Ask Me in Faith

After receiving revelation regarding his father’s dream and many future events, Nephi returns to his father’s camp and finds his brothers arguing about what their father had taught the family. Another powerful and clear message of the Book of Mormon unfolds as Nephi reminds his brothers that they should seek out the ultimate source of truth and knowledge (rather than simply relying on their own understandings) to obtain clarity about the matters they are disputing about:

Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15:11)

Questions:

-What are the essential elements of receiving guidance from God as described in the verse above?

-Is it always easy to maintain a soft heart when seeking answers from God?

-Do we sometimes ask in doubt (rather than in faith) and still expect an answer?

-Why is diligent keeping of the commandments an important aspect of receiving revelation from God? Is the strength of the Spirit in our lives tied to our ability to receive divine instruction? And, is the strength of the Spirit in our lives a constant? Or, does it wax and wane depending on a person’s actions in relation to God’s commandments?

-Is it easy to have preconceptions about how God will give us answers and how quickly the answers will come? Does having true faith that you will receive an answer part of having the patience necessary to help overcome these preconceptions?

That Great Pit Which Has Been Dug for the Destruction of Men Shall Be Filled by Those Who Dug It

Nephi continues to be taught, by an angel of the Lord, about events leading up to Christ’s second coming. He learns that the Gentiles in the Americas, and throughout the entire world, who receive Christ’s latter-day revelations and directions will inherit the covenant blessings of the house of Israel along with those who are tied to the house of Israel by ancestry (see A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God).

On the other hand, Nephi also learns that those who fight against Christ’s words and actions in the last days — when He is gathering the house of Israel according to the covenants made with them — will shut themselves outside the covenant blessings and, thus, will be vulnerable to the destructive pitfalls laid by Satan to capture souls in our time. The snares laid to fight against Christ and His followers will turn to the detriment and destruction of those who laid the snares.

“…That great pit, which hath been digged…by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which has been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God…For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him.” (1 Nephi 14:3-4)

Questions:

-When a person or group has ill will toward another person or group, who does it usually hurt the most in the long run? Is it the person or group with the malice or the person or group toward which the malice is directed? How long will a group or society focused on fault finding and entrapment of others function before turning on its own members?

-What is the nature of the figurative pit mentioned in this prophecy? How will it be dug by those who wish to trap others within it?

-How difficult will it be to escape the pit? As Christ manifests Himself in word, power, and deed to restore the fulness of His gospel and gather the house of Israel (see 1 Nephi 14:2 and A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God) will it be possible to stay neutral? Or, will “sitting on the fence” be more difficult than ever as a clear separation develops between those who recognize Christ’s work as real and those who deny it and fight against its progress? (See Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:25-30.)

I Will Bring Forth unto Them, in My Own Power, Much of My Gospel

After Nephi is shown that many truths would be taken from the gospel record prior to the Bible coming to the Americas, he is also shown that God would reestablish these lost truths by His own power.

…Because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book…an exceedingly great many do stumble…insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. Nevertheless…God will not suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness…they are in because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church…Behold, saith the Lamb of God, I will bring forth unto them, in my own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious.” (1 Nephi 13:29-30, 32-34)

Questions:

-Do you believe that the Book of Mormon was brought to us through Jesus Christ’s own power? Can you make a meaningful decision about your belief without carefully reading the book and seeking God’s guidance about its truth?

-If the Book of Mormon contains many plain and precious truths, brought to us through God’s direction and revelation (see Condemn not the Things of God), how important is it to read and understand?

– Was the coming forth of the Book of Mormon the culmination of social thought or the product of the most educated and sophisticated religious minds of its day (i.e., man’s power)? Or, was it by God’s power—through a commandment to ancient American prophets to keep a record and a commandment to a modern-day prophet to translate it by the power of revelation?

-Are there other books — besides the Book of Mormon — that have come to us in modern times, by God’s power, and have helped to restore plain and precious truths?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

“The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity. Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation. Therefore, its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted, and full of power. But it does even more. Much of the Christian world today rejects the divinity of the Savior. They question His miraculous birth, His perfect life, and the reality of His glorious resurrection. The Book of Mormon teaches in plain and unmistakable terms about the truth of all of those. It also provides the most complete explanation of the doctrine of the Atonement. Truly, this divinely inspired book is a keystone in bearing witness to the world that Jesus is the Christ” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5).

“The Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ. It restored precious truths concerning the Fall, the Atonement, the Resurrection, and life after death.

