Book of Mormon
Be Called the Children of Christ”
King Benjamin's people see and receive a remission of their sins.
King Benjamin teaches his people how to live Christlike lives.
King Benjamin's people experience a "mighty change" and covenant to do
God's will in all things.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to seek and maintain the “mighty
change” of heart that comes through exercising faith in Jesus Christ.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 16 Handout (PDF)
Summary of King Benjamin's address in
Mosiah 2 &
Benjamin gathered the Nephites together for a farewell address and
to plead with them with all his heart.
Benjamin taught the people about their relationship with God, admonished them to obey
and serve Him, and reminded them of His blessings.
Benjamin prophesied of the Messiah's coming and Atonement, and testified that
shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation
can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ"
"And now, it came to pass
that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had
been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes
round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth,
for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.
"And they had viewed themselves
in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they
all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning
blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts
may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created
heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children
of men." (Mosiah 4:1-2)
Comments on Verse 1.
It is important to understand what happened in its proper context.
King Benjamin spoke eternal truth to his people. The force of his
words were carried into their hearts by the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Fallen to the earth: In many cultures of the ancient world, prostration
was a manifestation of reverence, respect, or overwhelming awe (DCBM, 2:156).
Fear of the Lord: As used among Old Testament peoples, the word
fear (Hebrew: Yirah) is also rendered as reverence or respect. The righteous
long to attain the divine presence (DCBM, 2:156).
We need to remember that this is a work of Semitic origins and its terminology
should be considered in that light.
As we consider these definitions we are provided with a different picture. At first reading, we seem to see a people who are afraid of the eternal
punishments of God. As we understand what is transpiring, we see
a people who are profoundly touched by the words of Benjamin and are deeply
humbled by his words.
Comments on Verse 2.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN MORMON REPORTS THAT THESE PEOPLE HAD VIEWED THEMSELVES
IN THEIR "CARNAL STATE" AND "EVEN LESS THAN THE DUST OF THE EARTH"?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Since the fall, all
men have become carnal, sensual and devilish by nature. (Moses 5:13;
6:49; Alma 42:10; Mosiah 16:1-4; D. & C. 20:20.) In this fallen
state they are subject to the lusts, passions, and appetites of the flesh. They are spiritually dead, having been cast out of the presence of the
Lord; and thus 'they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary
to the nature of God.' They are in a 'carnal state' (Alma 41:10-11);
they are of the world. Carnality connotes worldliness, sensuality,
and inclination to gratify the flesh." (Mormon Doctrine, p113)
Less than the dust of the earth:
"O how great is the nothingness
of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing
asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God." (Helaman
These references to "carnality" and the "dust of the earth" are a commentary
on man's propensity toward disobedience.
In this state of recognition and humility they cried out for mercy through
the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
"And it came to pass that after they
had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they
were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having
peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus
Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had
spoken unto them." (Mosiah 4:3)
We might ask the question, "How can I tell when
I have received a remission of my sins?" This verse suggest three
ways we might know (see DCBM 2:158):
Filled with joy: That is, one delights in fellowship
with those of the household of faith; confidence once again begins to wax strong
in the presence of the Lord; the word of the Lord becomes sweet to the taste;
and the strength of the Lord enables one to bear life's burdens with
Filled with peace: The spirit of the adversary brings with
it such feelings as confusion, uncertainty, disorder, misery, stupor, darkness,
and unhappiness. In contrast, the Spirit of the Lord produces certitude, order,
comfort, clarity of thought, light, and happiness.
The favors and blessings of the Holy Ghost: The gifts of
the Spirit are manifest in one's life. We know that no unclean
thing can dwell in the divine presence. Companionship with the Holy
Ghost is a sure sign that one's sins have been remitted (see
3 Nephi 27: 19-20).
President Marion G. Romney: "Somebody
recently asked how one could know when he is converted. The answer is simple.
He may be assured of it when by the power of the Holy Spirit his soul is
healed. When this occurs, he will recognize it by the way he feels, for
he will feel as the people of Benjamin felt when they received remission
of sins. The record says, 'the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they
were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having
peace of conscience' (Mosiah 4:3)." (CR, Oct 1963)
MOSIAH 4:4-10. Salvation comes through Christ
to those who trust in the Lord.
HOW DO WE OBTAIN SALVATION? BY SIMPLY BELIEVING IN CHRIST?
Through the Atonement prepared from the foundation of the world (v7).
Without the atonement, we are truly in a "worthless and fallen state" and
would remain there forever. Because of the atonement, we can rise
from this state to celestial heights.
"And there is none other salvation save
this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby
man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you." (v8)
"We do not barter where salvation is concerned.
