Sunday School Lesson 42

October 27, 2004 | 2 comments
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Lesson 42: 3 Nephi 27-30 and 4 Nephi

Chapter 27

Verse 6: What does it mean to take Christ’s name upon us? (What sermon in the book of Mormon has the most to say about that?) When we are told to endure to the end, what are we to endure?

Verse 7: How do we do all that we do in Christ’s name? It is easy to see how we can pray in his name or offer blessings in his name or perform ordinances in his name. But what about other things? How do I teach my children in his name? How do I do my profession in his name? How do I shop for groceries in his name? —Or shouldn’t I take the word “all” quite so literally?

Verse 13ff: Is the Savior giving a definition of the gospel in these verses? Though at first glance it might appear so, perhaps not. Of course, we don’t know what the Nephite word translated “gospel� was, so we don’t know any more about its meaning than we can deduce from the English word, but we do know about the English word and about the Greek word used by those who wrote the New Testament. The English and Greek words both originally meant “to preach the good news.� For example, in Matthew 2:10, the phrase translated “I bring you good tidings� could also have been translated “I bring you the gospel.� (It is a verb rather than a noun in this verse, but the meaning is the same.) The word “gospel� wasn’t used to denote a set of doctrines in New Testament times or in its first uses in English. Only later (perhaps about 1200) did the word come to be identified with the accounts of Christ’s ministry (the Four Gospels) and only later than that did it come to refer to the doctrinal content of Christian preaching. It seems most likely, therefore, that in the Book of Mormon the word “gospel� has the older meaning: preaching glad tidings. If that’s true, we could paraphrase the first part of this verse like this:

Behold I have preached my glad tidings to you, and these are the glad tidings I have preached to you— . . .

Notice the first element of the good news: Christ came into the world to do the will of his Father, and he did so because his Father sent him. How is that good news? We might expect Jesus to say something like, “I came into the world to do the will of my Father in order to make salvation available to all.� What is important about the reason he gives for his mission?

Verse 14: The phrase “lifted up� has an obvious literal meaning in reference to the crucifixion. But what else might it say to us? For example, is any analogy intended between Christ being lifted up on the cross and the way in which the Father will lift us up? (Does this verse have anything to do with verses which tell us we must take up our cross, verses like Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34, 10:21; Luke 9:23; Galatians 6:12; Jacob 1:8; Alma 39:9; 3 Nephi 12:30; and D&C 23:6, 56:2, and 112:14? What does the phrase “that I might draw all men unto me� imply? Why use the word “draw�?

Verse 15: What does this verse tell us about what Jesus means when he says he will “draw all men� to him?

Verse 16: What does it mean to say that those who repent and are baptized will be filled? Does it have to do with having our hunger satisfied? Or, are we missing something which we is given with repentance and baptism?

Verse 17: How does this verse square with latter-day revelation to the effect that the punishment of the wicked is not eternal burnings? (See D&C 19:6ff.)

Verse 19: Why does Christ use the metaphor of washing our garments in his blood? If you give it any thought at all, it is a fairly gruesome image. What’s the point? What does it mean to say they have washed their garments in his blood “because of their faith�?

Verse 20: Is this the only commandment? If not, why does Jesus use such a specific form, “this�? Notice that the commandment has three parts: “repent [. . .] and come to me and be baptized.� Of what are we to repent? How do we go to him? Christ gives the purpose of his commandment: “that ye may be sanctified.� Does the word “sanctified� here have the same meaning that it has in our contemporary doctrinal discussions? How would you justify your answer? The Lord says that our sanctification takes place by the Holy Ghost. Does that have something to do with the Gift of the Holy Ghost? If so, what? How will being sanctified by the Holy Ghost make it possible for us to stand spotless before him at the last day? What last day is he referring to? The judgment day? The day of a follower’s death?

Verse 21: What is his gospel? What is the pleasing message he has delivered? What works do we see Christ do in the scriptures? How do we do those works?

Verse 22: How is “lifted up� being used here?

Chapter 28

Verses 1-32: Why does the Book of Mormon tell us this story—including the story of those who ask to come to his kingdom speedily as well as the story of “the Three Nephites�?

