Mosiah 1–4

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 98–105


Introduction

During his lifetime, King Benjamin dealt with wars, false Christs, false prophets, contentions among his people, and defections to the Lamanites (see Words of Mormon 1:12–16). However, Benjamin, “by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land” (v. 18). It was under these conditions that Benjamin delivered his powerful discourse recorded in Mosiah 2–4. Of this discourse, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“King Benjamin gave a magnificent discourse on Christ’s suffering and atonement, the role of justice and mercy, and the need to take upon ourselves the name of Christ in a covenantal relationship. …

“That this sermon carried a spiritual power beyond the clarity of the written word is undeniable, for following the close of the discourse and wishing to take ‘the names of all those who had entered into a covenant,’ this mighty servant of God realized ‘there was not one soul, except it were little children, but who had entered into the covenant and had taken upon them the name of Christ’ [Mosiah 6:1–2]. Oh that we might have more such sermons, and, even more important, that all who hear them might make such honest and binding covenants as a result” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 99, 103).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Note: Prayerfully study each assigned scripture block and consider the principles in this section before preparing your lessons.

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 53–57.

Suggestions for Teaching

Note: Choose from the ideas in this section, or use some of your own, as you prepare to teach the assigned scripture block.

video iconBook of Mormon Video presentation 10, “Becoming Children of Christ” (11:29), can be used in teaching Mosiah 2–5 (see Book of Mormon Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Mosiah 1:3–12. Those who search the scriptures diligently can understand the mysteries of God, better keep His commandments, and strengthen their faith. (10–15 minutes)

Ask students to think about the time the Saints trekked 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles) west from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City. Imagine how much easier it would have been for them if Brigham Young had a fleet of modern trucks to transport them to their promised land. Ask: How useful would the trucks be if none of the pioneers learned to drive them? Explain that today you will learn about something that is very valuable but that sometimes goes unused.

Remind students who King Benjamin was by reading Omni 1:23–25 and Words of Mormon 1:10–18. Ask students to describe King Benjamin from these verses. Read Mosiah 1:2–8 looking for what King Benjamin taught his sons and why. Ask:

  • What was the focus of King Benjamin’s counsel?

  • What benefits come to those who study the scriptures? (List responses on the board if desired.)

  • How is having the scriptures and not using them like the pioneers in the example having trucks and not learning to drive them?

Tell students that King Benjamin wanted to teach not only his sons but all the people. Read Mosiah 1:9–12 and list the reasons King Benjamin wanted to speak to the people. Ask:

  • According to verses 11–12, what did he want to give the people?

  • What name do you think the king wanted to give them? (see Mosiah 5:7–12).

Explain to students that when they get to Mosiah 5 they will discuss in more detail the name given to the people.

Mosiah 1–2. The truths of the gospel clarify our vision and protect us from evil. (15–20 minutes)

Show or draw pictures of different kinds of towers (for example tall buildings, water towers, airport control towers, radio transmission towers). Ask: Why do people build towers? (To see farther, for protection, and so on.) Tell students that today we also need greater vision and protection. The truths King Benjamin taught can help build us spiritually. Write the accompanying chart on the board or give it to students as a handout, leaving the right-hand column blank. As a class, read the verses indicated and fill in the right-hand column with the building blocks that can help us build our own spiritual towers.

King Benjamin’s Teachings

Reference

Building Blocks for the Tower

Mosiah 1:2

Literacy, education

Mosiah 1:3–7

Scriptures

Mosiah 1:18

Temple

Mosiah 2:5

Family

Mosiah 2:11–15, 31

Righteous rulers

Mosiah 2:13

Keeping the commandments

Mosiah 2:17

Service (love the Lord; love your neighbor)

Mosiah 2:20

Gratitude

Mosiah 2:21

Humility

Mosiah 2:27–28

Teaching others

Draw a tower similar to the one in the accompanying diagram. Have students label the tower with the building blocks from Mosiah 1–2. As they “build” the tower, have them judge which of the building blocks are “foundation truths,” which are “pillars of truth,” and which are “supporting truths.” Have them explain why they ordered the truths the way they did. (Their order does not need to reflect the order given in the diagram.)

