Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 15 – Eternally Indebted to Your Heavenly Father

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

“Note that the main story in the book of Mosiah is told in the third person rather than in the first person as was the custom in the earlier books of the Book of Mormon. The reason for this is that someone else is now telling the story, and that “someone else” is Mormon. With the beginning of the book of Mosiah we start our study of Mormon’s abridgment of various books that had been written on the large plates of Nephi. (3 Nephi 5:8-12.) The book of Mosiah and the five books that follow — Alma, Helaman, 3 Nephi, 4 Nephi, and Mormon — were all abridged or condensed by Mormon from the large plates of Nephi, and these abridged versions were written by Mormon on the plates that bear his name, the plates of Mormon. These are the same plates that were given to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni.” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.173)


Mosiah 1:2 And it came to pass

‘According to Joseph Allen, the phrase “and it came to pass” (or one of its derivatives) occurs in the English translation of the Book of Mormon over 1300 times. Apparently, the Maya people, who lived in southeast Mexico and Guatemala, may have adopted the phrase. Recent discoveries by Linda Schele show that the glyphs of the Seventh Century A.D. Maya ruins of Palenque use the phrases “and then it came to pass” and “it had come to pass.”

Furthermore, we know that the Lowland Maya did not invent writing in Mesoamerica. They simply adopted it from an earlier culture that existed between 600 B.C. and 50 A.D. The beginnings of the Classic Maya writing system fall in the period between 200 B.C. and 50 A.D. ‘ (Alan C Miner, Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 1:5 Understand of his mysteries

‘A mystery is a truth that cannot be known except through divine revelation-a sacred secret. In the days of Paul the important truth that Gentiles were to be admitted to the Kingdom of God without observing the Law of Moses was a ‘mystery’ (Eph. 1:9-11; Col. 1:25-27). In our day such great truths as those pertaining to the restoration of the Priesthood, the work for the dead, and the re-establishment of the Church are ‘mysteries,’ because they could not have been discovered except by revelation.’ (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, p. 141)

Mosiah 1:10 Thou art a king

“…though the database is small, Benjamin was a special father. Significantly, his own disinterest in status and power was apparently successfully transmitted to his sons. They were neither power-hungry, nor did they vie with one other for ascendancy, as so often happens in the process of succession. Their father-king had set the example for those whom he affectionately addressed as, O my sons (v. 6). His successor-son even tilled the soil just as his father had done, signaling to the people that they were not required to sustain him either. Think, therefore, upon his effectiveness as a father.” (Neal A Maxwell, Farms Symposia Audiotape, “Benjamin’s Sermon: A Manual for Discipleship”)


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

Mosiah 2:5-6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple

‘I love the imagery of these verses. Figuratively speaking, brethren, are the doors of our homes pitched towards the temples we so love? Do we attend as often as we can, showing our children through our example the importance of these sacred and special places?

As recorded in Mosiah, families received the word of the Lord through their prophet with enthusiasm and commitment. The people were so moved by King Benjamin’s teachings that they entered into a new covenant to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Ronald A Rasband, General Conference, April 2006)

Mosiah 2:9 Open your ears that you may hear

‘This admonition to open our ears to listen does not always receive the same response. While some people indicate a willingness to listen attentively and to be obedient to the words of the Lord, others seem to close their ears, not wanting to hear nor to obey. There are others who are slow to hear but who eventually do listen and become obedient. For all of these people, the result of their attitudes concerning the voice of the Lord will bring into their lives consequences which, in many instances, may be of an eternal nature.’ (Francisco J Vinas, General Conference, October 1996)

Mosiah 2:12 Have not sought gold or silver

‘While we can take Benjamin at his word that he has not sought wealth at the expense of this people and that he has not levied taxes (v. 14), it is also clear that he must have required something from the people, since a central government cannot exist without goods in some form flowing from the people. And in fact, the town’s ceremonial architecture suggests the form that support took: the temple with its walls. Such building projects require large amounts of labor that perforce remove people from other pursuits. Almost certainly some of this effort was governed by the season, with food production taking precedence. Benjamin’s point is not that they have not contributed to the support of government, but that they have not contributed to enriching Benjamin.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 2:17 Service

“When we understand why we serve we will not worry about where we serve.” (Howard W Hunter, BYU Devotional, Sept. 2, 1990)

Mosiah 2:20-21 Ye would be unprofitable servants

‘Benjamin teaches that even people whose souls are fully committed to God are “unprofitable servants.” In Mormonism, no human being is considered capable of saving himself or herself; we must all lean on the merits of Christ and his atonement. Benjamin does not speak of Christ here (which he does further into his speech), but the connection is clear. As LDS president Joseph Fielding Smith taught, “we never could repay” Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ “no matter how hard we labor.” The debt is simply too great.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Mosiah 2:24 He doth immediately bless you

‘Benjamin attempts here to explain the problem of grace and works without casting it as a theological question. We begin mortality in debt to God for our very lives; but when we attempt to repay him for our lives by obedience to his commandments, he immediately blesses us, leaving the original debt untouched. By the very nature of God and by the nature of mortality, we are unable to “catch up” to God’s blessings. While some blessings might seem to be “earned,” the overall set of blessings can never be earned.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 2:41 The blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments

“God has, in His mercy and kindness, confirmed the labors of His servants and the counsels they have given by bestowing prosperity and blessing upon all those who have accepted their counsels and have carried them out in the spirit in which they have been given. The Latter-day Saints themselves are living witnesses to this.

