After prophesying about some of the beliefs and misconceptions that would keep many of the Gentiles from accepting the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and also the blessings that would come to the house of Israel in the last days, Nephi warns his people that no one receives salvation by birthright. Covenant blessings can only be made fully alive through repentance, obedience to God’s commandments, and faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
“And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed. For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 30:1-2)
-Do the verses above imply that most of the Gentiles will repent and become part of the Lord’s covenant people in the last days? Or, do they imply that it will be a relatively small proportion that will do so? (see The Gentiles Shall Deny Me)
Knowing his people had a clear knowledge of God’s law, Jacob pleads with them to not be entangled in sin but to turn with a repentant heart toward the true God.
“…Turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation. Prepare your souls for that glorious day when justice shall be administered unto the righteous, even the day of judgment, that ye may not shrink with awful fear; that ye may not remember your awful guilt in perfectness, and be constrained to exclaim: Holy, holy are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty–but I know my guilt; I have transgressed thy law, and my transgressions are mine; and the devil hath obtained me, that I am prey to his awful misery.” (2 Nephi 9:45-46)
-Are you actively preparing your soul for the Day of Judgment?
-Who must you rely on to be prepared?
-To prevent being bound by the chains of sin, does a reliance on Christ need to be a constant daily endeavor? Is participating in this daily endeavor the difference between being spiritually-minded and being carnally-minded?
-Why will any remaining guilt be remembered with perfectness at the Day of Judgment?
-How can all guilt be washed away before the Day of Judgment?
Jacob realizes his teachings about…
…are going to be hard for some to hear.
This being the case, he pleads with those who hear these messages not to rebel against the truth but to reconcile themselves with God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“…Give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if you do ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken. O then my beloved [brothers and sisters] come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” (2 Nephi 9:40-41)
-How easy is it for most people to perceive and accept the greatness God, and His righteous standards, in relation to their shortcomings and sins?
-Do many feel it is easier to avoid facing the unclean aspects of their lives in relation to God than it is to square up to the truth of the situation and ask God for help to become clean through His power?
-Are many of the ideas and philosophies of the world popular because they help people avoid facing God and the uncomfortable aspects of seeking forgiveness?
-Is being willing to face one’s uncleanness, and work with God to remedy the situation, one of the main aspects of what Jacob calls righteousness? Would a person who continually strives to recognize their weaknesses, and do this work of repentance, be prone to judge others harshly who have similar mortal frailties? Is it impossible to be righteous and self-righteous at the same time?
-Will anyone be able to hide from the reality of his or her relationship with God at the time of the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment?
Jacob teaches about God’s law concerning faith, repentance, baptism, and staying true to the end.
“…He commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it.” (2 Nephi 9:23-24)
-What does it mean to be damned (click on the link above for the definition)?
-Why does God require outward signs (such as baptism by water) that, when undertaken, don’t necessarily mean a person is truly committed inwardly?
-How popular is the idea of repentance?
-Who is the righteous and perfect Exemplar that we can repent towards and in whose name we are baptized?
-Is it possible to have perfect faith without the help of the Holy Ghost (who gives a perfect witness of Christ’s divinity and God the Father’s divinity)? Is it necessary to renew the power of the Spirit in our lives from time to time in order to obtain or regain that perfect faith?
-Is it possible to obtain an eternal realm of glory in the life to come but still be damned (i.e. be limited in one’s eternal progression)?
-Do some Christian faiths emphasize the initial witness of Christ’s power to save without emphasizing the importance of staying true to that witness—through continual repentance towards Christ’s example—during all the remainder of one’s life?
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?