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

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 44 – I Speak unto You As If Ye Were Present

1. Mormon exhorts the latter-day descendants of Lehi to repent, believe in Christ, and be baptized.

Mormon 7:2 Know ye that ye are of the house of Israel

“Careful and prayerful study of the scriptures-especially the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon-will not only bring people to understand in their minds the origin and destiny of the descendants of Jacob but will also cause them to know in their hearts what it means to come to earth through a chosen lineage and what God would have them do to be a light to the world, particularly to so many who sit in spiritual darkness.  The words of the Lord to ancient Israel should be received by modern Israel with sobriety and humility, but they must be received and believed if we are to realize our potential to become a holy people and a royal priesthood.  Jehovah spoke millennia ago of ‘Israel, whom I have chosen’ (Isaiah 44:1) and assured the Israelites that ‘you only have I known of all the families of the earth’ (Amos 3:2; see also Isaiah 45:4).

“And yet coming to this earth through a peculiar lineage involves much more than boasting of a blessing:  it entails bearing a burden.  ‘Once we know who we are,‘ Elder Russell M. Nelson said, ‘and the royal lineage of which we are a part, our actions and directions in life will be more appropriate to our inheritance’ (“Thanks for the Covenant,” 1988-89 BYU Devotional and Fireside Speeches, p. 59).” (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 237-8)

Mormon 7:4 Ye must lay down your weapons of war

“Writing with special consideration for their own descendants, the Book of Mormon prophets are especially concerned for the future of that highly mixed people known as the Indians. In the 1820s the Indians still held most of the continent and felt themselves a match for any invader. But Mormon forewarns them that all their efforts to prevail by force of arms will be hopeless (Mormon 7:4). In the beginning Lehi prophesied that his descendants who would survive until our day should see generations of ‘bloodsheds, and great visitations among them’ (2 Nephi 1:12), and that God would ‘bring other nations unto them, and . . . give unto them power, and . . . take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten’ (2 Nephi 1:11). Nephi foretold the same: ‘The Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered’ (1 Nephi 22:7). This scattering and smiting was to exceed anything the Indians had experienced before 1830: it was to be carried to the point of virtual extermination.” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, p. 375)

Mormon 7:5 Know ye that ye must believe in Jesus Christ

“In its overall structure, the Book of Mormon begins and ends with concern for the Lamanites receiving the gospel. Reiterating the main points from the title page, Nephi says that through the Book of Mormon the Lamanites shall know they are of Israel and through it ‘they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ’ (2 Nephi 30:5; see 30:1-6). Then toward the end, Mormon says much the same thing: ‘Know ye that ye are of the house of Israel. . . . Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ’ (Mormon 7:2, 5). At the physical center of the book is the narrative of the conversion of the Lamanites. This central part begins with the decree of the king of the Lamanites that Ammon and his brethren should be free to preach the word of God throughout all the land, and ends with gratitude by these great missionaries for the thousands of Lamanite souls ‘brought to behold the marvelous light of God’ (Alma 26:3). The narrative high point of the book is the ministry of the resurrected Savior. While discoursing to both the Lamanites and Nephites before him, Jesus as well speaks to their descendants, saying that the Book of Mormon ‘shall come forth of the Father, from [the Gentiles] unto you’ (3 Nephi 21:3). He confirms the prophecies of Isaiah that in the last days the children of Lehi will be gathered both physically and spiritually. ‘Then is the fulfilling,’ he says, ‘of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel’ (3 Nephi 20:12).” (Richard D. Rust, FARMS: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 2, 1990, p. 16)

Mormon 7:9 The Book of Mormon and the Bible support each other

“No man can say that this book (laying his hand on the Bible) is true, is the word of the Lord, is the way, is the guide-board in the path, and a charter by which we may learn the will of God; and at the same time say, that the Book of Mormon is untrue; if he has had the privilege of reading it, or of hearing it read, and learning its doctrines. There is not that person on the face of the earth who has had the privilege of learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ from these two books, who can say that one is true, and the other is false” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 459).

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2. Moroni prophesies that the Book of Mormon will come forth in a day of great wickedness.

