Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Glad Tidings of Great Joy

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A few years before the Savior’s birth, the Lord sent a Lamanite prophet named Samuel to preach repentance to the Nephites. He declared to the Nephites in Zarahemla the glad tidings of redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He also confronted them about their rejection of the prophets and their disposition to seek happiness in iniquity. He warned them of the destruction that would come to them if they did not repent.

Do we seek happiness in iniquity be it big or small? Have we today, been warned of turbulent or troubled times to come? Do we reject the prophet?

Many would say no, we do not happiness in iniquity we hear the warning and we do not reject the prophet. But is that a true statement? Do maybe we find ourselves, particularly at this time in our journey on earth disagreeing with the decisions of the Prophet and not following fully his counsel due to our political or personal beliefs and choices.

Through Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 13–16 we are strongly directed to those things in particular that were of great importance to hear then, and also are of great importance even now. But humbling ourselves and diving into a deeper understanding of his teachings we stand to come closer to Christ and can live with a peaceful heart in a trying world.

History and Background

The gospel of Jesus Christ offers all people the opportunity to change. Throughout much of the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites’ “deeds [had] been evil”; however, “the preaching of the Nephites” Helaman 15:4 led “the more part of them” to receive the gospel Helaman 6:1 and experience a mighty change of heart. Here in the book of Helaman is an obvious reversal of roles—a people who had once been taught became the teachers. Many Nephites, on the other hand, had become prideful and ignored their own prophets, so the Lord sent a Lamanite prophet to warn them to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord. Look for the Nephites’ collective and individual response to the Lord’s Lamanite messenger. Samuel’s words were important enough to the Savior that He endorsed them during His personal ministry in the Americas and testified they had all been fulfilled

Helaman 13–14 A few years before the Savior’s birth, the Lord sent a Lamanite prophet named Samuel to preach repentance to the Nephites at Zarahemla. The prophet Samuel was a second witness of Jesus Christ, along with the prophet Nephi. He forewarned the Nephites of their destruction if they did not repent. Samuel confronted them about their tendency to reject the prophets and their disposition to seek happiness in doing iniquity. He announced the signs that would mark the birth and death of Jesus Christ. He also taught that all mankind, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, will be brought back into God’s presence for judgment.

Helaman 15–16 As Samuel the Lamanite addressed the Nephites from on top of the wall at Zarahemla, he prophesied that unless they repented, God would “utterly destroy them” Helaman 15:17. He declared that the Lamanites had become more righteous than the Nephites and that the Lord would prolong the days of the Lamanites. Some Nephites believed Samuel’s teachings and were baptized by Nephi. Others, who did not believe Samuel, attempted to kill him. He was protected by the power of God, and he returned to his own land.
Part One: Helaman 13 The Lord’s servants speak and act according to God’s direction.

An overview of this chapter:

Helaman 13:1–4. The Lord calls Samuel the Lamanite to preach to the Nephites.

Helaman 13:5–16. Samuel warns the Nephites that they will be destroyed within 400 years if they do not repent.

Helaman 13:17–23. Samuel declares that because of the Nephites’ wickedness, the Lord will curse the land so the wicked will not be able to retain the riches they hide in the earth.

Helaman 13:24–39. Samuel warns the people of the consequences of rejecting the prophets and refusing to repent.

The Lord asked Samuel the Lamanite to do something that could have seemed quite difficult: to preach to people who had previously cast him out of their city.

Why did Samuel the Lamanite preach to the Nephites? What did the Lord direct Him to say? Helaman 13:1–8, 11 By these verses we can see that Prophets receive and speak the messages God puts into their hearts.

1 And now it came to pass in the eighty and sixth year, the Nephites did still remain in wickedness, yea, in great wickedness, while the Lamanites did observe strictly to keep the commandments of God, according to the law of Moses.

2 And it came to pass that in this year there was one Samuel, a Lamanite, came into the land of Zarahemla, and began to preach unto the people. And it came to pass that he did preach, many days, repentance unto the people, and they did cast him out, and he was about to return to his own land.

3 But behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart.

4 And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart.

5 And he said unto them: Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart; and behold he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people that the sword of justice hangeth over this people; and four hundred years pass not away save the sword of justice falleth upon this people.

