The Great Coming Battle


I taught the third hour combined Young Men/Young Women lesson yesterday. It went really well. I gave plenty of opportunities for the kids to make connections and observations between the clay and their lives.

Pottery

The Great Coming Battle – 5th Sunday lesson for combined Young Women and Young Men

Preparation
Read Elder Melvin J. Ballard, “Struggle for the Soul,” New Era, Mar 1984, 32 and Boyd K. Packer, “The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character,” fireside address given at Brigham Young University on 2 February 2003 (available here: http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=478)
Index cards with main quotes printed on them. Hide them on the underside of the chairs before class starts.
Two or three index cards with a picture of pottery (ie. a cup or bowl) on them.
A small container of clay for each student.
Read the following scriptures: 2 Nephi 2:25; 2 Nephi 28:7-8, 19-22; Alma 12:24; Alma 34:32-34; 3 Nephi 12:48; Ether 12:27; Moroni 7:16; D&C 88:14-22; D&C 89; D&C 93:27-34; D&C 138:17, 50;

Purpose
Each of us are in the midst of the greatest battle in the universe. Each of us are battling for the salvation of our soul. Satan is real and is trying new and different tactics than from when the Church was first established. He is now working on the Saints individually, and tempting us through the medium of our bodies, our natural desires. We have the power to choose who we listen to, Jesus or Satan. We can shape our lives however we want, but it is easier to change while we are young, therefore, this life is the time to repent (see Alma 34:32-34).

Object lesson
Our lives are like clay, easily molded when young, but increasingly harder to shape and change as time goes on. When we die, it is like the clay has been fired in a kiln, and it is almost impossible to change. We must be continually shaping ourselves to be in the form Jesus set forth. Repentance is the process of letting Jesus reshape our clay into the form He has in mind for us.
That certain people received index cards with pictures or words of instruction is symbolic of how God calls prophets to guide and instruct the people of the world through revelation.


Lesson and Discussion

Elder Melvin J. Ballard

You know the books and movies where some old prophecy tells about what is going to happen in the future, and then the story is about that prophecy coming true? Does that happen in real life?

A Prophesy of Our Time
In 1928, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, an Apostle (M. Russell Ballard’s paternal grandfather), gave a prophecy about YOU in this time!

“Two years ago I was laboring with Elders Wells and Pratt in South America, opening a mission for the Church. I had during that period of time opportunity to reflect and to study.
While in contemplation of the Church’s progress, its present position and the future that awaits it, there came to me very distinctly some impressions concerning a period that would come full of danger to many, and feeling an anxious desire for the well-being of the membership of the Church, and indeed for my fellowmen, I promised the Lord that if he would give me the wisdom and the strength, I would lift up my voice in warning to the children of men concerning a peril that was threatening them.
I see the evidence of approach of that period of danger. It was to come in the time of peace and prosperity
I have felt therefore very keenly that the whole world was approaching a period of its self-indulgence wherein a new order of things would arise, and I have seen most clearly that the Church itself would be affected by this new period through which we were to pass. I can see clearly, however, that it is not altogether the forces of men that are to be reckoned with, but there are powers influencing the hearts of men, moving them in the solution of these problems that are arising before us.” [Melvin J. Ballard, “Struggle for the Soul,” New Era, Mar 1984, 32]

It is important to keep in mind three truths.
We exist on this earth, we live as we do right now, so that we can have a physical body, and learn to “make it our servant” and become “master over it.”
We are supposed to be in the presence of the enemy, who is in the majority (A third part of all God’s spirit children – probably more than all the people on the earth right now.)
We chose to do this!

Satan wants the power and glory, and he stops at nothing to try to get God’s work to fail. But he only has as much power as we give him.  Joseph Smith said:

“We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. . . .
All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power. [Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 181]”

Continual Battle Between Satan and God
Think of some times throughout history where Satan has tried to stop God’s work and Church from happening? All the time, especially from the time of Joseph Smith.

“So the process of conflict has ever been around the Church from the day of the Prophet’s first struggles. We have fought our way through under all sorts of adverse circumstances. Realizing that it was not possible to destroy it by the means that had been employed to check it—through mob violence, murder, persecution, bonds and imprisonment, disfranchisement, various woes and troubles—Satan is about to employ new methods. That is the point that I wish to emphasize, because I saw most clearly that the enemy was not satisfied, nor had he quit the field, but by new methods he would seek to destroy this work. For I want to say to you that he is vain enough to think, and he believes it confidently, that in the end he will be victorious and become king of this world.
The prophets of old foretold the time to come when this question would be settled. Some of them called the conflict Armageddon. Whatever the name is, there is coming a time when the question as to who has the right to rule and reign will be settled. Every righteous man, living and dead, will be interested and engaged in that conflict, and so will every wicked man, living and dead.
What will the end of the matter be? How soon it will come I do not know, but this I know: that evidences of the approaching conflict are speeding on, and come it will, and the days are being employed in preparation for it by such activity on both sides that we would be astonished if we knew that we are going to be the center of great interest in the universe, because we are approaching great and important and critical days in the history of this world.
Mighty forces are being arrayed on the one side and on the other for this approaching conflict that will settle the question of who shall rule and reign.” [Ballard]

Individual Testing Time
So there is a great battle and fight for your souls. Elder Ballard then describes how this battle will take place:

“I am not prepared to say who will be on his side or how many he will have, but I am as sure as I live, by the inspiration of the Almighty, that the end of the conflict is as certain as the result at the beginning. That he fell in the beginning and was routed from heaven is a fact, and it also is a truth that no matter how many he shall gather on his side nor how bitter the conflict, he shall be defeated and banished from the earth and cast out of his own place. Christ will come to claim his own, to rule and reign.