Mosiah 2–4. An overview of King Benjamin’s address. (5–10 minutes)

Have students imagine that they found out a Book of Mormon prophet was going to speak in their next sacrament meeting. Ask:

  • In what ways would you feel differently about going to church that Sunday?

  • Who would you tell about the meeting?

  • How would you act while he spoke? Would that be different than you usually act?

While we probably won’t hear Book of Mormon prophets speak in sacrament meeting, we do have the opportunity to study their words. Tell students that in Mosiah 2–4 King Benjamin gave a significant talk. Mosiah 2–4 can be divided into three themes that build on one another. Invite students to search the chapter headings of Mosiah 2–4 and look for these themes. Discuss their ideas, and write the following outline on the board or a poster. (Consider displaying it for the next couple of days so students can refer to it as they study King Benjamin’s speech.)

Mosiah 2—We are indebted to God and should serve Him and our fellowman.

Mosiah 3—The Atonement of Jesus Christ is our greatest blessing.

Mosiah 4—We must be faithful to retain the blessings of the Atonement.

Ask students how these chapters build on one another. Invite them to watch for the principles in this outline as they study King Benjamin’s talk.

Mosiah 2:4, 22–24, 41. Keeping the commandments brings spiritual and temporal blessings, including great happiness. (20–25 minutes)

Write the phrase That’s not fair on the board. Ask students to give examples of times when they or others use this phrase, and then list their responses on the board. Ask:

  • Do the righteous always receive immediate blessings for their actions? Why or why not?

  • Do the wicked sometimes prosper in this life? Why?

  • Read Matthew 5:45. How does this verse apply to these questions?

Invite students to read Mosiah 2:3–4, and ask:

  • What had the Lord done for the people of Nephi?

  • How did those blessings influence their feelings toward God?

  • Read verses 22–24. What blessings does the Lord promise those who keep His commandments?

  • For what blessings are we indebted to the Lord?

Divide the class into three groups and invite each group to read one of the following references: Mosiah 2:41; 4 Nephi 1:15–17; and Alma 41:10–11. Have the groups compare the level of happiness enjoyed by the obedient and the disobedient. Share the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. …

“… He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255–56).

Ask:

  • When have you been the happiest in your life?

  • Why do you think keeping the commandments leads to happiness?

Have the class read Mosiah 2:41, and ask:

  • What does God promise those who keep the commandments?

  • Are the blessings promised in this verse for keeping the commandments short-term or long-term?

  • What long-term blessings are mentioned in this verse?

  • Why are these blessings worth keeping the commandments?

  • Does there seem to be a paradox between the principles taught in Matthew 5:45 and Mosiah 2:41? How can they both be true?

Help students understand that God always blesses the righteous but that sometimes those blessings are not immediate or obvious. Share the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“One of the challenges of the faithful is to realize that sometimes those who are not obedient and worthy seem to receive as many or more of the temporal blessings of life as do those who sacrifice and serve. … The Saints are to be faithful to the end without too many sidelong glances at their neighbors. … Undoubtedly the unfaithful will also have the sun shine upon them, perhaps at times even more abundantly than on the righteous. But the faith and devotion of the faithful is recorded in the Lamb’s book of life, and the day will come when they will be included among God’s jewels. In that day it will matter very much who was righteous and who was wicked, who served God and who did not. In the meantime, all must remember that God does not settle his end-of-year accounts in September” (Christ and the New Covenant, 296–97).

scripture mastery iconMosiah 2:11–21 (Scripture Mastery, Mosiah 2:17). By loving and serving our fellow beings, we show love for and serve God. (10–15 minutes)

Ask students what is their most difficult class at school. Discuss what their grade in that class is based on, and list these requirements on the board. Next to each requirement, assign a hypothetical percentage that indicates how much of their grade is based on that requirement. For example:

Final test = 40%

Other tests and quizzes = 20%

Papers = 15%

Reports = 10%

Assignments = 10%

Attendance = 5%

Ask:

  • If these percentages really made up your grade, on what would you spend most of your effort?

  • How do these requirements compare to the commandments?

Invite students to read Matthew 22:36–40 and look for the commandments God considers most important. Read Matthew 25:40 and Mosiah 2:17 and ask:

  • How do the first and second great commandments relate to each other?

