Tag Archives: faith

#BOMTC Jacob 6-Enos: Faith-Shakers VS Faith-Makers

BEWARE OF FAITH-SHAKERS! Faith-shakers take on many forms. In today’s reading Sherem is the personification of a faith-shaker. Jacob describes meeting the faith-shaker Sherem with these words:

“and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me… And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken(Jacob 7:3, 5, emphasis added)

Jacob 7:2 teaches us that faith-shakers attack Christ and His true doctrine. Faith-shakers are antichrists.

An antichrist is an opponent of Christ; he is one who is in opposition to the true gospel, the true Church, and the true plan of salvation. (1 John 2:19; 4:4-6) He is one who offers salvation to men on some other terms than those laid down by Christ. Sherem (Jacob 7:1-23), Nehor (Alma 1:2-16), and Korihor (Alma 30:6-60) were antichrists who spread their delusions among the Nephites.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.39)

We may have people in our lives that are faith-shakers, like Sherem, but I find that the more common and subtle faith-shakers that Christ’s disciples face today are FALSE DOCTRINE faith-shakers. Sure, a person can preach false doctrine, but it can also come from many other sources.

CAUTIONARY PUN: Satan has all kinds of faith-shaking doctrines, and he is always looking for someone to “Sherem” 🙂

HOW Can False Doctrine Be a Faith-Shaker? President Boyd K. Packer, past President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught that:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior” (Ensign, Nov. 1986).

Therefore, believing false doctrines will change one’s attitude and behavior as well.

False doctrine is a great faith-shaker! What are some sources of modern-day false-doctrine faith-shakers? Media, philosophies of man, environments, governments, etc. can all be faith-shakers. What false doctrines do they preach?  They speak of coincidental creation, overpopulation, redefining family and marriage, abortion, etc.

Robert L. Millet, a professor at BYU, put it this way:

I thought back on a few of the antichrists in the Book of Mormon–of Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor–and reconsidered their doctrine, their approach, their success, and their demise. I then broadened my scope a bit and realized that evil attitudes, as well as perverse teachings and false systems of salvation, also qualify as enemies of Christ. Such teachings as ‘We have not [prayed about this], for the Lord maketh no such things known unto us’; ‘All is well in Zion’; ‘Eat, drink, and be merry’; ‘Dig a pit for thy neighbor’; ‘We have received and we need no more’; ‘There is no devil; ‘Ye cannot know what ye cannot see’; ‘Do this or do that and it mattereth not,’ and myriads of others–these symbolize the slogans of an antigospel.” (Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth, p.68)

HOW Do Faith-Shakers Preach? Antifreeze is probably a good object-lesson to illustrate an answer this question (see Alma 30:53). Antifreeze is very toxic, but animals are attracted to its sweet taste–they temporarily find pleasure in that which kills them!

Jacob 7:2-7 helps us to identify some of Sherem’s faith-shaker tactics. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time” (CR, Apr. 1975, 94–95).

HOW do I LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE to Faith-Makers? Most of us have not experienced the great manifestations that Jacob did which helped him to “not be shaken” in the faith (see Jacob 7:5), so how can we “not be shaken”? Jacob 7:10-12 identifies three things that every disciple of Jesus Christ has been given to help them “not be shaken” in the faith. President Benson identified them during a talk in general conference:

May I suggest three short tests to avoid being deceived. . . .1. What do the standard works [scriptures] have to say about it? . . . 2. The second guide is: what do the latter-day Presidents of the Church have to say on the subject—particularly the living President . . . 3. The third and final test is the Holy Ghost. . . . This test can only be fully effective if one’s channels of communication with God are clean and virtuous and uncluttered with sin.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 16-17. Emphasis added.)

Jacob 4:6, 8, 13,16 and 2 Nephi 9:40 all contain valuable insights that will help us to LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE to Faith-Makers and become unshakable, like Jacob!

CLEAVE TO TRUE DOCTRINE! There are a few questions that one can ask to evaluate a doctrine that is being presented and discern if it is a faith-shaker or a faith-maker. Faith-maker doctrines receive a YES to each of the following questions:

  1. Is the doctrine clearly expressed in the standard works of the Church?
  2. Is the doctrine found within the official declarations, proclamations, or statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles?
  3. Is the doctrine clearly taught or discussed by current general Church leaders in general conference or other official gatherings of the Church?
  4. Is the doctrine found in the general handbooks or the presently approved curriculum of the Church? (Source: Sunday School: Spring 2005 President’s Message)

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

There is not anything in this world of as great importance to us as obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us search these scriptures. Let us know what the Lord has revealed. Let us put our lives in harmony with his truth. Then we will not be deceived” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:301).

