Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 6 – Free to Choose Liberty and Eternal Life

1. Lehi exhorts his sons to repent, obey the Lord’s commandments, and put on the armor of righteousness.

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‘I testify that America is a choice land. (See  2 Ne. 1:5 God raised up the founding fathers of the United States of America and established the inspired Constitution. (See  D&C 101:77–80 This was the required prologue for the restoration of the gospel. (See  3 Ne. 21:4 America will be a blessed land unto the righteous forever and is the base from which God will continue to direct the worldwide latter-day operations of His kingdom. ‘ (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, October 1988)

2 Nephi 1:6-7, 9-10 A land of liberty

‘Lehi explains the land’s promise in relation to his own family but then includes others as well. The land of promise is open to those brought here by the Lord, and the promise of liberty also applies to them as long as they follow the commandments. This provision is both a blessing and a curse, for the land’s effect on its inhabitants is directly related to their righteousness.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness – Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

2 Nephi 1:12 Remember

‘If we pay close attention to the uses of the word remember in the holy scriptures, we will recognize that remembering in the way God intends is a fundamental and saving principle of the gospel. This is so because prophetic admonitions to remember are frequently calls to action: to listen, to see, to do, to obey, to repent. When we remember in God’s way, we overcome our human tendency simply to gird for the battle of life and actually engage in the battle itself, doing all in our power to resist temptation and avoid sinning.’ (Marlin K Jensen, General Conference, April 1997)

2 Nephi 1:13 Awake from the sleep of hell

“One of the effects of disobeying God seems to be the creation of just enough spiritual anesthetic to block any sensation as the ties to God are being cut. Not only [does] the testimony of the truth slowly erode, but even the memories of what it was like to be in the light [begin] to seem … like a delusion” (Henry B Eyring, “A Life Founded in Light and Truth,” Brigham Young University 2000–2001 Speeches [2001], 81).

2 Nephi 1:15 In the arms of his love

‘Do we frequently reject the Lord’s love that He pours out upon us in much more abundance than we are willing to receive? Do we think we have to be perfect in order to deserve His love? When we allow ourselves to feel “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love,” we feel safe, and we realize that we don’t need to be immediately perfect. We must acknowledge that perfection is a process. This is a gospel of eternal progress, and we must remember to appreciate the journey. Eternal means “without beginning or end,” so the encircling of His love is there for us every day. Remember, it’s constant—even when we don’t recognize it. I love Nephi’s description of this great gift: “The love of God … sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things … and the most joyous to the soul. I testify that this is true.’ (Bonnie D Parkin, General Conference, October 2006)

2 Nephi 1:21 Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men

‘The prophet Lehi pled with his rebellious sons, saying, “Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men” (2 Nephi 1:21; emphasis added). By age, Laman and Lemuel were men, but in terms of character and spiritual maturity they were still as children. They murmured and complained if asked to do anything hard. They didn’t accept anyone’s authority to correct them. They didn’t value spiritual things. They easily resorted to violence, and they were good at playing the victim.

We see some of the same attitudes today. Some act as if a man’s highest goal should be his own pleasure. Permissive social mores have “let men off the hook” as it were, so that many think it acceptable to father children out of wedlock and to cohabit rather than marry.  Dodging commitments is considered smart, but sacrificing for the good of others, naive. For some, a life of work and achievement is optional. A psychologist studying the growing phenomenon of what he calls “young men stuck in neutral” describes this scenario:

“Justin goes off to college for a year or two, wastes thousands of dollars of his parents’ money, then gets bored and comes home to take up residence in his old room, the same bedroom where he lived when he was in high school. Now he’s working 16 hours a week at Kinko’s or part time at Starbucks.

“His parents are pulling their hair out. ‘Justin, you’re 26 years old. You’re not in school. You don’t have a career. You don’t even have a girlfriend. What’s the plan? When are you going to get a life?’

” ‘What’s the problem?’ Justin asks. ‘I haven’t gotten arrested for anything, I haven’t asked you guys for money. Why can’t you just chill?’ ”

How’s that for ambition?