  • Do we ever have to choose between keeping the first great commandment and the second? Why?

  • If you made a list of the important requirements for entering heaven, where would you place “loving your neighbor”?

  • How can knowing the importance of the commandments affect the way we live?

Invite students to make a scripture chain with Matthew 22:36–40; Matthew 25:40; and Mosiah 2:17. (For directions on making a scripture chain, see “Cross-Reference” under “Methods for Teaching the Scriptures” in the appendix, p. 280.)

Read Mosiah 2:11–21 looking for the word King Benjamin used to describe his love for his neighbors, and have students underline every form of the word they see. Ask: In what ways does service show our love for others? Share the following statement by President Marion G. Romney, who was a member of the First Presidency:

“We lose our life by serving and lifting others. By so doing we experience the only true and lasting happiness. Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.

“Knowing that service is what gives our Father in Heaven fulfillment, and knowing that we want to be where He is and as He is, why must we be commanded to serve one another? Oh, for the glorious day when these things all come naturally because of the purity of our hearts. In that day there will be no need for a commandment because we will have experienced for ourselves that we are truly happy only when we are engaged in unselfish service. Let us use the freedom which comes from self-reliance in giving and serving” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 135; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 93).

Sing or read “Have I Done Any Good?” (Hymns, no. 223). Invite students to share examples of how they have felt more joy in their life from serving someone. Encourage them to look for opportunities to serve from day to day.

Mosiah 2:19–24, 34. Because of God’s many blessings to us, we will always be indebted to Him. All He asks in return is that we recognize His influence and keep His commandments. (10–15 minutes)

Have students each make a list of the five blessings they are most grateful for, and briefly discuss some of them as a class. Invite a student to relate the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers (or read Luke 17:11–17). Ask students how they think Jesus might have felt when only one of the healed lepers thanked him. Read Mosiah 2:19–24, 34 and discuss the following questions:

  • To whom do we owe our thanks? (To God, and to people who have served us; see v. 17.)

  • According to verse 21, why are we indebted to God?

  • What could we do for the Lord beyond saying “thank you” to show our gratitude? (Keep His commandments; see v. 22. Other possible answers include accepting callings, befriending new or less-active members, supporting ward or branch activities.)

  • Why can we never thank Him enough? (see vv. 21–24).

  • How long will we be indebted to our Father in Heaven? (see v. 34).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:7, 21. Ask:

  • What commandment has the Lord given us in verse 7?

  • How does the Lord feel about those who are ungrateful?

Cross-reference these verses with Mosiah 2:19–24, 34. Share the following statement by President Joseph F. Smith.

“I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today is the sin of ingratitude. … God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge his hand in all things [see D&C 59:21]” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 270–71).

Ask:

  • Why do you think some people are ungrateful?

  • What can we do to increase our gratitude?

Read as a class Doctrine and Covenants 78:19 and look for the blessing that comes to those who are grateful.

weekly iconMosiah 3:7–13, 17; 4:2–3, 6–8. In carrying out the Atonement, Jesus Christ suffered more than any mortal could bear. Through the Atonement Jesus paid for our sins so that if we repent, we can be forgiven. (40–45 minutes)

Invite a student to come to the front of the class and remove the shoe and sock from one foot. Give him a large stone and ask him to hold it high above his foot. Ask the class:

  • What would happen if he dropped the stone on his foot?

  • How sure are you that the stone will fall if it is dropped?

  • What causes it to fall? Will it fall every time it is dropped?

  • If he drops the stone accidentally, will it still fall?

  • If after he has dropped the stone and hurt his foot, he changes his mind and wishes he hadn’t done it, will that make his foot feel better?

Have students read 2 Nephi 9:17 and look for something that is as sure as the law of gravity. What parallels can you see between the law of justice and the object lesson? (The stone is like sin. Letting go of the stone is like choosing to sin. The pain in one’s foot is like the consequences of sin.)

Draw a scale on the board, as in the accompanying diagram. Ask students to read Mosiah 3:26 and look for what balances justice on this scale. (Mercy.)

balance scale(click to view larger)

Justice

?

