Come Follow Me - New Testament
“What Lack I Yet?”
- Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
- Eternal life is available to all—no matter how early or late
we accept the gospel.
- The Savior will guide us closer to Him as we ask for His
- We should trust God’s mercy, not our own righteousness.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the Scriptures at LDS.org.
Lesson Handout (PDF)
Marriage Between a Man and a Woman Is Ordained Of God
MATTHEW 19:3-9. The Lord's response to a question about marriage.
- WHAT CAN WE LEARN ABOUT MARRIAGE FROM THE LORD'S RESPONSE TO THE
- "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the
beginning made them male and female" (v4).
- Orson Pratt points out the fact that it was the Lord that performed
the first marriage, between Adam and Eve. This was not a civil marriage,
but a marriage for time and all eternity. Thus, the later reference
in verse 8 about no divorce at times prior to the Law of Moses.
Elder Pratt: "And who officiated in the first great
marriage ceremony? It was the Lord. Probably, if there had been any man on
the earth at that time who held the keys, authority and power, the Lord
would not have come and officiated directly; but inasmuch as the marriage
was between the first pair who dwelt upon the earth, and there was nobody
else to officiate, the Lord took it in hand to officiate himself."
(Journal of Discourses, 18:47)
- As the Lord performed this ceremony and ordinance of marriage, it is
clear that the joining of man and woman is sacred and not to be tampered
with by man.
- "For this cause shall a man leave father and
mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?"
- Elder F. Enzio Busche: "A marriage that is
built on this foundation of unconditional love in the covenant and oath
of the eternal dimension does not know the two self-centered individuals
living together as we often observe in today’s society. In the marriage
that is built on the cornerstone of unconditional love, which is the
love of God, the idea of divorce is unthinkable, and even short
separations bring unquenchable pain. Separations and divorces are a sign
of weakness and sometimes wickedness." (General Conference, April
- President Joseph Fielding Smith: "What does
marriage mean to members of the Church? It means that they are receiving
in that ordinance the greatest, the crowning blessing, the blessing of
eternal lives. Now that's the way the Lord puts it, 'eternal lives'
which means not only will the husband and the wife enter into eternal
life, but their children who were born under the covenant likewise will
be entitled through their faithfulness to eternal lives. And further,
that the husband and the wife after the resurrection of the dead will
not come to an end. By that the Lord means that they will have a
continuation of the seeds forever and the family organization does not
come to an end." (General Conference, October 1951)
- Elder Russell M. Nelson: "Marriage is the
foundry for social order, the fountain of virtue, and the foundation for
eternal exaltation. Marriage has been divinely designated as an eternal
and everlasting covenant. Marriage is sanctified when it is cherished
and honored in holiness. That union is not merely between husband and
wife; it embraces a partnership with God." (General Conference,
- "What therefore God hath joined together, let
not man put asunder" (v6).
- Elder Joseph Fielding Smith: "The Lord has
declared that when a man and a woman are united in marriage, according
to the Lord's plan and by his sanction, they become one, one flesh;
and there is nothing in this commandment that indicates in the least
that that means until death separates them. Here the Lord is teaching
marriage for eternity, for he says, '. . . they are no more twain, but
one flesh.' We ought to keep that in mind." (General
Conference, April 1949)
- Elder Russell M. Nelson: "Marriage between a
man and a woman is fundamental to the Lord's doctrine and crucial to
God’s eternal plan. Marriage between a man and a woman is God's
pattern for a fulness of life on earth and in heaven. God's marriage
pattern cannot be abused, misunderstood, or misconstrued. Not if you
want true joy. God's marriage pattern protects the sacred power of
procreation and the joy of true marital intimacy." (General
Conference, October 2013)
- "Why did Moses then command to give a
writing of divorcement, and to put her away?" (v7).
- Jesus responded: "Moses because of the
hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but
from the beginning it was not so" (v8).
