President Harold B. Lee said: “I consider the Epistles of Peter among the finest writings we have in the New Testament. When I am wanting to pick up something that would give me some inspiring thoughts I have gone back to one of the Epistles of Peter” (regional representatives’ seminar, 5 Apr. 1973, 2). As you read this Epistle, notice the inspiring thoughts that come to you, and share them with your students.
Prayerfully study 2 Peter 1–3and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
We must develop godly attributes to inherit eternal life (see 2 Peter 1:1–9).
The Holy Ghost can help us recognize and avoid false teachers and doctrines (see 2 Peter 2:1–2, 9).
Living the gospel helps us avoid being deceived by false doctrine (see 2 Peter 2:1–19).
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 420–26.
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for 2 Peter 1–3.
What do you most desire in school? in family life? in a career?
In general, what must you do to accomplish your goals?
Peter spoke to the Saints regarding their desire to become like Heavenly Father. Invite students to read 2 Peter 1:1–4. Ask: What words does Peter use in verse 4 to describe being like God? President David O. McKay, commenting on the phrase “partakers of the divine nature,” said:
“[Peter] realized what it means to be in touch with the spiritual, to rise above the temporal, the sensual, and partake of the divine Spirit of God” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1961, 90).
Invite students to describe what they think President McKay’s statement means. Have them give examples of how we can follow Peter’s counsel.
Draw a picture of a tree with eight circles representing fruit. Label the tree divine nature. Invite your students to read 2 Peter 1:5–8. Have them label the fruits according to the eight attributes in these verses, and then briefly discuss each attribute. Share the following insight by President Ezra Taft Benson:
“The virtues outlined by Peter are part of the divine nature, or the Savior’s character. These are the virtues we are to emulate if we would be more like Him” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 59; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 45).
You may wish to discuss the following questions:
Whose character do the virtues or attributes found in 2 Peter 1:5–8describe?
Who have we been instructed to become like? (see 3 Nephi 27:27).
How will seeking after these qualities bring us closer to God?
If we seek to emulate these virtues, how will that affect our daily choices?
Testify that becoming more Christlike is an ongoing effort. Have students read 2 Peter 1:8 again, emphasizing the need to be fruitful in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. Ask: How does knowing more about the Savior give us an advantage over knowing less? Emphasize that learning more about Jesus Christ will help us emulate the qualities of His divine nature.
Have students read the definition of grace in the (Bible Dictionary (p. 697). They may wish to highlight the words “divine means of help or strength” and “enabling power.” Explain that the power to change and to partake of the divine nature comes from our humble reliance on God’s grace. Have students read 2 Peter 1:9–10 and notice the difference between those who lack the godly attributes (v. 9) and those who make the diligent effort to exemplify the attributes (v. 10). Tell students that we must not become discouraged if all of these attributes do not come easily or quickly. Share President Joseph Fielding Smith’s counsel on perfection:
“The Savior’s words in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’ [Matthew 5:48], evidently have been by many misapplied or limited in their application. The Savior knew that mortal man could not reach the great goal of perfection like his Heavenly Father, but here in mortality is the place where that foundation should be laid. Then we should continue on from grace to grace, not only in this life but also in the eternities to come, and it is within the possibility of any faithful soul eventually to attain to that perfection” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:72).
Show your class a book written in a foreign language that none of the students understand. Have a student attempt to read it. Show students a set of scriptures and ask what language they were written in. Some may suggest Hebrew, Greek, or English. After several suggestions read 2 Nephi 32:2–3and ask:
What is the “tongue” or language “of angels”?
By what power do angels speak?
Where can we read the words of Christ?
Read 2 Peter 1:20–21and explain that while it is true that scriptures are translated from and into various languages, they were originally revealed to prophets by the power of the Holy Ghost. Have a student read this statement by Elder Delbert L. Stapley, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“If prophets speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, then the Holy Ghost is required to interpret correctly the teachings of holy men. Therefore, those who do not possess the Spirit of God cannot comprehend the things of God” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1966, 113; see also 1 Corinthians 2:10–11, 14; 2 Nephi 25:4).
