Having expounded the doctrines of foreordination, election, and adoption in Romans 9–11, Paul concluded his Epistle to the Romans by encouraging the Saints to remain true and faithful in order to reap the full blessings of the covenant.
Speaking to those who have experienced the blessing of being a member of the house of Israel, Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:
“A knowledge of these wondrous truths places upon us a greater burden than rests upon any other people to follow Christ—to take his yoke upon us, to keep his commandments, to do ever those things that please him. And if we love and serve him, we will give heed to the words of the apostles and prophets whom he sends to reveal and teach his word among us” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 103–4; or Ensign, May 1974, 73).
Paul taught that the house of Israel has many responsibilities. These include living as Saints, following the counsel of leaders, keeping the commandments, avoiding contention, embracing righteousness, fellowshipping one another, and being unified by avoiding evil.
Prayerfully study Romans 12–16and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The grace of God is the help He gives us through His love and mercy. It is the power by which He enables us to perform works of righteousness and gain eternal life (see Romans 12:6; 15:15; see also Acts 15:11; 2 Nephi 25:23).
Before Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry, He commanded His followers to offer animal sacrifices as a way of looking ahead to His Atonement. Today the Lord commands us to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” by dedicating our lives in obedience and service (see Romans 12:1–3, 9–18; see also 3 Nephi 9:19–20; Moroni 10:32).
Each member of the Church has different spiritual gifts. We are like parts of a body, joined together to form a whole. We must each contribute our talents without thinking that we are more important than others (see Romans 12:3–8, 13–18).
We must avoid those who teach false doctrines and create divisions in the Church. Such people are serving themselves, not God (see Romans 16:17–18).
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 334–35.
Suggestions for Teaching
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Romans 12–16.
Romans 12–16. We are saved by grace after all we can do (see 2 Nephi 25:23). The final chapters of Romans show that works of righteousness are essential in the gospel plan.
Write on the board the word saved, and ask:
What does it mean to be saved?
How many of you feel that you have been saved?
Tell students that the word saved is often used in religious discussions. Invite them to read Romans 10:9–10. Explain that many good Christians cite these verses as proof that they have been “saved” because they have sincerely confessed or declared that Jesus Christ is their Savior.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, pointed out that the question “Have you been saved?” can be puzzling to members of the Church because people from other churches attach different meanings to the word saved:
“As Latter-day Saints use the words saved and salvation, there are at least six different meanings. According to some of these, our salvation is assured—we are already saved. In others, salvation must be spoken of as a future event (e.g., 1 Corinthians 5:5) or as conditioned upon a future event (e.g., Mark 13:13). But in all of these meanings, or kinds of salvation, salvation is in and through Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 76; or Ensign, May 1998, 55).
The six meanings spoken of by Elder Oaks are listed below. Read and discuss each of the meanings, using the accompanying scriptures and excerpts from Elder Oaks’s speech:
We are all saved from physical death (see Alma 11:43–44).
“First, all mortals have been saved from the permanence of death through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive’ (see 1 Corinthians 15:22).”
“As to salvation from sin and the consequences of sin, our answer to the question of whether or not we have been saved is ‘yes, but with conditions.’ Our third article of faith declares our belief:
”‘We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.’ …
“… We testify that being cleansed from sin through Christ’s Atonement is conditioned upon the individual sinner’s faith, which must be manifested by obedience to the Lord’s command to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:37–38). … But [believers] will not be saved finally until they have completed their mortal probation with the required continuing repentance, faithfulness, service, and enduring to the end.”
“We were born again when we entered into a covenant relationship with our Savior by being born of water and of the Spirit and by taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We can renew that rebirth each Sabbath when we partake of the sacrament.
“Latter-day Saints affirm that those who have been born again in this way are spiritually begotten sons and daughters of Jesus Christ … with new spiritual parentage and the prospects of a glorious inheritance [see Mosiah 5:7; 15:9–13; 27:25].”
We can be saved from ignorance through the light of the gospel (see John 8:12).
“A fourth meaning of being saved is to be saved from the darkness of ignorance of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and of the purpose of life, and of the destiny of men and women. The gospel made known to us by the teachings of Jesus Christ has given us this salvation. ‘I am the light of the world,’ Jesus taught; ‘he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life’ (John 8:12; see also John 12:46).”
“For Latter-day Saints, being saved can also mean being saved or delivered from the second death (meaning the final spiritual death) by assurance of a kingdom of glory in the world to come (see 1 Corinthians 15:40–42). Just as the Resurrection is universal, we affirm that every person who ever lived upon the face of the earth—except for a very few [see D&C 76:40–43]—is assured of salvation in this sense.“
We can be saved by receiving exaltation (see D&C 76:52–60).