- President Joseph Fielding Smith:
"The Lord tried to impress this upon his disciples that it was only
because of the hardness of the hearts of the people, because they
failed to keep the commandments that the Lord had given them that
Moses granted the putting away of the wife. Today the laws are
different, and sometimes men put away their wives, and sometimes
wives put away their husbands, but a marriage in the temple of the
Lord should be one that should be considered sacred and holy, never
to be violated in any way whatsoever, because it means that those
who enter into such a covenant shall continue after death and have
eternal increase and build a kingdom." (General Conference,
- Elder Russell M. Nelson: "In our day civil
governments have a vested interest in protecting marriage because
strong families constitute the best way of providing for the health,
education, welfare, and prosperity of rising generations. But civil
governments are heavily influenced by social trends and secular
philosophies as they write, rewrite, and enforce laws. Regardless of
what civil legislation may be enacted, the doctrine of the Lord
regarding marriage and morality cannot be changed." (General
Conference, October 2013)
- Elder James A. Cullimore: "Divorce is
usually the result of one or both not living the gospel. I suppose
this is the same reason divorce was finally permitted in the time of
Moses, as referred to by the Savior as he answered the Pharisees.
... And so in our day members do not abide by the law of the gospel
in its fullness, and, as in the day of Moses, divorce is permitted,
when deemed necessary, although it was never intended to be.
"If, in marriage, both parties would make gospel
standards and principles the basis of their marriage, few problems
would arise they could not handle. When one or the other or both
begin to compromise gospel standards, problems follow. Marriage is a
sacred relationship, and good members of the Church would know that
it is entered into primarily for the rearing of a family."
(General Conference, April 1971)
- It is clear from the teachings of the Lord in his time and
through his appointed servants in our time, that marriage is
intended to be a foundational, sacred, and holy institution.
WHAT ASPECTS OF
FAMILY: A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD” CAN BE FOUND IN THESE TEACHINGS BY THE
- "Marriage between a man and a woman is
ordained of God."
- Man and woman were created by God and their destiny is to
join together for all eternity.
- "The family is central to the Creator’s
plan for the eternal destiny of His children."
- As it says, "What therefore God hath joined together, let
not man put asunder."
- "All human beings—male and female—are
created in the image of God."
- The Lord refers to the creation of man. The people in the
Lord's time understood the scriptural record that states that
man and woman were created in the image of God.
- "Gender is an essential characteristic
of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and
- This was part of the creation and God gave each specific
roles to fulfill.
- The first four statements listed above are contained in the
first two paragraphs of the Proclamation. It would be well to study the full Proclamation and compare it to the
teachings of the Lord in Matthew 19. To further understand the
importance of what is taught in the Proclamation, it would be
worthwhile to continue a study of the Proclamation and compare it
to other scriptures on marriage, along with the teachings of the
Lord's latter-day servants.
Eternal Life Is Available To All—No Matter How Early or Late
We Accept the Gospel
MATTHEW 20:1-16. Parable of the laborers in the vineyard.
- HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS PARABLE?
- If read from a temporal point of view, I think most of us would find
this frustrating. We have all spent time in the workplace. I think of the
day I spent as a teenager when my assignment was to unload watermelons from
a large semi-trailer for a summer sale. I worked hard unloading watermelons.
I was paid a fair wage. How would I have felt if the boss sent a new
employee out during the seventh hour of my work day and paid him the same as
daily wage for an hour that I received for eight hours? I would have
- This parable is an attention getter. This is not a story about working
in a physical vineyard or unloading watermelons. I had the privilege of
growing up in the Church. Many of my ancestors crossed the plains as
pioneers. I was certainly blessed with a wonderful heritage and that made it
easy to accept the gospel. If I strive to follow the Savior my whole life, I
will be blessed with an eternal reward. I think of those that I taught while
serving on my mission. Did I teach them that they would only get a portion
of the reward that I can receive because they joined the Church at 20, or
40, or in the case of one woman we taught, in her 80s? No. I rejoice that
all can receive the same reward!
- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: "This parable—like
all parables—is not really about laborers or wages any more than the others
are about sheep and goats. This is a story about God's goodness, His
patience and forgiveness, and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is
a story about generosity and compassion. It is a story about grace. It
underscores the thought I heard many years ago that surely the thing God
enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to
those who don't expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it.
"I do not know who in this vast audience today may need
to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however
late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed,
however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don't
have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have
traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine
love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of
Christ’s Atonement shines." (General Conference, April 2012)
- President Henry B. Eyring: "It will not be
the offices held or the time served that will be weighed in the balance with
the Lord. We know this from the Lord’s parable of the laborers in the
vineyard, where the pay was the same regardless of how long they served or
where. They will be rewarded for how they served." (General
Conference, April 2015)
- Joseph Smith: "There is never a time when
the spirit is too old to approach God. All are within the reach of pardoning
mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin." (TPJS, p. 191)
The Savior Will Guide Us Closer To Him As We Ask For His Help
10:17-22. A rich young man seeks Jesus asking how to obtain eternal life.
- When the young man asked how he might obtain eternal life, Jesus began
reciting the commandments.
- The young man's response: "Master, all these have I
observed from my youth" (v20).
- WHAT DID THE MASTER THEN TELL THE YOUNG MAN?
- "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell
whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in
heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me" (v21).
"And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for
he had great possessions." (v22)
- WHY DO YOU THINK THE LORD ASKED HIM TO GIVE UP ALL HIS POSSESSIONS?
- Joseph Smith: "A religion that does not require
the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith
necessary unto life and salvation." (Lectures on Faith, p58)
- President Joseph F. Smith: "The difficulty with
the young man [was that] he had great possessions, and he preferred to rely
upon his wealth rather than forsake all and follow Christ.... No man can
obtain the gift of eternal life unless he is willing to sacrifice all
earthly things in order to obtain it." (Gospel Doctrine, p261)
- This was a good young man. He tried to keep the commandments all his
life, but had grown comfortable with his riches and was not willing to
part with them. When Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw the vision of the
three degrees of glory, they described those who would receive a terrestrial
reward, "These are they who are honorable men of the
earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.... These are they who are
not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown
over the kingdom of our God" (D&C 76:79). The young man was a good
person, but was not willing at that time to take the extra step that would bring him
- HOW DOES THE SAVIOR'S INSTRUCTION TO THE RICH YOUNG MAN APPLY TO US?
- President Harold B. Lee spoke of a bishop who described some of the
people in his ward:
"In response to the Master, 'Come ... follow me'
(Mark 10:21), some members almost, but not quite, say, 'thou persuadest me
almost to be honest but I need extra help to pass a test.'
"Almost thou persuadest me to keep the Sabbath day holy, but it's fun
to play ball on Sunday.
"Almost thou persuadest me to love my neighbor, but he is a rascal; to
be tolerant of others' views, but they are dead wrong; to be kind to sister,
but she hit me first; to go home teaching, but it's too cold and damp
outside tonight; to pay tithes and offerings, but we do need a new color TV
set; to find the owner of a lost watch, but no one returned the watch I
lost; to pass the sacrament, but I've graduated from the deacons now; almost
thou persuadest me to be reverent, but I had to tell my pal about my date
last night; almost thou persuadest me to attend stake leadership meeting,
but I know more than the leader on that subject, so why should I go? Thou
persuadest me almost to go to sacrament meeting, but there is going to be
such an uninteresting speaker tonight. Almost! Almost! Almost! but not
quite, not able quite to reach." (Stand Ye In Holy Places, p291)
- In the case of the rich young man, he was unwilling to part with his
riches. As we review the bishop's list of "almosts" above, what are we
unwilling to part with? Is it riches? Is it our time? What about some of our
habits? This is precisely the sacrifice that we need to make.
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Any list of our
present, personal indulgences is actually an index—but a reverse index to
joys—joys we will not experience until we do deny ourselves certain things."
(General Conference, April 1995)
- On another occasion Elder Maxwell stated:
"With honest, individualized introspection, each of us could name what we
yet lack." (General Conference, April 1985)
10:23-25. Hard to trust in riches and enter the kingdom of God.
