After testifying that Jesus Christ delivers all mankind from the effects of the Fall and offers us forgiveness from our sins, Jacob concluded his sermon. He warned against attitudes and actions that lead to separation from the Lord, and he testified of attitudes and actions that allow people to come to Christ and be saved. On the next day, Jacob reiterated that although the house of Israel would be scattered because of sin, the Lord would remember His covenants with them and gather them when they would repent and return to Him. Jacob prophesied of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He also prophesied that his people’s promised land would be a place of liberty, fortified against all nations and free from the reign of kings. Jacob exhorted his people to reconcile themselves to God’s will and remember that they could be saved only through God’s grace.
Suggestions for Teaching
Jacob invites all to come unto Christ and warns of attitudes and actions that separate us from the Lord
On the board, write the phrases why I need help and what I must do. Have the class imagine a person who has a terrible disease.
Why is it important that this person understand the need to seek help?
Why is it important that the person also understand what to do to receive help?
What will result if the person understands the need for help but does not understand what to do to receive it?
Remind students that in the previous lesson, they studied the effects of the Fall and the consequences of our sins, learning about why we need the Savior. Testify that He wants to help us and deliver us from our sins. Ask students to think about whether they know what they must do to receive all the blessings of the Atonement.
Explain that Jacob wanted to help his people choose “the way of eternal life” (2 Nephi 10:23). He helped them understand that they would receive eternal life only if they would “come unto the Lord” (2 Nephi 9:41). Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 9:41 aloud. Ask the class to look for Jacob’s description of “the way” we should follow.
What does it mean to come to the Lord? (You may want to encourage students to imagine their life as a path. Have them silently contemplate where their path is leading. Are their choices bringing them closer to the Savior?)
What words did Jacob use to describe “the way”? What do the words narrow and straight teach about the way we should live?
Point out that in connection with the narrow and straight way, Jacob used an image of a gate. He referred to the Savior as the keeper of that gate. Share your testimony that we can be forgiven of our sins and receive eternal life only through Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Everything we do that leads to eternal life—including the ordinances we receive, the prayers we offer, the testimonies we share, and the way we live—must be done in the name of Jesus Christ.
Why is it significant to you that the Savior “employeth no servant there”? (You may want to point out that the Lord does call servants, such as bishops and stake presidents, to act on His behalf as judges of the people. However, He will be our final Judge and will give final approval according to the way we have lived.)
How can the knowledge that the Lord “cannot be deceived” influence our efforts to come to Him?
Explain that throughout the remainder of 2 Nephi 9, Jacob’s teachings help us understand how our attitudes and actions affect our ability to come to the Savior. Some attitudes and actions help us come to Christ, while others prevent us from coming unto Him.
To help students discover some of these attitudes and actions, draw a vertical line down the center of the board. On one side of the line, write Distancing Ourselves from Christ. Below that, write:
On the other side of the line, write Coming unto Christ. Below that, write:
Assign each student a number between 1 and 4. Invite students to silently read the verses associated with their assigned number. Ask the students assigned to groups 1 and 2 to identify attitudes and actions that can distance us from the Savior. Ask the students assigned to groups 3 and 4 to identify attitudes and actions that help us come unto the Savior and receive the blessings of His Atonement. You may want to encourage students to mark their findings in their scriptures.
After several minutes, invite volunteers from groups 1 and 2 to come to the board and list attitudes and actions they have identified that distance us from the Savior. Discuss some of Jacob’s warnings by asking some or all of the following questions:
Jacob mentioned learning and money, both of which can be good. How can our choices about learning and money keep us from coming to the Lord? (Point out that 2 Nephi 9:28–29 is a scripture mastery passage. You might encourage students to mark this passage.)
What do you think it means to be spiritually deaf or blind? (See 2 Nephi 9:31–32.)
The phrase “uncircumcised of heart” (2 Nephi 9:33) refers to those whose hearts are not open to God and who are unwilling to keep covenants with Him. How does this condition keep us from receiving the full blessings of the Atonement?
What are some forms of idol worship today? (See 2 Nephi 9:37.)
Invite students from groups 3 and 4 to come to the board and list attitudes and actions they have discovered that will bring us to the Savior and help us receive the blessings of the Atonement. To help students analyze what they have discovered, ask some or all of the following questions:
In 2 Nephi 9:23, Jacob reminds us of the Lord’s command to repent and be baptized. How does renewing baptismal covenants through the sacrament help us come to the Lord and receive the blessings of His Atonement?
