If Our First Parents Could Have Partaken of the Tree of Life (After Partaking of the Forbidden Fruit) They Would Have Been Forever Miserable

The Book of Mormon prophets affirm that Adam and Eve were real people. Their fall brought death (physical and spiritual) into the world, but God knew this would happen. His plan utilized the mortal life that occurred because of the Fall to give His spiritual children (all of us on Earth) experience we could have gained no other way. He then provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, to overcome physical death for all and provide an escape from spiritual death for those who choose to follow Christ.

The verses below teach that immortality is a curse without the healing power of Christ’s Atonement.

Adam did fall by the partaking of the forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and thus we see, that by his fall, all mankind became a lost and fallen people. And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word of God would have been void…” (Alma 12:22-23)

“And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of salvation would have been frustrated…but behold it was not so; but it was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment…” (Alma 12:26-27)

Questions:

-Are some still seeking the “tree of life” in our time?

-How likely is it that God would allow His children to obtain immortality if it would be a curse to them?

-Are cherubim with a flaming sword, figuratively speaking, still guarding the tree of life (if the tree of life represents immortality separate from that provided through Christ’s Atonement)? (see Genesis 3:24)

The Knowledge of a Savior Shall Spread throughout Every Nation, Kindred, Tongue, and People

An angel (speaking to King Benjamin who then recounted the vision to his people as recorded in chapter three of Mosiah) prophesies that the time will come when all will be accountable to repent and exercise faith because of their knowledge of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

“…The time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:20-21)

Questions:

-How close is this prophecy to being fulfilled?

-With the advent of the internet, air travel, etc., how long will it be before this prophesy is fulfilled?

The Spirit Speaketh of Things as They Really Are, and of Things as They Really Will Be

The Spirit has always testified of Jesus Christ. Before His birth, the Spirit testified of Him as Jehovah and as the coming Messiah and Savior. After His birth the Spirit now testifies of Him as the Savior who has worked out the Atonement in all of mankind’s behalf. Those who earnestly sought and obtained God’s Spirit before Christ’s coming—including the Nephite prophet Jacob—received a clear witness and understanding of who He would be and what He would do.

Writing about Christ sometime around 500 B.C., Jacob recorded the following about the power of the Spirit:

“…Beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him…He that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.” (Jacob 4:12-13)

Questions:

-Do you believe that true prophets (and their followers) who lived centuries before Christ had a clear understanding of who He would be and what He would do?

-Do you believe that you can have a clear understanding of who Christ is and what He has done through the Spirit?

Tender, Chaste, and Delicate Feelings Are Pleasing unto God

Before dying, Nephi instructed his younger brother Jacob to continue the sacred record he had begun. Jacob was also called to be a spiritual leader and recorded his teachings to the Nephites at a time when they were beginning to fall prey to wickedness. At the beginning of his speech, he regrets needing to clearly address the sins of some of the people—whose hearts were hardening—in the presence of many of the people whose delicate feelings would be troubled. He concludes his thought by specifically declaring the truth that tender, chaste and delicate feelings are pleasing to God.

“…It grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech concerning you, before your wives and your children, many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate before God, which thing is pleasing unto God.” (Jacob 2:7)

Questions:

-Why are delicate feelings pleasing to God?

-Does the callousness of the fallen world tend to break down tender and delicate feelings if one is not vigilant? How does the Spirit of God help one maintain a tender heart despite experiencing environments in the fallen world that can often be cruel and insensitive?

-How is chastity tied to maintaining a tender heart that is capable of delicate feeling?

-Did the Father send the Lamb with the most tender heart (capable of the most delicate feeling) to work out the Atonement for His children? Was Christ’s infinite ability to feel and care a key aspect of His ability to complete His mission as our Savior?

He That Is Baptized in My Name, to Him Will the Father Give the Holy Ghost

Nephi continues to teach about baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost.

“…The voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.” (2 Nephi 31:12)

“Wherefore my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 31:13)

Questions:

-Is it possible to be baptized, by one who holds authority to do so by God, and still not receive the Holy Ghost? Why would the Holy Ghost’s influence be muted or absent?

-How important is it for a person to enter the waters of baptism with a repentant heart and a sincere will to serve the Father by following Christ?

-Why might a person be tempted to enter the waters of baptism with less than pure motives?

-What is the baptism of fire that occurs if a person does enter into a true baptismal covenant with pure motives?

-Is the baptism of fire always a dramatic experience? Whether “dramatic” is the right word or not, is it always an exceptional experience? Does the fire burn differently for different people (depending on their personality and circumstances)? How often does one need the purifying effect of the Spirit’s fire to stay the course in following Christ?

-What does it sound like when someone speaks with the tongue of an angel?

