Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » In Our Ward: Lesson 2, “All Things According to His Will”

In Our Ward: Lesson 2, “All Things According to His Will”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 05, 2012

Several sites in the Bloggernacle have posted great material for teachers preparing to teach the Book of Mormon this year. As I have done for the past couple of years, I am posting my lessons, planned after having done the reading and study suggested by those bloggers, among other study. This year, though, I will try to have my lessons posted a few days before I give them, rather than after the fact.

Lesson 2: “All Things According to His Will”

1 Nephi 1-7

Purpose: To help class members see, through the examples of Lehi and Nephi, that safety and salvation come through obedience to the Lord.


1. Establish that the events narrated in these chapters are not simply historical narrative, but were carefully selected by Nephi “for the instruction of [his] people … and also for other wise purposes.” His choices were made after decades of experience.

2. Examine two or three (depending on time) specific pieces of narrative to see what they can teach us about obedience to the Lord.

Attention Activity/Introduction

[Display diaries briefly while mentioning them.] I have here three diaries from my childhood. This one details my humiliation at a sixth-grade Halloween party. This one records my inexplicable obsession with Nixon’s trip to China. And this one has a report of a hit-and-run accident I witnessed, written down in case I was called to testify in court. These were all major events in my life on the days they were written, but if I were to write the story of my life today not one of them would be mentioned. Why not, do you think?

If you were to write the stories of your life, what kinds of events would you include, and why?

[Keep discussion brief. Encourage ideas such as writing with descendants in mind, so that they will know and love us, but especially to teach them the most important things we have learned, which probably include testimony of gospel principles.]

One point we need to keep in mind as we study the first chapters in the Book of Mormon is that they are not journal entries recorded at the time of the events. Nephi tells us when he began to keep his records, in 1 Nephi 19:1:

1 Nephi 19:1

1 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded me, wherefore I did make plates of ore that I might engraven upon them the record of my people. And upon the plates which I made I did engraven the record of my father, and also our journeyings in the wilderness, and the prophecies of my father; and also many of mine own prophecies have I engraven upon them.

Those plates were made after Lehi’s people had arrived in their new promised land – some ten years or more after they left Jerusalem. And then much later, Nephi tells us more of his record-keeping:

2 Nephi 5:28-31

28 And thirty years had passed away from the time we left Jerusalem.

29 And I, Nephi, had kept the records upon my plates, which I had made, of my people thus far.

30 And it came to pass that the Lord God said unto me: make other plates; and thou shalt engraven many things upon them which are good in my sight, for the profit of thy people.

31 Wherefore, I, Nephi, to be obedient to the commandments of the Lord, went and made these plates upon which I have engraven these things.

You will remember that Mormon abridged Nephi’s first set of plates, and Joseph Smith had begun to translate them in 1828 when Martin Harris borrowed and lost the first 116 pages of translation. In order to prevent a wicked plan to alter the first manuscript and discredit Joseph Smith, the Lord instructed Joseph not to re-translate Mormon’s abridgement, but instead to translate Nephi’s second set of plates – the “small plates of Nephi” – which Moroni had included, without abridgement, in the record delivered to Joseph Smith. It is the translation of this second set of plates, written 30 years after the events they record, that we have in our Book of Mormon today.

What did Nephi know by the time he wrote these second plates, as a middle-aged man who had assumed the leadership of his family – or at least the righteous part of his family – in the New World after the death of Lehi, that he did not know as a teenager in the weeks or months after leaving Jerusalem?

[Guide discussion beyond the narrative facts of the Lehite travels, and toward what Nephi has learned about listening to the Spirit, being faithful to God’s commands, and the consequences of failing to be faithful.]

Nephi tells us what he recorded on these second plates:

1 Nephi 19:3

19 And after I had made these plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that the things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord.