6 Yea, heavy destruction awaiteth this people, and it surely cometh unto this people, and nothing can save this people save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things and shall be slain for his people.

7 And behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me, and he did bring glad tidings to my soul. And behold, I was sent unto you to declare it unto you also, that ye might have glad tidings; but behold ye would not receive me.

8 Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer, and I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them.

9 And four hundred years shall not pass away before I will cause that they shall be smitten; yea, I will visit them with the sword and with famine and with pestilence.

10 Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction; and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord; and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction.

11 But if ye will repent and return unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not.

What message did God put into Samuel’s heart? Helaman 13:7 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me, and he did bring glad tidings to my soul. And behold, I was sent unto you to declare it unto you also, that ye might have glad tidings; but behold ye would not receive me.

Have you had experiences when the Lord put something in your heart that He wanted you to say to someone verse 4. What blessings have you seen when you followed the Lord’s direction?

What effect did Samuel hope his message would have on the Nephites?

Even though Samuel’s warnings were addressed to the hard-hearted Nephites, Helaman 13 holds some lessons for all of us. Following is a chart of principles form this chapter and study guide to help us understand the lessons here for our day:

Helaman 13:17–23 Principle: When we do not remember the Lord, we are more susceptible to pride and iniquity.

Which verses do you feel teach the above principle?

What curse did Samuel say would come upon the Nephites?

According to Samuel, what were the Nephites not doing when they set their hearts upon their riches?

What are ways today we might set their hearts upon riches—possessions, practices, and desires—that can lead to pride and iniquity?

Why do you think it is essential to “remember the Lord your God in the things with which he hath blessed you”? verse 22.

Helaman 13:24–30 Principle: If we reject the words of the Lord’s prophets, we will experience regret and sorrow.

Which verses do you feel teach the above principle?

What excuses did Samuel say the Nephites used for rejecting the Lord’s prophets?

Why do you think people often accept false prophets in the way Samuel described?

Answer the next two questions by studying the most recent general conference talks in the Ensign or Liahona:

What are some of the specific teachings of our living prophets and apostles?

What are some specific problems prophets and apostles have warned us to avoid?

President Ezra Taft Benson declared: “How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 140).

Why do you think some people do not listen to prophets? What do you think people who reject prophets’ teachings fail to understand about prophets?

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the importance of following living prophets and apostles: “Now, my dear brothers and sisters, please pay attention to those things that the leaders of the Church have taught. … Apply the teachings that will help you and your family. Let all of us, regardless of our family circumstances, bring into our homes the teachings of the prophets and the apostles to strengthen our relationships with each other, with our Father in Heaven, and with the Lord Jesus Christ. I promise you in the name of the Lord that if you will listen not just with your ears but also with your heart, the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth unto you of the messages delivered by [the President of the Church], his counselors, the Apostles, and other leaders of the Church. The Spirit will prompt you to know what you should do as individuals and as families in order to follow our counsel, that your testimonies might be strengthened and that you might have peace and joy” (Conference Report, Apr. 2001, 86; or Ensign, May 2001, 67).

Part Two: Helaman 14; 16:13–23 Signs and wonders can strengthen the faith of those who do not harden their hearts.

Continuing to preach to the Nephites in Zarahemla, Samuel the Lamanite announced the signs that would mark the birth and death of Jesus Christ. He explained that he prophesied of these signs to help the people believe in Jesus Christ and to persuade them to repent of their sins. He taught that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be brought back into God’s presence. Calling the people to repent, he promised that the repentant would be forgiven of their sins but that those who failed to repent would be cut off again from God’s presence.

How do you think you would have responded if you were there and had heard Samuel make these prophecies.?

This week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families suggests looking for signs that the Lord has given us “that [we] might believe on his name” Helaman 14:12. These signs are both instructive and symbolic. When Jesus Christ came into the world, light increased. When He died, darkness increased. The same happens in our lives when we either allow Him to enter our hearts or prevent Him from entering.

In what ways does the Lord provide signs and wonders? Helaman 14:28–29

28 And the angel said unto me that many shall see greater things than these, to the intent that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men—

29 And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a righteous judgment might come upon them; and also if they are condemned they bring upon themselves their own condemnation.

