Lesson 113: Helaman 13

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


Introduction

A few years before the Savior’s birth, the Lord sent a Lamanite prophet named Samuel to preach repentance to the Nephites. He declared to the Nephites in Zarahemla the glad tidings of redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He also confronted them about their rejection of the prophets and their disposition to seek happiness in iniquity. He warned them of the destruction that would come to them if they did not repent.

Suggestions for Teaching

Helaman 13

Samuel warns the Nephites of their destruction if they do not repent

Before class, prepare the handout found at the end of this lesson. You may want to cut the handout in thirds, with one group assignment on each piece of paper. Also before class, copy the following outline of Helaman 13 on the board.

Helaman 13:1–4. The Lord calls Samuel the Lamanite to preach to the Nephites.

Helaman 13:5–23. Samuel warns the Nephites of the destruction that will come upon them if they do not repent.

Helaman 13:24–39. Samuel warns the people of the consequences of rejecting the prophets and refusing to repent.

Begin the lesson by displaying the picture Samuel the Lamanite on the Wall (62370; Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 81). Ask students if they know why the Nephites wanted to kill Samuel. After students respond, explain that Helaman 13–16 contains the account of the Lamanite prophet Samuel. This account is unique because for the only time in the Book of Mormon we learn of a Lamanite prophet calling the Nephites to repentance. During this time, the Lamanites were more righteous than the Nephites. Refer to the outline on the board to give students a brief overview of Helaman 13.

Divide the class into three groups. (If possible, each group should have an equal number of students.) Give each student a copy of his or her group’s assignment (found at the end of the lesson). Tell students they are going to study a portion of Helaman 13 individually and then teach each other what they have learned. Ask each student to prepare to teach principles from his or her assigned scripture passage and to prepare responses to the accompanying questions. Give students the option to write their answers. (This activity will allow all students to participate and will provide a safe environment where students can share feelings, thoughts, and testimonies with each other.)

After students have had sufficient time to study individually, assign them to work in groups of three. If possible, each group should include one student who studied Helaman 13:1–7, 11, one who studied Helaman 13:17–23, and one who studied Helaman 13:24–33. Allow enough time for each student to share his or her responses with the other members of the group. During the small group discussions, walk around the classroom and monitor students’ responses. As appropriate, add your insights to the discussions you hear.

When students have had time to teach each other, invite a few of them to share with the entire class a truth or insight they learned from another student during the activity.

Summarize Helaman 13:9–14 by explaining that the Nephites would be destroyed in 400 years (see Helaman 13:9–10), and the only reason they had not been destroyed already was that righteous people still dwelt among them (see Helaman 13:13–14). Testify that Samuel was sent to the Nephites by the Lord, and he spoke what the Lord put into his heart as he invited the Nephites to repent and return to the Lord (see Helaman 13:11).

Invite a student to read Helaman 13:27–28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Nephites had responded to false prophets.

  • According to Samuel, how did the Nephites respond to those who taught falsehoods? Why do you think some accepted his exhortation and others rejected it?

  • How are the statements and attitudes we read about in Helaman 13:27 apparent in our day?

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness” (“Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” [BYU devotional address, Feb. 26, 1980], 3–4, speeches.byu.edu).

  • What counsel from prophets might be difficult for some people to follow today?

  • What is an example of prophetic counsel you have chosen to obey? How have you been blessed because you have followed this counsel?

Invite students to write in notebooks or scripture study journals about one way they can improve in following the counsel of living prophets.

When students have had enough time to write, ask a student to read Helaman 13:33–37 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the unrepentant Nephites would eventually experience and what they would say about themselves. Then invite another student to read Helaman 13:38 aloud. Ask the class to look for the sad truth that Samuel declared regarding future generations of the Nephites.

  • What sad truth did Samuel declare about future generations of the Nephites?

  • What do you think Samuel meant when he said that their “days of probation are past”? (Future generations of Nephites would procrastinate their repentance until it would be too late for them to repent. And because they would not repent, their sins would lead to their destruction.)

  • What is wrong with seeking “for happiness in doing iniquity”? (Help students see that true happiness comes only as we keep the commandments of God.)

  • What are some ways people seek happiness in doing iniquity?

Remind students of other accounts in the Book of Mormon in which individuals persisted in rebellion and wickedness until their hearts became hardened to the influence of the Holy Ghost. (Examples include Laman and Lemuel, who became “past feeling” [1 Nephi 17:45] and refused to hearken unto God, and King Noah and his people, who refused to repent despite the prophet Abinadi’s warnings.) Samuel emphasized that the Nephites’ refusal to repent would lead to the destruction of their people in future generations.

Help students understand that, on a personal level, there is hope for all who will choose to repent. Through repentance, we can receive the Lord’s forgiveness and prevent our hearts from becoming hardened. To help students understand that we can correct our course through repentance, read the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:

“During my training to become an airline captain, I had to learn how to navigate an airplane over long distances. Flights over huge oceans, crossing extensive deserts, and connecting continents need careful planning to ensure a safe arrival at the planned destination. Some of these nonstop flights can last up to 14 hours and cover almost 9,000 miles.

“There is an important decision point during such long flights commonly known as the point of safe return. Up to this point the aircraft has enough fuel to turn around and return safely to the airport of departure. Having passed the point of safe return, the captain has lost this option and has to continue on. That is why this point is often referred to as the point of no return.

