K.C. and Michelle Woolf

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Book of Mormon Lesson 48 - "Come unto Christ"

Rough draft

Book of Mormon Lesson 48
“Come unto Christ”

I. Introduction
A. Since this is the last Book of Mormon lesson and this will be my last gospel doctrine lesson (I’m being released this week) I would like to say how much I have appreciated the opportunity to be your instructor. I have been a Sunday School teacher for almost 4 years, 1 ½ for the teenagers and 2 ½ as gospel doctrine teacher. So I got to go through all the standard works. When they first called me to be the gospel doctrine teacher I felt more nervous and inadequate than with any calling I have every had except when I first went on my mission. After all, we have seminary and institute teacher in our ward and people who are much older and wiser than me, and I was supposed to expound on the scriptures to them.
B. My grandfather died last month. He was 90 years old. He had been a bishop, stake president, a mission president and a patriarch. But the calling he liked to tell his kids and grandkids about was when he was the basketball couch for his ward. When he was called to this calling he literally knew nothing about basketball - he had never played in his life. He went down to the library to read about it and to learn some plays. He did his best and, with the help of some very good players, his ward won the Mesa city championships, the state championship, and got to go to Salt Lake City for the Church championship where they came in second (they must have lost to Lithuania). The guys on his team, who are grandparents themselves now, many of whom attended his funeral, still affectionately called him couch (not bishop or president). He told us this story to remind us that we should never turn down a calling and we should always magnify our calling.
C. I have learned more from teaching gospel doctrine than in any calling I have ever had except being a missionary. Nothing motivates me more to study than the fear of getting up in front of people like this.
D. Today we will be finishing the Book of Mormon. Once again we will see that in the last few chapters of the Book of Mormon Moroni chooses to talk about the basic and important principles of the gospel - faith, hope, charity, baptism.

II. Doing good for the right reasons.
A. Moroni quotes his father in chapter 7.
B. Read Moroni 7:3-4.
1. He is speaking to the “peaceable followers of Christ” who had “sufficient hope by which [to] enter into the rest of the Lord.”
2. What does it mean to be a “peaceable follower of Christ”?
3. What does it mean to have enough hope to “enter into the rest fo the Lord”?
4. Joseph F. Smith said: “The ancient prophets speak of ‘entering into God’s rest’; what does it mean? To my mind, it means entering into the knowledge and love of God, having faith in his purpose and in his plan, to such an extent that we know we are right, and that we are not hunting for something else, we are not disturbed by every wind of doctrine, or by the cunning and craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive.”
C. Read Moroni 7:5-9
1. Why is the motivation for doing good important? Are there people who do good thing for the wrong reason?
2. President Marion G. Romney said: “About a quarter of a century ago Sister Romney and I moved into a ward in which they were just beginning to build a meetinghouse. The size of the contribution the bishop thought I ought to contribute rather staggered me. I thought it was at least twice as much as he should have asked. However, I had just been called to a rather high Church position, so I said, ‘Well, I will pay it, bishop, but I will have to pay it in installments because I don’t have the money.’ And so I began to pay. And I paid and paid until I was down to about the last three payments, when, as is my habit, I was reading The Book of Mormon, and came to the scripture which said: ‘...if a man...giveth a gift...grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.’ This shocked me because I was out about a thousand dollars. Well, I went on and paid the three installments I had promised to pay, and then paid several more installments to convince the Lord that I had done it with the right attitude.”
3. How can we purify our motives for doing good?
a. One suggestion is to “give until if feels good.”

III. Judging good from evil.
A. Read Moroni 7:12-15
1. How can we know if something is good or if something is evil?
a. Does ______ invite me to love and serve God? Is_____ inspired of God. Does ____ inviteth and enticeth to do good continually.
2. What are some examples of the world judging “that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the Devil.”
B. Read Moroni 7:16-17
1. Why is it often hard to distinguish good from evil? One reason is that Satan cannot create anything good or pleasurable by himself. He can only corrupt and pervert what God has created. So what Satan temps us with in some ways has an element of corrupted good. Satan is a great deceiver.
2. In C.S. Lewis’s book The Screwtape Letters, the demon Screwtape sends advice to his fellow demon Wormwood on how to tempt a certain human subject. He speaks of one of the advantages “the Enemy” (God) has over them. “Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.”
C. I would argue that the ability to distinguish good from evil and to recognize when the world is calling evil good and good evil is one of the most important skills (or blessings) we can develop in this life.
D. This is also one of the ways I know the Book of Mormon is of God. I have read it dozens of times now, and it always “enticety [me] to do good, and to love God, and to serve him....and to believe in Christ.”
E. I had an institute teacher in college who told us how one summer he and his brother, both seminary teachers at the time, prepared to teach the Book of Mormon the following year. They decided to read the entire Book of Mormon in about a 2 week period. They got up early every morning, went to the seminary building, and spent half the day just reading the Book of Mormon straight through. One day as they were leaving the building he turned to his brother and said, “You know, I have no desire to do any evil right now.” That is the kind of gift we have in the Book of Mormon - something that takes away our desire to do evil.

