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?
The Nephites practiced the law of Moses, but Nephi perceived that his people could easily lose track of the purpose of the law, which was to point their minds and hearts to the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. After teaching that Christ was the only way by which a man or woman could be reconciled to God, Nephi cautions his people that they will be responsible for this clear knowledge he had given them.
“…The words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law. And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore, ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.” (2 Nephi 25:28-29)
-What does it mean to worship Christ with all of one’s might, mind, and strength? What does it mean to worship Him with all of one’s soul?
-In our time where expression of the self, in almost any form, is celebrated and narcissistic individualism is a common value, how many people are willing to bow down to God?
-Does Nephi present whole-hearted devotion to Christ as a nice ideal? Or, does he present it as a spiritual necessity?
Nephi taught his people that reconciliation with God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ was more important than anything else. He understood that no matter how close he (or anyone else) came to living God’s law perfectly, salvation would always depend on Christ’s merciful intervention.
“…We labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)
-While establishing faith in Christ that allows us to be reconciled with God is absolutely foundational, how important is what we do to build on that foundation going forward in our lives?
-Once one understands that Heavenly Father will, because of repentance available through Christ’s Atonement, choose the better part of a mortal life by treasuring up and eternally magnifying all the good that person does, is it likely that living by God’s law and doing good works will become more important or less important to that person?
-What can God make of “all we can do” with Christ on our side?
Nephi declares God’s interventions to save the Israelite people during the Exodus to be a foreshadowing of the ultimate intervention Christ would make to offer salvation to all mankind.
“As the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.” (2 Nephi 25:20)
-In the late centuries B.C., how many people—besides Nephi and his followers—had a clear understanding of who Christ would be and what He would do for mankind? Could Nephi have obtained such a clear understanding without receiving revelation from God’s Spirit?
-By that same Spirit, is it possible for those living today to know who Jesus is and what He has done?
-Can any intellectual or theological formulation effectively replace this witness of the Spirit when it comes to understanding who Christ is and what He did for us? Is there any personal revelation more import to receive from the Spirit than the witness of Christ’s divinity and mission?
In harmony with God’s ancient covenants and the principle that the Lord will bless all of the earth through the descendants of Abraham and the House of Israel, Nephi prophesies that a key purpose of the coming forth of Restoration scripture (including the words of the Nephite prophets as found in the Book of Mormon) will be to declare the Messiahship of Jesus Christ to His covenant people, the Jews.
“…The Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men. Wherefore, he shall bring forth his words unto them, which words shall judge them at the last day, for they shall be given them for the purpose of convincing them of the true Messiah, who was rejected by them; and unto the convincing of them that they need not look forward any more for a Messiah to come, save it should be a false Messiah which should deceive the people; for there is save one Messiah spoken of by the prophets, and that Messiah is he who should be rejected of the Jews.” (2 Nephi 25:17-18)
-When God sets His hand to accomplish something, how likely is it that His efforts will be thwarted?
-Despite the heavy persecution of the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—and the martyrdom of their prophet, Joseph Smith—has the message of the Restoration (including the messages of the Book of Mormon) continued to spread throughout the earth?
-Despite the many efforts to discredit the Book of Mormon, is there any indication that its dispersal, exposure, and influence throughout the world is waning?
-How many recognize the Book of Mormon as a universal blessing from God brought into being for a specific purpose of restoring his covenant people?
Nephi prophesies that the Jewish people will be scattered through the centuries until the time comes that they begin to believe in Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement. Those who come to worship the Father in Christ’s name, with pure intent and good works, will believe the writings of the Nephite prophets (as found in the Book of Mormon).
“The Jews shall be scattered among all nations; yea, and also Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations. And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation, until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind—and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things.” (2 Nephi 25:15-16)
-Why will it be “expedient” for the Jewish people who believe in Christ, and strive with sincerity to live righteously, to also believe in the writings of the Nephite prophets as found in the Book of Mormon?
-Did Nephi know that these Jewish people, as part of the house of Israel, would be naturally receptive to the spirit and message of Nephi’s and his descendants’ writings (which focus on Christ as the Savior)?
Nephi took great joy in teaching his people about the redemptive power of the promised Messiah. He, Nephi, declares that if there wasn’t a Christ there would be no God.
“…My soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish. For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.” (2 Nephi 11:6-7)
-Why would there be no God if there was no Christ?
-Did Jesus Christ create the earth under God the Father’s direction?
-Did Christ also accept a calling from God the Father to redeem His creation?
-Does the statement that “if there be no Christ there be no God” suggest that a true and loving God would never allow His children to be created and experience the effects of the Fall without also offering them redemption?
-How is Christ the Son of God and also God? Did God the Father give Christ complete autonomy and reign over all that Christ created under the Father’s direction? Is there any difference between what Christ has done and what God the Father would have done in presiding over all creation on the earth?
From the beginning, all things given by God to mankind have pointed to the Savior Jesus Christ. Nephi understood this and took great joy in teaching his people about the coming of Christ.
“…My soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.” (2 Nephi 11:4)
-How many in the world were looking for a Messiah before the coming of Christ? Was it only the Jewish people? Or, did others have similar traditions?
Jacob, around the years 559 to 545 B.C., teaches that Christ would come to earth among the only nation who would kill Him rather than repent.
“It must needs be that Christ…should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God. For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God. But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.” (2 Nephi 10:3-5)
-Is there a phenomenon where those who have truth and light from God and then do no live according to it fall into deeper spiritual darkness than those who never had such truth and light?
-Were there many in the Jewish nation that Christ was born into that had succumbed to such spiritual darkness?
-Were there also many Jews during that time who, despite the wickedness around them, showed exceptional spiritual strength and stayed close to God and His Spirit?
-What is priestcraft? And, why is its practice such a powerful source of evil?
Continuing with the theme of how important it is to turn to the true and living God, Jacob quotes Isaiah chapter 55 verse 1 before stating the following:
“…Remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.” (2 Nephi 9:51)
-Are the most important things eternal or temporal?
-How important is it to decide what you are going to “invest” in with your time and efforts during mortality? Will laying up treasure in heaven or pursuing worldly attainments be the priority for you?
-Where will the deepest joy come from (even in mortality)?
-Do you believe Jacob’s message that making the eternal and spiritual the priority is the best investment?
-Is remembering Jesus Christ’s prefect love and His saving power a primary source of spiritual strength and delight?