There Are None Save A Few Only Who Do Not Lift Themselves up in the Pride of Their Hearts

Moroni (writing around 400-421 AD) prophesies about the environment in which the Book of Mormon message will spread in the last days. He warns of the spiritual devastation that will be reaped by those who are unscrupulous about their behavior and build up churches/organizations focused on material gain rather than service to the true and living God.

The Book of Mormon “shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness. Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches. Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands; And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places. Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” (Mormon 8:27-31)

“And it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins. O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves for gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled. Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.” (Mormon 8:32-36)

“For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world? Why do you adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not? Yea, why do ye build up your secret combinations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads? Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.” (Mormon 8:37-41)

Questions:

-Was the blood of the Saints spilled in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

-Are we entering a time when anger toward the Church will lead to violent persecution again?

These Things are Written unto the Remnant of the House of Jacob

The Book of Mormon was recorded on metal plates and translated by the power of God as a message to scattered Israel in the latter days before the return of Jesus Christ. The record that would become the Book of Mormon was written according to God’s will when the prophet Moroni hid the plates in the ground about 421 A.D., and it was translated, faithfully, according to His will by an unsophisticated young man (Joseph Smith) who was called and prepared by the Lord for this purpose in the early 1800’s. To stand as a second witness of Jesus Christ, avoiding the intellectually and spiritually corrupted systems of the world, God saw fit that the Book of Mormon would come forth in this miraculous manner. The Book of Mormon is an invitation to “more fully believe” the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“…These things are written unto the remnant of the house of Jacob; and they are written after this manner, because it is known of God that wickedness will not bring them forth unto them; and they are to be hid up unto the Lord that they may come forth in his own due time. And this is the commandment which I have received; and behold, they shall come forth according to the commandment of the Lord, when he shall see fit, in his wisdom. And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go—that they be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, the great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant. And also that [the descendants of Lehi] may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles…” (Mormon 5:12-15)

Questions:

-How sure are God’s promises to His covenant people, including the Jews and all the descendants of Israel?

-Are His promises any less sure for those who are not descendants of Jacob but have taken upon themselves the covenants of the Restored Gospel and, thereby, joined themselves with Israel?

Whosoever Will Not Repent and Come unto My Beloved Son, Them Will I Cut Off from Among My People

Speaking to a group of the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (about A.D. 34), Christ continues to prophesy concerning the fate of the unrepentant Gentiles who reject His gospel. He also foretells the subsequent establishment of the New Jerusalem on the American continent.  

“…My people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth into pieces, and none can deliver. Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off. Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots; And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds; And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers; Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands; And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities. And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away. For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel; And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard. But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance; And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem. And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.” (3 Nephi 21:12-25)

Questions:

-Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints well-received and respected among the Gentile nation of the United States? Or, is it more marginalized and disrespected?

-In what direction is the above relationship headed? Is United States culture, as a whole, moving toward greater acceptance and respect for the Church? Or, is it moving toward creating greater marginalization and disrespect for the Church?  

The Sword of My Justice Shall Hang over All the Nations of the Gentiles

Christ Himself prophesies that – as a people who were given this land by GodLehi’s descendants will be a means of breaking down the decayed and spiritually-corrupt social structures of the wicked Gentiles in the Americas in preparation for the establishment of the New Jerusalem. In a broader context “all the nations of the Gentiles” (beyond the Americas) will also be destroyed if they do not repent and come unto Christ who is the beginning and end of all creation.

“…Then shall the remnants [of the house of Israel], which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them. And the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance. And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people—Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off. And I will gather my people together as a man gathereth his sheaves into the floor. For I will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. And behold, I am he who doeth it. And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles. And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel. And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your Father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.” (3 Nephi 20:13-22)

Questions:

-In our day, are the Gentiles in the Americas (in general) repenting toward the gospel of Jesus Christ and His covenants? Or, are they moving the opposite direction and squandering the blessing that has been offered them via the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ?

