The Divine Gift of Repentance Lesson Plan and Handout
Based on the talk given at the October 2011 LDS General Conference
by D. Todd Christofferson
by D. Todd Christofferson
D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
1. Discuss Nehor. Read together Alma (Alma 1:4).. Talk about the things he taught. Read Alma 1:16 & 17. Discuss how the people would "spin" the truth. How is that like our day?
2. Explain that the beliefs of Nehor were carried on throughout the Book of Mormon and referred to as "The Order of the Nehors." Have someone read quote 1 from the conference talk:
"About 15 years later, Korihor came among the Nephites preaching and amplifying the doctrine of Nehor. The Book of Mormon records that “he was Anti-Christ, for he began to preach unto the people against the prophecies … concerning the coming of Christ” (Alma 30:6). Korihor’s preaching was to the effect “that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime” (Alma 30:17). These false prophets and their followers “did not believe in the repentance of their sins” (Alma 15:15)."
3. Discuss: Why did Mormon include this? How is it like our times? How does the world view sin?
4. Throughout history the words "Repent" have been view in a negative way. Why do you think it is has the "spin" of being negative? Why don't people want to repent?
5. Have someone read quote 2:
"On the surface such philosophies seem appealing because they give us license to indulge any appetite or desire without concern for consequences. By using the teachings of Nehor and Korihor, we can rationalize and justify anything. When prophets come crying repentance, it “throws cold water on the party.” But in reality the prophetic call should be received with joy. Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life. Pretending there is no sin does not lessen its burden and pain. Suffering for sin does not by itself change anything for the better. Only repentance leads to the sunlit uplands of a better life. And, of course, only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace. Rather than interrupting the celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration."
How can we take the negative "spin" of repentance and speak about it with a smile on our face?
6. Read (D&C 20:30–31).. Discuss what this tells us about justification and the sanctification of Christ.
7. Elder Christofferson gives us five aspects of this fundamental gospel principle that he hopes will be helpful.
FIRST: the invitation to repent is an expression of love. Have someone read quote 3:
"If we do not invite others to change or if we do not demand repentance of ourselves, we fail in a fundamental duty we owe to one another and to ourselves. A permissive parent, an indulgent friend, a fearful Church leader are in reality more concerned about themselves than the welfare and happiness of those they could help. Yes, the call to repentance is at times regarded as intolerant or offensive and may even be resented, but guided by the Spirit, it is in reality an act of genuine caring (see D&C 121:43–44)."
SECOND: repentance means striving to change. Have someone read quote 4:
"Perhaps as much as praying for mercy, we should pray for time and opportunity to work and strive and overcome. Surely the Lord smiles upon one who desires to come to judgment worthily, who resolutely labors day by day to replace weakness with strength. Real repentance, real change may require repeated attempts, but there is something refining and holy in such striving. Divine forgiveness and healing flow quite naturally to such a soul, for indeed “virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; [and] mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own” (D&C 88:40)."
THIRD: repentance means not only abandoning sin but also committing to obedience. Discuss how we can do this.
FOURTH: repentance requires a seriousness of purpose and a willingness to persevere, even through pain. Have someone read quote 5:
"Confessing and forsaking are powerful concepts. They are much more than a casual “I admit it; I’m sorry.” Confession is a deep, sometimes agonizing acknowledgment of error and offense to God and man. Sorrow and regret and bitter tears often accompany one’s confession, especially when his or her actions have been the cause of pain to someone or, worse, have led another into sin. It is this deep distress, this view of things as they really are, that leads one, as Alma, to cry out, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death” (Alma 36:18)."
What kind of pain did the Lord suffer?
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup” (D&C 19:16–18).
Is this what we want for ourselves and our friends?
FIFTH: whatever the cost of repentance, it is swallowed up in the joy of forgiveness. Discuss briefly the story of the Donner party. Have someone read quote 6:
“Among them was fifteen-year-old John Breen. On the night of April 24 he walked into Johnson’s Ranch. Years later John wrote:
“‘It was long after dark when we got to Johnson’s Ranch, so the first time I saw it was early in the morning. The weather was fine, the ground was covered with green grass, the birds were singing from the tops of the trees, and the journey was over. I could scarcely believe that I was alive.
“‘The scene that I saw that morning seems to be photographed on my mind. Most of the incidents are gone from memory, but I can always see the camp near Johnson’s Ranch.’”
Said President Packer: “At first I was very puzzled by his statement that ‘most of the incidents are gone from memory.’ How could long months of incredible suffering and sorrow ever be gone from his mind? How could that brutal dark winter be replaced with one brilliant morning?
“On further reflection I decided it was not puzzling at all. I have seen something similar happen to people I have known. I have seen some who have spent a long winter of guilt and spiritual starvation emerge into the morning of forgiveness. When morning came, they learned this:
“‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more’ [D&C 58:42]."
Discuss the JOY of repentance. Share experiences.