Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Jesus Christ

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 16 – Ye Shall Be Called the Children of Christ

1. King Benjamin’s people seek and receive a remission of their sins.

Mosiah 4:1 The angel of the Lord

‘According to John Welch, Jesus was personally known to many Book of Mormon prophets, for he appeared to several, including Lehi (1 Nephi 1:9), Nephi (2 Nephi 11:2), Jacob (2 Nephi 2:4; 11:3), Mormon (Mormon 1:15), the brother of Jared (Ether 3:14), and Moroni (Ether 12:39), as well as to the multitude in 3 Nephi. Others like Benjamin, Alma, Amulek, and Samuel the Lamanite saw “the angel of the Lord” (Mosiah 4:1; 27:11; Alma 10:7; Helaman 13:7), which may be a euphemism for seeing the Lord himself (for example, it is difficult to distinguish between “the angel of the Lord” and Jehovah in Genesis 16:7–11; 22:11-15; Exodus 3:2; and Judges 2:1–4). Thus, their teachings and testimonies about Jesus are based on firsthand knowledge and acquaintance.’ (Alan C Miner, Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 4:2 Carnal state

‘Since the fall, all men have become carnal, sensual and devilish by nature. (Moses 5:13; 6:49; Alma 42:10; Mosiah 16:1–4; D. & C. 20:20.) In this fallen state they are subject to the lusts, passions, and appetites of the flesh.

They are spiritually dead, having been cast out of the presence of the Lord; and thus ‘they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God.’ They are in a ‘carnal state’ (Alma 41:10–1); they are of the world. Carnality connotes worldliness, sensuality, and inclination to gratify the flesh.’ *Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine)

Mosiah 4:6 Prepared from the foundation of the world

“Peter testified that Christ was the ‘lamb without blemish and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world’ (1 Peter 1:19-20).  In the words of John the Revelator, Christ was the ‘Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8).  Such expressions affirm that the plan of salvation was known and taught even before the creation of the earth (see D&C 132:8-11).” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 76)

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Mosiah 4:12, 26 Retain a remission of your sins

“Much emphasis was given by King Benjamin to retaining a remission of our sins (see Mosiah 4:26). We do not ponder that concept very much in the church. We ought to think of it a lot more. Retention clearly depends on the regularity of our repentance. In the church we worry, and should, over the retention of new members, but the retention of our remissions is cause for even deeper concern” (Neal A Maxwell, “King Benjamin’s Sermon: A Manual for Discipleship” ).

“Are we not all beggars?” Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case? Little wonder that King Benjain says we obtain a remission of our sins by pleading to God, who compassionately responds, but we retain a remission of our sins by compassionately  responding to the poor who plead to us.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Ensign, Nov. 2014, 41)

2. King Benjamin teaches his people how to live Christlike lives.

Mosiah 4:14-15 Teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness

“Scriptures direct parents to teach faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost [see Moroni 8:10]. Parents are to teach the plan of salvation [see Moses 6:58–62] and the importance of living in complete accord with the commandments of God [see Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 6:7; Mosiah 4:14]. Otherwise, their children will surely suffer in ignorance of God’s redeeming and liberating law [see 2 Nephi 2:26]. Parents should also teach by example how to consecrate their lives—using their time, talents, tithing, and substance [see Mosiah 4:21–26; 18:27;Alma 1:27] to establish the Church and kingdom of God upon the earth [see JST, Matthew 6:38]. Living in that manner will literally bless their posterity” (Russell M Nelson,  General Conference, Oct. 2001).

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Mosiah 4:16 Administer of your substance

“We have always managed to give something to the poor, and refuse no one who asks for food. I believe this is the general sentiment and character of the Latter-day Saints. I think all the Mormon people are kindly disposed, and are generous toward the poor and unfortunate, and that there is not a Latter-day Saint under the sound of my voice or anywhere that would not divide his portion with his fellow creature in case of need….

“I have seen men go away from my door with good bread and butter in their hands (good enough for any king to eat, for my folks make good bread and good butter, as good as I ever ate on earth) and when out of the gate they have thrown it into the street. It was not food they wanted. They wanted money. For what? That they might go to some gambling [hall] or to some drinking saloon. Of course they are responsible for that. We can only judge by appearances and by the promptings of the good spirit within us; and it is better to give to a dozen that are unworthy than to turn away empty one worthy person.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, Pr/RS Manual, p. 194)

Mosiah 4:27 It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength

‘My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Let us be mindful of the foundational precepts our Heavenly Father has given to His children that will establish the basis of a rich and fruitful mortal life with promises of eternal happiness.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, October 2010)

3. King Benjamin’s people experience a “mighty change” and covenant to do God’s will in all things.

Mosiah 5:2 A mighty change

“Once we receive a witness of the Spirit, our testimony is strengthened through study, prayer, and living the gospel. Our growing testimony brings us increased faith in Jesus Christ and His plan of happiness. We are motivated to repent and obey the commandments, which, with a mighty change of heart, leads to our conversion. And our conversion brings divine forgiveness, healing, joy, and the desire to bear our witness to others” (Robert D Hales, General Conference, Oct. 2003).

Moses 5:7 Children of Christ

“The Son of God has a perfect right to call us his children, spiritually begotten, and we have a perfect right to look on him as our father who spiritually begot us.

“Now if these critics would read carefully the Book of Mormon, they would find that when the Savior came and visited the Nephites, he told them that he had been sent by his Father. He knelt before them, and he prayed to his Father. He taught them to pray to his Father, but that did not lessen in the least our duty and responsibility of looking upon the Son of God as a father to us because he spiritually begot us.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Reports, Oct. 1962, p. 21)

Mosiah 5:8 The name of Christ

“What does it mean to receive the name of Christ?” We remember that when we take the sacrament, we signify not that we have fully taken the name, but that we are willing to take the name (see Moroni 4:3; D&C 20:77); compare Mosiah 5:5).

Elder Dallin Oaks emphasized the word willingness, pointing to a future consummation:

… in the inspired dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith asked the Lord for a blessing upon “thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house” (D&C 109:26).

… [B]y partaking of the sacrament we witness our willingness to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple and to receive the highest blessings available through the name and by the authority of the Savior when he chooses to confer them upon us. (Dallin H. Oaks, “Taking upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ,” Ensign (May 1985): 81, emphasis added)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie also wrote about the meaning of receiving the divine name: “God’s name is God. To have his name written on a person is to identify that person as a god. How can it be said more plainly? Those who gain eternal life become gods!” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 458) (M Catherine Thomas, Benjamin and the Mysteries of God)

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Mosiah 5:12 Know the voice by which ye shall be called

“How are we to know the voice of the Good Shepherd from the voice of a stranger? Can any person answer this question? I can. It is very easy. To every philosopher upon the earth, I say, your eye can be deceived, so can mine; your ear can be deceived, so can mine; the touch of your hand can be deceived, so can mine; but the Spirit of God filling the creature with revelation and the light of eternity, cannot be mistaken-the revelation which comes from God is never mistaken. When an individual, filled with the Spirit of God, declares the truth of heaven, the sheep hear that, the Spirit of the Lord pierces their inmost souls and sinks deep into their hearts; by the testimony of the Holy Ghost light springs up within them, and they see and understand for themselves. This is the way the Gospel should be preached by every Elder in Israel, and by this power every hearer should hear; and if we would know the voice of the Good Shepherd, we must live so that the Spirit of the Lord can find its way to our hearts.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, ed. by John A. Widstoe, p. 431)

 

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

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 15 – Eternally Indebted to Your Heavenly Father