But in the meantime, it is not the outcome of the conflict that I am concerned about but rather whether I shall be on his side or on the Lord’s side. It surely is a good time for every man and woman to examine themselves and discover whether we are on the Lord’s side or not. I should like to say to you, my brethren and sisters, that all the assaults that the enemy of our souls will make to capture us will be through the flesh, because it is made up of the unredeemed earth, and he has power over the elements of the earth. The approach he makes to us will be through the lusts, the appetites, the ambitions of the flesh. All the help that comes to us from the Lord to aid us in this struggle will come to us through the spirit that dwells within this mortal body. So these two mighty forces are operating upon us through these two channels.

How is the battle going with you? How is it going with men and women in the world? That is a very important question. The greatest conflict that any man or woman will ever have (I care not how numerous their enemies may be) will be the battle that is had with self.” [Ballard]

President Boyd K. Packer

Elder Packer said it this way:
“So you are the focus of two conflicting patterns trying to influence you in your life, trying to have you go this way or that way (see Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; James 1:8). You are the one who makes the decision.

As the old man a generation ago said, “The Lord’s votin’ for me, and the devil’s votin’ against me, but it’s my vote that counts!” And that is good, solid doctrine.

You will have just what you want. On one hand, you have inspiration from the Holy Ghost, and, on the other hand, you have what President Ezra Taft Benson called “sinspiration” from the angels of the devil. They are with you all of the time.” [Packer]

“It is the individual testing time that I see approaching, so that it is well to know the forces and the powers that are arrayed against us, and their purposes, that we may close our ranks and fortify ourselves.” [Ballard]

Gospel Principles are Protection
“Being forewarned we should be forearmed, and I declare to you that every gospel principle which the Church has received is calculated in its very nature to steel and armour us against the assaults of the enemy of our souls. A man or woman who can keep the Word of Wisdom, for instance, will also be fortified in keeping himself clean and undefiled from the sins of this generation.” [Ballard]

What’s so important about the Word of Wisdom? Packer:

“The “Word of Wisdom [was] given for a principle with promise” (D&C 89:1, 3). But what is the promise? The promise, of course, is personal revelation.

Now, the Word of Wisdom is, I think, only incidentally to keep us healthy, if we will observe it.

The point is, if you want to move on spiritually and do as you ought to do in this life, the principle outlined in the Word of Wisdom shows you the requirements. You cannot just toy with it.

It is not that you are going to be a healthy athlete all of your life, and it is not that you are going to avoid old age. It is that you will have the key to revelation. When your body begins to deteriorate, the patterns of revelation will be augmented and magnified.”

Our lives are like a piece of clay, we have the power to shape how it will be.

Our bodies are like clay:
“This body is like clay, plastic and pliable, and when the clay is soft and pliable how easy it is to mold it, to alter it, to change it! Then when it becomes hard and set, how difficult this is! Similarly, men and women who go through their entire lives forming habits of viciousness, of wickedness, find it exceedingly difficult in old age to modify and change their course. And yet even for them it is easier to change their course of life in old age than it will be after death.
Some folks hope they may lose their sins in the grave. There is no hope that sins will be lost in the grave, for “as we lay our bodies down so shall we take them up again,” it is written.

What we will discover is this, that the spirit takes upon itself the habits of the body. There are many spirits that have come into mortality free, that have become enslaved through yielding to the cravings of the flesh. They will find when they come out of the body that they are tainted and tinctured with all the lust and desires of the body. Instead of being free to rise to glorious heights, they are more or less earthbound, craving the things that they have yielded to in the flesh, and they will discover too that after they have stepped out of this life they are separated from the body and have no power over that element, but the reformation will have to go forward in the spirit. They will also discover that every emotion and feeling will be intensified when they have passed out of mortality, so that it will be much more difficult to conquer and master and overcome when we go out of this life than here and now.

This is the one and only time most fitting and appropriate. Now is the time to repent.”

Show the pieces of pottery. Tell everyone that they should have made their clay look like one of the pieces of pottery. Have them imagine trying to change their clay to the correct shape at different stages of the pottery making process.

Ask:
How easy would it be to change the clay if you just barely started?
How easy would it be to change if you left it out overnight?
How easy would it be to change if you fired it in a kiln?
How is this like our lives and the example that Jesus has set?

Read
3 Nephi 12:48 “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”

Ask
What can we do to change our lives so that they resemble the example of Jesus?

