“Be Ye Reconciled to God”
- Overcoming tribulation.
- Forgiving others.
- Feeling godly sorrow for our
- Becoming reconciled to God
A study of this lesson will encourage us to be true disciples of Jesus Christ
through applying Paul’s counsel in
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 35 Handout (PDF
2 Corinthians we see a more personal view of Paul than we do in most of
his other letters. We share his burdens, recognize the price he paid
for his faith, and empathize with him as he copes with long distances and
defends himself against determined enemies. We see him strengthened
by the news that many of the Saints in Corinth had returned to faith and
righteousness. And we ourselves gather strength from Paul's powerful
messages. He assured the Saints of God's care in times of
tribulation. He encouraged them to love and forgive each other and
to donate aid for the Church members in Jerusalem. And he continued
his teachings on repentance and emphasized the importance of being guided
by the Spirit in all things." (Gospel Doctrine Teacher's
Manual ©1989, p33)
Side note: I
think it is safe to claim that the Prophet Joseph Smith had actually met
and been tutored by Paul as an angel, for Joseph offered this description
of Paul at the organization of a school of instruction: "He is about five feet high; very dark hair,
dark complexion; dark skin; large Roman nose; sharp face; small black
eyes, penetrating as eternity; round shoulders; a whining voice, except
when elevated, and then it almost resembled the roaring of a lion. He was
a good orator, active and diligent, always employing himself in doing good
to his fellow man" (TPJS, p180). How could
Joseph have known this detail about Paul, particularly the information
about his voice, if he had not met him? I am sure the Prophet often
thought about Paul as he endured his own trials.
Paul wrote in his second
letter to the Corinthians about the trouble that he and Timothy
encountered in Asia. He said that the challenge was so great that
they "despaired even of life"
(2 Corinthians 1:8).
There are times in
each of our lives when things seem to work against us and we find the
battle too great. We may even despair, as did Paul and
Timothy. President Hugh B. Brown tells of the time when he was
called as a General Authority. Prior to the call he says he faced a
night of darkness. It was a time when he says that the presence of
the adversary was such that he longed to have his life end. This is
the kind of moment in which one feels despair.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-5.
God comforts us in our tribulation.
Paul goes on to say, "We are troubled on every side, yet not
distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not
forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (4:8-9).
HOW WERE PAUL AND
TIMOTHY ABLE TO MOVE BEYOND DESPAIR?
They were able to
find comfort through the Lord.
WHY ARE HEAVENLY
FATHER AND JESUS CHRIST OUR BEST SOURCES FOR COMFORT?
Elder Neal A.
Maxwell: "When we take Jesus'
yoke upon us, this admits us eventually to what Paul called the 'fellowship
of [Christ's] sufferings' (Philippians 3:10). Whether illness
or aloneness, injustice or rejection...our comparatively small-scale sufferings,
if we are meek, will sink into the very marrow of the soul. We
then better appreciate not only Jesus' sufferings for us, but also His
matchless character, moving us to greater adoration and even emulation.
"Alma revealed that Jesus knows how to
succor us in the midst of our griefs and sicknesses precisely because
Jesus has already borne our griefs and sicknesses (see Alma
7:11-12). He knows them firsthand; thus His empathy is
earned. Of course, we do not comprehend it fully any more than we
understand how He bore all mortal sins; but His Atonement remains the
rescuing and reassuring reality." (Ensign, May 1997,
2 CORINTHIANS 4:15-18. All things are for your sakes.
WHY IS IT THAT WE
ENCOUNTER ADVERSITY IN LIFE?
As Elder Maxwell
stated above, "When we take Jesus' yoke
upon us, this admits us eventually to what Paul called the 'fellowship
of [Christ's] sufferings'." Why must this be?
As Paul stated, all
things are for our "sakes." It "worketh
for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Consider the words of
"For it must needs be, that there is an
opposition in all things. If not so . . . righteousness could not
be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery,
neither good nor bad." (2 Nephi 2:11)
"...and he shall consecrate thine afflictions
for thy gain." (2 Nephi 2:2)
"Adam fell that men might be; and men are,
that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:25)
Consider the words of
the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he languished in Liberty jail: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine
adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then,
if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph
over all thy foes." (D&C 121:7-8)
One of my great
educational experiences was that of training for and running in my first
marathon. I wrote of my training, "Over
the next eight months I felt that I was always pushing the edge of my
endurance. I endured a period of a sore hip. I ran through
lots of Seattle rain. I ran through a blizzard. I ran
through freezing weather. I ran when I was tired. As time
progressed, I ran until I was almost faint."
What did I accomplish by eight months of physical
and mental adversity? I gained the physical strength to endure
twenty-six miles of running and enabled myself to cross the finish
line. I had the satisfaction of having set a difficult goal and
achieving the end result. I found after eight months of intensive
training I was physically fit, which provided many other benefits.
