How We Taught the New Testament in the Past: Lesson 37: Jesus Christ: “The Author and Finisher of Our Faith”
Lesson 37: Jesus Christ: “The Author and Finisher of Our Faith”
The purpose statement from the lesson on the Epistle to the Hebrews in the current manual is “to remind class members that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to his commandments.” The emphasis of the lesson (below) from the 1983 Gospel Doctrine manual is on the priesthood embodied in Christ, which is also one of the supporting ideas in the current manual.
Jesus Christ and the Priesthood
Objective: Class members will recognize the preeminence of Christ and his priesthood.
SUGGESTED LESSON DEVELOPMENT
“The Prophet Joseph Smith says this Epistle was written ‘by Paul … to the Hebrew brethren’ (Teachings, p. 59), and repeatedly in his sermons he attributes statements from it to Paul. … Paul did write Hebrews, and to those who accept Joseph Smith as an inspired witness of truth, the matter is at rest.” (DNTC, 3:133.)
Place the picture of Jesus Christ ordaining disciples in a prominent place.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is Paul’s witness and testimony of the divinity of Christ and his relationship to God the Father. It gives evidence that God (Elohim) has a body of flesh and bones and that his Son, the only begotten in the flesh, was Jehovah, Lord of this earth. From Hebrews we understand that Jesus “was made a little lower than the angels for his suffering of death, … that he, by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9.)
Hebrews is an epistle of doctrine, knowledge, and enlightenment to the faithful. It takes the revelations of the past, the dead letter of the ancient law, and ties them into the living Christianity of the present. Paul seeks to convince the Hebrew brethren that Jesus is the Messiah for whom they have waited. the Jews revered the prophets, especially Abraham, Moses, and the angels in their worship. Paul teaches that these prophets obtained their blessings through faith on the Lord Jehovah.
Read Hebrews 1:1-4.
* What do we learn about God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, in these verses? (responses should include the following: God spoke in times past “by the prophets”; Jesus Christ is a creator of worlds; Christ is in the “express image” of God; Christ atoned for our sins.)
Read Hebrews 1:5-14.
* What further knowledge do these verses give us about God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ? (Responses could include the following: Jesus Christ is the Firstborn; Christ’s throne “is for ever and ever”; Christ laid the foundation of the earth; Christ will sit on the right hand of God.)
Just as Paul counseled the ancient Hebrews to “consider the apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1), in similar fashion the Church leaders of our day have borne that same witness. Each of us must likewise seek to bear witness of Christ’s divine sonship and mission.
Christ, the Exemplar of the Priesthood
Christ, the son of God, was called to the holy priesthood by the proper authority. Men cannot ordain themselves, nor can they be ordained by other men, except by those authorized to confer that power upon them.
Read Hebrews 5:4-6, 10, and invite the class to identify the Article of Faith which relates to the scripture. Have someone read or recite Article of Faith 5.
Jesus set the pattern for us by receiving his priesthood with a solemn oath: “Inasmuch as this high priest was not without an oath, by so much was Jesus made the surety of a better testament.” (JST Hebrews 7:20.)
Have the assigned Melchizedek Priesthood leader summarize the oath and covenant of the priesthood.
* Why is the name Melchizedek Priesthood used? (See D&C 107:2-4 and Alma 13:14-19.)
The Prophet Joseph Smith provided a description of the eternal nature of the priesthood: “For this Melchizedek was ordained a priest after the order of the Son of God, which order was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life. And all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually.” (JST Hebrews 7:3.)
Consider Paul’s admonition to the Hebrew brethren and the implication to us today.
Report: Hebrews 8:10-12 and “Whoso Breaketh This Covenant” (Resource Material).
The Power of Faith
Since Paul, in Hebrews, bears such a strong testimony of Christ and the power of His priesthood, it is not surprising that Paul also deals with the topic of faith.
Report: “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Resource Material)
Read Hebrews 11:1, substituting the word “assurance” for the word ‘substance” (See JST Hebrews 11:1). Then read Hebrews 11:6.
* How important is the principle of faith? (Review “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” and the scriptures that were just read.)
* What examples of faith did Paul cite? (As time permits discuss the examples cited in Hebrews 11:4-40.)
Likening the Scriptures unto Us
Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews testifies of the preeminence of Christ and the importance of the priesthood he held and honored. The Savior’s life provides us with a divine pattern of perfection; if we obey him, he will be, for us, “the author of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
Paul reminds us of those who have exercised faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we should endeavor to follow the lead of these “witnesses” of faith.
Read Hebrews 12:1-3.
when we are “faint” (discouraged, tired, or just lazy), let us consider how well the Savior finished the course before him, take him as our example, and “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Assignment Have the class read the Epistle of James and consider how to apply his teachings about pure religion.
“Whoso Breaketh This Covenant”
“We have entered into a covenant with the Lord in which he has promised us eternal life, if we keep our part of the covenant, which is, to magnify our callings in the priesthood.
“The revelation says that the Lord cannot break his part of the oath and covenant. [See D&C 84:40.] But we can break out part of it, and many priesthood bearers do so. of them the revelation says:
“‘But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.’ (vs. 41.)
“Now, I do not think this means that all who fail to magnify their callings in the priesthood will have committed the unpardonable sin, but I do think that priesthood bearers who have entered into the covenants that we enter into – in the waters of baptism, in connection with the law of tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and the many other covenants we make – and then refuse to live up to these covenants will stand in jeopardy of losing the promise of eternal life.” (Marion G. romney, in CR, Apr. 1972, p. 112; or Ensign, July 1972, p. 99.)
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
“Faith unto life and salvation centers in Christ. The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It matters not who has faith or what age of the earth’s history is involved; faith has been, is now, and everlastingly shall be in the Son of God.
“When Paul says Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob gained favor with God by faith, he is saying that they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name the same as all the prophets of all the ages have always done. … Contrary to the vagaries of sectarian speculation, Christ and his gospel laws have been known from the beginning, not just from the meridian of time, and no man has or ever will be saved except through faith in his holy name.” (DNTC, 3:211.)
“‘The priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years.” (Teachings, p. 157.) Christ and others held the priesthood in pre-existence. Adam, the Prophet says, ‘obtained it in the creation, before the world was formed.’ (Teachings, p. 157.)
“But as pertaining to his mortal ministry, Christ our Lord received the Melchizedek Priesthood here on earth, and was ordained to the office of a high priest therein, thus setting an example for others and being in all things the Prototype of salvation. With reference to the mortal receipt of that holy order which is his, and which he had afore used to create this and an infinite number of other worlds, and which he had in fact given to Melchizedek in the first instance, the Prophet says: ‘If a man gets a fulness of the priesthood of God he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.’ (Teachings, p. 308.)” (DNTC, 3:156-57.)