Sunday School Lesson 31

July 25, 2005 | 10 comments
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Lesson 31: Doctrine and Covenants 131 & 132:4-33

Section 131

Verses 1-4: What does it mean to say that marriage is an order of the priesthood (verse 2)? Why is the highest degree of the celestial kingdom reserved for the married?

The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 300-301)

How is eternal increase a blessing?

What about the faithful saints who for some reason are unable to be sealed to a husband or wife in this life? Does D&C 124:49 give an answer to this question?

Section 132

Verses 4-6: Why is the covenant of eternal marriage described as “new and everlasting”? What does “damned” mean? How do we “abide the law” of eternal marriage?

Verse 7: Any covenant, contract, bond, etc. that is not entered into and sealed by the Holy Ghost through the medium of the person whom God appointed for that purpose is “of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead.” How do we enter into a covenant by the Holy Ghost? How is it sealed by the Holy Ghost? Why do you think we need to have such a sealing performed by someone anointed for the purpose? Does verse 8 give us some answer to this? Does what D&C 124 said about recorders apply here? How?

Verses 13-14: Do these verses suggest anything about how we should think about the things we do during our lives? Based on these verses, how might we decide what is important and what is not? Alternatively, how might this suggest we should go about our various works?

Verses 19-20: The grammar of these verses is complicated; it isn’t obvious how to understand the relations between their parts. Here is my precis of these verses:

If a man and woman marry in the covenant AND their marriage is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise through someone holding appropriate priesthood authority, AND if they abide in the covenant and do not commit murder, then:

They will come forth in the first or second resurrection.

They will inherit thrones, powers, dominions, all heights and depths.

Their marriage will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

They will receive everything that the officiator has promised them.

They will receive exaltation and eternal increase.

They will be gods.

What does it mean to inherit thrones, powers, dominions, all heights and depths? What does it mean for one’s marriage to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? What is exaltation? What does it mean to say that they will be gods? Verse 20 says “They shall be gods, because they have no end” and it uses “they continue” as a parallel to “they have no end.” What does it mean to say that they will be gods because they continue? Continue in what way?

Verse 24: Why does the Lord use the plural here, “lives” instead of “life”?

Verse 25: Why “deaths” instead of “death”?

Verse 26: What does this verse teach? It is easier to understand than verse 19, but are there things in verse 19 that clarify this verse?

Verse 27: Consider Hebrews 6:4-6:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

How does that compare with this verse? How does this verse clarify that? What do the verses in Hebrews add to our understanding of this verse?

Notice what Joseph Smith says about the sin against the Holy Ghost (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 358):

All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy.

Does that help us understand these verses?

Verse 31: In what senses are we of Abraham? Romans 9:3-16 offers one answer:

I could wish that myself were separated from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom belongs adoption, and the the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and temple service to God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and from whom Christ came in the flesh, who is over all, God-blessed for ever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God hath failed. For they are not all Israel, who are born into Israel: nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham: but, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Genesis 21:12). That is, they who are the children of the flesh are not the children of God: instead the children of the promise are counted for seed. For this is the word of promise, “At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son” (Genesis 18:10). And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth) it was said unto her, “The elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). As it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Malachi 1:2-3). What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Impossible! For he saith to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Exodus 33:19). So then it does not depend on him who willeth, nor on him who runneth, but on God that sheweth mercy. (King James translation modified)

How does the passage from Romans add to our understanding of sealing?

Verse 32: This verse says, “Since you are of Abraham, go and do the works of Abraham.” What are those works?

10 Responses to Sunday School Lesson 31

  1. Bryan L on July 27, 2005 at 7:46 am

    Jim,

    FYI–it looks like there is a problem HTML tag at the beginning of your Romans 9:3-16 quote that is keeping it from displaying.

    Thank you for your time and effort in providing these questions.

  2. Jim F. on July 27, 2005 at 11:54 pm

    Bryan L: Thanks for pointing out the problem. Obviously I didn’t look at the text carefully after I posted it. And I’m glad that you find these helpful/interesting/useful.

  3. A Nonny Mouse on July 28, 2005 at 11:41 am

    Jim,
    I don’t think enough people comment on these questions or give you any sort of feedback: they’re excellent and they enrich my sunday school experience immensely. Thanks.
    -ANM

  4. Jim F. on July 28, 2005 at 12:49 pm

    ANM: And thanks to you. I appreciate feedback on these when people have it, but I don’t necessarily expect it. I’m hoping that the questions will serve as material to help people think on their own about the scriptures designated for the Sunday School lessons, or help teachers think about things they might use in their lessons. If discussing the materials here would help that, great, but if not, that’s also great.

  5. Lisa B. on July 28, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    question 1: To me it means that endowed women are priestesses, whether or not that role is currently recognized outside of the temple.

  6. Jim F. on July 28, 2005 at 5:58 pm

    Lisa Bushman (#5): I think that is a very reasonable reading.

  7. Marc D. on August 11, 2005 at 10:38 am

    There are three degrees in the Celestial glory. We know what you have to do to obtain the highest. What is the difference between the two other degrees in the celestial kingdom?

    It’s obvious that section D&C 132 talks about polygamy. That is if you read the verses they don’t want us to read 132:1-3, 34-end.
    I think it’s important to know the background why scriptures were given to have a good understanding of them.

  8. Eva Denton on August 11, 2005 at 1:29 pm

    Just as endowed men are not yet kings and priests after the endowment, but only endowed TO BECOME SUCH, endowed women are not yet queens and priestesses, but only endowed TO BECOME SUCH.

  9. Dale W. Ehrisman on August 14, 2005 at 12:01 pm

    JIm from my reading of the d&c those who come forth in the second ressurrection will inhert the telestrial glory no where near the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.

  10. Jim F. on August 14, 2005 at 7:36 pm

    Dale W. Ehrisman (#9): Good point, but then how do you explain verse 19? Speaking to those who have entered into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, it says “Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection”? What is the “next resurrection”?

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