Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Monday, October 7, 2019

“For the Perfecting of the Saints”



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 As we continue our study of the New Testament we find that the Apostle Paul was indeed a leader.  Given the task to guide the members of Christ's church on earth he was not only carrying for the spiritual welfare of the members, but also the teaching of doctrine.  We can find as we study though the New Testament that of a surety Paul was not alone.  The Lord's hand is evident in the messages of Paul's letters just as it is evident with our current Prophet today.  He continued his addresses to the Church in Ephesus thus giving us the book of Ephesians. The topic of this weeks lesson.

Why should we study this book?  Because “Ephesians is an epistle for all the world, for Jew and Gentile, for husband and wife, for parent and child, for master and servant. It was the mind and will of God in Paul’s day; it is the voice of inspiration in our day; it is an epistle of universal appeal and application.  It contains some of Paul’s best writing, and is a document that deals with fundamentals, with the gospel of God in all its saving glory” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 2:489). 

The Epistle to the Ephesians reflects great depth in its teachings. Paul’s main theme in this epistle can perhaps best be summarized as the setting aside of the things of this world in order to grow in spiritual knowledge and partake of the unity and fellowship of the Church. Something we heard much about in this October General Conference.  As well, in Ephesians, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will find many familiar teachings and practices that characterize the Lord’s true Church in every age.

History and Commentary
Paul stated that he was a prisoner at the time he wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians (see Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20), so Ephesians may have been written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, around A.D. 61 to 63, and perhaps at the same time he wrote the Epistle to Philemon and the Epistle to the Colossians (which bear many similarities to Ephesians). During this time Paul was being held under house arrest, but he had the freedom to receive visitors and teach the gospel (see Acts 28:16–31).

In the King James Version, Ephesians 1:1 states that the Epistle to the Ephesians is addressed “to the saints which are at Ephesus”; however, the earliest manuscripts of Ephesians do not contain the words “which are at Ephesus.” This means that Paul may not have written the epistle specifically to the Ephesians but to several congregations of Saints, including those in Ephesus. Ephesus served as Paul’s headquarters during his third missionary journey and he had great affection for these people.  In his letter Paul addressed Gentile members of the Church who were perhaps recent converts to expand the spiritual horizons of those who were already members. His main purposes were to help these converts grow in their spiritual knowledge of God and the Church, to promote unity, particularly between Gentile and Jewish Saints and to encourage the Saints to withstand the powers of evil. 

Following Peter’s death, John the Revelator became the presiding authority of the Church, and when John moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus, the headquarters of the Church also moved to Ephesus. According to Christian tradition, Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent the remaining years of her life at Ephesus under John’s care. Ephesus was the first of the seven cities that John wrote to in the book of Revelation.

Chapter Summaries

The Apostle Paul continued his address to the Church members in Ephesus by teaching them that because of the grace of Jesus Christ, all mankind can be saved through faith in Him and that as we come unto Jesus Christ and partake of His grace, we become unified with the Saints of God. Paul also taught that the Lord’s Church is founded on apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone, and that apostles and prophets seek to help God’s children know and feel the love of Jesus Christ.

Through Paul’s continued teachings concerning the organization of the Church we learn that the Lord has called apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders to help perfect the Saints and protect them from false doctrine. Paul also taught the Saints that disciples of Jesus Christ put off their old, sinful ways and put on new, righteous ways.

Part 1 Ephesians 2:19–22; 4:4–8, 11–16  Prophets and apostles—and all of us—strengthen and unify the Church

Paul compared the members of the Church to a building. Just as a building needs a strong foundation for strength and stability, the Church was “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone”  

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.


Elder Jeffrey R. Holland discussed why a foundation of apostles and prophets is critical to the Church: “The apostolic and prophetic foundation of the Church was to bless in all times, but especially in times of adversity or danger, times when we might feel like children, confused or disoriented, perhaps a little fearful, times in which the devious hand of men or the maliciousness of the devil would attempt to unsettle or mislead. … In New Testament times, in Book of Mormon times, and in modern times these officers form the foundation stones of the true Church, positioned around and gaining their strength from the chief cornerstone, ‘the rock of our Redeemer, who is [Jesus] Christ, the Son of God’ [Helaman 5:12]. … Such a foundation in Christ was and is always to be a protection in days ‘when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you’” (“Prophets, Seers, and Revelators,” Ensign Nov. 2004, 7)

How can we help others become or feel again like “fellowcitizens” in the Church rather than strangers?
What truth did Paul teach in these verses about the structure of the Lord’s Church?  The Lord’s Church is founded on apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone.