One of the most specific prophecies in scripture is the one by Samuel concerning the birth and death of Jesus Christ. The following list outlines Samuel’s teachings, including the birth and death of Christ with their recorded fulfillment and Samuel’s teachings to direct the people:

Helaman 14:2 Prophecy of the Savior’s Birth Fulfillment Birth in five years  
Helaman 14:3–4 No darkness the night before the birth  
Helaman 14:5 New star 
Helaman 14:6 Many signs and wonders in heaven Helaman 16:13; 3 Nephi 2:1
Helaman 14:7 All people amazed and fall to the earth  
Samuel Taught Them to Prepare for the Savior Helaman 14:8–13
Helaman 14:8 Believe in God
Helaman 14:9, 13 Repent and be forgiven through Christ
Helaman 14:30 You are free to act for yourself
Helaman 14:20, 27 Prophecy of the Savior’s DeathFulfillment Sun darkened for three days  
Helaman 14:21 Thunder, lightning, earthquakes  
Helaman 14:22 Earth broken up  
Helaman 14:23 Great tempests; mountains laid low and valleys become mountains  
Helaman 14:24 Highways and cities destroyed  
Helaman 14:25 Graves open and resurrected Saints minister to people  

Why is it important for us to know about these prophecies and their fulfillment?

In Helaman 16 and other places in the scripture, seeing signs and wonders did not necessarily cause one to believe in Christ. From the scriptures which individuals saw signs and yet did not believe?

According to Helaman 16:13–23, why did many people in Samuel the Lamanite’s time not believe the signs and prophecies?

13 But it came to pass in the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges, there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled.

14 And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled.

15 Nevertheless, the people began to harden their hearts, all save it were the most believing part of them, both of the Nephites and also of the Lamanites, and began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom, saying:

16 Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken.

17 And they began to reason and to contend among themselves, saying:

18 That it is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come; if so, and he be the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, as it has been spoken, why will he not show himself unto us as well as unto them who shall be at Jerusalem?

19 Yea, why will he not show himself in this land as well as in the land of Jerusalem?

20 But behold, we know that this is a wicked tradition, which has been handed down unto us by our fathers, to cause us that we should believe in some great and marvelous thing which should come to pass, but not among us, but in a land which is far distant, a land which we know not; therefore they can keep us in ignorance, for we cannot witness with our own eyes that they are true.

21 And they will, by the cunning and the mysterious arts of the evil one, work some great mystery which we cannot understand, which will keep us down to be servants to their words, and also servants unto them, for we depend upon them to teach us the word; and thus will they keep us in ignorance if we will yield ourselves unto them, all the days of our lives.

22 And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come.

23 And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land.

How does Satan persuade people to “depend upon their own strength and … wisdom” today? Helaman 16:15.

15 Nevertheless, the people began to harden their hearts, all save it were the most believing part of them, both of the Nephites and also of the Lamanites, and began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom, saying:

What do we learn from this account that can help us avoid similar errors?

Part Three: Helaman 15:3 The Lord chastens those He loves.

Samuel the Lamanite warned the Nephites that unless they repented, they would be destroyed. Samuel’s words contain many stern chastisements, but Helaman 15:3 gives a unique perspective on chastening from the Lord. One

3 Yea, wo unto this people who are called the people of Nephi except they shall repent, when they shall see all these signs and wonders which shall be showed unto them; for behold, they have been a chosen people of the Lord; yea, the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them.

Can you find evidence of God’s love and mercy in Samuel’s prophecies and warnings.?

How could chastisement from the Lord be a sign of His love?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson shared three purposes of divine chastening (“As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 97–100):
“To persuade us to repent.” See Ether 2:14–15; Doctrine and Covenants 1:27; 93:41–50; 105:6.
“To refine and sanctify us.” See Mosiah 23:21–22; Doctrine and Covenants 101:1–5; 136:31.
“To redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path.”

The Lord loves all people but cannot tolerate sin. Although Helaman 15:4 states that the Lord hated the Lamanites “because their deeds have been evil continually,” Samuel is an example of the many Lamanites who were taught the gospel message and gained God’s favor once they were converted.

