“I Can Do
All Things through Christ”
Paul encourages the Philippian Saints
to follow Jesus Christ.
Paul reminds the Colossians that redemption
comes only through Christ.
Paul teaches the Colossians what they
should do as the elect of God.
Paul encourages Philemon to be forgiving
A study of this lesson will encourage us to develop the characteristics of
true followers of 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 40 Handout (PDF
Introduction to Philippians.
Written during Paul's first Roman imprisonment.
The faithful members in Philippi had
sent Paul aid, and he wrote to thank them and encourage them in living
Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
is not a mighty dissertation, one to shake the earth or serve as a guidepost
to Christendom, but it is a sweet and refined statement into which a number
of gospel doctrines are woven. And our Bible is greatly enriched by its
presence there." (DNTC, 2:525)
you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but
also to suffer for his sake." (Philippians 1:29)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
the saints suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, they stand in the
place and stead of Christ and are receiving what the ungodly would heap
upon the Son of God were he personally present." (DNTC, 2:530)
Persecution often comes as a part of
being the Lord's people.
Joseph Smith: "You
are not as yet brought into as trying circumstances as were the ancient
Prophets and Apostles. Call to mind Daniel, the three Hebrew children,
Jeremiah, Paul, Stephen, and many others, too numerous to mention, who
were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, and wandered
about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented,
of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and in mountains,
and hid in dens, and caves of the earth; yet they all obtained a good report
through faith; and amidst all their afflictions they rejoiced that they
were counted worthy to receive persecution for Christ's sake.
"We know not what we shall be called to pass through before Zion is
delivered and established; therefore, we have great need to live near to
God, and always be in strict obedience to all His commandments, that we
may have a conscience void of offense toward God and man."
Joseph Smith: "Those
who cannot endure persecution, and stand in the day of affliction, cannot
stand in the day when the Son of God shall burst the veil, and appear in
all the glory of His Father, with all the holy angels." (TPJS,
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THESE STATEMENTS?
my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now
much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
WHAT DO YOU THINK PAUL MEANT WHEN HE
TOLD THE PHILIPPIANS TO WORK OUT THEIR SALVATION WITH "FEAR AND TREMBLING?"
When I look at the scripture from glance,
I perceive someone keeping the commandments because they are afraid of
the negative consequence of not doing so. IS THAT WHAT PAUL MEANT?
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "We
know that the Lord is merciful and kind and that he does not rejoice in
causing fear in the hearts of the righteous; nor does he command them to
approach him in the spirit of fear in the sense in which this term is usually
interpreted. It is true that the wicked will fear and tremble before him
in that great day of judgment and that he is angry with the wicked, and
dreadful fear and trembling will fill their hearts at his coming. The fear
spoken of in these passages is in connection with the spirit of obedience."
(Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:2)
President David O. McKay: "'Work
out your own salvation' is an exhortation to demonstrate by activity, by
thoughtful obedient effort the reality of faith. But this must be done
with 'fear and trembling;' that is with a consciousness that absolute dependence
upon self may produce pride and weakness that will bring failure. With
'fear and trembling' we should seek the strength and grace of God for inspiration
to obtain the final victory.
"However, to work out one's salvation is not to sit idly by, dreaming
and yearning for God miraculously to thrust bounteous blessings into our
laps. It is to perform daily, hourly, momentarily, if necessary, the immediate
task or duty at hand, and to continue happily in such performance as the
years come and go, leaving the fruits of such labors either to self or
to others to be bestowed as a just and beneficent Father may determine."
(CR, April 1938)
PHILIPPIANS 3:7-11. All things a loss for Christ.
PAUL TOLD THE PHILIPPIANS THAT HE HAD
SACRIFICED ALL THINGS FOR CHRIST. WHAT HAD HE SACRIFICED?
His position as a Jewish leader.
The comforts of home and family.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE HAVE
SACRIFICED FOR CHRIST?
Many of the possessions and pursuits of the
WHAT MIGHT WE YET NEED TO SACRIFICE
TO KNOW CHRIST AND BECOME ONE WITH HIM?
Joseph Smith: "Sacrifice
is the crowning test of the gospel. Men are tried and tested in this
mortal probation to see if they will put first in their lives the things
of the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33.) To gain eternal life, they must
be willing, if called upon, to sacrifice all things for the gospel. 'If
thou wilt be perfect,' Jesus said to the rich young man, 'go and sell that
thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:
and come and follow me.'
"A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never
has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary [to lead] unto life
and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary
unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without
the sacrifice of all earthly things." (Lectures on Faith #6)
We all go through struggles as we determine
to follow the Master. Consider the struggle of John Butler, an early
Latter-Day Saint, as he decided to join the Church. He wrote: "On
Friday, the next day, I was lying on my bed reading and resting my mind.
