Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Sunday, November 10, 2019

“An High Priest of Good Things to Come”




Scripture links are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog

Paul was a great man, a great teacher, a great Apostle of Jesus Christ.  As we have studied his writings in the New Testament I have come to know Paul I feel, more personally and can connect with him and all he has offered us.  I can imagine Paul struggling on a daily basis both personally and within his calling, in the same way we feel we struggle, and even in more intense ways.  But in a spiritual study of his writings we learn that no matter the trial or tribulation he remained faithful.


Hebrews was probably written to Jewish Christians who were experiencing trials of their faith and were beginning to withdraw from the Church to return to Jewish ways. Paul, who gives us one of the greatest testimonies of the Living Christ, exhorts saints in his day and in ours that struggling Church members should maintain their faith in Jesus Christ and allegiance to Him ALWAYS. 

History and Background
In Hebrews 7–13, Paul continued to emphasize the preeminent role of Jesus Christ in the plan of salvation, focusing particularly on the superiority of the Savior’s priesthood, atoning sacrifice, and ministry. Paul teaches us that the ancient tabernacle and its Mosaic ordinances prefigured Christ’s sacrifice and that only through the shedding of His blood can we obtain remission of our sins and gain access to God’s presence. The Epistle to the Hebrews concludes with an eloquent exhortation for the Saints to remain faithful including a discourse that presents scriptural examples of men and women who demonstrated extraordinary faith. Such examples can inspire us to live our own lives more faithfully.

Chapter Summaries


Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. Paul explained that the Melchizedek Priesthood is superior to the Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood. Only the Melchizedek Priesthood can perfect and exalt us. All mankind may gain salvation through the intercession of Jesus Christ.

Unlike the Mosaic high priests, who offered many sacrifices under the law of Moses, Jesus Christ offered His life for the sins of all people. Jesus is the mediator of a “better covenant,” which is written in the hearts of believers.

Hebrews 9
In ancient Israel, the tabernacle and its ordinances were “patterns” and shadows of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of His own life. By the shedding of His blood, Jesus Christ became the “testator” of the new covenant established between God and man.

Hebrews 10
Jesus Christ shed His blood so we might be sanctified. Those who sin intentionally will receive a “much sorer punishment.” Paul encouraged Church members to hold fast to their faith, to “cast not away” their confidence in the Lord, and to have patience while waiting for the Lord’s promises to be fulfilled.

Hebrews 11
Paul discoursed on faith, saying that faith is the assurance of things hoped for but not seen. Through faith in the Lord, men and women in Israel’s history accomplished many great works. These ancients had faith in God’s promises for eternal life.

Hebrews 12
Paul exhorted the Saints to remember the faithful witnesses of Israel’s past, lay aside every weight and sin, and endure in faith by looking to Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith.” God is the Father of our spirits. He chastens us so “that we might be partakers of his holiness.” Exalted Saints belong to the “general assembly and church of the firstborn.”

Hebrews 13
Paul gave counsel on daily living, including the treatment of strangers, marriage relationships, and sustaining those called to lead. We are to “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,” and we are to “do good.”

Part 1: Hebrews 7:1–22 Living worthy of the covenants and blessings of the Melchizedek Priesthood leads to exaltation

The Old Testament records ceremonies and ordinances that functioned as types and shadows, or that symbolized and foreshadowed the Savior and His Atonement.  Every aspect of the law of Moses was intended to function as a type or shadow that pointed the Israelites to Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice 2 Nephi 11:4; Jacob 4:4–5. Paul explained how several parts of the law did this. He wanted to help the Jewish Saints remain faithful to Jesus Christ instead of reverting to following the law of Moses.

Paul cited an Old Testament prophecy about the coming of a priest “after the order of Melchizedek”   He taught that Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophecy. Melchizedek was a righteous king and the high priest who presided over Abraham.  Paul used Melchizedek as a type and shadow of Jesus Christ. He taught that Jesus Christ and His priesthood were necessary because the Levitical Priesthood, along with the law of Moses it administered, could not perfect God’s children.  The Levitical Priesthood refers to the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood held by members of the tribe of Levi (Bible Dictionary, “Aaronic Priesthood” Psalm 110:4; Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:25–40 [in the Bible appendix]; Alma 13:14–19; Bible Dictionary, “Melchizedek”)

1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:
21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

What priesthood authority accompanied the law of Moses?  The Aaronic Priesthood, also called the Levitical, lesser, or preparatory priesthood. See D&C 84:25–27

What priesthood authority does Jesus Christ hold? Hebrews 5:5–6; 6:20.  When Jesus came and fulfilled the law of Moses, he also restored the Melchizedek Priesthood. 

Paul asked, “What further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?” 

In other words, why do we need the Melchizedek Priesthood in addition to the Aaronic Priesthood? Hebrews 7:11.  The Aaronic Priesthood does not have the authority to perform all the ordinances necessary for salvation.