Elder Russell M. Nelson addressed the subject of God’s love for those who sin: “Does this mean the Lord does not love the sinner? Of course not. Divine love is infinite and universal. The Savior loves both saints and sinners. The Apostle John affirmed, ‘We love him, because he first loved us’ [1 John 4:19]. And Nephi, upon seeing in vision the Lord’s mortal ministry, declared: ‘… Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men’ [1 Nephi 19:9; italics added]. We know the expansiveness of the Redeemer’s love because He died that all who die might live again” (“Divine Love,” Ensign, Feb. 2003, 24).

Why does the Lord Chasten us? President Ezra Taft Benson understood the power of the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, to change our lives. He emphasized the importance of having the doctrines taught in our latter-day scripture deep in our hearts if we are to stay “firm and steadfast in the faith” (Helaman 15:8). President Benson taught, “Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains” (Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 96; or Ensign, May 1975, 65).

Part Four: Helaman 16 The prophet points us to the Lord.

Helaman 16 records the ways the wicked reacted to the prophet Samuel and his message. What do we learn from those who accepted Samuel’s teachings? What do we learn from those who rejected him?

President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of how the wicked react to prophets of our day: “The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly. As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins. Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out. As we come closer to the Lord’s second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them” (“Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year [1981], 29; see also The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 133).

The following list includes some reasons why the people refused to heed the words of the prophet (click to read and reference Helaman 16:2–21):

Personal anger (see verse 2)
People trust more in their own strength and abilities (see verse 15)
Prophets just guess right occasionally with their prophecies (see verse 16)
Teachings are often not reasonable (see verse 18)
Teachings of the prophets are confused traditions and cannot be proved (see verse 20)
Prophets trick and deceive us rather than doing real miracles
(see verse 21)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks cautioned us against relying solely upon personal study and reason to determine spiritual truths: “The Book of Mormon describes [an] attitude among a people who depended solely ‘upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom’ and upon what they could ‘witness with [their] own eyes.’ (Hel. 16:15, 20.) Upon the basis of reason, these persons rejected the prophecies, saying, ‘It is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come.’ (Vs. 18.) Applying that same attitude, a prominent professor dismissed the Book of Mormon with the assertion, ‘You don’t get books from angels. It is just that simple.’ Those who seek gospel knowledge only by study and reason are particularly susceptible to the self-sufficiency and self-importance that sometimes characterize academic pursuits. As the apostle Paul observed in his day, ‘Knowledge puffeth up.’ He cautioned the learned: ‘Take heed lest by any means this liberty [knowledge] of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. … And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?’ (1 Cor. 8:1, 9, 11.)” (The Lord’s Way [1991], 46–47).

Why do people choose to follow the Prophet? Elder Neil L. Andersen taught: “A prophet does not stand between you and the Savior. Rather, he stands beside you and points the way to the Savior. A prophet’s greatest responsibility and most precious gift to us is his sure witness, his certain knowledge, that Jesus is the Christ. Like Peter of old, our prophet declares, ‘[He is] the Christ, the Son of the living God’ [Matthew 16:16; see also John 6:69]. “In a future day, looking back on our mortality, we will rejoice that we walked the earth at the time of a living prophet. At that day, I pray that we will be able to say: “We listened to him. We believed him. We studied his words with patience and faith. We prayed for him. We stood by him. We were humble enough to follow him. We loved him” (“The Prophet of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 27).

Consider if you had lived in the days of Samuel, whether you would have accepted these prophets and perhaps even stood against the masses in their defense.

Now consider today. In what ways do you feel you are following the living prophet in your life?

Samuel the Lamanite described the regret and sorrow the Nephites would someday experience if they procrastinated their repentance. He taught them that they could not be happy in doing iniquity and counseled them again to repent and be saved. He warned the Nephites that if they persisted in seeking happiness in doing iniquity, they would be destroyed.


Consider now, have you hardened your hearts in any way against the counsel God has given through prophets and apostles recently? Are you following the guidelines given for Covid 19 or do you rebel by not wearing a mask and social distancing? Do you refuse to attend sacrament meeting because of offense? Are your political affiliations and beliefs compromising your full will to follow the counsel of the Prophet? Just so you know, he speaks for the Lord, Particularly at this time, these questions are profound in enduring well to the end. We all have free agency and choices, let us pray that our choice will be to follow the Lord through the words of the living Prophet, just as 
Samuel the Lamanite has taught.


Book of Mormon Student Manual

Seminary Manual


Conference Reports

Teachings of President Ezra Taft Benson

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