I traveled back over my past history and was thinking from the first time
that I had serious reflections up until the time that the voice spoke to
me and told me to stand still and see the salvation of God and that would
be truth. And the voice of the same spirit said, 'This is truth that you
have been hearing, now choose or refuse.' Now I was at a standstill
to know what I should do. I saw the sacrifice I had to make in losing my
good name and also what little property I had that it would go to if I
joined these Mormons, but then it was the truth that we had heard and the
elders were sent of God to preach the true and everlasting gospel. What
could I do? I had promised the Lord that I would serve and obey him and
even lay down my life for the gospel's sake if necessary. And what was
my property against my life, why nothing at all, and if I lost my good
name it would be to gain a better one. So while I lay on my bed, I covenanted
with my Eternal Father to obey the first choice. I then felt better and
to rejoice that I was so blessed of God. I then felt the spirit of God
to rest down upon me with this testimony that it was right." (Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p8)
PHILIPPIANS 3:13-14. Paul
presses toward the mark.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM PAUL'S TELLING
HOW HE PRESSED FORWARD TOWARD ETERNAL LIFE?
He forgot the negative things in his
past - his sins and mistakes.
Paul was a persecutor of the church,
possibly an accomplice in the martyrdom of Stephen. This must have
weighed heavily on his heart and yet he was able to put that behind him.
How often do we dwell on the things
of the past and let them slow our progression down? Paul did not
dwell on the things of the past. He could not change them. And we cannot change the things in our past.
A few weeks ago
I made reference to the movie series, Back To The Future. In each
of those movies, Doc and Marty went back in history and did some minor
tampering with events that changed the course of their present. We cannot do that. We do not have time machines that enable us to
visit our past and alter our mistakes. What we can do is learn from
our mistakes and follow the example which Paul so nobly set, to press forward
to that which lies ahead, our great eternal goals. As we do so, the great
sacrifice of Christ is activated in our life and the ultimate consequences of
those past mistakes are mitigated.
brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever
things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there
be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
HOW CAN WE APPLY THE COUNSEL FROM PAUL?
What is our goal? To become perfect
and obtain eternal life.
Paul gives us an important key to assist
us in achieving this lofty goal. After listing several virtues
he says to "think on these things."
What kind of things? Things that
are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, or any virtue.
as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7)
Many years ago James Allen wrote a little
book based on this scripture entitled, As A Man Thinketh. Consider
a few of his thoughts:
of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared
"A man's mind
may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed
to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring
"The soul attracts
that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves, and also that which
it fears, it reaches the height of its cherished aspirations; it falls
to the level of its unchastened desires".
the process of putting himself right, he will find that as he alters his
thoughts toward things, and other people, things and other people will
alter toward him."
"A man can
only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up his thoughts."
the seedlings of realities."
Our eternal goal is to become like our
Heavenly Father. According to this counsel, if we are to achieve our
eternal destiny our mental focus must
be on the that which will lift and inspire. As Mr. Allen stated:
"The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors." How can
we believe that we are aspiring to the things of eternity, when we are longing for the things of this world? Or when we turn away from that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of
33, I wrote of the power of a single seed thought and how it became
the catalyst for my running a marathon. That first thought was the beginning
of a series of thoughts that propelled me through weeks of difficult training
and finally to the finish line. During those months of training, my
thoughts were focused on running. Almost every morning, while taking
a shower, I reviewed my training run from the previous day. I kept
a running journal. While sitting on the bus to and from work, I read running
magazines. I watched televised marathons, such as the New York City
marathon. At least every other weekend, I joined fellow runners at
a road race. I discussed running with friends. Was there any
question that I would finish the marathon? Not really. Not
only had I invested the physical effort, but much of my thinking for months
focused on running. Are we investing that kind of mental effort in
the things of eternity or are we investing that effort elsewhere? Consider again one of Mr. Allen's ideas: "A
man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated
or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and
will, bring forth."
Elder Boyd K. Packer spoke of controlling our
mental or thought environment. Consider a few of his words:
"As the years
passed I found that, while not easy, I could control my thoughts if I made
a place for them to go. You can replace thoughts of temptation, anger,
disappointment, or fear with better thoughts--with music."
talks we hold with ourselves. Do you see why the scriptures tell us to
'let virtue garnish [thy] thoughts unceasingly' and promise us that if
we do, our 'confidence [shall] wax strong in the presence of God; and the
doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon [our] soul[s] as the dews
from heaven' and then 'the Holy Ghost shall be [our] constant companion'."
are full of help on how good can influence your mind and evil control you,
if you let it. That struggle will never end. But remember this:
All the water in the world,
However hard it tried,
Could never sink the smallest ship
Unless it [gets] inside.
And all the evil in the world,
The blackest kind of sin,
Can never hurt you the least bit
Unless you let it in.
learn to control your thoughts, you will be safe." (CR, Oct
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED AS YOU HAVE
TRIED TO FOLLOW THIS ADMONITION FROM PAUL?
do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
Paul had a mighty testimony and great
faith in Jesus Christ. He knew where to obtain true strength.
Lloyd D. Newell: "When we approach the 'rough' in life
with a positive attitude and a humble dependence upon God, it is amazing how the
rocky road we were once traveling can become so much more smooth. The nature of
'the road' really does not change, but our capacity to walk it increases when we
turn to God for support. We, like Paul, will then say to ourselves: 'I can do
all things through Christ which strengtheneth me'." (The Divine
HOW HAS THIS ATTITUDE HELPED YOU
IN TIMES OF TRIAL?