We who hold the priesthood of God cannot afford to drift. We have work to do (see Moroni 9:6). We must arise from the dust of self-indulgence and be men! ‘(D Todd Christofferson, “Let Us Be Men,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 46)

2. Lehi testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

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2 Nephi 2:5 The law is given unto men

‘Life is meant to be a test to see if we will keep the commandments of God. We are free to obey or to ignore the spirit and the letter of the law. But the agency granted to man is a moral agency. We are not free to break our covenants and escape the consequences.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, October 1990)

2 Nephi 2:7 A sacrifice for sin

‘There is a Redeemer, a Mediator, who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent, for “He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.”  2 Ne. 2:7

Already He has accomplished the redemption of all mankind from mortal death; resurrection is extended to all without condition.

He also makes possible redemption from the second death, which is the spiritual death, which is separation from the presence of our Heavenly Father. This redemption can come only to those who are clean, for no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God.

If justice decrees that we are not eligible because of our transgression, mercy provides a probation, a penitence, a preparation to enter in.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, April 1977)

2 Nephi 2:8 The merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah

“I once wondered if those who refuse to repent but who then satisfy the law of justice by paying for their own sins are then worthy to enter the celestial kingdom. The answer is no. The entrance requirements for celestial life are simply higher than merely satisfying the law of justice. For that reason, paying for our sins will not bear the same fruit as repenting of our sins. Justice is a law of balance and order and it must be satisfied, either through our payment or his. But if we decline the Savior’s invitation to let him carry our sins, and then satisfy justice by ourselves, we will not yet have experienced the complete rehabilitation that can occur through a combination of divine assistance and genuine repentance. Working together, those forces have the power permanently to change our hearts and our lives, preparing us for celestial life” (Bruce C Hafen, The Broken Heart: Applying the Atonement to Life’s Experiences [1989], 7–8).

3. Lehi teaches the importance of opposition and the freedom to choose good from evil.

2 Nephi 2:11 Opposition in all things

‘As we draw near to Him, we realize that mortality is meant to be difficult and that “opposition in all things”  2 Nephi 2:11 is not a flaw in the plan of salvation. Opposition, rather, is the indispensable element of mortality and strengthens our will and refines our choices. The vicissitudes of life help us fashion an eternal relationship with God—and engrave His image upon our countenance as we yield our hearts to Him.’ (Timothy J Dyches, General Conference, October 2013)

2 Nephi 2:15-16 It must needs be that there was an opposition

‘The novel A Tale of Two Cities opens with the oft-quoted line “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The scriptures make it clear that each generation has its own version of best and worst of times. We are all subject to the conflict between good and evil and the contrast between light and dark, hope and despair. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained, “The sharp, side-by-side contrast of the sweet and the bitter is essential until the very end of this brief, mortal experience.” We know from our doctrine that good will overcome evil, and those who repent and are sanctified shall be given eternal life.’ (Quentin L Cook, General Conference, October 2008)

2 Nephi 2:21 A state of probation

‘We are, all of us here in this mortal world, on probation. We were sent here primarily to obtain tabernacles for our eternal spirits; secondly, to be proved by trial, to have tribulation as well as the abundant joy and happiness that can be obtained through a sacred covenant of obedience to the eternal principles of the gospel. Mortality, as Lehi informed his children, is a “probationary state”  2 Ne. 2:21 It is here where we are to be tried and tested to see if we will, when shut out of the presence of our Eternal Father but still instructed in the way of eternal life, love and revere him and be true to his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. These principles should be laid in the foundation of every home. No prayer should be neglectful in regard to the sacred principles of the gospel of our Redeemer. The Lord has commanded us, one and all, to bring our children up in light and truth  D&C 93:40 Where this spirit exists, disharmony, disobedience, and neglect of sacred duties will not, cannot, succeed.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, General Conference, April 1965)

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2 Nephi 2:22 The Fall

‘The Fall of Adam (and Eve) constituted the mortal creation and brought about the required changes in their bodies, including the circulation of blood and other modifications as well.  They were now able to have children. They and their posterity also became subject to injury, disease, and death. And a loving Creator blessed them with healing power by which the life and function of precious physical bodies could be preserved. For example, bones, if broken, could become solid again. Lacerations of the flesh could heal themselves. And miraculously, leaks in the circulation could be sealed off by components activated from the very blood being lost.’ (Russell M Nelson, “The Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 33)

2 Nephi 2:23 Having no joy for they knew no misery

‘It’s interesting that the text equates having children with knowing both the greatest joy in life and the greatest misery. Many parents would agree!’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

