Tag Archives: bomtc

#BOMTC Jacob 2-4: A Return to Virtue–A Return to Christ

Today’s message from the Book of Mormon (Jacob 2-4) is a clarion call for a “RETURN TO VIRTUE“. What a timely message for our day! Virtue means “strength”, and because our strength lies in the Lord Jesus Christ a return to virtue is really a “RETURN TO CHRIST“!

A Return to Virtue – Elaine S. Dalton

In traditional Mandarin Chinese, the characters that make up the word virtue mean “moral steps”. For us to have moral steps, we must follow in the footsteps of the Savior. (For a great etymological breakdown and explanation of this character see http://zhongwen.com/d/188/x119.htm)

#BOMTC Day 21, April 27~Jacob 2-4 or Pages 121-126 (4)

From riches (Jacob 2:12) to pride (vv. 13-21) to immorality (vv. 23-35), Jacob exposes the gamut of sin his people are running, and leaves for us an inspired challenge to become “pure in heart” (Jacob 3:1-2) through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Jacob 4). A few highlight verses that help me to cope with these temptations in my life are the following:

  • But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. (Jacob 2:18)
  • For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women, And whoredoms are an abomination before me: thus saith the Lord of Hosts. (Jacob 2:28)
  • All ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever. (Jacob 3:2)

#BOMTC Day 21, April 27~Jacob 2-4 or Pages 121-126 (2)

President Harold B. Lee painted a vivid picture of the pain suffered through flirting with the forbidden, then succumbing to temptation:

“I’ve seen beautiful young human butterflies playing with the tempting fires of sin. …Many of these beautiful human butterflies winged for heavenly flight have fallen with wings singed and badly seared because of their curiosity about the forbidden. The more I see of life, the more I am convinced that we must impress you young people with the awfulness of sin rather than to content ourselves with merely teaching the way of repentance. I wish that someone could warn you of the night of hell that follows the committing of a moral sin … , as one who has sinned has described it in these words: ‘No one knew anything about it. You told no one, and no one found out, no one condemned. But your face flushed, your heart beat against your ribs. Perspiration broke out upon your brow. You went to bed that night, you tied a bandage around the eyes of your soul, you built a little shelter in which to hide, you tried to sleep, but no sleep came. You said to yourself, “Other people do it,” or “I had to do it,” or “No one else can ever find it out.” But there were hands from the unseen world that came through the darkness and tore the bandage from the eyes of the soul, and smashed down the little shelter you had made for your cowering spirit.’” (Youth and the Church, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1970, pp. 87–88. Emphasis added.) (Chastity: The Source of True Manhood)

#BOMTC Day 21, April 27~Jacob 2-4 or Pages 121-126 (3)

Elaine S. Dalton, a leader of the Young Women organization, urges young people to develop the strength that comes from living a virtuous life.

Interfaith youth speak candidly on why they have chosen to be sexually pure.

Latter-day Saint teens are counseled to stay sexually pure, but what exactly are the limits? Using teachings of modern prophets, this presentation shows why that’s the wrong question to ask.

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 32-Jacob 1: From Nephi to Jacob

These pages mark a major transition in the Book of Mormon. Nephi’s final words are found in 2 Nephi 32-33, and once again we find his great anxiety for our welfare and his pattern for plainness (2 Nephi 32:8; 33:3-9). His final words are an invitation to “hearken unto these words and believe in Christ” (2 Nephi 33:10-15). A more simple, yet perfectly suited ending could not have been better for Nephi’s writings:

“for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey” (2 Nephi 33:15).

No wonder Nephi’s name seems to spring from our lips so effortlessly when illustrating examples of obedience!

#BOMTC Day 20, April 26~2 Nephi 32-Jacob 1 or Pages 115-120 FEAST Upon the Words of Christ

Jacob inherits Nephi’s Small Plates and is given instruction on what should be recorded on them (Jacob 1:1-4). Jacob is not at all new to the Book of Mormon. In fact, much of 2 Nephi is actually Nephi recording Jacob’s teaching and preaching. Many of our favorite teachings from 2 Nephi came from Jacob (2 Nephi 9 is just one example). As Nephi dies, Jacob takes ecclesiastical responsibility for the Nephite society. Unfortunately, the Nephites are struggling with quite a few spiritual problems (Jacob 1:15-16).

