Friday, April 27, 2012

Book of Mormon Lesson #18

ADVENTURES IN THE BOOK OF MOSIAH

The book of Mosiah can be very confusing, with all the different groups of people moving back and forth, so here is a little diagram to keep track of what is going on as you read the book.



My son made this awesome map--much easier to read than mine!
And it's a .png that should print up well as a document,
but, if not, try printing it as a photograph.
Thanks, Nick!
ABINADI

 Abinadi was a prophet among the group of Nephites who had been lead back to the Lamanite territory by Zeniff.  Their second king, Noah, had led the people into apostacy.  Abinadi had nearly been killed calling them to repentance, and had fled for his life.

“And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying:  Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying—Abinadi, go and prophesy unto this my people” (Mosiah 12:1).

Wait a minute!  If Abinadi was in disguise, why did he immediately tell them who he was?

Remember that in the scriptures, names have important meanings and are often symbolic.  In this case, the name Abinadi is perhaps more of a title than a name because it means “prophet of the Father and the Son.”  (Gary Poll, BYU Education Week  Lecture, August 2002).  So by identifying himself as “Abinadi,” he was actually saying, “I have the authority as a prophet of the Lord to receive and pass on revelation to you,” not “Remember me? I am that guy you threw out a couple of years ago.”

Then Abinadi proceeded to give a dire prophecy to the people.  For what purpose?  The same purpose the Lord always reveals frightening prophecies of destruction:  to give the people a second chance.  To give them an opportunity to change the future.  Prophecy is always an act of mercy.

But these Nephites did not want to hear the message.  They were too smart.  So they cross-examined Abinadi to show what an idiot he was.

THE CROSS-EXAMINATION AND MARTYRDOM OF ABINADI

Here is a little reader’s theater you can do about this event that makes it a little easier to understand the line of the argument.  You will need the following readers:  Abinadi, The Priest/Lawyer, The Narrator, King Noah, and all the rest of the class can be The Other Priests.  It will be easier to follow if you prepare large cards with the characters’ names on them, punch holes in the top corners, and put strings in them so the reads can put their names around their neck and everyone can keep track of who is who.  The reference for the complete dialogue is noted after each scripture quoted.

PRIEST:   “What meaneth the words which are written, and which have been taught by our fathers, saying: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth?”  (Mosiah 12:20-24)  If you’re a messenger from God, this scripture says you should be bringing us good news!

ABINADI:  “Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people, and to understand the spirit of prophesying, and yet desire to know of me what these things mean?  …Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise.”  (Mosiah 12:25-27)  Knowing a bunch of scriptures isn’t enough—you have to use them in your life.  But since you think of yourselves as the messengers with the beautiful feet and the good tidings, what is it you are teaching?  (Mosiah 12:27)

PRIEST: “We teach the law of Moses,” of course!   (Mosiah 12:28)

ABINADI:   “If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it?  Why do ye set your hearts upon riches?  Why do ye commit whoredoms and spend your strength with harlots, yea, and cause this people to commit sin? …And what know ye concerning the law of Moses?  Doth salvation come by the law of Moses?  What say ye?” (Mosiah 12:29-31)

PRIEST:   Why, of course, salvation comes by the Law of Moses! (Mosiah 12:32)

ABINADI:  “I know if ye keep the commandments of God ye shall be saved…  (Mosiah 12:33-37)  So let’s take a look at one or two of the commandments, shall we?  How about “Thou shalt have no other gods before me? “  Do you keep that one?  I don’t think so!

KING:  “Away with this fellow, and slay him!  For what have we to do with him, for he is mad.  (Mosiah 13:1-2)

ABINADI:  “Touch me not!  For God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver,” and I haven’t even had a chance to answer the question you asked me.   (Mosiah 13:3-4)

NARRATOR:  “Now it came to pass that after Abinadi had spoken these words that the people of king Noah durst not lay their hands on him, for the Spirit of the Lord was upon him; and his face shone with exceeding luster, even as Moses’ did while in the mount of Sinai, while speaking with the Lord.”  (Mosiah 13:5)

KING:  Yikes!

