Nephi Engraved That Which Is Pleasing unto God

Nephi speaks to his people, and all people, about what he chose to engrave in his record (which record became the first part of the Book of Mormon after being translated).

“…I engraved that which was pleasing unto God. And if my people are pleased with the things of God they will be pleased with mine engravings which are upon these plates.” (2 Nephi 5:32)

Questions:

-Do you believe the words engraved by Nephi (and later translated by Joseph Smith) are pleasing to God?

-If so, why do you believe they are? If not, why do you believe they are not?

-Are the messages from the Book of Mormon (such as those posted on this website) pleasing to you?

-If you believe the Bible is the word of God, do you believe the Book of Mormon would confirm so many of the Bible’s teachings and the Bible’s historical accuracy if the Book of Mormon wasn’t also from God?

-How can you know if the teachings in the Book of Mormon are pleasing to God as Nephi testifies? (see Moroni 10:3-5)

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God Will Give Liberally to Him That Asketh

After expressing his eternal trust in the Lord, Nephi also emphasizes how the Lord is standing ready to pour out blessings upon those who ask for that which is right in His eyes.

“Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss.” (2 Nephi 4:35)

Questions:

-How can we learn to ask not amiss?

-Is it tempting to ask God to override others’ free will? Are there circumstances where He would do so?

-If a prayer is not answered, does that mean the prayer was amiss?

-What is the difference between the timetables one might have in his or her mind for an answer to a righteous prayer and the Lord’s timetable for answering the prayer?

-How does God give liberally to those who ask righteous things of Him?

Cursed is He That Putteth His Trust in Man

After expressing his complete trust in the Lord, Nephi expresses the very compelling reason why he doesn’t place a similar level of trust in his or others’ mortal powers:

O Lord, I have trusted in thee and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” (2 Nephi 4:34)

Questions:

-Is it possible to function in mortality without putting some trust in yourself and other people?

-Is there a difference between lending trust to others who deserve it and the type of ultimate trust that can be put in God?

-Do many end up worshipping the human brain when the human spirit and the influence of God’s Spirit are disregarded?

God Shall Consecrate Thine Afflictions for Thy Gain

By the time he and his family reached the Americas, Lehi had grown old. Before passing away, he took the opportunity to instruct his family. While speaking to Jacob (Nephi’s younger brother), Lehi touches on the meaning of adversity when it is endured with faith.

“[I]n thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren. Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2:2)

Questions:

-How precious is faithfulness in distress to God?

-How much easier is it to bear your burdens, knowing that God will consecrate them to your gain (if you endure faithfully)?

The Lord Has Covenanted This Land unto Lehi and His Children Forever

After arriving in the Americas, Nephi recorded more of his father Lehi’s teachings and prophecies. The first recorded prophecy relates to the promised land which they had obtained from the Lord in the Americas…

“[W]e have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, I, Lehi prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 1:5-6)

Questions:

-Are their Native American groups who are the descendants of Lehi and, thus, have a special God-given privilege to inherit and prosper on certain American lands (much as the Israelites where given a promised land in the Near East by God)?

-Where are these promised lands in the Americas?

-Is all North and South America covenanted to Lehi’s descendants? Or, are their promised lands more localized?

-Can individuals or groups, who live in the areas of the Americas promised to Lehi’s descendants, ultimately prosper and find lasting protection without sustaining and cooperating with the children of Lehi?

-Is there a key to Lehi’s descendants finding their full potential — in peace, prosperity and strength — upon the lands promised to them?

-What do the above scriptural passages suggest about God’s will in relation to Columbus, the Pilgrims, and many others that have come to the Americas?

Be Obedient to the Commandments and Endure to the End

Nephi concludes his first book of scripture with a testament to the power of obedience.

“[I]f ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall be saved at the last day. And thus it is. Amen.” (1 Nephi 22:31)

Below are some of God’s commandments as found in the first 22 chapters of the Book of Mormon  (the portion of the book that has been covered by this blog so far).

Condemn not the things of God.” (from the ancient Introduction)

“Remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.” (1 Nephi 10:20)

Ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive.” (1 Nephi 15:11)

Hear ye the words of the prophet.” (1 Nephi 19:24)

“Come near unto me.” (1 Nephi 20:16)

Questions:

-How much more meaningful are our efforts to keep the commandments because of Christ and the Atonement He worked out in our behalf?

-Why is enduring to the end important?

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

“Obedience is powerful spiritual medicine. It comes close to being a cure-all” (Boyd K. Packer, “Balm of Gilead,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 18).

“The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today. … Put that aright and then you start on the next one that is most difficult for you to keep. That’s the way to sanctify yourself by keeping the commandments of God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [2000], 30).

All People Shall Dwell Safely in the Holy One of Israel If It So Be That They Will Repent

As Nephi continues to expound on the prophesies and messages of Isaiah (chapters 48 and 49), he reemphasizes – despite the turmoil of the last days and all that will befall those who fight against Zion – that there is always safety in Jesus Christ.

