It Must Needs Be an Infinite Atonement

Jacob teaches his people (at around 559-545 B.C. in the Americas) about the Resurrection being an answer to the Fall.

“…Our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God. Yea, I know that…in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came; for it is expedient that it should be among them; for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him. For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man be reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 9:5-6)

“Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and crumble to its mother earth to rise no more. O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself…” (2 Nephi 9:7-9)

Questions:

-What does Jacob mean when he says that Jesus Christ’s Atonement had to be infinite? (for an excellent exploration of this topic read The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister)

-How is being Resurrected with a physical immortal body part of saving our souls from the powers of hell?

-Would remaining as spirits for the eternities after death allow us to reach our full potential as God’s children? In this scenario, could we achieve the same power of spiritual and physical perfection that our Father and Jesus Christ currently have?

-Will the resurrection to a perfected body permanently seal off further spiritual influence from those who will spend eternity without bodies (i.e. Satan and those who followed him in the pre-mortal world)?

-What does it mean to be a subject of Jesus Christ?

The People of the House of Israel Will I Gather in from the Four Corners of the Earth

Nephi, drawing on the scriptural prophecies his family had in the Brass Plates, describes events that would occur after the crucifixion of Christ.

“And as for those who are at Jerusalem, saith the prophet, they shall be scourged by all people, because they crucify the God of Israel, and turn their hearts aside, rejecting signs and wonders, and the power and glory of the God of Israel. And because they turn their hearts aside, saith the prophet, and have despised the Holy One of Israel, they shall wander in the flesh, and perish, and become a hiss and a byword, and be hated among all nations. Nevertheless, when that day cometh, saith the prophet, that they no more turn aside their hearts against the Holy One of Israel, then will he remember the covenants which he made to their fathers. Yea, then will he remember the isles of the sea; yea, and all the people who are of the house of Israel, will I gather in, saith the Lord, according to the words of the prophet Zenos, from the four quarters of the earth. Yea, and all the earth shall see the salvation of the Lord, saith the prophet; every nation, kindred, tongue and people shall be blessed.” (1 Nephi 19:15-17)

Questions:

-How is the dispersal and eventual gathering of the house of Israel tied to every nation and people being blessed in the last days?

-How is turning to the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, a key to receiving the covenant blessings made to  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

-Does it please a loving God to see the trials and hardships of those who reject His Son? Are those who cause tribulations for those who have rejected Christ any less responsible for their actions than anyone else? Would true followers of Jesus Christ ever despise and persecute a people who did not share their beliefs?

-Has the Lord begun to gather Israel in our time? What role does the Book of Mormon play in gathering children of Israel?

Rely on This Redeemer

As a prophet of God, Lehi had uncommon insight into God’s work and many future events. He shared many of these things with his family including Nephi who recorded some of what he heard, which record became part of the Book of Mormon.

When speaking of the future of Jerusalem, Lehi foresaw the coming of a Messiah and declared that…

“…All mankind were in a lost and fallen state, and ever would be save they…rely on this Redeemer.” (1 Nephi 10:6)

Questions

-What signs do you see around you that the inhabitants of the earth are in a lost and fallen state?

-What does it mean to rely on Jesus Christ who is the Redeemer of which Lehi spoke?

-How do you feel about Lehi’s declaration that there is no other way to overcome the lost and fallen state of humanity except through the Redeemer?

The Lord is Able to Do All Things According to His Will

After the brothers returned to their father’s camp with the Brass Plates, Lehi, their father, received additional revelation that the young men were to go to Jerusalem once again and bring back the family of a man named Ishmael. The brothers are successful in convincing Ishmael and his family to join the divinely mandated exodus to a new land but on the way back to Lehi’s camp Laman, Lemuel, and some of Ishmael’s family had second thoughts and wanted to return to Jerusalem.

As part of his effort to keep them from doubting and rebelling against specific direction given by God to leave Jerusalem, Nephi asks the following:

“…How is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him?” (1 Nephi 7:12)

Questions:

-How can you know God’s will?