Reminiscent of many prophets before, and others yet to come, Jacob uses the Temple as his stage for calling the people to repentance. Nephi’s “plainness” seems to have had an effect on Jacob’s preaching (Jacob 2:11). Jacob must now help the people overcome their love of riches (v. 12), their pride (vv. 13-21), and their immorality (vv. 23-35). It’s a tough job, but Jacob has been called of God and is capable of the task at hand (Jacob 1:17-19; 2:1-7)!

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 29-31: Dueling Doctrines

2 Nephi 28 exposes the “false and vain and foolish doctrines” of the devil (v.9). Pride seems to be the main reason for people embracing Satan’s system of justification (vv. 12,13,14,15). Unlike Nephi, whose main concern is to teach with such “plainness” that “no man can err” (2 Ne 25:7,20,28), Satan prefers the “precepts of men” which lead people to “err” (2 Ne 28:14). His tactics were also exposed in 2 Nephi 9:20-22. Perhaps some of these have even worked on you and me. Nephi is quick to warn us of accepting such tempting SIN-speration. Just take a look at the number of “wo’s” that are found in vv. 15-32. One way to define wo is “grief, sorrow, misery”. Not a very tempting doctrine in the end.

It's a-MAZE-ing how Satan can get us off of the Lord's simple gospel path.

It’s a-MAZE-ing how Satan can get us off of the Lord’s simple gospel path.

However, Satan is very persuasive, and if he can’t get you to accept his doctrine, then you will have to reject God’s doctrine. This seems to be the message of 2 Nephi 29. Instead of embracing the Book of Mormon as Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Satan is able to convince people that “there cannot be any more Bible”, nor is there need for more of God’s word (v. 3). In this chapter it is actually the Lord explaining to us that there is absolutely no way that this should be a reasonable thought (2 Nephi 28:30 is the transition from Nephi writing to the Lord speaking. Chapter 29 begins with the word “But”, and is a continuation of the Lord speaking.) The Lord runs through a series of questions to help us understand this (vv.  4-8). He then goes on to explain that there are other books that have been written by the lost tribes of Israel that will also be added to the records of the Jews and the Nephites (vv. 9-14. See also an object lesson about the gathering of Israel that uses the Bible and The Book of Mormon as an illustration in, Ezekiel 37:15-20). I think that God gets His point across quite well.

See "Why Do We Need the Book of Mormon", New Era, April 2013 and “The Book of Mormon—a Book from God,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2011, 75

See “Why We Need the Book of Mormon“, New Era, April 2013 and “The Book of Mormon—a Book from God,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 75

Elder L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, put it this way:

“Neither the Bible nor the Book of Mormon in and of themselves is sufficient. Both are necessary for us to teach and learn about the full and complete doctrine of Christ. The need for the other does not diminish either one of them. Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are necessary for our salvation and exaltation. As President Ezra Taft Benson so powerfully taught, ‘When used together, the Bible and the Book of Mormon confound false doctrines’ (“A New Witness for Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 8).” (“The Power of Deliverance“, Ensign, May 2012) See my another #BOMTC here for more on this.

In 2 Nephi 30 Nephi is speaking again and he will use the next two chapters to explain to us THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST (2 Nephi 31:2,21). Chapter 30 is Nephi’s argument for the Book of Mormon and its power to help gather both the Gentiles and the House of Israel.

Chapter 31 is an illustration of “the doctrine of Christ” (vv. 2,21), using Jesus as the example. However, it is not all Nephi. Both the Father and the Son are quoted in this chapter (vv. 11,12,15,20) as they testify of “the doctrine of Christ”. I will leave it to you to discover this doctrine and contrast it with the doctrine proposed by Satan in 2 Nephi 28. A good talk to go along with these chapters was given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “The Doctrine of Christ,” during the April 2012 Annual General Conference.

The Doctrine of Christ

In the Church today, just as anciently, establishing the doctrine of Christ or correcting doctrinal deviations is a matter of divine revelation.

We have seen of late a growing public interest in the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is something we welcome because, after all, our fundamental commission is to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, His doctrine, in all the world (see Matthew 28:19–20; D&C 112:28). But we must admit there has been and still persists some confusion about our doctrine and how it is established. That is the subject I wish to address today.

