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)

 

 

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