ABINADI:  “Ye see that ye have not power to slay me, therefore I finish my message.  Yea, and I perceive that it cuts you to your hearts because I tell you the truth concerning your iniquities.”  I’ll finish my message and then it doesn’t matter what happens to me, because the purpose of my life was to deliver this message to you.  However, beware!  What happens to me is going to happen to you, too!  Now I will finish going through the Ten Commandments with you, since you seem to have forgotten them. (Mosiah 13:6-24)

NARRATOR:  Abinadi recites the Ten Commandments, which are the foundation of the Law of Moses.

ABINADI:  So, have you kept those commandments?  Definitely not, or I wouldn’t be here.  So, getting back to the original question, if salvation were to come by the Law of Moses, you would all be sunk.  Let me tell you the purpose of the Law of Moses, which many of the Israelites also didn’t understand.  It was to bring men to Christ who has the power to save.  The Law of Moses was there to keep them out of trouble, and to get them ready to receive Christ when he comes.  Moses said so himself, and so did all the other prophets.  Let me quote you some great verses from Isaiah prophesying about Christ.  (Mosiah 13:25-14:12)

Let me teach you about Christ.  He is one in purpose with God the Father.  He will come down to earth and suffer temptation and pain and emotional distress, and he will be killed.  Those people who come unto him will be his seed, or his children.  They are the people who have paid attention to the prophets, believed in Christ, and have exercised faith in him that he would redeem them from their sins, and also those who died without hearing of Christ, and also little children who die.  (Mosiah 15:1-11,24,25)

And, obviously, the prophets themselves are also the children of Christ.  “And these are they who have published peace, who have brought good tidings of good, who have published salvation; and said unto Zion: Thy God reigneth!  And O how beautiful upon the mountains were their feet!  And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace!  And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever.  And behold, I say unto you, this is not all.  For O how beautiful upon the mountainsa re the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people.”  (Mosiah 15:12-18)  So does this answer your question? 

If you’re going to teach the Law of Moses, if you want to be people with beautiful feet upon the mountains, “teach that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord.”  (Mosiah 15:14-15)

KING:  Yeah, but we don’t like being told we’re doing something wrong and we need to change, so we’re going to kill you anyway.  (Mosiah 17:1)

ALMA:  Hey, I know I’m just a young priest, but what he’s saying makes sense, you know?  I think we ought to let him go.  (Mosiah 17:2)

KING:  Hey!  What’s with you?  Get out of my face!  (Mosiah 17:3)

(Alma goes and sits in the corner.)

ALMA:  (To himself) Okay, well, I think he was telling the truth, so I’m going to write down everything he said so I can remember it and tell others about it.  (Mosiah 17:17:4)

KING:  Abinadi, we’re sticking with our plan to kill you unless you take back everything you said, and tell us we’re okay just the way we are.  (Mosiah 17:7-8)

ABINADI:  I won’t take it back, because it’s true.  If you kill me, my blood will come up in testimony against you because I am innocent!  (Mosiah 17:9-10)

KING:   That sounds scary.  And it’s actually true that he’s innocent.  Maybe we shouldn’t kill him.  I mean, what harm is he doing? (Mosiah 17:11)

OTHER PRIESTS:  What?!!!  Your highness, he has said that you are a bad guy!!!!  You’re going to just let that go???  (Mosiah 17:12)

KING:  You have a point.  I don’t want to look dumb.  Let’s kill him.  Here:  Take these bundles of kindling and light them on fire and let’s jab him with them, until he burns up.

OTHER PRIESTS:  That’s more like it.

NARRATOR:  “and it came to pass that they took him and bound him, and scourged his skin with faggots, yea, even unto death.”   (Mosiah 17:12)  But Abinadi never faltered.  He died telling the truth and teaching about the saving power of Jesus Christ.

YOU NEVER KNOW…

Many church members in the latter days get the chance to be “beautiful upon the mountains” and preach the gospel of peace.  They offer, perhaps not their entire lives as did Abinadi, but their entire lives for two years or 18 months, and ongoing member missionary work after that.

My father, Clair Wyatt, served a mission to England in the 1950s.  While in Scarborough, he taught the gospel to a lovely young couple, Mary and John Clark, who had one small daughter.  The Clarks joined the Church.  After Dad returned home from his mission, the Clarks moved to Australia and he lost touch with them.
Elder Wyatt conducting a "street meeting"
 1950


30 years later, my brother Scott was called on a mission to Sydney, Australia.  The very first week of his mission, he and his companion were called by a member family to teach their nonmember son-in-law.  When he met the family and they found out his last name was Wyatt, they asked if he knew the Elder Wyatt who had taught them the gospel back in England!  They had had a large family, and had named one of their children after him.  By the time my brother met them, from that little family of three, 49 family members had been born into the gospel, all nonmember in-laws had joined the Church, and all their sons had served missions and taught the gospel to others.   The son-in-law my brother taught joined the Church as well.

