The Wisdom and Praise of the World is Foolishness before God

Jacob testifies that those who humbly seek God’s influence and saving power in their lives will receive it, while those who embrace the wisdom and praise of the world will shut themselves off from God.

“…Whoso knocketh, to him will the [Lord God] open; and the wise and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them. But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever—yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.” (2 Nephi 9:42-43)

Questions:

-How can the fact that God loves all his children be reconciled with Jacob’s message that He despises those who are “puffed up” in the wisdom and praise of the world? Is it a case of God hating the sin but still loving the sinner? It is that He despises what they are doing to themselves and others by treating mankind’s wisdom and praise as being the most important?

-Have you experienced the Lord opening the doors of his love and wisdom to you?

-How does one go about knocking in order to seek these blessings from the Lord?

-Will seeking the Lord’s light and wisdom fail if one does not do so in the depths of humility?

Their Joy Shall Be Full Forever

After teaching about the power of Christ’s Atonement to bring about the Resurrection and a Last Judgment that will be both merciful and just (see They Must be Judged According to the Holy Judgment of God, O How Great the Plan of Our God!, and It Must Needs Be an Infinite Atonement), Jacob describes those who will inherit the kingdom of God.

“But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.” (2 Nephi 9:18)

Questions:

-Who is the Holy One of Israel? (see Jesus Christ)

-What does it mean to be a saint of the Holy One of Israel?

-How is belief in the Holy One of Israel expressed in everyday life?

-What does it mean to endure the crosses of the world and despise the shame of the world?

-What does it mean to inherit the kingdom of God?

The Covenant People of the Lord Are Armed with Righteousness and the Power of God

Nephi sees, in a vision of the great division that will occur in the last days, the power that God will give to those who are faithful to their covenant relationship with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God. And…I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. (1 Nephi 14:13-14)

-If you believe this prophecy about how things will unfold in the time before Christ’s return, why do you think so many will end up yielding to the temptations of the devil and fight (it appears in an organized way) against Christ and His covenant people?

-What does it mean to be armed with righteousness? Will it be possible, individually and collectively as these events unfold, to withstand the power of the mother of abominations without being armed with righteousness and the power of God?

-Where do you feel you stand now in relation to God’s work and the godless work that is marshaling against the covenant people of the Lord?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

“For the Church, the scriptures suggest both an accelerated sifting and accelerated spiritual and numerical growth—with all this preceding the time when the people of God will be ‘armed with righteousness’—not weapons—and when the Lord’s glory will be poured out upon them (1 Nephi 14:14; see also 1 Peter 4:17; D&C 112:25). The Lord is determined to have a tried, pure, and proven people (see D&C 100:16; 101:4; 136:31), and ‘there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it’ (Abraham 3:17)” (Neal A. Maxwell, “For I Will Lead You Along,” Ensign, May 1988, 8).


“Church members have a special rendezvous to keep, brothers and sisters. Nephi saw it. One future day, he said, Jesus’ covenant people, ‘scattered upon all the face of the earth,’ will be ‘armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.’ (1 Ne. 14:14.) This will happen, but only after more members become more saintly and more consecrated in conduct” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Repentance,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 32).

“We [members of the Church] are a tiny fraction when compared to the billions of people on earth. But we are who we are, and we know what we know, and we are to go forth and preach the gospel.

“The Book of Mormon makes it clear that we never will dominate by numbers. But we have the power of the priesthood [see 1 Nephi 14:14]. …

“We can and in due time certainly will influence all of humanity. It will be known who we are and why we are. It might seem hopeless; it is monumentally difficult; but it is not only possible but certain that we will win the battle against Satan” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Power of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 7).

The Great and Abominable Church

After the meaning of his father’s dream is revealed, Nephi continues to receive a prophetic vision through the Spirit and the help of an angel. He is shown that after the formation of Christ’s church another church would form in opposition to it:

“And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity. And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it…And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church. And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.” (1 Nephi 13:5-6,8-9)

Questions:

-Does reference to the great and abominable church signify a specific, officially organized church? Or, does it signify a church that forms and functions spontaneously among all people due to the influence and deception of the devil?

-Would the abominable church be more active among societies and cultures that also have the fullness of Jesus Christ’s gospel established within them? Or, would it be better established among those societies and cultures that do not have a fullness of the gospel?

-What is the ultimate motivation of this great and abominable church? What do those who belong to it ultimately desire?

-Is destruction of those who are striving to serve God an indirect byproduct of the aims of the great and abominable church, which seeks the praise of the world? Or, is it a direct focus?

-Is it possible to be part of (or take some part in) the great and abominable church without realizing it?

-What are some safeguards you could employ to ensure you and your family are not drawn into participation with the great and abominable church?

-If its goal is popularity and the accumulation of material pleasures and things, how likely is this great and abominable church to have a strong influence over many media, advertising, and entertainment outlets?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all … organizations of whatever name or nature—whether political, philosophical, educational, economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious—which are designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 137–38).