Sunday School: Gospel Doctrine
Lesson 15: ‘Eternally Indebted to Your Heavenly Father’

“Lesson 15: ‘Eternally Indebted to Your Heavenly Father’” Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual (1999), 66–70

“Lesson 15,” Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 66–70

Lesson 15

“Eternally Indebted to Your Heavenly Father”

Mosiah 1–3


To increase class members’ understanding of their indebtedness to God and to encourage them to “[put] off the natural man … through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19).


  1. Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. Mosiah 1. King Benjamin teaches his sons the importance of the truths contained in the brass plates. He chooses his son Mosiah to succeed him as king and instructs Mosiah to gather the people together.

    2. Mosiah 2. King Benjamin teaches the people that when they are in the service of others they are in the service of God. He reminds them that they are “eternally indebted to [their] heavenly Father, to render to him all that [they] have and are.”

    3. Mosiah 3. King Benjamin repeats an angel’s prophecies about Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

  2. If the following materials are available, prepare to use them during the lesson:

    1. The picture King Benjamin (62298; Gospel Art Picture Kit 307).

    2. “Becoming Children of Christ,” an eleven-minute segment from Book of Mormon Video Presentations (53911).

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Invite class members to look at the picture on the cover of this lesson manual. Point out that the class member study guide has the same picture on the cover. Then share the following information:

  1. There are 238 chapters in the Book of Mormon.

  2. Only 50 (about 21 percent) of those chapters contain accounts of events that occurred after Jesus’ birth.

  3. Only 18 (about 8 percent) of those chapters contain accounts of Jesus’ visit among the Nephite people.

Ask class members to silently consider how they would answer the following question:

  • Why do think this picture was chosen to represent our study of the Book of Mormon?

Have a class member read Mosiah 3:13 aloud. Emphasize that Jesus Christ is the central figure in the Book of Mormon. His Atonement applies to people who lived before His mortal ministry, just as it applies to those who lived during His mortal ministry and just as it applies to us today. Explain that today’s lesson and next week’s lesson focus on the words of King Benjamin, a prophet-leader who helped his people exercise faith in Jesus Christ hundreds of years before His mortal ministry and Atonement.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. As you prepare and present the lesson, be sure to leave enough time to discuss Mosiah 3, which contains powerful teachings about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

1. King Benjamin teaches his sons and has Mosiah call the people together.

Discuss Mosiah 1. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud.

  • In the book of Mosiah, the first account of Benjamin is not about his reign as king but about his teachings as a father (Mosiah 1:2–8). What does this teach about King Benjamin? What can parents learn from this example?

  • What did King Benjamin teach his sons? (See Mosiah 1:2–7. Note that the word mysteries in verses 3 and 5 refers to spiritual truths that are known only by revelation.) What was the difference between the Nephites, who studied the scriptures, and the Lamanites, who did not? (See Mosiah 1:5.) How do you see this difference reflected in modern society? How can parents help their children develop a love for the scriptures?

  • King Benjamin “gave [Mosiah] charge concerning the records … on the plates of brass” (Mosiah 1:16). The Lord has commanded today’s prophets, seers, and revelators to see that the scriptures are “preserved in safety” (D&C 42:56). Why is it important that the scriptures be “preserved in safety”? (See Mosiah 1:3–5.)

  • Why did King Benjamin ask his son Mosiah to call the people together? (See Mosiah 1:10–12. Note that the name that King Benjamin referred to was the name of Christ. Toward the end of his discourse, King Benjamin taught the people to take the name of Christ upon themselves. You will discuss this teaching as part of lesson 16.)

2. King Benjamin teaches the people of their eternal indebtedness to God.

Read and discuss selected verses from Mosiah 2.

  • How did the people organize themselves once they arrived at the temple to hear King Benjamin? (See Mosiah 2:5–6; see also the first additional teaching idea.) What did King Benjamin do when he observed that not all the people could hear his words? (See Mosiah 2:7–8. If you are using the picture of King Benjamin, display it now.) How was this gathering similar to general conference today?

  • King Benjamin told the people that he had not commanded them to come together to trifle with his words (Mosiah 2:9; note that to trifle with someone’s words is to treat those words lightly). What did he counsel them to do as they listened to his teachings? (See Mosiah 2:9.) What does it mean to open our ears, hearts, and minds to the teachings of living prophets?

  • What impresses you about the way Benjamin served as king? (See Mosiah 2:10–16.) What effect did King Benjamin’s leadership have on his people? (See Mosiah 1:1; 6:7.)

  • What did King Benjamin teach about service? (See Mosiah 2:17–19.) How does our service to others show our gratitude to God? What manner of service inspires others to “thank [their] heavenly King”? (For some examples, see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 18:10–16.)

  • Have a class member read Mosiah 2:20–21 aloud. What does it mean to be an unprofitable servant? Why are we unprofitable servants to God even if we praise and serve Him with all our souls? (See Mosiah 2:22–25; see also the quotation below and the second additional teaching idea.) What does this teach about Heavenly Father’s love for us?

    President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Do you think it will ever be possible for any one of us, no matter how hard we labor, … to pay our Father and Jesus Christ for the blessings we have received from them? The great love, with its accompanying blessings, extended to us through the crucifixion, suffering, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is beyond our mortal comprehension. We never could repay” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1966, 102; or Improvement Era, June 1966, 538).