Judgment of God

Have students read Mosiah 4:2–3, 6–8 and answer the following questions:

  • Why did King Benjamin’s people want the Lord’s mercy? (see v. 2).

  • What did they do to receive His mercy? (see vv. 2, 6).

  • What resulted from the Lord extending His mercy to them? (see v. 3).

  • How did they feel when they experienced this result?

  • What is the final outcome for those who receive mercy through the Savior’s Atonement? (see vv. 7–8).

Make an overhead transparency of the chart “King Benjamin Teaches of Christ” from the appendix (p. 297), or write it on the board. Show students the scripture references only and give them ten to fifteen minutes to read the verses indicated. Have them look for what Jesus did that enabled Him to offer mercy to all who are subject to the law of justice. Invite them to write on a piece of paper what they learn from each scripture about Christ and His Atonement.

When they finish, discuss what they wrote and compare it with the chart, which is adapted from the writing of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Read Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19 and discuss the following questions:

  • According to verse 16, why did the Lord perform the Atonement?

  • Who will not suffer for their sins as the Lord suffered?

  • What happens to those who do not repent?

  • What do these verses say about the suffering of the Savior for our sins?

Sing or read “In Memory of the Crucified” (Hymns, no. 190). Bear testimony of the reality of the Atonement.

scripture mastery iconMosiah 3:18–19; 4:2–26 (Scripture Mastery, Mosiah 3:19). Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, those who heed the Spirit’s promptings and become as little children can overcome the natural man and be born again. (30–35 minutes)

Use masking tape to make a square on the floor big enough for a student to stand in, and invite a student to stand in the square. Place a candy bar (or some other desirable item) on a desk just out of the student’s reach. Tell the student, “If you can reach the candy bar without leaving the square, you can have it.” After the student has made a few futile efforts, invite a second student to come forward. Tell the student in the square, “If you let the other student help you, you can both have a candy bar.” Allow the second student to give the first student the candy bar, and then give another candy bar to the second student.

Ask the class to imagine being in that situation, except that the item they cannot reach is something they need to save their life. Discuss the following questions:

  • How would your desire to save your life compare to your desire to have a candy bar?

  • How would you feel toward the person who saved your life?

  • How would your feelings about this person change if he not only saved your life but everyone else’s also?

  • What would you think if someone offered to save another’s life but the person in need didn’t accept the help?

Invite students to read 1 Corinthians 15:22 and compare it with Mosiah 3:16–17. Look for (1) who has fallen and (2) who provided the way for salvation. What similarities are there between these verses and the object lesson above? Ask:

  • Who could the student in the square represent? (Fallen man.)

  • Who of us are in that situation? (Everyone.)

  • Who offered His life to give us salvation? (Jesus Christ.)

Write Becoming a Saint (Mosiah 3) on the board, and beneath it make two columns with the headings What the Lord Does and What We Must Do. Invite students to read Mosiah 3:18–19 and look for what the Lord does and what we must do to overcome the natural man. List their findings under the two headings (see the accompanying chart).

Becoming a Saint (Mosiah 3)

What the Lord Does

What We Must Do

Provides the Atonement (see vv. 18–19).

Humble ourselves (see v. 18).

Become as little children (see v. 18).

Have faith in Jesus Christ (see v. 18).

Yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost (see v. 19).

Put off the natural man (see v. 19).

Be submissive, meek, patient, full of love, willing to submit to the Lord (see v. 19).

Ask: What does natural man mean? Share the following explanation:

“The phrase ‘natural man’ is understood by Latter-day Saints to be an unrepentant person; it does not imply that mortals are by nature depraved or evil, but only that they are in a fallen condition. Natural man describes persons who are ‘without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God’ (Alma 41:11). The Lord declared to Joseph Smith: ‘Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God’ (D&C 93:38)” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 3:985).

Refer to the chart on the board and ask: Why can’t we become Saints without the Lord?

Read Mosiah 4:3 and look for how King Benjamin’s people responded to his message. Ask:

  • According to this verse, what results from exercising faith in Jesus Christ and repenting of our sins? (Receiving the Holy Ghost, being filled with joy, being forgiven, “having peace of conscience.”)

  • How valuable are these blessings?

  • What would you be willing to do to have them in your life?

