Tag Archives: obedience

#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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 29-31: Dueling Doctrines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Doctrine of Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… Then answered Peter,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REFERENCES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#BOMTC 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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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 19-21: DESSERT FIRST!

I refer to these pages as “Dinner or Dessert” because it helps me understand how distinguish the difference and purposes of the Large and Small Plates of Nephi.

#BOMTC Day 8, April 14~1 Nephi 19-21 (or Pages 43-48) What we learn from Scriptures

Nephi had originally referred to the fact that there were two sets of records in 1 Nephi 9. He now repeats that he does not know why he has been commanded to make similar records, but emphasizes once again that it is for a “wise purpose” (1 Nephi 9:5-6; 19:3).

Sources for the Book of Mormon

The sources behind the Book of Mormon are remarkably complex, and sometimes hard to keep straight. Here is a helpful chart to use as you read and study. (Content by John Welch. Graphics by Fernando Vazquez.)

Mormon will also submit his will and scripture record to God under the same reasoning (Word of Mormon 1:7). From latter-day events and revelation we are able to understand God’s “wise purpose” in this. With the loss of the 116 manuscript pages that Martin Harris had helped Joseph Smith to translate, the Lord would provide an even greater witness of the Savior (D&C 3:19-20; 10:38-46).

Many ancient documents such as King Benjamin’s speech or the plates of brass were quoted or abridged by the ancient authors who compiled the books found on the small and large plates of Nephi. The abridgments, quotations, and original writings of those Book of Mormon historians are displayed on the left-hand and middle columns of this chart and are then shown in relation to the new set of plates produced by Mormon and Moroni that was delivered to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni. Joseph dictated the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the plates of Mormon. Copying that original manuscript, parts of which survive today, Oliver Cowdery prepared a printer’s manuscript (owned by the RLDS Church). The first edition of the Book of Mormon was typeset from that printer’s manuscript. (Source: https://byustudies.byu.edu/book_of_mormon_charts/charts/13.aspx)

Many ancient documents such as King Benjamin’s speech or the plates of brass were quoted or abridged by the ancient authors who compiled the books found on the small and large plates of Nephi. The abridgments, quotations, and original writings of those Book of Mormon historians are displayed on the left-hand and middle columns of this chart and are then shown in relation to the new set of plates produced by Mormon and Moroni that was delivered to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni. Joseph dictated the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the plates of Mormon.
(Source: Charting the Book of Mormon)

The records that Nephi created are referred to as the Large Plates and the Small Plates. At one point I had a hard time remembering which contained more history and which contained more ministry. I would usually have to go back to 1 Nephi 19 to figure it out. On one of these occasions when I was trying again to remember, it occurred to me to think of the different plates of Nephi as literal plates. So I actually took two disposable paper plates, one large and one small, and wrote down on each one what was contained–Large had history, Small had ministry.

Through the Martin Harris incident we lost part of Nephi’s Large Plate account. In the Doctrine and Covenants we find the Lord’s wisdom in commanding Nephi to create the Small Plates over 2,000 years before. The history would be lost, but the ministry would be preserved. (For some very insightful and informative information on the topic of the translation and the lost manuscript, see the HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION to D&C 10 in the Joseph Smith Paper project.)

The Work of God

Martin Harris tells a young man the story of the lost manuscript, emphasizing that the works, designs and purposes of God cannot be frustrated (D&C 3,10).

As I looked at the paper plates that I had labeled, it reminded me of a BBQ. If I could only choose to have one set of plates at a BBQ, which would it be. At first you may think, “The Large of course”. But think of the purpose for each type of plate at a BBQ. Just as Nephi’s Plates served different purposes, the different size plates at a BBQ usually serve different foods. What is the Large plate for? The main course–you can put lots of different things on there. What are the Small plates for? That’s right–Dessert!!! It is smaller, and you have to be a bit more selective on what you put on it, but to me it is THE BEST part of any meal. So, given the fact that I have a major sweet-tooth, if I was given the option of choosing just one plate at a BBQ, I would usually pick the small plate. I love desserts! Yes, I like the meats and all that other good stuff. BUT I LOVE DESSERTS! When I am eating somewhere that dessert is served at the same time as the main course, I ALWAYS eat my dessert first (Ask my wife, she is witness, and besides that, it was the recommendation of my dentist!). Now dietary wise, it is a very poor choice that I am making, but it just tastes soooooo good. I LOVE IT!