Chapter 29

Verse 1: Does “these sayings� refer to what Mormon has just said, to the sermons Christ has just preached among the Nephites, or to the entire Book of Mormon? How would we decide? In what sense was the covenant the Lord made with the Israelites “already beginning to be fulfilled� when the Book of Mormon was revealed?

Verse 2ff.: How does the book of Mormon serve as a warning to us? How does it serve as a warning to the Gentiles? (Who are the Gentiles?)

4 Nephi

Verse 3: What does it mean that the Nephites had all things in common? How is it that having all things in common makes them all free? How does it make them all partakers of the heavenly gift? What is the heavenly gift? Does this verse mean that those who do not have all things in common are not partakers of the heavenly gift?

Verse 5: What have the great and marvelous works they did to do with the gospel Jesus preached?

Verse 10: What made these people “fair and delightsome�?

Verse 11: Why is marriage mentioned here?

Verses 15-18: We often say “nobody’s perfect,� but isn’t this a record of a perfect people?

Verse 20: What does the word “Lamanite� mean to the Nephites at this point? What other meanings has it had?

Verses 23-26: What seems to be the cause of the failure of this society? In what ways do we imitate the behavior described here? How can we avoid that behavior?

Verse 36: Is it significant that the Lamanites call those among the Nephites by various names?

Verse 43: The primary meaning of the word “vain� is “useless.� In what sense have these people become useless? How is it that love of riches, failure to have things in common, the creation of classes, etc. makes us useless?

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2 Responses to Sunday School Lesson 42

  1. Joe Spencer on October 28, 2004 at 2:48 pm

    Jim F.

    I think your questions concerning the name of Christ at the beginning of your lesson are the most provocative. I can’t help but imagine that “in the name of” means by the authority of, or even in another person’s place. To do something in the name of Christ, it seems to me, is to do it for Christ, in the sense that one is relieving Christ of a duty by performing it on His behalf. That seems to be the most immediate response to that question.

    However, your subsequent questions may call that into question. If we are to do everything in the name of Christ, then it becomes difficult to think that we are in any sense relieving Christ of some duty to which He otherwise would have attended. Grocery shopping (unless perhaps at the Bishop’s storehouse) is a really good example.

    It seems to me that this might be connected with Paul’s discussion of the church as the body of Christ. It seems we should understand name as it was understood anciently, as something by which someone was summoned, kletos (Gr) or qr’ (Heb). Does Christ’s bestowal of His name on the church among the Nephites mean that they had received through the mysteries access to the name that had power over the creation, or some such concept? Or does it mean simply that the church could now take on the name of Christ, and that “all” refers to the doings of the Church.

    If this last understanding is correct, then perhaps the church, as the body of Christ, gives Christ’s name (or summoned presence?) a way of being in the world. The church will function as Christ in the world, accomplishing the work He does. My language here sounds too divisive still, though. The church, receiving the name of Christ, becomes the body of Christ, and at last Christ can perform constant work in the world. The church takes upon them the name of Christ so that Christ is constantly present (signified by “all”) in the world.

    That may spell out the difficulties that follow at the end of 4 Nephi, when some refuse to take upon them the name of Christ. His real power on earth begins to wane. Some thoughts at least.

  2. Jack on October 31, 2004 at 2:59 am

    Verses 1-32: Why does the Book of Mormon tell us this story—including the story of those who ask to come to his kingdom speedily as well as the story of “the Three Nephites�?

    I don’t know.

    However, I’ve always been impressed by the fact that those who wished to tarry “sorrowed in their hearts” because of their desires. It is a clear example of the Lord answering the righteous desires of his children. Some wished to go. Some wished to stay. They were both good desires and yet those who wished to tarry may have felt presumptuous because of a fear of asking for too much. I think the brother of Jared may have had the same reservations when he approached the Lord with Noah’s solution to his problem. It was a tall order. That said, doesn’t the Lord (almost) impose a tall order upon each one of us when he requires us to be like Him?

    These are some things I get out of ch.28 (though I know there’s a whole lot more to be gotten):

    1) We need to learn how to meekly reach for the stars – as did Abraham.

    2) It’s important to note that these ardent followers of the Savior were able to demonstrate their loyalty to Him in various ways which (ways) reflected their personal attributes.

    3) The Lord is a giver of good gifts, for the asking!