Chapter 35: Helaman 1–4

Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, (2009), 125–27


Introduction

We live in a time of ever-increasing wickedness. And the closer we approach the Savior’s Second Coming, the more wickedness will increase. As students study the events in the Americas that preceded the Savior’s first coming, they can grow in their understanding of the contrasts between wickedness and righteousness. You can help them recognize and desire the peace and prosperity that come to those who remain firm in the faith during times of trial.

Some Doctrines and Principles

  • Contention is destructive (see Helaman 1:1–9, 14–24).

  • Secret combinations can lead to the destruction of societies (see Helaman 1:11–12; 2).

  • The humble and righteous are sanctified and receive strength from the Lord, while the prideful and sinful are left to their own strength (see Helaman 3:27–37; 4).

Suggestions for Teaching

Helaman 1:1–9, 14–24. Contention Is Destructive

Read Helaman 1:1 with students. Then ask them to look at verses 2–4 to identify the “serious difficulty” mentioned in verse 1. (They may suggest that the serious difficulty was the need to replace the chief judge. If they do, ask them to look for a word—or different forms of a word—recurring in verses 2–4. Tell them that the word indicates why the replacement of the chief judge became a serious difficulty. The word is contention or contend.)

Ask a student to read the statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin on page 262 in the student manual.

  • In what ways might we benefit from remembering that contention is a tool of Satan?

Ask a student to read the statement by President James E. Faust on page 262 in the student manual.

  • According to President Faust, what happens when we are contentious?

Invite students to read Helaman 1:5–7.

  • How did the people attempt to resolve the contention over who would be the chief judge?

  • Why didn’t the vote eliminate the contention?

Explain that while the Nephites were struggling with contention from within, a new danger was approaching from the outside. Read verses 14–15 to the students. Have students scan verses 18–22 to find the result of the Lamanites’ attack.

  • What city was lost in the attack?

  • What made the Nephites vulnerable to this attack?

To help students apply the principles in these verses, invite them to suggest areas in people’s lives that can be disrupted by contention. List their answers on the board. Answers might include friendships, family, marriages, employment, and so on.

Select one or two of the students’ answers. Invite students to suggest ways to avoid (or correct) the difficulty of contention. For example, what activities could encourage family unity and thus avoid contention? Or, if a family is suffering from contention, what might they do to reduce or eliminate the contention?

Helaman 1:11–12; 2. Secret Combinations Can Lead to the Destruction of Societies

Invite a student to hold a small stick in front of the class. Explain that the stick represents one individual. Demonstrate how easy it is to break the stick. Then put a group of small sticks together. Explain that the bundle of sticks represents individuals that are unified with one another. Demonstrate how difficult it is to break even one stick when all the sticks are bundled together.

  • What can we learn from this object lesson?

  • How can strength in numbers be used for righteous purposes?

  • How can it be used for wicked purposes?

Point out that Satan used strength in numbers to foster wickedness among the Nephites through secret combinations. Ask a student to read Helaman 1:11–12, which explains the beginning of the Gadianton robbers through Kishkumen’s actions.

Ask students to review the chapter heading to Helaman 2. Invite them to read Helaman 2:4–5, 8 and to suggest from these verses what Gadianton was willing to do to gain power and authority over the people.

Point out that a society is made up of individuals. In order for a society to fall, many individuals have to succumb to the forces of evil.

Ask students to identify modern examples of destructive groups or influences. (For some examples, you may want to refer them to the statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard on pages 262–63 in the student manual. This statement is also available on the companion DVD A.)

Help students understand that Satan is always behind secret combinations. Remind students that Satan has extensive experience in deceiving people, but the Spirit of the Lord can help us avoid falling prey to his lies. You may want to invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 10:5 , which teaches that prayer strengthens us against Satan.

You may also want to call attention to the fact that Gadianton’s plans to overthrow the government at that time were foiled by interference from the servant of Helaman (see Helaman 2:6–10). Although wickedness may at times grow in strength around us, we can stand firm in our righteousness and resist evil.

Helaman 3:20. We Should Continually Strive to Do What Is Right

Ask a student to read Helaman 3:20.

  • What word in Helaman 3:20 shows that Helaman was consistent in doing what was right? (Continually.)

  • In your life, what results have you seen when you have continually worked to obey the commandments?

