The Covenant People of the Lord Are Armed with Righteousness and the Power of God

Nephi sees, in a vision of the great division that will occur in the last days, the power that God will give to those who are faithful to their covenant relationship with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God. And…I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. (1 Nephi 14:13-14)

-If you believe this prophecy about how things will unfold in the time before Christ’s return, why do you think so many will end up yielding to the temptations of the devil and fight (it appears in an organized way) against Christ and His covenant people?

-What does it mean to be armed with righteousness? Will it be possible, individually and collectively as these events unfold, to withstand the power of the mother of abominations without being armed with righteousness and the power of God?

-Where do you feel you stand now in relation to God’s work and the godless work that is marshaling against the covenant people of the Lord?

There Are Two Churches Only

In teaching Nephi about the events of the last days, and the great division that will occur between those who serve the Lamb of God and those who reject Him (See The Lamb of God Will Work a Great and Marvelous Work), the angel of the Lord explains to Nephi that ultimately there are only two churches.

“And [the angel] said unto me: Behold there are two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” (1 Nephi 14:10)

-If God has set Himself to test the hearts of all people in our time (as discussed in the post previous to this one—see The Lamb of God Will Work a Great and Marvelous Work), will the division between the church of the Lamb of God and the church of the devil become more distinct and recognizable than ever? In this scenario of clarification, how powerful would the draw of the work of the Lamb of God be to all good and sincere people (of all faiths and denominations) as the distinction unfolds and the true destructiveness and evil of the church of the devil is revealed?

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The Lamb of God Will Work a Great and Marvelous Work—Either to the Convincing of Them unto Peace and Life Eternal or unto the Deliverance of Them to the Hardness of their Hearts

Nephi continues to be taught about the events of the last days.

“…The angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them…and thou also hast heard that whoso repenteth not must perish. Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God. For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one had or the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually according to the captivity of the devil.” (1 Nephi 14:5-7)

-What does it mean to repent? And, according to the passage above, how important is repentance for the temporal and spiritual welfare of the Gentiles?

-Does this message only apply to the Gentiles? Or, is it applicable to everyone?

-Are there signs of God’s great and marvelous work occurring now?

-Is your heart open to the Lamb of God and the work He is performing to bring peace and life eternal to all who will receive Him?

That Great Pit Which Has Been Dug for the Destruction of Men Shall Be Filled by Those Who Dug It

Nephi continues to be taught, by an angel of the Lord, about events leading up to Christ’s second coming. He learns that the Gentiles in the Americas, and throughout the entire world, who receive Christ’s latter-day revelations and directions will inherit the covenant blessings of the house of Israel along with those who are tied to the house of Israel by ancestry (see A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God).

On the other hand, Nephi also learns that those who fight against Christ’s words and actions in the last days — when He is gathering the house of Israel according to the covenants made with them — will shut themselves outside the covenant blessings and, thus, will be vulnerable to the destructive pitfalls laid by Satan to capture souls in our time. The snares laid to fight against Christ and His followers will turn to the detriment and destruction of those who laid the snares.

“…That great pit, which hath been digged…by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which has been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God…For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him.” (1 Nephi 14:3-4)

Questions:

-When a person or group has ill will toward another person or group, who does it usually hurt the most in the long run? Is it the person or group with the malice or the person or group toward which the malice is directed? How long will a group or society focused on fault finding and entrapment of others function before turning on its own members?

-What is the nature of the figurative pit mentioned in this prophecy? How will it be dug by those who wish to trap others within it?

-How difficult will it be to escape the pit? As Christ manifests Himself in word, power, and deed to restore the fulness of His gospel and gather the house of Israel (see 1 Nephi 14:2 and A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God) will it be possible to stay neutral? Or, will “sitting on the fence” be more difficult than ever as a clear separation develops between those who recognize Christ’s work as real and those who deny it and fight against its progress? (See Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:25-30.)

A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God

Lehi and his descendants were blessed by God to inherit their promised land in the Americas. As the angel – sent as God’s messenger — continues to teach Nephi, he is told that the Americas will also be a promised land to the Gentiles who choose to live by the fulness of Jesus Christ’s gospel as contained in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and all other words of direction Christ will extend through the restored Priesthood in the last days.

…If the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks—And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall no longer be brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel will no longer be confounded.” (1 Nephi 14:1-2)

-How has Jesus Christ manifested himself in word, power, and deed in our time? See the following posts for examples:

The Book of Mormon Is a Witness to the Truth of the Bible

As Nephi continues to be taught by an angel of the Lord, he receives additional knowledge about the destiny of the record that his people would keep in the Americas. He is shown that when the people of the Old World — who believed in and revered the Bible — came to the New World, they would receive a confirming testimony from the religious record kept by those who had lived centuries before in the New World: The testimonies of the Old and New World would come together and support each other in declaring that Jesus is the Savior.