Jacob 7:23 shows how this principle affected the Nephites after Sherem was revealed as a faith-shaker.

The late Robert J. Matthews, a well-respected Latter-day Saint scholar, wrote:

“The Book of Mormon was written specifically and pointedly for our time. The principles needed for salvation anciently are the same principles needed now. Likewise, the way of apostasy in ancient times is a pattern of apostasy in our day. The Book of Mormon shows how apostasies occur, and the terrible effects that apostasy has in the lives of individuals as well as in groups such as political governments and churches. Men such as Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor are notable examples of individual apostates in the Book of Mormon, and it clearly demonstrates their pride and sophistry. These were intellectual giants, but they were spiritually undeveloped and each fell victim to the cunning of the devil, who captured them with an appeal to their carnal and natural desires.” (Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series , p.359)

CLEAVE TO YOUR COVENANTS! During a very difficult time for the early Latter-day Saints, the Lord gave Emma Smith the following counsel:

“Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” (D&C 25:13)

#BOMTC Day 23, April 29~Jacob 6-Enos or Pages 133-138 (2)

Interestingly, Jacob’s Faith-Shaker VS. Faith-Maker account with Sherem is followed by the faith-making experience of Jacob’s son, Enos. Enos is a pattern for becoming a Faith-Maker (Enos 1:8, 11). A close examination of his experience provides an excellent illustration of the effort required to become an unshakable Faith-Maker.

After Enos receives a witness for himself of Jesus Christ, he begins the faith-making process of seeking the welfare of others (Enos 1:8-16). As you continue to look for examples of Faith-Shakers and Faith-Makers during your study the Book of Mormon, identify the things that you can do to become a Faith-Maker and avoid Faith-Shakers.

Want to learn more about these chapters? Check out these links…

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#BOMTC Jacob 5: God Wants Good Fruit from “OLIVE” Us!

To understand Jacob 5, one must begin at the end of Jacob 4. In Jacob 4 the prophet Jacob had asked us to consider how the Jews could ever build on the “sure foundation” of Jesus Christ after they rejected Him (v. 17). To answer this question Jacob quotes the teachings of the prophet Zenos.

Zenos’ allegory of the olive tree teaches us about the Lord’s purposes in the scattering and gathering of the house of Israel. Interestingly, the olive tree tends to be God’s great object lesson when referring to the scattering, gathering, and salvation of His children (see my #BOMTC 1 Nephi 16 post for more on this). Chapter 6 then contains Jacob’s commentary on the major points of Zenos’ allegory, and Jacob emphasized the Lord’s mercy and justice while encouraging his people—and us—to repent.

Olive Tree Alegory chart

Click here for a graphical explanation of the allegory of the olive tree

Interestingly, the scattering of “the branches of Israel” all over the world is a blessing to both Israel and to the Gentiles. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained:

“In general, the Lord sends to earth in the lineage of Jacob [Israel] those spirits who in pre-existence developed an especial talent for spirituality and for recognizing truth. Those born in this lineage, having the blood of Israel in their veins and finding it easy to accept the gospel, are said to have believing blood” (Mormon Doctrine, 81).

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32

“What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41, 47, 49) “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree” (Jacob 5:7, 11, 32, 46, 51, 66)

As scattered Israel mixed with the Gentiles around them, the blood of Israel was spread even further. Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, commented:

“The scattering of Israel throughout the world sprinkled the blood that believes, so that many nations may now partake of the gospel plan” (Ensign, Nov. 1982.).

Jacob 5 as a word cloud

Jacob 5 as a word cloud

What really stands out to me in these pages is how much the Lord loves “OLIVE” His children, and how much He desires “OLIVE” us to produce “good fruit” (good works).

“Good fruit” is referred to 7 times, and “fruit” 67 times. Sometimes I copy the text of a chapter or talk and create a word cloud to help me identify literary elements like the intent of the writer. You can see by the word cloud above that “fruit” (our part) is definitely a dominant theme in this message. If I were to LIKEN this allegory to us, I would say, “God loves ‘OLIVE’ us, and He will do whatever is necessary to help our lives to be as ‘fruitful’ as possible!”

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32 (3)

God does indeed love “OLIVE” us, and wants “OLIVE” us to live “good fruit”-ful lives!

What are your thoughts on this awesome allegory?

The Olive Tree Allegory

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SEGMENTS 1-5 OF THIS VIDEO

 A LIKENING: The Currant Bush and the Will of God

God uses love-inspired correction to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us.