The Savior taught His doctrine in the meridian of time, and His Apostles struggled mightily to preserve it against a barrage of false tradition and philosophy. New Testament Epistles cite numerous incidents demonstrating that serious and widespread apostasy was already under way during the Apostles’ ministry.1

The centuries that followed were illuminated by occasional rays of gospel light until, in the 19th century, a brilliant dawn of Restoration broke upon the world, and the gospel of Christ, full and complete, was once again upon the earth. This glorious day began when, in “a pillar of light … above the brightness of the sun” (Joseph Smith—History 1:16), God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, visited young Joseph Smith and initiated what would become a virtual flood of revelation linked with divine power and authority.

In these revelations we find what might be termed the core doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ reestablished upon the earth. Jesus Himself defined that doctrine in these words recorded in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ:

“This is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

“And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

“And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

“… And whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. …

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them” (3 Nephi 11:32–35, 39).

This is our message, the rock upon which we build, the foundation of everything else in the Church. Like all that comes from God, this doctrine is pure, it is clear, it is easy to understand—even for a child. With glad hearts, we invite all to receive it.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “we believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9). This is to say that while there is much we do not yet know, the truths and doctrine we have received have come and will continue to come by divine revelation. In some faith traditions, theologians claim equal teaching authority with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and doctrinal matters may become a contest of opinions between them. Some rely on the ecumenical councils of the Middle Ages and their creeds. Others place primary emphasis on the reasoning of post-apostolic theologians or on biblical hermeneutics and exegesis. We value scholarship that enhances understanding, but in the Church today, just as anciently, establishing the doctrine of Christ or correcting doctrinal deviations is a matter of divine revelation to those the Lord endows with apostolic authority.2

In 1954, President J. Reuben Clark Jr., then a counselor in the First Presidency, explained how doctrine is promulgated in the Church and the preeminent role of the President of the Church. Speaking of members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he stated: “[We] should [bear] in mind that some of the General Authorities have had assigned to them a special calling; they possess a special gift; they are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators, which gives them a special spiritual endowment in connection with their teaching of the people. They have the right, the power, and authority to declare the mind and will of God to his people, subject to the over-all power and authority of the President of the Church. Others of the General Authorities are not given this special spiritual endowment and authority covering their teaching; they have a resulting limitation, and the resulting limitation upon their power and authority in teaching applies to every other officer and member of the Church, for none of them is spiritually endowed as a prophet, seer, and revelator. Furthermore, as just indicated, the President of the Church has a further and special spiritual endowment in this respect, for he is the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the whole Church.”3

How does the Savior reveal His will and doctrine to prophets, seers, and revelators? He may act by messenger or in His own person. He may speak by His own voice or by the voice of the Holy Spirit—a communication of Spirit to spirit that may be expressed in words or in feelings that convey understanding beyond words (see 1 Nephi 17:45; D&C 9:8). He may direct Himself to His servants individually or acting in council (see 3 Nephi 27:1–8).

I cite two illustrations from the New Testament. The first was a revelation directed to the head of the Church. Early in the book of Acts, we find the Apostles of Christ declaring the gospel message only to Jews, following the pattern of Jesus’s ministry (see Matthew 15:24), but now, in the Lord’s timetable, the time had come for a change. In Joppa, Peter had a dream in which he saw a variety of animals lowered to earth from heaven in “a great sheet knit at the four corners” (Acts 10:11) and was commanded to “kill, and eat” (Acts 10:13). Peter was reluctant since at least some of the animals were “unclean” under the law of Moses, and Peter had never violated the commandment against eating such. Nevertheless, the voice said to Peter in his dream, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 10:15).

The meaning of this dream became clear when soon afterward, several men sent from the Roman centurion Cornelius arrived at Peter’s lodging with a request that he come teach their master. Cornelius had gathered a sizable group of relatives and friends, and finding them expectantly waiting to receive his message, Peter said:

“God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. …

“… Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

“But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:28, 34–35; see also verses 17–24).

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

“And they [who accompanied Peter] were astonished … because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

“… Then answered Peter,

“Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:44–47).

By this experience and revelation to Peter, the Lord modified the practice of the Church and revealed a more complete doctrinal understanding to His disciples. And so the preaching of the gospel expanded to encompass all mankind.