  • As unprofitable servants, we are “eternally indebted to [our] heavenly Father, to render to him all that [we] have and are” (Mosiah 2:34). How can we do this? (See Mosiah 2:17, 22; 4:10.) What will Heavenly Father give us when we give Him “all that [we] have and are”? (See Mosiah 2:22, 41; see also D&C 84:38.)

  • What are the consequences of refusing to obey the commandments after having been taught them? (See Mosiah 2:36–39.) According to King Benjamin, what is the cause of the torment that is often likened to a lake of fire? (See Mosiah 2:38; see also Mosiah 3:23–27.)

3. King Benjamin repeats an angel’s prophecies about Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

Read and discuss selected verses from Mosiah 3. Explain that before his address to the people, King Benjamin had been visited by an angel who came “to declare glad tidings of great joy” (Mosiah 3:1–4). Mosiah 3 contains the angel’s message.

  • Have a class member read Mosiah 3:5–10 aloud. Why did Jesus suffer temptations, pain, hunger, thirst, and fatigue? (See Alma 7:11–12.) Why did He suffer anguish for the wickedness of the people? (See the quotation below for answers to this question and the following three questions.) Why is it important to know that He was the Son of God and of Mary? Why did He give His life? In what ways is this a message of “great joy”? (Mosiah 3:3).

    Elder Robert D. Hales said: “What we must remember about the Savior is that He and He alone had the power to lay down His life and take it up again. He had the ability to die from His mortal mother, Mary, and the ability to overcome death from His immortal Father. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, went willingly and deliberately to His death, having told His followers that this would happen. Why? one might ask. The answer: to give immortality to all mankind and the promise of eternal life to those who believed in Him (see John 3:15), to give His own life for a ransom for others (see Matthew 20:28), to overcome Satan’s power, and to make it possible for sins to be forgiven. Without Jesus’ Atonement, there would be an impassable barrier between God and mortal men and women. When we comprehend the Atonement, we remember Him with awe and gratitude” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 34; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 26).

  • According to the angel, who will receive salvation through the Atonement of Jesus Christ? (See the list below.) How does this show the Atonement’s power to ensure “that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men”? (Mosiah 3:10).

    1. People “who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned” (Mosiah 3:11; note that from Doctrine and Covenants 137:7–9 we learn that people who die without a knowledge of the gospel but who would have received the gospel with all their hearts will be heirs of the celestial kingdom).

    2. People with a knowledge of the gospel who repent and exercise faith in Jesus Christ (Mosiah 3:12–13).

    3. Little children who die in their infancy (Mosiah 3:16, 18, 21; see also D&C 137:10).

  • Why are little children “blameless before God”? (See Mosiah 3:16, 21; Moroni 8:12; D&C 29:46. Although “by nature, they fall,” they are “blameless before God” because they are “alive in Christ” through the Atonement.)

  • The angel said that “the natural man is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19). What is the meaning of the phrase “natural man”? (See Alma 42:6–10 and the quotation below.)

    Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “After the fall of Adam, man became carnal, sensual, and devilish by nature; he became fallen man. … All accountable persons on earth inherit this fallen state, this probationary state, this state in which worldly things seem desirable to the carnal nature. Being in this state, ‘the natural man is an enemy to God,’ until he conforms to the great plan of redemption and is born again to righteousness. (Mosiah 3:19.) Thus all mankind would remain lost and fallen forever were it not for the atonement of our Lord. (Alma 42:4–14.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 267–68).

  • How can we “[put] off the natural man”? (See Mosiah 3:19. Discuss answers as shown below.)

    1. Yield to “the enticings of the Holy Spirit.” How does this help us “[put] off the natural man”? (See 2 Nephi 32:5; Mosiah 5:2; 3 Nephi 28:11.)

    2. Become “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” What does it mean to be a true saint? (You may want to point out that the word saint implies sanctification, or holiness. In the Book of Mormon, the word is used to refer to devoted members of the Lord’s Church. See, for example, the use of the word saints in 1 Nephi 14:12 and 2 Nephi 9:18.) How does the Atonement help us become true saints?

    3. Become “as a child.” How can we become “alive in Christ,” as little children are? (See Mosiah 3:17–19, 21; see also 2 Nephi 25:23–26; Moroni 8:10.)

If you are using the video presentation “Becoming Children of Christ,” show it now.

  • Where did the angel say that the knowledge of the Savior would spread? (See Mosiah 3:20.) How is this prophecy being fulfilled? How will it continue to be fulfilled?


If you have not already done so as part of the lesson, ask a class member to read Mosiah 3:19 aloud.

As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or both of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. “They pitched their tents … towards the temple” (Mosiah 2:6)

When the people went to hear King Benjamin speak, they “pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple” (Mosiah 2:6). Contrast these people with Lot, who “pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). Explain that at first Lot only lived near the wicked city of Sodom, but eventually he and his family lived in the city of Sodom itself (Genesis 14:12).

  • What things might we do that are the equivalent of pitching our tents toward Sodom? What things might we do that are the equivalent of pitching our tents toward the temple? How can we point our homes more toward the temple instead of toward worldly places?

2. “Eternally indebted” (Mosiah 2:34)

Draw a scale on the chalkboard, as shown below:


God’s Blessings

Our Offerings

  • Why is this scale unbalanced?

Have class members read Mosiah 2:20–25 aloud. As they read, invite them to look for offerings we can give to the Lord and for blessings He gives us. List our offerings on the side of the scale labeled Our Offerings. List God’s blessings on the side of the scale labeled God’s Blessings. Help class members see that we will always be indebted to God.