After that, my father kept in touch with the Clarks until they died.  Before their deaths they did a great amount of family history work, bringing the opportunity of salvation to many family members in past generations as well.

My father was blessed to find out in some degree the extent of his success in sharing the gospel.  Most missionaries do not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  What if you give your all to preach the gospel for two years and don’t get to see much of a result for their labors?  Did you do something wrong—maybe not set your goals high enough, fast and pray often enough, study the scriptures thoroughly enough, or work long enough hours?  Was your mission a waste?

Well, Abinadi would give a rousing “NO” in answer those questions!  He thought it was worth giving his life for!  But how discouraged he must have felt as the flames consumed him:  Only one person had seemed to consider that his message might possibly have value.  His one posthumous (that means “it didn’t happen until after he died”) convert was Alma.   

But let’s look at the lineage of conversion caused by that message:

ALMA—priest of Noah; founder of Church in Land of Nephi; baptized King Limhi and his people; became a great teacher; King Mosiah gave him authority over the entire church when they were reunited in Zarahemla

ALMA THE YOUNGER—Alma’s son; rebelled but was brought back to the Church by the visit of an angel in answer to his father’s prayers; keeper of records and interpreters; chief judge; high priest, resigned as judge to serve reactivation missions (the original Senior Missionary); spent many mission years serving with Amulek, the ultimate "Green Companion," who was converted and trained due to his efforts; didn’t even have to die but was taken up to heaven by the Lord.

HELAMAN—Alma II’s son; prophet, high priest, and leader of the elite band of converts-turned-soldiers, the Stripling Warriors; now sung about in Primary all over the world.

HELAMAN—Helaman’s son; record keeper and chief judge

NEPHI & LEHI—Helaman II’s sons; great missionaries with 8,000 Lamanite converts; Nephi was chief judge; resigned just like his great-grandfather in order to serve a mission; a great prophet just prior to Christ’s appearance in America.

NEPHI & TIMOTHY— sons of Nephi and Lehi; Nephi was record keeper, wrote the book of Third Nephi; raised his brother from the dead; the first named of Christ’s apostles; Timothy his cousin was also an apostle.

NEPHI & JONAS—sons of Nephi II; Nephi was the record keeper and wrote Fourth Nephi; Jonas was one of the twelve apostles, along with his father and uncle.

How’s that for missionary success?!!!

All missionaries would do well to remember Elder Wyatt and Elder Abinadi during discouraging times because you just never know…



(Reference for the information on the Nephites mentioned by name: the Index of the Book of Mormon.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book of Mormon Lesson #17 "A Seer Becometh a Great Benefit to His Fellow Beings"

Mosiah 7-11

PROPHETS

How many prophets do we have in our Sunday School class?

"And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!" (Num. 11:29)

Are we all prophets?  Then what is the definition of a prophet?

"...worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev. 19:10)

Write on the board "Prophet: teaches and testifies of Christ."

"The work of a Hebrew prophet was to act as God's messenger and make known God's will...The prophet is to teach men about God's character and dealings...In certain cases, prophets predicted future events...but as a rule a prophet was a 'forth-teller' rather than a 'foreteller.'"  (Bible Dictionary, p. 754)

When our little boys were rough-housing and tickling on the family room floor, because we knew our little boys, we could know with a certainty that in five minutes, if we didn't break it up, someone would be crying.  In the same way, because of his knowledge of God's character and dealings, the prophet can predict what the Lord will do, without necessarily seeing the future.  He knows the eternal rules, rewards and consequences.  The summary of the job of a prophet was to keep the people in the right way, build their faith, correct their errors, and forewarn of punishments.

"In a general sense a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost."  (ibid.) So we should all be prophets in our own sphere.  In Sunday School, as we teach and testify of Christ to each other, we are using the gift of prophecy.  In our homes we do this as well.  All our missionaries are prophets, under this definition.  President Monson, of course, is THE prophet, whose responsibility it is to teach and testify of Christ to the entire church and world, along with the other apostles.

