faith in Christ
Scheduled for study Nov. 11-17, 2019. This week’s theme is all about our faith in Christ. We have a lesson on Christ as the great High Priest, as the author and finisher of our faith, and on trusting in his promises.

Day 1

Hebrews 7-13 – The author and finisher of our faith

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Hebrews 7-13, you may receive impressions through the Holy Ghost. You could record them in the margins of your scriptures, your journal, or in the Gospel Library app.

Sometimes the gospel is counterintuitive. For example, when a loved one, or yourself, is suffering from trials in this life, it can be all consuming. How are we supposed to focus on eternity when we can’t find any medicine or procedure that will take away our current pain? You can’t think straight. Or what about when you have lost everything, and you are lucky if you can find a place to sleep tonight, or you have been eating out of dumpsters for the last month to keep from starving? Where is the joy the gospel is supposed to bring during these times?

One of the major points of the gospel is that this life is meant to try our faith. Life isn’t supposed to be easy or a breeze. We will have people who hate us, often for no apparent reason, or that treat us unfairly. We will be hurt by others, and those we love will occasionally, or even habitually, let us down. That is the nature of this life. If all this is true then what is it we are supposed to be putting our faith in? Where do we find our joy in the gospel?

Faith is what gives us hope and the strength to go through all these trials. Faith is a belief we are willing to live by even when we don’t see the evidence or fruit of that belief in front of our eyes. The gospel of Christ does not contain a promise that in this mortal life we will come off conquerors. The gospel promises that our faith will bring us eternal blessings. Eternal blessings come when? In the eternities. Not in this life. So our faith is not that we will be free in this life from the trials and hardships we face here, but that in the next life Christ will exalt us and reward us for the obedience we demonstrate in the here and now, even when life is hard.

This concept, that the end-fruits of the gospel of Christ will be given to us in the next life, is why Christ is called the “author and finisher” of our faith. He is the beginning of the exercise of our faith in mortality, and is the rewarder, or finisher, of our faith in the hereafter.

Does that mean that we have nothing to look forward to in the here and now? Of course not. When we learn to focus our faith on the future rewards of obedience to Christ’s gospel, he blesses us with inner peace that surpasses all understanding. There is no way to explain to someone else the peace Christ gives to those who are faithful to him. His peace brings us courage, strength of will, resolve, greater faith, love, and a stronger desire to follow him in all things. What happens on the outside of our bodies doesn’t have to control what happens inside our soul.

We may live in a world rampant with Satan’s influence, but our souls can be a land of joy and harmony when we are at peace with God. This is what the message is to the Hebrews. When the title of the lesson says that Jesus is the “High Priest of Good Things to Come” that is what it is referring to. Our blessings will come, but most of them won’t come in this life. We must learn to exercise our faith that all of God’s promises will be fulfilled at some point in the future. We recognize that this is a testing period – a trial of our faith. I recommend reading the following article I wrote about having and keeping the ability to look beyond the today that is mortality, and to focus on the tomorrow that is eternity. What Difference Does it Make to Have an Eternal Perspective?

Day 2

Hebrews 7:1-22 – The Melchizedek Priesthood is the higher priesthood.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Hebrews 7-13, you may receive impressions through the Holy Ghost. You could record them in the margins of your scriptures, your journal, or in the Gospel Library app.

Why would the Hebrews need to have the Melchizedek priesthood explained to them? We are intimately familiar with it, because every worthy male member holds that priesthood. All of our covenants are administered through it, except for baptism. And even then, the confirmation to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost is a Melchizedek priesthood ordinance. So even our most basic and elementary ordinance is completed with an additional ordinance administered only through the Melchizedek priesthood.

Imagine, if you will, what life was like in the days of Jesus and after him. Everything had been done through the Aaronic priesthood for more than a thousand years. The only ones who had the Melchizedek priesthood were the prophets, and the last prophet we know of in Israel died more than 300 years before Jesus was born. It is pretty safe to say that the Hebrews (Jews) knew only of the Aaronic priesthood, and their understanding of that lesser priesthood was imperfect at best.

The difference between the Melchizedek priesthood and the Aaronic priesthood had to be pointed out because in Israel the only ones allowed to exercise any priesthood power for centuries were the priests in the temple, and they had to be blood descendents of Aaron, from the tribe of Levi. The Melchizedek priesthood didn’t come through Levi, but through Judah. And even then, those who held that priesthood before Abraham weren’t from a tribe of Israel at all, but were just worthy men the Lord entrusted with his power and authority. This was a difficult concept for the Hebrews to grasp.

The introduction of a higher priesthood than the Aaronic priesthood was something the Hebrews had to get used to. Can you imagine how many questions people would have today if the Lord revealed a priesthood higher than the Melchizedek? Talk about confusion in the Church! Now you can better imagine why this might have been so difficult for the people of Paul’s day to accept a priesthood that was higher than the Aaronic priesthood – the only priesthood they had ever known.

Day 3

Hebrews 9:1-10:22 – Ancient and modern ordinances point to Jesus Christ.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Hebrews 7-13, you may receive impressions through the Holy Ghost. You could record them in the margins of your scriptures, your journal, or in the Gospel Library app.

We know from the scriptures and the teachings of the modern prophets that every part of the law of Moses pointed to the coming of and the mission of the Messiah, who was Jesus. Unfortunately, over time the people of Israel lost sight of the reason behind the law and saw it more as a series of customs that set them apart from the rest of the world. They saw all the sacrifices and performances as commandments to be performed for God because they were His special people.