Want to learn more? Check this out:

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 3-5: Defining Moments

These pages begin with the conclusion of the final blessings of Lehi upon his posterity. As he addresses his youngest son, Joseph, we learn a great deal about how great of a Seer Joseph of Egypt, the son of the patriarch-prophet Jacob, from the Genesis account, really was (see 2 Nephi 3:5-24; 4:1). Lehi uses the prophecy of Joseph of Egypt to explain the blessings that Joseph, Lehi’s son, will enjoy. This is in consequence of the covenant that God made with Joseph of Egypt, because Lehi’s family is from the lineage of Joseph of Egypt. This is a “defining moment” for Joseph, the son of Lehi. If he chooses to live the covenants that his forebearers have made he will receive great and eternal blessings.

#BOMTC Day 11, April 17~2 Nephi 3-5 or Pages 61-66 (1) Defining Moments

Lehi also leaves his blessings upon the children of Laman and Lemuel (his grandchildren) from which we can glean important insights about the responsibility that parents have to bring up their children in the ways of the Lord (see 2 Nephi 4:3-9). This is a “defining moment” for Laman and Lemuel as patriarchs in their homes. President Thomas S. Monson is fond of teaching the time-tested truth that, “Decisions determine destiny.” Laman and Lemuel are the perfect examples to illustrate the negative aspect of this truth.

Decisions determine destiny ~ President Thomas S. Monson

“Sure and steady Sam” is then blessed with a simple and profound blessing (see 2 Nephi 4:11). Good old Sam has always been right there with Nephi, and he will receive the same blessings because of his obedience and faithfulness to God. Once father Lehi has died, Sam will have to decide who will become his “patriarchal figure”. This is a “defining moment” for Sam.

#BOMTC Day 11, April 17~2 Nephi 3-5 or Pages 61-66 (1) Decisions Do Determine Destiny President Thomas S. Monson

Decisions do determine destiny ~ President Thomas S. Monson

We now reach a very tender moment—Nephi’s “defining moment“. When Lehi dies Nephi exposes his soul to us. Unlike the murmuring account of the children of Ishmael when their father died, we find Nephi, as a son of God, turning to his Heavenly Father when his earthly father passes (see 2 Nephi 4:12-35).

Not only are Nephi’s words in this account illustrative of his “defining moment”, but he is literally “defining” himself to us. He shows us the Nephi that we could never imagine (see 2 Nephi 4:17-19), and yet at the same time he shows us a new and improved Nephi (see 2 Nephi 4:28-35).

The following video is one of my favorite songs. It is a musical rendition of Nephi’s feelings in 2 Nephi 4. In this video the BYU Singers perform Ronald Staheli’s arrangement of “I Love the Lord,” composed by Jean Sibelius with lyrics by John Tanner drawn from 2 Nephi 4. (Your day will be a little better if you take a moment and listen to it!)

In stark contrast to this tender account, 2 Nephi 5 marks a “defining moment” in the Book of Mormon story-line. God’s pattern will be repeated once again—the righteous must flee the wicked (see 2 Nephi 5:3-9). Just as Lehi had to leave his home at Jerusalem, Nephi and the other faithful family members must leave their first home in the Promised Land and establish a new home. With this new start Nephi states, “…we lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). An examination of verses 10-18 of chapter 5 gives us clues to how we too can live after “the manner of happiness”.

#BOMTC Day 11, April 17~2 Nephi 3-5 or Pages 61-66 (1) Defining Moments (2)

Additionally, chapter 5 also gives us clues about how “defining moments” can bring the cursing of God upon us (see 2 Nephi 5:2-3, 20-24).

Indeed, “The word of the Lord was fulfilled” (2 Nephi 5:20), just as Lehi, Joseph of Egypt, Zenos, Isaiah, and other Seers had prophesied. These “defining moments” led to two nations residing in the Promised Land—one in opposition to the other… only one will survive. This is the story of the Book of Mormon.

What will you do with your “DEFINING MOMENTS“?

You may enjoy reading more about these chapters at the following links:

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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 14-15: “Plain and Precious Things”

Some people may ask you why we need the Book of Mormon when we already have the Bible. In fact, Jesus Christ even testified that this would happen (see 2 Nephi 29:3). There are many reasons why the Book of Mormon is important in our day (for example, see 2 Nephi 29:7–11). Tad R. Callister, a former Sunday School General President and President of the Presidency of the Seventy, explained one important reason:

“The Bible is one witness of Jesus Christ; the Book of Mormon is another. Why is this second witness so crucial? The following illustration may help: How many straight lines can you draw through a single point on a piece of paper? The answer is infinite.