“Neither the law of Moses nor the priesthood of Aaron which administered it was capable of bringing God’s children unto perfection. The Aaronic Priesthood is a lesser authority, and it administers the preparatory gospel only. The Melchizedek Priesthood, on the other hand, is the higher priesthood, commissioned to minister the gospel ordinances in their fulness and capable of purifying our lives so that we can again enter into the presence of the Lord” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles [Church Educational System manual, 1979], 385–86; see also D&C 107:18–20). 


Why do we call the greater priesthood the Melchizedek Priesthood?  D&C 107:2–4
2 Why the first is called the Melchizedek Priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest.
3 Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.
4 But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.

How are members of the Church today blessed by having the Melchizedek Priesthood as well as the Aaronic Priesthood? 

How has the priesthood blessed your life?

Consider the blessings we have because of these two priesthoods:  Sister Sheri L. Dew, former counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, said: “The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman. We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge ‘armed’ with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness” (“It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 13).

Part 2: Hebrews 8–10 Ancient and modern ordinances point to Jesus Christ

Paul teaches that the law of Moses was the old covenant between God and his children, while the gospel of Jesus Christ is the new covenant. The old covenant was a type, or pattern, of the new covenant, but only the new covenant has the power to save.  He also exhorts the Saints to exercise faith in Jesus Christ so they may inherit a place in the kingdom of God.

Hebrews 8:1–10. Shows us that Paul reminded the members of the Church that worship under the law of Moses had pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

According to Hebrews 8:5, what did the Lord tell Moses to do while building the tabernacle to be used by the Israelites for worship?  Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

 The ceremonies in the tabernacle symbolized “heavenly things,” as outlined below: 

  • Ordinance in the tabernacle:
    What it symbolized:
    1. The priests offered animals as sacrifices to God (Hebrews 10:1–4, 11).
    Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:26–28; 10:4–12).
    1. The priests placed blood from the sacrificed animals on the altar to symbolize the cleansing and purification of the people (Hebrews 9:6–7, 19–23).
    Jesus’ blood, shed during the Atonement, cleanses and purifies us from sin (Hebrews 9:11–15).
    1. The high priest went through the veil into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:1–7).
    Jesus, the great high priest, went through the veil into the heaven itself (Hebrews 9:24).
  • Paul explained that the law of Moses was the old covenant between God and his people Hebrews 8:9; see also Galatians 3:24–25
    9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
    What is the new covenant brought by Jesus Christ?  Hebrews 8:6–8, 10–13. The fulness of the gospel. The old covenant is described in the Old Testament of the Bible, while the new covenant is described in the New Testament.

    Why was the old covenant unable to make its participants perfect? Hebrews 10:1–4.

    1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
    2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
    3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
    4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
    Why does the new covenant give us greater hope for perfection?  Hebrews 10:9–18.

    9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
    10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
    11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
    12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
    13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
    14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
    15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
    16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
    17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
    18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
Even though we don’t offer animal sacrifices, we do participate in ordinances today that, in a similar way, point our souls to Christ and provide “authorized channels through which the blessings and powers of heaven can flow into our individual lives” (David A. Bednar, “Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins,” Ensign May 2016, 60).


To Help us better understand the symbolism of sacrifice and how it works with the New covenant watch this short video.  





How have modern ordinances blessed us and helped point us to Jesus Christ?

What can we do to make these ordinances more meaningful and focused on the Savior?

Part 3: Faith requires trusting in God’s promises Hebrews 10: 34-38; 11

After Paul explained the ways in which the fulness of the gospel is a higher, more complete law that replaces the law of Moses, he exhorted the Saints to follow this “new and living way” by putting their faith in Jesus Christ.

It should be remembered that Hebrews was written to Church members who were wondering whether it would be better to return to the Jewish faith. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke of the challenges faced by the Hebrew Saints and likened the message of Hebrews to us:

“Paul says to those who thought a new testimony, a personal conversion, a spiritual baptismal experience would put them beyond trouble—to these he says, ‘Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.’ Then this tremendous counsel, which is at the heart of my counsel to you: ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward …’ [Hebrews 10:32, 35; italics added].

“That is the way it has always been, Paul says, but don’t draw back. Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had. …

“This opposition turns up almost any place something good has happened. It can happen when you are trying to get an education. It can hit you after your first month in your new mission field. It certainly happens in matters of love and marriage. It can occur in situations related to your family, Church callings, or career.

“With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence.’ Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you” (“Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” Ensign, Mar. 2000, 8–9)

What did the Saints need to do if they were to obey the exhortation, “Cast not away therefore your confidence?” Have patience and faith, and trust that God will fulfill His promises. 

What does it mean to “cast not away … your confidence”?
Paul encouraged the Saints not to “draw back,” or return to their Jewish beliefs and traditions, but rather to be one of those who “believe to the saving of the soul.” 

