Lesson 53: Mosiah 3

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


Continuing his address to his people, King Benjamin conveyed the words an angel had spoken to him concerning the ministry of Jesus Christ. King Benjamin testified that through faith in Jesus Christ and repentance, those who have sinned can receive salvation. He also taught that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, an individual who yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit “putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint” (Mosiah 3:19).

Suggestions for Teaching

Note: If in the previous lesson you encouraged students to memorize and apply Mosiah 2:17, consider giving them an opportunity to share their experiences sometime today. Be careful not to take too much time in this review. Leave enough time to discuss the doctrines and principles in Mosiah 3.

Mosiah 3:1–10

King Benjamin delivers an angel’s words about the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Display an empty glass and a container of water. Invite a student to demonstrate how much water he or she would pour into the glass for someone who wants only a taste of the water. Then have the student demonstrate how much he or she would pour for someone who wants to be filled. Ask students to ponder the following question:

  • If the water represents joy, how much would you want in your glass?

Explain to students that the teachings in Mosiah 3 will help them to see how they can be filled with joy.

Invite a student to read Mosiah 3:2–5 aloud. Ask the class to identify the source of King Benjamin’s message in Mosiah 3.

Emphasize that Mosiah 3 contains an angel’s declaration of “glad tidings of great joy” (Mosiah 3:3). Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Mosiah 3:5–10. Ask the class to look for words or phrases that help them better appreciate the mission of Jesus Christ. You may want to suggest that they mark these words and phrases. Invite a few students to share the words and phrases they have found.

  • What does Mosiah 3:7 help you understand about the Savior’s mission?

  • Why do you think the angel said that this message would bring great joy?

Invite students to write a one-sentence summary of Mosiah 3:5–10 in their scripture study journals or class notebooks. After they have had enough time to write, invite a few of them to share what they have written. Students’ summaries should show understanding of the angel’s teaching that Jesus Christ suffered so we can be saved from our sins.

You may want to follow up students’ responses with the following question:

  • What are your feelings as you think about what the Savior has done for you?

To help students deepen their understanding of the Savior’s suffering, share the following statement by Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. … He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. … In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince of this world,’ could inflict. … In some manner, actual and terribly real though to man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 613).

Mosiah 3:11–27

King Benjamin testifies that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can put off the natural man and become saints

Tell students that King Benjamin shared the angel’s description of different groups of people and how the Atonement of Jesus Christ applies to each group. Write the following questions on the board. Ask students to read Mosiah 3:11–13, 16 silently, looking for answers to the following questions:

How does the Atonement apply:

To those who die without a knowledge of the gospel?

To those who rebel against God and deliberately sin?

To children who die before they reach the age of accountability?

After sufficient time, ask students to share their answers to these questions. (To help them answer the first question, you may want to have them read Doctrine and Covenants 137:7–10. To help them with the third question, you may want to have them read Moroni 8:8, 17 and Doctrine and Covenants 29:46–47.)

Read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about the effect of the Atonement on all of Heavenly Father’s children:

“We … read that ‘his blood atoneth for the sins of those … who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned’ (Mosiah 3:11). Similarly, ‘the blood of Christ atoneth for [little children]’ (Mosiah 3:16). These teachings that the resurrecting and cleansing power of the Atonement is for all contradict the assertion that the grace of God saves only a chosen few. His grace is for all. These teachings of the Book of Mormon expand our vision and enlarge our understanding of the all-encompassing love of God and the universal effect of His Atonement for all men everywhere” (“All Men Everywhere,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 77).

  • What principle do we learn from Mosiah 3:12 about how the Atonement applies to us? (We will be saved from our sins as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and repent.)

  • According to this verse, what will happen to those who choose not to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and repent?

Point out that Mosiah 3:19 is a scripture mastery passage. You might want to encourage students to mark this passage in a distinctive way so they will be able to locate it easily. Also draw attention in Mosiah 3:19 to the angel’s use of the term “natural man.” To help students understand this phrase, read the following explanation from the Guide to the Scriptures:

A natural man is “a person who chooses to be influenced by the passions, desires, appetites, and senses of the flesh rather than by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Such a person can comprehend physical things but not spiritual things. All people are carnal, or mortal, because of the fall of Adam and Eve. Each person must be born again through the atonement of Jesus Christ” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Natural Man,” scriptures.lds.org).

Write the following questions on the board. Have students look for answers to the questions as they search Mosiah 3:19 silently.

How did the angel describe a natural man’s relationship with God?

According to this verse, how can we put off the natural man?