These are important points to keep in mind during our discussion today. Nephi has had time to think about what was most important in his history. He has presumably omitted the trivial – no matter how interesting we might have found it – and included only those events and details that reveal his ministry, recording the “plain and precious” words of prophecy, those things which will best instruct his people, and whatever will otherwise fulfil the “wise purposes” of the Lord. I believe that nothing in these chapters has been included by chance, and that we should constantly ask ourselves “Why that event, and not some other? How is it precious, and instructive?”

Scripture discussion

[1. Lehi leaves Jerusalem and takes his family into the wilderness.
2. Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass.
3. Nephi and his brothers bring the brass plates to their family.
4. Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem for Ishmael and his family.]

1. “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded”

[It is probably unnecessary to read the following verses in class; summarize and save time for discussion rather than reading what should be very familiar to class members.]

1 Nephi 3:4-8

4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.

5 And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.

6 Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.

7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

8 And it came to pass that when my father had heard these words he was exceedingly glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord.

Nephi’s statement to Lehi in 1 Nephi 3:7 – “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” – may be one of the most oft-quoted verses in the Book of Mormon. Seminary students and missionaries memorize it. Heber J. Grant called it “one of the guiding stars of my life”; a teenage Gordon B. Hinckley heard Pres. Grant’s testimony of that principle, and almost 50 years later testified that “There came into my young heart on that occasion a resolution to try to do what the Lord has commanded.”

How do you feel about that statement? Do you believe it? Have you acted upon it? [Encourage contributions from two or three class members.]

How about the last part, that the Lord “shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing”? Can anyone give an illustration of the fulfillment of that promise in your own life?

In 1841, after the Saints had fled from Missouri and taken refuge at what would become Nauvoo, the Lord gave a revelation concerning temples, commanding the building of a temple at Nauvoo and addressing the earlier commandment to build a temple in Jackson County, Missouri.

Doctrine & Covenants 124:49

149 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.

How do we reconcile this scripture, acknowledging that enemies may prevent righteous people from keeping a commandment, with Nephi’s statement that the Lord always provides a way for men to keep any commandment given?

[Allow sufficient time for reflection on what may be a difficult question that some class members have never considered before.

Ideas to prompt discussion after sufficient time has been given might include: This verse in the D&C sets an extremely high bar for being excused from performing a commanded work; the Lord may still require fulfilling a given commandment (including the building of the temple in Jackson County) at a future day; and sometimes the Lord provides alternate ways to keep his commandments, such as allowing mortals to serve as proxies in required ordinances for those who died without an opportunity to keep the commandment.

Resources that may be useful during class discussion appear at the end of this lesson.]

Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Will of the Father in All Things,” Speeches, BYU devotional, 17 January 1989:

“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded” (1 Nephi 3:7). I confess that I wince a little when I hear that promise quoted so casually among us. Jesus knew what that kind of commitment would entail, and so [soon would] Nephi. And so will a host of others before it is over. That vow took Christ to the cross on Calvary, and it remains at the heart of every Christian covenant. “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.” Well, we shall see.

2. “I did obey the voice of the Spirit”

[It is probably not necessary to read this section of scripture aloud, but discussion should cite to particular points in it.]

1 Nephi 4:6-18

6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.

7 Nevertheless I went forth, and as I came near unto the house of Laban I beheld a man, and he had fallen to the earth before me, for he was drunken with wine.

8 And when I came to him I found that it was Laban.

9 And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.

10 And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.

11 And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.

12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands.

13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.

15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.

16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.

17 And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause – that I might obtain the records according to his commandments.

18 Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.

Immediately after making that vow to “go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded,” Nephi and his brothers returned to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass. Nephi soon had a chance to learn whether they would find that way that he believed the Lord would prepare for them to accomplish what he had commanded. Laman approached Laban directly and asked for the plates – he was driven out of Laban’s presence. The brothers retrieved the precious things left by their father at Jerusalem and attempted to buy the plates – they were robbed and driven away at the peril of their lives. Laman and Lemuel were so angered by Nephi’s insistence that they carry out their instructions that they beat Nephi and Sam, to the point where an angel appeared and stopped them.