Write keep on the board. Have students read Mosiah 4:6–7, 9–12, 26 and find the word that conveys the same meaning as the word on the board. (“Retain.”)

  • What does King Benjamin teach in verses 6–7, 9–11 that enables people to retain the blessings of the Atonement in their lives?

  • How do King Benjamin’s suggestions compare to the list on the board?

  • What does this teach us about the importance of these commandments?

Share the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was then a member of the Seventy:

“A convert is one who has put off the natural man, yielded to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and become ‘a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.’ Such a person has become ‘as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.’ (Mosiah 3:19.) He has become a new creature of the Holy Ghost: the old creature has been converted or changed into a new one. He has been born again: where once he was spiritually dead, he has been regenerated to a state of spiritual life. (Mosiah 27:24–29.) In real conversion, which is essential to salvation (Matt. 18:3), the convert not only changes his beliefs, casting off the false traditions of the past and accepting the beauties of revealed religion, but he changes his whole way of life, and the nature and structure of his very being is quickened and changed by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:770).

Tell students that as we overcome the natural man, our desires change. Read Mosiah 4:12–16, 26 looking for the kind of actions that are typical of someone whose nature has changed, and list them on the board. Your list might look like this:

Those Who Have Been Born Again

Have joy and rejoice (see vv. 11–12).

Are filled with the love of God (see v. 12).

Retain a remission of their sins (see v. 12).

Grow in their knowledge of God and truth (see v. 12).

Do not want to injure others (see v. 13).

Want to be fair to others (see v. 13).

Care for and teach their children (see vv. 14–15).

Help the needy (see vv. 16, 26).

Ask students to consider which of these characteristics they have. Invite them to look again at the “Becoming a Saint” chart. Have them write on a piece of paper how they could improve in any one of the areas listed under “What We Must Do.”

Mosiah 4:16–22. Our Father in Heaven has given us great blessings, and He expects us to share what we have with those in need. (5–10 minutes)

Ask students when they last saw someone begging for food. Invite them to think about the following questions:

  • How did the beggar’s condition make you feel?

  • How did you respond to the beggar?

  • How might the Savior have responded?

Invite students to read Mosiah 4:16–25 and look for how the Savior would have us respond. Cross-reference these verses with Isaiah 58:3–7. Read the verses in Isaiah and look for what the Lord has instituted to help us give to the poor. (Fast offerings.) Ask: What constitutes a proper observance of the law of the fast? (Going without food and water for two consecutive meals and giving a generous offering to the Church for the care of the poor. Fast day is also an opportunity to pray and bear testimony.) Read or sing “Because I Have Been Given Much” (Hymns, no. 219). Share the following statement by President David O. McKay:

“The underlying purpose and far-reaching benefits of [paying a fast offering] make the monthly observance of fast day one of the most significant features of this latter-day work. There [is] in it … an economic means, which, when carried out by a perfect and active organization, will supply the needs of every worthy poor person within the confines of the organized wards and branches of the Church” (“On Fasting,” Improvement Era, Mar. 1963, 156).

scripture mastery iconMosiah 4:30 (Scripture Mastery). We will be judged by our thoughts, words, and deeds. (10–15 minutes)

Draw the accompanying diagram on the board.

Ask the class what these three words have in common. After a few guesses invite students to look in Mosiah 4:30 for the answer. Ask:

  • Which of these is the hardest for you to control?

  • What can we do to better control our thoughts, words, and deeds?

Share the following statement by President George Q. Cannon, who was a member of the First Presidency:

“Some people have an idea that because they have entered the waters of baptism and repented of their sins then that is an end of it. What a mistake! We need to have this spirit of repentance continually; we need to pray to God to show us our conduct every day. Every night before we retire to rest we should review the thoughts, words and acts of the day and then repent of everything we have done that is wrong or that has grieved the Holy Spirit. Live this way every day and endeavor to progress every day. We may indulge in many things that are not right, indulge in wrong thoughts, be actuated by wrong motives, may have wrong objects in view. …

“Therefore, we need to repent every day and every hour, every one of us” (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, ed. Jerreld L. Newquist, 2 vols. [1957], 1:164).

Ask students how knowing this principle helps us appreciate the blessing of repentance in our lives.