Lesson 24: 2 Nephi 2 (Part 2)

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

The previous lesson on 2 Nephi 2 focused on the Fall of Adam and Eve and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This lesson centers on Lehi’s teachings about the doctrine of agency.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Nephi 2:5, 11–18, 26–30

Lehi teaches about agency and the consequences of our choices

Write the following on the board: Agency is …

  • How would you define agency?

After students respond, complete the sentence on the board so that it reads as follows: “Agency is the ability and freedom to choose good or evil” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie). (This statement is found in Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 26.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for the four principles that are necessary for agency to exist.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“Four great principles must be in force if there is to be agency: 1. Laws must exist … which can be obeyed or disobeyed; 2. Opposites must exist—good and evil, virtue and vice, right and wrong—that is, there must be an opposition, one force pulling one way and another pulling the other; 3. A knowledge of good and evil must be had by those who are to enjoy the agency, that is, they must know the differences between the opposites; and 4. An unfettered power of choice must prevail” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 26).

Invite students to report the four principles of agency Elder McConkie taught. As students respond, write the following words and phrases on the board near the definition of agency: Laws, Opposition, Knowledge of good and evil, Power to choose.

handout iconExplain that in this lesson, each student will have the opportunity to teach the class about one of these four principles of agency as found in 2 Nephi 2. Divide students into four groups. Give each group one of the following sets of instructions to help them prepare to teach the principle at the top of the handout. (Before class, prepare the handouts containing these instructions.)

Explain that each set of instructions contains four assignments. Encourage all students to participate by ensuring that each person in each group receives an assignment. In groups of more than four, students may share assignments. In groups with fewer than four students, some individuals will need to do more than one assignment.

Group 1: Opposition

  1. 1.

    Write the word opposition on the board. Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 2:11 aloud. Encourage the class to look for all the pairs of opposites in this verse. Invite students to report what they find. List their responses on the board in a chart like this:

    Opposition

    Righteousness

    Wickedness

    Holiness

    Misery

    Good

    Bad

  2. 2.

    Read 2 Nephi 2:12, 15–16 aloud. Before you read, encourage students to look for phrases that emphasize the importance of having “an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). After you read, invite students to report what they have found.

  3. 3.

    Invite students to think about Heavenly Father’s purposes for placing us on earth, where opposition exists, as you read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

    Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

    “God’s premortal children could not become like him and enjoy his breadth of blessings unless they obtained both a physical body and temporal experience in an arena where both good and evil were present. …

    “… We wanted the chance to become like our heavenly parents, to face suffering and overcome it, to endure sorrow and still live rejoicingly, to confront good and evil and be strong enough to choose the good” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 200, 204).

  4. 4.

    Ask the class the following question:

    • What were God’s purposes in placing us on earth, where opposition exists?

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Group 2: Laws

  1. 1.

    Point to the vertical line separating the list of opposites on the board (or draw a line if the previous group did not do so). Explain that this line represents God’s law, or His commandments. Invite students to silently read 2 Nephi 2:13 and to look for the consequences that would come if there were no law, or commandments. Ask students to report what they learn.

  2. 2.

    Ask the class the following questions:

    • How do God’s commandments help us distinguish between right and wrong?

    • What are some examples of commandments that have helped you recognize the difference between righteousness and wickedness?

  3. 3.

    Give an example of a commandment that has helped you recognize the difference between righteousness and wickedness. Explain why you are grateful for this commandment.

  4. 4.

    Tell about a time when you faced a choice between righteousness and wickedness and you made the right choice. Explain how you were blessed for obeying God’s law.

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Group 3: Knowledge of Good and Evil

  1. 1.

    Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 2:5 aloud. Then ask the class the following question:

    • How do you think all people can be instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil? (You might explain that the “law” spoken of in verse 5 is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes all the Lord’s commandments.)

  2. 2.

