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?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

“The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity. Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation. Therefore, its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted, and full of power. But it does even more. Much of the Christian world today rejects the divinity of the Savior. They question His miraculous birth, His perfect life, and the reality of His glorious resurrection. The Book of Mormon teaches in plain and unmistakable terms about the truth of all of those. It also provides the most complete explanation of the doctrine of the Atonement. Truly, this divinely inspired book is a keystone in bearing witness to the world that Jesus is the Christ” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5).

“The Lord himself has stated that the Book of Mormon contains the ‘fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ’ (Doctrine & Covenants 20:9). That does not mean it contains every teaching, every doctrine ever revealed. Rather, it means that in the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6).


“The Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ. It restored precious truths concerning the Fall, the Atonement, the Resurrection, and life after death.

“Prior to the Restoration, the heavens had been closed for centuries. But with prophets and apostles upon the earth once more, the heavens were opened once again with visions and revelations. Many of the revelations that came to the Prophet Joseph Smith were written down in a book that came to be known as the Doctrine and Covenants. This contains further insights about principles and ordinances and is a valuable source concerning the structure of the priesthood. In addition, we have another canon of scripture called the Pearl of Great Price. It contains the book of Moses, which came by revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the book of Abraham, which he translated from a purchased Egyptian scroll. From these we learn not only a great deal more about Moses, Abraham, Enoch, and other prophets but also many more details about the Creation. We learn that the gospel of Jesus Christ was taught to all of the prophets from the beginning—even from the time of Adam” (James E. Faust, “The Restoration of All Things,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 67–68).


“If…parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase, mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.” (Marion G. Romney, “The Book of Mormon,” Ensign, May 1980, 65-67)

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)?

Video from Book of Mormon Central:

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?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all … organizations of whatever name or nature—whether political, philosophical, educational, economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious—which are designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 137–38).

The Bible is of Great Worth

As Nephi continues to have future events unfolded to him in vision, the angel describes the meaning of what Nephi is seeing. One portion of the vision focuses on the Bible coming to the Americas with the Europeans (Gentiles) who began emigrating from the 16th and 17th century onward.

“…And I beheld a book…carried forth among them. And the angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book? And I said unto him: I know not. And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel…wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.” (1 Nephi 13:20-23)

Questions

Why did the angel emphasize the covenants made to the house of Israel as being a central aspect of the Bible’s value to the Gentiles? Could this emphasis be based on the fact that the Gentiles would be among (and mix with) many of the house of Israel in the Americas – including Lehi’s descendants – and that the two groups’ spiritual and physical prosperity (or lack thereof) would be closely tied together as the Lord fulfilled his covenants with the house of Israel?

What portion of the Bible, if any, was spoken or recorded by a non-Jew or non-Israelite? Are the most important passages, spoken directly by Jesus Christ himself, also from the mouth of a Man with a Jewish mother?

Does the new covenant which Jesus Christ established with His earthly ministry dissolve the covenants made to those who came before Him in any way (such as the covenants made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)? Or, does the new covenant add to, and strengthen all the covenants that came before?

The Temptations of the Devil Blindeth Eyes and Hardeneth Hearts

While teaching Nephi about the meaning of his father’s dream, the Lord’s angel also teaches Nephi about the reality of Satan and his power to deceive.

“…The temptations of the devil…blindeth the eyes and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.” (1 Nephi 12:17)

Questions:

-If you knew there was a being striving to keep all people on the earth in darkness and separated from God, would you be more careful about your thoughts, actions, and any easy acceptance of popular opinions?

-What does it take to rise above having one’s eyes blinded and heart hardened spiritually?

-What is the relationship between having a hardened heart and being spiritually blind?

-How can you keep your heart soft in your relationship with God and those around you?

-Are there thoughts you have empowered that are keeping you from feeling God’s love and kindness toward yourself and those around you?

The Multitudes of the Earth Fight Against the Apostles of the Lamb

The angel continues to teach Nephi about the meaning of his father’s dream, which had as one of its main elements a great and spacious building. Because of the unrelenting influence of Satan in the world, those who flow with general cultural currents will almost always end up aligning themselves against the apostles of Jesus Christ.

“…I saw the multitudes of the earth, that they were gathered together to fight against the apostles of the Lamb; for thus were the twelve called by the angel of the Lord. And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof…And it came to pass that I saw and bear record that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (1 Nephi 11:34-36)

Questions:

-Who were the twelve apostles who Christ called during his earthly ministry?

-Did the twelve stay the same? Or, where replacements called for those who died?

-Has there been a quorum of twelve apostles on the earth, without interruption since the time of Christ?

-Is there a church which has a quorum of twelve apostles today? If so, by whom were they called and from where do they derive their authority?