LARGE PLATES = HISTORY SMALL PLATES MINISTRY

LARGE PLATES = HISTORY (Abridged)
SMALL PLATES = MINISTRY (Included)

Now the point to that whole rant is this: Nephi’s Large Plates had a lot of room for a lot of good stuff, and for the most part were historical in nature; good stuff, and lots of it, but not quite as “tasty” as what was on his Small Plates. The Small Plates, like the dessert plate at a BBQ, did not have as much room and therefore Nephi had to be more selective and stick to the best of the best in recording the ministry to the people. The Small Plates are the dessert of the gospel–the sweetest stuff he had to offer.

#BOMTC Day 24, April 30~Jarom-Words of Mormon or Pages 139-144 (4)

So the next time you are at a BBQ you can remember that Nephi’s sweet ministry is on the Small Plates by having DESSERT FIRST!

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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 17-18: What Do You KNOW?

In these pages we find Nephi receiving the command to build a ship. His efforts are mocked by his brothers, Laman and Lemuel (the infamous naysayers); whose rant against Nephi consists of several “we knew” and “we know” statements (1 Nephi 17:19-22). However, Nephi is quick to point out to them the truth about what they really know (1 Nephi 17:25-29,42,46). He reminds them of something similar to a bumper sticker I remember seeing: “Jesus loves you, but I’m His favorite!“(1 Nephi 17:35,40; 1:20. More on this concept can be studied by reading Elder Russell M. Nelson’s article entitled, Divine Love. You must read the footnoted references in the talk for it to make sense–very insightful!).

#BOMTC Day 7, April 13~1 Nephi 17-18 (or Pages 37-42) Jesus Loves You But I'm His Favorite

Nephi is the perfect example of “likening” scriptures. It seems that almost every time that he is trying to persuade someone to follow God he uses an experience from what we now consider the Old Testament (their Brass Plates). In just this one instance he refers to the liberating of the Israelites from bondage, the crossing of the Red Sea and destruction of Pharaoh and his army, the manna, water from the rock, the pillar of light and a cloud by day that led and protected them, their subsequent wondering and regeneration before entering the Promised Land, and even the reason for the current residents being expelled from the land. He caps it all off by reminding them that one can either become RIGHTEOUS or RIPE (1 Nephi 17:35).

This is the perfect LIKENING because they are also going to cross the water to enter a Promised Land. But Nephi is not done yet. In verse 41 he likens his brothers to the faithless and fearful Israelites who had to be chastened and “straitened”. Nephi seems surprised that, after all that the Lord has done, those at Jerusalem are “nearly unto ripeness” (1 Nephi 17:43). He continues to liken Laman and Lemuel to those who are ripening and points out that they are “swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord” (1 Nephi 17:44-45).

Nephi’s words seem to infuriate the already agitated brothers, but the Spirit of God protects Nephi much the way it will when Abinadi testifies before the evil king Noah. Unlike Abinadi’s situation however, Nephi is commanded to “shock” his brethren with a bit of God’s power. It makes sense that the Lord would do this. Being so hard of heart, and so focused on the physical, it seems that the physical is all they will respond to (1 Nephi 17:53-55; 18:20). Interestingly enough, the chapter ends in a very different, yet similar way to its beginning. Laman and Lemuel once again exclaim, “we know“, but this time they are correct in their statements.

Nephi is then instructed by the Lord on how exactly to go about building the ship (1 Nephi 18:1-4), which will become the stage for the next dramatic episode of the “wavering” Laman and Lemuel (1 Nephi 18:9-20). I guess it is not enough to “know”, we must always act on what we “know” to be right, but first we must make sure that what we “know” IS right.

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.

