Lesson 8: O How Great the Goodness of Our God

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 33–36


Purpose

To help class members understand their need for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and to teach them how to receive all the blessings of the Atonement.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      2 Nephi 9:1–26, 39–54. Jacob testifies that through the Savior’s Atonement, we can be redeemed from temporal death and spiritual death. He discusses principles that help us receive all the blessings of the Atonement.

    2. b.

      2 Nephi 9:27–38. Jacob discusses attitudes and actions that prevent us from receiving all the blessings of the Atonement.

    3. c.

      2 Nephi 10. Jacob prophesies that the Redeemer will be called Christ. Jacob prophesies that the Nephites’ descendants will perish in unbelief and that the Jews in Jerusalem will crucify the Savior and be scattered until they believe in Him. Jacob testifies of the Lord’s covenants with His people and exhorts the people to reconcile themselves to the will of God.

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: Isaiah 49–52. You may want to compare Isaiah 49:22–26 with 2 Nephi 6:6–7, 16–18; Isaiah 50 with 2 Nephi 7; Isaiah 51 with 2 Nephi 8:1–23; and Isaiah 52:1–2 with 2 Nephi 8:24–25.

  3. 3.

    If you use the attention activity, bring the following pictures to class: Sermon on the Mount (62166; Gospel Art Picture Kit 212); Jesus Healing the Blind (62145; Gospel Art Picture Kit 213); Stilling the Storm (62139; Gospel Art Picture Kit 214); Jesus Blessing Jairus’s Daughter (62231; Gospel Art Picture Kit 215); Christ with the Children (62467; Gospel Art Picture Kit 216); Jesus Praying in Gethsemane (62175; Gospel Art Picture Kit 227); and The Crucifixion (62505; Gospel Art Picture Kit 230).

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

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

Display the pictures listed in the “Preparation” section. Invite class members to look at the pictures and think about what Jesus Christ has done for them. Then ask them to share some of the things they have thought about. List their responses on the chalkboard.

Ask class members to read the following verses aloud: 2 Nephi 6:17; 7:2; 8:3–6, 12. Ask them to look for words in the verses that refer to things the Savior does for us. List the words on the chalkboard. The list may include the following words: deliver (2 Nephi 6:17; 7:2), redeem (2 Nephi 7:2), comfort, comforteth (2 Nephi 8:3, 12), light (2 Nephi 8:4), judgment, judge (2 Nephi 8:4–5), and salvation (2 Nephi 8:5–6).

Explain that this lesson discusses the Atonement, which is the greatest act Jesus Christ has done for us.

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. Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ offers redemption from temporal death and spiritual death.

Explain that 2 Nephi 9 contains a discourse by Jacob, one of Nephi’s younger brothers, about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which is the central event in the plan of salvation. To understand the teachings in this chapter, it is helpful to know how Jacob referred to temporal death and spiritual death:

Temporal death is the death of the physical body and the separation of the spirit from the physical body. As a result of the Fall of Adam, all people will die temporally (2 Nephi 9:6). In 2 Nephi 9, Jacob uses the following words and phrases to refer to temporal death: “death” (verse 6), “the death of the body” (verse 10), and “the grave” (verse 11).

Spiritual death is separation from the presence of God. We are all separated from God as a result of the Fall of Adam (2 Nephi 9:6). We further separate ourselves from God when we sin (Romans 3:23; Alma 12:16; Helaman 14:18). In 2 Nephi 9, Jacob uses the following words and phrases to refer to spiritual death, or separation from God: “shut out from the presence of our God” (verse 9), “the death of the spirit” (verse 10), “spiritual death” (verse 12), “hell” (verse 12), and “death” (verse 39).

Discuss 2 Nephi 9:1–26, 39–54. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud.

  • What did the Savior do to overcome temporal death and spiritual death? (See 2 Nephi 9:5–7, 12, 21–22; see also Luke 22:44; Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:16–19.)

  • Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected—saved from temporal death (2 Nephi 9:12–13, 22). What would happen to us without the power of Christ’s Resurrection? (See 2 Nephi 9:6–9. Temporal and spiritual death would be permanent. We would be shut out from God’s presence forever, and our spirits would be subject to Satan. We would “remain with the father of lies, in misery.”) How does this show that temporal death and spiritual death are an “awful monster”? (2 Nephi 9:10).

  • Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be restored to God’s presence to be judged (2 Nephi 2:10; 9:15). However, not all people will be “saved in the kingdom of God,” or permitted to dwell in God’s presence forever (2 Nephi 9:23; Mormon 7:7). According to Jacob, what are some of the things we must do to be “saved in the kingdom of God”? (Have class members read 2 Nephi 9:18, 21, 23–24, 39, 41, 50–52 to find answers to this question. Summarize their answers on the chalkboard. Discuss the answers as shown below.)

    1. a.

      Believe in Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel, and come unto Him (2 Nephi 9:18, 23–24, 41). Why is faith in Jesus Christ essential in order to receive all the blessings of His Atonement?

    2. b.

      Endure the crosses of the world and despise the shame of the world (2 Nephi 9:18). What does it mean to endure the crosses of the world? (See Matthew 16:24d, footnote 24d; 3 Nephi 12:29–30.) What does it mean to despise the shame of the world? (See 2 Nephi 9:49.)