  • After students have shared their thoughts about this question, invite them to create an outline they could use to give a talk on being consistently obedient to the Lord’s commandments.

Tell students that we, like Helaman, must strive to “do that which [is] right in the sight of God continually” (Helaman 3:20). Consider asking the class to sing “Do What Is Right” (Hymns, no. 237). Or you may want to ask someone who sings well to sing the verses of the hymn, with the class joining in on the chorus.

Helaman 3:20–30. When We Keep the Lord’s Commandments, We Prosper in His Work

Ask students how they think most people would define the word prosperity.

Have students pair up and study the concept of prosperity as found in Helaman 3:20–30. As they study and discuss these verses together, ask them to mark key words and phrases associated with the Nephites’ prosperous circumstances. Also ask them to look for answers to the following questions:

  • How does the prosperity spoken of here compare to the world’s definition of prosperity?

  • In what ways do the principles in verses 29–30 relate to prosperity?

At the conclusion of the paired discussions, ask a few volunteers to share insights with the rest of the class.

Helaman 3:27–37; 4. The Humble and Righteous Are Sanctified and Receive Strength from the Lord, While the Prideful and Sinful Are Left to Their Own Strength

Show a dirty piece of cloth. Suggest that the cloth represents a worldly person. Then show a clean, white piece of cloth (such as a handkerchief).

  • What helps a person become like this clean cloth? (List students’ answers on the board.)

Ask a student to read Helaman 3:35.

  • What do you think it means to yield our hearts to God?

Ask a student to read the definition of sanctification from the Guide to the Scriptures which is quoted on page 265 in the student manual.

  • Is sanctification an event or a process? Why?

Invite students to read Helaman 3:27–30. After each verse is read, pause and ask students to suggest principles in the verse that relate to being sanctified. Also allow them to comment on other phrases that are significant to them.

As a conclusion to this discussion about the sanctification that comes when we yield our hearts to God, you may want to invite students to take a few minutes and write how they can apply these principles in their lives.

Ask students to silently read Helaman 3:29–30 and mark in their scriptures everything they can find that describes what the word of God can do. Then ask the following questions:

  • How is the word of God “quick and powerful”?

  • How can the word “divide asunder,” or cut in pieces, “all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil”?

  • Where will the word ultimately lead us?

To emphasize that the scriptures help us combat the snares of the adversary, read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), the 13th President of the Church:

“Success in righteousness, the power to avoid deception and resist temptation, guidance in our daily lives, healing of the soul—these are but a few of the promises the Lord has given to those who will come to His word. Does the Lord promise and not fulfill? Surely if He tells us that these things will come to us if we lay hold upon His word, then the blessings can be ours. And if we do not, then the blessings may be lost. However diligent we may be in other areas, certain blessings are to be found only in the scriptures, only in coming to the word of the Lord and holding fast to it as we make our way through the mists of darkness to the tree of life” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 82).

Invite students to search Helaman 3:33–34, 36 and look for phrases that show how pride can grow within us. (For example, verse 33 says that pride “began to enter into … the hearts of the people.” Verse 34 says that people were “lifted up in pride.” Verse 36 says that “exceedingly great pride … had gotten into the hearts of the people.”)

  • Why does pride usually go from a little to a lot?

  • Why is it harder to get rid of pride after it has a chance to grow?

  • How might daily prayer and scripture study grow similarly but in a positive way?

Have students find some of the consequences of pride listed in Helaman 4:12–13. You may want to contrast the people described in these verses, who boasted of their own strength and “were left in their own strength,” with the people described in Helaman 3:35, who became “stronger and stronger in their humility.” Help students understand that pride may start small but can grow to have immense consequences.

Share the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Do not be afraid of scars that may come in defending the truth or fighting for the right, but beware scars that spiritually disfigure, that come to you in activities you should not have undertaken, that befall you in places where you should not have gone” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 77).

  • What do you think Elder Holland meant when he referred to “scars … that befall you in places where you should not have gone”?

Have students read Helaman 4:23–26.

  • What happens to people when they begin to follow a path of sin?

  • What solution is given in verse 25 for those who find themselves in the path of sin?

  • In what ways does righteousness lead to strength?

Conclude the lesson by reading Helaman 4:15. Encourage students to examine their lives and set a course for strength and happiness.