So what do you “KNOW”, and how does that affect your ATTITUDES and ACTIONS? Are you becoming RIGHT or RIPE before God? Remember what Joseph Smith taught the brethren about The Book of Mormon: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” Happy sailing on your personal journey toward God’s Promised Land–The Celestial Kingdom!

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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 16: “Have [WE] Inquired of the Lord?”

We start off today’s reading with good ol’ Laman and Lemuel in their usual “state of complaint”. Nephi quickly diagnoses their problem as a hard heart (spiritual heart disease), “therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought” (1 Nephi 14:3).

#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) Spiritual Heart Disease

In 1 Nephi 15:7  Laman and Lemuel are complaining that they “cannot understand” the things that their father, Lehi, shared with them about his vision of the Tree of Life and his discourse on the Olive Tree (On a side note, in the ancient world an olive tree was very much a “tree of life”. Olive trees provided Israel with food–nourishment, light–vision, healing–life, and anointing–power. Professor Andrew Skinner put it this way, “It was used to worship God as well as to sustain man. The olive tree and its oil were unequivocally regarded as one of the necessities of life. In fact, nothing from the olive tree went unused in the daily life of Israel. The oil from the fruit (the olives) was used for cooking, lighting, medicine, lubrication, and anointing. Those olives not crushed and pressed were pickled in brine and spices and then eaten. The wood of the olive tree was not only used in constructing buildings but also in making furniture, tools, and carvings and even in crafting the shepherd’s crook or staff. In turn, one may truly say that the olive tree was, and continues to be, a staff of life in the Middle East.” See “Autumn, Olives, and the Atonement,” in Religious Educator 1, no. 1 (2000): 107-121).

Nephi has one simple, and personally tested, question:

#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) Have Ye Inquired of the Lord

Have ye inquired of the Lord?

I would like to pause at this point to leave the murmurous brothers and focus on US. By this point we have read 30 pages of the Book of Mormon. HAVE WE INQUIRED OF THE LORD? If there is something that WE have not understood, have WE asked for His help? Before WE read, are WE asking for His blessing and guidance? While WE read, are WE asking Him to manifest its veracity to US? Or have WE read 30 pages of Christ-centered/saturated text and not even once thought to “inquire of the Lord?” (1 Nephi 15:8)

Have WE Inquired of the Lord?

Have WE Inquired of the Lord?

Alright, back to Laman (indeed, a “LAME”-man) and Lemuel… their reply to Nephi’s soul-searching question is one of spiritual immaturity, doubt, and convenience: WHY TRY? They say, “We have not [inquired of the Lord]: for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto US” (1 Nephi 15:9, emphasis added). Well, even if they were right in that assumption (and they are not!), couldn’t they at least try? The wording seems to imply that they believe that the Lord will make it know to others, but not them. Pretty convenient for them–don’t give God a chance and you don’t have to do anything yourself either. People do this all the time today. What “sins of omission” may we be committing by simply putting the blame on God without giving Him a chance?

#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) Sins of Omission

As President Thomas S. Monson is fond of saying, “If we do not TRY, then we do not DO. And if we do not DO, then why are we here?” Laman and Lemuel can blame God and appear correct, to themselves (as I said, people do it all the time today—it’s just convenient). But to Nephi, and you, and I, this is a “LAME”-man response!

"If we do not try, then we do not do." ~ President Thomas S. Monson

“If we do not try, then we do not do.”
~ President Thomas S. Monson

Nephi then asks a few soul-searching questions of them and then bears his witness that “if” they would sincerely give the Lord a chance, even in their lame and corrupt state, God will “surely” make these things “known” unto them (1 Nephi 15:11). Nephi KNOWS! He then goes on to share with them what he has learned by inquiring of the Lord. In the process we not only learn more ourselves about the vision of the Tree of Life, but also the judgment and justice of God (1 Nephi 15:26-36).

Of course Laman and Lemuel cannot feel very good about themselves after hearing the plain truth of God’s judgment and justice. Instead of changing anything though, they once again complain. “Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear” (1 Nephi 16:1). Wow! Are they serious? It is indeed true that, “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for [because] it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:2).

