The Lord Covenanteth with None Save it be with Them That Repent and Believe in His Son

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)

Questions:

-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)

I Am a God of Miracles

The Lord inspired Nephi to include messages in his writing on the Gold Plates that He knew would, in turn, help inspire and direct Joseph Smith as the prophet of the Restoration. Speaking in the first person, the Lord states the following:

“For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.” (2 Nephi 27:23)

The Lord then—through the prophet Nephi—directs Joseph Smith to a specific portion of Isaiah’s writings (comparable to the translation of Isaiah 29:13-24 in the King James Version of the Bible) and restates them directly as a message to Joseph. These words undoubtedly helped the prophet Joseph to understand the scope and meaning of the work the Lord was initiating through him.

“…The Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him: Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men—Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.” (2 Nephi 27:24-26)

“And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?” (2 Nephi 27:27)

“And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. And the meek also shall increase, and their joy shall be in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off; and they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught.” (2 Nephi 27:29-32)

“Therefore, thus saith the Lord who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob; Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” (2 Nephi 27:33-35)

Questions:

-How and why will the wisdom and understanding of those who are not aligned with God’s marvelous work fail?

-Will miracles, leading up to the return of Jesus Christ, make it clear that many of mankind’s concepts of truth are deeply flawed (because they did not take into account God’s direct and miraculous interventions in response to true faith among His children on earth).

-How jolting will it be for some as God’s miraculous power begins to be more and more evident for all to see? Will some respond by “working in darkness” to discredit and undermine God’s work?

-Who will be more receptive to God’s miraculous work? Will it be those who are well-established in life through existing systems of wealth and power? Or, will it be the poor who are largely outside of these systems of wealth and power?

-How will the gathering of scattered Israel be part of God’s miraculous work?

He Doeth Not Anything Save It Be for the Benefit of the World

After describing the sin and secret combinations that would exist among the Gentiles in the last days (see previous post), Nephi teaches that Satan has promoted such things from the beginning to bring souls down into captivity. In contrast, Nephi gives insight into how and why the Lord does His work.

“The devil…is…the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he blindeth them with his strong cords forever. (2 Nephi 26:22)

For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. (2 Nephi 26:23)

Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. Behold hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold I say unto you, Nay. Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation: Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.” (2 Nephi 26:24-28)

Questions:

-Does the devil have anything good to offer? Is there any limit to his hatred and ill-will towards every living soul on the earth?

-Is it even possible to comprehend the extent of the goodness God has to offer? Is there any limit to His love and generosity toward every living soul on the earth?

-How many in the world see repentance as a way to embrace the goodness that God has to offer and reject the destructive aims of Satan?

Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God

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)

Questions:

-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?

Worship Him with All Your Might, Mind, and Strength, and Your Whole Soul

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)

Questions:

-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?

There is None Other Name Given under Heaven Whereby Man Can Be Saved

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)

Questions:

-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?

The Lord Will Set His Hand Again the Second Time to Restore His People…Wherefore, He Shall Bring Forth His Words unto Them

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)

Questions:

-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?

When That Day Shall Come That They Shall Believe in Christ…It Must Needs Be Expedient That They Should Believe These Things

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)

Questions:

-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)?

If There Be No Christ There Be No God

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)

Questions:

-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?

All Things Which Have Been Given of God from the Beginning of the World Are the Typifying of Christ

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)

Questions:

-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?