IV. Faith, hope and charity.
A. Mormon next explains the importance of having faith, hope and charity and how we cannot have any one of them without having the other two.
B. Read Moroni 7:39-44.
1. In order to have faith in Christ you must have hope that his atonement can save us. In order to have hope in Christ you must also have faith in the atonement. In order to have either you must become “meek and lowly in heart” which is to say, to have charity.
2. Bruce R. McConkie said: “As used in the revelations, hope is the desire of faithful people to gain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God hereafter....Faith and hope are inseparable. Hope enables us to have faith in the first instance then because of faith that hope increases until salvation is gained.”
C. Read Moroni 7:45-47.
1. Compare 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
2. Mormon is obviously quoting Paul here. Paul wrote this over 300 years before Mormon. How did he have access to it on the other side of the world? Would God deny his holy prophet access to his inspired word anywhere or any time?
3. Charity is perhaps the most important attribute we can develop in this life.
4. How can we obtain charity? Read Moroni 7:48. Pry for it.

V. Baptism of little children.
A. In a letter to his son Moroni we learn that 400 years after Christ the Christians in America were having some of the same confusions that Christians in the old world were having.
1. Read Moroni 8:4-6
2. About what were they having disputations? Infant baptism.
B. Read Moroni 8:7-15
1. Why don’t infants need baptism.
2. With infant baptism we are putting the cart before the horse. For baptism to be meaningful one must first repent. To be able to repent you must first be able to understand right from wrong.
3. Claiming that baptism is necessary for the salvation of infants is claiming that God is not merciful.
4. In some ways infant baptism is just one of the manifestations of the corruption of Christ’s Gospel that says that we are in no way responsible for our actions or our salvation (Calvinism).
5. Brigham Young said: “It gives me exceedingly great joy to understand, that every child that has been taken from this mortality to the spiritual world, from the day that mother Eve bore her first child to this time, is an heir to the celestial Kingdom and glory of God...”
a. What does this mean? How many children have died without reaching the age of accountability? Some have estimated that it is about 50% of all the people who have ever lived. That’s a lot of people who are automatically going to the Celestial Kingdom. Maybe those of us who have survived are the ones who really needed to be tested.

VI. Moroni’s Promise.
A. When we think of Moroni’s promise we usually think only of Moroni 10:4 which says: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true” Basically, read and pray and you’ll know if it’s true. But you have to read just before and after this verse to realize that there is more to it than that.
B. Read Moroni 10:3.
1. “Read these things.” We need to read the whole Book of Mormon.
2. “Remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men.” Why is this important. It is important to keep in mind not only what we read in the Book of Mormon but the mercies of God we learn of in the other scriptures, from history, and from our own life.
3. “Ponder it in your hearts.” He is talking not just about the Book of Mormon but of all the mercies of the Lord.
C. Read Moroni 10:4
4. “Ask God....if these things are not true.” Pray.
5. Have a “sincere heart.” What does this mean. Are there those who attempt to study the Book of Mormon academically without a sincere heart.
6. “With real intent.”
7. “Having faith in Christ.”
D. Read Moroni 10:6
8. Know that “whatsoever thing is good is just and true.” Anyone reading the Book of Mormon will have a hard time saying that it teaches people to be evil. It teaches us to do good, so it is “just and true.”
E. Read Moroni 10:7.
9. “Deny not the power of God.”
a. I have told the story of my old seminary teacher who helped me gain my testimony of the Book of Mormon but later apostatized from the church and is now very active in the organization Post-Mormonism. He told me that he has had ex-students come to him and testify to him that if he would just read the Book of Mormon and pray about it he would know it was true again. He tells them, “I’ve already tried that and I still don’t believe it.” But he did know. I know he knew because I remember how he testified to me. What he is doing now is “[denying] the power of God.”
F. Read Moroni 10:8
10. If we agree that the Book of Mormon is good, and therefore just and true, we should recognize it as a gift of God. “Deny not the gifts of God.”
G. Read Moroni 10:18
11. “Remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.” The Book of Mormon is a good gift —> it comes from Christ.
F. Read Moroni 10:27.
12. “Remember these things [the Book of Mormon].” It is not enough just to read it through once. We need to study it enough to remember it.
G. Read Moroni 10:30
13. “Come unto Christ.” It is ultimately when we have come unto Christ and have partaken of his salvation that we will be blessed with a testimony of the Book of Mormon. When one sees how the Book of Mormon testifies of the atonement of Jesus Christ and helps one gain a testimony of Jesus Christ they will know it is true.

VII. Conclusion
A. Joseph Fielding Smith said: “No member of this Church can stand approved in the presence of God who has not seriously and carefully read the Book of Mormon.”
B. Ezra Taft Benson said: “The Book of Mormon is studied in our Sunday School and seminary classes every fourth year. This four-year pattern, however, must not be followed by Church member in their personal and family study. We need to read daily from the pages of the book that will get a man ‘nearer to God by abiding by its percepts, than by any other book’.
C. He also said: “Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit.”

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