Later in the book of Acts, we find another somewhat related illustration, this time showing how revelation on matters of doctrine may come in a council setting. A controversy arose about whether circumcision required under the law of Moses should carry over as a commandment in the gospel and Church of Christ (see Acts 15:1, 5). “And the apostles and elders came together for to consider … this matter” (Acts 15:6). Our record of this council is certainly incomplete, but we are told that after “much disputing” (Acts 15:7), Peter, the senior Apostle, rose up and declared what the Holy Spirit had confirmed to him. He reminded the council that when the gospel began to be preached to the uncircumcised Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, they received the Holy Ghost just as had the circumcised Jewish converts. God, he said, “put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:9–11; see also verse 8).

After Paul, Barnabas, and perhaps others spoke in support of Peter’s declaration, James moved that the decision be implemented by letter to the Church, and the council was united “with one accord” (Acts 15:25; see also verses 12–23). In the letter announcing their decision, the Apostles said, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us” (Acts 15:28), or in other words, this decision came by divine revelation through the Holy Spirit.

These same patterns are followed today in the restored Church of Jesus Christ. The President of the Church may announce or interpret doctrines based on revelation to him (see, for example, D&C 138). Doctrinal exposition may also come through the combined council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (see, for example, Official Declaration 2). Council deliberations will often include a weighing of canonized scriptures, the teachings of Church leaders, and past practice. But in the end, just as in the New Testament Church, the objective is not simply consensus among council members but revelation from God. It is a process involving both reason and faith for obtaining the mind and will of the Lord.4

At the same time it should be remembered that not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such.”5 President Clark, quoted earlier, observed:

“To this point runs a simple story my father told me as a boy, I do not know on what authority, but it illustrates the point. His story was that during the excitement incident to the coming of [Johnston’s] Army, Brother Brigham preached to the people in a morning meeting a sermon vibrant with defiance to the approaching army, and declaring an intention to oppose and drive them back. In the afternoon meeting he arose and said that Brigham Young had been talking in the morning, but the Lord was going to talk now. He then delivered an address, the tempo of which was the opposite from the morning talk. …

“… The Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, whether the brethren in voicing their views are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’; and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest.”6

The Prophet Joseph Smith confirmed the Savior’s central role in our doctrine in one definitive sentence: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”7 Joseph Smith’s testimony of Jesus is that He lives, “for [he] saw him, even on the right hand of God; and [he] heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father” (D&C 76:23; see also verse 22). I appeal to all who hear or read this message to seek through prayer and study of the scriptures that same witness of the divine character, the Atonement, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Accept His doctrine by repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then throughout your life following the laws and covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As our Easter celebration approaches, I express my own witness that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Son of God, the very Messiah of ancient prophecy. He is the Christ, who suffered in Gethsemane, died on the cross, was buried, and who indeed rose again the third day. He is the resurrected Lord, through whom we shall all be resurrected and by whom all who will may be redeemed and exalted in His heavenly kingdom. This is our doctrine, confirming all prior testaments of Jesus Christ and stated anew for our own time. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

REFERENCES:

  1. See Neal A. Maxwell, “From the Beginning,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 18–19:“James decried ‘wars and fightings among’ the Church (James 4:1). Paul lamented ‘divisions’ in the Church and how ‘grievous wolves’ would not spare ‘the flock’ (1 Cor. 11:18; Acts 20:29–31). He knew an apostasy was coming and wrote to the Thessalonians that Jesus’ second coming would not occur ‘except there come a falling away first’; further advising that ‘iniquity doth already work’ (2 Thes. 2:3, 7).“Near the end, Paul acknowledged how very extensive the falling away was: ‘All they which are in Asia be turned away from me’ (2 Tim. 1:15). …“Widespread fornication and idolatry brought apostolic alarm (see 1 Cor. 5:9; Eph. 5:3; Jude 1:7). John and Paul both bemoaned the rise of false Apostles (see 2 Cor. 11:13; Rev. 2:2). The Church was clearly under siege. Some not only fell away but then openly opposed. In one circumstance, Paul stood alone and lamented that ‘all men forsook me’ (2 Tim. 4:16). He also decried those who ‘subvert[ed] whole houses’ (Titus 1:11).“Some local leaders rebelled, as when one, who loved his preeminence, refused to receive the brethren (see 3 Jn. 1:9–10).“No wonder President Brigham Young observed: ‘It is said the Priesthood was taken from the Church, but it is not so, the Church went from the Priesthood’ (in Journal of Discourses, 12:69).”In the course of time, as Elder Maxwell expressed it, “reason, the Greek philosophical tradition, dominated, then supplanted, reliance on revelation, an outcome probably hastened by well-intentioned Christians wishing to bring their beliefs into the mainstream of contemporary culture. …“… Let us [too] be wary about accommodating revealed theology to conventional wisdom” (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 19–20).