What is a cornerstone? A large stone laid at the corner of a foundation to give strength and stability to the entire structure. The chief cornerstone is the first stone placed in a foundation. It serves as a reference point for the measurement and placement of the other stones, which must be aligned with the chief cornerstone. Because it bears the weight of the rest of the building, the chief cornerstone must be solid, stable, and reliable (“The Cornerstone,” Ensign, Jan. 2016, 74–75).

In what ways is Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone of the Church? 

The temple in Jerusalem contained several courts or areas, and only certain types of people could enter each court. Gentiles were permitted to ascend the temple mount and enter the outer court, called the court of the Gentiles. The inner courts of the temple, however, were shielded from Gentile access by a special partition or wall that stood about one meter high. If a Gentile passed beyond this wall, he could be put to death. Archaeologists have discovered two of the marble blocks that made up this barrier, and they contain inscriptions in Greek and Latin that read: “No foreigner is to pass beyond the barriers surrounding the sanctuary. Whoever is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his death which will follow” (Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Eric D. Huntsman, Thomas A. Wayment, Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament [2006], 160)

Following Paul’s third missionary journey, some Jews in Jerusalem accused Paul of bringing Gentiles beyond the barrier, leading to a riot and ultimately to Paul’s arrest.  The goal of unity was important, and one of the main goals for this epistle.  In relation to this, think about our day and time.  

What does Ephesians 2:19 imply about the responsibility of members of the Church in our day toward those who are new converts or who move into our wards and branches?

How can we work together to become unified under “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”?

According to verse 21, what happens to the rest of the Church because of this cornerstone?

The Savior referred to Himself as the stone which the builders had rejected, which had become the “head of the corner” (Matthew 21:42), or in the words of Paul, the “chief corner stone.” A cornerstone is a massive stone that is laid at the corner of a foundation to give strength and stability to the entire structure. A cornerstone can also be used to connect two adjoining walls to form a corner. Paul used this imagery to explain that Jesus Christ provides strength and stability to the whole Church and that through Jesus Christ, Jewish and Gentile members of the Church are bound together (see Jacob 4:15–16; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16). All members become united, “fitly framed together [growing] unto an holy temple in the Lord.” All of this is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, who is the “chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20–21).  (New Testament Student Manual)

In what ways do apostles and prophets form the remainder of the foundation of the Church?Paul taught that the Lord had established His Church and called leaders to both perfect and unify the Saints.

How does this foundation provide stability to the Church and protect it against the devil’s attacks?  


Paul taught that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have all been given the gift of His grace. He also taught that Christ had given other gifts to mankind. He wrote about how we can know what is right and what is wrong in a world of changing values and beliefs.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

The word “one” appears seven times in Ephesians 4:4–6. Oneness and unity are important themes in Ephesians and in Paul’s other writings. Paul constantly preached about unity and prayed for unity among Church members.  In modern times, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that unity is a key law of the celestial kingdom  D&C 105:3–5. There is only one true Lord, one true faith, one true baptism, and one true Father of all.

How did the things taught during General Conference help fulfill the purposes stated in Ephesians 4:11–16

Elder Delbert L. Stapley (1896–1978) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the critical role Apostles played in maintaining unity and pure doctrine:

“After Jesus put his apostles in charge of the Church anciently, they preached the same unity of doctrine and practiced the same ordinances which Jesus had given them. …

“… As long as they remained on the earth, functioning under the authority Jesus gave them, unity of doctrine and uniformity of the ordinances prevailed. The gospel message, which they were commanded to take to all the world, was the same to everyone everywhere. People were not taught different gospels and then given a choice. There was only one plan for all.

“Because of the universality of these requirements for salvation, the apostle Paul wrote: ‘There is … one Lord, one faith, one baptism.’ (Eph. 4:4–5.) …

“One church, one authorized ministry, one orthodox gospel doctrine, and one Holy Ghost characterized the church of Jesus Christ in His time. ‘For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.’ (1 Cor. 14:33.) Thus God’s revelation to leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ was reasonable, consistent, and unified.

“It was only after the death of Christ’s apostles that revelation ceased. The pure doctrines Christ taught became diluted with the philosophy of the world, and profane innovations appeared in the ordinances of the church. Eventually, that which had once been clear and understandable became mythical and confusing” (“What Constitutes the True Church,” Ensign, May 1977, 22).