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

“The ordinance of confirming a new member of the Church and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost is both simple and profound. Worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders place their hands upon the head of an individual and call him or her by name. Then, by the authority of the holy priesthood and in the name of the Savior, the individual is confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this important phrase is uttered: ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’

“The simplicity of this ordinance may cause us to overlook its significance. These four words—‘Receive the Holy Ghost’—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed ‘receive the Holy Ghost’ and its attendant spiritual gifts. …

“Praying, studying, gathering, worshipping, serving, and obeying are not isolated and independent items on a lengthy gospel checklist of things to do. Rather, each of these righteous practices is an important element in an overarching spiritual quest to fulfill the mandate to receive the Holy Ghost. The commandments from God we obey and the inspired counsel from Church leaders we follow principally focus upon obtaining the companionship of the Spirit. Fundamentally, all gospel teachings and activities are centered on coming unto Christ by receiving the Holy Ghost in our lives” (David A. Bednar, “Receive the Holy Ghost,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 95, 97).

 

“We are commanded and instructed to so live that our fallen nature is changed through the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost. President Marion G. Romney taught that the baptism of fire by the Holy Ghost ‘converts [us] from carnality to spirituality. It cleanses, heals, and purifies the soul. … Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and water baptism are all preliminary and prerequisite to it, but [the baptism of fire] is the consummation. To receive [this baptism of fire] is to have one’s garments washed in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ’ (Learning for the Eternities, comp. George J. Romney [1977], 133; see also 3 Nephi 27:19–20).

“Hence, as we are born again and strive to always have His Spirit to be with us, the Holy Ghost sanctifies and refines our souls as if by fire (see 2 Nephi 31:13–14, 17). Ultimately, we are to stand spotless before God” (“Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 81).

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?

When That Day Shall Come That They Shall Believe in Christ…It Must Needs Be Expedient That They Should Believe These Things

Nephi prophesies that the Jewish people will be scattered through the centuries until the time comes that they begin to believe in Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement. Those who come to worship the Father in Christ’s name, with pure intent and good works, will believe the writings of the Nephite prophets (as found in the Book of Mormon).

“The Jews shall be scattered among all nations; yea, and also Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations. And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation, until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind—and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things.” (2 Nephi 25:15-16)

Questions:

-Why will it be “expedient” for the Jewish people who believe in Christ, and strive with sincerity to live righteously, to also believe in the writings of the Nephite prophets as found in the Book of Mormon?

-Did Nephi know that these Jewish people, as part of the house of Israel, would be naturally receptive to the spirit and message of Nephi’s and his descendants’ writings (which focus on Christ as the Savior)?

All Things Which Have Been Given of God from the Beginning of the World Are the Typifying of Christ

From the beginning, all things given by God to mankind have pointed to the Savior Jesus Christ. Nephi understood this and took great joy in teaching his people about the coming of Christ.

“…My soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.” (2 Nephi 11:4)

Questions:

-How many in the world were looking for a Messiah before the coming of Christ? Was it only the Jewish people? Or, did others have similar traditions?

Being Miserable Forever He Sought Also the Misery of All Mankind

Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, about the origins and motivations of the devil:

“…An angel of God…had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.” (2 Nephi 2:17-18)

-How much of the misery in the world has been promoted and sustained by Satan’s influence?

-Is physical misery or spiritual misery more potent and long lasting?

-How can misery by relieved by turning to, and choosing to follow, Jesus Christ?

-Who will triumph in the end? He who is seeking mankind’s bondage and misery? Or, the Savior, who is seeking mankind’s growth and joy?

The Lord God will Bring the House of Israel Out of Captivity, Obscurity, and Darkness

Nephi continues to teach his brothers about the meaning of a portion of Isaiah’s prophecies found in the Brass Plates (comparable to Isaiah chapters 48 and 49 in the Old Testament). In interpreting the words of Isaiah, he again touches on the work the Lord will do through and for the children of Israel in the last days.

“Wherefore, he will bring [the house of Israel] again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance; and they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.” (1 Nephi 22:12)

-Why did Jesus Christ focus his earthly ministry on the house of Israel? What is the principle by which He still focuses on, and operates through, the house of Israel to bless others throughout the world? How are the covenants He made to such men as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — who sought Him out and found Him thousands of years ago — tied to this principle of blessing the earth through the house of Israel?

-If someone who is of the house of Israel receives greater spiritual opportunities and does not magnify these opportunities to bless others, is his or her standing before God in greater peril compared with someone who never had such opportunities? Are those of the house of Israel held to a higher standard by God, given their calling to bless others though the blessings they have received? Will they either prosper greatly or be deeply confounded based on their decisions to either love God and keep His commandments or to reject Him and His counsel? Is there greater potential for wickedness and evil among those who are part of a covenant people and then fail to live by those covenants?

-Who in the world currently has a covenant relationship with God? How were those covenants established? Were they initiated directly and clearly by God? Or, was the source of the covenants of less distinct origin?  Does it matter, once true covenants are entered into with God, whether the person is a literal descendant of the Israelites or not?

-What kind of captivity, obscurity, and darkness will the Lord bring the house of Israel out of as Isaiah’s prophecies are fulfilled in our time?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

“The gathering of Israel consists in believing and accepting and living in harmony with all that the Lord once offered his ancient chosen people. … It consists of believing the gospel, joining the Church, and coming into the kingdom. … It may also consist of assembling to an appointed place or land of worship” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 515).