  2. Apostles and prophets such as Joseph Smith declare God’s word, but in addition, we believe men and women generally and even children can learn from and be guided by divine inspiration in response to prayer and study of the scriptures. Just as in the days of the ancient Apostles, members of the Church of Jesus Christ are given the gift of the Holy Ghost, which facilitates an ongoing communication with their Heavenly Father, or, in other words, personal revelation (see Acts 2:37–38). In this way, the Church becomes a body of committed, spiritually mature individuals whose faith is not blind but seeing—informed and confirmed by the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that every member speaks for the Church or can define its doctrines but that each can receive divine guidance in dealing with the challenges and opportunities of his or her life.

  3. J. Reuben Clark Jr., “When Are Church Leaders’ Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?”Church News, July 31, 1954, 9–10; see also Doctrine and Covenants 28:1–2, 6–7, 11–13.

  4. The required preparation and qualifications for council participants are “righteousness, … holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, … faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity;“Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:30–31).

  5. Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 5:265.

  6. J. Reuben Clark Jr., “Church Leaders’ Words,” 10. Of the story his father told him about Brigham Young, President Clark further wrote:“I do not know if this ever happened, but I say it illustrates a principle—that even the President of the Church, himself, may not always be ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost,’ when he addresses the people. This has happened about matters of doctrine (usually of a highly speculative character) where subsequent Presidents of the Church and the peoples themselves have felt that in declaring the doctrine, the announcer was not ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’“How shall the Church know when these adventurous expeditions of the brethren into these highly speculative principles and doctrines meet the requirements of the statutes that the announcers thereof have been ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’? The Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, whether the brethren in voicing their views are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’; and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest” (“Church Leaders’ Words,” 10).

  7. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 49.

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 27-28: A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

Although in these pages Nephi is not exactly “quoting” and likening Isaiah in the same way that he did before (2 Nephi 12-24), he is relying on the teachings of Isaiah heavily to teach about the coming forth of his writings (2 Nephi 26:15; 27:6-22) and the Restoration of Christ’s Kingdom on the earth (2 Nephi 27:24-26).

Martin Harris visits Charles Anthon

Martin Harris visits Charles Anthon (Isaiah 29. Compare 2 Nephi 27)

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

The Book of Mormon was the forerunner to the Restoration. It was during the translation process that Joseph and Oliver received the Priesthood and 12 major revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants. The Book of Mormon also served as the first administrative handbook for the restored Church of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon is not only inspired writing that must be studied by the Spirit of Inspiration, but it is also a catalyst for inspiration. As I read the Book of Mormon I am constantly inspired by not just the words that I read, but more particularly by the Spirit that is invited to accompany me and teach me.

#BOMTC Day 18, April 24~2 Nephi 27-28 or Pages 103-108 (3)

On one occasion, as Joseph Smith taught the Brethren, he stated that the Book of Mormon is “the keystone of our religion”. A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles. Just as a keystone holds an arch in place, knowing that the Book of Mormon is true holds together the house of faith built on the sturdy foundation of apostles, prophets, and the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, one cannot fully accept the Book of Mormon without also accepting the means by which it came forth—the Prophet Joseph Smith.

#BOMTC Day 18, April 24~2 Nephi 27-28 or Pages 103-108 Joseph Smith Translating the Book of Mormon Plates
President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony” (CR, Oct. 1986, 4–5; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5–6).

I have found the Book of Mormon keystone to be TRUE and FAITH-FILLED, and I am eternally grateful for that witness!

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 25-26: Importance of Plainness

#BOMTC Isaiah Survivor Award!

