Tag Archives: gentiles

#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:

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

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32: God Wants Good Fruit from "OLIVE" Us!

Click graphic to ready Jacob 5

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 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 myself I would say, “God loves me, and He will do whatever is necessary to help my life to become 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 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 10-14: “SNellFour”

As Jacob concludes his invitation to come unto Christ (2 Nephi 10), Nephi validates his words by letting us know that Jacob has seen the Promised Messiah (2 Nephi 11:3). Nephi also invokes the Law of Witnesses by stating that he has also seen the Redeemer (2 Nephi 11:2). In that same verse we are told that one of the reasons he loves the words of Isaiah so much are because Isaiah has also seen Christ.

Law of Witnesses, Isaiah, Nephi, and Jacob Are Witnesses of Christ

The Law of Witnesses: Isaiah, Nephi, and Jacob Are Witnesses of Christ.

To me, the key phrase in this chapter seems to be “my soul delighteth” (2 Nephi 11:2,4,5,6). This chapter precedes Nephi’s recording of 13 chapters from the writings of Isaiah (2 Nephi 12-24; Isaiah 2-14). You may want to see exactly what his soul delights in before you read these chapters so that you can LOOK FOR those elements in the writings of Isaiah that he will quote.

#BOMTC Day 14, April 20~2 Nephi 10-14 or (Pages 79-84) SNellFour

Try and see Jesus in this illustration. This exercise is similar to searching for SNellFour’s in scripture.

One insight that was shared with me many years ago by a colleague (Todd Davis) is found in 2 Nephi 11:4. He referred to this verse as SNellFour (if you break up the spelling of the name it is a clever abbreviation of the scripture reference: S=Second, Ne=Nephi, ll=11, Four=4). We learn from this verse that:

all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of Him [Jesus Christ]” (2 Nephi 11:4)

SNellFours help us to see Christ in the Scriptures.

SNellFours help us to see Christ in the Scriptures.

So the term SNellFour refers to any THING, PERSON, PLACE, etc. that is a type or shadow of Christ. This is one of the keys to understanding the writings of Isaiah, the Old Testament, and the Book of Mormon. For example, the Law of Moses typifies Christ and proves He shall come (Mosiah 13:27-35). Every prophet is a type and shadow of Christ (i.e. Jonah in the great fish for 3 days and subsequent release foreshadows the Savior’s entombment and resurrection). Christ points out that the Manna that gave their fathers life in the wilderness was a SNellFour meant to teach Israel about the Bread of Life that would come to them (John 6).

#BOMTC Day 14, April 20~2 Nephi 10-14 or (Pages 79-84) Jesus is MannaThe list of SNellFours seems endless. The great thing about such a large list is that each SNellFour points to different things that we can learn about the Savior and His attributes, ministry, mission, etc. As we read the writings of Isaiah that are quoted by Nephi, we will discover several things about the Savior by simply seeing these things, people, and places as SNellFours–types and shadows of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Christ in Hebrew and Greek

The English word “Christ” comes from the Greek “Christos”(χριστός), which has the same meaning as “Messiah”, which comes from the Hebrew (משיח). In both languages the words mean “anointed one.”

Take a moment to learn from from Dr. Todd B. Parker, a professor of ancient scripture, about SNellFours in the scriptures and the world around us. His insights and illustrations will help you understand this study skill of seeking the Savior in the scriptures:

The Temple in 2 Nephi 12 is a SNellFour—what do we learn about Christ when we remember that the Temple represents Christ? In chapter 13 Christ is both the Advocate and the Judge—what do these SNellFours teach us about Him and our relationship to Him? In chapter 14 Isaiah refers to a SNellFour that we are familiar with from the Exodus experience—what can we learn about Christ and His grace by referring to Him as “a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night”?

#BOMTC Day 14, April 20~2 Nephi 10-14 or (Pages 79-84) cloud by day fire by night

The second graphic that I have placed with this post has an image of Christ hidden in it, so you must look closely and examine it to see Him. It is the same with SNellFours. Once you are aware of what SNellFours are, and you begin to watch for them, you will develop a new appreciation for Isaiah, the scriptures in general, and the Savior specifically.

#BOMTC Day 14, April 20~2 Nephi 10-14 or (Pages 79-84) Jesus Christ is in the Old Testament

Ponder on the things you have read in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon that are SNellFours. What SNellFours can you recognize from those memories? LOOK FOR SNellFours as you study Isaiah and you will discover things that you had never noticed before!

You may enjoy learning more from the following :

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

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 6-8: “Jehovah Saves!”

The first thing we read after the separation of the righteous Nephites from the wicked Lamanites is a discourse by Jacob, the brother of Nephi (2 Nephi 6:1-3). What will be his text? Isaiah 49:22-52:2. What will be his purpose? To help us “learn and glorify the name of [our] God” (2 Nephi 6:4).

Isaiah means “Jehovah Saves” (ישעיהו). His name in and of itself helps us to “learn and glorify” the name of God! But as Jacob points out, Isaiah’s name and words are not enough. His teachings must be “likened unto you” (2 Nephi 6:5).#BOMTC Day 12, April 18~2 Nephi 6-8 or Pages 67-72 Isaiah 50~7 LOVEThis is not the first time that Isaiah has been quoted in The Book of Mormon, nor will it be the last (see the post on “Isaiah for Dummies—Laman & Lemuel). It is also not the first time, nor the last, that a prophet will teach us that the words of Isaiah must be “likened” to us (1 Nephi 19:23).