“For a moment, suppose that single point represents the Bible and that hundreds of those straight lines drawn through that point represent different interpretations of the Bible and that each of those interpretations represents a different church. What happens, however, if on that piece of paper there is a second point representing the Book of Mormon? How many straight lines could you draw between these two reference points: the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Only one. Only one interpretation of Christ’s doctrines survives the testimony of these two witnesses. Again and again the Book of Mormon acts as a confirming, clarifying, unifying witness of the doctrines taught in the Bible.” (“The Book of Mormon—a Book from God,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2011, 75).

#BOMTC Day 5, April 11~1 Nephi 14-15 (or Pages 25-30) Bible and Book of Mormon

Nephi’s vision of the Tree of Life identifies the “mist” that would affect the people of the latter days from seeing the “Lamb of God/Tree of Life“. The “mist” in the vision “blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 12:17). Nephi was taught by the Spirit of the Lord that Satan tries to “blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men” by having “plain and precious” teachings “taken away” from the Bible (1 Nephi 13:24-29,32). The Spirit also taught Nephi that the Bible (the record of the Jews) contained the covenants of the Lord and many prophesies of the holy prophets, was of great worth, and contained the fullness of the gospel. Then many “plain and precious things from” the Bible began to be “taken away” (1 Nephi 13:40). Nephi was taught about another book (the Book of Mormon) that would be written by his seed and would restore the “plain and precious” things that had been “taken away”–a book that would be “hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles by the gift and power of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:35).

The Book of Mormon Builds Faith in the Bible

The Book of Mormon teaches plainly of the doctrine of Christ and restores the fulness of the gospel to the earth once again (see 1 Nephi 13:38–41). For example, the Book of Mormon helps us know that baptism must be performed by immersion (see 3 Nephi 11:26) and that little children do not need to be baptized (see Moroni 8:4–26 and Why We Need the Book of Mormon, New Era, April 2013. At the bottom of that article you will find other helpful video clips and links).

The Bible and the Book of Mormon work together as companion witnesses of Jesus Christ–The Lamb of God–and testify that “all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved… for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth” (1 Nephi 13:40-41). To add to this witness, chapter 14 teaches about the Apostle John, by name, and speaks of his future writings, explaining that “the things which he shall write are just and true” (1 Nephi 14:23, 27). The scriptures are our “de-MIST-ifiers”. They are the Iron Rod to which we must hold tight (1 Nephi 8:30). We must never allow Satan to “blind” us by keeping us from the “plain and precious” scriptures that are “just and true”!

Remember the great truths taught by President Russell M. Nelson regarding the Book of Mormon:

My dear brothers and sisters, I testify that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God. It contains the answers to life’s most compelling questions. It teaches the doctrine of Christ. It expands and clarifies many of the “plain and precious” truths that were lost through centuries of time and numerous translations of the Bible.

The Book of Mormon provides the fullest and most authoritative understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be found anywhere. It teaches what it really means to be born again. From the Book of Mormon we learn about the gathering of scattered Israel. We know why we are here on earth. These and other truths are more powerfully and persuasively taught in the Book of Mormon than in any other book. The full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Book of Mormon. Period.

The Book of Mormon both illuminates the teachings of the Master and exposes the tactics of the adversary. The Book of Mormon teaches true doctrine to dispel false religious traditions—such as the erroneous practice of performing infant baptisms. The Book of Mormon gives purpose to life by urging us to ponder the potential of eternal life and “never-ending happiness.” The Book of Mormon shatters the false beliefs that happiness can be found in wickedness and that individual goodness is all that is required to return to the presence of God. It abolishes forever the false concepts that revelation ended with the Bible and that the heavens are sealed today.

When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power. The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls.

My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.

Whenever I hear anyone, including myself, say, “I know the Book of Mormon is true,” I want to exclaim, “That’s nice, but it is not enough!” We need to feel, deep in “the inmost part” of our hearts, that the Book of Mormon is unequivocally the word of God. We must feel it so deeply that we would never want to live even one day without it. I might paraphrase President Brigham Young in saying, “I wish I had the voice of seven thunders to wake up the people” to the truth and power of the Book of Mormon. (“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?Ensign, Nov. 2017.)

A couple articles that may interest you and go well with these chapters are:

Think about how your life is different because you have the Book of Mormon and consider SHARING:

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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 11-13: “Behold the Lamb of God”

I know that most people would probably expect to see the picture of Nephi’s vision of the Tree of Life, but I chose a picture that represents the whole reason for the vision. The image below is definitely “worth a thousand words”. (Hopefully it’s not too graphic for you.)

Powerful image of the Lamb of God. Take a closer look to see why. (Scapegoat Studio - Behold the Lamb of God by Jonathan Mayer)

Powerful image of the Lamb of God. Take a closer look to see why. (Behold the Lamb of God, Jonathan Mayer)

Why this image? Well I couldn’t help but notice how often the “Lamb of God” was referred to during Nephi’s vision. A quick list of references will illustrate:

WOW! And it doesn’t stop there… keep looking in 1 Nephi 14 and you will find it another 17 times! Jesus Christ is the “Lamb” that was slain for us (see Isaiah 53), and Nephi wants us to KNOW IT!