Post it proudly to your social media once you finish 2 Nephi 24

#BOMTC Isaiah Survivor Award! Post it proudly to your social media once you finish 2 Nephi 24.

I love studying 2 Nephi 25 for many different reasons. Some of my favorite verses are vv. 23, 26, 29. Some of my favorite things taught are: (1) keys to understanding Isaiah, (2) the importance of Isaiah’s writings, (3) the gathering of Israel, and (4) Nephi’s testimony of Jesus Christ’s ministry and mission.

#BOMTC Day 17, April 23~2 Nephi 25-26 or Pages 97-102 Nephi's Keys to Understanding Isaiah

Click on the graphic to read an article by John Bytheway about Nephi’s Keys to Understanding the Isaiah Chapters.

What really stands out to me is Nephi’s sincere desire to be so PLAIN that “no man can err” (vv. 7,20,28). This seems to be the pattern that Nephi has adopted from The Master Teacher. It reminds me of a quote by President Harold B. Lee:

You’re to teach the old doctrines, not so plainly that they can just understand, but you must teach the doctrines of the Church so plainly that no one can misunderstand” (“Loyalty,” in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. [1982], 64)

That is what I truly love about Nephi’s writings. His “plainness” allows him to testify and teach so powerfully of Jesus Christ. He also gives commentary on Isaiah’s writings to help them to be more “plain” to us so that “no man can err”. My testimony is strengthened in the Savior every time I read the writings of Nephi. THANK YOU, NEPHI!

A friend once asked me a question about something found in 2 Nephi 25:23. He was wondering about the meaning of the phrase, “after all we can do,” and how it relates to God’s saving grace referenced in that passage.

2 Nephi 25:23, Saved by Grace

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)

Now, I have heard a lot of ideas and read a lot of commentary about this passage from both anti-Mormon and faithful-Mormon sources. However, for me the key to understanding this verse is to simply study it in context of the verses surrounding it. Too many times we encounter problems with a scripture because we begin to isolate it from the rest of the text and it loses the original intent of the author. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught repeatedly that the best commentary written for understanding the scriptures IS the scriptures.

One of the things that I would invite you to do is to reread 2 Nephi 25:23 in the context of verses 16-30. Now, when you study these 14 verses surrounding verse 23, you may want to mark and note the number of times that Christ is referred to by name. I would encourage you to do this before reading any more of my post. Go ahead, the my post will still be here…

Word Cloud of 2 Nephi 25:16-30

Word Cloud of 2 Nephi 25:16-30

Now that you have seen what Nephi’s real focus is–CHRIST–reread verses 23-30 again and see what Nephi is really teaching us in these verses.

Continue reading below once you are ready…

2 Nephi 25:26, Christ in the Book of Mormon

2 Nephi 25:26, Christ in the Book of Mormon (Credit: Book of Mormon Central)

 

One way that I have tried to help people to understand this verse in context is to simply change the order in which the phrase, “after all we can do” is read.

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that after all we can do, it is by grace that we are saved.

Nephi is clear that it is by the grace of God and His Son that we are saved. His personal illustration is his observance of the Law of Moses. Everything that Nephi did and taught his people to do concerning the Law of Moses was to help them come unto Christ and be “alive” in Him, even though the Law of Moses was “dead” to them (see 2 Nephi 25:25-27).

2 Nephi 25:26

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26)

 gave a wonderful talk in general conference entitled, “The Gift of Grace”. I would invite you to read, watch, or listen to the entire talk. If you are strapped for time, at least read this brief expert from his talk:

“The Gift of Grace,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

All We Can Do

The prophet Nephi made an important contribution to our understanding of God’s grace when he declared, “We labor diligently … to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.31

However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that “after” does not equal “because.”

We are not saved “because” of all that we can do. Have any of us done all that we can do? Does God wait until we’ve expended every effort before He will intervene in our lives with His saving grace?

Many people feel discouraged because they constantly fall short. They know firsthand that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”32 They raise their voices with Nephi in proclaiming, “My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.”33

I am certain Nephi knew that the Savior’s grace allows and enables us to overcome sin.34 This is why Nephi labored so diligently to persuade his children and brethren“to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God.”35

After all, that is what we can do! And that is our task in mortality! (Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk.)

Grace is a gift from God that we did not earn and that we cannot lose. It is a gift that each of us must choose to accept and use on a daily basis (see Ephesians 2:8).