“For behold saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief…these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb. And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and salvation.

And the angel spake unto me saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first…and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.” (1 Nephi 13:35-36,40-41)

Questions:

-Did Christ visit the Americas after His resurrection (see 3 Nephi 11)?

-In this time where atheistic worldviews are becoming increasingly popular, how valuable is the knowledge that God is still working to gather and bless those who would have Him to be their God? How valuable is it to have another scriptural witness that Jesus is the Savior of all the world?

-How hard do you think the adversary would work to defame and downplay a powerful second witness of Christ? How many people quickly dismiss the value of the Book of Mormon without personally studying it and asking God in prayer if it is from Him?

I Will Bring Forth unto Them, in My Own Power, Much of My Gospel

After Nephi is shown that many truths would be taken from the gospel record prior to the Bible coming to the Americas, he is also shown that God would reestablish these lost truths by His own power.

…Because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book…an exceedingly great many do stumble…insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. Nevertheless…God will not suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness…they are in because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church…Behold, saith the Lamb of God, I will bring forth unto them, in my own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious.” (1 Nephi 13:29-30, 32-34)

Questions:

-Do you believe that the Book of Mormon was brought to us through Jesus Christ’s own power? Can you make a meaningful decision about your belief without carefully reading the book and seeking God’s guidance about its truth?

-If the Book of Mormon contains many plain and precious truths, brought to us through God’s direction and revelation (see Condemn not the Things of God), how important is it to read and understand?

– Was the coming forth of the Book of Mormon the culmination of social thought or the product of the most educated and sophisticated religious minds of its day (i.e., man’s power)? Or, was it by God’s power—through a commandment to ancient American prophets to keep a record and a commandment to a modern-day prophet to translate it by the power of revelation?

-Are there other books — besides the Book of Mormon — that have come to us in modern times, by God’s power, and have helped to restore plain and precious truths?

They Have Taken Away from the Gospel of the Lamb Many Parts which are Plain and Most Precious

As Nephi continues to see future events through vision, he is shown by an angel how the gospel of Jesus Christ would be altered by the great and abominable church prior to the Bible coming to the Americas.

“Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God. And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this they have done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.” (1 Nephi 13:25-28)

Questions:

-Is it possible for there to be a perfect book in a fallen world where men and women use imperfect written language to preserve texts?

-Would it surprise you if God allowed aspects of Christ’s teachings, the apostles’ teachings, and the words of the ancient prophets to be altered as described in the verses above? By what eternal principle would God withhold His intervention to stop such detrimental changes? Does God ever force those on the earth to do what is right? Or, does He always – as long as they are permitted by Him to live — allow them to show their true colors in relationship to His standards and righteousness?

-If you believe the angel’s declaration to Nephi that truths would be intentionally taken away from the gospel record, what plain and precious truths do you think may have been lost? Is there any way these truths can be (or have been) restored?

-Are there truths and covenants emphasized in the Book of Mormon that help reconstruct the full, undiminished gospel of Jesus Christ? How can you know the truth about this important question (see Moroni 10:3-5)?

The Great and Abominable Church

After the meaning of his father’s dream is revealed, Nephi continues to receive a prophetic vision through the Spirit and the help of an angel. He is shown that after the formation of Christ’s church another church would form in opposition to it:

“And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity. And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it…And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church. And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.” (1 Nephi 13:5-6,8-9)

Questions:

-Does reference to the great and abominable church signify a specific, officially organized church? Or, does it signify a church that forms and functions spontaneously among all people due to the influence and deception of the devil?

-Would the abominable church be more active among societies and cultures that also have the fullness of Jesus Christ’s gospel established within them? Or, would it be better established among those societies and cultures that do not have a fullness of the gospel?

-What is the ultimate motivation of this great and abominable church? What do those who belong to it ultimately desire?

-Is destruction of those who are striving to serve God an indirect byproduct of the aims of the great and abominable church, which seeks the praise of the world? Or, is it a direct focus?

-Is it possible to be part of (or take some part in) the great and abominable church without realizing it?

-What are some safeguards you could employ to ensure you and your family are not drawn into participation with the great and abominable church?

-If its goal is popularity and the accumulation of material pleasures and things, how likely is this great and abominable church to have a strong influence over many media, advertising, and entertainment outlets?