In a sermon to the Nephites, Jacob began by quoting some of Isaiah’s prophecies about the Lord redeeming His covenant people. This part of Jacob’s sermon is found in 2 Nephi 6–8. The continuation of this two-day sermon is found in 2 Nephi 9–10. After quoting Isaiah, Jacob shared his own testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ—of the Savior’s power to rescue us from the effects of the Fall and the consequences of our sins.
Ask students to think about any dangerous or harmful situations from which they have needed to be rescued. Invite a student to read aloud the following account. Ask the class to listen for the dangerous conditions that a group of Chilean miners experienced.
“On August 5, 2010, 33 Chilean miners were trapped by a massive cave-in after the rock inside the mine collapsed. They were restricted to a small safe area and to the mine shafts below the collapse, 2,300 feet (700 m) deep inside the earth.
“The situation looked bleak. They were separated from home and family by almost a half a mile of unmovable rock overhead, and they had only a small supply of food and water. Although they had tools and knowledge, because of the instability of the mine they could not save themselves. Their only chance was to be found and rescued” (Connie Goulding, “Seeking Rescue,” Ensign, June 2015, 63).
If you had been in this situation, what thoughts or feelings might you have had?
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 9:10 silently, looking for what Jacob said we need to be rescued from. As students report what they found, copy the accompanying diagram on the board:
To help students understand Jacob’s use of the terms death and hell, explain that both terms refer to a type of separation. When Jacob used the word death in this sermon, he referred to “the death of the body,” which is the separation of the physical body from the spirit. When he used the word hell, he referred to “the death of the spirit,” which is a person’s separation from the presence of God. In the scriptures, this separation is often referred to as “spiritual death.”
Why do you think the phrase “awful monster” is an appropriate way to describe death and hell?
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 9:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the cause of physical death and spiritual death.
What event brought physical death and spiritual death to all of us? (You may need to explain that as a result of the Fall, all people are cut off from the presence of God and all people will eventually die physically.)
Explain that 2 Nephi 9:7–9 teaches what would happen to us if there were no Atonement of Jesus Christ and the effects of the Fall remained forever.
Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 9:7–9 aloud. Invite the class to look for phrases that describe what would happen to our bodies and spirits if physical and spiritual death remained forever. (You may need to explain that when Jacob spoke of “the first judgment which came upon man,” he referred to results of the Fall of Adam and Eve. When he spoke of “corruption,” he referred to our mortal bodies, which will die. When he spoke of “incorruption,” he referred to our resurrected bodies, which will live forever.)
If there were no Atonement of Jesus Christ, what would happen to our bodies?
If there were no Atonement of Jesus Christ, what would happen to our spirits?
To emphasize what our fate would be without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, ask a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“If our separation from God and our physical death were permanent, moral agency would mean nothing. Yes, we would be free to make choices, but what would be the point? The end result would always be the same no matter what our actions: death with no hope of resurrection and no hope of heaven. As good or as bad as we might choose to be, we would all end up ‘angels to a devil’ [2 Nephi 9:9]” (D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Agency,” Ensign, June 2009, 50).
Invite students to ponder how they would feel if they had no hope of resurrection or heaven and if they knew that no matter how hard they tried to follow the commandments they would still end up as “angels to a devil.”
Invite a student to read aloud the following account of the rescue of the Chilean miners:
“On the 17th day of their trial, hope was renewed for the miners when a small shaft was created by a drill bit that broke through the rock that held them captive. … Hope was restored. … Food, water, medicine, and notes from loved ones were sent down the shaft to the miners” (Goulding, “Seeking Rescue,” 63).
Eventually, rescuers were able to create a larger shaft, through which they could lower a capsule that was large enough to rescue one man at a time.
“Each miner stepped into the capsule and gave his will over to the plan and the rescuers. …
“The rescue plan succeeded; not one man was lost. They were redeemed … 69 days after the mine collapse and 52 days after they had been found alive” (Goulding, “Seeking Rescue,” 65).