- WHAT IS THE LORD CONDEMNING? IS HE CONDEMNING RICHES?
- "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into
the kingdom of God!" (v23)
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks: "In descending order of
intensity, materialism may be an obsession, a preoccupation, or merely a
strong interest. Whatever its degree, an interest becomes materialism when
it is intense enough to override priorities that should be paramount.
"From the emphasis given to this subject in the scriptures, it appears
that materialism has been one of the greatest challenges to the children of
God in all ages of time. Greed, the ugly face of materialism in action, has
been one of Satan's most effective weapons in corrupting men and turning
their hearts from God." (Pure in Heart, pp73-74)
- President Joseph F. Smith: "The rich man may enter
into the kingdom of heaven as freely as the poor, if he will bring his heart
and affections into subjection to the law of God and to the principle of
truth; if he will place his affections upon God, his heart upon the truth,
and his soul upon the accomplishment of God's purposes, and not fix his
affections and his hopes upon the things of the world." (Gospel
- The Lord is not condemning riches. He is condemning the negative
attitudes of men toward riches: greed, materialism, and trusting in riches.
The Lord would hardly condemn the means for building temples, sending
missionaries into the field, or the results of an honest day's labor. Satan
uses riches to tempt men into losing their focus on the eternal perspective.
- HOW CAN WE MAINTAIN A PROPER ATTITUDE TOWARD EARTHLY POSSESSIONS?
- Consider these warnings:
- John Wesley (founder of Methodism): "I fear,
wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in
the same proportion. Therefore I do not see how it is possible, in the
nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue long. For
religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these
cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase so will pride, anger,
and love of the world in all its branches." (quoted by Dallin H.
Oaks, Pure In Heart, p80)
- Brigham Young: "The worst fear that I have about
this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His
people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell.
This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of
persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot
stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will
become the richest people on this earth." (quoted by Dallin H Oaks,
Pure In Heart, p81)
- "Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor,
and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God." (D&C
- "That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly
things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things.
For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining
heavenly things."(D&C 78:5-7)
- We need to be willing to impart with and utilize our earthly
possessions for the benefit of others and in building the kingdom of God.
- "And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you
are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant
unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall
receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to
another." (Mosiah 4:21)
We Should Trust God’s Mercy, Not Our Own Righteousness
18:9-14. The prayers of the Pharisee and the publican.
- Elder Howard W. Hunter provides the background for this parable:
"Apparently the scene is laid in Jerusalem at the
temple, where two men had gone to pray during the time of day for private
prayers. It is interesting that the Master selected a Pharisee and a
publican as the actors in the story, representing the two religious
extremes in Jewish society.
"The Pharisees were the largest and most influential of
the three sects of Judaism at the time of Christ. The Pharisaic movement
in the Jewish state rose from the ranks of the lay lawyers of the Greek
period to become the leading religious and political party. The main
characteristics of the Pharisees were their legalism and their legalistic
inflexibility. They were known for their strict accuracy in the
interpretation of the law and their scrupulous adherence to living the law
in every minute detail. This caused them to be known as the strictest of
Jewish sects in observing their tradition. They shunned the non-Pharisee
as being unclean, thereby keeping themselves separated from those they
considered to be the common people. ...
"Publicans were tax collectors and were looked down
upon with contempt. Ordinary taxes, such as land taxes, were collected by
the Roman officials; but toll taxes for transporting goods were usually
collected by Jews under contract with the Romans. These collectors, or
publicans, made a profit on the transactions. Their fellow countrymen had
no higher regard for them than for thieves and robbers. The trade lent
itself to graft and extortion, and the publicans had the reputation of
having some of the tax money stick to their own fingers.