    To help students understand how all people can know good from evil, point out the cross-reference to Moroni 7:16 in footnote a of 2 Nephi 2:5. Invite a student to read Moroni 7:16 aloud. Then ask the following question:

    • According to this verse, what has God given to all people that allows us to know good from evil?

  3. 3.

    Explain that the “Spirit of Christ” referred to in Moroni 7:16 is also called the Light of Christ. Read the following statement aloud:

    “The Light of Christ is the divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things. The Light of Christ influences people for good and prepares them to receive the Holy Ghost. One manifestation of the Light of Christ is what we call a conscience” (“Light of Christ,” Gospel Topics, topics.lds.org).

  4. 4.

    Ask the class the following question:

    • Why do you think it is important for every accountable person to have a basic knowledge of good and evil through the Light of Christ?

© 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Group 4: Power to Choose

  1. 1.

    Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 2:26 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what resulted from Jesus Christ performing the Atonement and redeeming all mankind from the Fall. Then ask the class the following question:

    • What do you think it means that we became “free forever … to act for ourselves and not be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day”?

  2. 2.

    Read the following statement to the class:

    “You are free to choose and act, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your actions. The consequences may not be immediate, but they will always follow” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 12).

    Ask the following question:

    • What are some examples of consequences that may not be immediate but that will certainly follow a person’s actions?

  3. 3.

    Invite students to read 2 Nephi 2:27 silently, looking for words and phrases that show future consequences of choices we make now. Ask students to report what they find. (Answers may include “liberty,” “eternal life,” “captivity,” “death,” and “miserable.”) Then ask the following questions:

    • Why do you think it is important for us to understand the consequences of our choices in this life?

    • How can knowing these consequences motivate us to make righteous choices?

    Share your testimony that we are accountable to God for our choices and that consequences always follow our choices.

  4. 4.

    Point out that in 2 Nephi 2:27, Lehi says that we “are free to choose liberty.” Then ask the class the following questions:

    • In your experience, how do righteous choices help us remain free to choose?

    • What are some examples of how the righteous use of our agency results in additional freedom? (Be prepared to share an example of your own.)

© 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Invite each group to take a turn teaching the class, starting with group 1 and ending with group 4.

After the students in group 4 have finished teaching, thank all the students for their teaching.

  • What is a truth that 2 Nephi 2:27 teaches about agency? (Help students identify the following truth: We are free to choose liberty and eternal life through Jesus Christ or to choose captivity and death.)

To help the class understand this truth, ask a student to read 2 Nephi 2:28–29 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for further insight into how we can exercise our agency and choose eternal life instead of captivity and death.

  • According to verse 28, what did Lehi desire that his sons do?

  • How will doing these things help you maintain your liberty and eventually receive eternal life?

  • What are some choices that lead to captivity, or a loss of freedom?

To conclude, invite students to ponder whether their choices are leading them toward liberty and eternal life or toward captivity, spiritual death, and misery. Assure students that any poor choices they may have already made can be overcome through faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. Testify of the Savior, His Atonement, and His ability to strengthen us in our efforts to make choices that will lead to happiness and eternal life. Invite students to set a goal that will help them use their agency to make righteous choices.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Nephi 2:29. “The will of the flesh and the evil which is therein”

This verse does not mean that our bodies are evil. Rather, it describes an aspect of our fallen condition. True to the Faith includes this explanation:

“In this fallen condition, we have a conflict within us. We are spirit children of God, with the potential to be ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Peter 1:4). However, ‘we are unworthy before [God]; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually’ (Ether 3:2). We need to strive continually to overcome unrighteous passions and desires” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 57).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

video icon2 Nephi 2. Video presentation—“Act for Themselves”

Instead of inviting students to teach the class as groups, consider showing the video “Act for Themselves” (18:40). Invite students to look for how each of the four principles of agency are illustrated. Pause the video as needed to assess students’ comprehension of these principles. This video is available on LDS.org.

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