“The words saved and salvation are also used to denote exaltation or eternal life (see Abraham 2:11). This is sometimes referred to as the ‘fulness of salvation’ (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:242). This salvation requires more than repentance and baptism by appropriate priesthood authority. It also requires the making of sacred covenants, including eternal marriage, in the temples of God and faithfulness to those covenants by enduring to the end. If we use the word salvation to mean ‘exaltation,’ it is premature for any of us to say that we have been ‘saved’ in mortality. That glorious status can only follow the final judgment” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 76–78; or Ensign, May 1998, 55–57).
Review with students the six meanings of the word saved. As you read each one, ask the students to consider whether they have been saved according to that meaning.
Tell students that in the final chapters of Romans, Paul speaks of conditions that are required in order to qualify for salvation. There are commandments we must follow, ordinances we must receive, and ways we must pattern our lives in order to be saved in the kingdom of God.
Divide students into five groups and assign each group one of the chapters from Romans 12–16. Have each group read any fourteen consecutive verses from their assigned chapter looking for commandments, ordinances, or counsel that Paul said the Saints should follow. Invite them to share their findings with the class. Consider asking some of the following questions:
What verses impressed you? Why?
What have you learned that would be important to apply in order to be saved?
How would the world change if everyone lived according to Paul’s counsel?
Romans 12:1–18. Before Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry, He commanded His followers to offer animal sacrifices as a way of looking ahead to His Atonement. Today the Lord commands us to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” by dedicating our lives in obedience and service.
Bring some rocks, sticks, and matches to class. Ask:
How would these items be used if we were to offer an Old Testament sacrifice? (To build an altar and start a fire.)
What important item is missing? (An animal.)
Read Exodus 12:5and look for some characteristics of a sacrificial animal. Ask: How did animal sacrifice teach people about the coming of Jesus Christ?
Read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard:
“There are two major, eternal purposes for the law of sacrifice that we need to understand. These purposes applied to Adam, Abraham, Moses, and the New Testament Apostles, and they apply to us as we accept and live the law of sacrifice. The two major purposes are to test us and prove us and to assist us in coming unto Christ” (The Law of Sacrifice [address to religious educators at a symposium on the New Testament, Brigham Young University, 13 Aug. 1996], 1).
Discuss Elder Ballard’s statement with your class. Have a student read the following from the same talk by Elder Ballard:
“While the primary purpose of the law of sacrifice continued to be that of testing and assisting us to come unto Christ, two adjustments were made after Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. First, the ordinance of the sacrament replaced the ordinance of the sacrifice; and second, this change moved the focus of the sacrifice from a person’s animal to the person himself. In a sense, the sacrifice changed from the offering to the offerer” (Law of Sacrifice, 5; see also 3 Nephi 9:19–20; D&C 59:8, 12).
Invite students to read Romans 12:1–2and have them suggest ways these verses fit with Elder Ballard’s statement. Discuss the following questions:
What do you think it means to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (v. 1)?
What sacrifices are you making to become holy and acceptable before God?
How are those sacrifices a test?
How do they assist you in coming unto Christ?
Tell students that Romans 12:9–21includes many phrases that describe sacrifices we can make to become acceptable to God. (Examples from verse 9 include “let love be without dissimulation [insincerity]” and “abhor that which is evil.”) Write each phrase on a separate piece of paper and give one paper to each student. Have students read their phrase, ponder what it means, and think of one thing they can do to better live that principle. Invite several students to share their phrases and ideas with the class.
Read and discuss the following excerpts from Elder Ballard’s talk:
“As we sacrifice our selfish desires, serve our God and others, we become more like [the Lord]. Elder Russell M. Nelson [a member of the Quorum of the Twelve] taught:
“‘We are still commanded to sacrifice, but not by shedding blood of animals. Our highest sense of sacrifice is achieved as we make ourselves more sacred or holy.
“‘This we do by our obedience to the commandments of God. Thus, the laws of obedience and sacrifice are indelibly intertwined. … As we comply with these and other commandments, something wonderful happens to us. … We become more sacred and holy—[more] like our Lord!’ (“Lessons from Eve,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 88). …
“Instead of the Lord requiring a person’s animal or grain, now the Lord wants us to give up all that is ungodly. This is a higher practice of the law of sacrifice; it reaches into the inner soul of a person. Elder Neal A. Maxwell described it this way: ‘Real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed!’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 91; or Ensign, May 1995, 68). …
“Sacrifice is a demonstration of pure love. The degree of our love for the Lord and for our fellowman can be measured by what we are willing to sacrifice for them” (Law of Sacrifice, 3, 5–6).