Why else did the Lord provide these leaders for members of the Church? The Lord has called apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders to help perfect the Saints and protect them from false doctrine.

From Ephesians 4:11–16 we learn some of the purposes of the priesthood and its offices. Paul recognized that a “unity of the faith” cannot be reached without the presiding leadership of living Apostles and others. President Russell M. Nelson quoted Paul’s teachings on the unity of the faith and then explained: “The ministry of the Apostles—the First Presidency and the Twelve—is to bring about that unity of the faith and to proclaim our knowledge of the Master. Our ministry is to bless the lives of all who will learn and follow the ‘more excellent way’ of the Lord [1 Corinthians 12:31; Ether 12:11]. And we are to help people prepare for their potential salvation and exaltation” (“Salvation and Exaltation,” Ensign May 2008, 7–8).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles similarly provided insight into the unifying role of Apostles: “In the Church today, just as anciently, establishing the doctrine of Christ or correcting doctrinal deviations is a matter of divine revelation to those the Lord endows with apostolic authority” (“The Doctrine of Christ,” Ensign May 2012, 86).

How should our Church leaders teach us the truths of the gospel?

Part 2 Ephesians 5:22–6:4  Following the Savior’s example can strengthen family relationships

Paul taught the Saints how to resist evil influences. He also taught them how to strengthen family relationships. Paul concluded his letter by exhorting followers of God to “put on the whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:11) in order to withstand Satan’s deceptions.  Although the Ephesians lived in a culture in which wives were not treated as equals to their husbands, this epistle still contains some valuable counsel for married couples today.

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

What did Paul encourage the Saints to do? 
“submit yourselves one to another” means we should place others ahead of ourselves and “fear of God” refers to our love and respect for God.

What relationship did Paul counsel wives to pattern their relationships with their husbands after?  Paul taught that a wife should “submit” herself to her husband. This can be interpreted as sustaining, supporting, and respecting her husband as she does the Lord. A husband’s divinely appointed role is to preside or watch over the family, just as the Savior watches over and leads His Church.

How will a husband who loves his wife as the Savior loves the Church treat her? He will “give himself” for her verse 25, or place her ahead of himself, and “cherish” her verse 29.

Paul’s counsel that wives should submit to their husbands does not justify male dominion. People in Greco-Roman society regarded the father as being the head of the extended family and the absolute authority over the entire household. Therefore, Paul’s teachings represented a dramatic change to these traditional ideas because he defined husbands’ and fathers’ roles in terms of Christ’s love and sacrifice for the Church.

How did Christ show His love for the Church? What can we do to follow His example in how we treat our spouses?  Ephesians 5:22–33  Paul declared that the manner in which Jesus Christ loved and sacrificed for the Church was the ultimate example of how a husband should love and sacrifice for his wife. In our day, Church leaders have taught that men are not to dominate family relationships, but “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign Nov. 2010, 129). 

President Spencer W. Kimball explained:  “A woman need have no fear of being imposed upon or of any dictatorial measures or of any improper demands when the husband is self-sacrificing and worthy. …“Husbands are commanded: ‘… love your wives, even as Christ also loveth the church, and gave himself for it.’ (Eph. 5:25.)  “Christ loved the church and its people so much that he voluntarily endured persecution for them, suffered humiliating indignities for them, stoically withstood pain and physical abuse for them, and finally gave his precious life for them.
“When the husband is ready to treat his household in that manner, not only the wife but all the family will respond to his leadership”
(“Home: The Place to Save Society,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, 5).

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught priesthood holders:  “The wife you choose will be your equal. Paul declared, ‘Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord’ (1 Cor. 11:11).  “In the marriage companionship there is neither inferiority nor superiority. The woman does not walk ahead of the man; neither does the man walk ahead of the woman. They walk side by side as a son and daughter of God on an eternal journey.  “She is not your servant, your chattel, nor anything of the kind. …“I am confident that when we stand before the bar of God, there will be little mention of how much wealth we accumulated in life or of any honors which we may have achieved. But there will be searching questions concerning our domestic relations. And I am convinced that only those who have walked through life with love and respect and appreciation for their companions and children will receive from our eternal judge the words, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: … enter thou into the joy of thy lord’ (Matt. 25:21)” (“Personal Worthiness to Exercise the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2002, 53–54).