The truth can either CUT us or TOUCH us, it just depends on the condition of our HEART. HARD hearts must be CUT; SOFT hearts need only be TOUCHED. I am sure that as you read the truths in chapter 15 you were touched. However, it appears that the same exact same words will CUT those who are of a hard heart (spiritual heart disease). Nephi leaves them with the perfect reflective “If…, then…” statement to ponder, and an invitation to repent in 1 Nephi 16:3-4.

Well, the families grow and prepare to move on. But before they leave their temporary residence they are given “means” to guide them. Lehi finds a “round ball of curious workmanship” that “pointed the way” they should go on their journey (1 Nephi 16:10). They would indeed need this divine guide, since the wilderness they were entering was called “Shazer”, meaning “twisting” (1 Nephi 16:13). However, with the help of their God-given guide they were able to not only find their way, but also keep to the “most fertile parts” of the wilderness (1 Nephi 16:14,16).

Painted by Ken Corbett

Painted by Ken Corbett

Once again, we depart from the story for a LIKENING moment to ourselves. What has the Lord given us to guide us through our “twisted” journey here on earth? Many of the brethren have compared this divine guide, later identified and being called the Liahona, to God-given guides such as the Holy Ghost, a Patriarchal Blessing, and the Scriptures. And just as the Liahona worked “according to the faith and diligence and heed” they gave to it, we must do the same with “Life’s Liahona’s” that we have been given (1 Nephi 16:28). For, as Nephi said, “thus we see that by SMALL MEANS the Lord can bring about GREAT THINGS (1 Nephi 16:29. See also, Alma 37:6-7—really you need to study the whole chapter of Alma 37 for proper perspective). Are we using “Life’s Liahona’s” to look to the Lord and encounter the “most fertile” parts of the “twisted” wilderness that this world seems to place in front of us?

Laman and Lemuel would not look to the Lord nor inquire of Him. Lehi temporarily lost sight of the Lord as well (1 Nephi 16:20-27). Nephi’s questions properly persuade people to look to the Lord and inquire of Him (1 Nephi 15:8; 16:23).

By the time we come to the end of chapter 16, we find that Nephi was right all along and Laman and Lemuel are left without excuse, because even as they reach an extreme state of rebellion “the voice of the Lord came and did speak many words unto them [Laman and Lemuel], and did chasten them exceedingly” (1 Nephi 16:39). I guess God has left them without excuse and convenience. The fact of the matter is that the Lord did make such things “known unto” them, and they can never deny it. LOOK TO THE LORD! (D&C 6:36-37).

NOTE: It was one year previous to this date, on April 12, 1828 in Harmony, Pennsylvania that Martin Harris went to Joseph Smith’s home (in Harmony), where he began to help with the translation of what would become the 116 Book of Mormon pages from the book of Lehi that were lost. I find it very interesting that it was during pretty much the same time period in 1828 (mid-April to mid-June) that Joseph and Martin translated the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon known to us as the Book of Lehi. Just one year later, Joseph would translate the entire remaining unsealed portion of the Book of Mormon in almost the same amount of time, but with even greater persecution and interruptions. Here is a brief summary from the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home Study Seminary Students of what led up to this point:

From mid-April to mid-June 1828, the Prophet Joseph Smith was translating the gold plates while living in Harmony, Pennsylvania. A wealthy farmer and businessman named Martin Harris was acting as scribe while Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. Martin was 22 years older than Joseph and had given Joseph and Emma $50 (which was a substantial amount of money at that time) to relocate to Harmony, where Emma’s family lived, thus helping to support Joseph while he translated the plates. In February 1828, Joseph allowed Martin to take copies of characters from the plates to be authenticated by two professors in New York City (see Joseph Smith—History 1:63–65). Lucy Harris, Martin’s wife, had become increasingly concerned about Martin’s interest and financial involvement in the translation of the plates. She and others began to pressure Martin for evidence of the plates’ existence. To satisfy their concerns, in mid-June Martin requested that Joseph allow him to take the 116 pages of manuscript they had completed to show as evidence.

For some very insightful and informative information on the topic of the translation and the lost manuscript, see the HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION to D&C 10 in the Joseph Smith Paper project.

A couple articles that may interest you and 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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