In the Book of Mormon account we are studying this week, who are the prophets?

"And now, it came to pass on the morrow that king Limhi sent a proclamation among all his people that thereby they might gather themselves together to the temple to hear the words which he should speak unto them...

"Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them.

"And again, that same God has brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, and has kept and preserved his people even until now; and behold, it is because of our iniquities and abominations that he has brought us into bondage..." "For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.

"And again, he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the chaff thereof in the whirlwind; and the effect thereof is poison.

"And again he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction.

"And now, behold, the promise of the Lord is fulfilled, and ye are smitten and afflicted.

"But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage."
(Mosiah 7:17,19-20, 29-33)

Limhi was acting as a prophet to his own little group of people by teaching them about God, explaining God's dealings with the children of Israel and with themselves, and quoting prophecies from the scriptures. 

The greatest prophet in this account was Abinadi, of whom Limhi said:

"And a prophet of the Lord have they slain; yea, a chosen man of God, who told them of their wickedness and abominations, and prophesied of many things which are to come, yea, even the coming of Christ.


"And because he said unto them that Christ was the God, the Father of all things, and said that he should take upon him the image of man, and it should be the image after which man was created in the beginning; or in other words, he said that man was created after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood, and go forth upon the face of the earth." (Mosiah 7:26-27)

REVELATORS

How many revelators do we have in our Sunday School class?


"Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

"Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.


"Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so, they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction." (D&C 8:2-4)

If we have received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, we should have the gift of revelation.  The Holy Ghost is such a great gift because it gives us a direct line of communication from God.
  "Revelation is the natural inheritance of all the faithful."  (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, "Revelation.")

So we all should receive revelation.  Does that make each of us a revelator?  It could. 
"Anyone who receives revelation from the Lord and conveys the revealed truth to another is a revelator" (ibid.)

Write on the board, "Revelator: receives revelation--tells to others."

So, if the ward Young Men's president feels greatly inspired to take a certain action, and he shares that revelation with his presidency, he is a revelator.

This gift seems very closely related to that of a prophet.  If we have received a testimony and are sharing it (prophet), we are also sharing revealed truth (revelator), because a testimony is gained through revelation by the Holy Ghost.

Again, the revelator for the entire church is President Monson, along with his counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Who was an obvious revelator in this Book of Mormon account?


"And it came to pass that there was a man among them whose name was Abinadi; and he went forth among them, and began to prophesy, saying: Behold, thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me, saying, Go forth, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord—Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms; and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger." (Mosiah 11:20)

He also itemized details about the Lord's plans for his people.


"And except they repent in sackcloth and ashes, and cry mightily to the Lord their God, I will not hear their prayers, neither will I deliver them out of their afflictions; and thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me." (Mosiah 11:25)

Abinadi stated outright that he was a prophet and a revelator with his words,
"Thus saith the Lord and thus hath he commanded me."


 SEER

How many seers are in our Sunday School class?  Unless we're in downtown Salt Lake City, probably none.


"...they have brought twenty-four plates which are filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold...

"And I say unto thee again: Knowest thou of any one that can translate? For I am desirous that these records should be translated into our language; for, perhaps, they will give us a knowledge of a remnant of the people who have been destroyed, from whence these records came; or, perhaps, they will give us a knowledge of this very people who have been destroyed; and I am desirous to know the cause of their destruction.

"Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer.

"And behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things, and who has this high gift from God." (Mosiah 8:9,12-14)

A seer has the authority to translate, using the Urim and Thummim.  Who was this king?  Mosiah II.


"And the king [Limhi] said that a seer is greater than a prophet.

"And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.

"But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.

"Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings." (Mosiah 8:15-18)

Post on the board, "Seer: has authority to translate--can see the past and future."

The Bible Dictionary says there have been more prophets than there have been seers.  That is well-illustrated in this Book of Mormon story.  Limhi was a prophet for his people, but had no power to translate these plates, although he had a great (and righteous) desire to know what was on them.




My cute grand-nieces giving Joseph Smith leg hugs.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Hymas, who holds the copyright. 
May be used for teaching purposes.

In the latter days, Joseph Smith was the greatest seer.  He had the authority of the gift of translation, and he practiced and exercised it so well, that he eventually could translate without a Urim and Thummim.  He also saw many visions of the past and future.
Mormon was one of the great seers of the Book of Mormon.  In Mormon 8:35, he said, "Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing."

