Commandments
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“Commandments,” Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material (2017)

“Commandments,” Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material

Commandments

Note: The following doctrinal mastery activities could be done over the course of several class sessions or in a single class session.

Understanding the Doctrine (80 minutes)

Segment 1 (5 minutes)

Write the word Commandments on the board.

  • How do you think we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, might view the commandments we have received from Heavenly Father differently than how some other people in the world might view them?

Invite a student to read aloud the first paragraph in doctrinal topic 9, “Commandments,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for statements that describe what they would want everyone to understand about God’s commandments.

  • What are some statements that you would want everyone to understand about God’s commandments? (As students respond, invite them to explain why they think the statement they mentioned would be important for everyone to understand.)

Invite students to consider marking the following statement of doctrine in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: Keeping the commandments will always bring happiness and blessings from the Lord.

Testify that commandments are an important part of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness and that those who choose to keep the commandments of God will experience great happiness and blessings from the Lord.

Segment 2 (15 minutes)

Write the following statement of doctrine on the board: Keeping the commandments will always bring happiness and blessings from the Lord.

Ask students to turn to doctrinal topic 9, “Commandments,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, and ask the following question:

Invite students to turn to Mosiah 2:41 and to consider marking this doctrinal mastery passage in a distinctive way so they can locate it easily. To help students understand the context of this passage, explain that it contains the words of King Benjamin as he spoke to his people near the end of his life.

Invite a student to read Mosiah 2:41 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that support the truth that keeping the commandments will always bring happiness and blessings from the Lord.

  • What words or phrases did you find that support the truth that keeping the commandments will always bring happiness and blessings from the Lord?

  • What does it mean to be “blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual” (Mosiah 2:41)? (Help students understand that the word temporal refers to the temporary physical aspects of our life on earth. The word spiritual refers to our eternal progress as spirit children of Heavenly Father.)

  • What are some examples of temporal blessings you have received? What spiritual blessings have you received?

Point out that obeying God’s commandments does not prevent us from experiencing difficulties, sorrow, and temptation. Even Jesus Christ, who perfectly obeyed all of Heavenly Father’s commandments, experienced difficulties, sorrow, and temptation.

  • How might a person who is facing difficulties and temptation still experience happiness and blessings as he or she obeys God’s commandments?

Invite a student to read the following statement from President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles aloud. Ask the class to listen for what he taught about happiness and joy.

Nelson, Russell M.

“Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!

“My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.

“When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. …

“How, then, can we claim that joy? We can start by ‘looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith’ [Hebrews 12:12] ‘in every thought’ [D&C 6:36]. We can give thanks for Him in our prayers and by keeping covenants we’ve made with Him and our Heavenly Father. As our Savior becomes more and more real to us and as we plead for His joy to be given to us, our joy will increase.

“Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives” (Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 82).

  • What is an example of how you (or someone you know) have experienced blessings and happiness even during difficult times by keeping God’s commandments?

Segment 3 (10 minutes)

Remind students that Mosiah 2:41 is one of the doctrinal mastery passages that supports the doctrine that keeping the commandments will always bring happiness and blessings from the Lord. Review Mosiah 2:41 by reading it aloud as a class.

Point out that Alma 41:10 is another doctrinal mastery passage that helps us understand the doctrine that keeping the commandments will always bring happiness and blessings from the Lord. Invite students to consider writing Alma 41:10 in their scriptures next to Mosiah 2:41 as a cross-reference. Then invite them to turn to Alma 41:10 and consider marking it in a distinctive way so that they can locate it easily.

To help students understand the context of Alma 41:10, explain that this passage contains the words of Alma to his son Corianton, who had broken the law of chastity while serving as a missionary.

Invite a student to read Alma 41:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Alma taught his son about wickedness.

  • What did Alma teach Corianton about wickedness?

  • Why do you think that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10)?

  • How can the principle that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10) be true when individuals who disobey God’s commandments sometimes appear to be happy?

