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)

Because I Have Spoken One Word Ye Need Not Suppose That I Cannot Speak Another

The Lord, through the writings of the prophet Nephi (in about 559-545 B.C.), continues to address those who would reject the Book of Mormon and other Restoration scripture based on the erroneous belief in the end of the Bible being the end of God’s scriptural word.

“Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? Wherefore murmur ye because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.” (2 Nephi 29:7-9)

Questions:

-Do all good things come from God?

-Does God inspire writers everywhere in the world?

-When does writing rise to the level of being scripture?

-Would it make sense for God to always keep the inspiration and light received by writers below the scriptural level in our complex and troubled times?

-Do you believe the warning in Revelation 22:18-19 (in the New Testament) applies to all scripture written up to the end of Revelation? Or, do you believe it applies only to the book of Revelation itself?

-How important is it to know whether the verses above from the Book of Mormon are from God? How can you know? (see Moroni 10:3-5) 

-If you believe the words above are the Lord’s, who has the authority to write scripture in our time?

Have Ye Obtained A Bible Save It Were by the Jews?

Through the writings of the prophet Nephi (in about 559-545 B.C.), the Lord addresses those who would fight against the additional scripture He would bring forth in the last days. He addresses the Gentiles hardened view of what He would or wouldn’t do in terms of additional scripture and contrasts their sense of possession towards the Bible against their lack of appreciation towards, and general mistreatment of, the Jewish people whose ancestors brought it to them.

“…My words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel; And, because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?” (2 Nephi 29:2-4)

“O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people. Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?” (2 Nephi 29:5-6)

Questions:

-Is much of the full meaning and message of the Bible lost if there is not a deep appreciation and love for the people through which the Lord brought the Bible into being and an understanding of the eternal covenants He made with them regarding their descendants?

-Is a religion that does not give proper attention and nourishment to its roots truly living and viable? Is it fully alive if the same power of continuing revelation that created the roots does not animate the branches?

-Do you believe the words above are the Lord’s and that a large portion of Christianity needed a strong wakeup call, through the Book of Mormon and other Restoration scriptures, regarding their relationship with — and actions towards — the Jews and the house of Israel more generally? Is the Lord’s use of the word “fool” indicative of the depth of the folly He was addressing?

-How much of the tragedy that unfolded during the first half of the 20th Century in Europe could have been avoided if the Lord’s voice would have been respected and heard when these verses were published as part of the Book of Mormon in the early part of the 19th Century?

The Words of Your Seed Should Proceed Forth Out of My Mouth unto Your Seed

The Lord speaks to Nephi about the great work He will do to recover the house of Israel (including Nephi’s and Nephi’s father’s descendants) in the last days.

“…I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel. And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed…” (2 Nephi 29:1-2)

Questions:

-When the Lord speaks of His “mouth” is He referring figuratively to Joseph Smith who translated the Book of Mormon?

-Are Lehi’s descendant’s hearing the words of their ancestors through the Book of Mormon?

The Gentiles Will Deny Me

Nephi prophesies that, as the house of Israel is gathered out of the Gentile nations in the last days, many (if not most) of the Gentiles will deny Christ’s work because they will trust their own thought systems and the security of their social networks more than the witness and power of the Holy Ghost.

Cursed is he who putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (2 Nephi 28:31-32)

Questions:

-How tempting is it to trust the power of mankind (that works on a mortal and temporal scale) more than God (who works on an eternal scale)?

-Can mortal and temporal power seem like the only power that matters if one does not receive the Holy Ghost’s witness of eternal power?

I Will Give unto the Children of Men Line upon Line, Precept upon Precept

Nephi dispels the fallacy that God speaks all He has to say to mortals in one age and then falls permanently silent thereafter. Missed opportunity and spiritual misadventure (wo) will come to those who stubbornly adhere to this view because they are likely to reject God’s word when He chooses to speak again:

“…Wo be unto him that hearkenth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost! Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more! And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall. Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!” (2 Nephi 28:25-29)

Nephi then declares God’s truth regarding how He teaches and speaks to His children on earth:

“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” (2 Nephi 28:30)

Questions:

-Do you believe the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ? If so, do you believe the Bible is being taken away from those who have not accepted this second witness? If so, in what ways is it being taken away?

-Has God given additional precepts to mankind (beyond those found in the Book of Mormon) since the time of the Restoration?