This physical adversity paid dividends, and
thus it is with the adversity we face in life. We are in training
for the eternal marathon. The finish line often seems far off, but
it "worketh for us a far more exceeding
and eternal weight of glory."
As we consider
adversity, it is an interesting exercise to imagine a world without
challenges and adversity. You may recall the movie series Back
To The Future. In the second movie Doc and Marty travel into
the future some thirty years, from 1985 to 2015. While there, Biff
steals Doc's time machine and returns to the past with a sports almanac,
which he gives to his 1955 self. When Doc and Marty return to 1985,
they find themselves in an alternate present which had been altered
because of Biff's return to 1955. 1985 had been radically
altered because of a single change in the sequence of events in 1955.
Since seeing Back to the Future II, I have
often thought how
single events can alter our futures. It would be an interesting
exercise to go back in our lives and consider the times of
adversity. Those times when the challenges were so great that we
were near despair. Did those times change the course of where we
are today? How did those challenges contribute to the person
we are today? Look back and consider what present you may be
living today if you had not confronted the challenges of the past.
One of the most challenging and difficult
times of my life were the two years I spent on a mission. As a
youngster, I had always planned on going on a mission. As the time
for actually sending in my papers approached, I encountered moments of
doubt and temptation. The time for my mission was postponed
because of the quota system that was in place during the Vietnam
War. That didn't make it any easier. But I made the decision
to go. What were the benefits from those two difficult and
challenging years in the mission field? How might my life be
different today had I not gone?
If I had Brother Beardall's own "Back To
The Future" time machine, we could go back to 1971 and see how
different my life might have been had I not made the decision to go
on a mission. One of the things I gained on my mission was a powerful
testimony of the Book of Mormon. A time came on my mission when I
doubted my testimony. I wondered why I was even on a mission.
I even considered leaving my mission and returning home. It was
this challenge of testimony during the early months of my mission that
caused me to do exactly what I had been asking others to do, read the
Book of Mormon with "real intent" and then pray with sincerity
of heart to learn of its truthfulness. I did just that. Over
the next several weeks I came to know the truthfulness of that mighty
book. That knowledge propelled me through the remainder of my
mission. But it did more.
If we fast forward the movie, we come to
a time when I became frustrated with Church and I took a
"vacation" from Sunday meeting attendance. The church of
the NFL became more important than the church of our Lord. Fortunately, that vacation didn't last more than a few months. What
propelled me to return? In our bedroom, my missionary Book of
Mormon sat atop a cabinet where I could easily see it from my desk or
bed. I would look up at that great work of scripture and my
testimony of its validity would shout out at me. How could I deny
it? Those thoughts worked on me and I returned to full activity in
the Church. What if I hadn't made the decision to go on a
mission? I would not have had the experience that caused me to gain
a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. Had I not had that
experience, when the challenge of Church activity came, I may not have
had the strength to return to Church. Instead of preparing this
lesson and feasting on the good word, I might be gearing up for another
season of Sundays with the National Football League (I'm not knocking
football, but it is a real Sabbath breaker).
In the second Back To The Future,
when the past was altered in 1955 by Biff, it not only affected Biff's
future, but the future of the whole town. What if I had not decided
to go on a mission in 1971? What other futures (eternal
destinies) might have been altered? Consider a few words from a
letter I received a few years ago from the son of one I had the chance to
teach and baptize. This young man was serving a mission at the time
he wrote. He said, "I have had the
desire many times to write and to express my love and great appreciation
for you. For your decision 25 years ago to serve a mission for the
Lord. In the which you have affected many peoples lives. In
particular, my life. If you had not served a mission, my father
might not have been baptized, and I might not have been where I am at
this time.... I have pondered your unselfish decision to serve the
Lord. Your decision to serve has changed my life forever. I
am forever grateful for the sacrifice which you made so many years
ago. In return I have been blessed with the knowledge of the Gospel
of Jesus Christ. I am sealed to my parents for time and
eternity.... The blessings I have received cannot be counted for
they are many." I had the privilege of teaching his
father near the end of my two years. What if I had chosen another
course when I faced adversity and temptation prior to my mission? Our choices, and the challenges and adversity we face, pay dividends.
Take a moment and play
your own version of Back To The Future. Consider the times of
challenge and adversity. Where might you be today if you had
taken a different course to avoid adversity, challenges, and obstacles?
Consider the words of
the Prophet Joseph Smith: "I am like a
huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only
polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact
with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious
bigotry, priest-craft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors,
suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives,
backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women—all
hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a
smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty."
Paul wrote of the trials that
he and many of the Saints endured.
"But in all things approving ourselves as the
ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in
distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in
watchings, in fastings." (2 Corinthians 6:4-5)
2 CORINTHIANS 11:23-33.
Paul's trials while on his missions.
2 CORINTHIANS 6:4, 6-7.
Qualities of those enduring trials.
WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD
WE DEVELOP TO HELP US ENDURE TRIALS?