Ask students to turn over the piece of paper and write on the back at least one personal sacrifice they feel the Lord would have them make to help them draw closer to Him. Encourage them to make that sacrifice over the next several weeks and to ask the Lord for the strength to do so. Consider inviting students to share their experiences and testimonies with the class at a later date.
Consider giving each student a copy of the following statement by Elder Ballard as a handout:
“The sacrifice the Lord asks of us is to wholly rid ourselves of the ‘natural man’ and all the ungodliness associated with it. When we completely surrender ourselves to the Lord, then he will cause a mighty change in us and we will become a new person, justified, sanctified, and born again with his image in our countenances (see Mosiah 5:2; Alma 5:14; Moses 6:59–60).
“As in all things, our Lord and Savior manifested the supreme example of sacrifice. His life and ministry established a pattern for us to follow. His divine mission was culminated in a supreme act of love as he gave his life for our redemption. Through his personal sacrifice, he provided a way for us to have our sins forgiven and return to the presence of our Father. …
“… The principle of sacrifice is a law of God. We are obliged to understand it and to teach it and to practice it. If it becomes too easy to be a member of this Church, testimonies will become shallow, the roots of testimony will not go down into the soil like they did with our pioneer forefathers. May God grant you an understanding of the law of sacrifice and that it is with us today. It is vitally important that we understand it, teach it, and live it” (M. Russell Ballard, The Law of Sacrifice, 9–10).
Romans 12:3–8; 16:17–18. Each member of the Church has different spiritual gifts. We are like parts of a body, joined together to form a whole. We must each contribute our talents without thinking that we are more important than others.
Use any or all of the following object lessons to show students that each part is needed to make a whole:
Bring a puzzle to class and discuss how each piece is important. If any piece were missing, the puzzle would not be complete.
Bring a picture of a favorite sports team (or simply talk about the team). Discuss how essential each player is to the team’s success.
Bring a food item you have prepared at home. Show students the recipe for it, and discuss how the ingredients complement each other and are all necessary.
Tell students that Paul also used an analogy to show that each individual member of the Church is important, even though we each have different talents and responsibilities. Invite students to read Romans 12:3–5looking for the analogy Paul used. Ask:
Why do you think a human body is a good analogy to teach this principle?
How important are your eyes, heart, ears, hands, or brain to the well-being of your body?
How do those parts of your body rely on each other?
Help students see how this analogy relates to members of the Church. Explain that each member has different strengths, gifts, and weaknesses, but we are commanded to be one (see D&C 38:27). Invite students to read Romans 12:6–8looking for gifts Paul said members of the Church possess. (More complete lists can be found in 1 Corinthians 12:4–12; Moroni 10:8–23; and D&C 46:11–29.)
How can the gifts Paul mentioned bless other members of the Church?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 46:12. What is one reason God has bestowed these gifts on us?
Why do you think He would want everyone to profit from the blessings He bestows on members?
If you have time, consider inviting students to point out strengths they have noticed in their classmates and ways they use those gifts to bless others. This can strengthen your students spiritually and help build rapport and unity in your class.
Romans 13–15. We should love others and not judge them but work on being righteous ourselves. We must help and fellowship one another, especially those who may be weaker in the faith.
Share examples of times you have seen class members serve each other. Invite students to share similar observations. Ask:
How did it make you feel to be served?
How do you think the person who served felt?
How did you feel about the person who served you?
How did your testimony and relationship with the Lord change as a result of the experience?
Testify that there is great power in loving and serving one another, and that through service we can help others to come unto Jesus Christ.
Read Matthew 5:43–47and ask: Who did the Savior command us to love and serve? Tell students that Romans 13–15contains some excellent counsel on how we can follow this teaching of the Savior. Assign students one of the following blocks of scripture: Romans 13:8–14; 14:10–23; 15:1–7; or 15:13–18. Invite them to read it silently, looking for what it teaches about serving others. Discuss their findings, using the following questions if desired:
What impressed you most in the verses you read?
What did these verses teach you about loving and serving others?
How could you implement those teachings in your life?
How would the Church or your school change if everyone were to follow this counsel?
How might the Church or your school change if you were to follow this counsel?
Continue this pattern of reading a scripture block and asking questions until you have completed the verses you think will be most significant for your students.
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