The Saints in Colosse, a small city
east of Ephesus, were apparently influenced by teachings that demeaned
Jesus. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul wanted to correct these
teachings, exhorting the Saints to be "grounded and settled" in the knowledge
that Jesus is the Savior and possesses the fulness of the Father.
Paul teaches about Christ.
WHAT TRUTHS ABOUT JESUS DID PAUL TEACH
Christ is the author of our salvation
He is in the image of his father (physically
& spiritually). (v15)
He is the Firstborn of the Father - the first
of his spirit children. (v15)
He is the creator of all things, both in
heaven and in earth. (v16)
He is the head of the church. (v18)
He is the "firstborn from the dead". (18)
Even the wicked are reconciled to God through
HOW DOES A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AFFECT
HOW YOU LIVE?
We are striving to become like God. To
become like him we invest our efforts in developing those attributes which are
part of his character and being. Thus, having a knowledge of God
gives us the information we need to become like him.
A few years ago we took a vacation that included
travel through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, and
Montana. There were many places we planned to stop along the way. As we planned our trip, we obtained a road atlas and several travel guides. With that information in hand, we enjoyed a successful trip and saw many
interesting sights along the way. Without that information, we might still be wandering the
back roads of Wyoming.
As we seek to become like our Heavenly Father, we need
a roadmap for life. That roadmap includes the scriptures, the words of the
prophets, and personal revelation. As we apply the knowledge of God we
obtain from those sources, we are able to progress in our journey to become like
him. As knowledge of the road aided us in a successful vacation, knowledge
of God aids us in achieving our eternal destiny.
Joseph Smith: "If
men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves."
WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS SO?
ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from
the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to
every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister."
WHAT CAUSES SOME PEOPLE TO BE 'MOVED
AWAY FROM THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL'?
The vain things of the world.
The deceptive teachings of men. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy
and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the
world, and not after Christ." (Colissians 2:8)
WHAT CAN WE DO SO THAT OUR TESTIMONIES
OF THE GOSPEL REMAIN STRONG?
This seems to be a recurring question in our
gospel studies. As we travel through our days on this mortal sphere we are
constantly being pulled and tugged in many directions. There are many
answers to this broad question. Essentials include:
Prayer: If we are in touch with the
Lord in sincere prayer he will guide our paths and lead us away from
that which weakens our testimonies.
Pondering: Related to prayer. It is the
quiet, thoughtful pondering of our lives and the things of eternity. It is in these quiet, reflective moments that we can find peace, solace,
Scriptures: Here we find the "iron
rod" (the road map) that will guide us through the tumult and confusion so prevalent in
that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my
sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:39)
Colossians 2:7 Paul says
that we should be
"abounding in thanksgiving." He repeats this again in
Colossians 3:15, and also says,
ye thankful." In
Colossians 3:17 Paul reminds us,
whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
WHY DO YOU THINK
PAUL EMPHASIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING THANKFUL?
President Ezra Taft Benson:
help us to be grateful for our blessings, never to be guilty of the sin
of ingratitude, and to instill this same gratitude into the lives of our
children. Someone has said that an ungrateful man is like a hog under a
tree eating apples and never looking up to see where they come from. And
the Lord has said, 'And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall
be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him,
even an hundred fold, yea, more' (D&C 78:19). This great principle
of gratitude, made a daily part of our lives and our prayers, can lift
and bless us as individuals, as members of the Church, and as parents and
families." (TETB, p364)
COME FROM HAVING A THANKFUL HEART IN ALL THINGS?
Colossians 3:16-17. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
HOW CAN WE LET
THE WORD OF CHRIST DWELL RICHLY IN US AS PAUL ADMONISHED?
these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies
and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled."
words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify
they are of me and not of man; For it is my voice which speaketh
them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power
you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could
not have them; Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice,
and know my words."
We need to learn
to "feast" on the word of God.
- HOW CAN WE DO THIS?
- Our daily study of the scriptures might include a commitment to apply some
part of that study to our behavior each day.
Sacred music, based on the
scriptures, can inspire and motivate.
Philemon was a
resident of Colossae. He appears to have been
converted by Paul. Paul makes it clear in his letter that he had
entertained the notion of keeping Onesimus, Philemon's runaway slave, with
him in Rome, for he was a valuable friend. Paul could not do so, however,
since the young convert-slave was the property of Philemon (v12-14). The
punishment for a runaway slave was death, but Paul begs Philemon to to forgive Onesimus. Paul offers
to make up any financial loss suffered by Philemon following the apostle's
release from prison (v18-19).
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the teachings of Paul to the Philippians and the
Colossians. What principles can you apply to your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Answers To Gospel Questions, Volume 2, by Joseph Fielding Smith.
As A Man Thinketh by James Allen.
Conference Reports (CR).
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary by Bruce R. McConkie.
Lectures On Faith by Joseph Smith.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (TETB).
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
The Divine Connection: Understanding Your Inherent Worth by Lloyd D. Newell.
Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, John
Butler Autobiography, BYU-Special Collections.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
24 August 2015