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God

Dr. David Bokovoy, a colleague who studied at Brandeis University, taught me about something called “leitwort” (leading/theme word)–the intentional use of a word, over and over again to highlight a theme within a text (many examples are found in the Bible and other Hebrew texts). Without a doubt (to me), Nephi’s use of the “Lamb of God” is to bring us back, over and over, to the central figure of the vision of the Tree of Life—Jesus Christ—so that we don’t get lost in the vision–like so many others literally did.

The Lamb of God suffers in Gethsemane.

The Lamb of God suffers in Gethsemane.

By the time Nephi’s vision ends in chapter 14, one will have read the word “Lamb” over 43 times. That is some serious “Leitwort”! This is indeed an indicator of the leitwort that makes up The Book of Mormon—Jesus Christ.

Red highlights reference Jesus Christ. Click the photo to find out more.

Red highlights reference Jesus Christ. Click the photo to find out more.

My wife, Hilary, once read the entire Book of Mormon and marked each reference to Jesus Christ by His many titles. She would tally the total at the end of each page. It is incredible to flip through the pages, with so much marked, and realize that she was only marking references made to the Savior. Perhaps you have done the same.

I was so inspired by just flipping through the pages of my wife’s marked-up copy of the Book of Mormon that I decided to do the same. This was THE BEST experience that I have had to date of studying the Book of Mormon. I was not only amazed that what I learned about my Savior Jesus Christ, but I was astonished by how much I was able to see and learn that I had never grasped before in the Book of Mormon as I focused on the Savior. I invite you to do the same if you have never tried this exercise in studying the Book of Mormon. For more on this and a helpful chart visit my post “SEEK THIS JESUS“.

"Finding Christ in the Book of Mormon". Click on the pic for more info.

“Finding Christ in the Book of Mormon”. Click on the pic for more info.

A study conducted by Dr. Susan Easton Black determined that 101 names for Jesus are found in 3,925 references in the Book of Mormon’s 6,607 verses–an average of once every 1.7 verses–from the first reference to Him as “Lord” (1 Ne. 1:1) to the final name of “Eternal Judge” (Moro. 10:34).

Don’t forget about leitwort as you continue studying the Book of Mormon. Leitwort can help you identify the intent of the author and the message that they wished to convey. The videos below will be very helpful for those seeking to understand the connection between lambs and the Lamb of God. Happy reading!

Aprons of Fig Leaves and Coats of Skins

After partaking of the forbiden fruit, Adam and Eve attempted to cover their sins by making aprons of fig leaves. However, the Lord in His infinite mercy, instead covered them with beautiful coats of skins that protected them, gave them warmth, and would remind them of the atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Sacrifice and Sacrament

A man goes back in time to teach his younger self about the purposes of sacrifice and sacrament. By understanding the symbolism of animal sacrifice in the Old Testament, we come to realize its similarity to the sacrament—to remember the Savior and to commit ourselves to him.

Yom Kippur Reenactment

A reenactment of Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) the most holy day in the Jewish year. On this day the High Priest entered the Holy place and sprinkled blood from the sacrifice on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. Only the High Priest could enter this room, and only blood can cover sin “…it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” Leviticus 17:11. And the High Priest could only enter this room one day a year, Yom Kippur.

Sacrifices & Offerings of the Law of Moses

Video adapted from a filmstrip produced by the Church Education System (CES) in 1980 about the Law of Sacrifice. It is one of the better discussions I have seen on the Law of Moses and Jesus Christ.

A couple articles that may interest you and go well with these chapters are:

DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS…

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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 7-10: Desirous that My Family Should Partake

Lehi Exhorts His Posterity to Righteousness by Philip Leaning

Lehi Exhorts His Posterity to Righteousness by Philip Leaning

Today’s reading from 1 Nephi 7-10 reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham. In this case however, it is the patriarch-prophet Lehi who is desirous that his family partake of the fruit of the tree of life. He experiences the sweetness and joy of the fruit of the tree of life and he wants his loved ones to “partake of the fruit” and experience the same happiness that it brought him.

#BOMTC Day 3, April 9~1 Nephi 7-10 (or Pages 13-18) Lehi Enjoys the Fruit of the Tree of Life

This is the same reason that I put so much effort into creating the Book of Mormon Translation Challenge. I love the Book of Mormon! Every time that I read it I feel the same way that Lehi felt when he describes the fruit from the Tree of Life: desirable to make one happy”, “sweet”, “filled my soul with exceedingly great joy”, “desirable.