As you read these pages, seek to discover what Jacob and Isaiah share that will help you “learn and glorify the name of your God”.#BOMTC Day 12, April 18~2 Nephi 6-8 or Pages 67-72 Isaiah 50~10 WORTHYAs Jacob points out in 2 Nephi 9:1, one of the things that will help you “learn and glorify the name of your God” is to learn from these pages “concerning the covenants of the Lord… with all the house of Israel”. He also expects that once we have finished studying these pages we will “rejoice, and lift up [our] heads forever” (2 Nephi 9:3). It seems like it is worth the time and effort to try and understand these teachings from Isaiah.

I have found a lot of help for understanding Isaiah by using the following manuals and articles. I have hyperlinked these manuals to specific parts for today’s reading, but if you take time to explore the manuals more fully you will find much more helpful information that will help you understand Isaiah’s writings in the Book of Mormon.

One very important reason to pay the price for understanding these pages is because Jacob will use them as his springboard for 2 Nephi 9—one of the greatest doctrinal discourses on “the merciful plan of the great Creator” (2 Nephi 9:6) that I have found in scripture (I am excited for tomorrow’s read!).

Jacob’s use of Isaiah’s Messianic chapters are indeed a powerful tool that help us to “learn and glorify” the name of our God, and strengthens our witness that “Jehovah Saves”!

If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check out my post, “How to Beat the Isaiah Barrier in the Book of Mormon!” for some motivation and helpful tips from Dory the fish, President Boyd K. Packer, and John Bytheway.

In this short video, John Bytheway teaches some simple techniques that can help you better understand Isaiah in the scriptures:

Click on the graphic to read, "Don't Just 'Get Through' 2 Nephi: Get Something From It!", an article by John Bytheway.

Click on this graphic to read, “Don’t Just ‘Get Through’ 2 Nephi: Get Something From It!“, by John Bytheway.

 

"Nephi’s Keys to Understanding the Isaiah Chapters" By John Bytheway

Click on this graphic to read, “Nephi’s Keys to Understanding the Isaiah Chapters” By John Bytheway

Isaiah for Airheads by John Bytheway (SlideShare presentation)

Isaiah for Airheads by John Bytheway (SlideShare presentation)

You may enjoy learning more from the following :

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

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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 22-2 Nephi 1: Isaiah for DUMMIES (Laman and Lemuel)

In today’s reading we get Nephi’s commentary on Isaiah 48 & 49. The great thing about reading Isaiah in the Book of Mormon is that you get prophetic commentary from those who saw much of what Isaiah saw and lived where Isaiah lived. The bad thing is that sometimes we may identify more with the rebellious Laman and Lemuel than with righteous Nephi when reading Isaiah 🙂

#BOMTC Day 9, April 15~1 Nephi 22-2 Nephi 1 (or Pages 49-54) Book of Isaiah

After Nephi shares these chapters from Isaiah, his brothers ask, “What meaneth these things [Isaiah 48-49] which ye have read?” (1 Nephi 22:1). How many times have you thought that same thing while reading Isaiah? (see Acts 8:26-39) Nephi is kind enough to elaborate on Isaiah’s writing which pertain “to things both temporal and spiritual” (1 Nephi 22:3). In this case Isaiah’s writing focus primarily on the scattering and gathering of Israel.

This happens today as people depart from the standards of the gospel in their personal life (spiritual scattering = self-inflicted apostasy). Soon they no longer wish to gather with the Saints and find themselves in a personal “Diaspora” (physical scattering = also self-inflicted).

The pattern for most of those who find themselves in this situation today parallels the general gathering of Israel as outlined by Isaiah and explained by Nephi. They will usually experience a spiritual gathering through the help of loving family, friends, neighbors, etc. (just as this occurs for Israel through the Gentiles generally, 1 Nephi 22:8). As they experience an increase of the Spirit of the Lord, their desire to gather physically with the Saints increases (1 Nephi 22:12). This gathering leads to a unity in faith and heart with the Saints that hastens one’s personal millennial-like blessings.

Nephi refers to the actual blessings of the Millennium that are enjoyed by the righteous in 1 Nephi 22:15-28. As you read those verses you will readily recognize that you enjoy those same blessings every time that you live up to God’s standard of righteousness.

Just as it is possible for each of us to experience personal scattering (Diaspora) and gathering, it is also possible to enjoy personal millennial-type blessings here and now. Isaiah enjoyed those blessings in his time; Nephi enjoyed them in his; and you can enjoy them now!

This is exactly what Lehi continues to explain to his sons, Laman and Lemuel in 2 Nephi 1. As he calls his sons to “be men” (verse 21) and repent and return (gather spiritually and physically with them), he paraphrases Isaiah as well (Compare Isaiah 52 with the verbs he admonishes them with in 2 Ne 1:12-24). Lehi’s Isaiah for Dummies (Laman and Lemuel) is an invitation for us also to claim our own millennial blessings.

As Isaiah teaches (and Nephi explains, and Lehi confirms), you must first spiritually and physically gather with the Saints, then you can begin to experience those personal millennial blessings in your life—HERE & NOW! (1 Ne 22:30-31; 2 Ne 1:28-32)

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