“Prior to the Restoration, the heavens had been closed for centuries. But with prophets and apostles upon the earth once more, the heavens were opened once again with visions and revelations. Many of the revelations that came to the Prophet Joseph Smith were written down in a book that came to be known as the Doctrine and Covenants. This contains further insights about principles and ordinances and is a valuable source concerning the structure of the priesthood. In addition, we have another canon of scripture called the Pearl of Great Price. It contains the book of Moses, which came by revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the book of Abraham, which he translated from a purchased Egyptian scroll. From these we learn not only a great deal more about Moses, Abraham, Enoch, and other prophets but also many more details about the Creation. We learn that the gospel of Jesus Christ was taught to all of the prophets from the beginning—even from the time of Adam” (James E. Faust, “The Restoration of All Things,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 67–68).

The Gift of God unto All Those Who Diligently Seek Him

After hearing all God had shown to his father, through prophetic revelation, Nephi desired to obtain a deeper knowledge of what he had heard. As he states in the following passage, he knew there was only one reliable way to obtain that deeper knowledge.

I Nephi was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him.” (1 Nephi 10:17)

Questions:

How can a person diligently seek God?

Do you believe you have diligently sought a greater understanding of who God is and what His will is for you?  If not, would it be worthwhile to make the effort?

How do you expect the Holy Ghost to work with you as you earnestly seek greater knowledge from God?

Do you believe He will work with you?

Why would God require a certain amount of diligence and effort before extending the gift of the Holy Ghost?

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

“[The spirit of revelation] is not restricted to the presiding authorities of the Church; rather, it belongs to and should be operative in the life of every man, woman, and child who reaches the age of accountability and enters into sacred covenants. Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives” (David A. Bednar, “The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 87).

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:

He That Endureth to the End, the Same Shall Be Saved

The prophet Nephi shares the revelation he received regarding the importance of remaining faithful (in thought and deed) in this life after entering the baptismal covenant and receiving the Holy Ghost.

“…Thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, ye, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me. And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” (2 Nephi 31:14-15)

“And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.” (2 Nephi 31:16)

Questions:

-What does it mean to endure to the end?

-Why do some fail to finish what they started after entering the baptismal covenant and receiving a witness from the Holy Ghost?

-How easy is it to question the witness of the Holy Ghost received early on, when later one does not have the same level of the Spirit’s purifying influence in his or her life?

-What can cause the influence of the Spirit to diminish over time?

-How quickly can one regain the full influence of the Spirit after repenting and recommitting to follow Jesus Christ? Is the amount of time needed to regain the Spirit’s strong influence connected to how far from the Spirit a person has drifted?

-Does any of the above apply to those who are baptized by someone who does not have God’s authority to do so?

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

“Enduring to the end is the doctrine of continuing on the path leading to eternal life after one has entered into the path through faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. Enduring to the end requires our whole heart or, as the Book of Mormon prophet Amaleki teaches, we must ‘come unto him, and offer [our] whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth [we] will be saved’ [Omni 1:26].

“Enduring to the end means that we have planted our lives firmly on gospel soil, staying in the mainstream of the Church, humbly serving our fellow men, living Christlike lives, and keeping our covenants. Those who endure are balanced, consistent, humble, constantly improving, and without guile. Their testimony is not based on worldly reasons—it is based on truth, knowledge, experience, and the Spirit” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Press On,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 101).

There is Nothing Which is Secret Save It Shall be Revealed

After quoting a passage from Isaiah’s writings (comparable to those found in the King James Version of Isaiah 11:5-9) describing the peace that will reign during the Millennium, Nephi expands on the meaning of Isaiah’s words found in verse 9 of chapter 11:

“…The things of all nations shall be made known; yea all things shall be made known unto the children of men. There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed. Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more for a long time…” (2 Nephi 30:16-18)

Questions:

-Why will all of history be accurately revealed during Christ’s Millennial reign?

-Why will everything that has ever been revealed to mankind be brought together and revealed anew during the Millennium?

-What is the relationship between the people having this knowledge/revelation and Satan being bound?

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

“We talk about Satan being bound. Satan will be bound by the power of God; but he will be bound also by the determination of the people of God not to listen to him, not to be governed by him” (George Q. Cannon, in Conference Report, Oct. 1897, 65).

My Word Shall be Gathered in One

As the Lord gathers the house of Israel in the last days, He will also gather all His revelation they have received (and written down).

Wherefore, because ye have a Bible ye need not suppose it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it. (2 Nephi 29:10-12)

“…It shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews. And it shall come to pass that my people which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.” (2 Nephi 29:13-14)

Questions:

-What level of spiritual strength and light will result when this prophecy is fulfilled as God gathers His previously dispersed revelations into one?

-If the words of the Jews is the Bible and the words of the Nephites is the Book of Mormon, what divinely inspired book (or books) will come from the lost tribes of Israel?

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).

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?