By the Power of His Almighty Word He Can Cause the Earth that It Shall Pass Away

Nephi’s older brothers (Laman and Lemuel) frequently rebelled against their father’s divinely mandated mission to settle in a new land. They doubted, complained, and even considered killing Lehi and Nephi to gain control of the traveling family’s destiny. In calling his older brothers to repentance, Nephi compares their actions to those of the children of Israel during the Exodus. He reminds them that they, like the Israelites during the Exodus, had experienced great manifestations of God’s power and His willingness to intervene to guide them. Yet, despite these manifestations, the older brothers – like the Israelites – rebelled time and again. Nephi also reminds his brothers of God’s power over the earth and then asks them why they did not let Him have sway in their hearts:

“…He did straiten [the Israelites] in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity…[T]hey did revile against Moses, and also against God; nevertheless ye know that they were led forth by his matchless power into the land of promise.” (1 Nephi 17:41-42)

“Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder. And ye also know that by the power of his almighty word he can cause the earth that it shall pass away; yea, and ye know that by his word he can make the rough places to be made smooth, and the smooth places shall be broken up. O, then, why is it, that ye can be so hard in your hearts?” (1 Nephi 17:45-46)

Questions:

-Would some in today’s world act like Laman and Lemuel if God were to speak to them with an audible voice? Would a voice like thunder, or the still small voice that Nephi speaks of, have greater power to break up hard hearts?

-Is there anyone to which God does not speak with a still small voice? Is it possible to always have that Guide with you?

-Would you rather experience God’s power manifest in the outside world or in your heart? Which type of manifestation is more important? What are the keys to letting God into your heart?

-Is the miracle experienced by those who have let God into their hearts any less powerful to them than the miracle of seeing God’s mighty power manifest in the outside world?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

“We hear the words of the Lord most often by a feeling. If we are humble and sensitive, the Lord will prompt us through our feelings” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Seek the Spirit of the Lord,” Ensign, Apr. 1988, 4).

“So it is with divine communication. … We often put ourselves in spiritual dead spots—places and situations that block out divine messages. Some of these dead spots include anger, pornography, transgression, selfishness, and other situations that offend the Spirit” (James E. Faust, “Did You Get the Right Message?” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 67).


“A … requirement for frequent companionship and direction from the Holy Ghost is to be clean. The Spirit must withdraw from those who are not clean. …

“… If you have difficulty in feeling the Holy Ghost, you might wisely ponder whether there is anything for which you need to repent and receive forgiveness.

“If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life. For that reason and many others, you would do well to put yourself in places and in tasks that invite the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost works both ways: the Holy Ghost only dwells in a clean temple, and the reception of the Holy Ghost cleanses us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You can pray with faith to know what to do to be cleansed and thus qualified for the companionship of the Holy Ghost and the service of the Lord. And with that companionship you will be strengthened against temptation and empowered to detect deception” (Henry B. Eyring, “Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times,” Ensign, June 2007, 23).

Ask Me in Faith

After receiving revelation regarding his father’s dream and many future events, Nephi returns to his father’s camp and finds his brothers arguing about what their father had taught the family. Another powerful and clear message of the Book of Mormon unfolds as Nephi reminds his brothers that they should seek out the ultimate source of truth and knowledge (rather than simply relying on their own understandings) to obtain clarity about the matters they are disputing about:

Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15:11)

Questions:

-What are the essential elements of receiving guidance from God as described in the verse above?

-Is it always easy to maintain a soft heart when seeking answers from God?

-Do we sometimes ask in doubt (rather than in faith) and still expect an answer?

-Why is diligent keeping of the commandments an important aspect of receiving revelation from God? Is the strength of the Spirit in our lives tied to our ability to receive divine instruction? And, is the strength of the Spirit in our lives a constant? Or, does it wax and wane depending on a person’s actions in relation to God’s commandments?

-Is it easy to have preconceptions about how God will give us answers and how quickly the answers will come? Does having true faith that you will receive an answer part of having the patience necessary to help overcome these preconceptions?

He Is the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever

Nephi knew he could obtain the same revelation and knowledge that his father had received based on the following principles pertaining to God’s character and responsiveness to those who seek Him:

…He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:18-19)

Questions:

-What is the significance of God preparing the way for all mankind “from the foundation of the world” to come unto Him?

-Do you believe He has prepared the way for you? Are you willing to diligently seek Him in order to have the “mysteries of God unfolded” to you? What would it mean for you to repent and come unto Him?

-Is it possible you could see a vision similar to what Lehi saw? (1 Nephi 8). Or, was Lehi’s vision the kind of exceptional experience that few others would ever have?

-Nephi testifies that revelation from God comes by the power of the Holy Ghost. Does the Holy Ghost work with every individual in the same way? Or, do personal differences, gifts, and circumstances make the witness of the Holy Ghost unique to every individual?

-What does it mean that the “course of the Lord is one eternal round”?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“Living the Lord’s standards requires that we cultivate the gift of the Holy Ghost. That gift helps us understand doctrine and apply it personally. Because truth given by revelation can only be understood by revelation, our studies need to be prayerful” (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Living by Scriptural Guidance,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 17).

“Before the foundation of the earth, the plan of salvation was prepared. It included the glorious possibility of a divine inheritance in the kingdom of God.” (Elder Russel M. Nelson, “How Firm Our Foundation,” Ensign, May 2002, 75)

The Gift of God unto All Those Who Diligently Seek Him

After hearing all God had shown to his father, through prophetic revelation, Nephi desired to obtain a deeper knowledge of what he had heard. As he states in the following passage, he knew there was only one reliable way to obtain that deeper knowledge.

