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. , 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.
“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. , 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.
Explain 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.
Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 24
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:
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.
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:
“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 , 200, 204).
Ask the class the following question:
What were God’s purposes in placing us on earth, where opposition exists?
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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.