Lehi eats of the fruit of the Tree of Life

Lehi eats of the fruit of the Tree of Life

As Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon brings us to THE Tree of Life–Jesus Christ. HE is what makes the book a source of happiness, sweetness, joy, etc. My desire, like Lehi’s, is that my family and friends will “come… and partake of the fruit which is desirable above all other fruit”. By making the Book of Mormon a regular part of daily scripture study they can more fully come unto Christ–the source of all goodness.

So now I play the same roll as Dr. Seuss’, “Sam I Am”, but instead of Green Eggs and Ham, I invite people to try reading the Book of Mormon. “You do not like [it]. SO you say. Try [it]! Try [it]! And you may. Try [it] and you may, I say.” WILL YOU TRY IT???

Click here to visit a blog with a complete version of Green Eggs and Ham adapted to Brother Lurch and the Mormon Church

Click here to visit a blog with a complete version of Green Eggs and Ham adapted to become, “Brother Lurch and the Mormon Church”

Here is just one thing that you will learn to love about the Book of Mormon if you try it: These pages testify over and over of the Messiah!

Before reading on, please take a moment to study the painting below, “Tree of Life” by Chelsea Speirs. I know we don’t usually use the word “study” when we talk about artwork but we should. Artists are trying to tell us something in their work the same way that an author is trying to tell us something with their words. What is Chelsea trying to tell us? What do you notice about The Tree? What do you notice about the fruit? What do you notice about the stance of the girl? What else to do notice? Why did Chelsea depict these things this way; what is she trying to help us learn about the gospel?

#BOMTC Day 3, April 9~1 Nephi 7-10 (or Pages 13-18) Tree of Life IS Jesus Christ by Chelsea Spears

The Messiah is at first seen in Lehi’s vision as a Tree, the Tree of Life (see 1 Nephi 8:10). Lehi is well aware of the Messiah’s ministry and mission even before this time (see 1 Nephi 1:9,19). Lehi has a vision in which the Tree of Life–the Messiah–is the focal point. Everything is taught in relation to the Tree. It is the point of reference for all other things in the vision (see 1 Nephi 8:13,19,20,21,22,24,30). His description of the fruit that the Tree bears is quite descriptive of what the Messiah offers all who will come unto Him (see 1 Nephi 8:10-12). Lehi’s only desire after partaking of the Messiah’s fruit is to share it with his family (see 1 Nephi 8:12,15).

#BOMTC Day 3, April 9~1 Nephi 7-10 (or Pages 13-18) Tree of Life (2)

After he relates the vision of the Tree of Life (the Messiah) to his family, he testifies with great clarity and power to them of the coming of the Messiah and the events surrounding His ministry and mission (Note the use of the word Messiah in 1 Ne 10:4,5,6,7,9,10,11,14,17).

#BOMTC Day 3, April 9~1 Nephi 7-10 (or Pages 13-18) Tree of Life (5)

Terms such as “Messiah”, referring to Jesus Christ, are used every 1.7 verses in the Book of Mormon (every 1.3 in 1 Nephi!). It is indeed “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”!

Don’t miss the beautiful online art exhibit, The Vision of the Tree of Life

Tree of Life by Chelsea Speirs

Tree of Life by Chelsea Speirs

What did you learn in those pages? Comment below!

A couple articles that may interest you that go well with these chapters are:

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed from 1 Nephi 1-10 at one of the following sites:
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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 4-6: The Importance and Value of the Scriptures

1 Nephi 4-6 is an illustration of the importance of the scriptures in our lives, and their value is demonstrated as several lives are “on the line” for the Plates of Brass.

The Lord sent Lehi’s sons through the wilderness, back to Jerusalem, to obtain the Brass Plates (1 Nephi 3:3,19-20; 4:14-17; 5:10-17). These Records were so important that a man had to lose his life so that a nation could be saved (1 Nephi 4:13).

When the Brass Plates were retrieved, the first thing that Lehi did after giving thanks to the Lord (1 Nephi 5:9) was to “search them from the beginning” (1 Nephi 5:10). As he searched the scriptures “he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy” (1 Nephi 5:17). I know that we too will be “filled with the Spirit” as we “search” the scriptures with the same desire.

Developing a Love for the Scriptures

I experience this “Scripture Power” each time that I put forth the effort to read God’s Holy Word. As Lehi, I have also “found that they [are] desirable; yea, even of great worth” in my life (1 Nephi 5:21). And as Nephi testifies, I also bear witness that “it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us” as we journey towards our Eternal Promised Land (1 Nephi 5:22).

