Condemn Not the Things of God

The very first messages of the Book of Mormon come from an introduction likely written by a prophet named Moroni who lived in the Americas around 400 A.D. To introduce the record his father Mormon had put together and abridged, Moroni declares the following truths about its purpose and meaning:

  • “It is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi
  • “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile
  • “Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophesy and of revelation
  • “Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they [the metal plates on which the record was kept] might not be destroyed”
  • “To come forth by the gift and power of God
  • “To come forth in due time by way of the Gentile…the interpretation thereof by the gift of God”
  • “To show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers…that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever”
  • “To…convinc[e] Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations”
  • “If there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgement-seat of Christ” (For full text see Title Page of the Book of Mormon)

Questions:

-How important would it be to make meaningful use of a gift, readily available to you in the form of a book, that was brought into being by the power of God?

-If God made covenants with those who lived before our time — who sought His help and guidance in their lives – is there any doubt that He would follow through with the promises He made to them? Could our relationship to God in the present have important ties to those promises He made in the past and is now fulfilling?

 Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“The title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the … book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, … and … said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation” (Joseph Smith quoted in History of the Church, 1:71)

“The major mission of the Book of Mormon, as recorded on its title page, is ‘to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.’ The honest seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon. Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament. He is given over one hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a particular significance in describing His divine nature” (Ezra Taft Benson from “Come unto Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 83).

Video from Book of Mormon Central:

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?

Messages of the Presiding Bishopric:

“Every act, good or bad, has a consequence. Every good act improves our ability to do good and more firmly stand against sin or failure. Every transgression, regardless of how minor, makes us more susceptible to Satan’s influence the next time he tempts us. Satan takes us an inch at a time, deceiving us as to the consequences of so-called minor sins until he captures us in major transgressions. Nephi describes this technique as one of pacifying, lulling, and flattering us away until Satan ‘grasps [us] with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance’ (2 Ne. 28:22; see also v. 21)” (Richard C. Edgley, “That Thy Confidence Wax Strong,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 40).

The Sealed Portion of the Gold Plates Contain Another Book of Revelatory Scripture

The Book of Mormon was translated from the unsealed portion of the Gold Plates, but there was at least one other book contained within a sealed portion of the Gold Plates that was not translated. In the portion of the Plates that was translated (which is now known as the Book of Mormon), the prophet Nephi recorded a prophecy that the book in the sealed portion of the Plates would not be translated at the same time as the Book of Mormon because the world would not be ready for it (see 2 Nephi 27:8). Instead, the Lord has kept the sealed book in store for a time when the world is ready.

“…It shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book…but the words which are sealed he shall not deliver…and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept…until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof. And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.” (2 Nephi 27:6, 10-11)

Questions:

-Do you believe the Book of Mormon was brought forth by God’s power?

-Did you know that there was a large portion of the Gold Plates (that were delivered to Joseph Smith by an angel) which were not translated because the Lord knew the world wasn’t ready for it?

-Do you believe that those with the greatest wisdom and truth are living today?

-If (as the Book of Mormon testifies) there is a book which – when read by the power of Christ – reveals all things from the beginning to the end, would that suggest that some who lived long ago had greater wisdom and a grasp of the truth than we have today?

-Is it exciting to hear that God has much more scriptural knowledge in store for us? Or, do you believe God has already told us everything we need to know?

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

“Many more scriptural writings will yet come to us, including those of Enoch (see D&C 107:57), all of the writings of the Apostle John (see Ether 4:16), the records of the lost tribes of Israel (see 2 Nephi 29:13), and the approximately two-thirds of the Book of Mormon plates that were sealed: ‘And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth’ (2 Nephi 27:11)” (Neal A. Maxwell, A Wonderful Flood of Light [1990], 18).

“Lost books are among the treasures yet to come forth. Over twenty of these are mentioned in the existing scriptures. Perhaps most startling and voluminous will be the records of the lost tribes of Israel (see 2 Nephi 29:13). We would not even know of the impending third witness for Christ except through the precious Book of Mormon, the second witness for Christ! This third set of sacred records will thus complete a triad of truth. Then, just as the Perfect Shepherd has said, ‘My word also shall be gathered in one’ (v. 14). There will be ‘one fold and one shepherd’ (1 Nephi 22:25) in a welding together of all the Christian dispensations of human history (see D&C 128:18)” (Neal A. Maxwell, “God Will Yet Reveal,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 52).

All the Nations that Fight Against Zion Shall Be as a Dream of a Night Vision

The prophet Nephi foresees that all who set themselves against Zion in the last days will find emptiness rather than joy and satisfaction.

“…All the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.” (2 Nephi 27:3)

Questions:

-Where is Zion located today?

