Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Sunday, May 24, 2020

“They Were Called the People of God”




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

Repentance and forgiveness are recurring themes in our gospel study, and being much thoughtfulness to our minds. When we study we may think about ourselves in such ways as: are we doing all we can to live righteously, are there things we need to fix, or improve upon. Have I really been forgiven of sins, because sometimes I don't feel as if I have, or I don't feel worthy of the forgiveness freely given. Sometimes I wish I could feel as I did when I was baptized.

These questions can plague us, and make us wonder, but they can also drive us to prayerful study so that we learn and understand the principles of the gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Fortunately the book of Mosiah in the book of Mormon, is full of these topics and can help answer our questions, as well as teach us for the future.

With proper prayerful study we can be confident that we have been forgiven of our sins, and continue to be forgiven daily as we seek the Lord, and follow all he has taught. We can remember the God freely forgives all those who repent, but also that we must be converted fully to be in harmony with Him. 

Through your study this week, contemplate how accepting the Atonement of Jesus Christ leads to repentance, full conversion, and the desire to labor for the salvation of others.

History and Background Mosiah 25–28

Limhi’s people and Alma’s followers journeyed to Zarahemla to be united safely under King Mosiah’s rule. As these groups of Nephites came together, they recognized the goodness of God and His power to deliver them and they established a unified Church.  

However, many of the “rising generation” rejected the testimony of their fathers and led some Church members to “commit many sins”  As a result, Alma sought the Lord’s guidance on how to deal with members of the Church who broke the laws of God. He also prayed that his own son might “be brought to the knowledge of the truth”

From Alma's prayers for help we learn the manner in which priesthood leaders must admonish those who commit serious sin and help them through the repentance process. We also see the need for all mankind to be “born of God” in the story of Alma the Younger and the four sons of Mosiah. 

After the conversion of Alma the younger and the four sons of Mosiah; the sons of Mosiah felt a strong desire to preach the gospel to the Lamanites. King Mosiah supported their decision, but he was then left without a successor to his throne and a caretaker for the scriptural records. He gave Alma (the son of Alma) the responsibility for the records. Instead of appointing another king, he instituted a system of judges as the new form of government.

Part 1: Mosiah 26:15–31; 27:23–37 God freely forgives those who repent

What comes to mind when you think of the words repentance and forgiveness? Do we wonder sometimes if our repentance has been sufficient? Alma the Elder from these chapters asked those same questions too, and after diligently seeking the Lord in prayer he was able to teach not only his people but us as well, what the Lord expects and how we obtain true forgiveness.

15 Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi.
16 And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone which thou hast spoken unto them.
17 And blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people.
18 Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine.
19 And because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor, thou art blessed.
20 Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep.
21 And he that will hear my voice shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church, and him will I also receive.
22 For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive.
23 For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.
24 For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.
25 And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me.
26 And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed.
27 And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
28 Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day.
29 Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also.
30 Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.
31 And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor’s trespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation.

23 And it came to pass after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and began to speak unto them, bidding them to be of good comfort:
24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
27 I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off.
28 Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.
29 My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.
30 I rejected my Redeemer, and denied that which had been spoken of by our fathers; but now that they may foresee that he will come, and that he remembereth every creature of his creating, he will make himself manifest unto all.
31 Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye.
32 And now it came to pass that Alma began from this time forward to teach the people, and those who were with Alma at the time the angel appeared unto them, traveling round about through all the land, publishing to all the people the things which they had heard and seen, and preaching the word of God in much tribulation, being greatly persecuted by those who were unbelievers, being smitten by many of them.
33 But notwithstanding all this, they did impart much consolation to the church, confirming their faith, and exhorting them with long-suffering and much travail to keep the commandments of God.
34 And four of them were the sons of Mosiah; and their names were Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and Himni; these were the names of the sons of Mosiah.
35 And they traveled throughout all the land of Zarahemla, and among all the people who were under the reign of king Mosiah, zealously striving to repair all the injuries which they had done to the church, confessing all their sins, and publishing all the things which they had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them.
36 And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.
37 And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.

What words and phrases from these verses teach about repentance and forgiveness?

How does God feel about those who repent and seek forgiveness?

Imagine you are a bishop of a ward that includes some members who have committed serious sins. As a bishop, you are charged by the Lord to hold these members accountable and help them to repent. How you would treat these members and how you could best help them?

A situation like this was difficult for Alma. Like authorized priesthood leaders today, he had the responsibility to help members of the Church who had committed serious sins to repent, gain forgiveness, and return to an active and honorable standing in the Church.

What did Alma learn from the Lord in Mosiah 26:15–31 that could help church members? 


Why is it important for us to know that priesthood leaders seek and receive the Lord’s guidance when helping those who have sinned?

