As people approach death, their perspective on what is most important often changes. Because of this we tend to pay special attention to a person’s last words. The book of 2 Timothy is a record of Paul’s last words, solemnized by his approaching death. They are his final legacy, the distillation of his experience and wisdom. You will find that Paul warned of dangers similar to those we face today. Read 2 Timothy looking for teachings about how to face death and for Paul’s parting counsel on how to successfully complete your life’s journey and secure the deep joy promised by the Savior (see John 16:24).
Prayerfully study 2 Timothy 1–4and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 372, 375–79.
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for 2 Timothy 1–4.
Divide students into three groups and assign each group one of the following chapters: 2 Timothy 1; 2; 4. Have them study their assigned chapter along with Acts 20:28–31and 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3looking for evidence that the Church in Paul’s day was falling away from the truth. Have them report their findings, and discuss them as a class. Ask:
What evidence did Paul give that a general apostasy would occur?
When would it happen?
What evidence can you give that, although some may apostatize in our day, the Church will not be withdrawn from the earth again?
Write The Latter-day Church on the board. Beneath it write Daniel 2:44–45 and Doctrine and Covenants 65:2–6. Have each group read these scriptures and determine what they prophesy for our day. Ask: Is there hope for us? Discuss how we can help fulfill these prophecies. Have a student read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“There are still those, not a few, who criticize and rebel, who apostatize and lift their voices against this work. We have always had them. They speak their piece as they walk across the stage of life, and then they are soon forgotten. I suppose we always will have them as long as we are trying to do the work of the Lord. The honest in heart will detect that which is true and that which is false. We go forward, marching as an army with banners emblazoned with the everlasting truth. We are a cause that is militant for truth and goodness. We are a body of Christian soldiers ‘marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before’ (”Onward, Christian Soldiers,“ Hymns, no. 246).
“Everywhere we go, we see great vitality in this work. There is enthusiasm wherever it is organized. It is the work of the Redeemer. It is the gospel of good news. It is something to be happy and excited about” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 115–16; or Ensign, May 1996, 83).
Ask: Why can we have hope for the Church in our day? Write on the board the following statement by President Wilford Woodruff:
“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray” (“Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto,” following Official Declaration 1in the Doctrine and Covenants).
According to this statement what else can we do to avoid apostasy? Read 2 Timothy 4:7–8and testify that if we are valiant we will be able to conclude our lives with the same confidence as Paul.
How many of you have been immunized for a disease?
Can you remember how it felt?
Was it worth the pain? Why?
What risks do you take if you are not immunized?
Read 2 Timothy 3:1–5 and ask:
What kinds of diseases are represented here?
How might they be even more dangerous than polio or smallpox?
Explain that Paul prophesied that the spiritual diseases described would devastate society in the last days. Ask: If you could be immunized against these spiritual diseases, what price would you be willing to pay? Why? Read 2 Timothy 3:15looking for the antidote to the evils of our day. Ask:
What has the Lord provided to help immunize us against spiritual diseases?
How can the scriptures help protect us from these ills?
Read 2 Timothy 3:16–17and look for ways the scriptures help us combat spiritual disease. Have students compare these verses with 2 Timothy 3:1–5, and discuss how the scriptures can provide protection against each spiritual disease listed.
Read this statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:
“Paul taught that a knowledge of the scriptures was our immunization against these [latter-day] evils” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 42; or Ensign, May 1985, 33).
President Ezra Taft Benson added:
“This is an answer to the great challenge of our time. The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 80).
Encourage students to be more consistent in their scripture study so that they might be fortified against the evils that surround them.