Lehi studies the Brass Plates

Lehi studies the Brass Plates

It is obvious that the Lord is trying to help us understand the great worth of the Word of God. As you and I study the Book of Mormon we will surely receive an added witness of the power that the Lord intends to bless us with through His scriptures.

NOTE: Recall that after Lehi’s sons had returned with the Brass Plates, the very first thing that the family did was “offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel” (1 Nephi 5:9). 

It was only after they had given thanks unto the God of Israel that “Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning.” (1 Nephi 5:10-11) Now I am pretty positive that a large part of the thanks that was being offered to God was gratitude for the safe return of their sons. But it seems to me that they were probably pretty grateful that they had the scriptures as well. I would like to extend a similar invitation to all those studying the Book of Mormon, or any scripture. Meaningful scripture study will require some type of sacrifice on our part. You have probably already realized that. But it would be well for us to begin our daily scripture study with a prayer of thanks and plea for help.

Ponder & Pray with Scripture Study

Perhaps you already do this, but if not, please consider the following counsel from President Dallin H. Oaks:

“There’s one thing that I’ve learned about scripture study… and that is that it is a great mistake to try to read the scriptures like you read a magazine or a newspaper. What I refer to is the fact that I pick up a newspaper and I just read it, or I pick up a magazine or a textbook and I just read it. But when I pick up the scriptures, I’m picking up the word of God, written by prophets under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord. Those should never be read without praying over them first.

“When I go to the table to eat, I don’t take physical nourishment without asking the Lord to bless that food to nourish and strengthen my body. Similarly, I think when we study the scriptures, we should bow our head and pray—often it would be silently because of the surroundings—but we would pray that the Lord would bless us that we’d be able to understand what we’re reading and that the act of reading the scriptures would summon the Spirit of the Lord to guide us on things other than simply the meaning of what we’re reading. In this way the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to help us receive revelation. But it begins with prayer; it doesn’t begin with reading, like a newspaper or a magazine.” (“A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks,” Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Broadcast, August 7, 2012)

We PRAY before EATING.

Why not PRAY before READING?

Scripture study is an example of the principle that, “You get out of it only as much as you are willing to put in to it.” President Spencer W. Kimball illustrated this principle with this simple analogy:

Mr. Conrad N. Hilton of the Hilton Hotel chain… told about a plain bar of iron being worth about five dollars. But that same iron, if made into horseshoes, would be worth $10.50. If it were made into needles, it would be worth $3,285. And if turned into balance springs for watches, its worth would be over $250,000.

Apparently the value of the raw iron is only what it costs to process it from the hill. Its greater value is determined by what is made of it. (“On Cheating Yourself,” New Era, April 1972.)

Similarly, the value of our scripture study is measured much the same as as how the value of iron is determined. Remember, “The iron rod is the word of God” (see Hymns, 274 – The Iron Rod and 1 Nephi 11:25). You and I can treat the scriptures like nothing more than raw iron through casual reading, or we can carefully polish our scripture study to a high degree and make our it more valuable. The value of our scripture study is determined by what we make of it.

Do you remember Tevye, the poor milkman in the musical Fiddler on the Roof who  dreamed of being rich? You may recall a fun song from that musical, “If I Were a Rich Man“.  What would you hope for if you were rich? There is an interesting line of reasoning in that song that Tevye related to scripture that most people tend to gloss-over as they sing along. As you watch it, listen to the lyrics, and maybe sing along, and see if you can catch what Tevye says about scripture that most people miss.

Did you catch it? What is his fondest dream, if he were to strike it rich?

“If I were rich I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray
And maybe have a seat by the eastern wall.
And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men
Seven hours ev’ry day.
This would be the sweetest thing of all.”

Sister Susan W. Tanner, a previous Young Women general president taught this in relation to Tevye’s melodious desire to study the scriptures:

If you were rich, would you spend your free time studying the “holy books,” or the scriptures, for several hours a day? If you were rich, would the sweetest joy that you could imagine be to have more time for intensive scripture study?

To study holy books is regarded by Orthodox Jews as a sweet blessing and a great privilege. In fact, in some Jewish traditions, when the child was to start his education in the Torah, a taste of honey was given to the student so that he would associate the study of the holy books with sweetness. This was intended to reinforce what it says in Psalms:

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Similarly, Psalm 19 compares the scriptures to gold and honey. The Psalmist beautifully exults in the word of the Lord, as follows:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7–11)

All of these terms in this scripture—law, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear (or reverence), and judgments—are synonyms for the word of the Lord, or scriptures. They are “more to be desired . . . than gold, yea, than much fine gold: [and] sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

I sometimes think that we should feel more like Tevye… Are the scriptures delicious to us—as precious as gold and sweeter than honey? Do we feast on them, delight in them, and ponder them as Nephi taught? (See 2 Nephi 4:15–16.) Do we liken them unto ourselves as Jacob counseled? (See 2 Nephi 6:5.) Do we search them for the Lord’s specific words to us—bringing conversion, wisdom, enlightenment, revelation, comfort, and rejoicing? Do we recognize them as one of the sweetest, most sublime blessings we have? (Scriptures—More Precious Than Gold and Sweeter Than Honey, September 11, 2005.)