In our day, we sustain Thomas S. Monson, his counselors, and the Twelve Apostles as "prophets, seers, and revelators."  Someday our prophet will definitely use all of these gifts when we get the additional scriptures promised from the ten tribes (2 Ne. 29:13), and from the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon.

CONCLUSION

It is truly a wonderful thing that we have prophets, seers and revelators on the earth today.  It is also wonderful that we each have the Gift of the Holy Ghost and are therefore able to learn to receive revelation and inspiration, great and small.  And it is a very great thing that we all have the right to the gift of prophecy, or the testimony of Jesus Christ.  As President Gordon B. Hinckley said, in his closing remarks at the April 2000 General Conference,
"Of all the things for which I feel grateful, one stands out preeminently.  That is a living testimony of Jesus Christ."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book of Mormon Lesson #16 "Ye Shall Be Called the Children of Christ"

Mosiah 4-6

Lesson Preparation: 
1)      Make cards that say “Saints” and “Children of Christ” with a hole punched in the top of each and fishing wire or string strung through the hole and connected to a bent paper clip or other type of hook from which it can hang. Also punch a hole in the bottom of each card from which the spiral cycle can be hung. 
2)      Attach a loop of wire or string from the ceiling with a thumb tack or from the light fixture with some masking tape.  This is where you will hang the “Saints” and later “Children of Christ” cards.
3)      Print up several copies of the “Cycle of Mosiah 4:3” (found later in the lesson).  Cut them into a donut shape (a circle around the words and another circle inside the words). Keep one copy 2-dimensional for display on the board. Make a spiral of the others by cutting between the “Remember” part of the cycle and the “Faith” part.  Then tape the “Remember” from one cycle to the “Faith” of another until you have a spiral long enough to extend from the “Saints” card to the classroom table.
4)      You may also want to print up a copy of the “Cycle of Mosiah 4:3” for each class member to take home.
5)      Make a stand up card (by folding cardstock in half) that says “Natural Man.”
6)      Make a small poster of (or be prepared to write on the chalkboard) the words of 3 Nephi 12:3.

Two of the points made by King Benjamin in our last reading assignment are foundational to this week’s lesson:

First:  Our nothingness. 

“I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—

“I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

“And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

“And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

“And secondly, he doth require that you should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

“And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.” (Mosiah 2:20-25)

Why did King Benjamin, the speaker, and Mormon, the abridger, make such a big point out of telling us how worthless we are?  Isn’t that a little hard on our self-esteem?  Aren’t we told all of the time that we are special, that we can do anything we set our minds to do, that if we just believe in ourselves, we can achieve?

The Book of Mormon is “more correct” than pop psychology.  On our own, we are nothing, we can do nothing of lasting value.  No matter how we “set our minds to it,” we can never save ourselves.

Second: The necessity of being changed. 

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticing of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)

It is essential, then, that we be changed from our natural state and become more than the dust of the earth.  (Hang label “Saint” from ceiling or light fixture.  Set label “Natural Man” on the table beneath.)  The topic of our lesson is how to go from this state (Natural Man) to this state (Saint).

The Lord said that he shows men their weakness that they may become strong.  (See Ether 12:27.) This verse uses the singular "weakness," not "weaknesses," as we often think. Our greatest weakness is our fallen state, and in fact, all our other weaknesses stem from this one.  If we are aware of this weakness, we can come unto Christ and receive the greatest strength of all: the power of the atonement in our lives.

“Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (3 Nephi 12:3)  (Put this verse up on the board.) 

"And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.

"And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men." (Mosiah 4:1-2) 

If we realize that we are lacking, that we are very “poor in spirit” indeed, we can come unto Christ and be saved. The Nephites got the point and took it to heart.

It’s fun to take gospel concepts from the scriptures apart and put them onto charts that are more clear to me.  If Mormon had the ability to do flowcharts and lists and video clips and musical interludes to put across his points, he certainly would have used them.  But he had only the use of Reformed Egyptian, as he lamented.  But, if we look carefully, we can see the lists and the flowcharts and the video clips as we read with the Spirit. Backing up just a little bit in the chapter, we read,

“And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.” (Mosiah 4:3)

When we realize the misery of our sins, we often just want release from the agony, but Christ gives us this tremendous bonus, this unspeakable joy brought with the Spirit.  (Put the 2-dimensional cycle on the board.) 