What can we do to hold fast to our faith in Jesus Christ?“ 
In Latter-day Saint talk that is to say, Sure it is tough—before you join the Church, while you are trying to join, and after you have joined. That is the way it has always been, Paul says, but don’t draw back. Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had. That tenacity is what saved Moses and Joseph Smith when the adversary confronted them, and it is what will save you” (“Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” Elder Jeffery R Holland Ensign, Mar. 2000, 8).

Paul taught a sermon on faith, recorded in Hebrews 11, that can help us follow his exhortation to “cast not away therefore your confidence.”

How does Hebrews 11:1 define faith? 
 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What is meant by the phrase “evidence of things not seen”? Faith is an assurance of unseen realities. Faith is also believing and trusting the Lord enough to obey Him without first seeing the end result.

The Joseph Smith Translation, of Hebrews 11:1, states, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1, footnote b).  Of this Elder David A. Bednar said:  “The Apostle Paul defined faith as ‘the substance of things hoped for, [and] the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). Alma declared that faith is not a perfect knowledge; rather, if we have faith, we ‘hope for things which are not seen, [but] are true’ (Alma 32:21). Additionally, we learn in the Lectures on Faith that faith is ‘the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness’ and that it is also ‘the principle of action in all intelligent beings’ [Lectures on Faith (1985), 1].  

“These teachings of Paul and of Alma and from the Lectures on Faith highlight three basic elements of faith: (1) faith as the assurance of things hoped for which are true, (2) faith as the evidence of things not seen, and (3) faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings. I describe these three components of faith in the Savior as simultaneously facing the future, looking to the past, and initiating action in the present.

“Faith as the assurance of things hoped for looks to the future. …


“Faith in Christ is inextricably tied to and results in hope in Christ for our redemption and exaltation. And assurance and hope make it possible for us to walk to the edge of the light and take a few steps into the darkness—expecting and trusting the light to move and illuminate the way (see Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 54). The combination of assurance and hope initiates action in the present.
“Faith as the evidence of things not seen looks to the past and confirms our trust in God and our confidence in the truthfulness of things not seen. We stepped into the darkness with assurance and hope, and we received evidence and confirmation as the light in fact moved and provided the illumination we needed. The witness we obtained after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6) is evidence that enlarges and strengthens our assurance.

“Assurance, action, and evidence influence each other in an ongoing process”
(“Seek Learning by Faith” [evening with Elder David A. Bednar, Feb. 3, 2006], 1–2).


How does Elder Bednar’s statement helps us understand the meaning of Hebrews 11:1 God’s past work in our lives or the lives of others gives us the assurance and hope to act in faith. That faithful obedience results in greater evidence and confirmation, which strengthens our assurance. This assurance then becomes the evidence of what is yet to be seen.

The counsel to the Hebrew Saints who were tempted to “draw back” from their faith can be valuable to all of us whether we are struggling with their testimonies or maintaing: 

34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Why are people in the world today casting away their confidence in the Lord and His gospel?  Hebrews 10:35

What can we do to build and maintain faith and confidence to “receive God’s promise”? Hebrews 10:36

Paul gave many examples of assurances people in Israel’s history received from God, and what they were able to accomplish by faith. Hebrews 11:4–12, 17–34.

4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

How would you summarize what those individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11 were able to do because they centered their faith in Jesus Christ? With faith in Christ we can endure suffering, accomplish miracles, and receive divine promises.

How could verse 13 help those whose faith is being challenged because it seems that promised blessings are not being granted? 

Paul taught that faith can help us during times of adversity or opposition Hebrews 11:32–38. How has faith helped you deal with adversity? 

What other blessings have you (or someone you know) received by exercising faith in Jesus Christ?

How could the rest of the examples of faith in Hebrews 11 strengthen our faith?

Conclusion 
We are blessed to live in a time when the fulness of the gospel is available. The “new and living way” refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ, or the plan by which we can be forgiven and sanctified through His Atonement and thereby become worthy to return to God’s presence.  Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to his commandments.  Important components of faith are patience, long-suffering, and enduring to the end. As well In Hebrews 11 Paul provided a list of men and women who, through their sufferings and faith in the Lord, accomplished many great things and moved toward perfection. Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 11:40 clarifies the role of their sufferings: “God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect” (in Hebrews 11:40, footnote a). 

With these examples as a backdrop, Paul exhorted his readers to greater faithfulness and referred to these men and women as a “cloud of witnesses.” They can be looked to as witnesses because their lives bear witness to the power of faith in enabling us to perform righteous works. Paul may have also intended the phrase “cloud of witnesses” to introduce the metaphor of running a race, in which the faithful Saints of old are figuratively seen as the crowd of onlookers cheering on the runners. Both meanings convey that the powerful examples of the ancient Saints can give us strength and confidence to “run … the race that is set before us.”

Resources: 
New Testament Student Maual
Ensign
Conference Reports
Lectures on Faith
Articles of Faith
Book of Mormon
Doctrine and Covenants
Bible Dictionary King James Version
Bible Appendix King James Version
Joseph Smith Translation Bible




The Fall of Adam and Eve

  Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end...