Continuing to preach to the Nephites in Zarahemla, Samuel the Lamanite announced the signs that would mark the birth and death of Jesus Christ. He explained that he prophesied of these signs to help the people believe in Jesus Christ and to persuade them to repent of their sins. He taught that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be brought back into God’s presence. Calling the people to repent, he promised that the repentant would be forgiven of their sins but that those who failed to repent would be cut off again from God’s presence.
Suggestions for Teaching
Samuel prophesies of signs related to the Savior’s birth
Before class, draw three arrows on the board as follows. You will insert words and phrases around the arrows as the lesson develops.
Invite students to recall what they discussed in the previous lesson, which was about Helaman 13. If they need help remembering, remind them that they learned about a prophet named Samuel. Ask them to share details they remember about him, such as who he was, where he went, what he taught, and the spiritual condition of those he taught. Ask students to recall how the people responded to Samuel’s message. Explain that Helaman 14 contains a continuation of Samuel’s teachings.
Explain that Samuel prophesied of events that would take place in the future, some of them thousands of miles from Zarahemla. Ask students to skim Helaman 14:1–2 and identify one event Samuel prophesied about (the birth of Jesus Christ).
Ask students to read Helaman 14:3–6 silently, looking for the signs the Nephites would see at the time of the Savior’s birth. You may want to suggest that students mark these signs in their scriptures. You may also want to direct students’ attention to the footnotes for these verses, which point to fulfillments of Samuel’s prophecies.
What does the birth of the Savior mean to you?
Read Helaman 14:8–9 aloud. Emphasize the importance of believing in the Savior in order to obtain everlasting life. Write Everlasting Life after the last arrow on the board. Explain that “everlasting life” means the same thing as “eternal life.” It means to live the kind of life God lives and to live forever in His presence with our families. Samuel taught the Nephites in Zarahemla what they needed to do to receive everlasting life.
Invite students to read Helaman 14:11–13 silently, looking for what Samuel wanted the people to know and do. You may want to suggest that students mark the things Samuel wanted the people to know and do.
To the left of the first arrow on the board, write Knowledge. Then ask students what they found that Samuel wanted the people to know. Ask a few students to list these things on the board under the word Knowledge. (Answers should include that Samuel wanted the people to know about the judgments of God for those who sin, the conditions of repentance, the coming of Jesus Christ, and the signs associated with His coming.)
What did Samuel hope this knowledge would lead the people to do? (Believe in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins.)
Ask students to write a principle based on Helaman 14:13. Then ask a few students to read aloud what they have written. (One possible answer might be that belief in Jesus Christ leads to repentance and remission of sins.)
To help students understand the meaning of the phrase “through his merits,” explain that merits are qualities or actions that make a person deserving of reward. To be worthy to receive a remission of our sins, we must do certain things, such as sincerely repent, be baptized and confirmed, and keep the commandments. However, we receive the gift of forgiveness because of the Savior’s merits, not ours. You may want to remind students of 2 Nephi 25:23, a scripture mastery passage: “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” You might also suggest that students read Alma 22:14 and Alma 24:10–11.
Finish the diagram on the board as follows:
Belief in Christ
How has gaining knowledge of the Savior increased your belief in Him?
How has your belief in the Savior led you to repent and strive to be more like Him?
Testify that only through the merits of Jesus Christ can we receive a remission of sins and receive eternal life.
Samuel prophesies of signs related to the Savior’s death
Invite a student to read Helaman 14:14 aloud. Then ask students to read Helaman 14:20–27 silently, looking for the signs the Nephites would see at the time of Jesus Christ’s death. You may want to suggest that they mark these signs. When they have had enough time to read, invite them to report what they have found. Tell them that the fulfillments of these signs are recorded in 3 Nephi (see Helaman 14:20, footnote a).
Invite a student to read Helaman 14:28–29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons why the Lord provides signs and wonders. Ask a few students to express these reasons in their own words. (Students may use different words, but be sure they identify the following truth: The Lord provides signs and wonders to help people believe in Him.)
What can this truth teach us about the signs that will precede the Savior’s Second Coming?
Ask students to think about signs or evidences the Lord has given them to help them believe in Him. You might encourage students to share their experiences (but remind them that they should not feel obligated to share anything that is too personal or private). Testify that the Lord provides signs and sends prophets, like Samuel, in our day to persuade people to believe in Him.
Note: Because many scripture passages caution us not to seek signs, students might feel some confusion about this discussion of signs. Help them understand that there is a difference between recognizing signs of God’s love and seeking signs for selfish reasons (see Jacob 7:9–14; Alma 30:43–50; D&C 46:9; 63:7–11). When prophets warn against seeking signs, they refer to people who refuse to believe unless they are shown signs, not to people who exercise faith in seeking miracles according to the Lord’s will.
Explain that while it is good to know about the signs the Nephites would see relating to the Savior’s death, it is more important to understand Samuel’s teachings about the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Draw the following diagram on the board, leaving out the numbered explanations. Add these explanations at appropriate times during the discussion of Helaman 14:15–19. (You might consider inviting students to copy this diagram in notebooks or scripture study journals.)