Mormon 8:1 I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father

“Following this dismaying decline of Nephite civilization documented by his father, Moroni picked up the recorder’s task, but he did not write to any living audience. Rather, he directed his final testimony-in fact, three final testimonies-to those who would receive the record in the last days…Moroni’s experience was painful, for he observed in life, in history, and in vision the pollution and destruction of three glorious civilizations-his own Nephite world, the Jaredite nation, and our latter-day dispensation.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 323)

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Mormon 8:14-18 Blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light

“The truth is, simply, that he was a prophet of God—nothing more and not one whit less!

“The scriptures did not come so much from Joseph Smith as they did through him. He was a conduit through which the revelations were given. …

“The Prophet Joseph Smith was an unschooled farm boy. To read some of his early letters in the original shows him to be somewhat unpolished in spelling and grammar and in expression.

“That the revelations came through him in any form of literary refinement is nothing short of a miracle” (Boyd K Packer in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 137).

Mormon 8:22 The eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on

“No unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing. Persecutions may rage; mobs may combine; armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the great Jehovah shall say, ‘The work is done.'” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:536.)

Mormon 8:25-27 Because of secret combinations and the works of darkness

‘Moroni knew about the satanical forces that would try to prevent this work from coming forth in the latter days. There would be secret combinations and works of darkness. As the Saints of the latter days were driven from Kirtland to Missouri and from Missouri to Nauvoo and from Nauvoo to the Rocky Mountains — with 6,000 men, women and children being buried on the plains — they learned the cruel and literal reality of Moroni’s words.’ (W Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Mormon 8:34-35 Written for us today

“We must make the Book of Mormon a center focus of study [because] it was written for our day. The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us.

“Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified that he wrote for future generations. …

“Mormon himself said, ‘Yea, I speak unto you, ye remnant of the house of Israel’ (Mormon 7:1). And Moroni, the last of the inspired writers, actually saw our day and time. …

“If they saw our day and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask ourselves, ‘Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?’

“And there is example after example of how that question will be answered” (Ezra Taft Benson in Conference Report, Oct. 1986).

Mormon 8:36 Ye do walk in the pride of your hearts

“I guess one of the greatest mysteries of human history is why people fail to learn from the past. In the case of the Church, why do those who profess to be true followers of Christ repeatedly become victims of the enticements of the world? The evidence is strong regarding the blessings that accrue to those who trust in land follow the ways prescribed by the Lord, yet so many members of the Church fail to heed the evidence.

“Many of us are more concerned about our fine apparel, the size of our houses, and our luxury cars than we are about assisting the poor and the needy. The forces promoting legalized abortion, gambling, pornography, and banning of public prayer also threaten the values that bind us together as a community of Saints.

“Clearly, the members of the Church face tremendous challenges in the latter days. We must not only resist but mount a counteroffensive against the temptations and teachings of the world if we are to remain a distinctive people.

“Despite the challenges we face, I plead with each of you to stand firm in your convictions. There is no escape from the whirlwind of judgments God will unleash on the heads of his children who choose to pursue a course that is against his will. We need to heed Moroni’s warning to avoid the fate that destroyed his people.” (L Tom Perry, Living With Enthusiasm, p. 65)

Mormon 8:37,39 Ye do love money…more than ye love the poor and the needy

‘Moroni was troubled by what he saw. Are we troubled enough to set aside our love of substance and hear the cry of the hungry, the needy, the naked, and the sick? Can we say, “I would have responded if I had seen a person in need, as did the Samaritan”?’ (H David Burton, General Conference April 1997)

3. Moroni exhorts people in the last days to believe in Christ.

Mormon 9:1 I speak also concerning those who do not believe in Christ

“Moroni at first evidently intended this chapter to be the last one in the entire Book of Mormon. Thus he addresses himself to ‘those who do not believe in Christ.’ (Mormon 9:1.) Then in a powerful, logical, and forceful manner he outlines the major teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and indicates why all men must understand and apply these principles if they are to find the peace and happiness they desire. He says the gospel is not restricted to a chosen few, but is available ‘unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.’ (Mormon 9:21.)” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 307)

Mormon 9:3-6 Consciousness of your guilt

“As repentance gets under way, there must be a deep consciousness of guilt, and in that consciousness of guilt may come suffering to the mind, the spirit, and sometimes even to the body. In order to live with themselves, people who transgress must follow one or the other of two alternatives. The one is to sear their conscience or dull their sensitivity with mental tranquilizers so that their transgression may be continued. Those who choose this alternative eventually become calloused and lose their desire to repent. The other alternative is to permit remorse to lead one to total sorrow, then to repentance, and finally on to eventual forgiveness.

