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

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 7 – I Know in Whom I Have Trusted

1. Lehi teaches that his descendants will be blessed through the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon

‘In the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, we read that “the Lord hath visited” Joseph, the son of Jacob spoken of in the Old Testament, and that Joseph was given great promises concerning his posterity (JST, Genesis 50:24). As Lehi testified, “Joseph truly saw our day” (2 Nephi 3:5), meaning the day of Lehi and his posterity, and knew that in the future God would raise up “a choice seer” (verse 7), namely the great prophet who was his namesake (see verse 15). Joseph knew also that it would be primarily his descendants whom the Lord would call upon first in these last days to carry the gospel to additional lost members of the house of Israel scattered among the nations of the earth, in compliance with the covenant God made with Abraham (see Bible Dictionary, “Joseph,” 716–17; Guide to the Scriptures, “Joseph, Son of Jacob”). Obviously, since the Lord kept His covenant with Joseph, He will also keep His covenants with us if we are righteous as well.

Lehi’s teaching is a great example of how Heavenly Father honored the covenant He made with Joseph. We can have the confidence that God will always honor His covenants.’ (Book of Mormon Institute Manual, 2009)

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2 Nephi 3:5 Out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.

‘This is a brilliant passage of prophecy. Lehi testifies that he (Lehi) had been shown in vision to Joseph in Egypt. In other words Joseph saw that Lehi would be the great leader who would be raised up to carry a branch of Joseph’s seed over the ocean to the promised land where they would receive the gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days. What a thrilling thing this must have been when Lehi learned that he was shown to Joseph in Egypt over a thousand years before Lehi was born.’ (W Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

2 Nephi 3:11 A seer will I raise up

‘The Prophet Joseph Smith brought us the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and many other writings. As far as our records show, he has given us more revealed truth than any prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said: “And not to the bringing forth my word only, … but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.”  2 Ne. 3:11 What did he mean by that? That in the midst of these hundreds of churches of men—the result of men’s interpretations of the scriptures because they can’t agree, and these churches keep multiplying—that the Lord would give to this new prophet the ability to comprehend the scriptures that had already been sent forth among them.’ (LeGrand Richards, General Conference, April 1981)

2 Nephi 3:12 Confounding of false doctrines

‘The Bible sits on the pulpit of hundreds of different religious sects. The Book of Mormon, the record of Joseph, verifies and clarifies the Bible. It removes stumbling blocks, it restores many plain and precious things. We testify that when used together, the Bible and the Book of Mormon confound false doctrines, lay down contentions, and establish peace.

We do not have to prove the Book of Mormon is true. The book is its own proof. All we need to do is read it and declare it! The Book of Mormon is not on trial—the people of the world, including the members of the Church, are on trial as to what they will do with this second witness for Christ.’ (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, October 1984)

2 Nephi 3:13 Out of weakness he shall be made strong

‘The reference to Joseph Smith’s “weakness” describes his humble economic, educational, and social position. Despite these disadvantages he will be made powerful through God’s blessing and calling.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

2 Ne 3:18 I will make for him a spokesman

‘The Lord provided Joseph Smith with the assistance of Oliver Cowdery. As soon as the prophet and Oliver became acquainted, the Prophet knew that Oliver had been sent to him by the Lord. If Joseph was compared unto Moses, Oliver was compared to Aaron. He was given to Joseph as a spokesman that would minister with the gift of Aaron. The Lord said to Oliver, you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things; Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you. Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God (DC 8:6-8). See also DC 28:3.

Later on, the role of Joseph’s spokesman was filled by Sidney Rigdon. Sidney was a great orator and preacher in another church before he was converted to Mormonism. Records of early church meetings show that Sidney spoke regularly and at great length. The Lord said, it is expedient in me that you, my servant Sidney, should be a spokesman unto this people; yea, verily, I will ordain you unto this calling, even to be a spokesman unto my servant Joseph (DC 100:9). (Gospeldoctrine.com)

