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)

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