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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sunday School - Book of Mormon Lesson 47

Book of Mormon Lesson #47: “To Keep Them in the Right Way”
Moroni 1-6

1. Gordon B. Hinckley: Of all the characters who walk the pages of the Book of Mormon, none stands a greater hero, save Jesus only, than does Moroni, son of Mormon. … Who can sense the depth of his pain, the poignant loneliness that constantly overshadowed him as he moved about, a fugitive relentlessly hunted by his enemies? For how long he actually was alone we do not know, but the record would indicate that it was for a considerable period. His conversation was prayer to the Lord. His companion was the Holy Spirit. There were occasions when the Three Nephites ministered to him. But with all of this, there is an element of terrible tragedy in the life of this man who became a lonely wanderer. Heroes from the Book of Mormon, pp. 195-96.

2. Robert E. Parsons: Why should ordinances be so important? … First, God has commanded them. (D&C 52:15-16). Second, ordinances are the legal means for the orderly accomplishment of stated purposes. … Third, ordinances are effective teaching symbols that clearly portray what is happening. The ordinance of baptism is a perfect example. … The burial in the water symbolizes the burying of the man of sin in a watery grave. The rising of the person from immersion in water is analogous to the dead rising from an earthly grave. … As we wash away our sins in a watery grave and bury the man of sin in a watery tomb, so we come forth to a new, spiritual life, cleansed and forgiven through the sacred ordinance of baptism. Fourth, ordinances serve as witnesses to spiritual agreements between God and man. Studies in Scripture, pp. 287-88.

3. Joseph Fielding Smith: [Moroni 3 – ordinations] There were no Levites who accompanied Levi to the Western Hemisphere. Under these conditions, the Nephites officiated by virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood from the days of Lehi to the days of the appearance of our Savior among them. … When the Savior came to the Nephites, he established the Church in its fullness among them, and he informed them that former things had passed away, for they were all fulfilled in him. He gave the Nephites all the authority of the priesthood which we exercise today. … We may be assured that in the days of Moroni the Nephites did ordain teachers and priests in the Aaronic priesthood; but before the visit of the Savior they officiated in the Melchizedek priesthood. Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 1, pp. 124, 126.

4. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [Moroni 4:3 – take upon them the name of thy Son] Those who have thus been born again become members of the family of Christ and thus take upon them the family name – they become Christians in the true sense of that word and are obligated by covenant to live by the rules and regulations of the royal family, to live a life befitting the new and sacred name they have taken. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 326.

5. Bruce R. McConkie: Family members bear the family name. By it they are known and called and identified; it sets them apart from all those of a different lineage and ancestry. Adopted children take upon themselves the name of their newfound parents and become in all respects as though they had been born in the family. And so it is that the children of Christ, those who are born again, those who are spiritually begotten by their new Father, take upon themselves the name of Christ. By it they are known; in it they are called; it identifies and sets them apart from all others. They are now family members, Christians in the real and true sense of the word. Promised Messiah, p. 63.

6. Melvin J. Ballard: [Moroni 4:3 – always have his Spirit to be with them] If we have done wrong; if there is a feeling in our souls that we would like to be forgiven, then the method to obtain forgiveness is not through rebaptism; it is not to make confession to man; but it is to repent of our sins, to go to those against whom we have sinned or transgressed and obtain their forgiveness, and then repair to the sacrament table where, if we have sincerely repented and put ourselves in proper condition, we shall be forgiven, and spiritual healing will come to our souls. It will really enter into our being. Improvement Era, Oct. 1919.

7. Gordon B. Hinckley: Be true to the promise that you make every Sunday when you go to sacrament meeting and partake of the sacrament. Do you know that when the priest who is at the sacrament table pronounces that prayer which was given by revelation, he places all of the congregation under covenant with the Lord? That is so very, very important. Think of the meaning of the sacrament every time you partake of the sacrament, and be true – true to the faith. Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, vol. 1, p. 396.

8. Dalllin H. Oaks: Our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ affirms our commitment to do all that we can to be counted among those whom he will choose to stand at his right hand and be called by his name at the last day. In this sacred sense, our witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ constitutes our declaration of candidacy for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. … That is what we should ponder as we partake of the sacred emblems of the sacrament. Gen. Conference, April 1985.

9. Russell M. Nelson: The apostle Paul taught that divine doctrines, such as these of identity and priority, are to be written “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:3). … When the sacred emblems of His flesh and blood are administered to us, we are invited to take them into our bodies. As we do, His atoning sacrifice literally becomes a part of our own identity. One day you will be asked if you took upon yourself the name of Christ and if you were faithful to that covenant. Fireside Address, Provo, Utah, 10 Sept. 2000.