1. King Benjamin teaches his sons and has Mosiah call the people together.

“Note that the main story in the book of Mosiah is told in the third person rather than in the first person as was the custom in the earlier books of the Book of Mormon. The reason for this is that someone else is now telling the story, and that “someone else” is Mormon. With the beginning of the book of Mosiah we start our study of Mormon’s abridgment of various books that had been written on the large plates of Nephi. (3 Nephi 5:8-12.) The book of Mosiah and the five books that follow — Alma, Helaman, 3 Nephi, 4 Nephi, and Mormon — were all abridged or condensed by Mormon from the large plates of Nephi, and these abridged versions were written by Mormon on the plates that bear his name, the plates of Mormon. These are the same plates that were given to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni.” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.173)

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Mosiah 1:2 And it came to pass

‘According to Joseph Allen, the phrase “and it came to pass” (or one of its derivatives) occurs in the English translation of the Book of Mormon over 1300 times. Apparently, the Maya people, who lived in southeast Mexico and Guatemala, may have adopted the phrase. Recent discoveries by Linda Schele show that the glyphs of the Seventh Century A.D. Maya ruins of Palenque use the phrases “and then it came to pass” and “it had come to pass.”

Furthermore, we know that the Lowland Maya did not invent writing in Mesoamerica. They simply adopted it from an earlier culture that existed between 600 B.C. and 50 A.D. The beginnings of the Classic Maya writing system fall in the period between 200 B.C. and 50 A.D. ‘ (Alan C Miner, Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 1:5 Understand of his mysteries

‘A mystery is a truth that cannot be known except through divine revelation-a sacred secret. In the days of Paul the important truth that Gentiles were to be admitted to the Kingdom of God without observing the Law of Moses was a ‘mystery’ (Eph. 1:9-11; Col. 1:25-27). In our day such great truths as those pertaining to the restoration of the Priesthood, the work for the dead, and the re-establishment of the Church are ‘mysteries,’ because they could not have been discovered except by revelation.’ (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, p. 141)

Mosiah 1:10 Thou art a king

“…though the database is small, Benjamin was a special father. Significantly, his own disinterest in status and power was apparently successfully transmitted to his sons. They were neither power-hungry, nor did they vie with one other for ascendancy, as so often happens in the process of succession. Their father-king had set the example for those whom he affectionately addressed as, O my sons (v. 6). His successor-son even tilled the soil just as his father had done, signaling to the people that they were not required to sustain him either. Think, therefore, upon his effectiveness as a father.” (Neal A Maxwell, Farms Symposia Audiotape, “Benjamin’s Sermon: A Manual for Discipleship”)

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2. King Benjamin teaches the people of their eternal indebtedness to God.

Mosiah 2:5-6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple

‘I love the imagery of these verses. Figuratively speaking, brethren, are the doors of our homes pitched towards the temples we so love? Do we attend as often as we can, showing our children through our example the importance of these sacred and special places?

As recorded in Mosiah, families received the word of the Lord through their prophet with enthusiasm and commitment. The people were so moved by King Benjamin’s teachings that they entered into a new covenant to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Ronald A Rasband, General Conference, April 2006)

Mosiah 2:9 Open your ears that you may hear

‘This admonition to open our ears to listen does not always receive the same response. While some people indicate a willingness to listen attentively and to be obedient to the words of the Lord, others seem to close their ears, not wanting to hear nor to obey. There are others who are slow to hear but who eventually do listen and become obedient. For all of these people, the result of their attitudes concerning the voice of the Lord will bring into their lives consequences which, in many instances, may be of an eternal nature.’ (Francisco J Vinas, General Conference, October 1996)

Mosiah 2:12 Have not sought gold or silver

‘While we can take Benjamin at his word that he has not sought wealth at the expense of this people and that he has not levied taxes (v. 14), it is also clear that he must have required something from the people, since a central government cannot exist without goods in some form flowing from the people. And in fact, the town’s ceremonial architecture suggests the form that support took: the temple with its walls. Such building projects require large amounts of labor that perforce remove people from other pursuits. Almost certainly some of this effort was governed by the season, with food production taking precedence. Benjamin’s point is not that they have not contributed to the support of government, but that they have not contributed to enriching Benjamin.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 2:17 Service

“When we understand why we serve we will not worry about where we serve.” (Howard W Hunter, BYU Devotional, Sept. 2, 1990)

Mosiah 2:20-21 Ye would be unprofitable servants

‘Benjamin teaches that even people whose souls are fully committed to God are “unprofitable servants.” In Mormonism, no human being is considered capable of saving himself or herself; we must all lean on the merits of Christ and his atonement. Benjamin does not speak of Christ here (which he does further into his speech), but the connection is clear. As LDS president Joseph Fielding Smith taught, “we never could repay” Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ “no matter how hard we labor.” The debt is simply too great.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Mosiah 2:24 He doth immediately bless you

‘Benjamin attempts here to explain the problem of grace and works without casting it as a theological question. We begin mortality in debt to God for our very lives; but when we attempt to repay him for our lives by obedience to his commandments, he immediately blesses us, leaving the original debt untouched. By the very nature of God and by the nature of mortality, we are unable to “catch up” to God’s blessings. While some blessings might seem to be “earned,” the overall set of blessings can never be earned.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 2:41 The blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments

“God has, in His mercy and kindness, confirmed the labors of His servants and the counsels they have given by bestowing prosperity and blessing upon all those who have accepted their counsels and have carried them out in the spirit in which they have been given. The Latter-day Saints themselves are living witnesses to this.

“The men who followed President Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles over whom he presided when they left Nauvoo and…laid the foundation of Salt Lake City, they have been the people who have been the most blessed of God and most prospered; they have prospered in their religion, they have prospered in temporal things, and they have been blessed with peace all the day long; while the men who disobeyed that counsel and concluded that they had had enough of this work and of following the counsels of the leading men of this Church (Sidney Rigdon, et al), have had sorrow and difficulty and have not prospered. God confirmed the leadership of these men by bestowing His blessing upon them and upon those who followed their counsels. He delivered them from perils, He delivered them from Indians, He delivered them from famine, He delivered them from pestilence, and prosperity attended their labors, and every settlement that has been formed in these mountains from the day Salt Lake Valley was reached has been attended with similar prosperity…There is the blessing of God; there is the peace of heaven; there is the joy of the Holy Ghost; there are the gifts and blessings that attend the faithful servants and handmaidens of Jesus Christ, in addition to temporal prosperity, before which temporal prosperity fades. I am speaking now of money and that which perishes with money. I have seen the richest people living in the lowliest homes. Why? Because they were rich in their feelings. I have seen the richest men who were poorer than the poorest of earth’s sons. Why? Because they did not have that rich feeling. Such a feeling does not belong to riches and earthly prosperity. It comes from the blessing of God. In this respect the Latter-day Saints may be said to be the richest people on the face of the earth. They are rich in that glorious feeling that God gives. You may strip them, as I have seen them stripped, of earthly possessions, and turned loose in a wilderness without a place of security and not knowing where they would find a resting place, and yet they were as happy a people as I ever saw in my life. Destitute of many things that men and women consider essential to earthly comfort, yet they had that which is above price, and which riches cannot bestow, namely, the peace of heaven, the peace of God resting down upon them. And they have been a rich people from that day to the present.” (George Q Cannon, Journal of Discourses, vol. 24, pp. 221-2)