    3. c.

      Hearken to the voice of the Lord (2 Nephi 9:21). How can we hear the voice of the Lord? (See D&C 1:38; 18:33–36; 88:66.)

    4. d.

      Repent, be baptized, and endure to the end (2 Nephi 9:23–24).

    5. e.

      Be spiritually minded (2 Nephi 9:39; see also Romans 8:5–8). What does it mean to you to be spiritually minded? How does being spiritually minded lead to “life eternal”? What does it mean to be carnally minded? How does being carnally minded lead to spiritual death? What can we do to become more spiritually minded?

    6. f.

      “Feast upon that which perisheth not” (2 Nephi 9:50–51). What are some things that never perish? How can we “feast” on these things?

    7. g.

      Remember the words of God (2 Nephi 9:52). How does remembering God’s words help us receive all the blessings of the Atonement? (See 3 Nephi 15:1.)

    8. h.

      Pray continually and give thanks (2 Nephi 9:52). How has praying and expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father helped you draw nearer to Him and His Son?

2. Certain attitudes and actions prevent us from receiving all the blessings of the Atonement.

Read and discuss 2 Nephi 9:27–38. Explain that in addition to speaking of requirements for receiving all the blessings of the Atonement, Jacob spoke of attitudes and actions that prevent us from receiving those blessings.

  • What are some attitudes and actions that prevent us from receiving all the blessings of the Atonement? (Have class members read 2 Nephi 9:27–38 to find answers to this question. Summarize their answers on the chalkboard. Discuss the answers as shown below.)

    1. a.

      Transgressing the commandments and wasting the days of our probation (2 Nephi 9:27). In the Book of Mormon, prophets often refer to our life on earth as a “state of probation,” or a time to be tested (2 Nephi 2:21; see also 2 Nephi 2:30; Mormon 9:28). How might some people waste the days of their probation? (See 2 Nephi 9:38; Alma 34:31–33; Helaman 13:38.)

    2. b.

      Placing learning, money, and other idols above God (2 Nephi 9:28–30, 37). How can the pursuit of knowledge and riches keep us from receiving all the blessings of the Atonement? (See 2 Nephi 9:28, 30, 42.) In what situations are learning and riches good? (See 2 Nephi 9:29; Jacob 2:18–19.)

    3. c.

      Being spiritually deaf and blind (2 Nephi 9:31–32). What does it mean to be spiritually deaf and blind? How can we open our ears and eyes to the truths of the gospel?

    4. d.

      Being “uncircumcised of heart” (2 Nephi 9:33). In ancient Israel, a man who was uncircumcised was breaking a covenant with God (Genesis 17:11, 14). With this understanding, what does it mean to be “uncircumcised of heart”?

    5. e.

      Lying and committing murders and whoredoms (2 Nephi 9:34–36).

3. The Lord remembers His covenants with His people.

Read and discuss selected verses from 2 Nephi 10.

  • Jacob prophesied that the Nephites’ descendants would “perish in the flesh because of unbelief” and that the Jews in Jerusalem would crucify the Savior and be scattered because of their sins (2 Nephi 10:2–6). What will the Lord do for these people when they believe in Him and repent of their sins? (See 2 Nephi 10:2, 7–8, 21–22; see also 1 Nephi 21:15–16; 2 Nephi 9:1–3, 53; 30:2.) How does this apply to us individually? (See Mosiah 26:22.)

    Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “The discouraging idea that a mistake (or even a series of them) makes it everlastingly too late, does not come from the Lord. He has said that if we will repent, not only will He forgive us our transgressions, but He will forget them and remember our sins no more (see Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17; Alma 36:19; D&C 58:42)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 72; or Ensign, May 1989, 59).

  • Jacob said that his people should “cheer up [their] hearts” because the Lord remembers His covenant people (2 Nephi 10:22–23). How can we find comfort in the knowledge that the Lord remembers His covenant people?

  • As Jacob concluded this address to the people, what did he encourage them to remember? (See 2 Nephi 10:23–24.) In what ways do we choose either the way of everlasting death or the way of everlasting life? (See 2 Nephi 2:26–27.) What does it mean to be reconciled to the will of God? Why is it important to remember that “it is only through the grace of God that [we] are saved”?

Conclusion

Have a class member read aloud 2 Nephi 10:25, which is Jacob’s concluding message in this discourse. Express your gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and encourage class members to “choose … the way of eternal life” (2 Nephi 10:23).

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 both of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Hymn

With class members, sing or read the words to a hymn about the love of Jesus Christ, such as “Reverently and Meekly Now” (Hymns, no. 185) or “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd” (Hymns, no. 221).

2. The gathering of Israel

  • How will Israel be gathered? (See 2 Nephi 10:8–9.)

    President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

    “The responsibility of the seed of Abraham, which we are, is to be missionaries to ‘bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations’ (Abraham 2:9). Moses bestowed upon Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple the keys to gather Israel (see D&C 110:11).

    “Now, what is the instrument that God has designed for this gathering? It is the same instrument that is designed to convince the world that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is His prophet, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. It is that scripture which is the keystone of our religion” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 107–8; or Ensign, May 1987, 85).