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.
Samuel warns the Nephites and explains why the Lamanites became a people of promise
The following are hypothetical situations of two young men:
One young man was raised by parents who were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and did not emphasize the teachings of Jesus Christ. They allowed their teenage son to drink alcohol, a practice that he continued in college. He later met some Latter-day Saint missionaries. After meeting with the missionaries a few times, he pledged to give up alcohol. A few days later he was with a group of friends. They offered him an alcoholic drink.
Another young man was raised in a Latter-day Saint family. His parents held family home evening and family scripture study regularly. He developed a habit of daily scripture study and personal prayer. He attended Primary, served in Aaronic Priesthood quorums, and graduated from seminary. He knew and understood the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s commandments. While attending college he developed new friendships. One night some friends offered him an alcoholic drink.
Consider the level of spiritual strength that might be expected from each of these two young men in their situations and how it compares with the Lamanites and the Nephites you study about in Helaman 15.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Although the Lamanites had a long history of wickedness “because of the iniquity of the tradition of their fathers,” as they came to a knowledge of the truth, they repented and became “firm and steadfast in the faith” (Helaman 15:4, 7). The Nephites, in contrast, became full of pride and rejected the truths of the gospel.
Carefully read Helaman 15:7–8, and fill in the blanks in the following statement: Knowledge of the truth and a belief in the holy scriptures leads to _________________________ and _________________________, which bring _____________________________________________; therefore, as many as come to this are _____________________________________________.
As the Lamanites learned the truth by studying and believing the scriptures, they developed faith in Jesus Christ and were led to repentance. They experienced a change of heart and became firm and steadfast in the faith.
Answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
When has your study of the scriptures helped you make needed changes in your life?
How do you think a habit of faithful scripture study can help a person receive a change of heart?
Samuel’s teachings help us understand the importance of staying true to the knowledge and faith that we have obtained. Read Helaman 15:14–17, and look for phrases that indicate the following gospel principle: If people become unbelieving after having received the fulness of the gospel, they will receive greater condemnation. You may wish to write this truth in your scriptures next to the verses. You may also want to write D&C 82:3 as a cross-reference in the margin of your scriptures.
What application does this principle have in your life? Have there been times when you knowingly acted against what you knew to be true? What do you need to do to strengthen your faith in the Savior, repent, and be firm and steadfast in gospel truths?
Those who believe Samuel are baptized; others harden their hearts
Reflect upon how you usually respond to the words of the living prophets and apostles. The Nephites were given the chance to receive the Lamanite prophet Samuel’s words. Use what you learn from Helaman 16:1–7 to fill in the following chart to identify which people believed and how the Nephites responded.
Did this group of Nephites believe?
How did these people respond to the prophet Samuel’s words?
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why do you think some young people might get angry and reject the counsel of the prophets today?
When have you seen someone choose to follow the counsel of a prophet even though others rejected it?
When have you chosen to follow the counsel of a prophet even though others around you rejected it?
What do you learn about the words of the prophets in Helaman 16:13–14?
Ponder the following statement from President Ezra Taft Benson concerning how people of the world respond to modern-day prophets: “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, rather than repent of their sins, either want to close the mouth of the prophet or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist. 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” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , 133).
Read Helaman 16:16–21 to discover how nonbelievers justified their rejection of the fulfillment of the prophecies and signs from heaven. Perhaps you could mark in your scriptures which of these excuses or arguments against the prophets you believe is most common in our day.
Read Helaman 16:23, and write in your scriptures or your scripture study journal the consequence that comes to those who reject the Lord’s witnesses. Your statement could be similar to the following principle: When we reject the Lord’s witnesses, we allow Satan to get hold upon our hearts.
Read the following statement from President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency, and mark any of his words that confirm what you have learned from Helaman 16: “When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose” (“Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997, 25).
What did President Eyring say happens when we reject God’s influence in our lives? Why is it important to understand that when we reject God’s influence, we come under Satan’s influence?
Consider if there is any way you have hardened your heart against counsel the prophets and apostles have given. It may be helpful to review the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet as you think about what they teach and how you accept their counsel. Decide what you will do today to be firm and steadfast in living the gospel and in heeding the counsel of the Lord’s prophets.
Write the following note at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Helaman 15–16 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher:
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