While Paul’s counsel to “honour thy father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2) was addressed to children, it can apply to each of us, regardless of our age or family situation. 

2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

How would your family relationships would be strengthened if you used your relationship with the Savior as your guide? When we use the Savior’s relationship with the Church as our guide, we can strengthen our family relationships. Paul taught that all members of the Church should submit themselves to one another, or in other words, place others ahead of themselves. He then explained how the principle of submitting oneself applied in family and household relationships, starting with wives and husbands. For wives, this means submitting themselves to their husbands as they would to the Lord; for husbands, this means loving their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. If couples are truly united, then any sacrifice made on behalf of one’s spouse inevitably brings blessings to oneself; thus, “he that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:28).
How can you apply Paul’s counsel in Ephesians 6:1–4 to your own circumstances? 

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

How can we honor our parents even if their choices don’t align with the teachings of Jesus Christ?  As part of his counsel on family relationships, Paul reiterated the commandment that children should honor their parents. In For the Strength of Youth, Church leaders identified some ways children can do this: “Honor your parents by showing love and respect for them. Obey them as they lead you in righteousness. Willingly help in your home. Participate in wholesome family activities and traditions. Join your family in family prayer, family scripture study, and family home evenings. Keeping these commandments strengthens and unifies families” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 14–15).

What does it mean to bring up children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”?  Paul admonished parents to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”  Modern scripture provides specific instructions about the responsibilities parents have to raise their children up to the Lord, including helping children develop faith  D&C 68:25–28; 93:40; Moses 6:57–60

Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the Seventy taught why parents should help children develop faith in Jesus Christ:  “As parents, we have been commanded to teach our children ‘to understand the doctrine of … faith in Christ the Son of the living God’ (D&C 68:25). …“There is no other thing in which we can have absolute assurance. There is no other foundation in life that can bring the same peace, joy, and hope. In uncertain and difficult times, faith is truly a spiritual gift worthy of our utmost efforts. We can give our children education, lessons, athletics, the arts, and material possessions, but if we do not give them faith in Christ, we have given little” (“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Ensign May 2009, 38).

Part 3 Ephesians 6:10–18  The armor of God will help protect us from evil

“Satan is waging war against the members of the Church who have testimonies and are trying to keep the commandments” (President Ezra Taft Benson).

Paul teaches that we should “put on the new man” and “put on the whole armour of God” to protect us from the wickedness of the world.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

What did Paul tell the Saints in his day to put on so that they could withstand these evils? If we put on the whole armor of God, we will be able to withstand evil.

What are the different pieces of what Paul calls the armor of God? What does each piece represent? Ephesians 6:13–18; D&C 27:15–18.   Armor “girt about” the loins is a belt that is tied around the midsection of the body. (1) It covers the loins (the vital organs dealing with reproduction). (2) Truth. (3) It represents our chastity or moral purity. (4) Knowing the truthfulness of the plan of salvation can motivate us to remain morally pure. Having “your feet shod” means wearing shoes or other foot protection.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

15 Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.
16 Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you;
17 Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked;
18 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also. Amen

While exhorting the Saints to put on the armor of God, Paul warned them against many kinds of evil influences Ephesians 6:10–12. What are some of the evil influences in this life?

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.


How can each piece of the armor of God protect us against the influence of Satan? 
6
Armor
What the armor represents
Protected body part
What the protected body part may represent
Belt, girt (tied around waist)
Loins
Our chastity, moral purity (see Proverbs 6:32)
Breastplate (made of bronze or chain)
Righteousness, uprightness with God (see Isaiah 59:17)
Heart
Our affections, emotions, loyalty (see Deuteronomy 6:5)
Boots (rugged shoes studded with nails for traction)
Preparation of the gospel of peace (see Isaiah 52:7)
Feet
Our course in life, actions, places we go, goals (see Proverbs 1:15–16)
Shield (large oval made of two layers of wood, held together with iron and leather)
Faith (see Psalm 18:30, 35)
Entire body
Our whole soul
Helmet (made of bronze with leather straps)
Head
Our thoughts, intellect
Sword (weapon made of steel—only weapon listed)
The Spirit, which is the word of God (see Hebrews 4:12)
Entire body
Our whole soul