10. Gordon B. Hinckley: [Moroni 6:4 – nourished] Any convert whose faith grows cold is a tragedy. Any member who falls into inactivity is a matter for serious concern. The Lord left the ninety and nine to find the lost sheep. His concern for the dropout was so serious that He made it the theme of one of His great lessons. We must constantly keep Church officers and the membership aware of the tremendous obligation to fellowship in a very real and warm and wonderful way those who come into the Church as converts, and to reach out with love to those who for one reason or another step into the shadows of inactivity. Church News, 8 April 1989.

11. Gordon B. Hinckley: With the ever increasing number of converts, we must make an 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” (Moroni 6:4). Gen. Conference, April 1997.

12. Thomas S. Monson: Long years ago, Joseph Lyon of Salt Lake City shared with me the lesson of a lecture which a minister from another faith observed as he spoke to the Associated Credit Men of Salt Lake. The minister boldly proclaimed, "Mormonism is the greatest philosophy in the world today. The biggest test for the Church will come with the advent of television and radio, which tend to keep people away from the Church." He then proceeded to relate what I've called the "hot coals" story. He described a warm fireplace where the pieces of wood had burned brightly, with the embers still glowing and giving off heat. He then observed that by taking in hand brass tongs, he could remove one of the hot embers. That ember would then slowly pale in light and turn black. No longer would it glow. No longer would it warm. He then pointed out that by returning the black, cold ember to the bed of living coals, the dark ember would begin to glow and brighten and warm. He concluded, "People are somewhat like the coals of a fire. Should they absent themselves from the warmth and spirit of the active church membership, they will not contribute to the whole, but in their isolation will be changed. As with the embers removed from the heat of the fire, as they distance themselves from the intensity of the spirit generated by the active membership, they will lose that warmth and spirit." The reverend closed his comments by observing, "People are more important than the embers of a fire." As years come and then go and life's challenges become more difficult, the visits of home teachers to those who have absented themselves from Church activity can be the key which will eventually open the doors to their return.

13. Mervyn B. Arnold: As a member of the branch presidency in Fortaleza, Brazil, Brother Marques with the other priesthood leaders developed a plan to reactivate those who were less active in his branch. One of those who was less active was a young man by the name of Fernando Araujo. Recently I spoke to Fernando, and he told me of his experience: "I became involved in surfing competitions on Sunday mornings and stopped going to my Church meetings. One Sunday morning Brother Marques knocked on my door and asked my nonmember mother if he could talk to me. When she told him I was sleeping, he asked permission to wake me. He said to me, 'Fernando, you are late for church!' Not listening to my excuses, he took me to church. The next Sunday the same thing happened, so on the third Sunday I decided to leave early to avoid him. As I opened the gate I found him sitting on his car, reading the scriptures. When he saw me he said, 'Good! You are up early. Today we will go and find another young man!' I appealed to my agency, but he said, 'We can talk about that later.' "After eight Sundays I could not get rid of him, so I decided to sleep at a friend's house. I was at the beach the next morning when I saw a man dressed in a suit and tie walking towards me. When I saw that it was Brother Marques, I ran into the water. All of a sudden, I felt someone's hand on my shoulder. It was Brother Marques, in water up to his chest! He took me by the hand and said, 'You are late! Let's go.' When I argued that I didn't have any clothes to wear, he replied, 'They are in the car.' "That day as we walked out of the ocean, I was touched by Brother Marques's sincere love and worry for me. He truly understood the Savior's words: 'I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick' (Ezekiel 34:16). Brother Marques didn't just give me a ride to church—the quorum made sure I remained active. They planned activities that made me feel needed and wanted, I received a calling, and the quorum members became my friends." Following his reactivation, Brother Araujo went on a full-time mission and has served as bishop, stake president, mission president, and regional representative. His widowed mother, three sisters, and several cousins have also entered the waters of baptism. Gen. Conference, April 2004.

14. Joseph B. Wirthlin: The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father. Gen. Conference, April 2005.

15. Theodore M. Burton: [church court] The most loving action the Church can take at times is to disfellowship or excommunicate a person. When deemed necessary through inspiration, these repentance remedies can help the sinner fully realize the seriousness of his transgression. If a serious transgression is treated too lightly, it is more likely to be repeated. Such church actions can ensure that the necessary price for repentance is paid. Gen. Conference, April 1983.

Next week: Moroni 7- 8, 10 “Come Unto Christ”

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