Nephi prophesies that—after his father’s descendants have been displaced by settlers (Gentiles) from the Old World—the voices of the Nephite and Lamanite prophets would whisper out of the ground to their descendants and to the entire world.
“…I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men…The prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten. For those who have been destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit…and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.” (2 Nephi 26:14-16)
-Does the Book of Mormon have a familiar spirit to many of those with Native American heritage?
-Does it have a familiar spirit to many others around the world who also have ancestry linked to the house of Israel?
-On the broadest scale, does the Spirit whisper to the heart of every earnest truth seeker that the Book of Mormon is God’s word to the entire world?
Nephi reemphasizes that his record (and the records of the Nephite prophets who would follow him) is intended to be a testament of Jesus Christ to both Jew and Gentile, wherever they might live across the entire earth.
“…As I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God; And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.” (2 Nephi 26:12-13)
-How does Christ work with the Holy Ghost to manifest Himself to those who believe in him?
-Does the passage above suggest that the effort to believe needs to be exercised before the witness of the Holy Ghost will come?
-Are mighty miracles, signs, and wonders occurring among those who have steadfast faith in Christ?
Nephi sees (through a prophetic vision given to him from the Lord) that, after falling into deep wickedness, many of his people in the Americas would be destroyed at the time of Christ’s death and resurrection (around A.D. 33-34). After being visited by Christ in person, three generations would pass away in peace and righteousness before wickedness and destruction would again afflict his people. Nephi identifies the loss of the Spirit as the reason for his people’s fall.
“…The Son of Righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him, until three generations shall have passed away, and many of the fourth generation shall have passed away in righteousness. And when these things have passed away a speedy destruction cometh unto my people; for, notwithstanding the pains of my soul, I have seen it; wherefore, I know that it shall come to pass; and they sell themselves for naught; for, for the reward of their pride and their foolishness they shall reap destruction; for because they yield unto the devil and choose works of darkness rather than light, therefore they must go down to hell. For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction…” (2 Nephi 26:9-11)
-Why do individuals choose darkness rather than light? Why do whole societies, such as the Nephites did, fall into a general pattern of prideful behavior and sin?
-How and when do things get to the point where the Spirit completely withdraws from a distinct group of people?
-Is it possible for a group or society that hasn’t received the fullness of God’s law to reach such a state where they reap destruction based on their rejection of God’s Spirit?
-Is it ever too late to turn back to God as an individual (even within a society that is headed the opposite direction)?
Jacob teaches that seeing and acting as led by the Spirit of God is the way to eternal life with God. When translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was prompted to translate some of Jacob’s message in language very similar to the King James version of Paul’s words as found in Romans 8:6.
“…Remember the awfulness in transgressing against the Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.” (2 Nephi 9:39)
-What characteristics and actions result when a person is controlled by carnal desires? (see Wo Unto All Those Who Die in Their Sins)
-If the path of least resistance in this fallen world is to be carnally-minded, how does one become spiritually-minded?
-Are most of the popular trends and opinions in the world based on a carnally-minded perspective?
-What can one do to become more spiritually-minded? (See links below for a sampling of what the Book of Mormon teaches in answer this question.)
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, about how God structured mortal life so we would be free to choose between the good and the evil.
“…There is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon. And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” (2 Nephi 2:14-16)
-Do you believe there is a God? If so, why?
-Is there is a Spirit that testifies to the heart and soul that God exists? If so, when and how does this occur?
-Do you have a worldview that allows for good and evil? If so, are those categories of good and evil defined by you or by God?
-Do books such as the Bible and the Book of Mormon help define God’s standards of right and wrong through the commandments and teachings found in them?
-If God has defined good and evil, what happens if men and women create their own separate definitions of what belongs in these categories?
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?