Invite a student to read the following statement by President Russell M. Nelson aloud. Ask the class to listen for what he taught about true happiness, or joy.

Nelson, Russell M.

“The unrighteous may experience any number of emotions and sensations, but they will never experience joy! Joy is a gift for the faithful. It is the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ” (Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” 84).

  • How do you think the joy we experience from living the gospel is different than the emotions or sensations people may experience when they disobey God’s commandments?

Share your testimony that wickedness never was happiness. Invite students to consider writing Mosiah 2:41 as a cross-reference in their scriptures next to Alma 41:10.

Segment 4 (10 minutes)

Write the following statement of doctrine on the board: Keeping the commandments will always bring happiness and blessings from the Lord.

Circle the word always in the statement of doctrine on the board, and invite students to consider doing the same in the first paragraph of doctrinal topic 9, “Commandments,” in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.

Explain that while some blessings for obedience are immediate, other blessings may not come right after we obey a commandment but require consistent obedience over time.

  • Why do you think it is important to understand that some of God’s promised blessings for obedience may not come to us immediately?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what he taught about the blessings of obedience.

Cook, Quentin L.

“From our limited perspective, current temptations and distractions can seem attractive. The rewards for resisting those temptations, on the other hand, can feel distant and unattainable. But a true understanding of the Father’s plan reveals that the rewards of righteousness are available right now” (Quentin L. Cook, “Shipshape and Bristol Fashion: Be Temple Worthy—in Good Times and Bad Times,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 40).

  • What do you think are some of the blessings we can experience right now as we obey God’s commandments? (Some of these blessings include the companionship of the Holy Ghost, feeling close to the Lord, and experiencing divine guidance, peace, health, protection from temptation, protection from physical harm, personal growth, happiness, and joy.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Holland, Jeffrey R.

“Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. Of that I personally attest” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 38).

Share your testimony that keeping the commandments will always bring happiness and blessings from the Lord. Some of these blessings may come to us immediately. Other blessings will come later, but they will come.

Segment 5 (10 minutes)

Invite students to think of experiences when they felt that a commandment, standard, or counsel from a prophet or apostle was difficult for them to follow or obey. (Do not ask students to share their responses.)

Explain that 1 Nephi 3:7 is a doctrinal mastery passage that can help us when we may feel that a commandment is difficult to obey. Invite students to consider marking 1 Nephi 3:7 in a distinctive way so they can locate it easily.

To help students understand the context of this passage, explain that the Lord had commanded Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to retrieve the plates of brass from Laban. Nephi’s brothers murmured because of the difficulty of the task, but Nephi’s response showed his faith.

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 3:7 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi understood about commandments that gave him the faith he needed to obey the Lord without murmuring.

  • What did Nephi teach about God’s commandments? (After students respond, invite them to consider marking the following statement of doctrine in the first paragraph of doctrinal topic 9, “Commandments,” in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: God will not give us a commandment without preparing a way for us to obey it.)

Invite students to summarize the three attempts Nephi and his brothers made to obtain the brass plates. (If necessary, remind them that the first two attempts to obtain the plates failed. In the third attempt, Nephi was led by the Spirit and the Lord prepared the way for him to obtain the plates.)

  • How do you think Nephi’s understanding of the truth he taught in 1 Nephi 3:7 helped him continue his efforts to obtain the plates of brass even after the first two attempts failed?

  • How could understanding this truth help someone today?

Invite students to ponder how the Lord has prepared the way for them to obey one of His commandments. Consider inviting a few students to share their experiences with the class.

Testify that the Lord will prepare a way for us to keep every commandment He gives to us.

Segment 6 (10 minutes)

Write the following questions on the board: What do you think are the two greatest (or most basic and important) of all of Heavenly Father’s commandments? Why?

Divide students into pairs and ask them to discuss their responses to these questions with their partners. After they have discussed their responses, invite a few to report their responses to the entire class.

Invite a student to read aloud paragraph 2 of doctrinal topic 9, “Commandments,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Before the student reads, explain that this paragraph quotes the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 22:36–39, in which He declared the two greatest, or most basic and important, commandments. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the two “great” commandments.

  • What are the two greatest commandments?

  • Why do you think loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and loving others as ourselves are the greatest commandments?

  • How do these two commandments relate to each other?

Invite students to consider marking the following statement of doctrine in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: We can love and serve God by choosing to love and serve others.

Invite students to consider marking the doctrinal mastery passage Mosiah 2:17 in a distinctive way so they can locate it easily. Explain that this passage contains the words King Benjamin spoke to his people as he described the service he had given them.

Invite a student to read Mosiah 2:17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that teach that we can love and serve God by choosing to love and serve others. Ask students to report what they find.

  • In what ways do you think we are serving God when we serve others?

  • When have you felt you were in the service of God while you were serving someone else?

Testify that when we serve others, we are also serving God.

Segment 7 (15 minutes)

Write the following statement of doctrine on the board: We can love and serve God by choosing to love and serve others.

Remind students that the doctrinal mastery passages Mosiah 2:17 and Moroni 7:45, 47–48 both support this doctrine.

Invite students to consider marking Moroni 7:45, 47–48 in a distinctive way so they can locate it easily. Explain that in Moroni 7, Moroni recorded the words that his father, Mormon, spoke about faith, hope, and charity.

Invite a student to read Moroni 7:47 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Mormon said charity is.

  • According to this verse, what is charity? (The pure love of Christ.)

Explain that Mormon’s words about charity can help us know how to love and serve God by loving and serving others as the Savior does.

Invite a student to read Moroni 7:45 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the qualities a person will have if he or she is filled with charity. Invite students to consider marking qualities they would especially like to have.

  • Which of the qualities in verse 45 would you especially like to have? Why?

Invite a student to read Moroni 7:48 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what we must do to be filled with charity.

  • According to Moroni 7:48, what must we do to be filled with charity?

  • How do you think praying with all the energy of our hearts and seeking to be true followers of Jesus Christ can help us to be filled with His love?

  • In your opinion, why is Moroni 7:45, 47–48 a good passage to help us understand the doctrine that we can love and serve God by choosing to love and serve others?

Consider sharing your testimony of the importance of having charity for others. You may want to share an experience in which you were blessed to be filled with the pure love of Christ as you interacted with another person.

Invite students to review Moroni 7:45 and to write in their class notebooks or study journals a specific way they will seek to have greater charity for others.

Segment 8 (5 minutes)

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud paragraphs 3–5 of doctrinal topic 9, “Commandments,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a commandment mentioned in these paragraphs that they are especially grateful for.

  • What is a commandment listed in these paragraphs that you are especially grateful for? (As students respond, invite them to explain why they are grateful for the commandment they mentioned.)

Share your testimony of the commandments and why you are grateful for them.

Practice Exercises (40–50 minutes)

The exercises in this section can be done during the same class session or in different class sessions, depending on your schedule and the needs of your students.

Exercise 1 (20–25 minutes)

Write the following on the board: I know a lot of people who break the commandments and seem to have great lives. Do you really have to keep the commandments to be happy?

Invite students to imagine that they have a friend who asked them this question. Ask them to think about how they might respond, using what they have learned through their study of doctrinal topic 9, “Commandments,” and the three principles from the “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge” section of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: act in faith, examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective, and seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources.

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To help students understand how they might respond to the question, provide each student a copy of the following handout. Invite them to write their responses to the questions on the handout.

DOCTRINAL MASTERY BOOK OF MORMON TEACHER MATERIAL:
  1. How could you encourage your friend to act in faith?

  2. How could you help your friend examine his or her question with an eternal perspective? For example:

    • How could you help your friend think about the differences between temporary pleasures and lasting happiness?

    • How could you help your friend understand how obedience to the commandments brings lasting happiness and how disobedience eventually brings unhappiness?