These sentiments were echoed by in his talk, “The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?” He began by relating the following story and teaching an important truth related to the value of the scriptures in our lives:

In 1986, I was invited to give a special lecture at a university in Accra, Ghana. There I met a number of dignitaries, including an African tribal king. As we visited prior to the lecture, the king spoke to me only through his linguist, who then translated for me. I responded to the linguist, and the linguist then translated my responses to the king.

After my lecture, the king made his way directly to me, but this time without his linguist. To my surprise, he spoke in perfect English—the Queen’s English, I might add!

The king seemed puzzled. “Just who are you?” he asked.

I replied, “I am an ordained Apostle of Jesus Christ.”

The king asked, “What can you teach me about Jesus Christ?”

I responded with a question: “May I ask what you already know about Him?”

The king’s response revealed he was a serious student of the Bible and one who loved the Lord.

I then asked if he knew about the ministry of Jesus Christ to the people of ancient America.

As I expected, he did not.

I explained that after the Savior’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, He came to the people of ancient America, where He taught His gospel. He organized His Church and asked His disciples to keep a record of His ministry among them.

“That record,” I continued, “is what we know as the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is a companion scripture to the Holy Bible.”

At this point, the king became very interested. I turned to the mission president accompanying me and asked if he had an extra copy of the Book of Mormon with him. He pulled one from his briefcase.

I opened it to 3 Nephi chapter 11, and together the king and I read the Savior’s sermon to the Nephites. I then presented the copy of the Book of Mormon to him. His response lodged in my mind and heart forever: “You could have given me diamonds or rubies, but nothing is more precious to me than this additional knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ.

After experiencing the power of the Savior’s words in 3 Nephi, the king proclaimed, “If I am converted and join the Church, I will bring my whole tribe with me.”

“Oh, King,” I said, “it doesn’t work that way. Conversion is an individual matter. The Savior ministered to the Nephites one by one. Each individual receives a witness and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

My brothers and sisters, how precious is the Book of Mormon to you? If you were offered diamonds or rubies or the Book of Mormon, which would you choose? Honestly, which is of greater worth to you? (Emphasis added.)

One of my FAVORITE stories from the Old Testament tells of the importance and value that a king named Josiah placed on the scriptures.

Josiah was only eight years old when he began to reign in Judah, and although his immediate progenitors were extremely wicked, the scriptures tell us that “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:2.) This is all the more surprising when we learn that by that time (just two generations before the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.) the written law of Moses had been lost and was virtually unknown, even among the priests of the temple!

But in the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah directed that the temple be repaired. At that time Hilkiah, the high priest, found the book of the law, which Moses had placed in the ark of the covenant, and delivered it to King Josiah.

When the book of the law was read to Josiah, he “rent his clothes” and wept before the Lord.

Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us,” he said, “because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:13.)

The king then read the book before all the people, and at that time they all made a covenant to obey all the Lord’s commandments “with all their heart and all their soul.” (2 Kings 23:3.) Then Josiah proceeded to clean up the kingdom of Judah, removing all the idols, the groves, the high places, and all the abominations that had accumulated during the reign of his fathers, defiling the land and its people. …

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.” (2 Kings 23:25.)

I feel strongly that we must all of us return to the scriptures just as King Josiah did and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord.

Josiah had the law of Moses only. In our scriptures we have the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness; and if a taste is sweet, in fulness there is joy.

The Lord is not trifling with us when he gives us these things, for “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48.) Access to these things means responsibility for them. We must study the scriptures according to the Lord’s commandment (see 3 Ne. 23:1–5); and we must let them govern our lives and the lives of our children. (“Chapter 6: Discovering the Scriptures for Ourselves,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball (2006), 59–68. See also “Josiah—Believer in the Scriptures,” Friend, Feb. 1998.)

4 SCRIPTURE STUDY TIPS

Scriptures Legacy

Preserving the Scriptures

Reading the Scriptures

Understanding the Importance of Scripture

How to Use the LDS Scripture Study Aids

A couple articles that may interest you that go well with these chapters are:

DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS…

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
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JOIN our Facebook group and share at: facebook.com/groups/BookOfMormonTranslationChallenge
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