-How do you know when your will and God’s will are aligned?

-Is there any limit to what God can provide by way of help and guidance when your will is aligned with His?

-How important is faith as a catalyst for allowing God’s strength into your life?

He is Mightier than All the Earth

After two unsuccessful attempts at obtaining the Brass Plates (see previous post The Lord Prepares the Way) from a man named Laban, Laman and LemuelNephi’s two older brothers — were ready to give up. They were afraid of confronting Laban because of the strength he had as an individual and the power he had, as a leader in Jerusalem, to command a small army. After the second attempt to obtain the plates, Laban had attempted to kill the brothers.

Nephi addressed their concerns as follows:

Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands? (1 Nephi 4:1)

-How meaningful would it be to have an Ally who is mightier than all the earth?

-In His higher wisdom, God will not always intervene in a life — or in events on the earth more broadly — the way we may want Him to. So, how can you know if God, the mightiest of allies, will or will not answer your prayers for specific blessings in your life?

-If the Book of Mormon is what Moroni declares it is in his introduction (see Condemn Not the Things of God) and was brought to us by the gift and power of God: How could understanding and living by the commandments contained in the Book of Mormon increase the power of God in your life?

-Was Nephi in a position where he hoped God would assist him? Or, was hope replaced by trust because he knew he was fulfilling a commandment? Can your relationship with God graduate from hope to trust when your will and actions are aligned with God’s commandments?

-Is it possible to trust someone you don’t know?  Is it possible to know God and, therefore, trust Him? Would you say Nephi’s knowledge of God was based more on theological studies or more on actual experience?

 

The Lord Prepares the Way

Another direct teaching comes from Nephi while giving the account of his family’s journey to the Americas. After leaving Jerusalem, Lehi (Nephi’s father) receives direction from God to have Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem and obtain a historical record contained on brass plates. Two of Nephi’s brothers complained and resisted, but Nephi declared his willingness to go and do what was required. In his record, as contained in third chapter of the Book of Mormon, he shares the principle of truth on which his willingness was based:

“…I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

Questions

-Have you received commandments from God? If so, what commandments have you received? Are you conscientious about following through based on any direction you have received?

-Are God’s commandments applicable to everyone? Where can these commandments be found?

-Are some commandments more foundational or important than others? (see Mark 12:30-31)

-How sure can you be, based on Nephi’s statement, that it is possible to accomplish what the Lord has commanded you to do?

-If the way is prepared for you to keep a commandment, does that mean it will always be easy to do so?

Mighty Even unto the Power of Deliverance

Another of the earliest direct messages in the Book of Mormon comes from the writings of Nephi. This Nephi was raised in Jerusalem at the heart of the Jewish nation. His father, Lehi, was one who earnestly sought the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who the people of the Jewish nation professed to worship).

In the act of solemn prayer, seeking for the welfare of his people, he received revelation from God, which included a warning of the impending destruction of Jerusalem. In hopes that they would repent and be spared, Lehi began communicating what he had seen to the inhabitants of his city and soon received further revelation to leave Jerusalem because some in the city, unhappy with Lehi’s warnings, were plotting to take his life. Lehi and his family did as they were directed and (in 600 B.C.) were led by God away from the darkening prospects of Jerusalem across long stretches of land and sea to the Americas.

After witnessing and participating in this extraordinary deliverance, Nephi declares the following truths for those who would later read his account:

“…the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” (1 Nephi 1:20)

Questions:

-Who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? What is revelation? How and when does God reveal himself to those living on the earth?

-How important is it to have the power of deliverance in your life and your family members’ lives?

-Is physical deliverance or spiritual deliverance more important? How, if at all, are both types of deliverance related?

-Are the tender mercies of the Lord extended to everyone on the earth? Or, just to those whom He has chosen because of their faith?

-What is faith? And, what kind and intensity of faith do you need to be made mighty through God’s direct participation in your life?