The writer of Hebrews points out that their yearly sacrifice was for a spiritual purpose, not just a custom to be performed annually. When the priest entered the Holy of Holies and offered a sacrifice to cleanse the sins of all Israel, it had to be repeated again next year. There was nothing even their High Priests could do to permanently get Israel off the hook for their sins.

This need to keep repeating the sacrifices of cleansing is what makes the sacrifice made by Jesus so special. Instead of offering an animal to pay for the people’s sins, he offered himself. Because of his personal perfection, with his single offering of himself to God, he was able to fulfill the law of Moses, and made it so no one ever had to offer sacrifice on an alter again. His offering was an eternal one, not an annual one. In the future, when offerings are made again, it will be in remembrance of the old sacrifices, not because they are needed for forgiveness. Christ’s offering ended the need for any other kind of sacrifice.

Today, we still have an ordinance we perform that points us to Christ’s sacrifice for us. That ordinance is the sacrament we take weekly (not weakly). Ancient Israel’s sacrifices were supposed to point their attention to the day Jesus would offer himself for us. Our sacramental ordinance points us to Jesus as well, reminding us of his eternal sacrifice in our behalf.

Day 4

Hebrews 11 – Faith requires trusting in God’s promises.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Hebrews 7-13, you may receive impressions through the Holy Ghost. You could record them in the margins of your scriptures, your journal, or in the Gospel Library app.

This lesson is closely tied to the first lesson of the week. We often say that faith is the hope we have for things promised us in the future from evidences of things we can see now. I believe it is a little more than that. This takes practice, but I believe that as we learn to trust the promises of the Lord, which start small and are immediate, but grow to be big and far into the future, that our ability to see “afar off” grows, and our trust in the Lord as a keeper of promises grows.

When we first begin to exercise faith we have a promise that if we do “A” God will do “B” for us. An example is the promise that if you read the Book of Mormon with real intent, and choose to believe that God has the ability and desire to reveal to you, personally, that it is true, that He will, in fact, do just that. So that is the immediate promise of A with the result of B. There is very little time between the two events.

When we have matured a little more in the gospel and in our exercising of our faith, we may be told that if we fast for rain God will send rain. Again, a relatively short time between the exercise of faith and the answer. But when we pray to have a testimony of the law of tithing we have to be tried and tested in that law (usually) before the witness of its validity comes. This may be a few months or it may be a few years.

It has been my experience that the greater the promise, the longer between the promise and the fulfillment of that promise. What happens between A and B is that after we have been given the promise (A) we have to learn to see the fulfillment of A in our mind’s eye, which is B. It is seeing the fulfillment of the promise, and trusting that God always keeps His promises that gives us the hope to fuel our belief and behavior to do what is required of us until the promise is fulfilled.

An example of this longer fulfillment of a promise is the promise of eternal marriage. When I am told in the temple that by making these covenants I will be permitted in the eternities to be with my lovely wife forever as a couple, it is my trust and hope in the future fulfillment of that promise that helps me stay faithful to her, to keep the commandments, and to try to always be worthy of that blessing. There is almost no chance that I will see the fulfillment of that promise of being eternally hers while in this life, but yet I live my life as though that promise has already been fulfilled. Why? Because I trust God to fulfill His promise to me because I am doing everything in my power to fulfill the conditions of that promise here and now.

This is the power of faith. Faith is being able to see a promise fulfilled and trusting in that fulfillment long before it actually happens. As a result of that trust, we live as though we have already received the promised blessing by keeping God’s commandments and by striving to be worthy of those blessings every day. We literally grow into our worthiness of the promised blessing by our trust and hope in God’s honesty and love for us. This is not something that comes quickly. It is something we must learn for ourselves is a truth that can be trusted, even when nothing in mortality looks like it could possibly happen.

Faith (that future vision of what was promised us) is what gives us the strength and will to press forward and behave according to the covenant and promises made with God, expecting that He will always make good, no matter how things look or feel around us. That is a trust that must be cultivated over time.

Day 5

Hebrews 10:32-36 – Feeling illuminated with truth

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Hebrews 7-13, you may receive impressions through the Holy Ghost. You could record them in the margins of your scriptures, your journal, or in the Gospel Library app.

Illuminate is such a happy word. It means to brighten, to light up, to make clear or to clarify. Following are some random questions about being illuminated by the Spirit. As you read these questions, try to answer them as you would if they were being asked of you by the Savior.

How do you feel when the Spirit illuminates your soul?

Are there any after effects from having received clarification or enlightenment from the Spirit? What might they be in your life?

How do people act after the Spirit has lit up their soul with knowledge? Are they more reserved or more eager to share the gospel?

How do you think being illuminated by the Spirit affects your ability to handle adversity?

In your experience, how long does the fire that lights up your soul last if it is not fed with new spiritual experiences?

Is the spiritual illumination permanent or passing? Why do you think our experiences with the spirit have a lifespan?

When do you think a person is most likely to be strong in the gospel, shortly after being illuminated by the Spirit or after a long absence of illumination?

How do you think being illuminated again by the Spirit affects us when we have been experiencing trials or doubts?

How important to you is the need to seek regular illumination from the Spirit?

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Hebrews 12:2 – Why was Jesus willing to endure the pain and suffering of the cross?

This verse says that Jesus was able to endure the last day of his life, and all the pain and shame that went with it because of “the joy that was set before him.” What do you think that joy was?

I believe that we all begin to see before us eternal joy as we exercise faith in Christ and practice obedience to God’s commandments.

If this is true, how would our view of the eternal blessings we have been promised affect our faith?

How might this view of eternity help us continue to be obedient?

Does focusing on the eternal joys promised to us help us remain faithful to our covenants?

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 46