2 Nephi 2:26-27 That He may redeem the children of men from the fall

‘The redemption of humankind depends on (1) agency, which depends on opposition, which was assured by the fall, and (2) Christ’s atonement. With these two conditions, we are “free forever.” With our knowledge of good and evil (the instigation of opposites) we are able to choose for ourselves. Choosing good exalts us. God’s commandments designate the good; in choosing to obey them, we find happiness in this life and a fulness of joy in the life to come.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness – Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

 

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 5 – Hearken to the Truth, and Give Heed unto It

  1. The Lord guides the families of Lehi and Ishmael according to their faith and diligence.

1 Ne 16:9-10 The Liahona

‘Like the Urim and Thummim, the Liahona was a physical device that aided in the coming forth of revelation. Mechanically, it pointed the direction of travel for Lehi’s family (see 1 Nephi 16:10). The Liahona, however, had more than a mechanical function. The arrows or pointers only worked according to faith (see v. 28). Even more remarkable, on the ball appeared writing which instructed and exhorted Lehi’s family (see vv. 26–27, 29). Nephi indicated that the writings were “plain to be read” and gave “understanding concerning the ways of the Lord” (v. 29).

The Liahona was indeed a remarkable instrument. In it Alma saw a type or symbol of the word of God, or the gospel (see Alma 37:38–47). The Liahona was treasured by the writers of the Book of Mormon and seems to have been passed on with the plates. It, along with the plates, the Urim and Thummim, the breastplate, and the sword of Laban were shown to the Three Witnesses by Moroni (see D&C 17:1).’ (Seminary Book of Mormon Student Manual)

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1 Ne 16:10 What does the word “Liahona” mean?

Hugh Nibley: “Yah is, of course, God Jehovah. Liyah means the possessive, ‘To God is the guidance,’ hona (Liyahhona). That’s just a guess; don’t put it down. But it’s a pretty good guess anyway.” (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 14, p. 216)

1 Ne 16:18 

“There was murmuring, too, because Nephi broke his steel bow and also because he couldn’t possibly build a ship (see 1 Nephi 16:18-20; 17:17). Those same murmurers, insensitive to their inconsistency, quickly surfeited themselves on the meat brought back by Nephi’s new bow. They also sailed successfully over vast oceans to a new hemisphere in the ship that Nephi couldn’t build. Strange, isn’t it, how those with the longest lists of new demands also have the shortest memories of past blessings?” (Neal A Maxwell, If Thou Endure It Well, p. 125.)

1 Nephi 16: 23 Nephi’s bow

‘In addition to making a new bow, Nephi also makes a new arrow. But his bow broke, not his arrows. Why does he make an arrow? David S. Fox suggests:

Consider what happens to an arrow at the instant the string is released: the full force of the drawn string is applied to the end of the arrow, trying to accelerate it, but also tending to bend or buckle the arrow. If the bow’s draw weight and the arrow’s stiffness are not perfectly matched, the arrow will stray off the intended course or fall short of the mark. An arrow that is too flexible will leave the bow with a vibration that can cause the arrow to behave erratically. On the other hand, an arrow that is too stiff is probably too heavy for the bow.

Nephi’s steel bow likely used heavier, stiffer arrows than his simply fashioned wooden bow could handle. Nephi was physically large (see 1 Ne. 2:16, 4:31), and he would have had little reason to use a bow made from metal if he did not have considerable strength. The arrows to match the steel bow used by such a man would undoubtedly have been quite heavy in order for them to be of adequate stiffness. One experienced archer reports, “The arrows from the steel bow when shot from the wooden bow would be like shooting telephone poles.” Hence, it is accurate that Nephi should mention, in one and the same breath, the fact that he made an arrow as well as a bow. Bow wood and arrow wood from the same tree or area could be matched as well.

Potter and Wellington confirmed that arrows were made from the wild olive tree in Dhofar.

Nephi also armed himself with a sling and stones, a weapon suitable for smaller game like hare. Arrows would be required for the larger antelope, gazelle, or oryx. If Nephi made only a single arrow, his faith in Yahweh’s guidance would have been tremendous, as he allowed for no error. However, this might be a linguistic convention, and we should probably be cautious about reading too much into the mention of an “arrow,” rather than “arrows.” Because he kills multiple “beasts” (v. 31–32), he probably had more than a single arrow.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness – Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

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1 Ne 16:33-34 Shazer

‘Regarding the place name Shazer, Nigel Groom’s Dictionary of Arabic Topography and Placenames contains an entry for a similar word, “shajir,” giving the meaning: “A valley or area abounding with trees and shrubs.” [2]

Regarding the name “Shazer,” Nibley wrote:

The first important stop after Lehi’s party had left their base camp was at a place they called Shazer. The name is intriguing. The combination shajer is quite common in Palestinian place names; it is a collective meaning “trees,” and many Arabs (especially in Egypt) pronounce it shazher. It appears in Thoghret-as-Sajur (the Pass of Trees), which is the ancient Shaghur, written Segor in the sixth century. It may be confused with Shaghur “seepage,” which is held to be identical with Shihor, the “black water” of Josh. 19:36. This last takes in western Palestine the form Sozura, suggesting the name of a famous water hole in South Arabia, called Shisur by Thomas and Shisar by Philby. . . . So we have Shihor, Shaghur, Sajur, Saghir, Segor (even Zoar), Shajar, Sozura, Shisur, and Shisar, all connected somehow or other and denoting either seepage–a weak but reliable water supply–or a clump of trees. Whichever one prefers, Lehi’s people could hardly have picked a better name for their first suitable stopping place than Shazer.  (fairmormon.org website)

  1. Nephi demonstrates unwavering faith by fulfilling the Lord’s command to build a ship.

1 Nephi 17:7-8 Thou shalt construct a ship

‘Nephi did not get to enjoy the luxury of life on the beach very long. He was told to go into the high mountain nearby. Imagine his surprise to be shown a vision of a ship which he was told to construct. It was not like any ship he had ever seen but the Lord said it was necessary to carry their entire congregation across the great waters to the promised land.

One would have expected Nephi to say the task was impossible because he had no tools, but that isn’t what he said. He said he had no ore! It turned out the Lehi’s family were metallurgists and if they had ore they could make tools.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

‘Nephi’s response to the Lord’s command to build a ship gives us insight into his remarkable faith. Other prophets have also been overwhelmed at times by tasks commanded by the Lord. Moses felt inadequate when called to lead the children of Israel (see Exodus 4:1–5). Enoch felt he was slow of speech and wondered why the Lord called him (see Moses 6:31). Nephi might have been overwhelmed with the thought of building an ocean-going vessel. Instead, his response displayed great faith: “Whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship … ?” (1 Nephi 17:9). Nephi’s confidence did not likely come from any previous ship-building experience. Rather, his confidence stemmed from tremendous faith in God.’  (Institute Book of Mormon Student Manual)

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  1. Laman and Lemuel bind Nephi, who shows courage and gratitude despite this trial. After they free him, he guides the ship to the promised land.

1 Nephi 18:9 With much rudeness

According to an article by John Tvedtnes, Hebrew has fewer adverbs than English. Instead, it often uses prepositional phrases with the preposition meaning in or with. For example, “with much rudeness” (1 Nephi 18:9) is used instead of “very rudely.” The English translation of the Book of Mormon contains more of these prepositional phrases in place of adverbs than we would expect if the book had been written in English originally. [John A. Tvedtnes, “The Hebrew Background of the Book of Mormon” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 79] (Alan C Miner, Step by Step Therough the Book of Mormon)

1 Nephi 18:12-13 The Compass ceases to work

‘Although Nephi does not say so, Laman and Lemuel apparently see no connection between the binding of Nephi and the failure of the director. Denying Nephi’s spiritual authority, they could not see the causal relationship.

Without the Liahona, they did not know where to go, but they likely attempted only to hold their course and ran into the storm, not uncommon during the monsoon season. (See commentary accompanying 1 Nephi 18:20–22.) Perhaps, one of the Liahona’s functions was to help them avoid such natural phenomena.

This verse suggests that Laman and Lemuel had seized control of the group, not allowing anyone else to untie Nephi either. Certainly Lehi and Sariah did not condone Nephi’s binding but were powerless either to prevent or reverse it. ‘(Brant Gardner, Second Witness – Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

 

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Inspirational, LDS Doctrine

Experience vs Opinion

In a recent Sunday School class a class member said ‘A person with an experience should never be hostage to a person with an opinion.’

This struck a chord with me. There are many people with widely different opinions about the Church and its doctrines but none of these opinions are as valuable as a personal experience.

Let me give you some examples.

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The Book of Mormon

Faced with the fact of the Book of Mormon, there are a range of opinions about its origins:

  • it was based on a manuscript by Solomon Spaulding
  • it was plagiarised from Ethan Smith’s A View of the Hebrews
  • Sidney Rigdon wrote it
  • Joseph Smith wrote it during an epileptic fit
  • Joseph Smith was some sort of ‘naive genius’ and wrote it himself

While each of these opinions has been thoroughly squashed by subsequent research, what is more valuable than any or all of them is the reader’s personal experience of the Book of Mormon.

  • I have tested Moroni’s promise and received a spiritual witness that it is true
  • I have felt the spirit on innumerable occasions while reading the Book of Mormon
  • I have experienced the complexity of the narrative arc and the beauty of language and though
  • I have been able to distinguish for myself the varied authorial voices in the book
  • I have found answers to questions in the book
  • I have seen my life and the lives of countless others changed and blessed by its influence

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Prayer

Some will put forth the opinions that prayer:

  • is a meaningless talking to oneself
  • is nothing but an expression of wishes and desires
  • does not work

My personal experience is that:

  • prayers are answered
  • I have received inspiration and answers to questions through prayer
  • prayer allows me to communicate with my Heavenly Father
  • prayer has blessed my life
  • there is real power in prayer

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Thomas S Monson

Opponents of the Church may express opinions that Thomas S Monson:

  • is a good but misguided man
  • is a fraud
  • is nothing but the President of a large corporation

My personal experience is that:

  • the spirit has confirmed to me on many occasions that President Monson is his Prophet on the earth today
  • As I listen to his words I receive spiritual confirmation that they are from the Lord
  • when I follow his counsel I am blessed and am happier
  • I have shaken his hand and looked into his eyes and know he is a prophet.

There is a lot of debate and discussion about faith and doubt. Let us not allow our personal experiences to be hostage to the opinions of others. Our experience of living the gospel is more valuable than unsubstantiated theories. In Hebrew 1:1 we read  ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’. These personal experiences are our real, vital and substantial evidence.

Posted in Uncategorized

Symbolic meanings of numbers in the scriptures (Reblogged from January 2015)

MormonBloke

In my booklet ‘Reading the Preston Temple’ I comment on the symbolic meaning of certain numbers.  Some people have expressed an interest in the symbolic meaning of numbers found in the  scriptures so I thought I would share some thoughts on some significant numbers.

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1 – God, Unity

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: (Deut 6:4)

2 –  symbolizes witness and support.

  • Two witnesses establish truth (Matthew 26:60).
  • The disciples were sent two by two (Luke 10:1).
  • The Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets of stone.
  • The Old and New Testament

3 –  Signifies completion or perfection, and unity.

  • Three is the number of Personages in the Godhead.
  • Many significant events in the Bible happened “on the third day” (Hosea 6:2).
  • Jesus’ earthly ministry lasted three years
  • This number operates as a “sign-post” in Scripture study for the reader to “pay attention” to the significance…

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Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 4 – The Things Which I Saw While I Was Carried Away in the Spirit

NEPHI’S VISION (1 NEPHI 10–14)

Judea and Galilee in the Meridian of Time Nephite-Lamanite Civilization Gentile Nations in the Last Days
Virgin birth ( 11:13–20 ) Christ’s ministry to descendants of Lehi ( 12:4–10 ) Formation of a great church ( 13:4–9 )
John Baptist (10:7–10 ) Battle between Nephites and Lamanites ( 12:13–15, 19 ) Columbus discovers America ( 13:12 )
Ministry of Christ (11:24 ) Destruction of Nephites (12:19–20 ) Immigrants seek freedom in America (13:13 )
The Twelve Apostles (11:29 ) Lamanites dwindle in unbelief (12:21–23 ) Scattering of latter-day Lamanites ( 13:14 )
Christ performs miracles (11:31 )   Wars of independence ( 13:16–19 )
Trial and Crucifixion (11:32–33 )   Gentiles stumble when plain and precious truths removed from the Bible ( 13:20–34 )
Apostles persecuted (11:34–36 )   Restoration of the gospel ( 14:7 )
    Bible and Book of Mormon taken to Lamanites ( 13:35–41 )
    Lord’s promise to the Gentiles ( 13:34, 42 )
    Wars and rumors of wars ( 14:15–16 )
    Saints of the Church of the Lamb armed with the power of God ( 14:14 )
    God’s wrath poured out on the abominable church ( 14:13 )
    Second Coming and end of the world*

*Nephi witnessed these events but was told not to write them because that was the stewardship of John the Revelator. At least some of these events are included in the book of Revelation.

Nephis-vision

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, LDS Doctrine, Symbolism

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 3 -The Vision of the Tree of Life

1 Nephi 8:1-4 The dark and dreary wilderness Life without God?
1 Nephi 8:5–6 A man in a white robe who invites Lehi to follow him Jesus, the Holy Ghost?
1 Nephi 8:7–8 The dark and dreary waste  
1 Nephi 8:9 The great and spacious field The world. See 1 Nephi 8:20
1Nephi 8:10 The tree Eternal life. The love of God. See 1 Nephi 11:20
1 Nephi 8:11-12 The fruit of the tree The blessings of the atonement See 1 Nephi 15:36

David A. Bednar:The fruit on the tree is a symbol for the blessings of the Atonement.  Partaking of the fruit of the tree represents the receiving of ordinances and covenants whereby the Atonement can become fully efficacious in our lives.  The fruit is described as “desirable to make one happy” (1 Ne 8:10) and produces great joy and the desire to share that joy with others. (Ensign, Oct. 2011, 34)

The fruit of the tree of life is described in the scriptures with 8 different phrases.

8:11 Sweet above all,

8:11 White to exceed all whiteness,

8:12 Desirable above all other fruit,

11:8 Exceeding of all beauty;

11:9 Precious above all,

11:23 Most joyous to the soul,

Alma 32:42 Pure above all that is pure,

1 Nephi 15:36 Greatest of all the gifts of God.

 

Notice what all the phrases have in common – they are all superlatives. They refer to something that is better than anything else.

1 Nephi 8:13 The river of water Depths of hell. See 1 Nephi 12:16

Filthiness.

1 Nephi 8:15–16 The family partaking of the fruit  
1 Nephi 8:17–18 Laman and Lemuel refusing to partake of the fruit  
1 Nephi 8:19 The rod of iron The word of God. See 1 Nephi 15:23-24

Ezra Taft Benson:”We must engage in activities that bring spiritual power. I speak of such activities as immersing ourselves in the scriptures. There is a power that flows into our lives when we read and study the scriptures on a daily basis that cannot be found in any other way.” (1987-1988 BYU Devotional and Fireside Speeches, pp. 53-54, as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.31)

1 Nephi 8:20 The strait and narrow path The way to eternal life. See 2 Nephi 31:18-19

Neal A. Maxwell:”The strait and narrow path, though clearly marked, is a path, not a freeway nor an escalator. Indeed, there are times when the only way the strait and narrow path can be followed is on one’s knees! And we are to help each other along the path.” (Ensign, May 1982, p.38 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.32)

1 Nephi 8:21–22 Numberless concourses of people pressing forward “Lehi beheld ‘numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which [he] stood.’  It is just so today.  Multitudes of the earth’s inhabitants respond regularly to the Light of Christ and seek to know more of the will of him whose they are.  They seek to get on that path which leads directly to peace here and eternal life hereafter.  But navigating the strait and narrow path takes care and caution.  One’s eyes must ever be fixed upon the Lord and his glory, and thus the traveler must be willing to forsake the extraneous and the unnecessary things which the world offers so readily.

“The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in 1839 that ‘there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it’ (D&C 123:12).  In some cases, even those who find the truth are not able to forsake the world and its trappings and thus travel unencumbered down the narrow gospel passageway.  Indeed, it is not difficult to live the principles of the gospel and thus to hold to the iron rod, except where one also attempts to maintain a concurrent grasp on the world.” (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 59)

1 Nephi 8:23 The great mist of darkness that causes some to lose their way Temptations of the devil. See 1 Nephi 12:17

Jeffrey R. Holland: Our times are turbulent and difficult.  We see wars internationally and distress domestically.  Neighbors all around us face personal heartaches and family sorrows.  Legions know fear and troubles of a hundred kinds.  This reminds us that when those mists of darkness enveloped the travelers in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, it enveloped all of the participants-the righteous as well as the unrighteous, the young along with the elderly, the new convert and seasoned member alike.  In that allegory all face opposition and travail, and only the rod of iron-the declared word of God-can bring them safely through.  We all need that rod.  We all need that word.  No one is safe without it, for in its absence any can “[fall] away into forbidden paths and [be] lost,” as the record says. (“Prophets in the Land Again,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 105)

1 Nephi 8:24–25 Those who reach the tree but are ashamed after they partake  
1 Nephi 8:26–27 The great and spacious building, people mocking, Pride of the world. See 1 Nephi 11:36

