God Hath Given unto You a Knowledge and He Hath Made You Free

Samuel, a Lamanite prophet, teaches those who can understand his words that they will be held accountable for their actions. Freedom of action is a reality granted by God and one’s actions will have eternal consequences.

“…Remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.” (Helaman 14:30-31).

Questions:

-Can psychopaths and sociopaths understand the above verses?

-Could a very young child understand the above verses?

That Which Ye Do Send out Shall Return unto You Again

Alma teaches his son that no good action will go unrewarded by God.

“…See that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again. For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored…” (Alma 41:14-15)

Questions:

-What are the implications of the above principle for those who intentionally and maliciously hurt others?

-How much joy does it bring our Savior when we act in a way that accepts His example and His Atonement, which magnifies the good we do into the eternities?

Wickedness Never Was Happiness

Alma teaches his son that all people will be restored (in the Resurrection) to what they have become based on their desires and actions in this life.  

“Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness…All men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in the carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.” (Alma 41:10-13)

Questions:

-Why will Christ save souls from their sins but will not save them in their sins (see previous post entitled Ye Cannot Be Saved in Your Sins)?

-How can one be helped by Christ to move away from his or her sins through repentance so that his or her nature changes toward what is good, righteous, and just?

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?

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?

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?

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?

Great Are the Promises of the Lord unto Them Who Are upon the Isles of the Sea

After recognizing the Lord’s hand in bringing his father’s family across the ocean to their promised land in the Americas, Jacob teaches his people that the Lord had (and would) scatter many others from the house of Israel across the seas and oceans to new lands. Many of the promises of restoration extended to Lehi’s family in the last days are also extended to these people who have been scattered upon the “isles of the sea.”

“…Great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea.” (2 Nephi 10:21)

“For behold, the Lord God has led away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure. And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off…” (2 Nephi 10:22)

Questions:

-Does “isles of the sea” refer only to islands? Or, does it also refer to lands that would have been reached by sea or ocean travel (in relation to the ancient kingdom of Israel)?

The Jewish People Who Still Wait for the Messiah Will be Blessed as Well as All People Who Build up Zion in Preparation for His Second Coming

After quoting Isaiah (chapter 49 versus 22 and 23 as found in the Old Testament), Jacob explains that after a period of trial and dispersion the Jewish people would be blessed by God through Gentile peoples whom He would raise up in the last days. On the other hand, those Gentiles who fight against the Jewish people who still wait for the Messiah and those who fight against the covenant people of the Lord (whether the covenant people are Jewish or not) will not prosper.

The Jewish people “shall be scattered, and smitten, and hated; nevertheless, the Lord will be merciful unto them, that when they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance. And blessed are the Gentiles, they of whom the prophet has written; for behold, if it so be that they shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to the great and abominable church, they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children…Wherefore, they that fight against Zion and the covenant people of the Lord shall lick up the dust of their feet; and the people of the Lord shall not be ashamed. For the people of the Lord are they who wait for him; for they still wait for the coming of the Messiah.” (2 Nephi 6:12-13)

Questions:

-Are there still millions of Jews who faithfully wait for the Messiah despite the trials of their people? What does Jacob say about the protection and blessings they will receive for this faithfulness?

-With the Restoration of the fullness of the gospel (including the teachings of the Book of Mormon and modern-day prophets), do the Jewish people have more fertile ground for coming to a knowledge of their Redeemer?

-Are they being gathered in to the land of their inheritance in our time?

For a free copy of the Book of Mormon go to: https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/book-of-mormon

Great Were the Covenants of the Lord Which He Made unto Joseph

Lehi teaches his youngest son, Joseph, about the writings and prophesies of their ancestor who was also named Joseph. This ancestor was the same Joseph who was a son of Jacob and was sold into Egypt by his brothers (as recorded in the Old Testament book of Genesis, chapter 37). As described in the verses below, he saw that Lehi’s family would create a branch of the house of Israel in the Americas. This branch would fall into apostasy but would be brought back into the light by the power of the Messiah in the last days.

“…Great were the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph. Wherefore, Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel…a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light—yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.” (2 Nephi 3:4-5)

He, Joseph the son of Jacob, also prophesied about a seer who would be born within his lineage and would accomplish a great work in the last days according to the will and power of God:

“…Joseph truly said: Thus saith the Lord unto me: A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins…and unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins…which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers…[A]nd unto him will I give power to bring forth my work unto the seed of thy loins—and not to the bringing forth my work only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.” (2 Nephi 3:7,11)

This seer of the last days would also be called Joseph:

“And thus prophesied Joseph saying: Behold that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded…And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation. Yea thus prophesied Joseph: I am sure of this thing…for the Lord hath said unto me, I will preserve thy seed forever.” (2 Nephi 3:14-16)

Questions:

-Has the restorative work which the Lord accomplished through the prophet Joseph Smith been confounded? Or, does it continue to grow and strengthen under the Lord’s continuing guidance?

-Have those who have sought to destroy Joseph Smith, and the work the Lord gave him to do, been confounded? Did those who murdered Joseph think that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would die with him?

-Are those who reject the second witness of Jesus Christ and His gospel, as provided in the Book of Mormon, rejecting an offer of greater spiritual strength and understanding from God?

-How powerful are the covenants made by God with His children?

-Do you believe that God made the covenants with Joseph of Egypt as detailed in the above verses?

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

“It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back … to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was fore-ordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 96343.).

“Questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his critics since this work began. To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven. Consider the totality of Joseph’s life—born in poverty and given little formal education, he translated the Book of Mormon in less than 90 days. Tens of thousands of honest, devoted men and women embraced the cause of the Restoration. At age 38, Joseph sealed his witness with his blood. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.” (Neil L. Andersen, “Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 66).