After Alma prayed for guidance about how to help the Church members who had committed serious sins, the Lord gave him instructions. He was to give the members the opportunity to repent, but if they did not repent, they were not to be numbered among the Lord’s people. These instructions give important insights into the principle of repentance.

How would you summarize the Savior’s words in Mosiah 26:23

Why do you think it is important for us to realize that the Savior Himself paid for our sins?

What phrases in Mosiah 26:21–31 show the Savior’s confidence and trust in Alma as a priesthood leader? 

How could having the help of a priesthood leader assist those who struggle with difficult sins or temptations?

What do you think it means to repent “in the sincerity of one’s heart”? Mosiah 26:29

Why do you think we must forgive others to receive the Lord’s forgiveness?
  Mosiah 26:31

How can we be sure the Lord has forgiven us? President Henry B. Eyring teaches us that: “If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life” (“Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times,” Ensign, June 2007, 23)

Part 2: Mosiah 27:8–24 God hears our prayers and will answer them according to His will

Alma the Younger and the sons of King Mosiah rebelled against their fathers and the Lord and attempted to destroy the Church of God. Many of us can relate to the feelings of Alma the Elder, whose son was “rebelling against God" 

8 Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities.
9 And he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God; stealing away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension among the people; giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them.
10 And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king—
11 And as I said unto you, as they were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood;
12 And so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth, and understood not the words which he spake unto them.
13 Nevertheless he cried again, saying: Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people.
14 And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.
15 And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God.
16 Now I say unto thee: Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam, and in the land of Nephi; and remember how great things he has done for them; for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.
17 And now it came to pass that these were the last words which the angel spake unto Alma, and he departed.
18 And now Alma and those that were with him fell again to the earth, for great was their astonishment; for with their own eyes they had beheld an angel of the Lord; and his voice was as thunder, which shook the earth; and they knew that there was nothing save the power of God that could shake the earth and cause it to tremble as though it would part asunder.
19 And now the astonishment of Alma was so great that he became dumb, that he could not open his mouth; yea, and he became weak, even that he could not move his hands; therefore he was taken by those that were with him, and carried helpless, even until he was laid before his father.
20 And they rehearsed unto his father all that had happened unto them; and his father rejoiced, for he knew that it was the power of God.
21 And he caused that a multitude should be gathered together that they might witness what the Lord had done for his son, and also for those that were with him.
22 And he caused that the priests should assemble themselves together; and they began to fast, and to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak, and also that his limbs might receive their strength—that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God.
23 And it came to pass after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and began to speak unto them, bidding them to be of good comfort:

24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.

What part of the description of Alma and the sons of Mosiah stands out most to you? Why?

Why had the angel come to Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah?

What do these verses teach about how we can help others who are struggling?  Praying with great faith in behalf of others may help them come to a knowledge of the truth.


Why do you think the angel told Alma to remember the captivity of his fathers and the great things God had done for them? Mosiah 27:15–16 
15 And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God.
16 Now I say unto thee: Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam, and in the land of Nephi; and remember how great things he has done for them; for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.


 After the angel shared his message, Alma could not speak, became weak, and was carried helpless to his father. When Alma’s father heard what had happened, he “rejoiced, for he knew that it was the power of God” He assembled the people “that they might witness what the Lord had done for his son”  He also had the priests gather, and they fasted and prayed that his son might receive his strength and be able to speak.

The account of Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah is evidence that the Lord hears our prayers, He will not override the agency of those for whom we pray, and He may not send an angel to intercede, but He will hear our prayers and will respond in His way and His time.

When have you felt that your prayers have made a difference in someone’s life?

Understanding that we cannot demand a miracle or override someone’s agency, what can we appropriately pray for when a loved one goes astray?
Alma 6:6

6 Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.

Part 3: Mosiah 27:8–28:4 All men and women must be born again

When the scriptures speak of being born again the refer to a spiritual rebirth. What does it mean to be spiritually reborn? The Bible dictionary tells us that to be spiritually reborn is to be converted.  Conversion is given this definition:  Denotes changing one’s views, in a conscious acceptance of the will of God (Acts 3:19). If followed by continued faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism in water for the remission of sins, and the reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, conversion will become complete and will change a natural man into a sanctified, born again, purified person—a new creature in Christ Jesus (see 2 Cor. 5:17). Complete conversion comes after many trials and much testing. 

What doctrine did the Lord teach Alma, in Mosiah 27:8–28:4? We must be born again in order to inherit the kingdom of God. 

What does it mean to be born again? To be born again means to have the Spirit of the Lord cause a mighty change in a person’s heart so that the person has no more desire to do evil but rather desires to seek the things of God Mosiah 5:2

According to Mosiah 27:24, 28, what did Alma do that led to this change? 
24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
28 Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.

What signs do you find in Mosiah 27:8–28:4 that teach of Alma and the sons of Mosiah had been spiritually reborn?

Although the mighty change of heart apparently occurred quickly for Alma and the sons of Mosiah, most of us experience this change more gradually. Being born again is a process more than an event. As we are converted we must evolve and grow into Christlike lives, attitudes, thoughts and behaviors. We cannot expect ourselves to change overnight, but we can expect ourselves to grow and change.  President Ezra Taft Benson taught:  

“We must be careful, as we seek to become more and more godlike, that we do not become discouraged and lose hope. Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible. The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were: Alma the Younger, Paul on the road to Damascus, Enos praying far into the night, King Lamoni. Such astonishing examples of the power to change even those steeped in sin give confidence that the Atonement can reach even those deepest in despair.

“But we must be cautious as we discuss these remarkable examples. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment” (Ezra Taft Benson, “A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989, 5

Alma and others throughout the scriptures have used the metaphor of being born again to describe the change that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings to our lives. Elder David A. Bednar compared this change to a cucumber becoming a pickle:  

“A pickle is a cucumber that has been transformed according to a specific recipe and series of steps. The first steps in the process of changing a cucumber into a pickle are preparing and cleaning. …

“The next steps in this process of change are immersing and saturating the cucumbers in salt brine for an extended period of time. … Cucumbers can only become pickles if they are totally and completely immersed in the brine for the prescribed time period. The curing process gradually alters the composition of the cucumber and produces the transparent appearance and distinctive taste of a pickle. An occasional sprinkle of or dip in the brine cannot produce the necessary transformation. Rather, steady, sustained, and complete immersion is required for the desired change to occur.

“The final step in the process requires the sealing of the cured pickles in jars that have been sterilized and purified. The pickles are packed in canning jars, covered with boiling hot brine, and processed in a boiling-water-bath canner. All impurities must be removed from both the pickles and the bottles so the finished product can be protected and preserved. …

“Just as a cucumber must be prepared and cleaned before it can be changed into a pickle, so you and I can be prepared with ‘the words of faith and of good doctrine’ (1 Timothy 4:6) and initially cleansed through the ordinances and covenants administered by the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. …

“Just as a cucumber is transformed into a pickle as it is immersed in and saturated with salt brine, so you and I are born again as we are absorbed by and in the gospel of Jesus Christ. … This phase of the transformation process requires time, persistence, and patience. …

“The boiling-water-bath procedure enables the pickles to be both protected and preserved over a long period of time. In a similar way, we progressively become purified and sanctified as you and I are washed in the blood of the Lamb, are born again, and receive the ordinances and honor the covenants that are administered by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood” (“Ye Must Be Born Again,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 19–21).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught: “Being born again, unlike our physical birth, is more a process than an event. And engaging in that process is the central purpose of mortality” (“Born Again,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 78).

**Points to Ponder:

How do we strive to act toward others when we are spiritually reborn?

How might understanding that being born again usually happens gradually help someone who is frustrated with his or her spiritual development?

Conclusion:
As we continue to strive to repent daily and improve upon ourselves and natures, we see that God gives freely to us, he forgives, truly allowing us to change and does actually hear and answer our sincere prayers.  Whether through powerful spiritual events in our lives or through a gradual, sometimes imperceptible process that might be recognized only in hindsight, we each have a conversion story. However, it is truly important that we each remember that conversion should be ongoing. We do not become perfect in a day, but gradually through time and eternity, grow to that perfection, being wholly converted. Elder Bruce R McConkie taught: 

“We are born again when we die as pertaining to unrighteousness and when we live as pertaining to the things of the Spirit. But that doesn’t happen in an instant, suddenly. That … is a process. Being born again is a gradual thing, except in a few isolated instances that are so miraculous they get written up in the scriptures. As far as the generality of the members of the Church are concerned, we are born again by degrees, and we are born again to added light and added knowledge and added desires for righteousness as we keep the commandments. …

“As members of the Church, if we chart a course leading to eternal life; if we begin the processes of spiritual rebirth, and are going in the right direction; if we chart a course of sanctifying our souls, and degree by degree are going in that direction; and if we chart a course of becoming perfect, and, step by step and phase by phase, are perfecting our souls by overcoming the world, then it is absolutely guaranteed—there is no question whatever about it—we shall gain eternal life. Even though we have spiritual rebirth ahead of us, perfection ahead of us, the full degree of sanctification ahead of us, if we chart a course and follow it to the best of our ability in this life, then when we go out of this life we’ll continue in exactly that same course”
(Bruce R. McConkie, “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified” [Brigham Young University fireside, Sept. 5, 1976], 5, 6, speeches.byu.edu).

Resources: 
Book of Mormon student Manual 
Ensign
Conference Reports
Bible Dictionary




 

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