What, however, turned out to be the most difficult test of Nephi’s commitment to obey the command he had been given? Why was it such a test of his faith? Can you think of other instances from the scriptures or from LDS Church history where men or women have been faced with commands from the Spirit that were just as difficult, because they seemed so contrary to what the Lord had previously commanded?

[The command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, or Brigham Young’s learning of the doctrine of plural marriage, might be suggested. {“Some of these my brethren know what my feelings were at the time Joseph revealed the doctrine … it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave … And when I saw a funeral, I felt to envy the corpse its situation, and to regret that I was not in the coffin.” JD 3:266}]

Nephi’s slaying of Laban at the direction of the Spirit has been a stumbling block for some. The Book of Mormon cannot be the word of God, they say, because God would never order a man to violate the commandment of “thou shalt not kill.” For others, the idea of punishing one man in order to benefit others seems unethical. We are not going to justify Nephi’s actions here today – we need to go in another direction. However, if anyone in the class is bothered by Nephi’s killing of Laban, talk to me after class and I’ll give you citations to some material that might help.

We are a people who believe in keeping commandments. We are also a people who believe in personal revelation – we seek the Lord’s direction in our own lives and in our stewardships, and we expect our fellow Saints to seek personal direction for their lives as well. It isn’t likely – I’d say it just isn’t going to happen! – that any of us will ever be faced with personal revelation directing us to take the drastic actions of any of those we’ve just discussed. Still, any of us may potentially be prompted – or to think we have been prompted – to act in unexpected ways. How can we know whether such promptings really come from the Lord, and are not merely products of our own desires, or worse?

[Be alert and ready to nip any stories about private revelations or claims of being directed to go in opposition to commandments or Church practices. The point of this discussion is to have class members identify and testify to the ways they recognize the workings of the Spirit. If the discussion ranges too broadly, bring it back to the scripture under discussion by drawing on Nephi’s example: He was well acquainted with the Holy Ghost at this point (cite examples from earlier in this scripture block) and knew the difference between his own thoughts and true revelations; also, he exercised his reason to understand why the Spirit might have been prompting him to act in this way; note, though, that his rationalizations (that Laban was a would-be murderer, that he did not keep the commandments, that he was a thief) came after the Spirit’s command – he was trying to understand what he had been told to do, not trying to find an excuse to do something he wanted to do.

There are quotations at the end of this lesson that may be useful in supporting class contributions that endorse following the commandments, and especially as cautions if discussion veers toward false revelations that would lead us to do wrong.]

Can we use these same ideas to help us recognize the wisdom and truth of things we hear in General Conference, or that we are requested to do by ward or stake or general leaders? Do you have an example of having sought a witness to something that puzzled or bothered you?

3. “Now I know of a surety”

[There may not be time for all or any of this section, depending on earlier discussion. It can easily be abbreviated or omitted.]

In the scripture block we have been discussing today, we have examples of the whole range of obedience and disobedience to commandments. At one end of the scale we have Nephi, who knows the Lord and is committed to following him regardless of what he is asked to do. At the other end of the scale we have Laban, who was destroyed for his failure to obey the will of the Lord. In between those extremes, we have members of Lehi’s family.

Laman and Lemuel immediately come to mind, of course, for their murmuring against their father and for their violence toward Nephi and Sam. They do what they’re told, to some extent, even though it once takes an angel to compel obedience, but despite what their hands and feet do their hearts are rebellious and disobedient. Do we ever see the brothers acting independently of each other? [Laman does make one solo attempt to obtain the plates; otherwise, they are always in tandem.] It’s hard to know from the brevity of Nephi’s record, but it seems to me that Laman is the instigator, and Lemuel the willing follower – when Lehi names the valley and the river after these two sons, he longs for Laman to be righteous (suggesting that he is not), and for Lemuel to be firm and steadfast (suggesting that he is easily persuaded).

The brother who really interests me, though, is Sam. We know so little about him – what do we know?

