Tag Archives: scattering

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Mormon Builds Faith in the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God

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

The Lamb of God suffers in Gethsemane.

The Lamb of God suffers in Gethsemane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aprons of Fig Leaves and Coats of Skins

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

Sacrifice and Sacrament

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

Yom Kippur Reenactment

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

Sacrifices & Offerings of the Law of Moses

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

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

DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS…

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

Lehi Exhorts His Posterity to Righteousness by Philip Leaning

Lehi Exhorts His Posterity to Righteousness by Philip Leaning

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

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

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

Lehi eats of the fruit of the Tree of Life

Lehi eats of the fruit of the Tree of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tree of Life by Chelsea Speirs

Tree of Life by Chelsea Speirs

What did you learn in those pages? Comment below!

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

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed from 1 Nephi 1-10 at one of the following sites:
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#BOMTC 3 Nephi 20-21: The Book that GATHERS the Scattered

During the second day of His ministry among the righteous inhabitants of America, Jesus Christ again administered the sacrament to the people–this time in a miraculous manner. The Resurrected Lord also testified that in the latter days the Father would fulfill His covenant to gather Israel and bless all the nations of the earth.

As Jesus Christ continued to teach the people who had gathered that day, He also explained that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the last days would be a sign that the Father had begun to fulfill this covenant.

#BOMTC Day 71, June 16~3 Nephi 20-21 or Pages 447-452, Book of Mormon in Different Languages (1)

In the short video clip below Elder Russell M. Nelson talks about how the Book of Mormon gathers scattered Israel (see 3 Nephi 21:1–7).

The Book of Mormon Gathers Scattered Israel

“This doctrine of the gathering is one of the important teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord has declared: “I give unto you a sign … that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion” (3 Nephi 21:1). The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a sign to the entire world that the Lord has commenced to gather Israel and fulfill covenants He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (See Genesis 12:2–3; 26:3–4; 35:11–12; and chapter headings for 3 Nephi 21; 29). We not only teach this doctrine, but we participate in it. We do so as we help to gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil.
“The Book of Mormon is central to this work. It declares the doctrine of the gathering (Doctrines relating to the scattering and gathering of the house of Israel are among the earliest lessons taught in the Book of Mormon: “After the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; … the natural branches of the olive-tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer” (1 Nephi 10:14)). It causes people to learn about Jesus Christ, to believe His gospel, and to join His Church. In fact, if there were no Book of Mormon, the promised gathering of Israel would not occur (See Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (1985), 554.). (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 80).

#BOMTC Day 71, June 16~3 Nephi 20-21 or Pages 447-452, Book of Mormon in German

Think of someone with whom you can share your testimony of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, the Restoration of the gospel, and the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith to help this person receive the blessings of the restored gospel.

#BOMTC Day 71, June 16~3 Nephi 20-21 or Pages 447-452, book-of-mormon-share

Ponder how you can encourage others to come to the Lord, including those who were previously faithful in the gospel but no longer are. For a great little story about how to do this see “On a Dare“.

#BOMTC Day 71, June 16~3 Nephi 20-21 or Pages 447-452, On a Dare

The video below is a powerful illustration of what can happen as people “discover” the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

A Book of Mormon Story

A young bishop in England describes how the Book of Mormon came to life for him and changed his perspective forever. (5:15)

For many of you who are reading along with the Book of Mormon Translation (‪#‎BOMTC‬) Challenge, I’m sure you’ve had your eyes opened and your hearts touched by certain verses of scripture that you perhaps hadn’t appreciated before. Wouldn’t it be great if we could help gather scattered Israel by simply showing the world what’s in this book?

#BOMTC Day 71, June 16~3 Nephi 20-21 or Pages 447-452, I LOVE the Book of Mormon

The YouTube channel, “I Love the Book of Mormon” (Now called “Mormon Light” and Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/ilovethebookofmormon) has the goal of opening up the words of the Book of Mormon to the world – one verse at a time. People from around the world record a short video reading their favorite verse and sharing how it’s impacted them. There are over 100 videos up already, and they hope to add many more, but could use your help! By doing this, people can hear the words of the Book of Mormon and feel the power it contains.

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

“The time is long overdue for a massive flooding of the earth with the Book of Mormon for the many reasons which the Lord has given. In this age of the electronic media and the mass distribution of the printed word, God will hold us accountable if we do not now move the Book of Mormon in a monumental way.” (“Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon“, CR, Oct. 1988)

Will you help gather scattered Israel by flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon, one verse at a time? Check out the intro video to find out how to get involved. Let’s help gather the scattered by sharing the Book of Mormon!

“I Love The Book of Mormon Challenge”

#BOMTC Day 71, June 16~3 Nephi 20-21 or Pages 447-452, Another Testament of Jesus Christ

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:

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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:

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 25-26: Importance of Plainness

#BOMTC Isaiah Survivor Award!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Nephi 25:23, Saved by Grace

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

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

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

Word Cloud of 2 Nephi 25:16-30

Word Cloud of 2 Nephi 25:16-30

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

Continue reading below once you are ready…

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

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

 

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

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

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

2 Nephi 25:26

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

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

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

All We Can Do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“His Grace Is Sufficient,” by Brad Wilcox

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

 YouTube Playlist: His Grace

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

Articles of interest related to this post: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 5:25 (2 Nephi 15:25)

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

Isaiah 10:4 (2 Nephi 20:4)

Isaiah 10:13–14 (2 Nephi 20:13–14)

Isaiah 14:26–27 (2 Nephi 24:26–27)

Isaiah 23:11

Exodus 6:6

Deuteronomy 5:15

Deuteronomy 7:19

Psalm 136:10–14

Jeremiah 32:21

Ezekiel 20:33–34

2 Nephi 28:32

Jacob 5:47

Jacob 6:4–5

Alma 5:33–34

Alma 19:36

3 Nephi 9:14

Mormon 6:17

D&C 136:22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
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