The raising of the brass serpent by Moses portended the raising of Christ upon the cross and His glorious resurrection. Having risen from the grave, He prepared the way for us all
“…As [Moses] lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, so shall [the Messiah] be lifted up who should come. And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.” (Helaman 8:15)
-Is it possible to “look” to Christ without faith and without a contrite spirit?
-Do different Christian faiths (and their individual congregations) influence their adherents, either negatively or positively, toward having a contrite spirit and having faith when looking to Christ?
The prophet historian, Mormon, tells of a time in Nephite history where true followers of Christ drew closer to Him despite being mistreated by their fellow church members.
“…In the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction. Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling of their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” (Helaman 3:33-36)
-How can one be filled with joy even while passing through great difficulties in life?
-Would this group of people have obtained deep purification and sanctification of their hearts without the persecution they experienced?
-Are there worldly powers (including political forces) today that are tempting some in the Church to become prideful and despise others in the Church? -How vital is humility in ensuring one does not end up on the wrong side (i.e. prideful side) of inter-Church divisions?
Alma teaches key principles, which Priesthood leaders should preach, to bring rest to souls.
“Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.” (Alma 37:33-34)
-How does ego inevitably torment those who let it have a prominent place in their lives?
-How many understand that having a humble heart and faith in God brings the only true and lasting peace?
Alma teaches that humility before God always brings blessings, but the blessings are greatest for those who humble themselves rather than being humbled by outside circumstances and events.
“…He that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble…Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word of God, or even compelled to known, before they will believe.” (Alma 32:15-16)
-What does it mean to be compelled to be humble?
-If Christ’s Second Coming were to occur tomorrow, how many would be quickly compelled by outside circumstances to face their true standing with God?
-Is intentionally humbling oneself before God day in and day out (e.g. by keeping His commandments, serving others, having meaningful prayers, and studying His gospel) the only way not to be eventually compelled to be humble by circumstances and events?
How one approaches his or her relationship with God matters if one desires to enter His rest.
“…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.” (Alma 13:28-29)
-How is humility towards God tied to overcoming temptation?
-How does the Holy Spirit lead a person to become humble, meek, submissive to God, patient, full of love, and long-suffering?
After the Nephite people request a king, the man who the majority want to be their king (Alma) refuses. He explains why based on a specific commandment received from the Lord.
“Thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another or one man shall not think himself above another.” (Mosiah 23:7)
-What causes people to think they are better than others?
-How tempting is it for a person to seek confirmation that he or she is better than others?
-Does any good come from thoughts and actions based on a sense of superiority (or from establishing positions in social structure that signal superiority)?
-Since we are only saved by the grace of God through Christ’s loving Atonement, what position do we put ourselves in when we aren’t careful to extend the same kind of love to others (in our thoughts and actions) as Christ has extended to us?
King Benjamin teaches that humbly remembering the perfect goodness of God, calling on His name in prayer, and exercising steady faith are closely tied to being filled with the love of God and retaining a forgiveness of sin.
“…As ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith…And…I say unto you that if you do this ye shall always rejoice and be filled with the love of God and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge that which is just and true.” (Mosiah 4:11-12)
-How does one come to a knowledge of the glory of God?
-Is it possible to do so without the influence of the Holy Ghost?
-How important is it to remember the impressions received from the Holy Ghost about who God really is?
-How is humility, prayer, and faithful action tied to retaining forgiveness of sins.
-Can a person shut out the purifying influence of the Holy Ghost by his or her thoughts or actions? Is it possible to retain a forgiveness of sins without the purifying influence of the Holy Ghost?