O How Great the Plan of Our God!

Jacob continues to teach about the power of Christ’s Atonement. Even the terrible grip on those who experience the combination of physical death (the grave) and spiritual death (hell) will be loosened by Christ’s power of resurrection

O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit. And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave. And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 9:10-12)

…And those who have experienced physical death in the hope of Christ, who have overcome spiritual death through the power of His righteousness, will rise from the grave with immeasurable joy.

“O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect. Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea even with the robe of righteousness.” (2 Nephi 9:13-14)

Questions:

-Why does Jacob refer to the combination of the death of the body and the death of the spirit as being monstrous?

-What is the paradise of God that Jacob is referring to when describing what the righteous will experience prior to the Resurrection?

-Can anyone be clothed with purity and wear the robe of righteousness except through the power of Jesus Christ’s Atonement?

-Is anyone truly alive without their physical body? How much more alive will we be when blessed with an incorruptible and immortal body? How much more will we be alive to who we are spiritually?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“Thanks be to God for the wonder and the majesty of His eternal plan. Thank and glorify His Beloved Son, who, with indescribable suffering, gave His life on Calvary’s cross to pay the debt of mortal sin. He it was who, through His atoning sacrifice, broke the bonds of death and with godly power rose triumphant from the tomb. He is our Redeemer, the Redeemer of all mankind. He is the Savior of the world. He is the Son of God, the Author of our salvation” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Victory over Death,” Ensign, May 1985, 51).

“Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

“No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 85).

“The Apostle Peter referred to the fact that God the Father, in His abundant mercy, ‘hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Pet. 1:3; see also 1 Thes. 4:13–18).

“The ‘lively hope’ we are given by the resurrection is our conviction that death is not the conclusion of our identity but merely a necessary step in the destined transition from mortality to immortality. This hope changes the whole perspective of mortal life. …

“The assurance of resurrection gives us the strength and perspective to endure the mortal challenges faced by each of us and by those we love, such things as the physical, mental, or emotional deficiencies we bring with us at birth or acquire during mortal life. Because of the resurrection, we know that these mortal deficiencies are only temporary!

“The assurance of resurrection also gives us a powerful incentive to keep the commandments of God during our mortal lives. …

“Our sure knowledge of a resurrection to immortality also gives us the courage to face our own death—even a death that we might call premature. …

“The assurance of immortality also helps us bear the mortal separations involved in the death of our loved ones. … We should all praise God for the assured resurrection that makes our mortal separations temporary and gives us the hope and strength to carry on” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Resurrection,” Ensign, May 2000, 15–16).

It Must Needs Be an Infinite Atonement

Jacob teaches his people (at around 559-545 B.C. in the Americas) about the Resurrection being an answer to the Fall.

“…Our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God. Yea, I know that…in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came; for it is expedient that it should be among them; for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him. For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man be reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 9:5-6)

“Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and crumble to its mother earth to rise no more. O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself…” (2 Nephi 9:7-9)

Questions:

-What does Jacob mean when he says that Jesus Christ’s Atonement had to be infinite? (for an excellent exploration of this topic read The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister)

-How is being Resurrected with a physical immortal body part of saving our souls from the powers of hell?

-Would remaining as spirits for the eternities after death allow us to reach our full potential as God’s children? In this scenario, could we achieve the same power of spiritual and physical perfection that our Father and Jesus Christ currently have?

-Will the resurrection to a perfected body permanently seal off further spiritual influence from those who will spend eternity without bodies (i.e. Satan and those who followed him in the pre-mortal world)?

-What does it mean to be a subject of Jesus Christ?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“I wish to speak about the greatest event in all history. That singular event was the incomparable Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. This was the most transcendent act that has ever taken place” (James E. Faust, “The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 18).

“If our separation from God and our physical death were permanent, moral agency would mean nothing. Yes, we would be free to make choices, but what would be the point? The end result would always be the same no matter what our actions: death with no hope of resurrection and no hope of heaven. As good or as bad as we might choose to be, we would all end up ‘angels to a devil’ [2 Nephi 9:9]” (D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Agency,” Ensign, June 2009, 50).

“His Atonement is infinite—without an end. [See 2 Nephi 9:7; 25:16; Alma 34:10, 12, 14.] It was also infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death. It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. It was infinite in time, putting an end to the preceding prototype of animal sacrifice. It was infinite in scope—it was to be done once for all. [See Hebrews 10:10.] And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him. [See D&C 76:24; Moses 1:33.] It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension.

“Jesus was the only one who could offer such an infinite atonement, since He was born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. Because of that unique birthright, Jesus was an infinite Being” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 35).

“According to eternal law, that atonement required a personal sacrifice by an immortal being not subject to death. Yet He must die and take up His own body again. The Savior was the only one who could accomplish this. From His mother He inherited power to die. From His Father He obtained power over death” (Russell M. Nelson, “Constancy amid Change,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 34).

“Just as death would doom us and render our agency meaningless but for the redemption of Christ, even so, without His grace, our sins and bad choices would leave us forever lost. There would be no way of fully recovering from our mistakes, and being unclean, we could never live again in the presence of [God].

“… We need a Savior, a Mediator who can overcome the effects of our sins and errors so that they are not necessarily fatal. It is because of the Atonement of Christ that we can recover from bad choices and be justified under the law as if we had not sinned” (D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Agency,” Ensign, June 2009, 50).

None Will He Destroy That Believe in Him

Jacob continues to expound on specific prophecies of Isaiah as found in the Old Testament (chapter 49 verses 24-26). The protection God will provide to His covenant people, who believe in Him, will provide a powerful witness to all in the last days that the Holy One of Israel is the Lord of the earth:

…[T]he Messiah will set himself again the second time to recover them; wherefore he will manifest himself unto them in power and great glory, unto the destruction of their enemies, when that day cometh when they shall believe in him; and none will he destroy that believe in him. And they that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine. And they shall know that the Lord is God, the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 6:14-15)

Questions:

-Will it be possible to stay neutral when God’s recovery and protection of his covenant people creates a great division among the people of the earth in these last days?