How is the rescue of the Chilean miners similar to our deliverance from physical and spiritual death? (The miners could not rescue themselves from the mine, just as we cannot rescue ourselves from sin and death. In order to be rescued, the miners had to trust the rescue plan and the rescuers. Similarly, we must trust in the plan of redemption and in our Savior.)
Ask students to reread 2 Nephi 9:10 silently, looking for what God has done to deliver us from physical and spiritual death.
According to this verse, what has God prepared for us?
Emphasize that Jacob’s main message in this sermon is that God has prepared “a way for our escape from the grasp of … death and hell.” Divide students into pairs. Invite each pair to read 2 Nephi 9:11–13 aloud together, looking for how we are delivered or rescued from physical and spiritual death. (You might encourage students to note the number of times they see the word deliver, or a form of it, in these verses.)
What will happen to the bodies and the spirits of all people who die? (They will be delivered from the grave and the spirit world to be reunited in an incorruptible, immortal state.)
How are we delivered from physical and spiritual death? (Through “the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel” [verse 12], which is part of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.)
Write the following doctrine on the board: Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ delivers all mankind from the physical and spiritual death brought by the Fall of Adam and Eve.
How can this truth help us understand the Savior’s goodness and mercy?
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 9:14–15 aloud with their partners, looking for what will happen after we are resurrected.
What will happen after we are resurrected?
According to verse 14, what will we have a perfect knowledge of when we stand before Jesus Christ to be judged?
How can Jacob’s teachings in verse 14 help us understand the importance of our choices in this life?
Explain that 2 Nephi 9:16–19 describes the conditions of those who are judged to be wicked and those who are judged to be righteous. Those who remain filthy after the Resurrection are known as the sons of perdition. These are individuals who “served Satan and turned utterly against God” during their mortal lives (Guide to the Scriptures, “Sons of Perdition,” scriptures.lds.org). They will experience everlasting punishment in outer darkness (see D&C 76:31–48). All other people will receive a degree of glory (see D&C 76:50–112).
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 9:18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for some of the qualities of the righteous.
According to verse 18, what are some of the qualities of the righteous? (Explain that to “[endure] the crosses of the world” means to deny oneself of ungodliness and keep God’s commandments [see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 16:25–26 (in Matthew 16:24, footnote e)]. To “[despise] the shame of it” means to choose to not be ashamed of the gospel even though we may be mocked for seeking to live according to its teachings [see 1 Nephi 8:24–34].)
What blessing will those who faithfully “[endure] the crosses of the world” receive?
Remind students that the Savior’s “way of deliverance” (2 Nephi 9:11) does not just deliver us from the physical and spiritual death brought about by the Fall. The Savior also has the power to deliver us from the spiritual death that results from our own sins, enabling us to be counted among those who are saved in the kingdom of God.
Point out that while deliverance from the Fall of Adam and Eve is a gift to all mankind, our deliverance from the consequences of our sins depends partly on our desires and actions. Write the following on the board: Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome the consequences of our sins as we …
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 9:21, 23–24 aloud. Ask the class to look for phrases to complete the sentence on the board.
According to these verses, how would you complete this sentence? (Students’ answers should reflect the following principle: Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome the consequences of our sins as we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized, and endure to the end. As students share their answers, complete the statement on the board. Encourage them to consider marking the phrases in verses 21, 23–24 that teach this principle.)
How do having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized, and enduring to the end help us overcome the consequences of our sins through the Savior’s Atonement?
For those who have already been baptized, how might worthily partaking of the sacrament help them continue to overcome the consequences of their sins? (As we partake of the sacrament, we renew our covenant with the Lord to take His name upon us, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. The Lord in turn promises that His Spirit will always be with us, and the companionship of the Spirit cleanses us from sin.)
To help students feel the truth and importance of this principle, consider singing or reading as a class the words to “I Stand All Amazed” (Hymns, no. 193) or another hymn about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Invite students to select lines from the hymn that reflect their feelings about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice. Allow them to tell the class about the lines they have selected and to explain the reasons why they appreciate those lines.
Conclude by inviting students to ponder what they may need to do in order to overcome their sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Encourage them to act on any promptings they receive.