“The men who followed President Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles over whom he presided when they left Nauvoo and…laid the foundation of Salt Lake City, they have been the people who have been the most blessed of God and most prospered; they have prospered in their religion, they have prospered in temporal things, and they have been blessed with peace all the day long; while the men who disobeyed that counsel and concluded that they had had enough of this work and of following the counsels of the leading men of this Church (Sidney Rigdon, et al), have had sorrow and difficulty and have not prospered. God confirmed the leadership of these men by bestowing His blessing upon them and upon those who followed their counsels. He delivered them from perils, He delivered them from Indians, He delivered them from famine, He delivered them from pestilence, and prosperity attended their labors, and every settlement that has been formed in these mountains from the day Salt Lake Valley was reached has been attended with similar prosperity…There is the blessing of God; there is the peace of heaven; there is the joy of the Holy Ghost; there are the gifts and blessings that attend the faithful servants and handmaidens of Jesus Christ, in addition to temporal prosperity, before which temporal prosperity fades. I am speaking now of money and that which perishes with money. I have seen the richest people living in the lowliest homes. Why? Because they were rich in their feelings. I have seen the richest men who were poorer than the poorest of earth’s sons. Why? Because they did not have that rich feeling. Such a feeling does not belong to riches and earthly prosperity. It comes from the blessing of God. In this respect the Latter-day Saints may be said to be the richest people on the face of the earth. They are rich in that glorious feeling that God gives. You may strip them, as I have seen them stripped, of earthly possessions, and turned loose in a wilderness without a place of security and not knowing where they would find a resting place, and yet they were as happy a people as I ever saw in my life. Destitute of many things that men and women consider essential to earthly comfort, yet they had that which is above price, and which riches cannot bestow, namely, the peace of heaven, the peace of God resting down upon them. And they have been a rich people from that day to the present.” (George Q Cannon, Journal of Discourses, vol. 24, pp. 221-2)

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

Mosiah 3:3 Glad tidings of great joy

‘The wording here—“glad tidings of great joy”—is similar to the angelic message in Luke 2 in the New Testament, where angels impart “good tidings of great joy” to the shepherds. In both cases, the tidings referred to the coming birth of Christ.’  (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Mosiah 3:7 Blood cometh from every pore

Note 6. The Bloody Sweat. — Luke, the only Gospel-writer who mentions sweat and blood in connection with our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane, states that ‘his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground’ (22:44). Many critical expositors deny that there was an actual extrusion of blood, on the grounds that the evangelist does not positively affirm it, and that the three apostles, who were the only human witnesses, could not have distinguished blood from sweat falling in drops, as they watched from a distance in the night, even if the moon, which at the passover season was full, had been unobscured. Modern scripture removes all doubt. See D&C 19:16-19, also 18:11. See further a specific prediction of the bloody sweat, Mosiah 3:7.” (James E Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 613-4, 620)

Mosiah 3:10 The resurrection of Christ

‘The detail that Jesus would rise on the third day is new in Benjamin’s speech although both Jesus’s resurrection (2 Ne. 26:1) and his role as a judge were already known (1 Ne. 13:33, 22:21; 2 Ne. 9:15; etc).’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)


Mosiah 3:11 Those who have died not knowing the will of God

‘Also, according to King Benjamin, Christ’s blood will cleanse or sanctify those people who do not have a chance to receive the gospel in mortality but who live lives sufficiently good that temple work will be effective for them and who receive the gospel in the spirit world.’ (Milton R Hunter, General Conference, April 1958)

Mosiah 3:16 Little children

‘Mormons do not believe in original sin, the idea that the Fall of Adam and Eve is automatically passed from one generation to the next so that people are born in sin. In Mormon practice, children are not baptized until at least age eight, when they reach the age of accountability and are thought to be able to understand right from wrong. Here, Benjamin does not teach his hearers about baptism, but of salvation and sin in general. Since little children are not capable of fully knowing right from wrong, they are among the innocents who have “ignorantly sinned” (Mosiah 3:11) and are covered by the blood of Christ.’  (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Mosiah 3:19 The natural man

“One of the most disputed issues among so-called Christian theologians has been the question of the basic nature of man. Some of these theologians have argued that man is born evil into this world as an infant; thus the only way this evil can be removed is by receiving the sacrament of baptism. Still other theologians have argued that man is born innocent and remains basically good; some of them thus conclude that inasmuch as man is basically good he has no need for a redeemer to atone for his sins.

“It should be clear to students of the Book of Mormon that the prophets definitely reject both the doctrine of the natural depravity of man and the doctrine that man is so good by nature he has no need for a redeemer. Benjamin, the prophet and king of the Nephites, said that ‘an angel from God’ taught him that although infants are born in a state of innocence, after they become accountable they can become enemies to God if they do not accept the saving principles and ordinances of the gospel.” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 177-8)


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