    • Which doctrines or truths from doctrinal topic 9, “Commandments,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document would you want to share with your friend? Why?

  3. Which scriptures or other divinely appointed sources would you share with your friend? Why?

After sufficient time, organize students into pairs and invite them to role-play a conversation they might have with a friend who asked them this question. Invite them to use what they wrote to help them as they participate in the role play. After a few minutes, invite the students to switch roles and role-play again.

After the role play has concluded, invite students to ask questions or share thoughts or insights they have had as they have participated in this practice exercise.

Invite one or more students to share their testimonies of how obedience to the commandments has brought them happiness and blessings from the Lord.

Exercise 2 (20–25 minutes)

Read the following scenario aloud:

Imagine that during a conversation with some of your classmates at school, one of them criticizes you for your religious beliefs. When you try to respond, the person doesn’t really listen and criticizes you even more. You are hurt by the criticism, feel angry inside, and say something unkind in return. Afterward, you regret what happened and begin to wonder if you should just try to hide your religious beliefs from others in the future.

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Organize students into small groups of two or three, and give each student a copy of the following handout. Explain that the handout will help them consider how to apply the three principles of Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge in situations like the one you read. Ask the students to work in their groups to complete this activity.

DOCTRINAL MASTERY BOOK OF MORMON TEACHER MATERIAL:

How can I stand firm in the gospel truths I believe in and show love for others whose beliefs are different than mine?

Discuss how you could respond to the question above by using the principles and questions outlined below:

Act in faith:

  • If you were asking that question, what are some ways you could act in faith?

Examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective:

  • How can you seek to have an eternal perspective when interacting with people you may disagree with or are difficult for you to love? Why do you think this is important to do?

Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources:

  • How could the doctrine taught in Moroni 7:45, 47–48 help you know how to respond to the question?

  • What other scriptures or teachings of prophets and other Church leaders could help you find answers to this question?

If students need help identifying additional divinely appointed sources that can help them answer the question on the handout, consider referring them to Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s October 2014 general conference talk, “Loving Others and Living with Differences” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 25–28).

After students have had sufficient time to complete this activity, invite a few students to share with the class what they discussed.

You may want to conclude this exercise by reading the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles aloud:

Holland, Jeffrey R.

“Friends, especially my young friends, take heart. Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world. …

“Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 8–9).

Testify of the importance of loving others, even as we stand up for our beliefs. Invite students to ponder how they will seek to use what they learned in this exercise to defend the gospel truths they believe in a loving and Christlike way.

Doctrinal Mastery Review

This review activity can help students understand and apply the statements of doctrine supported by the Book of Mormon doctrinal mastery passages. Consider using this review activity toward the end of the course of study, after students have studied all of the Book of Mormon doctrinal mastery passages.

Display the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite a student to read the statement aloud.

Packer, Boyd K.

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.

“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior” (Boyd K. Packer, “Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).

Explain that each of the doctrinal mastery passages contains true doctrine which, when understood, helps us change and become more like Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. Write the following questions on the board or give them to students as a handout:

  • What doctrine does this scripture contain that, if understood, would change a person’s attitude or behavior?

  • If a person really understood the doctrine supported by this scripture, how might it affect his or her attitude or behavior?

  • Why do you think understanding the doctrine would have that effect?

  • How has your attitude or behavior changed as a result of understanding this doctrine?

Ask each student in the class to select a doctrinal mastery passage from the Book of Mormon. Or you could write references on strips of paper and ask students to randomly choose one. Invite students to read their doctrinal mastery passage and prepare to share their answers to the four questions above.

After students have had sufficient time, organize them into pairs. Ask them to read their scripture passages to each other and then answer the questions. Invite a few students to share their answers with the class.

Testify that the doctrines taught in the doctrinal mastery passages in the Book of Mormon can have a powerful effect on our behavior if we will take the time to study and truly understand them. Invite students to seek to better apply one of the doctrines they reviewed during this activity.