"The Jews were smarting under Roman occupation and
domination, and they considered the payment of taxes as a tribute to
Caesar. Jews who made such collections for the Romans were regarded as
traitors and as despicable for selling their services to a foreign
conqueror. Publicans and members of their families were considered so
contemptible that they were not allowed to hold public office or give
testimony in a Jewish court. We remember that Matthew was a publican, a
gatherer of taxes, until his calling to be a disciple and, of course, he
too was despised by the Jews, as were the others who followed that
"To know the background of these two men who came from
the opposite extremes of Jewish society helps us to understand this
parable of the Pharisee and tax collector and why they prayed as they did
in the temple." (General Conference, April 1964)
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS PARABLE?
- The Lord prefaces the parable with, "And he
spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they
were righteous, and despised others" (v9).
- "This parable may be likened to all of us
who are prideful in trusting in ourselves rather than submitting to
God and his plan of happiness, which is designed to bless us."
(Understanding the Parables of Jesus Christ)
- Elder Howard W. Hunter: "Could there be
greater contrast in the prayers of two men? The Pharisee stood apart
because he believed he was better than other men, whom he considered as
common. The publican stood apart also, but it was because he felt
himself unworthy. The Pharisee thought of no one other than himself and
regarded everyone else a sinner, whereas the publican thought of
everyone else as righteous as compared with himself, a sinner. The
Pharisee asked nothing of God, but relied upon his own
self-righteousness. The publican appealed to God for mercy and
forgiveness of his sins. ...
"Humility is an attribute of godliness possessed by
true Saints. It is easy to understand why a proud man fails. He is
content to rely upon himself only. This is evident in those who seek
social position or who push others aside to gain position in fields of
business, government, education, sports, or other endeavors. Our genuine
concern should be for the success of others. The proud man shuts himself
off from God, and when he does he no longer lives in the light."
(General Conference, April 1984)
- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf asks this question:
"When we kneel to pray, is it to replay the
greatest hits of our own righteousness, or is it to confess our faults,
plead for God's mercy, and shed tears of gratitude for the amazing plan
of redemption?" (General Conference, April 2015)
- Elder James E. Faust: "The denial of our
own sins, of our own selfishness, of our own weakness is like a crown of
thorns which keeps us from moving up one more step in personal growth.
Perhaps worse than sin is the denial of sin. If we deny that we are
sinners, how can we ever be forgiven? How can the atonement of Jesus
work in our lives if there is no repentance? If we do not promptly
remove the slivers of sin and the thorns of carnal temptation, how can
the Lord ever heal our souls?" (General Conference, April 1991)
- Joseph Smith: "Let not any man publish
his own righteousness, for others can see that for him; sooner let him
confess his sins, and then he will be forgiven, and he will bring forth
more fruit." (TPJS, pp. 194-195)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
The Lord's teachings on marriage emphasize the fact that this sacred
institution is intended to last forever. Write down some ways that you can
strengthen your own marriage and/or support marriage in the Church and in
society at large.
We live in a world and in a time possessed with the
pursuit of worldly possessions and wealth. Increasingly, we see many around us
obsessed with accumulating the things of this world, becoming wealthier and
wealthier, pursuing recreation and ease. Such is not in the eternal scheme of
things. If we truly wish the riches of eternity, our priorities need to be
different from those in the world. We must be willing to put away the things of
the world and serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. We
should be grateful for our earthly blessings, but we need to view them in their
proper perspective. As Elder Maxwell stated: "With honest, individualized
introspection, each of us could name what we yet lack." Record your thoughts on the teachings of the Master on riches. Who do you serve?
What is it that you lack? In what ways can you make the seeking of eternal riches the highest priority in
Resources Used In This Lesson
Gospel Doctrine by Joseph F. Smith
Journal of Discourses
Lectures On Faith by Joseph Smith
Pure In Heart by Dallin H. Oaks
Stand Ye In Holy Places by Harold B. Lee
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph
Understanding the Parables of Jesus Christ by Donald W. Parry
and Jay A. Parry
This outline is provided as supplementary material and is not
intended to replace the official lesson manual. It is not endorsed by The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am wholly responsible for the content.
I do my best to see that the content is in
harmony with the teachings and doctrine of the Church.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
18 March 2019