Harold B. Lee: “Unfortunately, some are among us who claim to be Church members but are somewhat like the scoffers in Lehi’s vision-standing aloof and seemingly inclined to hold in derision the faithful who choose to accept Church authorities as God’s special witnesses of the gospel and his agents in directing the affairs of the Church.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 91 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.34)

1 Nephi 8:28 People falling away into forbidden paths Neal A. Maxwell: “A few members of the Church, alas, desert the cause; they are like one who abandons an oasis to search for water in the desert. Some of these few will doubtless become critics, and they will be welcomed into the ‘great and spacious building.’ Henceforth, however, so far as their theological accommodations are concerned, they are in a spacious but third-rate hotel. All dressed up, as the Book of Mormon says, ‘exceedingly fine’ (1 Ne 8:27), they have no place to go except-one day, hopefully, home.” (First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation, BYU Religious Studies Center, p. 11 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.34)
1 Nephi 8:29–30 Those who “came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree”  
1 Nephi 8:31–33 Multitudes trying to reach the building, those who are “drowned in the depths of the fountain,” those who are “lost from his view, wandering in strange roads”  

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Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016

Gospel Doctrine 2016: Lesson 2 – All Things According to His Will

‘Faith is essential for healing by the powers of heaven. The Book of Mormon even teaches that “if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them” (Ether 12;12) (See also 1 Nephi 7:12)’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2010)

Lehi leaves Jerusalem
Lehi leaves Jerusalem

‘When you feel overwhelmed by expectations and challenges, do not fight the battle alone. Follow the example of small children, and drop to your knees in prayer. Jesus Christ has commanded us, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” (D&C 6:35). Doubt, fear, and worry indicate we have taken all of life’s burdens and anxieties on ourselves. When plagued by thoughts that you are inadequate, confidently say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13, see also 1 Nephi 7:12). Then as you “cheerfully do all things that lie in [your] power,” (D&C 123:17) you can rest assured that the Lord will do the remainder and things will work out all right. “ (Anthony D Perkins, General Conference, October 2006)

Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass
Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass

“When our lives are consistent with his gospel, we receive confidence through his Spirit to meet the challenges of each day. We can say with Nephi: “The Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him. … Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.” (1 Nephi 7:12) (Rex D Pinegar, General Conference, October 1980)

Nephi and his brothers bring the brass plates to their family.
Nephi and his brothers bring the brass plates to their family.

‘Nephi’s exhortation to faith is somewhat unusual in Old Testament vocabulary. Faith is more often associated with the New Testament than with the Old. However, faith has never been absent in human experience regardless of the term we might use to define it. In the Old Testament, what we might term faith would be considered loyalty. One was loyal to Yahweh’s cause. As a loyal servant, one would follow Yahweh’s commands. Regardless of the term Nephi might have used, he had learned a significant lesson about faith and includes it in his conclusion. Nevertheless, we must remember that Joseph Smith’s translation was significantly influenced by his Christian and New Testament perspective. Thus, New Testament phrases and vocabularies appear in pre-Christian contexts in the Book of Mormon. Faith was likely one of those terms adopted from the New Testament context.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness – Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

01 1N7.1 Ishmaels Daughters

‘There is a reason that faith is the first principle of the gospel, because it is our willingness to believe Christ, to believe that He will do what He has said He will do, that activates the power of the Atonement in our lives. The Lord has promised “to do all things . . . for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him” (1 Nephi 7:12; emphasis added).

As our faith increases, we come to understand the magnificent promises He has made to those who live on His side of the line. He promised to heal our broken hearts and to set at liberty them who are bruised (see Luke 4:18, Jacob 2:8); to give power to the faint and to increase the strength of those who have no strength (see Isaiah 40:28–29); to help us bear our burdens with ease (see Mosiah 24:15); to succor us or come to our aid if we will seek after Him (see Alma 7:12); and to allow the devil no power over us if we will build our lives on His rock (see Helaman 5:12).

No doubt most of us here believe the Lord can do these things. But do we believe that He will? That He will heal our broken hearts and help us bear our burdens? The Lord has said that if we only “desire to believe,” we should let this desire work in us and experiment upon His words (see Alma 32:27). Can’t you almost hear the Savior pleading, “Try me. Put me to the test. See if I won’t do for you what I have said I will do.”

My testimony is that He will, and that He does. ‘ (Sheri Dew, BYU Speeches: Living on the Lord’s Side of the Line. March 2000)