“And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

“And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.” (Mosiah 4:11-12)

Of course, faith includes works, keeping the commandments.



This is just a simple diagram of  how the principle “Men are that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25) is accomplished.

But this is not just a circle that goes around and around; it is an upward spiral.  (Hang the spiral from the label that says “Saint,” with “Natural Man” on the table beneath it.)

“And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” (Mosiah 5:2)

When we have this change of heart, we start on this upward spiral and leave the natural man behind.  When the Nephites did this they had “no more disposition to do evil,” but do you think they became instantly perfect?  Of course not; they still messed up because of their fallen nature.  But the more we become “saints” in Christ, the more uncomfortable sin is, because it is not in our disposition, so we more quickly realize our failing, that we are again “poor in spirit” and need Christ’s atonement in order to have the sin remitted and regain the joy of the Spirit in our lives.  Our sins become smaller, although possibly more painful to us, and we repent quicker, thus climbing the spiral faster.

“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:7)

(Hang “Children of Christ” label over “Saint” label.)  We can become begotten children of Christ.  Rather than being adopted, which like an earthly adoption means we are welcomed into Christ’s family and loved greatly, there is an additional miracle whereby we become begotten, or somehow endowed with his spiritual genetic material—his character, his behavior, his attitudes.  Once again, it is a process more than an event.

“And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free.  There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

“And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.” (Mosiah 5:8,9)

This process is only an upward spiral if this key is in place:  remembering.  Otherwise it’s just a circle that stops.  (Cut the lowest "Remember" part of the spiral and let it drop to the table.)  King Benjamin was wisely aware of this, so in his last recorded act as king, he re-instituted a system to help with remembering, which we also use today:  church meeting attendance.

“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)

1)Teaching and 2) renewing of covenants are both important tools for remembering.  Remembering our nothingness causes us to feel “poor in spirit,” but if we stop here, we just experience despair and guilt.  Remembering God’s greatness and goodness and patience as well impels us to come unto him.  (Tape the spiral back together.)

“Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all.  Amen.” (Mosiah 5:15)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Book of Mormon Lesson #15 "Eternally Indebted to Your Heavenly Father"

Mosiah 1-3

RESTORING AND MAINTAINING POWER



I hold the copyright to this photo, but you may use it
for teaching purposes.


One of my four handsome sons is an electrician lineman, pictured above. Besides installment and maintenance of power lines, he is frequently called out "on trouble" to solve problems in power distribution, such as when poles are knocked down by wind or snow. During a recent ferocious thunderstorm with heavy rains and high winds, he worked for three days with almost no rest or sleep to restore power to a large part of the city of Ogden, Utah. 

Ironically, people receiving the power repairs are not always grateful. During this storm, he was called out on a Friday at noon. Working straight through the day and the night in the wind and rain, he was repairing the line to a single residence at 5:00 in the morning, when the police showed up. The woman who lived in the home had called the police to complain about the noise the linemen were making. Of course, the police issued no citation because without enduring this noise, the woman would not have heat, light or power restored to her home. Linemen get a little annoyed when complaints instead of gratitude come their way when they are out in a storm, but they keep on working.


I see gospel lessons in everything and this was no exception. Some people complain about the prophets and apostles, the spiritual "linemen," violating their personal "noise ordinance" by telling them things they don't want to hear. And yet these "lineman" (or in scriptural terms, "watchmen on the tower") are putting their own personal comfort aside and expending great amounts of time and effort to restore heat, light, and power into those peoples' lives.


GENERAL CONFERENCE

King Benjamin called a general conference of the church, with every family pitching their tents toward the tower from which he would speak.  He counseled them to “hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.” (Mosiah 2:9)

King Benjamin reminded his people that, just like our General Authorities today, he was an ordinary man who did ordinary work and suffered ordinary infirmities just like them, but who was allowed by the Lord to be a spiritual as well as temporal ruler over the people.

Today we are going to play some General Conference games—hooray!  Since we recently had General Conference, we’ll refresh the words of the prophets in our minds.

(If you prefer instead to focus on King Benjamin's teachings on the Atonement in Mosiah 3, I can't do better than Elder Bednar's April 2012 Ensign article, which you can find here.)

For current pictures of the Apostles, go to this link.