“… Satan wants us to think that when we have sinned we have gone past a ‘point of no return’—that it is too late to change our course. …

“… To make us lose hope, feel miserable like himself, and believe that we are beyond forgiveness, Satan might even misuse words from the scriptures that emphasize the justice of God, in order to imply that there is no mercy. …

“Christ came to save us. If we have taken a wrong course, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can give us the assurance that sin is not a point of no return. A safe return is possible if we will follow God’s plan for our salvation” (“Point of Safe Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 99).

  • How might President Uchtdorf’s remarks give hope to someone who has sinned?

Encourage students to ponder the truths they have discussed. Encourage them to follow through on any impressions they have received from the Holy Ghost. Testify that happiness will come to those who heed the Lord’s invitation to repent.

Note: Prepare the following handouts for the three groups described earlier in the lesson.

Group 1—Helaman 13:1–7, 11

Prophets speak the messages God puts into their hearts.

  1. 1.

    Which verses do you feel teach this truth?

  2. 2.

    What message did God put into Samuel’s heart?

  3. 3.

    Why do you think it might have been difficult for Samuel to deliver this message?

  4. 4.

    What effect did Samuel hope his message would have on the Nephites?

  5. 5.

    When have you felt that a parent or Church leader was inspired to give a message for you? How did it influence you?

  6. 6.

    What additional truths can you find in these verses?

Group 2—Helaman 13:17–23

When we do not remember the Lord, we are susceptible to pride and iniquity.

  1. 1.

    Which verses do you feel teach this truth?

  2. 2.

    What curse did Samuel say would come upon the Nephites if they persisted in iniquity?

  3. 3.

    What other sins had the Nephites’ love of riches led to?

  4. 4.

    What are some things that youth may set their hearts upon that lead to pride and sin?

  5. 5.

    Why do you think it is essential to “remember the Lord your God in the things with which he hath blessed you”? (Helaman 13:22).

  6. 6.

    What additional truths can you find in these verses?

Group 3—Helaman 13:24–33

If we reject the words of the Lord’s prophets, we will experience regret and sorrow.

  1. 1.

    Which verses do you feel teach this truth?

  2. 2.

    According to Samuel, why did the Nephites reject the true prophets?

  3. 3.

    Why do you think some people accept false prophets, as Samuel described?

  4. 4.

    What are some specific teachings of the living prophets and apostles?

  5. 5.

    What are some “foolish and blind guides” (Helaman 13:29) living prophets and apostles have warned us to avoid?

  6. 6.

    What additional truths can you find in these verses?

Commentary and Background Information

Helaman 13:3. “Whatsoever things should come into his heart”

The prophet Samuel did not take it upon himself to decide what to preach to the Nephites. We read in Helaman 13:3 that he taught “whatsoever things should come into his heart.” President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how such revelation most often comes to us:

“Revelation comes as words we feel more than hear. Nephi told his wayward brothers, who were visited by an angel, ‘Ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.’ [1 Nephi 17:45; emphasis added.]

“The scriptures are full of such expressions as ‘The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened,’ [D&C 110:1] or ‘I will tell you in your mind and in your heart,’ [D&C 8:2] or ‘I did enlighten thy mind,’ [D&C 6:15] or ‘Speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts.’ [D&C 100:5.] There are hundreds of verses which teach of revelation” (“Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 60).

Helaman 13:23–29. Following the living prophet

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance of following living prophets and apostles:

“My dear brothers and sisters, please pay attention to those things that the leaders of the Church have taught. … Apply the teachings that will help you and your family. Let all of us, regardless of our family circumstances, bring into our homes the teachings of the prophets and the apostles to strengthen our relationships with each other and with our Father in Heaven and with the Lord Jesus Christ. I promise you in the name of the Lord that if you will listen not just with your ears but also with your heart, the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth unto you of the messages delivered by [the President of the Church], his counselors, the Apostles, and other leaders of the Church. The Spirit will prompt you to know what you should do as individuals and as families in order to follow our counsel, that your testimonies might be strengthened and that you might have peace and joy” (“His Word Ye Shall Receive,” Ensign, May 2001, 67).

Helaman 13:38. Happiness cannot be found in doing iniquity

Samuel warned the Nephites that if they persisted in seeking happiness in doing iniquity, they would be destroyed. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that happiness comes only through righteousness:

“Have you noticed how Satan works to capture the mind and emotions with flashing images, blaring music, and the stimulation of every physical sense to excess? He diligently strives to fill life with action, entertainment, and stimulation so that one cannot ponder the consequences of his tempting invitations. Think of it. Some are tempted to violate the most basic commandments of God because of seductive actions portrayed as acceptable. They are made to seem attractive, even desirable. There seems to be no serious consequence, rather apparent lasting joy and happiness. But recognize that those performances are controlled by scripts and actors. The outcome of decisions made is likewise manipulated to be whatever the producer wants.

“Life is not that way. Yes, moral agency allows you to choose what you will, but you cannot control the outcome of those choices. Unlike the false creations of man, our Father in Heaven determines the consequences of your choices. Obedience will yield happiness, while violation of His commandments will not” (“How to Live Well amid Increasing Evil,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 102).

Helaman 13:38. “Everlastingly too late”

President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

“It is true that the great principle of repentance is always available, but for the wicked and rebellious there are serious reservations to this statement. For instance, sin is intensely habit-forming and sometimes moves men to the tragic point of no return. Without repentance there can be no forgiveness, and without forgiveness all the blessings of eternity hang in jeopardy. As the transgressor moves deeper and deeper in his sin, and the error is entrenched more deeply and the will to change is weakened, it becomes increasingly near-hopeless, and he skids down and down until either he does not want to climb back or he has lost the power to do so” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 117).