K.C. and Michelle Woolf

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book of Mormon Lesson 47

Book of Mormon Lesson 47
“To Keep Them in the Right Way”

I. Moroni - the last Nephite.
A. We are starting the very last book in the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moroni. Apparently, Moroni was the last known Nephite. What does this mean?
1. Remember that even before Christ came to the Nephites the lines between the Nephites and Lamanites were becoming less distinct. In the Book of Helaman we are told the that Nephites and Lamanites traveled freely among each other. We are told that the Lamanites that were converted by the Sons of Mosiah were numbered among the Nephites.
2. Read 4 Nephi 1:17. After Christ there were no “-ites” at all.
3. Read 4 Nephi 1:20. What happened here? This does not sound as if it was an ethnic distinction between the Lamanites and the Nephites. They specifically say that they took “upon them the name of Lamanites,” not that anyone would have recognized them as Lamanites by looking at them. Why did they do this? Because they “revolted from the church.” This was apparently still a small group.
4. Read 4 Nephi 1:37-38. Once again, the divisions were made by religion. It says the “true believers in Christ” were called the Nephites and the “true worshipers of Christ... were called Nephites, and Jacobites and Jodephites and Zoramites.” And that “They who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites and Ishmaelites.”
5. I think it is important to realize that destruction of the Nephites was no a destruction of an ethnic group but of a religious group.
B. Read Moroni 1:1-4. What made Moroni the last known “Nephite” was not necessarily the color of his skin, but the fact that he would “not deny the Christ.”
C. We still encounter much persecution and misrepresentation in the Church today. I am glad that the “mobs” that form against us today for the most part don’t have guns and don’t seriously threaten to kick us out of a state or the country as they have in the past. And despite what persecution we have today, at least here in America I am not too concerned that everyone who won’t deny the Christ will be exterminated like in Moroni’s time.
1. Christ is the head of this Church. Although he has allowed the Church to be almost entirely taken from this hemisphere in the past, he still provided a way for it to be restored. We should keep this in mind as the church meets challenges today.
D. Moroni did not expect to live this long. He thought he was done with the Book of Mormon when he finished putting the Book of Ether together. Moroni knows that militarily he has been beaten by the “Lamanites.”
1. These last few chapters can be seen as Moroni’s “Parthian Shot.” The Parthians were a people in the ancient Persian Empire who developed a military tactic where the Parthian archers, while in retreat at full gallop on horseback, would turn their bodies back to shoot at the pursuing enemy, something that took great skill.
2. If you were in Moroni’s situation and these were the last words you were going to leave for the Lamanites, what would you say? “So long, suckers!?”
3. I think it is interesting that some of the last words Moroni leaves us, that we will be reading today, have to do with the ordination to the priesthood and the ordinances of the priesthood. Why do you think he did this?
II. Priesthood Authority.
A. In most Christian religions, how does one obtain authority and titles? Divinity degrees. The desire to serve.
B. Read Moroni 2-3. How were his disciples called here? The laying on of hands. How were elders, priests and teachers ordained? The laying on of hands by the disciples. How does one receive the gift of the Holy Ghost? The laying on of hands.
C. Why was this so important that Moroni stuck it at the end of the Book of Mormon?
III. The Sacrament
A. Almost all Christian churches have some type of communion, holy super, sacrament. But nowhere in ancient scriptures except in the Book of Mormon do we the exact words for the sacrament.
B. Read Moroni 4:1-3
1. This is the prayer we hear every Sunday. This specific prayer gives us a better understanding of what the sacrament and sacrament meeting, the most sacred meeting in the church, means.
2. First, the priest is told they should kneel for this prayer. During other prayers we can kneel, but for the sacrament prayer we are required to kneel. This is a powerful symbol of humility. They way most of our chapels are set up, the person blessing the sacrament is not even seen by the congregation. This focuses our attention on the emblems on the table before us, and not on the person administering.
3. The bread is “sanctified” or made holy. Before this it is nothing but Wonder Bread.
4. Why do we take the bread? “In remembrance of the body of thy Son”. The incarnation of God as Jesus Christ is important in all Christian churches. The resurrection of Christ is a most important miracle for all Christians. But then this substantiation of God is all but forgotten, focusing on God as a unfathonable “spirit” without a body. As Latter Day Saints we understand that the resurrected Body of Christ is not just a symbol, but that it still exists and is something to be remembered and worshiped. We should also remember the suffering of Christ’s Body.
5. We also make promises when we take the sacrament.
a. “That they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son.” What does this mean?
i. Brother Taylor Halverson says: “We may also consider that bytaking upon ourselves Christ’s name we become his possession, his treasure, his jewls. In the Ancient Near East kings claimed their property by marking objects with their official seal, which bore the name and the image of the king. Each individual throughout the kingdom knew that severe punishment would befall any who tampered with the possessions of the king. Likewise, Christ has marked us with his seal. We are to have his image and named sealed upon us. He owns us because he has bought us with an infinite price–the blood of his atonement.
b. “And always remember him”