3. King Benjamin repeats an angel’s prophecies about Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

Mosiah 3:3 Glad tidings of great joy

‘The wording here—“glad tidings of great joy”—is similar to the angelic message in Luke 2 in the New Testament, where angels impart “good tidings of great joy” to the shepherds. In both cases, the tidings referred to the coming birth of Christ.’  (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Mosiah 3:7 Blood cometh from every pore

Note 6. The Bloody Sweat. — Luke, the only Gospel-writer who mentions sweat and blood in connection with our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane, states that ‘his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground’ (22:44). Many critical expositors deny that there was an actual extrusion of blood, on the grounds that the evangelist does not positively affirm it, and that the three apostles, who were the only human witnesses, could not have distinguished blood from sweat falling in drops, as they watched from a distance in the night, even if the moon, which at the passover season was full, had been unobscured. Modern scripture removes all doubt. See D&C 19:16-19, also 18:11. See further a specific prediction of the bloody sweat, Mosiah 3:7.” (James E Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 613-4, 620)

Mosiah 3:10 The resurrection of Christ

‘The detail that Jesus would rise on the third day is new in Benjamin’s speech although both Jesus’s resurrection (2 Ne. 26:1) and his role as a judge were already known (1 Ne. 13:33, 22:21; 2 Ne. 9:15; etc).’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

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Mosiah 3:11 Those who have died not knowing the will of God

‘Also, according to King Benjamin, Christ’s blood will cleanse or sanctify those people who do not have a chance to receive the gospel in mortality but who live lives sufficiently good that temple work will be effective for them and who receive the gospel in the spirit world.’ (Milton R Hunter, General Conference, April 1958)

Mosiah 3:16 Little children

‘Mormons do not believe in original sin, the idea that the Fall of Adam and Eve is automatically passed from one generation to the next so that people are born in sin. In Mormon practice, children are not baptized until at least age eight, when they reach the age of accountability and are thought to be able to understand right from wrong. Here, Benjamin does not teach his hearers about baptism, but of salvation and sin in general. Since little children are not capable of fully knowing right from wrong, they are among the innocents who have “ignorantly sinned” (Mosiah 3:11) and are covered by the blood of Christ.’  (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Mosiah 3:19 The natural man

“One of the most disputed issues among so-called Christian theologians has been the question of the basic nature of man. Some of these theologians have argued that man is born evil into this world as an infant; thus the only way this evil can be removed is by receiving the sacrament of baptism. Still other theologians have argued that man is born innocent and remains basically good; some of them thus conclude that inasmuch as man is basically good he has no need for a redeemer to atone for his sins.

“It should be clear to students of the Book of Mormon that the prophets definitely reject both the doctrine of the natural depravity of man and the doctrine that man is so good by nature he has no need for a redeemer. Benjamin, the prophet and king of the Nephites, said that ‘an angel from God’ taught him that although infants are born in a state of innocence, after they become accountable they can become enemies to God if they do not accept the saving principles and ordinances of the gospel.” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 177-8)

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

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 14 – For a Wise Purpose

1. Enos prays for himself, the Nephites, and the Lamanites.

Enos 1:1 He taught me in his language

‘It is curious that Enos explains that his father taught him in the language of his father and in the ways of the Lord. We can readily understand the second idea, for we also strive to teach our children the ways of the Lord. What is less clear is why Jacob would have to teach Enos his “language.” Nephi stated that he has been “taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.… The language of my father… consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians” (1 Ne. 1:1–2). While this seems to be a parallel statement, the difference is that Enos specifically mentions being taught the language where Nephi writes in the “language of my father.”

I suggest that Enos is literally speaking about learning Jacob’s language. Obviously, he is not talking simply about the unconscious way in which all toddlers absorb grammar and vocabulary from their parents. One possible reason for this statement is to indicate that Jacob taught him the language of the Old World (Hebrew) because the Nephites are now speaking a different language. This interpretation is appropriate, even likely, given the Nephites’ linguistic adaptation to a new location. But a second and more likely meaning is that Jacob taught Enos the writing system (Egyptian) that he would need for his record on the plates. Regardless of the spoken language, the plates require a specific script and vocabulary, modeled after the brass plates.’  (Brant Gardner, Second Witness, Analytical and Cultural Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

 

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Enos 1:2 I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God

‘We cannot find Enos-like faith without our own wrestle before God in prayer. I testify that the reward is worth the effort. Remember the pattern: (1) hear the word of God, spoken and written by His servants; (2) let that word sink deep into your heart; (3) hunger in your soul for righteousness; (4) obediently follow gospel laws, ordinances, and covenants; and (5) raise your voice in mighty prayer and supplication, asking in faith to know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I promise that if you do these things sincerely and unceasingly, the words Christ spoke to His disciples will be fulfilled in your life: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”‘ (Robert D Hales, General Conference, October 2004).

Enos 1:4 All the day long did I cry unto him

“Mental wrestling can take the form of prolonged prayer. It may be necessary to pray longer and harder sometimes in order to get the feeling that you have been heard. You remember the case of Enos and his day-long prayer. Of course, that was an extreme case involving a future prophet of God. If you ever get where you need to pray all day long, you will know it and the power will be given to you. It isn’t the sort of thing you just set out to do because you would like to hear a voice like Enos did. Still, Enos’s example is one you should ponder as you think of gaining the determination to think and communicate with God.” (Vaughn J Featherstone, Commitment, p. 30)

Enos 1:5 Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee

“The Redeemer can settle your individual account with justice and grant forgiveness through the merciful path of repentance [see Alma 42:15]. Full repentance is absolutely essential for the Atonement to work its complete miracle in your life. By understanding the Atonement, you will see that God is not a jealous being who delights in persecuting those who misstep. He is an absolutely perfect, compassionate, understanding, patient, and forgiving Father” (Richard G Scott, General Conference Report, Apr. 1995).

Enos 1:7 Lord, how is it done?

‘Enos could feel the weight of sin lifted from him. This was not an ephemeral experience, but one with tremendous power. The removal of sin was dramatic and conclusive. Enos did not wonder if perhaps he had been forgiven. Enos could feel that the burden of sin was gone, a change so dramatic that he immediately asked how it could have happened.

The answer is that the atonement comes through the Messiah. This is the crowning message of Nephi and Jacob, and now Enos has his foundational prophetic experience grounded in that very knowledge. Enos will also be a prophet who declares the Atoning Messiah for he has had personal experience with salvation through the coming Messiah. This is the key of the Nephite religion. It is not simply Messianic. Rather, it focuses on the Messiah’s atoning mission over his eschatological mission—the most important distinction made about Nephite Messianic beliefs. This small community of displaced Jews was not unique in their belief in the Messiah, but they were unique in retaining the earlier Israelite understanding of the atoning mission of the Messiah.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness, Analytical and Cultural Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

Enos 1:13 That the Lamanites should not be destroyed

“Very often the Twelve and the First Presidency pray together. When President Kimball takes his turn to be voice, he generally includes this phrase in his prayers: ‘Bless our enemies. Help us to understand them, and them to understand us.’ He doesn’t ask for vengeance or retaliation, just for understanding so differences can be resolved. Perhaps, family differences and neighborhood problems could be resolved if we would follow our prophet’s example and pray for patience and forgiveness.” (Marvin J Ashton, General ConferenceApr. 1985)

Enos 1:22 There were exceedingly many prophets among us

‘The modern LDS model of church organization assumes a single prophet at the head of a unified organization. This is not the model of the Old Testament nor certainly of the early Nephite society. During Nephi’s lifetime the community had both Nephi and Jacob as “prophets,” although Jacob was officially the priest while Nephi acted as ruler. Enos summarizes his post-epiphany life by saying he preaches and prophesies (v. 19). Thus, Enos is a prophet, yet speaks of “exceedingly many prophets.” This description fits the Old World model of the prophet who calls for social and religious repentance, rather than the contemporary model of a person who leads a community of religious adherents.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness, Analytical and Cultural Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

2. The Nephites prosper through continual repentance.

Jarom 1:1 That our genealogy may be kept

“To keep proper and correct genealogies of all our forefathers is a vital part of the Gospel plan. Every Latter-day Saints knows that in this way we may extend to our ancestors the blessings of the Gospel and thus become saviors on Mt. Zion. The Lord has enjoined his people, in every dispensation, to keep adequate records so that his purposes, in the end, will be fulfilled. The Jews and all the other tribes of Israel were vigilant in keeping in their proper order, a record of the lineage through which they sprang. The Nephites were zealous in all efforts to do this. Lehi found upon the Plates of Brass, a genealogy of his fathers and his descendants and ever afterwards preserved this divine injunction. Jarom, therefore, that the line may not be broken, writes a ‘few words’ according to this commandment which he had received.” (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 496)

Jarom 1:3 Much should be done among this people

‘Jarom states that a tremendous work must be done among the Nephites because of the hardness of their hearts, the deafness of their ears, the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks. In fact, he feels that if it had not been for the sufferance of a merciful God, they would have been swept from the face of the land long ago.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Jarom 1:5 The Sabbath day

“The Lord said: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy’ (Ex. 20:8) and made Sabbath day observance a sign between Him and the people to indicate their obedience. (See Ex. 31:13-17). That commandment and sign have never been rescinded. In our day, standards for keeping the Sabbath day holy are lowered a little at a time by some individuals until practically anything seems to become acceptable. The sign between the Lord and His covenant peoples is trampled underfoot as Church members skip Sunday meetings to seek recreation at lakes and beaches, in the mountains, at sports arenas, and at theaters. Parking lots at supermarkets and discount stores often are full on Sundays. Many store owners feel compelled to open their doors on Sundays because of the demand for the merchandise and services. The people who misuse the Sabbath lose the blessings of spiritual food and growth promised to those who keep this commandment.” (Joseph B Wirthlin, Ensign, Mar. 1993)

Jarom 1:7 Battle

‘For many years, the prevailing scholarly opinion visualized Mesoamericans as peaceful star-gazers, with little or no military activity. The Book of Mormon’s description of fortifications seemed out of place against that peaceful assumption. Subsequent research has revealed a war-torn Mesoamerica complete with fortifications from early times.

Archaeologist David Webster notes: “A sizable Late Preclassic [500 B.C.–A.D. 250] community existed at Punta de Chimino, and some archaeologists believe that the impressive earthwork fortifications that defended the Punta de Chimino peninsula were first built at that time. If so, warfare had very deep roots in the region.”’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness, Analytical and Cultural Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

3. Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki keep the records.

Omni 1:12-17

‘In this short account, we learn of three groups of people whom the Lord brought to the land of promise in the Western Hemisphere. The first group mentioned was Lehi’s colony. The majority of the Book of Mormon relates their story and that of their descendants.

The Book of Mormon also identifies a second group, referred to as the people of Zarahemla, who were descendants of Mulek and who joined the Nephites (see Mosiah 25:2). Mulek, a son of King Zedekiah, left Jerusalem and traveled to the Americas after Babylon destroyed Jerusalem around 587 B.C. (see Omni 1:15). Without a scriptural record, the people of Zarahemla were a living witness of what the Spirit said to Nephi that a whole nation would dwindle in unbelief (see 1 Nephi 4:13). The Mulekites then joined with the Nephites under the rule of King Mosiah (see Omni 1:19).

The third group was the Jaredites, who came to the land of promise following the time of the “great tower” mentioned in Genesis 11. The original Jaredite colony grew into a great race. Eventually, however, they annihilated themselves in a great civil war sometime between 600 and 300 B.C., leaving only Coriantumr, their last king, and Ether, a prophet of the Lord (see Ether 15:29–34). Ether finished the record, and Coriantumr apparently wandered until he found the people of Zarahemla, where he lived “for the space of nine moons” (Omni 1:21) before dying. Little is known of the Jaredites other than what is recorded by Moroni in the book of Ether.’ (Book of Mormon Institute Manual)

Omni 1:13 They came down into the land of Zarahemla

“The concept of going ‘up’ when you go north and of going ‘down’ when you go south is of relatively recent origin, and thus was not used by the Nephites. When the Nephites stated they went from Nephi down to Zarahemla, they were referring to elevation and not to direction. Zarahemla was definitely lower in elevation than Nephi because the river Sidon had its head in the land of Nephi but flowed down through the center of the land of Zarahemla. (Alma 16:6-7; 22:27-29.)” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.169)

Omni 1:20 A large stone

‘Mesoamerica is unique in the Western hemisphere for its writing systems. While the best-known is that of the Maya, the roots of literacy are much earlier, probably extending to the Olmec. Part of that tradition includes inscriptions on stelae, or large stones.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness, Analytical and Cultural Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

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Omni 1:25 There is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord

“Amaleki explained that ‘there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord:  and that which is evil cometh from the devil’ (Omni 1:25; see also Alma 5:40).  This is the great litmus test for determining the truthfulness or rightness of a matter- does it invite and entice one to come unto God, to partake of his goodness and grace, to enjoy the fruits of his Spirit, to gain in time those godly attributes and godly powers which will equip the person to be with and be like God?  If it does so, it is of God.” (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 335)

4. Mormon adds the small plates of Nephi to his abridgment of the large plates.

“The Words of Mormon were apparently written near the end of Mormon’s life for the purpose of connecting two major records. It was made known to Mormon ‘by the workings of the Spirit of the Lord’ that the small plates of Nephi (which ended when Benjamin was a relatively young man) might be used to replace his abridgment of the book of Lehi (which ended when Benjamin was an old man about ready to die). So that a gap would not occur in the history of the Nephites, Mormon included the major events of the lifetime of King Benjamin in The Words of Mormon, thus connecting the account on the small plates of Nephi with Mormon’s abridgment of the book of Mosiah.” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.171)

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Symbolism

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 13 – The Allegory of the Olive Trees


  1. Symbol What It Might Represent
    The vineyard The world
    Master of the vineyard; Lord of the vineyard Jesus Christ
    Servants The Lord’s prophets
    Tame olive tree The house of Israel, the Lord’s covenant people
    Wild olive tree Gentiles, or non-Israelites (later in the allegory the wild branches are apostate Israel)
    Branches Groups of people
    The roots of the tame olive tree The covenants the Lord makes with His children, a constant source of strength and life to the faithful
    The fruit The lives or works of men
    Digging, pruning, fertilizing The work the Lord does for His children to help them be obedient and fruitful
    Transplanting the branches Scattering groups of people throughout the world, or restoring them to where they came from
    Grafting The joining of one group of people to another; referring to scattered Israel, it also means to “come to the knowledge of the true Messiah” (see1 Nephi 10:14)
    Decaying branches People dying spiritually from sin and apostasy
    Casting branches into the fire God’s judgments

    Olive_trees_on_Thassos

    2. The First Visit (Before the time of Christ) Jacob 5:3-14

    First visit: God saw the apostasy of ancient Israel. He sent prophets to cry repentance but few people listened. He allowed the wicked to be destroyed and brought in the Gentiles. A few righteous branches of Israel were scattered around the world.

“For centuries the olive branch has been associated with peace. When the dove returned to Noah in the ark, it carried in its beak an olive leaf, as though to symbolize that the earth was again at peace with God. (See Genesis 8:11) The olive branch was used in both Greece and Rome to signify peace, and it is still used in that sense in the great seal of the United States where the American eagle is shown grasping an olive branch in his talons…

“There is further symbolic significance in that the olive tree is different from most other fruit-bearing trees in the manner of its beginning. If the green slip of an olive tree is merely planted and allowed to grow, it develops into the wild olive, a bush that grows without control into a tangle of limbs and branches that produce only a small, worthless fruit. (See Harold N. and Alma L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible, p. 159) To become the productive ‘tame’ olive tree, the main stem of the wild tree must be cut back completely and then a branch from a tame olive tree must be grafted into the stem of the wild one. With careful pruning and cultivating the tree will begin to produce its first fruit in about seven years, but it will not become fully productive for nearly fifteen years. In other words, the olive tree cannot become productive in and of itself; it requires grafting by the husbandman to bring it into production. One remembers the figure used by Jesus to describe himself, his Father, and those that serve them: ‘I am the true vine, and my father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. ‘ (John 15:1-3) The word purgeth in Greek means ‘pruned,’ and in Greek verse 3 keeps the metaphor and says, ‘ Now ye are pruned.’ God is the husbandman and prunes off the wild branches of our spiritual lives if we will but submit to his tender care. Thus we become like the tame olive tree…

“‘The wild olive is a kind of reversion to the primitive plant-such as occurs also with the fig and almond-and it takes place whenever the growth of the olive is neglected….

“‘In most neglected olive groves numerous little bushes of the ‘wild olive’ may be seen, which, though very unlike the cultivated tree-having a shorter, smaller, and greener leaf and a stiffer, more prickly stem-are nevertheless derived from it. As a rule the wild olive is but a shrub, but it may grow into a tree and have small but useless ‘berries.’ Where groves of wild olives are found in Palestine, they are probably always the descendants of cultivated trees long ago destroyed,’ (James Hastings, ed., Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. “Olive.”­)

“The olive tree is remarkable for two other characteristics that are quite unlike other fruit-bearing trees. First, though requiring nearly fifteen years to come into full production, it may produce fruit for centuries. Some trees now growing in the Holy Land have been producing abundantly for at least four hundred years. The second amazing quality of the tree is that as it finally does grow old and begin to die, the roots send up a number of new green shoots which, if grafted and pruned in regular fashion, will mature to full-grown olive trees again. Thus, while the tree itself may produce fruit for centuries, the root of the tree may go on producing fruit and new trees for millennia. It is believed that some of the ancient olive trees in Israel today come from trees that were [in existence] when Christ was alive on the earth.” (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, pp. 138-9)

“One writer has said of this extended symbolic portrayal, ‘One Jewish legend identifies the tree of life as the olive tree, and with good reason. The olive tree is an evergreen, not a deciduous tree. Its leaves do not seasonally fade nor fall. Through scorching heat and winter cold they are continually rejuvenated. Without cultivation the olive is a wild, unruly, easily corrupted tree. Only after long, patient cultivating, usually eight to ten years, does it begin to yield fruit. Long after that, new shoots often come forth from apparently dead roots. [The appearance of gnarled trunks gives] the impression of travail—of ancient life and renewing life.’ [Truman Madsen, “The Olive Press: A Symbol of Christ,” in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, ed. Stephen D. Ricks and John W. Welch (1994), 2.]

“As Lehi himself taught, no symbol could serve more powerfully and profoundly of God’s expansive, constant, redeeming love—including especially the love represented in the gift of his Only Begotten Son—than does the olive tree” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ and the New Covenant, 163–64).

Ancient_Olive_Tree_in_Pelion,_Greece

3. The Second Visit (Time of Christ) Jacob 5:15-28

Second visit: God saw that Israel (the old root tree) was saved and produced good fruit. The scattered branches of Israel also produced good fruit, except for the Nephites and Lamanites, whose fruit was partly good and partly bad.

“The mother tree, with Jewish roots and Gentile branches, had begun to bear fruit. How accurately this describes the early Christian era. At this time the Gentiles were blossoming in the knowledge of the resurrected Jesus Christ. One will recall that the Jewish Christians had some misgivings about taking the gospel to the Gentiles, but Paul was their champion. He understood the will of the Lord in bringing forth this great work.

‘For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles…

That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel’ (Eph 3:1,6)

In Romans he warns the Gentiles that they must produce good fruit or they will be destroyed as the Israelites which preceded them:

‘if the root be holy, so are the branches.

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, were graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee…

And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. (Rom 11:16-21,23)

After Christ comes and fulfills the Law of Moses, the Gentiles are adopted into the house of Israel, as participants in a new and everlasting covenant. They, in effect, become holy branches, for the branches of the wild tree have taken hold of the moisture of the root thereof (v. 18). For the rest of the allegory, it is easier to think of the mother tree as Christianity in general, with Jewish roots and Gentile branches. In this sense, the mother tree does not have to be limited geographically to the confines of Jerusalem.” (Gospeldoctrine.com)

4. The Third Visit (The Great Apostasy) Jacob 5:29-49

God found that Christianity (the old root tree made up of both Israelites and Gentiles) had become corrupt, but the roots were still good. The natural branches that were scattered were also corrupt.

“There is much more here than simply the unraveling of convoluted Israelite history. Of greater significance in this allegory is the benevolent view of God that it provides. He is portrayed here as one who repeatedly, painstakingly, endlessly tries to save the work of His hands and in moments of greatest disappointment holds His head in His hands and weeps, ‘What could I have done more for my vineyard?’ (Jacob 5:41, 47, 49.) This allegory is a declaration of divine love, of God’s unceasing effort as a father laboring on behalf of His children. As one writer has noted, ‘Zenos’s allegory ought to take its place beside the parable of the prodigal son. Both stories make the Lord’s mercy so movingly memorable.’ (John S. Tanner, “Jacob and His Descendants as Authors,” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, ed. John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne [Provo: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies; and Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1991], p. 61.)” (Jeffrey R Holland, Heroes from the Book of Mormon, p. 37)

5. The Fourth Visit (The Gathering of Israel and the Gospel goes to all of the world) Jacob 5:50-76

God and His servants restore the gospel in its purity. They begin to gather scattered Israel and take the gospel to all the world. As righteousness increases, the wicked are destroyed until no wickedness remains (the Second Coming of Jesus Christ). Righteousness prevails for a long time (the Millennium). When evil again enters the world, God will separate the righteous from the wicked and cleanse the earth by fire.

“To the missionaries of the latter days the Lord has said:  ‘Ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect,’ for, the Lord explained, ‘mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts’ (D&C 29:7).  For theirs was a ‘believing blood.’  ‘What then is believing blood?  It is the blood that flows in the veins of those who are the literal seed of Abraham-not that the blood itself believes, but that those born in that lineage have both the right and a special spiritual capacity to recognize, receive, and believe the truth.  The term is simply a beautiful, a poetic, and a symbolic way of referring to the seed of Abraham to whom the promises were made.  It identifies those who developed in pre-existence the talent to recognize the truth and to desire righteousness.’  (New Witness, pp. 38-39)” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 61)

“I have lived to see the time foreseen by the prophet Zenos in the allegory of the olive tree, when the righteous from all nations of the earth would become partakers of the covenant of God with Israel.

I have seen the good fruit of the gospel blossom in my home continent of Africa. After just 30 years, there are 300,000 Saints. In the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel, many are finding a sure anchor for their faith. Families uprooted from their rural communities in search of a better future in the towns and cities have found a new way to hold on to the strong family traditions which have come progressively under attack in this era of globalization. The Spirit of the Lord is moving powerfully among the people.

A new celestial culture is developing in homes, nurtured by the ready hearkening to the counsel of the living prophet to have daily prayer and scripture study and to meet once a week as a family in home evening. As a result, many are able to break free from the shackles of traditions that restrict the exercise of their agency.” (Joseph W Sitati, General Conference, October 2009)

6. The Millennium Jacob 5:76-77

When the bad fruit comes again, the good fruit will be gathered out and the vineyard will be burned.

“The parable says this marvelous harvest of good fruit will last for a long time and during these many years the Lord will lay up much fruit. This appears to be referring to the Millennium. At the end of this peaceful, productive period of the Millennium the allegory says something tragic will happen. Once more the wild fruit will begin to appear in the Lord’s vineyard. The Lord said that when that happens he will gather the good fruit and also the bad fruit. The good fruit he will preserve unto himself, but the bad fruit will be cast away unto its own place. Then comes the winding-up scenes and the preparation of the earth to be celestialized by fire. In a modern revelation, the Lord describes the great falling away and the final conflagration of fire which will turn the earth into a celestial sphere like unto a sea of glass. The scripture says:

“And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season. And the end shall come and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.”

“This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.”

Thus we come to the conclusion of this remarkable parable which was employed by the Lord to give the history of Israel in an allegory so that only those who had the prophetic key such as Isaiah, Nephi, Jacob, etc. would know what it meant until after it came to pass. The rest would only understand the parable as it unfolded and came to pass.” *Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, New Testament

Jesus Christ and resurrection

As we approach Easter when as Christians we celebrate and commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is strange but true that to an increasing number of those who call themselves Christian, Christ’s resurrection is not to be taken literally. It has been described by a leading churchman from a different denomination as ‘a conjuring trick with bones’. One college textbook on the New Testament proclaims: “We need to keep in mind that the empty tomb was an ambiguous witness to the resurrection. It attests the absence of the body, but not necessarily the reality or presence of the risen Jesus.” Robert A. Spivey and D. Moody Smith, Anatomy of the New Testament: A Guide to Its Structure and Meaning (New York: Macmillan, 1989), p. 239

atonement-what-is-resurrection-cropped

The apostle Paul pointed out that if we do not accept the resurrection of Christ we miss the whole point of the Gospel: “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. … If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:14, 19). Without the atonement and resurrection of Christ there is no plan of salvation.

What do we mean by resurrection? As a missionary I used to explain it by using my hand and a glove with the hand representing the spirit and the glove the body. When we lived in the pre-existence we lived as spirits (the hand without the glove). When we come to this mortal life our spirit is clothed in a body (the hand in the glove). When we die, the body is laid in the grave but the spirit lives on (the hand is taken out of the glove). Resurrection is the reuniting of the spirit with the body in an immortal state, no longer subject to disease or death. (The hand is placed back in the glove forever.)

The scriptures give us examples of people who were raised from the dead – for example Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s son at Nain but each of these was still eventually subject to death. The Saviour was the first person to be resurrected.  

Right from the beginning of his ministry, the Lord tried to make it clear that he would die and then rise from the dead.

John 18:31¶ Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are awritten by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.

  32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be amocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:

  33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall arise again.

To us, looking back through history, this teaching may seem clear and unambiguous, yet Jesus’ disciples “understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken” (v. 34).

Luke 24:36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

  37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

  38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do athoughts arise in your hearts?

  39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

  40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

  41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

  42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

  43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

So:

He was not a spirit

He had flesh and bones

He could eat.

The Bible tells us that Jesus provided “many infallible proofs” of his resurrection (see Acts 1:3), appearing to many during the forty days before his final ascension.

Resurrection-copy

The doctrine of the resurrection is not just of academic interest the Bible teaches us that everyone who has lived will be resurrected:

 1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Bruce R McConkie explained it this way: “As Adam is the father of mortality, so Christ is the father of immortality.” It was part of our Heavenly Father’s plan that death and mortality would come into the word through Adam and that immortality and eternal life would come to all through Jesus Christ.

From the Bible we also learn that there are two major resurrections: one for the just and one for the unjust:

John 5: 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

We also learn that we will be resurrected to a degree of glory that is consistent with our faithfulness:

1 Corinthians 15: 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

Modern revelation gives us greater insight on this:

“But even within these two separate resurrections, there is an order in which the dead will come forth. Those being resurrected with celestial bodies, whose destiny is to inherit a celestial kingdom, will come forth in the morning of the first resurrection. …(D&C 88:99)

There is an afternoon of the first resurrection; which takes place after our Lord has ushered in the millennium. Those coming forth at that time do so with terrestrial bodies and are thus destined to inherit a terrestrial glory in eternity. (D. & C. 76:71–80.)

“At the end of the millennium, the second resurrection begins. In the forepart of this resurrection of the unjust those destined to come forth will be ‘the spirits of men who are to be judged, and are found under condemnation; And these are the rest of the dead; and they live not again until the thousand years are ended, neither again, until the end of the earth.’ (D. & C. 88:100–101.) These are the ones who have earned telestial bodies (D. & C. 76:81–112.)

Finally, in the latter end of the resurrection of damnation, the sons of perdition, those who ‘remain filthy still’ (D. & C. 88:102), shall come forth from their graves. (2 Ne. 9:14–16.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 640).

BOOK OF MORMON

We can read of Jesus’ death and resurrection in the New Testament but we can get a greater depth of understanding about why the death and resurrection of Jesus are so important from the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is a second witness of Christ and in that role it testifies extensively of Christ’s atoning role and of the resurrection. The doctrine of the resurrection is taught by every major prophet in the Book of Mormon. The word resurrection occurs eighty-three times in the Book of Mormon, and the phrase “rise from the grave” or “rise from the dead” occurs at least twenty-six times.

An example of this is the teachings of the prophet Amulek:

Here Amulek teaches us that the spirit and the body will be reunited and that we will look like we look now. President Joseph F Smith expanded on this:

“What a glorious thought it is, to me at least, and it must be to all who have conceived of the truth or received it in their hearts, that those from whom we have to part here, we will meet again and see as they are. We will meet the same identical being that we associated with here in the flesh—not some other soul, some other being, or the same being in some other form, but the same identity and the same form and likeness, the same person we knew and were associated with in our mortal existence, even to the wounds in the flesh. Not that a person will always be marred by scars, wounds, deformities, defects or infirmities, for these will be removed in their course, in their proper time, according to the merciful providence of God. Deformity will be removed; defects will be eliminated, and men and women shall attain to the perfection of their spirits, to the perfection that God designed in the beginning” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 23).

Alma 11:44 Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

I think that Elder Orson Pratt may have spent a little too long thinking about the restoration of the hair of his head (!):

Then again, we are in the habit of having our hair shingled. This custom is generally commenced in childhood, say three or four years old, and continued through life, and in the course of a year perhaps four or five inches of hair may be cut from the head and cast away. Now, in seventy-two years, if a man did not lose his hair altogether, he would perhaps cut off something like twenty-four feet of hair and beard. Can we suppose that in the resurrection we shall come forth with our hair and beard a rod long? I do not look for any such thing. When, therefore, we read in the Book of Mormon that every hair of the head shall be restored, I do not expect that the whole of the matter that has been incorporated in the hair or in the beard will be restored, but I look for a sufficient quantity of the material once existing in the hair and beard to be restored to make one appear comely, for the hair is an ornament.

2 Nephi 9:16 And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.

Alma 11:45. Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.

Note that Amulek says the spirit and body will never be separated again. Resurrected beings cannot die again.

Robert J Matthews writes:

The question sometimes arises, Is Jesus the Savior of other worlds? The answer is yes. Did he suffer and die and become resurrected on those other worlds? The answer has to be no. If that had occurred anywhere else, it could not have occurred here. A resurrected being cannot be separated in his spirit and body, as this scripture teaches us, so if Jesus had been resurrected on an earlier world, he could not have been born on this world, nor could he have been crucified and resurrected again.

MODERN REVELATION

As well as the Book of Mormon, we are also blessed to have modern revelation that imparts further knowledge about the resurrection. Those who have lost children in infancy find great comfort in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s revelation that such children will inherit the Celestial Kingdom. Also of great comfort are President Joseph F Smith’s words about the status of deceased children in the resurrection:

‘Would we be satisfied to see the children we bury in their infancy remain as children only, throughout the countless ages of eternity? No! Neither would the spirits that did possess the tabernacles of our children be satisfied to remain in that condition. But we know our children will not be compelled to remain as a child in stature always, for it was revealed from God, the fountain of truth, through Joseph Smith the prophet, in this dispensation, that in the resurrection of the dead the child that was buried in its infancy will come up in the form of the child that it was when it was laid down; then it will begin to develop. From the day of the resurrection, the body will develop until it reaches the full measure of the stature of its spirit, whether it be male or female.’(Teachings of Joseph F Smith Lesson manual p130)

We learned from the Bible that we will be resurrected to a degree of glory in line with our faithfulness. From the Book of Mormon we learned that we will look like we look now. From modern revelation we learn that our personal identity, our talents and our intelligence will rise with us in the resurrection:

 D&C 130: 18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

 19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Neal A Maxwell said:

If we ponder just what it is that will rise with us in the resurrection, it seems clear that our intelligence will rise with us, meaning not simply our IQ, but also our capacity to receive and apply truth. Our talents, attributes and skills will rise with us, certainly also our capacity to learn, our degree of self-discipline, and our capacity to work.

President Joseph F Smith taught:

Christ rose and preserved his identity. So shall it be with you and with every son and daughter of Adam born into the world. You will not lose your identity ant more than Christ did.

In the Book of Mormon we read that once resurrected the body and the spirit are inseparably joined together. In the doctrine and covenants we learn that a resurrected body is essential for a fulness of joy (see D&C 93:33–34);

D&C 93: 33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;

 34 And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.

We also learn from D&C 45:17 and 138:50 that spirits in the postmortal spirit world look upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a type of bondage.

What a blessing it is to be a Latter-day saint and to have wonderful truths revealed to us not only from the Bible but also from the Book of Mormon and other scriptures and from living prophets!

I have stood at the tomb of Napoleon in Paris, at the tomb of Lenin in Moscow, and before the burial places of many others of the great leaders of the earth. In their time they commanded armies, they ruled with almost omnipotent power, their very words brought terror into the hearts of people. I have reverently walked through some of the great cemeteries of the world. I have reflected quietly and thoughtfully as I have stood in the military cemetery in Manila in the Philippines where are buried some 17,000 Americans who gave their lives in the Second World War and where are remembered another 35,000 who died in the terrible battles of the Pacific and whose remains were never found. I have walked with reverence through the British cemetery on the outskirts of Rangoon, Burma, and noted the names of hundreds of young men who came from the villages, towns, and great cities of the British Isles and gave their lives in hot and distant places. I have strolled through old cemeteries in Asia and Europe and yet other places and reflected on the lives of those who were once buoyant and happy, who were creative and distinguished, who gave much to the world in which they lived. They have all passed into the oblivion of the grave. All who have lived upon the earth before us are now gone. They have left all behind as they have stepped over the threshold of silent death. None has escaped. All have walked their way to “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” (Hamlet, act 3, scene 1, lines 79–80). Shakespeare so described it.

But Jesus the Christ changed all that. Only a God could do what He did. He broke the bonds of death. He too had to die, but on the third day, following His burial, He rose from the grave, “the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor 15:20) and in so doing brought the blessing of the Resurrection to every one of us.”

Posted in Inspirational, LDS Doctrine

Spirit or emotion?

Ours is a church that believes in revelation. We believe that the church is led, globally and locally, by revelation. We also believe that we can receive revelation in our own daily lives. However, many struggle to be confident that they can discern between the promptings of the Spirit and their own emotions or thoughts.’ How can we tell whether we are really receiving an answer to our prayers?

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Let me offer a few thoughts:

  • Recognising the promptings of the Spirit.

Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “The voice of the Spirit is a still, small voice—a voice that is felt rather than heard.”

We commonly speak of the Holy Ghost bearing witness to us through a ‘burning in the bosom’. However, the Holy Ghost manifests itself in many ways and different people experience it in different ways. You may well experience a burning in the bosom or you may experience a deep feeling of peace or some other manifestation of the Spirit. I once served in a presidency with a president who experienced the testimony of the Spirit as a tingling down his back.

More important than how the Spirit testifies to us is that we recognize its promptings when they come. When you hear someone bear testimony, when you listen to General Conference, when you attend the temple, when you study the scriptures take note of how you feel. Learn to recognise those feelings as the Spirit. Then learn to distinguish them from other feelings. How do those feelings compare to how you feel when you watch Chariots of Fire, listen to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or stand atop a mountain and gaze at the valley below?

This is not easy: learning to recognise the Spirit can take practice and time. We need to frequently put ourselves into situations where we can experience the Spirit and then be sensitive to our thoughts and feelings.

  • In your mind and in your heart

The Lord told Oliver Cowdery, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation.” (D&C 8:2–3.)

And to Hyrum Smith he said:

13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;

14 And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive. (D&C 11:13-14)

These scriptures indicate that the the Spirit will work both through our feelings and emotions AND through our thoughts or intellect ie he will tell us through BOTH our mind and our heart – not through one or the other in isolation. The thoughts the Spirit puts in my mind should match the feelings he puts in my heart.This is in accordance with the law of witnesses – the witness of the mind and the witness of the heart bring assurance. 

Elder Jay Jensen said: “When the Holy Ghost speaks, our minds may be struck with insight and clarity akin to sudden light. At the same time, our hearts may burn or we may feel flooded with joy or deep gratitude or love. Whatever particular feelings occur, they occur simultaneously in the mind and in the heart.”

So, if we have thoughts that are not backed up by a feeling of peace or a burning in the bosom (or however the Spirit works with us individually) or if we feel that something is right emotionally but it makes no sense intellectually, then we need to be cautious in interpreting this as an answer from the Lord through the Spirit.

Of course, there may be times when the Lord wants us to do something that runs counter to conventional wisdom or to our our own predispositions. I believe that in these instances the Spirit will speak to us with  a little more pressure or urgency so that we recognise its voice. Think of Nephi when the Spirit constrained him to kill Laban. This was counter to what Nephi had been taught and he shrunk from obeying the command of the Spirit. So, the Spirit makes sure that the message gets through by speaking clearly to him twice more and then by bringing to his remembrance the words of the Lord that he spoke to him in the wilderness. THEN Nephi’s doubts are dispelled, the Spirit’s command makes sense to him and he obeys.

We have also been counselled that when we ask about something, “If it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong” (D&C 9:9).

If we ask for something that is not right, rather than a feeling of peace we can experience  darkness and confusion or an empty feeling.

  • The Spirit leads towards that which is good.

The adversary will not prompt us to do good. Mormon said, “[The devil] persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.” (Moro. 7:17.). In contrast, Hyrum Smith was told, “Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good.” (D&C 11:12.)

If a prompting is directing us towards something that is not good then we can be sure that it is not a genuine prompting of the Spirit. Similarly a genuine personal revelation won’t conflict with what the Lord has told us through His prophets.

The more we practice identifying the Spirit the more readily we will recognise those promptings when they come. President Spencer W Kimball told us that “God reveals himself to [people] who are prepared for such manifestations.”

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

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 12 – Seek Ye for the Kingdom of God

1. Jacob magnifies his calling from the Lord.

Jacob 1:2 The things which I considered to be most precious

‘How often we read the record primarily as a history of a fallen people, failing to remember that it was compiled by inspired prophets for the purpose of helping us come unto Christ. The major writers of the Book of Mormon did not intend it to be a history book at all. In fact, Jacob said that his brother Nephi commanded him that he “should not touch, save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people”  Jacob 1:2

Each time we read the book we should probably ask ourselves: “Why did these writers choose these particular stories or events to include in the record? What value are they for us today?”’ (L Tom Perry, General Conference, October 2005)

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Jacob 1:18 Consecrated priests and teachers

“The Nephites officiated by virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood from the days of Lehi to the days of the appearance of our Savior among them. It is true that Nephi ‘consecrated Jacob and Joseph’ that they should be priests and teachers over the land of the Nephites, but the fact that plural terms priests and teachers were used indicates that this was not a reference to the definite office in the priesthood in either case, but it was a general assignment to teach, direct, and admonish the people” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 1:124).

Jacob 1:19 Magnify our office

“If we do not do our duty in regard to missionary service, then I am convinced that God will hold us responsible for the people we might have saved had we done our duty.” (Spencer W Kimball, Ensign, Oct. 1977, p. 5.)

2. Jacob warns against the love of riches, pride, and unchastity.

Jacob 2:5 Ye are beginning to labor in sin

“The sins of the people in Jacob’s day were not inadvertent transgressions; they had begun to ‘labor in sin’ in the sense that sin had become their obsession and their preoccupation.  They had begun to flirt with that spirit which characterized the wickedness of the days of Noah: ‘And every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, being only evil continually’ (Moses 8:22).” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 11)

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Jacob 2:12-16 Let not this pride of your heart destroy your souls

“First of all, Jacob said the men had begun spending more and more time searching for gold and silver and other precious ores which abound in this land so plentifully. In these mining adventures, the men had been blessed with remarkable success. However, some had obtained more riches than others and thought this made them somehow superior to those with less. Therefore they were lifted up in pride and wore stiff necks as they smugly strutted about showing off the costliness of their fine apparel. They even began to abuse or persecute the more humble brethren who had not been quite so fortunate.

Jacob challenged them. They stood condemned by Almighty God and unless they repented of this stupid sense of pride and false superiority, Jacob predicted the judgment of God would descend on them speedily. At the rate things were going, Jacob felt the sooner something happened to these men, the better it would be. Jacob wished they could realize that with a single glance of his eye, God could smite them in to the dust. Jacob longed to have something happen to them so that their silly pride would not destroy their souls.” (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Jacob 2:19 Ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them

“The Lord expects us when he blesses us with the good things of this earth to remember those who are not so fortunate. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, comfort those who mourn, and minister unto those who are poor and needy, and thus become of that class to whom the Lord, when he shall come, shall say: ‘Come, ye blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'” (George F Richards, Conference Reports, Oct. 1939, p. 109)

Jacob 2:22-23 Because of the things which were written concerning David

“At this point Jacob said he had presented all he intended to say about pride. In fact, he said he would rejoice if that was all the admonishing that he was required to give them during this conference. Unfortunately, however, he said it was now necessary to speak of the grosser crimes being committed among the people. This is the part of his sermon which Jacob was most reluctant to cover. The admonition on pride would not have been like daggers to the souls of the women and children, but this next part of his sermon would be.

Jacob said that what the Lord had revealed to him concerning their grosser crimes was a great burden to him. He said he had learned that they were beginning to commit whoredoms (in secret, apparently) and justifying themselves by quoting from the brass plates concerning David and Solomon.” (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Jacob 2:28 Chastity

“God requires chastity. We stand for a life of cleanliness. From childhood through youth and to the grave, we proclaim the wickedness of sexual life of any kind before marriage, and we proclaim that everyone in marriage should hold himself or herself to the covenants that were made.

“In other words, as we have frequently said, there should be total chastity of men and women before marriage and total fidelity in marriage. The fact that so-called sex revolutionists would change the order and change the status is repugnant to us. We abhor, with all our power, pornography, permissiveness, and the so-called freedom of the sexes, and we fear that those who have supported, taught, and encouraged the permissiveness that brings about this immoral behavior will someday come to a sad reckoning with him who has established the standards…

“Chastity is of great value. Chastity and virtue are ‘most dear and precious above all things’ (Moroni 9:9), more valuable than rubies or diamonds, than herds and flocks, than gold and silver, or than automobiles and land. But, sadly, in many cases they are on sale at the cheapest shops and at the cheapest prices.” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 264-5)

Jacob 2:31-35 Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives

“In the sermon on chastity, it is particularly revealing that Jacob is so sensitive to the women in his audience. Whether or not that was a result of having seen his mother in anguish over the wickedness of her eldest sons we cannot know, but it is interesting that in his unflinching declaration against sexual transgression Jacob quotes a communication from heaven as follows: [Jacob 2:31-33,35]

“…That is a poetic, profound, ‘piercing’ indictment, and we have the feeling here that Jacob understood then what we unfortunately understand now-that it is usually (but not always) the woman who suffers most in the tragedy of unchastity and that usually (but not always) it is the transgressing man who causes the ‘sobbings of the [women’s] hearts to ascend up to God.'” (Jeffrey R Holland, Heroes from the Book of Mormon, pp. 41-2)

3. Jacob testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Jacob 4:5 The law of Moses

“The law of Moses was the type, Jesus the antitype; he was that toward which all creation looked and waited.  The law was the symbol, Jesus the ultimate reality toward which it pointed.  The law was the means, Jesus the end.  These simple but pertinent verities are all but lost in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament.  Only through the clarifying and illuminating lenses of the Book of Mormon do we come to know that the law was anything more than a schoolmaster or teaching device.  The law of Moses-including the intricate system of animal sacrifices-was the prophecy; Jesus was the grand fulfillment of the prophecy.

“‘Behold,’ Nephi stated, ‘my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him’ (2 Nephi 11:4).  After having explained the need for ‘the great and last sacrifice’ of the Son of God, Amulek said, ‘this is the whole meaning of the law [of Moses], every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal’ (Alma 34:14).” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 34)

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Jacob 4:10 Seek not to counsel the Lord

“Jacob has presented a God who is interested in us and whom we can understand only through prophets. We must understand Yahweh to know how to properly interact with him. Such interaction is on Yahweh’s terms, not ours. We do not counsel Yahweh but receive counsel from him. That is the proper interaction. Furthermore, we may take comfort in knowing that Yahweh is motivated by love and mercy in what he requires of us. Therefore his requirements are not onerous.” (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Cultural Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

Jacob 4:14 Looking beyond the mark

‘“Looking beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14) means that the Jews were looking for something other than Jesus Christ to save them. Jacob prophesied that the Jews would reject the Messiah, the “stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation” (v. 15). He then referred to scriptures that say He would still become their “only sure foundation” (v. 16; see Psalm 118:22;Matthew 21:42). If we do not build on Jesus Christ, we will not receive the promised eternal joy with Him.’ (Seminary Student Manual)