2. Nephi laments his sinfulness but glories in the goodness of God.

2 Nephi 4:13 Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me

‘The brothers’ anger continues the longstanding dispute between Nephi and Laman and Lemuel. Even during Lehi’s life, the brothers resisted Nephi to the point of seeking his life. Now, the last vestige of familial loyalty was disappearing. Nephi recognizes his brothers’ argument (allegedly stolen primogeniture) but rejects it. He identifies the cause as his brothers’ unease at the constant reminders that they have denied and spurned Yahweh and the Spirit. Once a person has turned against the Spirit, its presence in another often generates anger with that person, a kind of generalized hatred toward all that is good.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

215A-Image Laman Lemuel

2 Nephi 4:17-35 Nephi’s psalm

See http://publications.mi.byu.edu/publications/jbms/6/2/S00003-50cb760cec7d73Nickerson.pdf for a form-critical analysis of Nephi’s psalm.

2 Nephi 4:17 My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities

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

I am certain Nephi knew that the Savior’s grace allows and enables us to overcome sin. This is why Nephi labored so diligently to persuade his children and brethren “to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God.” (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, April 2015)

2 Nephi 4:18-19 Overcoming our sins and weaknesses

‘Throughout the Book of Mormon we note Nephi’s righteousness, his faithfulness in tribulation, and his dedication to God, but still he exclaimed, “O wretched man that I am! … I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me” (2 Nephi 4:17–18). The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) taught that “the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin” (History of the Church, 2:8). Perhaps Nephi felt burdened by what we might consider trivial weaknesses to the point where they caused him sorrow, and he sought to be free from any vestige of sin.

Nephi’s heartfelt plea for the Lord to help him overcome his weaknesses helps us understand how to conquer our own weaknesses. Personal experience teaches us of our need to do likewise. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded us why we are commanded to repent and admonished us to take advantage of the Lord’s redeeming power:

“Why have our Father and His Son commanded us to repent? Because they love us. They know all of us will violate eternal laws. Whether they be small or large, justice requires that every broken law be satisfied to retain the promise of joy in this life and the privilege of returning to Father in Heaven. If not satisfied, in the Day of Judgment justice will cause that we be cast out of the presence of God to be under the control of Satan. [See 2 Nephi 9:8–10; 2:5.]

“It is our Master and His redeeming act that make it possible for us to avoid such condemnation. It is done through faith in Jesus Christ, obedience to His commandments, and enduring in righteousness to the end.

“Are you taking full advantage of the redeeming power of repentance in your life so that you can have greater peace and joy? Feelings of turmoil and despondency often signal a need for repentance. Also, the lack of the spiritual direction you seek in your life could result from broken laws. If needed, full repentance will put your life together. It will solve all of the complex spiritual pains that come from transgression. But in this life it cannot remedy some of the physical consequences that can occur from serious sin. Be wise, and consistently live well within the boundaries of righteousness defined by the Lord” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 31–32; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 25).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that, regardless of a person’s susceptibility or tendency, we have an obligation to exercise our agency to overcome our personal weaknesses:

“Perhaps these persons, as the saying goes, were ‘born that way.’ But what does that mean? Does it mean that persons with susceptibilities or strong tendencies have no choice, no free agency in these matters? Our doctrine teaches us otherwise. Regardless of a person’s susceptibility or tendency, his will is unfettered. His free agency is unqualified. It is his freedom that is impaired. … We are all responsible for the exercise of our free agency.

“… Most of us are born with thorns in the flesh, some more visible, some more serious than others. We all seem to have susceptibilities to one disorder or another, but whatever our susceptibilities, we have the will and the power to control our thoughts and our actions. This must be so. God has said that he holds us accountable for what we do and what we think, so our thoughts and actions must be controllable by our agency. Once we have reached the age or condition of accountability, the claim ‘I was born that way’ does not excuse actions or thoughts that fail to conform to the commandments of God. We need to learn how to live so that a weakness that is mortal will not prevent us from achieving the goal that is eternal.

“God has promised that he will consecrate our afflictions for our gain (see 2 Nephi 2:2). The efforts we expend in overcoming any inherited weakness build a spiritual strength that will serve us throughout eternity. Thus, when Paul prayed thrice that his ‘thorn in the flesh’ would depart from him, the Lord replied, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ [2 Corinthians 12:9]” (“Free Agency and Freedom,” in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., ed., The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, the Doctrinal Structure [1989], 13–14).

(Book 0f Mormon Institute Manual 2009)

2 Nephi 4:20 My God hath been my support

‘Last, I refer to the life of Nephi from the Book of Mormon as an example of faithful endurance. With his parents, he left prosperous circumstances in Jerusalem and then for eight years, in great affliction, journeyed in the wilderness. The family then crossed uncharted seas to a new land. During this period, Nephi was assailed, ridiculed, and persecuted by members of his household. Following the death of his father, Nephi and other family members had to separate themselves from his older brothers because they sought his life. Out of his despair, he declared, “My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep” ‘ (Howard W Hunter, General Conference, April 1980)

2 Nephi 4:21 The  consuming of my flesh

‘Nephi alludes to experiences with the Spirit so powerful that it has resulted in physiological consequences for him. Perhaps “the consuming of my flesh” parallels descriptions of the Spirit as a “burning.” In inadequate human words, Nephi is attempting to describe the sensation of being filled with the Spirit.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

2 Nephi 4:22 Confounded mine enemies

‘In these verses Nephi is trying to build up his thankfulness to God for all the blessings that have been poured out upon him. Somehow he is trying to counteract the temptation to take revenge on those who have already tried to kill him four different times and are now thinking of trying it again.’ (W Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

2 Nephi 4:26 If I have seen so great things

‘Nephi writes that God has granted him spiritual visions, angelic ministrations, protection from enemies, unfathomable love, and mighty answers to prayer. Why, then, does he feel so utterly dejected and alone? This section of Nephi’s psalm reflects other elements often found in psalms of lament: physical diminishment and an impossibly heavy heart.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

2 Nephi 4:27 Why should I give way to temptations

‘Nephi personalizes his spiritual struggles by contrasting the marvels of his spiritual experiences with the realities of temptations. Nephi does not doubt or discount his spiritual experiences. These temptations seem relatively minor. The picture is not one of an abject sinner approaching Yahweh, but of a righteous man seeing clearly his lack of perfection and need for continuing grace.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

2 Nephi 4:28 Give place no more for the enemy of my soul

‘We can reject the evil one. If we want it dearly and deeply enough, that enemy can and will be rebuked by the redeeming power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, I promise you that the light of His everlasting gospel can and will again shine brightly where you feared life had gone hopelessly, helplessly dark.’ Jeffrey R Holland, General Conference, April 2010)

2 Nephi 4:31 O Lord wilt Thou redeem my soul?

‘Nephi closes his psalm with a clear entreaty that God will deliver him from his own sins and also from the hands of his enemies. Like other psalms of deliverance, this one asks for a shield of protection and closes with a confession of total submission and trust.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

 2 Ne 4:32 a broken heart and a contrite spirit

‘The doctrine of a “broken heart and a contrite spirit” begins with the law of sacrifice as contained in the Old Testament. Under that law, the firstborn were sacrificed in similitude of the Only-Begotten Son. We are quick to teach that the law of animal sacrifice was fulfilled in the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are sometimes slow to realize that there was a replacement “law of sacrifice.” The new law as taught by the Savior requires just as regular and frequent a sacrifice. The difference is that we are to sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit upon the altar of discipleship. 3 Ne 9:19-20 reads as follows:

And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

Through our faith in Jesus Christ we become his disciples and offer up a broken heart and contrite spirit. It is through this faith and sacrifice that we can obtain forgiveness of sins, Behold, 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).This doctrine is even contained in the Old Testament, For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart (Ps 51:16-17).’ (gospeldoctrine.com)

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3. The anger of Laman and Lemuel increases against Nephi, and the Lord commands the followers of Nephi to separate from the followers of Laman

2 Nephi 5:3 They did murmur against me

‘Laman and Lemuel murmured against father Lehi for leading them into the wilderness because of the “foolish imaginations of his heart.” This same depressing duo declared that father Lehi had judged the Jerusalemites too harshly, yet Jerusalem was soon to fall.

Lehi rebuked murmuring Laman and Lemuel for complaining over Nephi’s saying “hard things” to them. Lehi noted: “That which ye call anger was the truth.”  (2 Ne. 1:26) How often you and I, brothers and sisters, can make that same mistake! Cutting truth does hurt, but its lancing can drain off pride.

There was murmuring, too, because Nephi broke his steel bow and couldn’t build a ship and because he was seen as trying to “rule over us” . Those same murmurers, however, soon surfeited themselves on the meat brought back by Nephi’s new bow, and they sailed in the ship that Nephi built. How handy inspired but imperfect leaders in the Church are as focal points for our frustrations, especially if circumstances require them to suffer in silence! Having confidence in leaders who keep confidences is part of sustaining them.’ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, October 1982)

2 Nephi 5:4 They did seek to take away my life

;We have to remember that this is the fifth time Laman and Lemuel had seriously conspired to kill their younger brother. On all four previous occasions the Lord intervened and saved Nephi’s life. However, this time it suited the purposes of God to take a different course of action.’ (W Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

2 Nephi 5:5 Separate ourselves from wickedness

‘There are times when it is necessary to physically flee from evil, such as with Nephi and his followers. Notice that it was “those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God” who went with Nephi (2 Nephi 5:6). In like manner, today those who hearken to the warnings and revelations of modern prophets are the ones who are spiritually following them. We may not always be able, however, to physically move ourselves away from wickedness. Elder Richard G. Scott shared how we can protect ourselves:

“God has provided a way to live in this world and not be contaminated by the degrading pressures evil agents spread throughout it. You can live a virtuous, productive, righteous life by following the plan of protection created by your Father in Heaven: His plan of happiness. It is contained in the scriptures and in the inspired declarations of His prophets. …

“Avoid worldly wickedness. Know that God is in control. In time, Satan will completely fail and be punished for his perverse evil. God has a specific plan for your life. He will reveal parts of that plan to you as you look for it with faith and consistent obedience. His Son has made you free—not from the consequences of your acts, but free to make choices. God’s eternal purpose is for you to be successful in this mortal life. No matter how wicked the world becomes, you can earn that blessing. Seek and be attentive to the personal guidance given to you through the Holy Spirit. Continue to be worthy to receive it. Reach out to others who stumble and are perplexed, not certain of what path to follow” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2004, 103–4, 106; or Ensign, May 2004, 100, 102).

(Book 0f Mormon Institute Manual 2009)

2 Nephi 5:6 and all those who would go with me

‘2 Nephi 5:6 explains that Nephi, Zoram, Sam (including each of their respective spouses and children), Jacob, Joseph, and Nephi’s sisters, all fled with Nephi from Laman and Lemuel (and their followers). Curiously, Nephi adds to this list of people by including “and all those who would go with me.” Is this a passive reference to the pre-Lehite natives of the Americas who had possibly intermingled with the Lehites? There is no doubt that there were other people on the continent when Lehi and family arrived (and not just the Jaredites). Later in the chapter (2 Nephi 5:34) it is noted that after only a few decades the Nephites and Lamanites had already had “wars and contentions”. This makes the most sense if the groups are much larger than the original group (plus subsequent children) who came on the boat (about 40-50 people). The greater numbers required for “wars and contentions” could be easily be explained by the native inhabitants of the land who joined themselves to the Nephites and Lamanites. (fairmormon.org)

2 Nephi 5:27 after the manner of happiness

‘While living in Bountiful, Nephi was charged by the Lord with the responsibility to build the ship which would take them across the sea to the promised land. After they arrived in the promised land, great conflicts continued to arise between the people who centered their lives in Christ and the nonbelievers, who followed the examples of Laman and Lemuel. Ultimately, the risk of violence between the two groups was so great that Nephi and those who followed the teachings of the Lord separated themselves and fled into the wilderness for safety. At this point in time, some 30 years after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, Nephi makes a well-documented and somewhat surprising statement, especially after recording in the scriptures the many afflictions and tribulations they had faced for so long. These are his words: “And it came to pass that we [did live] after the manner of happiness.” Despite their hardships, they were able to live after the manner of happiness because they were centered in Christ and His gospel.’ (Richard J Maynes, General Conference, October 2015)

 

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