What do you think it means to be “spiritually-minded”? (2 Nephi 9:39). What are some activities that can help us be spiritually minded?
What does it mean to “turn away from your sins”? (2 Nephi 9:45).
What do you think Jacob meant when he said to drink, eat, and “delight in fatness”? (See 2 Nephi 9:50–51. You may want to explain that these verses refer to spiritual nourishment.)
Testify that as we come to the Lord and live according to His will, we will receive the full blessings of the Atonement. Write this principle on the board above the list the students have created.
Encourage students to ponder evidence they have seen of this principle in their lives. Invite them to write in their scripture study journals or class notebooks about how they have come closer to the Savior through one or more of the attitudes and actions in the second list on the board. Invite a few students to share what they have written (but help them understand that they should not feel obligated to share experiences that are too personal or private).
Jacob encourages his people to rejoice and come to the Lord
Ask students if they have ever received a gift that was particularly meaningful because someone had gone to great effort or made a sacrifice to give the gift. Consider inviting one or two students to relate their experiences.
How can we express gratitude for such gifts?
How can we express gratitude for the gift of the Savior’s Atonement?
Explain that the day after Jacob delivered his sermon about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, he again testified of the Lord’s deliverance from the consequences of sin. He taught his people about how they should respond to the gift of the Atonement.
Summarize 2 Nephi 10:1–19 by explaining that Jacob reiterated that although the house of Israel would be scattered because of sin, the Lord would remember His covenants with them and gather them when they would repent and return to Him. You may want to point out that 2 Nephi 10:3 is the first verse in the Book of Mormon that uses the title Christ in referring to the Savior.
Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 10:20, 23–25 aloud. Invite the class to identify what Jacob exhorts us to do in response to the gift of the Atonement. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find in these verses. Invite them to share what they find.
Prepare a handout with the following questions (or write the questions on the board before class begins). Invite students to select one question and share their thoughts and feelings about that question with a partner.
In light of what we have studied about the Savior, what do you want to always remember about Him?
Why is repentance an important way to show our gratitude for what the Lord has done for us?
What have you learned about the Savior that helps you to feel hope?
Conclude by explaining that the word reconcile in 2 Nephi 10:24 means to bring people or things into harmony or agreement with each other. For example, two friends should reconcile with one another after a disagreement.
What do you think it means to reconcile ourselves to the will of God?
Invite students to ponder what they have learned and felt as they have studied and discussed 2 Nephi 9–10. Invite them to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit to help them determine something they will do to reconcile themselves to the will of God and more fully partake of the blessings of the Atonement. For example, a student might commit to heed certain counsel from God (see 2 Nephi 9:29), turn away from a specific sin (see 2 Nephi 9:45), or identify a way to remember the Savior more often throughout each day (see 2 Nephi 10:20). Encourage students to do whatever is necessary to “reconcile [them]selves to the will of God” (2 Nephi 10:24). Testify of the blessings of doing so.
Scripture Mastery—2 Nephi 9:28–29
Note: The following activity is designed to help students with their mastery of 2 Nephi 9:28–29. Because of the length of today’s lesson, you may want to use the activity on another day, when you have more time.
Lead the class in reading 2 Nephi 9:28–29 aloud together.
What are some pitfalls that can trap us as we seek learning? How can we seek learning but avoid these traps?
What can help us “hearken unto the counsels of God” while we seek learning?
Encourage students to continue participating in seminary now and to plan to attend institute after they graduate from seminary.
Supplemental Teaching Idea
2 Nephi 9:29. “To be learned is good”
Explain that latter-day prophets have always counseled us to obtain an education. “Education is an investment that brings great rewards and will open the doors of opportunity that may otherwise be closed to you. Plan now to obtain an education. Be willing to work diligently and make sacrifices if necessary. Share your educational goals with your family, friends, and leaders so they can support and encourage you” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 9).
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 9:29 silently. Emphasize that after Jacob said that “to be learned is good,” he added this caution: “if [you] hearken unto the counsels of God.” Point out that students will be better prepared to follow this counsel as they participate in seminary now and in institute when they are a little older. Seminary and institute can help them strengthen their faith while they are engaged in secular learning.
Encourage students to continue attending seminary and to plan to attend institute. Testify of the eternal value of the education they will gain in these classes.