-Why will those who are not building up Zion feel compelled to fight against it? Why will so many not participating in the establishment of Zion be filled with hatred towards it and, thereby, succumb to evil?

-If the Jews and the rest of the house of Israel are God’s ancient covenant people, has He established His covenants anew among the people of the earth in our day?

 

The Jewish People Who Still Wait for the Messiah Will be Blessed as Well as All People Who Build up Zion in Preparation for His Second Coming

After quoting Isaiah (chapter 49 versus 22 and 23 as found in the Old Testament), Jacob explains that after a period of trial and dispersion the Jewish people would be blessed by God through Gentile peoples whom He would raise up in the last days. On the other hand, those Gentiles who fight against the Jewish people who still wait for the Messiah and those who fight against the covenant people of the Lord (whether the covenant people are Jewish or not) will not prosper.

The Jewish people “shall be scattered, and smitten, and hated; nevertheless, the Lord will be merciful unto them, that when they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance. And blessed are the Gentiles, they of whom the prophet has written; for behold, if it so be that they shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to the great and abominable church, they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children…Wherefore, they that fight against Zion and the covenant people of the Lord shall lick up the dust of their feet; and the people of the Lord shall not be ashamed. For the people of the Lord are they who wait for him; for they still wait for the coming of the Messiah.” (2 Nephi 6:12-13)

Questions:

-Are there still millions of Jews who faithfully wait for the Messiah despite the trials of their people? What does Jacob say about the protection and blessings they will receive for this faithfulness?

-With the Restoration of the fullness of the gospel (including the teachings of the Book of Mormon and modern-day prophets), do the Jewish people have more fertile ground for coming to a knowledge of their Redeemer?

-Are they being gathered in to the land of their inheritance in our time?

For a free copy of the Book of Mormon go to: https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/book-of-mormon

Isaiah Speaks of Things That Are and Things That Are to Come

Jacob, and many other Nephite prophets, had a deep respect for the writings of Isaiah as these prophets knew his words were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

“…Behold, I would speak unto you concerning things which are, and which are to come; wherefore, I will read you the words of Isaiah.” (2 Nephi 6:4)

“…They [the words of Isaiah] may be likened unto you, for ye are of the house of Israel.” (2 Nephi 6:5)

Questions:

-Has God established anew the covenant relationship with the house of Israel in our time?

-To whom did He appear personally – as well as sending Moses, Elias, and Elijah – to restore the full covenant relationship? (see Doctrine and Covenants 110)

-Do the words of Isaiah provide a pattern by which God works with the house of Israel?

-How can those who are of the house of Israel liken the words of Isaiah unto themselves?

-How can the words of Isaiah tell of things to come and also tell of things that currently are?

Nephi Engraved That Which Is Pleasing unto God

Nephi speaks to his people, and all people, about what he chose to engrave in his record (which record became the first part of the Book of Mormon after being translated).

“…I engraved that which was pleasing unto God. And if my people are pleased with the things of God they will be pleased with mine engravings which are upon these plates.” (2 Nephi 5:32)

Questions:

-Do you believe the words engraved by Nephi (and later translated by Joseph Smith) are pleasing to God?

-If so, why do you believe they are? If not, why do you believe they are not?

-Are the messages from the Book of Mormon (such as those posted on this website) pleasing to you?

-If you believe the Bible is the word of God, do you believe the Book of Mormon would confirm so many of the Bible’s teachings and the Bible’s historical accuracy if the Book of Mormon wasn’t also from God?

-How can you know if the teachings in the Book of Mormon are pleasing to God as Nephi testifies? (see Moroni 10:3-5)

Video:

 

God Will Give Liberally to Him That Asketh

After expressing his eternal trust in the Lord, Nephi also emphasizes how the Lord is standing ready to pour out blessings upon those who ask for that which is right in His eyes.

“Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss.” (2 Nephi 4:35)

Questions:

-How can we learn to ask not amiss?

-Is it tempting to ask God to override others’ free will? Are there circumstances where He would do so?

-If a prayer is not answered, does that mean the prayer was amiss?

-What is the difference between the timetables one might have in his or her mind for an answer to a righteous prayer and the Lord’s timetable for answering the prayer?

-How does God give liberally to those who ask righteous things of Him?

Cursed is He That Putteth His Trust in Man

After expressing his complete trust in the Lord, Nephi expresses the very compelling reason why he doesn’t place a similar level of trust in his or others’ mortal powers:

O Lord, I have trusted in thee and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” (2 Nephi 4:34)

Questions:

-Is it possible to function in mortality without putting some trust in yourself and other people?

-Is there a difference between lending trust to others who deserve it and the type of ultimate trust that can be put in God?

-Do many end up worshipping the human brain when the human spirit and the influence of God’s Spirit are disregarded?

Inasmuch as Ye Shall Not Keep My Commandments Ye Shall be Cut Off from My Presence

Shortly before passing away, Lehi took the time to speak to the children of his two (rebellious) older sons. He teaches them that obedience to God’s counsel and direction is the only way toward lasting physical and spiritual prosperity.

“…The Lord God has said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” (2 Nephi 4:4)

-Even though the power of God’s grace cannot be overstated in its power to lift, heal, save, and exalt…Is it possible to undermine grace in our lives if we do not strive to live according to this foundational principle related to the commandments God has established?

-No matter how much God loves His children, would He ever make compromises in upholding the laws and consequences He has established for mortality (and we agreed to in the pre-mortal realm)?