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)?
Lehi, in counseling his sons to choose Christ, also teaches about the most important choices all must make.
“…I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; and not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.” (2 Nephi 2:28-29)
-How can a person look to Jesus Christ in his or her day to day life?
-What does it mean to be faithful to His words?
-How is keeping God’s commandments a path to greater freedom away from captivity?
-What is the will of the Holy Spirit? Can one’s will become one with the Holy Spirit’s will?
Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, that the Savior’s redeeming power offers a path of freedom, hope, and eternal life (which otherwise would have been unavailable because of the effects of Adam and Eve’s Fall).
“…The Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil…” (2 Nephi 2:26-27)
-Has every child inherited inevitable physical death, and separation from God, from their parents (going all the way back to Adam and Eve)?
-Will physical death and physical separation from God be permanent for anyone now that Christ has come and redeemed all from these effects of the Fall?
-Will everyone who is resurrected and brought back to God’s presence be comfortable staying there?
-Will Christ save all from spiritual death? Or, does He protect every soul’s freedom to choose whether to accept and follow Him?
Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, about the meaning of mortal life and the vital importance of repentance:
“…Adam and Eve…brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth. And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent.” (2 Nephi 2:19-21)
-How do you feel about your life being a time to show who you really are?
-If repentance means turning to God, how can this be accomplished in a person’s life?
-How many people in the world have a sense of the need of repentance? How many know how to turn to God? If they never are taught these things during mortal life, will they have an opportunity to receive this knowledge in the post-mortal spirit world (before the Resurrection and Final Judgment)?
-Is there any way to repent except through the atoning sacrifice of Christ?
-Are there any sins too heinous or evil toward which the healing power of Christ’s Atonement is ineffective?
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?
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?
The very first messages of the Book of Mormon come from an introduction likely written by a prophet named Moroni who lived in the Americas around 400 A.D. To introduce the record his father Mormon had put together and abridged, Moroni declares the following truths about its purpose and meaning:
- “It is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi”
- “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile”
- “Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophesy and of revelation”
- “Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they [the metal plates on which the record was kept] might not be destroyed”
- “To come forth by the gift and power of God”
- “To come forth in due time by way of the Gentile…the interpretation thereof by the gift of God”
- “To show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers…that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever”
- “To…convinc[e] Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations”
- “If there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgement-seat of Christ”
-How important would it be to make meaningful use of a gift, readily available to you in the form of a book, that was brought into being by the power of God?
-If God made covenants with those who lived before our time — who sought His help and guidance in their lives – is there any doubt that He would follow through with the promises He made to them? Could our relationship to God in the present have important ties to those promises He made in the past and is now fulfilling?
Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…
“The title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the … book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, … and … said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation” (Joseph Smith quoted in History of the Church, 1:71)
“The major mission of the Book of Mormon, as recorded on its title page, is ‘to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.’ The honest seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon. Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament. He is given over one hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a particular significance in describing His divine nature” (Ezra Taft Benson from “Come unto Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 83).
Video from Book of Mormon Central: