Friday, April 13, 2012

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)


Dad said...

Good idea for the visuals, and I like the scripture sequence.

TJ said...

Thanks bunches for all your hard work and your wonderful teaching! I appreciate all the time you put in.

Would you mind putting a 'follow by email' button in your sidebar? I'd love to have your posts delivered right to my email.

Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

TJ, I added a "Subscribe To" button, but for some reason the "Follow by Email" option won't go. Blogger thinks that I've disabled feeds. If you can tell me how to solve that problem, I'd be happy to do it.

Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

By the way, I have full feeds enabled...

Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

As far as I can tell, my blog entries are too large and that's why they won't feed into e-mail...?

Kristi Rosengreen said...

Sis. Jensen,
I have enjoyed your site for just about a year.
(Long time "listener, first time "caller")

I just wanted to THANK YOU for your wonderful insight. As I have prepared my lessons and borrowed from your site it has helped my lessons immensely!

I teach 16 and17 year olds. Thru the past year I am happy to say my wanderers have found their way to class every Sunday. They listen and even comment!

This Sunday will be my last time teaching this class. I am using Mosiah 5:15 on a poster and for my closing. How AWESOME it is to teach of King Benjamin's address in a last lesson.

Anyways, I just wanted to thank you a thousand times over for your thoughts and taking the TIME for us!

Jim said...

What about the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost?

Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

Good point, Jim. In order to join the Kingdom of God and start on this upward spiral, these are necessary. Being baptized and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost are commandments, so they would be implicit in the FAITH step as the cycle begins. But chapter 4 of Mosiah is a message to those who are already in the Kingdom. The visual illustrates Mosiah 4:3 and the more general process of RETAINING a remission of our sins, following the guidance the Holy Spirit that follows repentance, and ultimately drawing closer to and more like God.

Thanks for your contribution and clarification!