-Should the above prophecy be interpreted as mainly a spiritual phenomenon or as a physical phenomenon? Will the fulfillment of the prophecy have both elements?

-Would the true followers of Christ among the descendants of Lehi ever resort to violence other than in a posture of patient self-defense?

These Sayings Which Ye Shall Write Shall Be Kept and Shall Be Manifested unto the Gentiles

When speaking to a group of Lehi’s descendants in the Americas (shortly after his Resurrection), Jesus Christ taught that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon within the boundaries of the United States would mark a great gathering of those lost from the house of Israel. The prophet Joseph Smith and the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would have been considered Gentiles by those Christ was speaking to (around 34 A.D.) as these early members of the Latter-day Church of Christ (living in the 19th century) were not closely tied — culturally or genetically — to the people of Jerusalem and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Most of those who founded the United States, and those who have since lived within its boundaries would have also been considered Gentiles for the same reason.

Once the 19th-century Saints received the fullness of the Restored Gospel and were baptized and confirmed to receive the Holy Ghost by priesthood authority from Jesus Christ, they became part of the house of Israel. All living now who repent and become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — through the same covenant of baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost – also become part of the house of Israel in God’s eyes regardless of their genetic ties thereto.

In the passage below, Christ teaches how vital it will be for the Gentiles living in the United States to receive the Book of Mormon and the Restored Gospel.

…These sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of [the house of Israel’s] seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer. And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel. And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them. (3 Nephi 16:4-7)

But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles…At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them. And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.” (3 Nephi 16:8,10-12)

“But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel. And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father. But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that has lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel. Verily, verily, I say unto you, thus hath the Father commanded me—that I should give unto this people this land for their inheritance.” (3 Nephi 16:13-16)

Questions:

-Have the people of the United States, by and large, rejected the fulness of the gospel as contained in the Book of Mormon?

-How many realize, or believe, that acceptance of the Book of Mormon and the Restored Gospel is key to the survival of the United States as a viable and cohesive nation?

There is None That Knoweth These Things, Save it be the Penitent

Ammon, a Nephite missionary, teaches that the deepest spiritual truths can only be known after a person awakes to, and acts on, the absolute necessity of relying on Jesus Christ to cross over the abyss of spiritual death and obtain salvation.

“…In his great mercy [Christ] hath brought us over that everlasting gulf of death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls. And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent.” (Alma 26:21)

Questions:

-What brings a person face to face with the reality of spiritual death within him- or herself?

-How difficult is it to face the reality of spiritual death within oneself and then seek to reconcile oneself to God? How tenaciously does the “ego” within a person often fight this process?

How Blessed Are They Who Have Labored Diligently in His Vineyard

The Earth is the Lord’s vineyard and souls that have yielded to the enticing of the Holy Spirit and become true followers of His Son, Jesus Christ, are the desired fruit. One last harvest will occur in the last days before Christ’s return.

“…The day that he shall set his hand again the second time to recover his people, is the day, yea, even the last time, that the servants of the Lord shall go forth in his power, to nourish and prune his vineyard; and after that the end soon cometh. And how blessed are they who have labored diligently in his vineyard; and how cursed are they who shall be cast out into their own place! And the world shall be burned with fire.” (Jacob 6:2-3)

Questions:

-Do you see this last harvest occurring in our world today?

-Is the wheat being separated from the tares as described in Christ’s parable? (see Matthew 13:25-30)

-Will the world be burned by literal fire according to this prophecy?

-Is the unveiled presence of God like a burning fire to all that is corrupt?

This Is the Last Time I Shall Nourish My Vineyard

Jacob quotes the words of the prophet Zenos (who is not found in the Old Testament but likely had writings in the Brass Plates) regarding the last days before Christ’s Second Coming.

“And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few. And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.” (Jacob 5:70-71)

Questions:

-How many in the world are laboring in God’s vineyard with their might?

-What is the significance of the servants being few?

-Do you believe that Christ’s Second Coming will occur soon?

-Would many reprioritize their life focus is they believed a labor was available to them that would yield eternal fruit?