Repentance is Possible
Packer:
“There are many things that cannot be understood or taught or explained unless it is in terms of the plan of redemption. Unless you understand the basic plan–the premortal existence, the purpose of life, the Fall, the Atonement, the Resurrection–unless you understand that, the unmarried, the abused, the handicapped, the abandoned, the addicted, the disappointed, those with gender disorientation, or the intellectuals will find no enduring comfort. You will not think life is fair unless you know the plan of redemption.

Jesus Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane

Some say they are born with some tendency. Whether you are born with them or you acquired them or you got them through over-medication, addiction, or any other way, what should you do? Resist them! You resist them and push them away. How long? As long as you live. There are some things that are a lifelong battle.”

If you make a mistake, if you find you need to make a correction to your clay, there is something you can do to fix it!

“Now, who made you? Who is your Creator? There is not anything about your life that gets bent or broken that He cannot fix and will fix. You have to decide. If some of you have made mistakes and you think you are broken and cannot be put together, you do not know the doctrine of the Church. You do not know what the Atonement was about and who the Lord is and what a power He is in your life.” [Packer]

“You young people, move ahead in your lives. It is a marvelous time to be alive. The world is not going to come to an end. You are going to have time to stand, as I stand now, talking about your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren. You decide!” [Packer]

Discuss
Some of you had help by way of note cards with the correct picture on them or with words of guidance. How can this be compared to prophets and others who are good examples?

I used the following quotes for the index cards.

An Ancient Prophecy
In 1928, Elder Melvin J. Ballard (who is Elder M. Russell Ballard’s grandfather) prophesied:
“While in contemplation of the Church’s progress, its present position and the future that awaits it, there came to me very distinctly some impressions concerning a period that would come full of danger to many, and feeling an anxious desire for the well-being of the membership of the Church, and indeed for my fellowmen, I promised the Lord that if he would give me the wisdom and the strength, I would lift up my voice in warning to the children of men concerning a peril that was threatening them….
I see the evidence of approach of that period of danger. It was to come in the time of peace and prosperity….
I have felt therefore very keenly that the whole world was approaching a period of its self-indulgence wherein a new order of things would arise, and I have seen most clearly that the Church itself would be affected by this new period through which we were to pass. I can see clearly, however, that it is not altogether the forces of men that are to be reckoned with, but there are powers influencing the hearts of men, moving them in the solution of these problems that are arising before us.” [Melvin J. Ballard, “Struggle for the Soul,” New Era, Mar 1984, 32]

We Have Power Over The Enemy
“We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. . ..
All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power. [Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 181]”

The Enemy’s Weapons
“I am not prepared to say who will be on his side or how many he will have, but I am as sure as I live, by the inspiration of the Almighty, that the end of the conflict is as certain as the result at the beginning….

But in the meantime, it is not the outcome of the conflict that I am concerned about but rather whether I shall be on his side or on the Lord’s side. It surely is a good time for every man and woman to examine themselves and discover whether we are on the Lord’s side or not. I should like to say to you, my brethren and sisters, that all the assaults that the enemy of our souls will make to capture us will be through the flesh, because it is made up of the unredeemed earth, and he has power over the elements of the earth. The approach he makes to us will be through the lusts, the appetites, the ambitions of the flesh. All the help that comes to us from the Lord to aid us in this struggle will come to us through the spirit that dwells within this mortal body. So these two mighty forces are operating upon us through these two channels.

How is the battle going with you? How is it going with men and women in the world? That is a very important question. The greatest conflict that any man or woman will ever have (I care not how numerous their enemies may be) will be the battle that is had with self.” [Melvin J. Ballard, “Struggle for the Soul,” New Era, Mar 1984, 32]

Our Weapon Against The Enemy
“Being forewarned we should be forearmed, and I declare to you that every gospel principle which the Church has received is calculated in its very nature to steel and armour us against the assaults of the enemy of our souls. A man or woman who can keep the Word of Wisdom, for instance, will also be fortified in keeping himself clean and undefiled from the sins of this generation.” [Melvin J. Ballard, “Struggle for the Soul,” New Era, Mar 1984, 32]

“The “Word of Wisdom [was] given for a principle with promise” (D&C 89:1, 3). But what is the promise? The promise, of course, is personal revelation….

It is not that you are going to be a healthy athlete all of your life, and it is not that you are going to avoid old age. It is that you will have the key to revelation. When your body begins to deteriorate, the patterns of revelation will be augmented and magnified.” [Boyd K. Packer, “The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character,” fireside address given at Brigham Young University on 2 February 2003]

Jesus Christ Can Help Us Change
“Now, who made you? Who is your Creator? There is not anything about your life that gets bent or broken that He cannot fix and will fix. You have to decide. If some of you have made mistakes and you think you are broken and cannot be put together, you do not know the doctrine of the Church. You do not know what the Atonement was about and who the Lord is and what a power He is in your life….

You young people, move ahead in your lives. It is a marvelous time to be alive. The world is not going to come to an end. You are going to have time to stand, as I stand now, talking about your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren. You decide!” [Boyd K. Packer, “The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character,” fireside address given at Brigham Young University on 2 February 2003]

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