Dear brothers and sisters, living the gospel faithfully is not a burden. It is a joyful rehearsal—a preparation for inheriting the grand glory of the eternities. We seek to obey our Heavenly Father because our spirits will become more attuned to spiritual things. Vistas are opened that we never knew existed. Enlightenment and understanding come to us when we do the will of the Father.

Grace is a gift of God, and our desire to be obedient to each of God’s commandments is the reaching out of our mortal hand to receive this sacred gift from our Heavenly Father. (Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk.)

“His Grace Is Sufficient,” by Brad Wilcox

!BOMTC Day 17, April 23~2 Nephi 25-26 or Pages 97-102 His Grace is Sufficient

 YouTube Playlist: His Grace

“The Atonement: ‘After All We Can Do’,” by Brad Wilcox

Articles of interest related to this post: 

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 20-24: Be Aware and Beware of Pr-I-de

In these pages we see the destruction of the wicked nations of Assyria and Babylon as types and shadows of the destruction that will befall the worldly preceding the Millennial reign of the Messiah. What seems to lead to the imminent destruction of the wicked is illustrated quite well in 2 Nephi 24:12-17. You will notice that phrase, “I will,” repeated over and over with reference to Lucifer. This directly contrasts the Savior’s, “Thy will,” statement that represents His entire existence.

#BOMTC Day 16, April 22~2 Nephi 20-24 or Pages 91-96 My Way VS God's Way

Pride is an “I” problem! (“I will…”). This is easy to remember because “I” is at the center of pr-I-de.  In his Book, “How To Win Friends And Influence People”, Dale Carnegie writes “The New York Telephone Company made a detailed study of telephone conversations to find out which word is the most frequently used. You have guessed it: it is the personal pronoun ‘I.’… It was used 3,900 times in 500 telephone conversations. ‘I.’ ‘I.’ ‘I.’ When you see a group photograph that you are in, whose picture do you look for first?

#BOMTC Day 16, April 22~2 Nephi 20-24 or Pages 91-96 prIde

In General Conference President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Past generations had their struggle with variations of egotism and narcissism, but I think today we are giving them serious competition. Is it any coincidence that the Oxford Dictionary recently proclaimed “selfie” as the word of the year?

#BOMTC Day 16, April 22~2 Nephi 20-24 or Pages 91-96 Selfie

These Isaiah chapters that Nephi quotes seem to be teaching us that we need to eliminate unrighteous pr-I-de in our life. If we do we can enjoy an incredible Millennial experience with the Savior, Jesus Christ! As President Ezra Taft Benson pleaded with the Saints, “BEWARE OF PR-I-DE!

#BOMTC Day 16, April 22~2 Nephi 20-24 or Pages 91-96 Beware of Pride

Pride Simulation Center

A father takes his family to a futuristic center to learn about pride. Through a simulated experience, two young people discover aspects of pride in their own lives. Segment 1, Pride Simulation Center.

Steve’s Pride Simulation

Conclusion of Pride Simulation

#BOMTC Isaiah Survivor Award!

Post it proudly to your social media once you finish 2 Nephi 24

#BOMTC Isaiah Survivor Award! Post it proudly to your social media once you finish 2 Nephi 24.

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 15-19: “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still”

In today’s chapters Nephi continues to quote from the Prophet Isaiah (2 Nephi 15-20). One footnote of interest prior to this reading is found in 2 Nephi 12:2, footnote a, “Comparison with the King James Bible in English shows that there are differences in more than half of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, while about 200 verses have the same working as the KJV.” An example of how this comparison is helpful is found in 2 Nephi 12:16, footnote a, “The Greek (Septuaging) has ‘ships of the sea.’ The Hebrew has ‘ships of Tarshish.’ The Book of Mormon has both, showing that the Brass Plates had lost neither phrase” (see, “Upon All the Ships of the Sea, and Upon All the Ships of Tarshish”: Revisiting 2 Nephi 12:16 and Isaiah 2:16 for an insightful article on this verse).

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 (3)

One thing that has always stood out to me in these pages is the phrase, “but his hand is stretched out still”. It follows the very threatening phrase, “his anger is not turned away” (2 Nephi 15:25; 19:12,17,21; 20:4). So is it a good thing or a bad thing that “his hand is stretched out still”? Well, I guess it depends on what you decide to do when God stretches His hand out (For a great article on this thought see, “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still”: The Lord’s Eternal Covenant of Mercy).