-Does it have more than one location?

-Is it currently everywhere where the pure in heart can be found? What does it mean to be pure in heart? Can one be pure in heart without the purifying power of the Holy Ghost?

-Who is participating in the formation and growth of Zion?

-Who is fighting against Zion? What is the motivation driving those who fight against Zion? How long lasting will be the satisfaction they gain from distressing Zion?

-Will the results of God’s active interventions make it clear who He supports and who He doesn’t in the last days? Will any setback for Zion be lasting?

All Are Alike unto God

The prophet Nephi provides additional insight into God’s perfect and just way of working with His children.

“…The Lord…doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (2 Nephi 26:33)

Questions:

-Do you believe a just God would ever show favoritism toward any of his children on earth?

-What is the difference between His showing favoritism, and the favor He shows those who repent and seek to follow the portion of His commandments they have?

-Would He judge those who do not have His law (those who Nephi refers to as the heathens) by His law?

Reconcile Yourselves to the Will of God

Jacob, speaking as the Lord’s prophet, teaches that the will of God and the will of the devil are active in the pursuit of all human souls.

“…Cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life. Wherefore…reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.” (2 Nephi 10:23-24)

Questions:

-According to the passage above, what are the results of reconciling yourself to the will of God? On the other hand, what are the results of reconciling yourself to the will of the devil (and the flesh)?

-Is the pull of the two wills strong enough that each individual is either moving toward living in accordance with one will or the other at any given time?

-How can one be reconciled to the will of God?

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

“[Satan] promotes conduct and choices that limit our freedom to choose by replacing the influence of the Holy Spirit with his own domination (see D&C 29:40; 93:38–39). Yielding to his temptations leads to a narrower and narrower range of choices until none remains and to addictions that leave us powerless to resist” (D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Agency,” Ensign, June 2009, 49).

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)

-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)

Hear Ye the Words of the Prophet Isaiah

Nephi taught his family from the scriptures found in the Brass Plates and placed special emphasis on the words of Isaiah.

“…That I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord  their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah…Wherefore I spake unto them saying: Hear ye the words of the prophet, ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off; hear ye the words of the prophet, which were written unto all the house of Israel, and liken them unto yourselves, that ye may have hope as well as your brethren from whom you have been broken off.” (1 Nephi 19:23-24)

Following are some of the messages from Isaiah’s writings that Nephi refers to after emphasizing the importance of the prophet’s words to those who are of the house of Israel:

…I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (1 Nephi 20:10)

Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called, for I am he; I am the first, and I am also the last.” (1 Nephi 20:12)

Come ye near unto me…” (1 Nephi 20:16)

O that thou hadst harkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” (1 Nephi 20:18)

…There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” (1 Nephi 20:22)

…I will not forget thee, O house of Israel. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. Thy children shall make haste against thy destroyers; and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.” (1 Nephi 21:15-17)

…thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” (1 Nephi 21:23)

…I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (1 Nephi 21:25-26)

Questions:

-Is the house of Israel hearing these messages from the book of Isaiah, which are also reemphasized in the Book of Mormon? How important are these messages from the Lord (through Isaiah) seeing that they are included in two different scriptural testaments?

-Is it possible to become part of the house of Israel, in the eyes of God, even if you are not part of an Israelite lineage?  (See The Lord Esteemeth All Flesh in One)

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?

Condemn Not the Things of God

The very first messages of the Book of Mormon come from an introduction likely written by a prophet named Moroni who lived in the Americas around 400 A.D. To introduce the record his father Mormon had put together and abridged, Moroni declares the following truths about its purpose and meaning:

  • “It is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi
  • “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile
  • “Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophesy and of revelation
  • “Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they [the metal plates on which the record was kept] might not be destroyed”
  • “To come forth by the gift and power of God
  • “To come forth in due time by way of the Gentile…the interpretation thereof by the gift of God”
  • “To show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers…that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever”
  • “To…convinc[e] Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations”
  • “If there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgement-seat of Christ” (For full text see Title Page of the Book of Mormon)

Questions:

-How important would it be to make meaningful use of a gift, readily available to you in the form of a book, that was brought into being by the power of God?

-If God made covenants with those who lived before our time — who sought His help and guidance in their lives – is there any doubt that He would follow through with the promises He made to them? Could our relationship to God in the present have important ties to those promises He made in the past and is now fulfilling?

 Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“The title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the … book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, … and … said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation” (Joseph Smith quoted in History of the Church, 1:71)

“The major mission of the Book of Mormon, as recorded on its title page, is ‘to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.’ The honest seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon. Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament. He is given over one hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a particular significance in describing His divine nature” (Ezra Taft Benson from “Come unto Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 83).

Video from Book of Mormon Central: