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

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 8 – O How Great the Goodness of Our God

1. Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ offers redemption from temporal death and spiritual death.

Structure of 2 Nephi 9:

  • Jacob explains the Resurrection and the Jugement (1-16)
  • A Hymn to the Holy One of Israel (17-24)
  • The Law and the First Wo (25-27)
  • Nine More Woes (28-38)
  • Jacob Exhorts His People to Remember (39-54)
  • (Structure according to Grant Hardy, The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition)

2 Nephi 9:5 that all men might become subject unto him

‘The Book of Mormon also teaches that the great Creator died “for all men, that all men might become subject unto him”  2 Ne. 9:5 Being subject to our Savior means that if our sins are to be forgiven through His Atonement, we must comply with the conditions He has prescribed, including faith, repentance, and baptism. The fulfillment of these conditions depends on our desires, our choices, and our actions. “He cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice”  (2 Ne. 9:21)’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2006)

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2 Nephi 9:6 Death hath passed upon all men

‘Our scriptures say: “Death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator.”  (2 Ne. 9:6)Where the true Saints are concerned there is no sorrow in death except that which attends a temporary separation from loved ones. Birth and death are both essential steps in the unfolding drama of eternity.

We shouted for joy at the privilege of becoming mortal because without the tests of mortality there could be no eternal life. We now sing praises to the great Redeemer for the privilege of passing from this life because without death and the resurrection we could not be raised in immortal glory and gain eternal life.’ (Bruce R McConkie, General Conference, October 1976)

2 Nephi 9:7 an infinite atonement

“His Atonement is infinite—without an end. It was also infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death. It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. It was infinite in time, putting an end to the preceding prototype of animal sacrifice. It was infinite in scope—it was to be done once for all. And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him. It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension.

“Jesus was the only one who could offer such an infinite atonement, since He was born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. Because of that unique birthright, Jesus was an infinite Being” (Russell M Nelson, Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 46; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 35).

2 Nephi 9:8-9 if the flesh should rise no more

“If the resurrection from the dead be not an important point, or item in our faith, we must confess that we know nothing about it; for if there be no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not risen; and if Christ has not risen He was not the Son of God; and if He was not he Son of God there is not nor cannot be a Son of God, if the present book called the Scriptures is true; because the time has gone by when, according to that book, He was to make His appearance . . . And if He has risen from the dead, He will by His power, bring all men to stand before Him; for if He has risen from the dead the bands of the temporal death are broken that the grave has no victory, if then, the grave has no victory, those who keep the sayings of Jesus and obey His teachings have not only a promise of a resurrection from the dead, but an assurance of being admitted into His glorious kingdom.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 62. as taken from McConkie and Millet’s, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 240)

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2 Nephi 9:10 O how great the goodness of our God

“Thanks be to God for the wonder and the majesty of His eternal plan. Thank and glorify His Beloved Son, who, with indescribable suffering, gave His life on Calvary’s cross to pay the debt of mortal sin. He it was who, through His atoning sacrifice, broke the bonds of death and with godly power rose triumphant from the tomb. He is our Redeemer, the Redeemer of all mankind. He is the Savior of the world. He is the Son of God, the Author of our salvation” (Gordon B Hinckley, Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 69; or Ensign, May 1985, 51).

2 Nephi 9:12 Hell

‘The Mormon concept of hell is quite different from the traditional Christian view. Mormons believe that after death, all people enter the spirit world, which is divided into two spheres: a spirit paradise and a spirit prison. Those in spirit prison—which Mormons may sometimes call “hell”—suffer the consequences of any sins for which they have not repented and have the opportunity to learn about God and decide whether to reject or accept Christ’s love and teachings.

For Mormons, spirit prison is a temporary place, as almost all individuals who go there will benefit from the eternal perspective that the afterlife has afforded them, and will choose to follow God. After Christ’s second coming, each spirit will be joined with its perfected body and be judged for the final time (see verse 12); each will then be sent to spend eternity in one of three paradise kingdoms.

A very tiny minority (including those people who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit and have chosen to hate God) will be banished to outer darkness with Satan and his minions. Unlike spirit prison, which is a temporary hell-like state, outer darkness lasts forever.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

2 Nephi 9:13 the plan of our God

‘The word “plan” is not found in the Bible, yet it’s found forty-two times in the Book of Mormon . . . and thirty-six times in the book of Alma. . . . Origen tells us that in the early church they taught that you earned your position here before you came here. So whatever happened to the plan? How did it drop out of the Bible? . . . When the temple was lost the rabbis took over. They were learned men but they were not priests. . . . The philosophers at the School of Alexandria took it over, and in their place you have the doctrines of St. Augustine–this takes the place of the plan. That is, you are predestined to damnation or you are predestined to salvation. . . . This predestination doctrine of St. Augustine was taken over by the Lutherans and by the Calvinists especially. What happens to you is because you were predestined that way. Of course, you didn’t live before you came here; you didn’t earn it or anything like that. . . . All creation had to be instantaneously, simultaneously complete. Everything was completely there all at once, so you had no background or anything. (Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon)

2 Nephi 9:15  judged according to the holy judgment of God

‘The scriptures teach that every individual must “be judged according to the holy judgment of God.”  On that day there will be no opportunity to hide among a larger group or point to others as an excuse for our being unclean. Gratefully, the scriptures also teach that Jesus Christ, He who suffered for our sins, who is our Advocate with the Father, who calls us His friends, who loves us unto the end, He ultimately will be our judge. One of the often overlooked blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that “the Father … hath committed all judgment unto the Son. (John 5:22)” (Allen D Haynie, General Conference, October 2015)

2 Ne 9:21 he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature

“Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. The thought that He suffered through fear of death is untenable. Death to Him was preliminary to resurrection and triumphal return to the Father from whom He had come, and to a state of glory even beyond what He had before possessed; and, moreover, it was within His power to lay down His life voluntarily. He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and syncope would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince of this world’ could inflict. The frightful struggle incident to the temptations immediately following the Lord’s baptism was surpassed and overshadowed by this supreme contest with the powers of evil.

“In some manner, actual and terribly real though to man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world. Modern revelation assists us to a partial understanding of the awful experience. In March 1830, the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, thus spake: ‘For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent, but if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I, which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit: and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink — nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.’ (DC 19:16-9)

“From the terrible conflict in Gethsemane, Christ emerged a victor. Though in the dark tribulation of that fearful hour He had pleaded that the bitter cup be removed from His lips, the request, however oft repeated, was always conditional; the accomplishment of the Father’s will was never lost sight of as the object of the Son’s supreme desire. The further tragedy of the night, and the cruel inflictions that awaited Him on the morrow, to culminate in the frightful tortures of the cross, could not exceed the bitter anguish through which He had Successfully passed.” (James E Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 613-4).

2 Nephi 9:22 Resurrection

‘The possibility that a mortal who has died will be brought forth and live again in a resurrected body has awakened hope and stirred controversy through much of recorded history. Relying on clear scriptural teachings, Latter-day Saints join in affirming that Christ has “broken the bands of death”  (Mosiah 16:7) and that “death is swallowed up in victory”  (1 Cor. 15:54 ) Because we believe the Bible and Book of Mormon descriptions of the literal Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we also readily accept the numerous scriptural teachings that a similar resurrection will come to all mortals who have ever lived upon this earth. As Jesus taught, “Because I live, ye shall live also”  (John 14:19) (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2000)

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2. Certain attitudes and actions prevent us from receiving all the blessings of the Atonement.

2 Nephi 9:27 wasteth the days of his probation

‘Many individuals preoccupied by the cares of the world are not necessarily in transgression. But they certainly are in diversion and thus waste “the days of [their] probation” ‘ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, October 2000)

2 Nephi 9:28-30 The proud who are learned and the proud who are rich

“The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and proud who are rich. The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with  them otherwise, the prophet is just giving his opinion-speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet.” (Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 BYU Speeches of the year, p. 29 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 120)

2 Nephi 9:34 Wo unto the liar

“We believe in being honest [Articles of Faith 1:13]. …

“We all need to know what it means to be honest. Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving. …

“… Honesty is a moral compass to guide us in our lives. …

“Honesty is a principle, and we have our moral agency to determine how we will apply this principle. We have the agency to make choices, but ultimately we will be accountable for each choice we make. We may deceive others, but there is One we will never deceive. From the Book of Mormon we learn, ‘The keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name’ [2 Nephi 9:41].

“There are different shades of truth telling. When we tell little white lies, we become progressively color-blind. It is better to remain silent than to mislead. The degree to which each of us tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth depends on our conscience. …

“… As President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, ‘Let the truth be taught by example and precept—that to steal is evil, that to cheat is wrong, that to lie is a reproach to anyone who indulges in it” (James E Faust, Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 57–61; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 41–44).

2 Nephi 9:42 puffed up because of their learning

‘What causes intellectual apostasy? Why do some learned men and women turn from the faith? It is not learning, for there are hundreds of us, thousands of us, equally well-trained. It isn’t being exposed to different ideas, for we too were exposed to these ideas in the finest universities of the land. Why, then, do they lose their testimony? Principally out of vanity and pride. They want to impress others with their learning. To put it indelicately, it is the problem of the swelled head, because that is exactly what the Prophet said.’ (Theodore M Burton, General Conference, April 1961)

3. The Lord remembers His covenants with His people.

2 Nephi 10:3 The name ‘Christ’

‘As a young missionary, I had a most interesting discussion with a clergyman. He told us that he could not accept the Book of Mormon because it openly spoke of Jesus Christ, using His name and events of His life hundreds of years before His birth. He found this transparency uncharacteristic of the pattern of the Old Testament that referenced the Savior more subtly.

To me the bold declaration of Jesus Christ is the very power of the Book of Mormon.  Of course, we must receive a spiritual witness that the book is of God.  But once that is obtained, the purposes of Christ, the reality of His life and Resurrection, and the clarity of what is necessary to follow Him and obtain eternal life with Him are strikingly tangible before us.’ (Neil L Andersen, Ensign, Oct. 2011, 41)

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