Death and the Spirit World
The Fall of Adam and Eve brought about the first spiritual death (see Helaman 14:16).
Those who do not repent will be cut off again from God’s presence, suffering a second spiritual death (see Helaman 14:18).
Explain that the phrase “spiritual death” refers to separation from God’s presence. Ask a student to read Helaman 14:15–16 aloud.
What is the first spiritual death, spoken of in Helaman 14:16? (You might need to explain that because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, we are separated from the presence of God.)
Invite a student to read Helaman 14:17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and to ponder how they can overcome the first spiritual death. Write the following truth on the board: Jesus Christ redeems all mankind from the Fall so we can return to God’s presence. Explain that all mankind will return to the presence of God to be judged (see 2 Nephi 2:10).
Ask a student to read Helaman 14:18–19 aloud.
What is the second spiritual death, spoken of in Helaman 14:18–19? (You may need to explain that those who do not repent will be cut off from the Father’s presence again.)
What can we do to avoid the second death spoken of by Samuel? (Consider inviting students to read Helaman 14:13 and Mormon 7:7–8. Point out that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, those who repent will dwell in the presence of God forever.)
To emphasize the importance of agency as we seek the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement, invite students to read Helaman 14:30–31 silently. Ask them to look for words and phrases about their agency. Invite them to share the words and phrases they find. Ask them to explain how these words and phrases help them understand the importance of the choices they make every day.
Commentary and Background Information
Helaman 14:14–29. Samuel’s prophecy of the Savior’s death
Samuel’s prophecy about the death of Jesus Christ is one of the most specific prophecies recorded in the scriptures. The following chart outlines portions of this prophecy, including their fulfillment. (You may want to point out that the footnotes for Helaman 14:20–27 refer to some passages that describe the fulfillments of Samuel’s prophecies.)
Prophecy of the Savior’s Death
Sun darkened for three days
Thunder, lightning, earthquakes
Earth broken up
Great tempests; mountains laid low and valleys become mountains
Highways and cities destroyed
Graves open and resurrected Saints minister to people
Helaman 14:15–19. The Atonement overcomes death
Samuel the Lamanite described the difference between physical death, the first spiritual death, and the second spiritual death, as well as how the Savior’s Atonement helps us overcome these deaths. Prophets and other Church leaders have also taught these truths.
Physical death. Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Seventy taught:
“Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the physical body. Because of the Fall of Adam, all mankind will suffer physical death” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 73).
The first spiritual death. Spiritual death is being “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (Alma 42:9).
President Spencer W. Kimball explained that physical death and the first spiritual death are results of the Fall of Adam and Eve:
“Our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. By eating the forbidden fruit, they became mortal. Consequently, they and all of their descendants became subject to both mortal and spiritual death (mortal death, the separation of body and spirit; and spiritual death, the separation of the spirit from the presence of God and death as pertaining to the things of the spirit)” (“The True Way of Life and Salvation,” Ensign, May 1978, 6).
Spiritual death was introduced into the world by the Fall of Adam and Eve. As we are born into a fallen world, we inherit this condition—we are separated from the presence of God. Samuel the Lamanite referred to this condition as “the first death” (Helaman 14:16).
Samuel the Lamanite taught that all of Heavenly Father’s children who lived in mortality will overcome physical and spiritual death through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Helaman 14:17). Many other scriptures also testify of this truth (see 2 Nephi 2:9–10; 9:15, 22, 38; Alma 11:43–44; 12:12–15, 24; 42:23; 3 Nephi 26:4–5).
The second spiritual death. The second death is an ultimate or final spiritual death—being cast out of God’s presence forever because of unrepented personal sin.
The Savior has also provided help to overcome this second spiritual death. He suffered for our sins so He could offer us the opportunity to repent. But to those who do not repent, there “cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness” (Helaman 14:18). This means that a person with unresolved sin cannot remain in God’s presence after he or she is brought back to Him for judgment.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described this condition:
“If physical death should strike before moral wrongs have been made right, opportunity for repentance will have been forfeited. Thus, ‘the [real] sting of death is sin.’ (1 Cor. 15:56.)
“Even the Savior cannot save us in our sins. He will redeem us from our sins, but only upon condition of our repentance. We are responsible for our own spiritual survival or death. (See Rom. 8:13–14; Hel. 14:18; D&C 29:41–45.)” (“Doors of Death,” Ensign, May 1992, 73).
Helaman 14:18–19. The divine gift of repentance
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified of the joy that comes through repentance:
“I gratefully acknowledge and testify that the incomprehensible suffering, death, and Resurrection of our Lord ‘bringeth to pass the condition of repentance’ (Helaman 14:18). The divine gift of repentance is the key to happiness here and hereafter. In the Savior’s words and in deep humility and love, I invite all to ‘repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17). I know that in accepting this invitation, you will find joy both now and forever” (“The Divine Gift of Repentance,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 41).