Sports? Politics? Money matters? Recreation? Hobbies? Or will it be eternal life and the joy of the saints?"

As we were driving home from spring break in St. George, I turned down the music and asked my kids what they thought I usually talk about. Some of the responses were expected—"Pictures." "Books." "Relief Society." But I'm grateful that Joey's first response was, "Repentance and second chances."

Prayer is the topic I have most often associated with the book of Enos. Verse four gives us a lot of why and how to think about—again, I loved these questions from Ralph's notes:

"Does my soul hunger?" "Have I cried in mighty prayer?"

We can also learn a lot about revelation from Enos' example and writings.

Boyd K. Packer:
“Enos, who was “struggling in the spirit,” said, “Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind.” While this spiritual communication comes into the mind, it comes more as a feeling, an impression, than simply as a thought. Unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to describe that delicate process. The witness is not communicated through the intellect alone, however bright the intellect may be.” —October 1991 GC

Harold B. Lee:
“Enos, grandson of Lehi, gives us to understand why some can receive a knowledge of the things of God while others cannot. Enos recounts his struggle to obtain a forgiveness of his sins that he might be worthy of his high calling. He then concludes: “And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments”.There you have, in simple language, a great principle: It isn’t the Lord who withholds himself from us. It is we who withhold ourselves from him because of our failure to keep his commandments.” —October 1966 GC

Verse 5: "I knew that God could not lie, wherefore my guilt was swept away."
True repentance, with trust in God, results in peace. Joseph Smith's three requisites to exercising faith come to mind here:

"Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

"First, the idea that he actually exists.

"Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.

"Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

The effects of his faith in Christ (who, unlike his father, has never heard or seen) are evidenced in verse 8—it makes him whole.

Spheres of Concern/Charity

Again, some questions I loved from Ralph's notes:
  • What classes of people do these represent in my life?
  • Are there friends that should be my concern?
  • Do I possess a desire for their welfare?
  • Do I love those who despise me, perhaps for my faith?
  • Do I pray for them?
  • How large is my circle of prayer? Of action?
"Prayer for others is not always enough—sometimes we salve our consciences by praying for people when doing something for them is more important. We should 'pray as if everything depends on the Lord and work as if everything depends on us.'"

Another great observation, from David R. Seely:

“Thus the experience of Enos demonstrates that a consequence of true conversion is the reception of the gift of charity, a gift of the Spirit, through which an individual feels concern for the welfare and the salvation of his brothers, both friends and enemies. …The experience of Enos demonstrates that the result of receiving the word and feeling the promptings of the Holy Ghost is the desire to share it with others.”

Asking and receiving

Nancy Jensen (LDS Gospel Doctrine Plus blog):

“Really? Anything we ask, we will receive? Is prayer like a genie in a bottle, granting us all our wishes? Not quite. We must ask “in faith,” and “in the name of Christ.” When we pray “in the name of Christ,” we are acting as his agents, praying for that which he would desire, just as if we had a power of attorney and were acting in the name of a relative who was out of the country, or as if we were a real estate agent and were making an offer on a home in the name of our client. When we act in someone else’s name, we are doing what they would want done.

So if we are praying “in the name of Christ,” as Enos was, and we are praying for what Christ wants anyway, what is the point of praying? Why did Enos have to cry unto the Lord “continually” over a long period of time? The Bible Dictionary answers our question:

“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.” (Bible Dictionary, p. 752-753)”

Blessings of faithfulness

Enos 1:26-27

  • Great joy in this life, greater than the pleasures of the world
  • Confidence/peace in death


1:2 Importance/purpose of records

1:3 Hard heart, deaf ears, blind mind, stiff neck—what are these symbolic conditions, and how do they prevent us from feeling the promptings of the spirit?

1:4 What blessings come to those who overcome these conditions?

1:8-9 Prosperity principle

10-12 Role of prophets

Looking forward to the Messiah “as if he already was”

How would life change if we lived as if he had already come?


Five record keepers (Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, Amaleki), covering about 200 years, yet it is only 30 verses long.

Omni—After having plates for 38 years he writes to preserve genealogy. Says he is a wicked man. Delivers plates to his son.

Amaron—Waits 38 years before writing on plates. More spiritual than his father—he saw hand of Lord in destruction of wicked Nephites. Righteous were spared (prosperity principle). Delivers plates to brother.

Chemish—Apparently watched his brother write and years later wrote his one verse.

Abinadom—No revelation or prophecy; much war and contention; record of this is on plates kept by kings.

Amaleki—Tells story of Mosiah, warned by Lord to flee; many followed, led by power of God's arm thru wilderness to Land of Zarahemla. The second half of the book shows what heppened to a people (the Mulekites) who did not keep records. (Omni 1:17)

How would we be affected if we did not have the scriptures? How are we affected if we do not study them?

Words of Mormon:

Explanation of why he included the small plates

Purpose of the plates (WofM 1:2, 8)