-How did those who did not accept or believe in the full gospel of Jesus Christ treat the original apostles?

-Would you expect apostles who were called in our time to be popular and accepted by the majority of people?

-How is pride related to whether a person (or group of people) fight against Christ’s apostles?

-If you came to know that Christ had called twelve apostles in our time, how important would it be for you to align yourself with these apostles rather than resisting their message and efforts?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“To those of you who are inching your way closer and closer to that great and spacious building, let me make it completely clear that the people in that building have absolutely nothing to offer except instant, short-term gratification inescapably connected to long-term sorrow and suffering. The commandments you observe were not given by a dispassionate God to prevent you from having fun, but by a loving Father in Heaven who wants you to be happy while you are living on this earth as well as in the hereafter” (Elder Glen L. Pace, “They’re Not Really Happy,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 40).

Most Desirable Above All Things and Most Joyous to the Soul

An angel shows Nephi the future birth of Jesus Christ and a magnificent and beautiful tree, which was a central part of his father’s vision (see 1 Nephi 8). The angel then teaches Nephi about the meaning of the tree.

And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” (1 Nephi 11:21-23)

Questions:

-How is Jesus Christ the perfect example of the love of God?

-Why, as the angel testified to Nephi, is the love of God more desirable than anything else and the source of the greatest possible joy?

-How can you increase the love of God in your heart and experience this greatest of joys?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“The tree of life … is the love of God (see 1 Ne. 11:25). The love of God for His children is most profoundly expressed in His gift of Jesus as our Redeemer: ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son’ (John 3:16). To partake of the love of God is to partake of Jesus’ Atonement and the emancipations and joys which it can bring” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Lessons from Laman and Lemuel,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 8).

God is Above All

As the Spirit begins to reveal to Nephi what his father, Lehi, had seen in vision, another truth about God is given.

“And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou? And I said: I desire to behold the things which my father saw. And the Spirit said unto me: Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken? And I said: Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father. And when I had spoken these words, the Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea even above all.” (1 Nephi 11:6)

Questions:

-Do you believe there is a God over all the earth?

-Would knowing there is a God with perfect perspective and judgment provide greater comfort and hope in your day-to-day life?

-Can the Spirit, who bore witness of God’s existence and exalted status to Nephi in vision, bear the same witness to you in your heart?

-How much strength to live a better life could be received from developing a greater bond with the Lord who is above all?

No Unclean Thing Can Dwell with God

After describing God’s perfect and caring consistency in his relationship to mankind (and every individual who ever was and is a part of it), Nephi concludes his message on a cautionary note.

“…For all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment. Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.” (1 Nephi 10:20-21)

Questions:

-What does it mean to seek after wickedness? Why does participating in wickedness make a person unclean?

-Why is it that nothing unclean (including an unclean soul) can stay in the presence of God?

-What is the difference between being clean and being perfect? Does this passage say that a soul needs to be perfect to enter God’s kingdom?

-Since all of us have been tainted — to some degree or another — by the wickedness of this world, how can we be made clean again and return to live with God? (See: Rely on This Redeemer; Repentance; Atonement)

-Why does Nephi refer to mortality as a time of probation?

-Is there a point where all who are unclean will remain so forever?

-If you believe there will be a day of judgment, how does it affect the way you live your life day to day? If a day of judgment is in the future, how important is it to know this and to be prepared?

-Would a perfect God provide anything less than a perfect judgment? Would a God who loves perfectly offer everything He possibly could in terms of eternal blessings?

He Is the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever

Nephi knew he could obtain the same revelation and knowledge that his father had received based on the following principles pertaining to God’s character and responsiveness to those who seek Him:

…He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:18-19)

Questions:

-What is the significance of God preparing the way for all mankind “from the foundation of the world” to come unto Him?

-Do you believe He has prepared the way for you? Are you willing to diligently seek Him in order to have the “mysteries of God unfolded” to you? What would it mean for you to repent and come unto Him?

-Is it possible you could see a vision similar to what Lehi saw? (1 Nephi 8). Or, was Lehi’s vision the kind of exceptional experience that few others would ever have?

-Nephi testifies that revelation from God comes by the power of the Holy Ghost. Does the Holy Ghost work with every individual in the same way? Or, do personal differences, gifts, and circumstances make the witness of the Holy Ghost unique to every individual?

-What does it mean that the “course of the Lord is one eternal round”?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“Living the Lord’s standards requires that we cultivate the gift of the Holy Ghost. That gift helps us understand doctrine and apply it personally. Because truth given by revelation can only be understood by revelation, our studies need to be prayerful” (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Living by Scriptural Guidance,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 17).