Lesson 12: Seek Ye for the Kingdom of God

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 51–55


Purpose

To help class members feel a greater desire to magnify their callings, be chaste, and invite others to come unto Christ.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Jacob 1. Jacob magnifies his calling from the Lord to preach repentance to the people.

    2. b.

      Jacob 2–3. Jacob warns against the love of riches, pride, and unchastity. He promises the pure in heart that God will console them in their afflictions as they look to Him, receive His word, and pray in faith.

    3. c.

      Jacob 4. Jacob testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He warns the people against “looking beyond the mark.”

  2. 2.

    If Family Home Evening Video Supplement 2 (53277) is available, you may want to prepare to show “Repentance: It’s Never Too Late,” a six-minute segment.

  3. 3.

    If you use the attention activity, bring a magnifying glass to class (or draw one on the chalkboard before class begins).

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Display a magnifying glass (or draw one on the chalkboard before class).

magnifying glass
  • What does a magnifying glass do? What does the word “magnify” mean? (To enlarge, to increase in significance, to cause to be held in greater esteem or respect.) What does it mean to “magnify” a calling in the Church?

Have a class member read Jacob 1:17–19 aloud. Invite the other class members to identify phrases that describe how Jacob magnified his calling from the Lord. You may want to list their answers on the chalkboard. The list could include the following:

  1. a.

    Obtained his errand from the Lord (Jacob 1:17).

  2. b.

    Had been consecrated, or set apart (Jacob 1:18).

  3. c.

    Took responsibility (Jacob 1:19).

  4. d.

    Taught the word of God with all diligence (Jacob 1:19).

  5. e.

    Labored with his might (Jacob 1:19).

Explain that when Nephi neared the end of his mortal life, he gave his younger brothers, Jacob and Joseph, responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the Nephites. Jacob felt the weight of his calling and sorrowed over the growing pride that led his people to be greedy and unchaste. He strongly exhorted them to repent—to be reconciled to God through the Atonement. Invite class members to think about their own callings in the Church and how they might better magnify them.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Jacob magnifies his calling from the Lord.

Discuss Jacob 1. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud. Explain that Jacob was a son of Lehi and Sariah and was born in the wilderness. He saw the Savior in his youth, and he was ordained to the priesthood (2 Nephi 2:4; 6:2; 11:3). He became custodian of the small plates and succeeded Nephi in the ministry.

  • When Nephi gave the small plates to Jacob, he also gave Jacob specific instructions. What did Nephi instruct Jacob to record on these plates? (See Jacob 1:1–4.) Why was it important to record and preserve this information? (See Jacob 1:5–8.) What do these verses teach us about some of the things we should be recording about our lives?

  • Jacob wrote that his people “loved Nephi exceedingly” (Jacob 1:10). Why did they have this great love for Nephi? (See Jacob 1:10.) How have you felt toward those who have labored to serve you?

  • What did Jacob mean when he said that he “first obtained [his] errand from the Lord” before he taught the people? (Jacob 1:17–18). How do we obtain our errand from the Lord? (By being called and set apart.) How can we find out what the Lord wants us to do in our callings?

  • What did Jacob say would happen if he and Joseph did not teach the people diligently? (See Jacob 1:19.) Why is it so important that we magnify our callings? (If you did not use the attention activity, take a moment to discuss what it means to magnify a calling.)

  • What are some good examples you have seen of people magnifying their callings? How can we better magnify our callings? (See D&C 58:26–28.) How have you been blessed as you have done your best to fulfill your callings?

2. Jacob warns against the love of riches, pride, and unchastity.

Discuss Jacob 2–3. Invite class members to read selected verses.

  • As he began to preach to the people of Nephi, Jacob said that he was “weighed down with much more desire and anxiety” than he had been before (Jacob 2:3). Why was Jacob’s soul “burdened”? (See Jacob 2:5–9; see also Jacob 1:15–16.) Why do you think that Jacob described sin as “labor”? (Jacob 2:5).

  • How did the search for material wealth become a stumbling block to the Nephites of Jacob’s day? (See Jacob 2:12–16.) How can obtaining an abundance of material wealth lead to pride? What are the proper ways to use wealth? What counsel did Jacob give to help us avoid the misuse of wealth? (See Jacob 2:17–21.)

    President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

    “The possession of riches does not necessarily constitute sin. But sin may arise in the acquisition and use of wealth. … ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.’ (1 Tim. 6:10–11.)

    “Book of Mormon history eloquently reveals the corrosive effect of the passion for wealth. … Had the people used their wealth for good purposes they could have enjoyed a continuing prosperity. But they seemed unable for a sustained period to be simultaneously wealthy and righteous” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 47–48).

  • After warning the people about pride and the love of riches, Jacob called them to repentance for their immoral behavior. How were the Nephites rationalizing their immoral behavior? (See Jacob 2:23–24.) How do many people today try to excuse unchastity?