i. Spencer W. Kimball said: “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be remember. Because all of you have made covenants–you know what to do and you know how to do it–our greatest need is to remember. That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every Sabbath day, to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that they ‘may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.’ Nobody should ever forget to go to sacrament meeting. Remember is the word. Remember is the program.”
ii. So much of what we do in the church is just reminding us of things.
c. “and keep his comandments which he hath given them.” The sacrament is not a rehearsal of all the commandments God has given us, just a promise that we will keep them.
6. Then he gives us a promise. “That they may always have His Spirit to be with them.” Is there any greater promise or gift we can receive from God than his Spirit?
a. Dallin H. Oaks said: We live in the perilous times prophisied by the Apostle Paul. Those who try to walk the straight and narrow path see inviting detours on every hand. We can be distracted, degraded, downhearted, or depressed. How can we have the Spirit of the Lord to guide our choices and keep us on the path? In modern revelation the Lord gave the answer in this commandement: “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day.” This is a commandment with a promise. By participating weekly and appropriately in the ordinance of the sacrament we qualify for the promise that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us].” That Spirit is the foundation of our testimony. It testifies of the Father and the Son, brings all things to our remembrance, and leads us into truth. It is the compass to guide us on our path.”
C. Read Moroni 5:1-2. A similar pray is said over the wine (water). Christ’s blood is the symbol of his atonement. He bled from every pour as He suffered for our sins in Gethsemene. He spilled his blood as He was scourged and crucified - laying down his life so he could take it up again.
IV. Baptism
A. Read Moroni 6:2-3.
1. Requirements for baptism.
a. A broken heart and a contrite spirit.
b. Repentance
c. Take upon them the name of Christ.
B. Read Moroni 6:4.
1. What does it mean to “nourish” the new members of the church?
2. Gordon B Hinckely said: “With the ever increasing number of converts, we must make and increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’.
3. He also said: “The greatest tragedy in the Church...is the loss of those who join the Church and then fall away. With very few exceptions it need not happen. I am convinced that almost universally those who are baptized by the missinaries have been taught sufficiently to have received knowledge and testimony incident to joining this Church. It means cutting old ties. It means leaving friends. It may mean setting aside cherished beliefs. It may require a change of habits and a suppression of appetites. In so many cases it means loneliness and even fear of the unknown. There must be nurturing and strengthening during this difficult season of a convert’s life. A tremendous price has been paid for his presence in the church. The long efforts of the missionaries and the cost of their service, the separation from old relationship and the trauma associated with this makes it imperative that these precious souls be welcomed, reassured, helped in their times of weakness, praised for what they do, given responsibility under which they may grow strong, and encouraged and thanked for all they do.”
4. About 3 years ago my wife and daughter took a trip to San Francisco. We visited a ward there. It turned out that the ward we visited was made up mostly of students and their families, so it was a bit of a transient ward. But when we walked into the building and started looking around we had a hard time getting anyone to tell us where and when the meetings started. There was no sacrament meeting going on so Michelle started asking around for where the nursery was and people just said “I don’t know, I don’t have kids that age.” She finally found it herself and went in therewith Whitney. The people in the nursery didn’t say anything to them, they played for about 5 minutes and then they told them, “we’re from the other ward and we’re just finishing.” She asked where and when the other ward met and they just said, “I don’t know.” We then just went into the chapel and waited for people to start coming in for sacrament meeting. No one talked to us, and then we went back to our hotel. What if you had been an investigator wandering into this ward. Would you go back?
5. I was Christmas shopping last week and went into a store to buy something for Michelle. There was a teenage girl sitting on a chair and I asked her, “I’m looking for a charm bracelet.” She didn’t get out of her chair and just said, “what kind?” I said, “I don’t know. One that I can put charms on.” She rolled her eyes and said, like I was really putting her out, “Yeah, what kind of charms.” I said, “never mind,” and walked out. I went to the jewelary store next door and asked for a charm bracelet and they showed me several, told me that most charms would fit on them, and I bought one for $150 and left in less than 10 minutes.
6. Since we have all taken upon us “the name of Christ” and should be working for the church, what kind of employees are we? Are we like the girl working for an hourly wage who punches the clock and hopes to do as little work as possible, or do we really try to help our “customers” - new members and those who are interested in learning about the church?
V. Conclusion.
A. The chapters we have read today remind us that the Book of Mormon does not give us a whole lot of new or profound doctrines. It just makes simple principles more clear.
B. Moroni spends some of the last space on the gold plates to talk about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel again.
1. He talks about his faith in Jesus Christ. (He won’t deny the Christ.)
2. He talks about repentance before baptism.
3. He talks about baptism.
4. He talks about the gift of the holy ghost.
5. He talks about priesthood authority and the importance of the sacrament.
C. The fact that Moroni chose to conclude the Book of Mormon by mentioning these basic principles and ordinances should remind us how important they are. Amen

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