Lehi continues to teach his son, Jacob, about Christ’s Atonement and all of mankind’s need for it:
“…He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah…” (2 Nephi 2:7-8)
-What does Lehi mean when he states that only those with a broken heart and a contrite spirit can receive Christ’s redemption from sin?
-Does “heart” in this passage refer to our personal will versus God’s will? Is it good to break down our will to make way for God’s will in our lives?
-Can one have anything but a “broken heart” when he or she truly keeps in remembrance the price paid by Christ to redeem those who choose to follow and obey Him?
-How is being prideful (which is the opposite of having a broken heart and a contrite spirit) a false state of being?
-Who among the inhabitants of the earth has God’s law? Who, if any, does not have the law?
Lehi continues to teach his son, Jacob, about Christ’s Atonement and all of mankind’s need for it:
“…Men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.” (2 Nephi 2:5-6)
-Is there a God-given conscience that all have to some degree?
-How is the light of Christ tied to conscience?
-What is the law that cuts all men off from God (because they fail to follow it perfectly)?
-What is the distinction Lehi is making between the temporal law and the spiritual law?
-Is there any way to be reconciled to the law, and return to God, other than through the redemption that Jesus Christ offers?
Speaking to his son, Jacob, Lehi testifies of the following truths about Christ’s Atonement:
“[T]he way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” (2 Nephi 2:4)
-Is there a difference between salvation and exaltation?
-In what ways is Christ’s salvation free? In what ways is it not free? Does it depend on how you define salvation? What was Lehi trying to emphasize when he referred to it as free?
-Did Christ free us from any lasting effects of the Fall that were brought about by the actions of Adam and Eve (physical death and separation from God)? Are there any conditions that need to be met before receiving these two elements of salvation from Christ? Is there anyone who will not receive them?
-Will everyone who is brought back to the presence of God—with a perfect resurrected body and, correspondingly, a perfect understanding of their status before God based on their choices during mortality—be comfortable staying in His presence?
-Is it accurate to think of a person as being saved if they cannot bear the presence of God and, therefore, will be separated from Him after mortality?
-What choices does a person need to make in mortality in order to be prepared to remain in God’s presence?
As he recounts (somewhere around 588-570 B.C.) how his son Jacob had come to know Christ, Lehi focuses on the power and consistency of the Spirit, who is the third member of the Godhead, in testifying of Christ.
“…I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” (2 Nephi 2:3-4)
-Did the Spirit have the power to testify of Christ in ancient times, before He came to the earth? Was the Spirit’s testimony in any way vague or indirect? Or, was it a clear manifestation without ambiguity?
-Did the power of the manifestation depend on the faithfulness and spiritual strength of the individual to whom the witness came?
-Is it possible for us, who live after Christ’s coming, to receive a clear manifestation, without ambiguity, that He was (and is) who He said he was?
By the time he and his family reached the Americas, Lehi had grown old. Before passing away, he took the opportunity to instruct his family. While speaking to Jacob (Nephi’s younger brother), Lehi touches on the meaning of adversity when it is endured with faith.
“[I]n thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren. Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2:2)
-How precious is faithfulness in distress to God?
-How much easier is it to bear your burdens, knowing that God will consecrate them to your gain (if you endure faithfully)?
Lehi testifies to his sons that God is eternally consistent and how they will fare (physically and spiritually) depends on their choices in relation to God’s standards:
“His ways are righteous forever. And he has said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” (2 Nephi 1:20)
-What does it mean to prosper in the land? And, how is it the opposite of being cut off from God?
Lehi, the Book of Mormon prophet, speaks of some of the special characteristics of the promised land as established by God in the Americas.
“[T]his land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.” (2 Nephi 1:7)
-Is there any land where God does not bless the obedient and withdraw blessings from the wicked?
-Has God established certain lands — such as the promised land of the Americas — where this dynamic of blessing and cursing is swifter and more pronounced? Why would He do so?
-Does iniquity abound in America (or areas within the Americas)? If so, are there signs of God withdrawing His favor from these peoples and places? Are their signs of liberty being lost?
After arriving in the Americas, Nephi recorded more of his father Lehi’s teachings and prophecies. The first recorded prophecy relates to the promised land which they had obtained from the Lord in the Americas…
“[W]e have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, I, Lehi prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 1:5-6)
-Are their Native American groups who are the descendants of Lehi and, thus, have a special God-given privilege to inherit and prosper on certain American lands (much as the Israelites where given a promised land in the Near East by God)?
-Where are these promised lands in the Americas?
-Is all North and South America covenanted to Lehi’s descendants? Or, are their promised lands more localized?
-Can individuals or groups, who live in the areas of the Americas promised to Lehi’s descendants, ultimately prosper and find lasting protection without sustaining and cooperating with the children of Lehi?
-Is there a key to Lehi’s descendants finding their full potential — in peace, prosperity and strength — upon the lands promised to them?
-What do the above scriptural passages suggest about God’s will in relation to Columbus, the Pilgrims, and many others that have come to the Americas?
Nephi concludes his first book of scripture with a testament to the power of obedience.
“[I]f ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall be saved at the last day. And thus it is. Amen.” (1 Nephi 22:31)
Below are some of God’s commandments as found in the first 22 chapters of the Book of Mormon (the portion of the book that has been covered by this blog so far).
“Condemn not the things of God.” (from the ancient Introduction)
“Remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.” (1 Nephi 10:20)
“Ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive.” (1 Nephi 15:11)
“Hear ye the words of the prophet.” (1 Nephi 19:24)
“Come near unto me.” (1 Nephi 20:16)
-How much more meaningful are our efforts to keep the commandments because of Christ and the Atonement He worked out in our behalf?
-Why is enduring to the end important?
As Nephi continues to expound on the prophesies and messages of Isaiah (chapters 48 and 49), he reemphasizes – despite the turmoil of the last days and all that will befall those who fight against Zion – that there is always safety in Jesus Christ.
“[A]ll nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.” (1 Nephi 22:28)
-Does Christ deny anyone or any group who comes to Him?
-Is there any other way to come unto Christ, besides through repentance?
-If the standard we repent to is the Divine Christ, how much emphasis and focus should be placed on repenting daily?
-Does the thought of a Perfect Standard encourage you or discourage you?
-Is encouragement or discouragement, in looking to Christ, a choice we make?
-How important is it to have faith that such a standard is obtainable for the standard to be meaningful?
-Would Christ want us to obtain anything less than the potential He has given us through his example and atoning sacrifice?
-If we allow His power into our lives, are there limits to what Christ can make of us as individuals and as groups?