Elder Robert C. Oaks of the Seventy observed that these weapons are used in the battle for souls:
“The weapons of eternal worth reflecting the whole armor of God are truth, righteousness, faith, prayer, and the word of God (see Eph. 6:13–18). These weapons are wielded in our minds, mouths, and movements. Every righteous thought, word, and deed is a victory for the Lord. …

“The stakes are extremely high. The prizes are the very souls of the sons and daughters of God, their eternal salvation. And these souls will be won or lost on the basis of virtue and cleanliness, on the basis of charity and service, and on the basis of faith and hope” (“Who’s on the Lord’s Side? Who?” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 49–50).
Ephesians 6:16. The Shield of Faith

Paul taught that the shield of faith can deflect attacks by the adversary and “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16). President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the importance of the family in forging a shield of faith:

“The shield of faith is to be made and fitted in the family. No two can be exactly alike. Each must be handcrafted to individual specifications.

“The plan designed by the Father contemplates that man and woman, husband and wife, working together, fit each child individually with a shield of faith made to buckle on so firmly that it can neither be pulled off nor penetrated by those fiery darts.

“It takes the steady strength of a father to hammer out the metal of it and the tender hands of a mother to polish and fit it on. Sometimes one parent is left to do it alone. It is difficult, but it can be done.

“In the Church we can teach about the materials from which a shield of faith is made: reverence, courage, chastity, repentance, forgiveness, compassion. In church we can learn how to assemble and fit them together. But the actual making of and fitting on of the shield of faith belongs in the family circle”
(“The Shield of Faith,” Ensign, May 1995, 8).

President Harold B. Lee explained the importance of putting on the whole armor of God:
“We have the four parts of the body that the Apostle Paul said [are] the most vulnerable to the powers of darkness. The loins, typifying virtue, chastity. The heart typifying our conduct. Our feet, our goals or objectives in life and finally our head, our thoughts” (Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Nov. 9, 1954], 2).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught what we must first do before we can put on the armor of God:

“The putting off of the natural man makes possible the putting on of the whole armor of God, which would not fully fit before! (see Eph. 6:11, 13)” (“Plow in Hope,” Ensign, May 2001, 60).

President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency taught what we can do to put on the whole armor of God:

“Examine your armor. Is there an unguarded or unprotected place? Determine now to add whatever part is missing. …

“Through the great principle of repentance you can turn your life about and begin now clothing yourself with the armor of God through study, prayer, and a determination to serve God and keep his commandments”
(“Put on the Whole Armor of God,” Ensign, May 1979, 46).

What can we do to put on this armor each day?

M. Russell Ballard  “I like to think of this spiritual armor not as a solid piece of metal molded to fit the body but more like chain mail. Chain mail consists of dozens of tiny pieces of steel fastened together to allow the user greater flexibility without losing protection. I say that because it has been my experience that there is not one great and grand thing we can do to arm ourselves spiritually. True spiritual power lies in numerous smaller acts woven together in a fabric of spiritual fortification that protects and shields from all evil” (“Be Strong in the Lord,” Ensign, July 2004, 8).

Conclusion
The Lord established his Church, with apostles and prophets, to help us become like him and return to live with him. Our goal is to strive together for the “perfecting of the Saints” by following Paul’s teachings in Ephesians.  As we do so putting on the whole armour of God let us consider the different pieces, which piece do you feel is most critical for your life right now? What could you do to make sure that you are spiritually protected so you can “withstand in the evil day”? (Ephesians 6:13). This is our goal to save our souls, to strive daily, and to return home peacefully.  

President N. Eldon Tanner, who served as a counselor in the First Presidency, invited members of the Church to evaluate the strength of their personal armor by pondering their efforts to live the gospel. He then explained:  “If … our armor is weak, there is an unshielded place which can be found, a vulnerable area for attack, and we will be subject to injury or destruction by Satan, who will search until he finds our weaknesses, if we have them.

“Examine your armor. Is there an unguarded or unprotected place? Determine now to add whatever part is missing. No matter how antiquated or lacking in parts your armor may be, always remember that it is within your power to make the necessary adjustments to complete your armor.
“Through the great principle of repentance you can turn your life about and begin now clothing yourself with the armor of God through study, prayer, and a determination to serve God and keep his commandments” (“Put on the Whole Armor of God,” Ensign, May 1979, 46).

Resources
New Testament Student Manual
Seminary Manual
Ensign
Conference Reports
For Strength of Youth
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary Bruce R McConkie
Doctrine and Covenants
Book of Mormon

The Fall of Adam and Eve

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