Become like a Little Child
Lehi and Sariah: Progenitors of the Nephite and Lamanite Societies
Depiction of King Benjamin
Several articles have been written about Benjamin and his teachings. He was a benevolent King who spent his years in the building up of his kingdom's spiritual purity as well as its security from attacks. He is akin to Josiah who found a book of the law in the temple and cleansed his kingdom. (2 Kings 22:8) Josiah tore his robes and dedicated his kingdom to the Lord. Benjamin bore his soul and allow his people the freedom to dedicate themselves to the Lord.
King Benjamin was a great prophet-king who lived over one hundred years prior to the advent of the Savior of mankind in the flesh.
He, a righteous man, lived on one of the American continents, according to speculation, in a great society of people who descended from several groups that mingled to make a nation referred to as Nephites.
[T]he atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments... And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved... (Mosiah 4:6, 8)
King Benjamin, the son of King Mosiah the First, understood the peculiar notion that salvation comes to mankind through the singular act of atonement that would occur according to his pre-Christ perspective.
Benjamin did not view the act of atonement as something that was just a future event to occur, but an eternal and present act of which the law of Moses alluded to in the very performances of the many blood sacrifices using animals.
...I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:29-30)
Benjamin did not tell them that the atonement was not fully effective in their lives, but that in order for Christ to accept them as His children and forgive them of all their sins that they must put forward effort towards good works.
Benjamin did not teach that any person had to earn his or her salvation. What he taught is that Christ has requirements for those who accept His atonement.
Perishing would not be a physical demise in this instance. Perishing would be spiritual--spiritually cut off from God the Father forever.
Benjamin is expressive as is recorded in Mosiah 3:19,
[T]he natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord...
In order to become one of God's chosen people or a saint, Benjamin expresses that all MUST deny, put off, reject, or any other word of separation, the natural or basic man.
Believe In The Atoning One.
[T]he natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord... (Mosiah 3:19)
Benjamin instructed his people to believe in God and His atoning power. He wanted them to understand the role of the Christ in their lives as he understood His, Christ's, role through the spirit of prophecy.
He reminded his subjects throughout his sermon about the condescension of Christ, the very God to whom they all prayed. He wanted to impress upon their minds that Christ's understanding was greater than was their understanding.
The atonement was about more than forgiveness of sins to Benjamin. He instructed his people that once they had received a remission of their sins and understood how dependent they were on the grace of God, that they would, in turn, Abe a blessing to someone else.
The healing of the atonement in the lives of saints of Christ was to express itself in the healing of the blight around them and the lifting of the souls in their paths.
Truly accepting the healing balm of the Savior was to be one with Him and do His works on His behalf. These works, after applying the atonement, are a requirement of the Lord to retain His grace.
What is the natural man?
[H]e that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God...[!] Mosiah 16:5
The above according to another prophet by the name of Abinadi, from whom Benjamin could have borrowed his words being junior to Abinadi; the natural man is an enemy to God because he focuses on what pleases the body and what is perceptible to the senses alone
The natural man cannot be saved, because he does not seek salvation. He may not know to seek salvation! It is inherent of all people to be naturally or carnally disposed, but it is also within all to become spiritual.
God wants all people to become spiritually minded.
How does a naturally or carnally-minded person become spiritually-minded?
King Benjamin answered the question as recorded in verse 19. He said that the natural man must
[B]ecometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
The spiritual man submits to the will of the Father through the Holy Spirit as a child submits to his or her father (or mother).
Benjamin appealed to the cultural norms of the people in his kingdom to show humility and submission. To be righteous, he reiterated that a believer must "believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend," (Mosiah 4:9) just as a child does not comprehend all that his or her parents comprehend; therefore, they submit to their parents' will accordingly. Benjamin instructed that God expects that type of commitment.
Obedience is righteousness
No matter how peculiar or strange it may be to worship God, the saints are to have love in their hearts for Him.
Submissive, Meek, Humble, Patient, Full of Love
*Submissive is to show a lack of resistance towards God and His statutes.
Children, even though some parents would argue, tend to allow their parents to lead them without question. Benjamin wants his hearers to remember how children allow themselves to be led. He suggests submitting to the Lord in this manner in order to keep the atonement effective in their lives.
*Meek is being teachable and gentle.
Children are generally teachable and gentle--easy to approach. Children do not of necessity seek to bring hurt or injury to others. It is inherent in most cultures not to fear children for this very reason!
They are naturally easily entreated by their parents. Benjamin wants to impress upon his listeners that they should be meek before the Lord no matter how intelligent or powerful they are in life.
*Humble is to regard the self much less and focus on others.
Children generally do not think they are better than their parents and seek to please their parents intently. Benjamin reminds his listeners to approach God and seek to do His will without preconceived status about themselves.
Benjamin wants his listeners to let God define them as righteous. Saints do not need to define themselves when the judge is God. How much happier are children when parents define them as a good child?
*Patient is to wait fully without anger enduring all things.
Children will wait patiently for their parents without losing love for their parents. King Benjamin instructs that all people should show God this same respect. "Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me" (Micah 7:7).
*Full of Love is to have regard and compassion towards all.
Children can love without regard to beauty. A mother or father can appear hideous to the world, but to a child of that mother or father, he or she is the grandest to look upon.
Benjamin wants to impress upon the learner of his words to see God in this light.
- No matter how peculiar or strange it may be to worship God, the saints are to have love in their hearts for Him.
- No matter how strange the commands, they are too follow.
- No matter how hard the task, they are to obey.
Share Your View
If you were to read Benjamin's sermon, would it convict him of being a Christian?
Benjamin could speak frankly to his people because they were prepared. "[T]hey had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth" (Mosiah 4:2).
Why less than the dust of the earth? The dust of the earth is obedient to the law upon which God created it. Humanity, those who are created in the very image of God, will not obey; therefore, humans do not behave as well as a particle of dust!
Because of this disobedience, humanity needs a Savior. Someone to pay the debt of disobedience. The cost or total of disobedience is death--physical and spiritual. Christ's atonement made restitution for all who will hearken to His work.
All will rise to glorious resurrections.
All who repent and become like children will return to the presence of God the Father.
This article shows all people to learn from the prophets of old times and submit to the will of a living and loving God. Think of how people submit to the law and obey. They obey traffic laws that keep them safe. God's laws offer eternal life to all who will submit to them.
© 2014 Rodric Johnson