If I’m right that Lemuel is a follower of Laman rather than a co-leader of their opposition, then there is a parallel between Nephi and Sam. Let’s read

1 Nephi 2:17:

17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.

Sam isn’t the hero. He isn’t the leader. We don’t read of his giving sermons, or seeing visions. As far as we know, he isn’t even prominent enough to compare to Aaron’s support of his brother Moses, or Hyrum’s support of his brother Joseph Smith. But he does seem to be a young man with a gift that the scriptures describe as a true gift from God:

Doctrine and Covenants 46: 13-14:

13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.

It is easy for us to overlook quiet, believing Sam in all of the noisy action of the Book of Mormon narrative. He is worth noticing, though, in part because I suspect there are many Sams among us, who “continue faithful” not because they have had great visions and revelations, but because they believe the words of the prophets or the testimonies borne in our wards.

And finally, we have a great model in Sariah, Lehi’s wife, who leaves the comforts of her home with its riches and accompanies her husband and sons – the only woman in the group, until her sons bring Ishmael’s family to join them – into a desert world of tents and travel and making do or doing without. We’re told that she complains against Lehi when her sons are gone so long – she blames Lehi for bringing the family into the desert, and for sending her sons back to be killed by the Jews at Jerusalem.

You know, Nephi wasn’t even present to hear his mother’s fears about his safety while he was away on his mission to get the plates of brass. He could only have heard about those complaints from Lehi, or Sariah herself, after he returned safely. Why do you suppose Nephi chose to tell us about his mother all those years afterward when he was choosing the most precious parts of his experiences to record on the plates? What can it possibly mean to us now?

Let’s read the account of the brothers’ return to Lehi and Sariah in the wilderness:

1 Nephi 5:1-9

1 And it came to pass that after we had come down into the wilderness unto our father, behold, he was filled with joy, and also my mother, Sariah, was exceedingly glad, for she truly had mourned because of us.

2 For she had supposed that we had perished in the wilderness; and she also had complained against my father, telling him that he was a visionary man; saying: Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness.

3 And after this manner of language had my mother complained against my father.

4 And it had come to pass that my father spake unto her, saying: I know that I am a visionary man; for if I had not seen the things of God in a vision I should not have known the goodness of God, but had tarried at Jerusalem, and had perished with my brethren.

5 But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice; yea, and I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban, and bring them down again unto us in the wilderness.

6 And after this manner of language did my father, Lehi, comfort my mother, Sariah, concerning us, while we journeyed in the wilderness up to the land of Jerusalem, to obtain the record of the Jews.

7 And when we had returned to the tent of my father, behold their joy was full, and my mother was comforted.

8 And she spake, saying: now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak.

9 And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel.

What has Sariah learned with the return of her sons? Why might it have been important to the success of the entire migration to have a matriarch with a testimony as firm as that of the patriarch’s?


Lehi and Sariah and their sons, with the addition of Zoram and the family of Ishmael, now have all that they need to leave the land of Jerusalem for the last time, to be led toward a new land of promise. [Summarize lessons of obedience as discussed by class.]

Resources that may be useful during class discussion

1. “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded”

Gordon B. Hinckley, Address, October 1971:

“I recall sitting in this Tabernacle when I was fourteen or fifteen – up in the balcony right behind the clock – and hearing President Heber J. Grant tell of his experience in reading the Book of Mormon when he was a boy. He spoke of Nephi and of the great influence he had upon his life. And then, with a voice ringing with a conviction that I shall never forget, he quoted those great words of Nephi: ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.’ There came into my young heart on that occasion a resolution to try to do what the Lord has commanded.”

Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1924:

“I am thankful beyond expression that I did read the book in my boyhood days and that the assurance came into my heart that it was in very deed the truth, and that I fell in love with the character of Nephi. More than any other mortal man that we have any record of in the Bible, the Old, or the New Testaments, or in the Book of Mormon, more, I believe, than the influence of my friends and associates with whom I have lived, Nephi has made an impression upon my heart and my soul and has been one of the guiding stars of my life – a man who endeavored upon all occasions never to become discouraged or disheartened, never to complain; but who endeavored to the full extent of his ability to carry out his own wonderful words spoken to his father – ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commanded them.’ That remarkable declaration, exemplified through his entire life, has stayed with me, I am sure, now for fully fifty long years; and I rejoice in the fact of the impression that was made upon my heart and soul by that statement. I also rejoice in his immediately exemplifying the statement that he would do what the Lord required. What had the Lord required? The Lord, through Lehi, his father, had received a dream to the effect that his sons were to return to Jerusalem and secure the brass plates upon which some of the ancient scriptures and the genealogy of the forefathers of Nephi were recorded. And his brethren were complaining, when he made that impressive announcement that he would go and do the thing which the Lord had required.”

Mosiah 4:24-25

24 And again, I say unto the poor, … I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless …

2 Corinthians 8:12

12 If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

Doctrine and Covenants 137:7-9

7 All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;

8 Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;

9 For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.

Lorenzo Snow, Sermon of May 1899, in Millennial Star, 31 August 1899, p. 547:

There is no Latter-day Saint who dies after having lived a faithful life who will lose anything because of having failed to do certain things when opportunities were not furnished him or her. In other words, if a young man or a young woman has no opportunity of getting married, and they live faithful lives up to the time of their death, they will have all the blessings, exaltation and glory that any man or woman will have who had this opportunity and improved it.

Dallin H. Oaks, Pure in Heart (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 59-71:

Just as we will be accountable for our evil desires, we will also be rewarded for our righteous ones. Our Father in Heaven will receive a truly righteous desire as a substitute for actions that are genuinely impossible. … This principle means that when we have done all that we can, our desires will carry us the rest of the way. It also means that if our desires are right, we can be forgiven for the unintended errors or mistakes we will inevitably make as we try to carry those desires into effect. What a comfort for our feelings of inadequacy! … Perhaps this principle explains the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). though in this life ‘full of sores’ and pitiable in his poverty, the beggar Lazarus was worthy at death to be ‘carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom,’ for which he was envied by the rich man. The beggar must have been exceedingly limited in the acts he could perform during life, but he must have made great spiritual progress because of the desires of his heart. … The requirement for entry into the celestial kingdom is not that we have actually practiced the entire celestial law while upon this earth, but that we have shown God that we are willing and able to do so. … Two cautions are necessary to those who would rely on this principle that we can qualify for blessings and growth without completing the acts usually required for them. First, we must remember that desire is a substitute only when action is truly impossible. … If we attempt to use impossibility of action as a cover (when we really lack a sincere desire to keep the commandment) and therefore do not do all that we can to perform the acts that have been commanded, we may deceive ourselves, but we will not deceive the Righteous Judge. … The second caution is that we should not assume that the desires of our hearts, which can apparently serve as compliance with a law of the gospel, can also serve as compliance with an ordinance of the gospel. … Ordinances are required, and there apparently are no exceptions based on the righteous desires of our hearts. But in the justice and mercy of God, the rigid effects of the commands pertaining to essential ordinances are tempered by divine authorization to perform those ordinances by proxy for those who did not have the opportunity to have them performed in this life.

2. “I did obey the voice of the Spirit”

Jeffrey R. Holland, “How can I explain Nephi’s killing Laban to my nonmember friends? Some really reject it as scriptural,” in “I Have a Question,” Ensign, September 1976.

Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Will of the Father in All Things,” Speeches, BYU devotional, 17 January 1989.

Rodney Turner, “Why did the Lord command Nephi to slay Laban, when to do so was contrary to the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’? in “I Have a Question,” Ensign, February 1996.

John W. Welch, “Legal Perspectives on the Slaying of Laban,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 119-41.

Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968, 103:

The episode involving Nephi’s slaying of Laban has occasioned much speculation and discussion on the part of Book of Mormon readers. Some have asserted that Nephi was not led by the Spirit, that the Lord would not command such a thing. To this I can only point out that those who take this point of view are assuming a great deal. They profess, in so doing, that they know more about the Lord than did Nephi, who was a witness of him (2:16). Moreover, they make the Book of Mormon conform to their own images, even as certain Bible critics in the past have amended or twisted the plain meaning of scripture to make it comport with their ideas of what it can or cannot say.

Richard G. Scott, “Making the Right Choices,”October 1994:

To help you keep these sacred commandments, make a covenant with the Lord that you will obey them. Decide what you will do and will not do. When temptation comes, do not change your standards. Do not abandon them when circumstances seem to justify an exception. That is Satan’s way to hurt you by making it seem that sometimes God’s law does not apply. There are no exceptions.

M. Russell Ballard, “When Shall These Things Be?” October 1996.

We should be extremely wary of anyone who claims to be an exception to divine decree.

Richard G. Scott, “To Acquire Knowledge and the Strength to Use it Wisely,” Ensign, June 2002 (BYU Devotional address, 23 January 2001):

Never compromise your principles. Strength and safety come from making no exceptions to them. No matter how it seems that conditions would justify some departure from them, do not do it. Rationalization leads one to take something that is true and twist it to justify invalid exceptions. Rationalization is Satan’s tool to lead one from truth.

Henry B. Eyring, Address, April 1997:

Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or have decided that I was an exception, I have come to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Matter to Him,” October 2011:

The great deceiver knows that one of his most effective tools in leading the children of God astray is to appeal to the extremes of the paradox of man. To some, he appeals to their prideful tendencies, puffing them up and encouraging them to believe in the fantasy of their own self-importance and invincibility. He tells them they have transcended the ordinary and that because of ability, birthright, or social status, they are set apart from the common measure of all that surrounds them. He leads them to conclude that they are therefore not subject to anyone else’s rules and not to be bothered by anyone else’s problems.



  1. Thanks for this–I thought I was pretty thorough, but you found lots of great stuff I missed.

    Comment by Julie M. Smith — January 5, 2012 @ 7:28 am

  2. Thanks, Julie — there’s always going to be more, isn’t there? I wish I knew what was actually going to make it into your lesson, because for me the hard part is narrowing down the material to points that can and should be discussed in the Gospel Doctrine setting, narrowly enough that they can be discussed in 35 minutes, while still sticking to the assigned theme of the lesson (something I still feel bound to do).

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2012 @ 7:38 am

  3. Wonderful. Between your notes and Julie’s, this should be a very educational year for Book of Mormon study.

    Comment by Amy T — January 5, 2012 @ 7:45 am

  4. That’s certainly going to be true for me, Amy — I can hardly believe how much I have learned in preparation these last couple of weeks — or believe that I was nervous about switching to the Book of Mormon this year because I was afraid there wasn’t as much scholarly or devotional help out there as I had found while preparing for New Testament lessons.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2012 @ 7:54 am

  5. Loved the Hinckley and Grant coupled quotes.

    Comment by J. Stapley — January 5, 2012 @ 8:13 am

  6. That’s more of that interconnectedness of history that charms me so!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2012 @ 8:53 am

  7. Thanks for doing this.

    Comment by David Y. — January 5, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

  8. Because I am teaching the Family History class, I don’t get to hear the Gospel Doctrine lessons, plus the teachers in our ward have been at this for years and year and never do the research shown here. So, Ardis, I really appreciate the fact that you give us an opportunity to learn from yoiu.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — January 6, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  9. AWESOME! I can’t wait to see what more I learn from tomorrows lession. I love that you are posting these beforehand!

    Comment by jennh — January 7, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  10. I love your focus on Sariah. Thank you. Can you tell me where Julie M. Smith’s notes are posted?

    Comment by Kqellis — January 10, 2016 @ 4:55 am

  11. They were posted at Times and Seasons four years ago, when my own outline was written, and I no longer have a link handy — but perhaps knowing they were at T&S will let you target a google search.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 10, 2016 @ 6:38 am

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