-Have many of the truths of the Restoration (which occurred in the early 1800s) influenced Christianity in general over the past two centuries? Have most churches and other organizations been leavened by Restoration truth without recognizing it (or despite their leaders efforts to prevent it)? For instance…

  • How many Christians believed that families could live together in the eternities after mortal life two-hundred year ago? How many believe this to be true now?

Wo Be unto Him That Is at Ease in Zion

The prophet Nephi describes some of the methods the devil will use in the last days to lull souls into a state of spiritually destructive complacency.

“…Others will he pacify and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion.” (2 Nephi 28:21-24)

Questions:

-Why is spiritual complacency equivalent to spiritual death?

-What forces make it next to impossible to stand still in terms of spiritual growth versus spiritual atrophy?

At That Day Shall He Rage in the Hearts of the Children of Men

After giving the Lord’s assurance that those who repent will not be destroyed, Nephi extends a warning to those living in the last days (the time in which we now live): Before being destroyed, the devil and his kingdom will grasp desperately at the hearts of all in an attempt to anger them against God’s light and goodness.

“…If the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts. But, behold that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof. For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger and perish; For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.” (2 Nephi 28:17-19)

Questions:

-What would lead a soul to “anger against that which is good”?

-In a scenario where the light and power of God’s work becomes more and more evident on the earth, will it be possible for those who do not repent to avoid becoming angry?

-Will things reach such an awful state among those who have consolidated against God’s work that a portion of those who have been lulled into the devil’s kingdom will wake to their terrible situation and repent?

Wo Be unto Them That Revile Against That Which Is Good and Say That It Is of No Worth

The prophet Nephi warns of serious consequences for those who do not humble themselves before God and His commandments in the last days.

“O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell! Wo be unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth; and in that day that they that are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 28:15-16)

Questions:

-How many understand (or believe) that humility toward God is necessary for spiritual survival?

-Why would those who are steeped in the beliefs of elite intellectual circles and those that are wealthy be more likely to be prideful and “revile against that which is good?”

-How many would intentionally teach false doctrine? How many would resist the Holy Ghost in what they taught if it allowed them to stay in good standing with their intellectual peers?

-How many are willing to see sexual sin in terms of how God defines it (rather than how most of our contemporary societies define it)?

-How much of the suffering, evil, and depravity in the world is due to the perverting of the “right way of the Lord?”

-Are the groups that revile against that which is good further consolidating themselves (through the social “echo chamber” effect) into a state where they are fully ripe in iniquity?

The Things Which Shall Be Written out of the Book Shall Be of Great Worth

The Lord gave the prophet Nephi insight into how the translated record of his people (the Book of Mormon) would bless the world as it came forth:

“…The things which shall be written out of the book shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.” (2 Nephi 28:2)

In the context of the great worth of the Book of Mormon, Nephi goes on to describe the fallacies, error, and sin that the Book of Mormon will testify against and help remedy in the last days:

  • “Churches…will contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.” (2 Nephi 28:3-4)
  • “…They deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men. Behold, hearken unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.” (2 Nephi 28:5-6)
  • “…There shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. And there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (2 Nephi 28:7-8)
  • “And there shall be many that shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hid their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.” (2 Nephi 28:9-10)
  • Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted. Because of pride and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up. (2 Nephi 28:11-12)
  • They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.” (2 Nephi 28:13)
  • They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” (2 Nephi 28:14)

Questions:

-What does it mean to teach with one’s learning rather than by the power of the Holy Ghost?

-Is teaching that God no longer intervenes through miracles similar in many ways to teaching that there is no God?

-Do the “eat, drink, and be merry” attitudes Nephi describes lead one to earnestly seek mercy through Jesus Christ? Or, do they breed an attitude of complacency about one’s status before God?

-Is Nephi specifically describing the state of Christianity in North America and Europe that would exist at the time of the Restoration (early 1800s)? Or, is Nephi’s description more generally about the state of most churches (and church-like organizations) that would come into being over the centuries leading up to Christ’s Second Coming?

-Is it possible to be prideful and be a true servant of Jesus Christ?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

“The Book of Mormon was written for us today. God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessing. Those people never had the book—it was meant for us. Mormon, the ancient prophet after whom the book is named, abridged centuries of records. God, who knows the end from the beginning, told him what to include in his abridgment that we would need for our day” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 3).

“If they saw our day, and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask ourselves, ‘Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?’” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6).