As there is one salvation and one Savior, so we obtain that blessed state
on God's terms and his alone. The terms of salvation rest with him who
has the power to call forth the body from its grave of dust and grant it
the full glories of the celestial realm." (DCBM, 2:160)
We must be doers (v10). WHAT MUST WE DO?
We must come to a knowledge of:
The goodness of God (v6).
His matchless power (v6).
His wisdom (v6).
His patience (v6).
His long-suffering towards the children of men (v6).
The atonement (v6).
Trust in the Lord (v6).
Be diligent in keeping His commandments (v6).
Continue in faith unto the end mortal life (v6).
Believe in God (v9).
Believe that God created all things (v9).
Believe that we do not comprehend all things (v9).
A sign of humility and dependence on the Lord.
Repent of our sins and forsake them (v10).
Humble ourselves before God and ask in sincerity for His forgiveness (v10).
"What follows is not a list of do's and don'ts
on the part of King Benjamin but rather a characterization of individuals
and families who have been born of the Spirit. To have the Lord's Spirit
is to do the things that the Lord would do; conversely, those possessed
of an evil spirit will be the perpetrators of evil deeds." (DCBM,
According to this statement, if we find contention within our families, it is a
symptom of the lack of the Spirit within our homes. If we
consider this thought, our approach to eliminating the contention or quarreling
may be much different.
We need to once again consider President Romney’s words: "I
feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of
Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children,
the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who
dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect
and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention
will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love
and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the
counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith,
hope, and charity--the pure love of Christ--will abound in our homes and
lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness."
(CR, Apr 1980)
MOSIAH 4:19-25. We ought to impart of our
substance, one to another.
WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE FOR BEING HERE ON THIS EARTH?
To prepare for eternity. Our great destiny is to become like Heavenly
Father and his son, Jesus Christ.
WHAT IS ONE OF THE GREAT ATTRIBUTES OF THE FATHER AND THE SON?
They have given all for our eternal welfare.
If we are striving to become as they are, we must give and
serve within the capabilities that we have been blessed with, without judging? Is this not part of our training?
Did not Jesus die to pay for the sins of all who repent? How, then,
can we judge?
"And see that all these things
are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should
run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should
be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things
must be done in order." (Mosiah 4:27)
WHAT DOES THIS VERSE MEAN TO YOU?
All to be done in wisdom and order. It is not
required that we run faster than we have strength.
A personal experience makes it possible for
me to relate to King Benjamin's words.
One should not show up at the starting line of a
marathon without significant preparation.
When I ran my first marathon, I spent eight months in
training and preparation. My first run consisted of a few laps around the track. During the course of those eight months I gradually built up the length of
my runs. One must build up their endurance and strength day by day, week by week. In
the early weeks I pushed harder and further than my body was ready. I ended up developing hip pain which required me to cut back
for a few weeks.
A successful marathoner will have consistent and
Proper diet and rest is required.
After months of training, one is ready to stand at
the starting line and begin the race. The wisdom in verse 27 continues
One must run the race in order, from start to finish. A few years ago, an individual attempted a shortcut at the Boston Marathon. They were caught and disqualified, thus never able to reach the finish
A marathon must be run with wisdom. You cannot
start at breakneck speed and finish the race. You cannot run faster
than you have strength. Patience is required, step-by-step, pacing
oneself to finish.
A marathon definitely requires enduring to the end. When I ran my fourth marathon, the last six miles I ran into a cool breeze
coming off Elliott Bay in Seattle. Having already run twenty miles, my
body was drained and producing little heat. That cool breeze
drained the remaining heat out of my body, leaving me with little energy. I came to the point were all I could do is look down at the road and take
one step at a time. I endured to the end and finished the race, but
it was definitely a race of endurance.
The goal for most marathoners is to simply finish
the race. Our eternal goal is to finish our course and win eternal
life. Our life should be spent in diligent, progressive training. There is a course we must follow. We
do not have to be the first one
to the finish line. We do not need to compare our progress with that
of the Brethren or anyone else. Sometimes we need to move forward,
one step at a time, but to keep moving forward and endure to the end.
"The Lord's people are always commanded to search
out and care for the poor. They are, however, to do so in wisdom and order
-- to see to it that such efforts do not neglect the needs of their families.
Nor can our obligation to extend temporal aid overshadow eternal covenants
wherein we have been commissioned to carry the message of the gospel and
its saving principles and ordinances to every nation, kindred, tongue,
and people. Christ is our example. Notwithstanding his abiding concern
for the needy and the afflicted, his primary ministry was to declare everlasting
truths and administer the ordinances of salvation."
finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for
there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them. But this much I can tell
you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words,
and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the
faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto
the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish
We must be always vigilant in all that we do,
say, and think. Do we slip occasionally in these areas?