FOUR GAMES ABOUT OUR SPIRITUAL LINEMEN

GAME #1:  WHAT WAS MY LINE?

To prepare this game, post pictures of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.  Hand out wordstrips with their young adult service and their previous careers on them. but no names, and have the students try to match them up with the correct apostle. ( If you don’t have pictures, just write their names on the board.)

1. President Thomas S. Monson

2. President Henry B. Eyring

3. President Deiter F. Uchtdorf

4. Elder Russell M. Nelson

5. Elder Dallin H. Oaks

6. Elder M. Russell Ballard

7.  Elder Robert D. Hales

8.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

9.  Elder David A. Bednar

10.  Elder Quentin L. Cook

11.  Elder D. Todd Christofferson

12.  Elder Neil L. Anderson

13. Ronald A. Rasband

14. Gary E. Stevenson

15. Dale G. Renlund

ANSWERS:

1. Served in the U.S. Naval Reserves. Newspaperman. Served in the U.S. Naval Reserves. 

2. Served in the U.S. Air Force. Professor at Stanford, Commissioner of Church Education.

3.  Served as a flighter pilot in the West German Air Force. Airline Pilot.

4.  Served as a medic in the U.S. Army. Heart Surgeon.

5.  Served in the Utah National Guard. Utah Supreme Court Justice.

6.  Served a mission to England. Car Dealer. (Direct descendant of Hyrum Smith)

7.  Served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. President of Papermate, V.P. of Max Factor, head of Hughes Television, President of Chesebrough-Pond’s.

8.  Served a mission to England. Institute Teacher, President of BYU.

9.  Served a mission to Germany. Professor, President of BYU-Idaho.

10.  Served a mission to England. Lawyer, President of California Healthcare System.

11.  Served a mission to Argentina. Lawyer.

12.  Served a mission to France. Vice President of Morton Plant Health System.

13.  Served a mission to the Eastern United States. President and COO of Huntsman Chemical Corporation.

14. Served a mission to Japan. Co-founder and President of ICON Fitness. 

15. Served a mission to Sweden. Professor of Medicine at University of Utah.


GAME #2:  WHAT IS MY LINE?

Pick one memorable quote or story from each Apostles' most recent conference talk. Read the quote and ask the class who said it.

GAME #3:  FINISH THE LINE

Depending on the maturity of the class, you can hand out papers with the questions to every class member to fill out and then check them together, you can hand out individual questions to individual class members and have everyone try to guess, or you can hand out individual questions and individual answers to class members and have one person read a question, and have hopefully the person with the correct answer fill in the blank. These are from conferences several years ago, so they may be challenging.

1. “If the foundation of ___ is not embedded in our hearts, the power to endure will crumble.  –President Eyring

2. “The ______ is the most important social unit in time and eternity.”  --Elder Nelson

3.  President Uchtdorf’s two-word sermon on hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges or wanting to cause harm.

4. “Worthiness and willingness—not experience, expertise or education—are the qualifications for _______________.”  --Elder Bednar

5. “There is someone you can forgive.  There is someone you can thank.  There is someone you can _____.” –President Eyring

6. “A  ___________ is an escape valve for the pressures of life.” –Elder Scott

7. “Heaven is filled with those who have this in common:  ______________.”  --President Uchtdorf

8. “I hope we are reading _________ with our children regularly.”  --Elder Cook

9. “The sacrament gives us an opportunity to come to ourselves and experience a mighty change of ____.” –Elder Hales

10. “____ is a mistake that keeps on just keeps on giving.  Obviously, we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but ____ requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know!”  --Elder Holland


ANSWERS

1.      Faith

2.      Family

3.      “Stop it!”

4.      Priesthood ordination

5.      Serve

6.      Sense of humor

7.      They are forgiven and they forgive

8.      The Book of Mormon

9.      Heart

10.  Envy


GAME #4: TOE THE LINE

This is not really a game, but a challenge.

Enos reported that the people of Nephi had “exceedingly many prophets among us.  And the people were a stiffnecked people, hard [or slow] to understand.”  (Enos 1:22; you may also want to read verse 23.)

Are we like this?  If not, prove it!  Write down (if you haven’t already) the items of counsel from General Conference that you personally received (read the talks if you’ve forgotten or if you missed them), and make a plan to implement them in your life, and then check yourself every Sabbath before going to Sacrament Meeting and renewing your covenants.