Sunday School: Gospel Doctrine
Lesson 33: ‘A Sure Foundation’

“Lesson 33: ‘A Sure Foundation’” Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual (1999), 146–49

“Lesson 33,” Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 146–49

Lesson 33

“A Sure Foundation”

Helaman 1–5


To encourage class members to build their testimonies on the foundation of Jesus Christ.


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

    1. Helaman 1–2. Internal strife develops among the Nephites as secret works and wickedness increase. Gadianton becomes the leader of Kishkumen’s secret band of robbers.

    2. Helaman 3. Thousands join the Church and begin to prosper. Some Church members are lifted up in pride.

    3. Helaman 4. Lamanites and Nephite dissenters defeat the Nephites because of the Nephites’ wickedness and pride.

    4. Helaman 5. Nephi and Lehi remember their father’s counsel to build their foundation on the rock of Christ. Miracles attend their ministry as they preach repentance.

  2. If you are using the attention activity, select one of the following options:

    1. Ask a small group of class members to prepare to sing verses 1, 2, 3, and 7 of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” (Hymns, no. 85) in class.

    2. Prepare to sing or read the words to verses 1, 2, 3, and 7 of “How Firm a Foundation” with class members.

    3. Ask a small group of Primary children to come to the class and sing “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man” (Children’s Songbook, 281). Arrange this with the children’s parents and with Primary leaders and teachers.

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

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

Introduce the presentation that you have prepared (see “Preparation,” item 2).

After the hymn or song, explain that today’s lesson shows the difference between people who build on weak foundations, such as people who place their trust in wealth or physical strength, and people who build their foundations on “the rock of [their] Redeemer, … which is a sure foundation” (Helaman 5:12).

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Internal strife develops among the Nephites.

Discuss Helaman 1–2. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud. Explain that Pahoran, the chief judge, had died, and three of his sons—Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni—contended for the judgment seat (Helaman 1:1–4).

  • How did Paanchi and Pacumeni each respond when Pahoran was chosen to be chief judge? (See Helaman 1:5–7.) What happened because of Paanchi’s rebellion? (See Helaman 1:8–13.)

  • After Pacumeni became chief judge, the Lamanites came to battle against the Nephites (Helaman 1:13–17). Why were the Nephites unprepared to defend themselves against an outside attack from the Lamanites? (See Helaman 1:18.) How does contention weaken nations and communities? wards and stakes? families and individuals? What can we do to avoid or overcome contention?

  • Gadianton, who was “exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft,” became the leader of the band of Kishkumen (Helaman 2:4). What did Gadianton promise the followers of Kishkumen in order to persuade them to follow him? (See Helaman 2:5; see also Helaman 5:8.) In what ways are people sometimes influenced by flattery and the promise of power? How can we avoid this influence?

2. Thousands join the Church; some Church members are lifted up in pride.

Read and discuss selected verses from Helaman 3.

  • Helaman 3 covers about 11 years of Nephite history. During those 11 years, the Nephites experienced periods of peace and periods of contention. What disturbed the peace of the Nephites during those years? (See Helaman 3:1, 33–34.) What was the cause of the Nephites’ pride? (See Helaman 3:36.) How can pride disturb the peace in our lives? What can we do to guard against pride? (See Helaman 3:27–30; see also Deuteronomy 8:11, 17–18; Alma 62:48–51.)

  • Have a class member read Helaman 3:29 aloud. What does it mean to “lay hold upon the word of God”? How will we be blessed as we “lay hold upon the word of God”? (See Helaman 3:27–30; see also 1 Nephi 11:25; 15:24.)

  • In the 51st year, some Church members began to persecute others (Helaman 3:33–34). How did the humble followers of Christ respond to the persecution from the proud members of the Church? (See Helaman 3:35.) How can their example help us when we face persecution, criticism, or affliction?

  • Humble Church members were sanctified because they “[yielded] their hearts unto God” (Helaman 3:35). What is sanctification? (The process of becoming clean, pure, and free from sin through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. See D&C 76:41; 88:74–75.) What does it mean to yield our hearts to God?