I Nephi was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him.” (1 Nephi 10:17)

Questions:

How can a person diligently seek God?

Do you believe you have diligently sought a greater understanding of who God is and what His will is for you?  If not, would it be worthwhile to make the effort?

How do you expect the Holy Ghost to work with you as you earnestly seek greater knowledge from God?

Do you believe He will work with you?

Why would God require a certain amount of diligence and effort before extending the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“[The spirit of revelation] is not restricted to the presiding authorities of the Church; rather, it belongs to and should be operative in the life of every man, woman, and child who reaches the age of accountability and enters into sacred covenants. Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives” (David A. Bednar, “The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 87).

The Lord Slayeth the Wicked

The third attempt to obtain the Brass Plates was carried out alone by Nephi while his brothers waited outside the city. He wasn’t sure how he would succeed, but he went forward trusting that the Lord would prepare the way. After entering the city, he found Laban (the man who had the Plates and had attempted to kill him and his brothers) drunk on the ground.

After taking the sword from Laban’s sheath Nephi experienced the following internal struggle:

“And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him. And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.

And…the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord has delivered him into thy hands; Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” (1 Nephi 4:10-13)

-How often is the spiritual fate of an entire future nation so closely tied to the actions of one man (such as Laban)?

-If you believe God gave us life, do you also believe He has the power and authority to take it away based on His higher wisdom and timing?

-Do you think the adversary attempted to make Nephi feel guilty about what he had done in this very exceptional circumstance (even though he did do what was right)?

Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

“I believe that story was placed in the very opening verses of a 531-page book and then told in painfully specific detail in order to focus every reader of that record on the absolutely fundamental gospel issue of obedience and submission to the communicated will of the Lord. If Nephi cannot yield to this terribly painful command, if he cannot bring himself to obey, then it is entirely probable that he can never succeed or survive in the tasks that lie just ahead.

‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded’ (1 Nephi 3:7). I confess that I wince a little when I hear that promise quoted so casually among us. Jesus knew what that kind of commitment would entail, and so now does Nephi. And so will a host of others before it is over. That vow took Christ to the cross on Calvary, and it remains at the heart of every Christian covenant. ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.’ Well, we shall see” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Will of the Father”).

Nothing That is Good Denieth the Christ

Moroni defines the good as that which is just and true. All philosophies, creeds, and actions that deny Christ — who is the embodiment of all that is good – are essentially opposed to goodness. The power of God’s goodness is manifest in the mortal world through the workings of the Holy Spirit in the lives of mortals who exercise faith in the Good Lord.

“…Whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledges that he is. And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow and forever.” (Moroni 10:6-7)

Questions:

-Are there many things that appear good but, at core, are not based on the above teachings of Moroni?

Ask God, the Eternal Father, in the Name of Christ

Moroni exhorts all who read the Book of Mormon to pray to God about its truthfulness. Those who ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, and with faith in Christ will receive a witness of its truth by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you. Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:2-5)

Questions:

-Does Moroni say that the witness from the Holy Ghost will be immediate?

-How can a person get into a proper state of heart and mind to ask with faith, real intent, and a sincere heart?

-How many don’t really want to know if the Book of Mormon is the word of God and, therefore, aren’t prepared to ask God with faith, a sincere heart, and real intent?

Teachings of the Seventy:

“The Lord has made it plain in a number of scriptures how he feels about the Book of Mormon; he and his prophets testify to us that it is true (see, for example, Moro. 10:28–292 Ne. 33:10–11D&C 17:6D&C 18:2–3). Yet he still invites every reader to seek personal confirmation from him of these testimonies.” (Cook, Gene R. “Moroni’s Promise.” Ensign, Apr. 1994, 12-16

 

The Holy Ghost Filleth with Hope and Perfect Love

Mormon succinctly describes the path to dwelling with God and His saints.

“And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins; And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.” (Moroni 8:25-26)

Questions:

-Are there other commandments, besides baptism, that when kept bring a remission of sins?

-How important is heartfelt prayer when it comes to staying on the path back to God’s eternal presence?

It is Solemn Mockery before God to Baptize Little Children

The Nephite prophet, Mormon, testifies to his son Moroni that the baptism of little children is a sign of an apostate church that does not understand who God is. Baptism is unquestionably a commandment of God for those who are old enough to discern good from evil, and are committing to repent and follow Jesus Christ, but to believe God would require an innocent child (who does not know good from evil) to be baptized is a mockery of the true meaning of baptism and a gross affront to God’s character and holiness.   

“Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them…And after this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children. Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children. And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins. But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!” (Moroni 8:8-12)

Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell. Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity, wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell. For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism. Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold I speak with boldness having authority from God…For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.  (Moroni 8:13-16,18)

Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy. And he that saith that little children need baptism denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at naught the atonement of him and power of his redemption. Wo unto such, for they are in danger of death, hell, and an endless torment. I speak it boldly; God hath commanded me. Listen unto them and give heed, or they shall stand against you at the judgment-seat of Christ. For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing. But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works. Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law.” (Moroni 8:19-24)

Questions:

-How many churches and denominations, who claim to be Christian, baptize innocent infants and small children who are not yet accountable before God?

-How many of today’s churches and denominations, who claim to be Christian, are descended from a church that engaged in this evil practice? Could there have been any of Christ’s true priesthood authority passed down to these churches?

None is Acceptable before God, Save the Meek and Lowly in Heart

Moroni testifies of the interconnected gospel principles of faith, hope, meekness, and charity.

“…If ye have not faith in [Christ] then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church. And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope? And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope. And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart. If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and the lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.” (Moroni 7:39-44)

Questions:

-How many understand that the baseline for spiritual growth and spiritual health is deep humility toward — and willingness to obey – God?