The Apostle Paul counseled the Jewish members of the Church to run the race of discipleship by following the example of Jesus Christ. He also explained the blessings of receiving the Lord’s chastisement. James, who was also an Apostle of Jesus Christ, encouraged the scattered house of Israel to be patient in their afflictions and to seek wisdom from Heavenly Father. James also taught them to resist temptation, to be doers of the word, to serve others, and to stay spiritually clean.
Paul counsels the Saints to run the race of life with faith and patience
In the space provided, describe what difficulties a runner might encounter as he or she runs a long-distance race: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What can motivate a runner to keep running even when he or she faces difficulties?
In what ways is life as a disciple of Jesus Christ like an endurance race? What difficulties might we face as disciples of Jesus Christ? What difficulties have you faced as a follower of Jesus Christ?
As you study Hebrews 12, look for truths that will help you continue following Jesus Christ even when it becomes difficult.
Read Hebrews 12:1, looking for what the Apostle Paul told the Saints they needed to do to successfully run the race of discipleship.
Imagine running a race while wearing a backpack filled with rocks. How would wearing this backpack affect your running?
How might your sins be like the rocks in the backpack? Imagine how it would feel to remove the backpack after running with it for awhile.
Consider what it means to run the race of discipleship with patience.
Read Hebrews 12:2–4, looking for what Paul told the Saints to do that would help them put aside their sins and patiently endure opposition. The word contradiction in verse 3 refers to opposition (see Hebrews 12:3, footnote a).
One principle we can learn from what Paul taught the Saints is that as we look to the example of Jesus Christ, we can find strength to put aside our sins and patiently endure opposition.
Read Hebrews 12:2–4 again, looking for the role that the Savior has in our lives.
What do you think Paul meant when he described Jesus Christ as “the author and finisher of our faith” in verse 2. Consider marking the kind of opposition that the Savior endured in mortality.
Paul told the Saints that Jesus Christ was willing to suffer death on the cross and endure the shame of the world because He knew the joy that He would receive if He remained faithful to Heavenly Father.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “learning to despise the shame of the world means coming to think nothing of it, just as in taking no heed of temptation (see D&C 20:22)” (Lord, Increase Our Faith , 99).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the following about the Savior’s endurance: “Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us” (“None Were with Him,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 88).
Think about how looking to the example of Jesus Christ could help you when you face suffering and obstacles. Consider how looking to the Savior’s example might inspire you to put aside your sins and have more patience with yourself and others.
Think about a time when someone corrected you. How did you react to that correction? Why is it sometimes difficult to receive correction from someone?
What are some reasons you think people might seek to correct us, especially when they know we may not like their correction? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
As we run the race of discipleship, we can expect to be chastened, or corrected.
Read Hebrews 12:6–9, looking for who will correct us and why. The word bastards in verse 8 refers to those born out of wedlock, who were not considered legal heirs. (Hebrews 12:9 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it more easily in the future.)
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
In what ways is Heavenly Father’s chastening an indication of His love for His children?
What are some of the ways Heavenly Father might correct us?
Although Heavenly Father’s chastening can come in many ways, we should be careful to not assume that every trial or suffering we experience comes from God.
In Hebrews 12:10, Paul acknowledged that although our earthly fathers who love us may sometimes chastise us in an imperfect way, Heavenly Father’s chastening is perfect and is designed for our benefit.
Notice in verse 11 what Paul taught about how we might feel at first when we are chastened. Remembering that Heavenly Father knows what is best for us can help us submit to chastening when it comes. One principle we can learn from these verses is that if we submit to chastening from Heavenly Father, we will become more like Him and have the peace that comes from righteousness.
If you have access to the Internet, watch the Mormon Messages video “The Will of God” (3:02), which is available on LDS.org. This video portrays the love and wisdom found in Heavenly Father’s correction in our lives.
Think about a time when you felt chastened by Heavenly Father. How did you respond? On a separate piece of paper, you might want to design a sign reminding you to submit to the chastening of Heavenly Father in the future. Place the sign in a location where it will remind you of Paul’s teachings in Hebrews.
In Hebrews 12:12–29, Paul told the Saints to help other Church members stay faithful so they would not forfeit God’s blessings. He also explained that the Saints who remain faithful and serve God will receive incomparable glory and a place in God’s kingdom.
Scripture Mastery—Hebrews 12:9
Reread Hebrews 12:9, looking for additional doctrines we can learn about our Heavenly Father. List what you find in your scripture study journal. Also answer the following question: Why is it important to believe that we are children of God?
Paul gives various counsel to the Saints
Paul concluded his letter to the Hebrew Saints by giving them counsel on various subjects. Read Hebrews 13:1–9, 17, looking for the counsel Paul gave the Saints.
From what you read, which counsel do you think is most needed in our day? Why? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Consider which portions of Paul’s counsel you could better implement in your own life.
In Hebrews 13:10–25, Paul taught that after Jesus Christ completed the Atonement, animal sacrifices were no longer required (see 3 Nephi 9:18–20). Instead, the Saints could offer to God praise and good works.
James encourages scattered Israel to seek wisdom from God and to be doers of the word
Have you ever wished that you were wiser or that you better understood Heavenly Father’s will for you? Ponder situations in your life in which you would like to have more wisdom.
Joseph was reading in the Epistle of James when he discovered how to find answers to his questions. James was an Apostle of Jesus Christ and a bishop in Jerusalem. Christian tradition also holds that James was the son of Mary and Joseph and, therefore, a half brother to Jesus Christ.
Read James 1:1–4, looking for what James taught the house of Israel about their struggles and afflictions. The Joseph Smith Translation, James 1:2 (in James 1:2, footnote a) changes the phrase “divers temptations” to “many afflictions.”
Notice the references to patience in James 1:3–4. Why is patience important to have during struggles and afflictions?
Read James 1:5–6, looking for what Joseph Smith discovered that helped him find answers to his questions. It might help to know that in verse 5 the word liberally means freely and generously, and upbraideth means to rebuke or criticize. (James 1:5–6 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it easily in the future.)
In your scripture study journal, write one or two principles you can learn from James 1:5–6.
What do you think it means to “ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6)?
Think about times when Heavenly Father has generously answered your prayers after you prayed to Him in faith. Consider how you might apply the principles you identified in James 1:5–6 so you can receive wisdom and answers to your questions.
As recorded in James 1:7–11, James warned against being double-minded, or wavering in loyalty and commitment to the Lord. He also warned those who were rich about problems that can come with wealth.
In James 1:12–21, James taught that we show our love for the Lord by resisting temptation, which is one of the requirements for receiving the crown of eternal life. He also taught that all good gifts come from God and that the Saints should give up “all filthiness” and receive the Lord’s words “with meekness” (James 1:21).
Read James 1:22, looking for what James encouraged the Saints to do with God’s word.
Consider how Joseph Smith followed this counsel. Ponder how you will act on what you have learned as you studied this lesson.
Read James 1:27, looking for ways you can be a doer of the word. James’s use of the word religion in this context refers to showing our devotion to God.
Scripture Mastery—James 1:5–6
Memorizing James 1:5–6 will help you throughout your life when you have questions about the gospel, as you seek the Lord’s help in making decisions, and as you teach the gospel to others.
Spend a few minutes trying to memorize James 1:5–6. Remember to frequently review memorized scripture mastery passages so you can retain what you have learned.