I think this might be a definition of enduring to
"And now, it came to pass
that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them,
desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had
spoken unto them. And they all cried with
one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken
unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit
of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in
our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good
continually." (Mosiah 5:1-2)
WHAT BROUGHT ABOUT THIS MIGHTY CHANGE OF HEART?
The Spirit of the Lord.
These people were members of the Church and had probably received baptism. And yet they were not truly changed until the Spirit
"wrought" this "might change."
Bruce R. McConkie: "Sins are remitted not in the
waters of baptism, as we say in speaking figuratively, but when we receive
the Holy Ghost. It is the Holy Spirit of God that erases carnality and
brings us into a state of righteousness. We become clean when we actually
receive the fellowship and companionship of the Holy Ghost."
(A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p290)
Joseph Smith: "You might as well baptize a bag
of sand as a man if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting
of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good
for nothing without the other half -- that is, the baptism of the Holy
Ghost." (TPJS, p314)
HOW CAN WE COME TO THE POINT OF RECEIVING THIS MIGHTY CHANGE OF HEART?
In this instance, the people had been taught pure truth. Studying
the scriptures and hearing the word of God through his servants will lead
us to the next step.
They then humbled themselves before God.
They cried for mercy and asked the Father to apply the atoning blood of
What a marvelous change to "have no more disposition to do evil, but to
do good continually."
Notice the importance of faith in obtaining knowledge of
the things of God (see v4).
Brigham Young said that the Holy Spirit reveals heaven's treasures to its
disciples: "It shows them things past, present,
and to come. It opens the vision of the mind, unlocks the treasures of
wisdom, and they begin to understand the things of God .... They comprehend
themselves and the great object of their existence." (JD, 1:241.)
Consider the powerful covenant made by these people (see v5). These
were people truly quickened by the Spirit. And they kept their covenant.
Consider the power results of their covenant (see v7).
Because of the choices we made in our pre-existent life, we were born into
a human family so that we might obtain a physical body as part of the
process of eternal progression.
Because of the change which came into the lives of these people and the
covenant which they made, they went through a process as significant as
our physical birth.
They were born into Christ's spiritual family, to become his sons and daughters.
Like the process of physical birth, the process of spiritual birth can
also be painful. Consider the story of Alma (see
This process may be a dramatic one, as in this instance or the instance
of Alma, but for most of us it occurs bit by bit, line upon line.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "A person may get converted
in a moment, miraculously. That is what happened to Alma the younger. He
had been baptized in his youth, he had been promised the Holy Ghost, but
he had never received it. He was too worldly-wise; he went off with the
sons of Mosiah to destroy the church .... Alma was in this state, and then
this occasion occurred when a new light came into his soul, when he was
changed from his fallen and carnal state to a state of righteousness. In
his instance the conversion was miraculous, in the snap of a finger, almost
.... But that is not the way it happens with most people. With most people
conversion is a process; and it goes step by step, degree by degree, level
by level, from a lower state to a higher, from grace to grace, until the
time that the individual is wholly turned to the cause of righteousness.
Now this means that an individual overcomes one sin today and another sin
tomorrow. He perfects his life in one field now, and in another field later
on. And the conversion process goes on, until it is completed, until we
become, literally, as the Book of Mormon says, saints of God instead of
natural men." (From an address at BYU First Stake Conference,
11 February 1968, quoted in DCBM, 2:174-175)
"And it shall come to pass
that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for
he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by
the name of Christ.... I say unto you, I would
that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts,
that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know
the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall
call you." (Mosiah 5:9,12)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO RETAIN THE NAME OF CHRIST WRITTEN ALWAYS IN OUR HEARTS?
WHAT CAN WE DO EACH DAY TO KEEP HIS NAME WRITTEN UPON OUR HEARTS?
Among other things we demonstrate that his name is written upon our hearts
by being "steadfast and immovable, always abounding
in good works" (v15).
Following his father's great address, Mosiah began his reign as king over
"And king Mosiah did cause his people
that they should till the earth. And he also, himself, did till the earth,
that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people that he might
do according to that which his father had done in all things."
King Benjamin lived three more years and died (see
Mosiah encouraged his people, even by his own example, to be active and
President Spencer Kimball: "Work brings happiness ....
It is the means of all accomplishment; it is the opposite of idleness.
We are commanded to work. (See Gen. 3:19.) Attempts to obtain our temporal,
social, emotional, or spiritual well-being by means of a dole violate the
divine mandate that we should work for what we receive. Work should be
the ruling principle in the lives of our Church membership."
(CR, Oct 1977)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the conclusion of King Benjamin's address and the
impact on the Nephites. In what ways can you apply these principles in your
Resources Used In This Lesson
A New Witness for the Articles of Faith by Bruce R. McConkie
Conference Reports (CR).
Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon by Joseph Fielding McConkie and
Robert L. Millett (DCBM).
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
Gospel Doctrine Class
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