“[A]ll nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.” (1 Nephi 22:28)

-Does Christ deny anyone or any group who comes to Him?

-Is there any other way to come unto Christ, besides through repentance?

-If the standard we repent to is the Divine Christ, how much emphasis and focus should be placed on repenting daily?

-Does the thought of a Perfect Standard encourage you or discourage you?

-Is encouragement or discouragement, in looking to Christ, a choice we make?

-How important is it to have faith that such a standard is obtainable for the standard to be meaningful?

-Would Christ want us to obtain anything less than the potential He has given us through his example and atoning sacrifice?

-If we allow His power into our lives, are there limits to what Christ can make of us as individuals and as groups?

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

“Why have our Father and His Son commanded us to repent? Because they love us. They know all of us will violate eternal laws. Whether they be small or large, justice requires that every broken law be satisfied to retain the promise of joy in this life and the privilege of returning to Father in Heaven. If not satisfied, in the Day of Judgment justice will cause that we be cast out of the presence of God to be under the control of Satan [see 2 Nephi 9:8–10; 2 Nephi 2:5].

“It is our Master and His redeeming act that make it possible for us to avoid such condemnation. It is done through faith in Jesus Christ, obedience to His commandments, and enduring in righteousness to the end.

“Are you taking full advantage of the redeeming power of repentance in your life so that you can have greater peace and joy? Feelings of turmoil and despondency often signal a need for repentance. Also the lack of the spiritual direction you seek in your life could result from broken laws. If needed, full repentance will put your life together. It will solve all of the complex spiritual pains that come from transgression. But in this life it cannot remedy some of the physical consequences that can occur from serious sin. Be wise and consistently live well within the boundaries of righteousness defined by the Lord” (Richard G. Scott, “The Path to Peace and Joy,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 25).

These Are Those Who Must Be Consumed as Stubble

Nephi continues to interpret and expand on Isaiah’s prophecies.  After emphasizing that all who fight against Zion will be destroyed, he provides additional detail about the aims and characteristics of those who will not be protected in Zion as the time of Christ’s return draws near.

“…All churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble.” (1 Nephi 22:23)

Questions:

-Is Nephi referring to churches specifically as places and organizations for traditional Christian worship? Or, is he referring to all organizations and groups — whether they would normally be called churches or not — that are focused on power, the lusts of the flesh, and popularity?

-Have some corporations and companies become church-like in our day? How do such corporations try to exercise control over the flesh? How important is it for large companies to do whatever keeps them, and their products, popular among the widest portion of the population possible? If the standards of the population at large begin to deteriorate how likely is it that these organizations will mirror and seek to justify the deteriorating standards? What level of depravity would an organization need to fall into in order to be in danger of destruction at the time of Christ’s coming?

-Has wielding government power become a kind of practical church — where the “greatest difference” can be made through social policy that helps society to “progress” — and a substitute for the Gospel for some? Are those who believe in a God of miracles more likely or less likely to view government in this way?

-Do some Christian churches focus more on gaining income and popularity than they do on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ as found in the scriptures?

The Righteous Shall Be Saved Even If It So Be by Fire

Nephi continues to interpret and expand on Isaiah’s prophecies of the last days around the time of Christ’s Second Coming. After emphasizing that all who fight against Zion will be destroyed, he provides additional detail about why this destruction will occur.

“…[T]he time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned. For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous. Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved even if it so be as by fire.” (1 Nephi 22:15-17)

Questions:

-Do these verses only refer to cleansing of the earth at the time of Christ’s Second Coming? Or, is it an expression of a more general principle by which the Lord will operate as the wheat is gathered from the tares (See Matthew 13:24–30; D&C 86:1–7) leading up to the Second Coming?

-Why is pride such a powerful indicator of not being on the side of the righteous? What are some other indicators of being an enemy of righteousness? (see These are Those Who Must Be Consumed as Stubble)

All That Fight Against Zion Shall Be Destroyed

In interpreting Isaiah chapters 48 and 49 for his brothers, Nephi again teaches about the fate of those who fight against the people of the Lord in the last days.

“…[T]he blood of that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; for they shall war among themselves, and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood. And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.” (1 Nephi 22:13-14) 

Questions:

-Would the people of the Lord (true followers of Jesus Christ who receive His Spirit) ever be filled with the kind of anger and ill-will that leads to widespread violence and war?

-How quickly, on the other hand, would a group or society that is animated by such ill-will and anger start to turn upon itself and any of its neighbors who are under the influence of the same dark spirit?

-What role will anger toward the truth and light of Zion play in separating the wicked from the righteous in the last days?

-Are there growing signs of hatred toward the Lord’s people (who will not bow to the deteriorating status quos of the societies around them)?

-How easy will it be for those with good-will toward all—and high standards of conduct based on the truths of revealed scripture—to stay separated from each other in the midst of those who have fallen prey to contagious hatred born of ill-will and anger? Will the good in heart from all faiths be gathered together in solidarity, of necessity, as the great and abominable church (described in the passage above) begins to destroy itself?