Isaiah may have intended more than one meaning with the phrase “his hand is stretched out still,” because the Lord’s hand can be extended for both justice and mercy. One meaning may be that because the people of Isaiah’s time did not turn away from sin (see Isaiah 9:13–16), they would experience the Lord’s hand in the form of destruction. But Isaiah may have also been teaching that the Lord still offered hope for eventual mercy if the people would repent. How can both images of the Lord’s hand stretched out—one threatening justice and the other offering mercy—help us decide to repent and come unto Him?

The following chart comes from the Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2014:

“The phrase ‘his hand is stretched out still’ can represent both the justice and mercy of God—justice (destruction and punishment) for the wicked and mercy for the repentant if they will turn to God. From the context of the surrounding verses, the reader can often determine which meaning was intended by the scripture author.”

PASSAGES WITH “HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL” THAT LIKELY REFER TO GOD’S JUSTICE:

PASSAGES WITH “HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL” THAT LIKELY REFER TO GOD’S MERCY:

Isaiah 5:25 (2 Nephi 15:25)

Isaiah 9:12,* 17, 21 (2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21)

Isaiah 10:4 (2 Nephi 20:4)

Isaiah 10:13–14 (2 Nephi 20:13–14)

Isaiah 14:26–27 (2 Nephi 24:26–27)

Isaiah 23:11

Exodus 6:6

Deuteronomy 5:15

Deuteronomy 7:19

Psalm 136:10–14

Jeremiah 32:21

Ezekiel 20:33–34

2 Nephi 28:32

Jacob 5:47

Jacob 6:4–5

Alma 5:33–34

Alma 19:36

3 Nephi 9:14

Mormon 6:17

D&C 136:22

* Isaiah 9:12, footnote d, indicates that the phrase in this verse can refer to both justice and mercy.

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus with Outstretched Arms

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us of the merciful aspect of this imagery:

“To all of you who think you are lost or without hope, or who think you have done too much that was too wrong for too long, to every one of you who worry that you are stranded … , this conference calls out Jehovah’s unrelenting refrain, ‘[My] hand is stretched out still’ [Isaiah 5:25; 9:17, 21]. ‘I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them,’ He said, ‘[and even if they] deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, … if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts’ [2 Nephi 28:32]. His mercy endureth forever, and His hand is stretched out still. His is the pure love of Christ, the charity that never faileth, that compassion which endures even when all other strength disappears [see Moroni 7:46–47].

“I testify of this reaching, rescuing, merciful Jesus, that this is His redeeming Church based on His redeeming love” (“Prophets in the Land Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006).

One way to understand and apply Isaiah’s writings is to consider his possible use of Hypostasis. Have you ever heard of hypostasis? Hypostasis is a technique that is used frequently in the scriptures. This technique uses a part of the corporeal nature of God to represent God as a whole. An example of this is when the scriptures say something to the effect of “the voice of the Lord”, “the face of God”, “the arm of the Lord”. These “parts” of God are used to imply that God himself–whole and complete–was actually present. So, if “his hand is stretched out still”, then the implication is that HE is still near. So, how are you going to react to His hand?

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus with Outstretched Hand

What I am referring to can be illustrated in Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life. The Rod of Iron is usually thought of and portrayed in visuals as something akin to a guardrail. However, Lehi, Nephi, and Isaiah NEVER use the word rod in this way (see 2 Nephi 20:5, 15, 24, 26, for example). They always use the word rod to talk about something that is held in the hand and stretched out (with the exception of 2 Nephi 21:1, 4; Isaiah 11:4, although these work too). What does this change about how you picture, or think, of the “rod” that is coming from the Tree of Life”? If the Tree of Life typifies Christ (see my SNellFour post), then what is the Tree of Life holding out to all? Is His hand “stretched out still”? How one reacts to His outstretch hand makes all the difference.

Just as it was significant as to how the people reacted to the “rod” in the vision of the Tree of Life, it will depend on how we react when His hand/presence is “stretched out still”. If His hand is stretched out, then we must do as Isaiah admonishes:

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus Hugging a Girl

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