“Remember this, that forgiveness can never come without repentance. And repentance can never come until one has bared his soul and admitted his actions without excuses or rationalizations. He must admit to himself that he has sinned, without the slightest minimization of the offense or rationalizing of its seriousness, or without soft-pedaling its gravity. He must admit that his sin is as big as it really is and not call a pound an ounce. Those persons who choose to meet the issue and transform their lives may find repentance the harder road at first, but they will find it the infinitely more desirable path as they taste of its fruits” (Spencer W Kimball, “The Gospel of Repentance,” Ensign, Oct. 1982, 4).

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Mormon 9:7-8 Revelations and the scriptures

“What makes [Latter-day Saints] different from most other Christians in the way we read and use the Bible and other scriptures is our belief in continuing revelation. For us, the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge, but what precedes the ultimate source. The ultimate knowledge comes by revelation. With Moroni we affirm that he who denieth revelation ‘knoweth not the gospel of Christ’ (Morm. 9:8).

“The word of the Lord in the scriptures is like a lamp to guide our feet (see Ps. 119:105), and revelation is like a mighty force that increases the lamp’s illumination manyfold. We encourage everyone to make careful study of the scriptures and of the prophetic teachings concerning them and to prayerfully seek personal revelation to know their meaning for themselves” (Dallin H Oaks, “Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 7).

Mormon 9:9-10 God is the same, yesterday, today and forever

‘Moroni argues for the continuation of revelation and spiritual gifts by appealing to Yahweh’s unchanging nature. These gifts came from Yahweh and were therefore of God. They could cease only if Yahweh, their author, changed. Since Yahweh cannot change, he cannot cease to do what he has done before. Therefore, believers will continue to enjoy the gifts that Yahweh bestowed on people of old.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Mormon 9:12 By Adam came the fall of man

“The Book of Mormon Saints knew that the plan of redemption must start with the account of the fall of Adam. In the words of Moroni, ‘By Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, . . . and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man.’ (Mormon 9:12.)

“Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

“No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon.” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, p. 33)

Mormon 9:24 These signs shall follow them that believe

“I went and found him suffering very much in his mind, and his body acted upon in a very strange manner; his visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance possible to imagine; and finally he was caught up off the floor of the apartment, and tossed about most fearfully.

“His situation was soon made known to his neighbors and relatives, and in a short time as many as eight or nine grown persons had got together to witness the scene. After he had thus suffered for a time, I succeeded in getting hold of him by the hand, when almost immediately he spoke to me, and with great earnestness requested me to cast the devil out of him, saying that he knew he was in him, and that he also knew that I could cast him out.

“I replied, ‘If you know that I can, it shall be done;’ and then almost unconsciously I rebuked the devil, and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart from him; when immediately Newel spoke out and said that he saw the devil leave him and vanish from his sight. This was the first miracle which was done in the Church, or by any member of it; and it was done not by man, nor by the power of man, but it was done by God, and by the power of godliness; therefore, let the honor and the praise, the dominion and the glory, be ascribed to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

“This scene was now entirely changed, for as soon as the devil had departed from our friend, his countenance became natural, his distortions  of body ceased, and almost immediately the Spirit of the Lord descended upon him, and the visions of eternity were opened to his view…All this was witnessed by many, to their great astonishment and satisfaction, when they saw the devil thus cast out, and the power of God, and His Holy Spirit thus made manifest.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 1, pp. 82-3)

Mormon 9:27 Fear and trembling

‘Moroni’s is not a message of gloom, threatening destruction to the wicked, but rather a message of hope in the power of repentance. By changing their ways, the “despisers” can avoid destruction, working out their “own salvation with fear and trembling before him.” It is never too late for any repentant sinner.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

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