3. Lamanites and Nephite dissenters defeat the Nephites.

Read and discuss selected verses from Helaman 4.

  • Nephite dissenters convinced the Lamanites to go to war against the Nephites. The Lamanites defeated the Nephites and obtained many of their lands (Helaman 4:5). What did Mormon, who abridged the book of Helaman, observe was the cause of the Nephites’ weakness? (See Helaman 4:11–13.) What parallels exist between the Nephites’ actions and the actions of some people today? How can acknowledging our dependence on the Lord strengthen us?

  • Moronihah, Lehi, and Nephi prophesied “many things unto the people … concerning their iniquities, and what should come unto them if they did not repent of their sins” (Helaman 4:14). What happened when the people began to repent? (See Helaman 4:15–16; see also verses Helaman 4:21–26.)

4. Nephi and Lehi remember their father’s counsel. Miracles attend their ministry.

Read and discuss selected verses from Helaman 5.

  • Why did Nephi give up the judgment seat to preach the word of God? (See Helaman 5:1–4.) What did Nephi and Lehi remember that their father had told them about their names? (See Helaman 5:5–7.) How have the examples of prophets, other Church leaders, and other righteous people helped you?

  • What did Helaman teach his sons about the Atonement of Jesus Christ? (See Helaman 5:9–11.)

  • Have a class member read Helaman 5:12 aloud. What does it mean to build on the rock of Christ? (See also 3 Nephi 14:24–27.) What are some of the mighty winds and storms that Satan sends upon us? How can Christ help us withstand these winds and storms?

  • Why do we refer to Christ as our rock? What foundations other than Christ do people sometimes build their lives upon? How have you been blessed as you have built your life on the rock of Christ?

  • What great miracles occurred in Zarahemla as Nephi and Lehi preached the gospel? (See Helaman 5:17–19.) Why was it important that the Lamanites reject “the wickedness of the traditions of their fathers”? (See Helaman 5:19, 51; see also Mosiah 1:5.)

    Elder Richard G. Scott said: “I testify that you will remove barriers to happiness and find greater peace as you make your first allegiance your membership in the Church of Jesus Christ, and His teachings the foundation of your life. Where family or national traditions or customs conflict with the teachings of God, set them aside. Where traditions and customs are in harmony with His teachings, they should be cherished and followed to preserve your culture and heritage. There is one heritage that you need never change. It is that heritage that comes from your being a daughter or son of Father in Heaven” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 114; or Ensign, May 1998, 87).

  • Have a class member read Helaman 5:21–32 aloud. What happened after the people began to repent? (See Helaman 5:43–45.) How did the Holy Ghost testify to the people? (See Helaman 5:45–47.) How has the Holy Ghost testified of truth in your life?

  • What did the people do once they had received a witness of the Savior? (See Helaman 5:49–52.) What is our responsibility once we receive a witness of the divinity and saving power of Jesus Christ? (See D&C 33:9; 88:81.)


Have a class member again read Helaman 5:12 aloud. Emphasize that we can protect ourselves against pride, contention, and Satan’s “mighty storm” by building our foundation on the rock of Jesus Christ.

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. “Remember, remember, my sons” (Helaman 5:5–14)

  • In the Book of Mormon there are over 240 instances of the word remember or forms of the word (such as remembered, remembrance, or forget not). Fifteen of these instances are in Helaman 5. What must we remember? (See Helaman 5:9; see also Mosiah 3:17.) Why is it important to remember?

    Elder Spencer W. Kimball said:

    “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be ‘remember.’ Because all of [us] have made covenants … our greatest need is to remember. That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every Sabbath day—to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that [we] ‘… may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us].’… ‘Remember’ is the word” (Circles of Exaltation [address to religious educators, Brigham Young University, 28 June 1968], 8).

2. “Yielding [our] hearts unto God” (Helaman 3:35)

As you discuss Helaman 3:35, share the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“It is only by yielding to God that we can begin to realize His will for us. And if we truly trust God, why not yield to His loving omniscience? After all, He knows us and our possibilities much better than do we” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 91; or Ensign, May 1985, 72).