Paul said, "And lest I should be exalted above measure
through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in
the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted
above measure." (2 Corinthians 12:7)
WHY DID THE LORD GIVE
PAUL THIS INFIRMITY?
It appears that this
was done in order to keep Paul humble.
WHAT DID PAUL LEARN
HOW CAN OUR WEAKNESSES
HELP US RECEIVE STRENGTH FROM JESUS CHRIST?
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them
their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my
grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if
they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make
weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)
Elder Neal A.
Maxwell: "It is in our weakness and
extremity that God's power is fully felt. Only when, of ourselves, we
are helpless is His help truly appreciated." (All These
Things Shall Give Thee Experience, p31)
Paul wrote, "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that
we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort
wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2
HOW CAN WE HELP OTHERS
RECEIVE THE COMFORT FROM GOD?
Prayer. "Ye also helping together by prayer for us,
that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks
may be given by many on our behalf" (2 Corinthians
Assisting during time
2 CORINTHIANS 2:5-11. Ye ought to forgive and comfort.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
THAT WE FORGIVE OTHERS?
One may be swallowed
up with too much sorrow (v7).
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us"
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your
heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS
OF BEING FORGIVING OR UNFORGIVING?
President Gordon B.
Hinckley: "We see the need for
forgiveness in the homes of the people, where tiny molehills of
misunderstanding are fanned into mountains of argument. We see it
among neighbors, where insignificant differences lead to undying
bitterness. We see it in business associates who quarrel and
refuse to compromise and forgive when, in most instances, if there were
a willingness to sit down together and speak quietly one to another, the
matter could be resolved to the blessing of all. Rather, they spend
their days nurturing grudges and planning retribution....
"...There is no peace in reflecting on the
pain of old wounds. There is peace only in repentance and
forgiveness. This is the sweet peace of the Christ, who said,
'blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of
God' (Matt. 5:9)." (Ensign, Jun 1991, p2&5)
Once again, take a
moment and play your own version of Back To The Future. Where might you
be if you had taken a different course in not forgiving those who had
committed trespasses against you?
Feeling Godly Sorrow For Our Sins
2 CORINTHIANS 7:8-10. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation.
WHY DID PAUL REJOICE
WHEN HE HEARD THAT ONE OF HIS LETTERS MADE THE CORINTHIANS FEEL SORRY?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO
HAVE "GODLY SORROW" FOR OUR SINS?
Elder Bruce R.
McConkie: "This includes an honest,
heartfelt contrition of soul, a contrition born of a broken heart and a
contrite spirit. It presupposes a frank, personal acknowledgment that
one's acts have been evil in the sight of Him who is holy. There is no
mental reservation in godly sorrow, no feeling that perhaps one's sins
are not so gross or serious after all. It is certainly more than regret
either because the sin has been brought to light or because some
preferential reward or status has been lost because of it."
(Mormon Doctrine, p292)
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN GODLY SORRY AND "THE SORROW OF THE WORLD"?
WHY IS GODLY SORROW AN
IMPORTANT PART OF REPENTANCE?
President Spencer W.
Kimball: "If one is sorry only
because someone found out about his sin, his repentance is not complete.
Godly sorrow causes one to want to repent even though he has not been
caught by others and makes him determined to do right no matter what
happens. This kind of sorrow brings righteousness and will work toward
Brings Forgiveness, p8)
Becoming Reconciled To God
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17-21.
Be ye reconciled to God.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO
BE RECONCILED TO GOD?
Elder Bruce R.
McConkie: "Reconciliation is the
process of ransoming man from his state of sin and spiritual darkness
and of restoring him to a state of harmony and unity with
Deity.... Man, who was once carnal and evil, who lived after the
manner of the flesh, becomes a new creature of the Holy Ghost; he is
born again; and, even as a little child, he is alive in Christ."
HOW CAN WE BE
RECONCILED TO GOD?
"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade
our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be
reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved,
after all we can do." (2 Nephi 25:23)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
In his second epistle to the
Corinthians Paul has taught many important truths, including dependence on
the Lord in times of difficulty, seeking to forgive others, truly
repenting of our sins by having Godly sorrow, and reconciling ourselves to
God. In the Back To The Future series, at the end of episode three, Marty's girlfriend asked Doc if their future had been altered by certain
events. Doc replied something to the effect, "Your future has
not yet been written, so make it a good one." Where we are
today is dependent on our past actions, but our future has not yet been
written. We can make it a good one by following the counsel of Paul.
Consider your life. Where might you have been had you not made proper
choices when faced with adversity? What blessings have you received because of
challenges in your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
All These Things Shall Give
Thee Experience by Neal A. Maxwell.
Doctrinal New Testament
Commentary by Bruce R. McConkie (DNTC).
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Repentance Brings Forgiveness
(pamphlet) by Spencer W. Kimball
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
26 August 2015