  • Why is it important to be morally clean? (See Jacob 2:27–29; see also Exodus 20:14; 1 Corinthians 6:18–20.) How can sexual immorality affect the sinner’s family and friends and all members of society? (See Jacob 2:31–35; 3:10.) What counsel and comfort did Jacob give to those who had been hurt by the immorality of others? (See Jacob 3:1–2.)

  • What must a person do to be forgiven of immorality?

    President Ezra Taft Benson suggested five steps to be forgiven of unchastity (“The Law of Chastity,” in Brigham Young University 1987–88 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1988], 53–54). Discuss these steps with class members:

    1. “1.

      Flee immediately from any situation you are in that is either causing you to sin or that may cause you to sin.”

    2. “2.

      Plead with the Lord for the power to overcome.”

    3. “3.

      Let your priesthood leaders help you resolve the transgression and come back into full fellowship with the Lord.”

    4. “4.

      Drink from the divine fountain [the scriptures and words of the prophets] and fill your lives with positive sources of power.”

    5. “5.

      Remember that through proper repentance you can become clean again.”

  • According to Jacob, how were the Lamanites blessed for being chaste? (See Jacob 3:5–7.) What are the blessings of being morally clean?

3. Jacob testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Read and discuss selected verses from Jacob 4. If you are using the video presentation “Repentance: It’s Never Too Late,” show it now.

  • After calling his people to repentance, Jacob ended his sermon by testifying of the hope of forgiveness through the Atonement. How do the scriptures and the prophets help us gain a testimony of the Atonement? (See Jacob 4:4–6.) How can we obtain the hope in Christ that Jacob spoke of? (See Jacob 4:10–12.)

  • What do you think it meant that the Jews looked “beyond the mark”? (See Jacob 4:14. The Jews delighted in expounding the difficult texts of scripture, but without faith and the help of the Holy Ghost they could not understand them. They despised the “words of plainness” in the scriptures and looked for salvation in some other way than through Jesus Christ.)

  • How might we sometimes “look beyond the mark” in our daily living? How can we be more diligent in remembering the importance of the Savior in our lives?

To conclude this section, have a class member read Mosiah 3:17 aloud.

Conclusion

Explain that Jacob’s teachings help us understand the importance of magnifying our callings and avoiding pride and immorality. By emphasizing the Atonement at the conclusion of his sermon, Jacob taught that we must rely on the Savior.

As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Jacob condemns the unauthorized practice of plural marriage

  • Whom did the Nephites claim as examples to justify their whoredoms? (See Jacob 2:23–24.) Why were David and Solomon unworthy examples? (See D&C 132:38–39. The Lord gave wives and concubines to David and Solomon, but they sinned by marrying additional wives outside of the covenant.) You may want to explain that anciently, a concubine was not an immoral mistress, but a legal wife of lesser social standing (see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 154).

  • What marriage law did Jacob teach to the Nephites? (See Jacob 2:27–28.)

    The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 324).

    Explain that the Lord gave such direction (see D&C 132), but He later withdrew His sanction of plural marriage when conditions changed (see Official Declaration 1). Emphasize that the law of the Lord regarding marriage today is the same as it was in Jacob’s day.

2. Recognizing and avoiding abuse

Jacob rebuked the Nephite men for their mistreatment of their wives and children (see Jacob 2:9, 31–32, 35). Latter-day Church leaders have also given strong warnings against abuse of any kind. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have warned that “individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

Abuse can be defined as treating or speaking to someone in a way that is demeaning or that causes injury or serious offense. As appropriate, discuss the following specific definitions and instructions with class members:

Child abuse occurs when someone who is in a position of trust or control threatens or causes physical or emotional harm to a child. It includes physical abuse or neglect, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.

Spouse abuse may also be physical, emotional, or sexual. Emotional abuse can consist of name calling, demeaning statements, unrighteous control or compulsion, threats, isolation, intimidation, or manipulation. Physical abuse includes withholding necessities and using physical violence such as pushing, choking, scratching, pinching, restraining, or hitting. Sexual abuse may be either emotional or physical and includes sexual harassment, the inflicting of pain, and the use of force or intimidation.

Every effort should be made by priesthood leaders, family members, and others to prevent abuse and to assist in the healing of an abused person. Leaders and family members should also try to help the abuser repent; Church discipline may be necessary to bring this about.

  • What can we do to help recognize and prevent abuse? How can we help those who have been hurt by abuse?

If class members need specific counsel on preventing and responding to abuse, encourage them to speak with the bishop.

3. Jacob warns against racial prejudice

  • Why did many of the Nephites look down on the Lamanites? (See Jacob 3:5, 9.) What did Jacob say about this prejudice? (See Jacob 3:8–9.) How can prejudice prevent the Church from fulfilling its divine mission?

    President Howard W. Hunter said:

    “The restored gospel is a message of divine love for all people everywhere, based upon the conviction that all humans are children of the same God. …

    “… The validity, the power of our faith is not bound by history, nationality, or culture. It is not the peculiar property of any one people or any one age” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 23–24; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 19).