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)
-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?
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)
-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?
The Book of Mormon testifies that the Lord is actively overseeing His creation and always reaching out to His children on earth to encourage good choices (righteous living in obedience to His commandments). God perceives all that is real and true and guides His children on earth accordingly through His Spirit, his prophets, the scriptures, and other means. In the verses below, the prophet Nephi sees the state of those who reject the Lord’s prophets and His Spirit in the last days.
“…All ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea ye shall be drunken but not with wine, ye shall stagger but not with strong drink. For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, you have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.” (2 Nephi 27:4-5)
-How is the impaired state that comes with being drunk, similar to the spiritual state of those who have cut themselves off from the ultimate light and truth only God can offer?
-How many throughout the world are staggering under the influence of belief systems that are not based on the deepest realities?
-Are some of the most common belief systems (that are not based on God’s revelations to mankind) actually a deep spiritual sleep?
-Are there prophets and seers on the earth today? If so, what are their claims to having authority from God to share His word?
-Are we in as much need of a prophet today as in the times of the Bible? Are our issues and problems more complex or less complex than in past ages?
Jacob provides keys to true joy.
“…Remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice.” (2 Nephi 9:52)
-Can prayer establish a connection with God and, thereby, help a person live in the joy and peace of His Spirit?
-Does the joy and peace that comes from the Spirit testify of God’s power to lift and save one’s soul?
-Does having that testimony from the Spirit help one to exercise faith in Jesus Christ day by day?
-In light of the above questions, how are prayer and gratitude related to both joy in this life and salvation in the eternities?
-What is keeping your heart from rejoicing?
-Is it freeing to know that according to God’s word we should let our hearts rejoice in the beautiful hope and truth of which the Spirit testifies?
Jacob realizes his teachings about…
…are going to be hard for some to hear.
This being the case, he pleads with those who hear these messages not to rebel against the truth but to reconcile themselves with God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“…Give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if you do ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken. O then my beloved [brothers and sisters] come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” (2 Nephi 9:40-41)
-How easy is it for most people to perceive and accept the greatness God, and His righteous standards, in relation to their shortcomings and sins?
-Do many feel it is easier to avoid facing the unclean aspects of their lives in relation to God than it is to square up to the truth of the situation and ask God for help to become clean through His power?
-Are many of the ideas and philosophies of the world popular because they help people avoid facing God and the uncomfortable aspects of seeking forgiveness?
-Is being willing to face one’s uncleanness, and work with God to remedy the situation, one of the main aspects of what Jacob calls righteousness? Would a person who continually strives to recognize their weaknesses, and do this work of repentance, be prone to judge others harshly who have similar mortal frailties? Is it impossible to be righteous and self-righteous at the same time?
-Will anyone be able to hide from the reality of his or her relationship with God at the time of the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment?
While teaching his son, Jacob, Lehi addresses an important connection between the Atonement and the Final Judgment.
“…Because of the [Holy Messiah’s] intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him.”
-How much more meaningful is a belief in a Day of Judgment if it is coupled with the concept that we lived with God before our mortal lives and, in that premortal realm, agreed to come to earth to be tested?
-Would it be possible for anyone to return to God’s presence without Christ’s intercession?
Lehi continues to teach his son, Jacob, about Christ’s Atonement and all of mankind’s need for it:
“…Men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.” (2 Nephi 2:5-6)
-Is there a God-given conscience that all have to some degree?
-How is the light of Christ tied to conscience?
-What is the law that cuts all men off from God (because they fail to follow it perfectly)?
-What is the distinction Lehi is making between the temporal law and the spiritual law?
-Is there any way to be reconciled to the law, and return to God, other than through the redemption that Jesus Christ offers?
When Nephi teaches his older brothers about the justice of God, they are offended. Because of the way they had lived their lives up to that point, it appears their consciences were troubled by what Nephi — in the power of the Spirit — had to say about the fate of the wicked. In teaching his brothers about why they were offended, Nephi expresses a general truth about how the guilty respond when reminded of the precarious spiritual state they are in:
“…After I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear. And…I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth…and the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center. And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.” (1 Nephi 16:1-3)
-Is it possible for a person to be wicked (in the way Nephi uses the word above) if that person doesn’t know what God expects of them? Did Laman and Lemuel — Nephi’s two older brothers – know what God expected of them? Had their father taught them well (see 1 Nephi 1:1)? Had they seen an angel of God (see 1 Nephi 3:28-29)?
-If you believe in God, do you know what He expects of you? Would a just God ever reject those who did not have the opportunity to learn what He expects from them? Are the eternal stakes higher when we do know what God expects of us? Is it valuable to always be striving to learn more about what God expects of us?
-Does everyone have some sense of what is right and wrong by God’s true and perfect standard? Is Western culture, in general, currently open to the idea of there being a perfect standard of right and wrong — upheld by a perfect God – by which all will be judged? How likely will those who are not open to this perfect standard be to seek mercy through Jesus Christ’s Atonement?