Point out that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, a person does more than just stop being a “natural man.” He or she “becometh a saint.” In addition to saving us from our sins, the Savior changes us into better people than we could ever be on our own. He helps us become more like Him. To help students understand this doctrine, read the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Both clean hands and a pure heart are required to ascend into the hill of the Lord and to stand in His holy place [see Psalm 24:3–4].

Elder David A. Bednar

“Let me suggest that hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior’s Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better. All of our worthy desires and good works, as necessary as they are, can never produce clean hands and a pure heart. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that provides both a cleansing and redeeming power that helps us to overcome sin and a sanctifying and strengthening power that helps us to become better than we ever could by relying only upon our own strength. The infinite Atonement is for both the sinner and for the saint in each of us” (“Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 82).

To help students summarize the doctrines they have learned from Mosiah 3:19, ask:

  • What are some gospel truths that you find in Mosiah 3:19?

Students may list several doctrines from this verse, including the following:

The natural man is an enemy to God.

As we yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, we put off the natural man.

Through the Atonement of Christ, we can put off the natural man and become saints.

Invite students to respond to one of the following questions in their scripture study journals. (You may want to write these questions on the board before class, prepare a handout with the questions, or read the questions slowly so students can write them in their scripture study journals.)

  • What can you do to more fully yield “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit”? What will you do over the next week to improve in this area of your life?

  • What attribute of a child listed in Mosiah 3:19 do you most need to develop? What will you do over the next week to help you develop that attribute?

To help students gain a greater appreciation for the Savior’s Atonement, read Mosiah 3:23–26 to them. Explain that the phrase “cup of the wrath of God” in verse 26 refers to the eventual suffering of those who willfully sin and do not repent. Then ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19. Ask students to listen for the word cup in verse 18.

  • What has Jesus Christ done so that we will not have to drink “out of the cup of the wrath of God”? (He has partaken of that cup Himself, taking upon Himself the punishment for our sins. If we truly repent, we will not have to suffer that punishment.)

Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths discussed in this lesson.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Mosiah 3:19

To help students memorize Mosiah 3:19, divide them into pairs. Ask them to read Mosiah 3:19 aloud, one word at a time, alternating every other word with their partner. Ask them to repeat this exercise a few times. You may want to add variety to this activity by having each partner read two or three words at a time.

The repetition of this activity will help students become familiar with the content of the verse and will make it easier for them to memorize the entire verse. Challenge them to complete their memorization of Mosiah 3:19 on their own.

Note: Because of the nature and length of this lesson, you might want to use this scripture mastery activity on another day, when you have extra time.

Commentary and Background Information

Mosiah 3:5–11. Learning about the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that we should seek to understand all we can about the Atonement of Jesus Christ:

“None of us can ever adequately appreciate in mortality the full beneficial consequences of the Atonement.

“There is an imperative need for each of us to strengthen our understanding of the significance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ so that it will become an unshakable foundation upon which to build our lives. As the world becomes more devoid of foundational standards and as honor, virtue, and purity are increasingly cast aside in the pursuit of appetite, our understanding of and faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ will provide strength and capacity needed for a successful life. It will also bring confidence in times of trial and peace in moments of turmoil.

“I energetically encourage you to establish a personal study plan to better understand and appreciate the incomparable, eternal, infinite consequences of Jesus Christ’s perfect fulfillment of His divinely appointed calling as our Savior and Redeemer. Profound personal pondering of the scriptures accompanied by searching, heartfelt prayer will fortify your understanding of and appreciation for His priceless Atonement. Another powerful way to learn of Jesus Christ and His Atonement is through consistent temple attendance” (“He Lives! All Glory to His Name!” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 77).

Mosiah 3:19. The sacrament and becoming a Saint

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the link between the sacrament and our efforts to become “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19):

“Sacrament meeting is the most sacred and holy of all the meetings in the Church. After His Resurrection, the Savior instituted the sacrament among the Nephites. If we are to be His disciples and to be committed members of His Church, we must remember and reverence the sacrament. It allows each of us to express with broken hearts and contrite spirits our willingness to follow the Savior, to repent, and to become a Saint through the Atonement of Christ” (“We Follow Jesus Christ,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 84).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Mosiah 3:23–26. Partaking of the sacrament reminds us of the Atonement

The lesson concludes with a discussion about the unrepentant eventually drinking from “the cup of the wrath of God” (see Mosiah 3:23–26) and the Savior being willing to “drink the bitter cup” for us (see D&C 19:16–19). As part of this discussion, ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 20:78–79 aloud.

  • How does this passage relate to Mosiah 3:26 and D&C 19:18? (Ensure that students understand that the sacrament cup that we take each week is a reminder of the Savior’s suffering for us—the bitter cup He drank—and a reminder of the blessings we receive through His Atonement as we keep our covenants.)