Discuss why we need the help of the Holy Ghost to properly understand scripture. Ask students to share what they have learned about how to invite the Spirit into their study of the scriptures.
Write the following on the board: Apostasy: A turning away from the truth. Ask: Does this word apply to the past, present, or future? Why? Tell students that the Lord has warned us of ways we could be led away from the truth. Help them understand that Satan uses the same methods of deception today as in Peter’s day. To illustrate, divide your class into small groups and give paper to each. Assign each group to read one or more of the following scripture blocks and draw a picture to represent the means of deception used. You do not need to use all of the scripture blocks.
Invite the groups to show their pictures to the class. Read the scripture that goes with each picture and explain the warning it gives.
Explain that the Church during Peter’s time was encountering apostasy. The Saints were being persecuted not only by non-Christians but also by some within the Church who had left the truth and rejected the Church leaders. These apostates were especially dangerous to new members with tender testimonies (see “Background Information” in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 422). We are not without similar enemies today. Share President Gordon B. Hinckley’s statement:
“As surely as this is the work of the Lord, there will be opposition. There will be those, perhaps not a few, who with the sophistry of beguiling words and clever design will spread doubt and seek to undermine the foundation on which this cause is established. They will have their brief day in the sun. They may have for a brief season the plaudits of the doubters and the skeptics and the critics. But they will fade and be forgotten as have their kind in the past” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 76; or Ensign, May 1994, 60).
Help your students understand that we can learn how to resist apostasy by reading about the experiences of the Saints in Peter’s day. Write the following references on the board:
Assign several students to read aloud one of the scripture blocks from the board, looking for what it teaches about avoiding apostasy. After they read the counsel, have them come to the board and write their findings next to the scripture they read. Discuss how living the gospel as described in these scriptures will strengthen a person against deception. Read the counsel of Elder Marvin J. Ashton:
“In our present day there are many who are sowing seeds of dissension and discord. With half truths and slander, they are endeavoring to lead members of the Church of Jesus Christ into apostasy. … Those who are firmly committed to living the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be confused, confounded, or led astray” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 89; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 63; see also Mosiah 23:14).
Testify that living the gospel helps us recognize and avoid deceptive doctrines and practices.
Bring a bowl of mud and two small plates of cookies, bread, or other food that could be eaten with the hands. Invite two students to the front of the class. Have each of them make a ball with the mud. Provide a way for them to wash their hands. Then have one of them make another mud ball. Present a plate of food to each and invite them to eat. Ask: Which student is in the best condition to eat? Why?
Choose a student to read 2 Peter 2:20–22. Invite the other students to listen as the student reads and to raise their hands as soon as they see how the verses tie in with the object lesson. Ask:
To what can we liken the student with the muddy hands?
To what can we liken the student with the clean hands?
Why are we worse off returning to sin after having repented?
Emphasize that Peter was speaking to members of the Church who knew the gospel. Have students silently read Alma 24:30and Doctrine and Covenants 82:3. Invite them to explain how these verses reinforce Peter’s teaching. Share President Spencer W. Kimball’s caution:
“Having received the necessary saving ordinances—baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, temple ordinances and sealings—one must live the covenants made. He must endure in faith. No matter how brilliant was the service rendered by the bishop or stake president or other person, if he falters later in his life and fails to live righteously ‘to the end’ the good works he did all stand in jeopardy. In fact, one who serves and then falls away may be in the category spoken of by Peter, ‘the dog turning to his vomit or the sow returning to her wallowing in the mire.’ (See 2 Peter 2:22.)” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 121).
Conclude by discussing the following questions:
Since it is better never to have heard the gospel than to have heard it and then return to our sins, why take the risk?
What does the gospel offer that makes it worth the risk?