Sunday, May 19, 2019

They Did Smite Us Even With a Rod

1 Nephi 3:22 - 31, NC 1 Nephi 1 pars. 13 - 14

And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold and our silver and our precious things.  And after we had gathered these things together we went up again unto the house of Laban.  And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban and desired him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold and our silver and all our precious things.  And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, that it was exceeding great, he did lust after it insomuch that he throust us our and went his servants to slay us that he might obtain our property.  And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of Laban, and we were obliged to leave behind our property, and it fell into the hands of Laban.  And it came to pass that we fled intothe wilderness, and the servants of Laban did not overtake us, and we hid ourselves in the cavity of a rock.  And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me and also with my father - and also was Lemuel, for he hearkened unto the words of Laman - wherefore, Laman, and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod.  And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold and angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying, Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod?  Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you and this because of your iniquities?  Behod, ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.  And after the angel had spoken unto us he departed.  And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying, How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands?  Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?

Is it a principle in this life that our resolve to keep the commandments of God will be continually tested?

The Prophet Joseph taught,

"After a person has faith in Jesus Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.  When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised to the Saints,...Now what is this Comforter?  It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself;..." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 150)

Again, the question arises, Who is it who tests our resolve and how?

Given the nature of things in this world, will men use their agency to oppose those who seek to keep the commandments of God?

Does God cause this to happen or does God allow this to happen to fulfill His purposes?

Is it possible for the Lord to see that an individual will serve Him at all hazards by observing the diligence and heed an individual gives to His commands while living among and associating with those who do not believe what the Lord has declared?

As Laman and Lemuel and Sam and Nephi brought the family fortune before Laban to purchase the brass plates did God cause Laban to rob them and seek to kill them or did God allow Laban to use his agency to do so?

If God wanted Nephi and his brothers to succeed in getting the plates, why did He allow such a thing to happen?

Are there any other examples in the Book of Mormon that demonstrate this priciple of testing resolve?

Alma and Amulek were sent by the Lord to preach to the people of Amonihah.  The people there had become exceedingly wicked and conspired to destroy the freedom of the Nephite people.

After witnessing to the people and confounding the lawyers and judges there by the word of God Alma and Amulek were aprehended and false witnesses came to condemn them.

One of the lawyers, Zeezrom, having seen his wickedness and desiring to repent, came forth and declared that Alma and Amulek were innocent.  He pled for them.

This is how the leaders and the majority of the people responded.

"And they spit upon him (Zeezrom) and cast him out from among them and also all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek.  And they cast them out and sent men to cast stones at them.  And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believein the word of God, they caused that they should be cast into the fire.  And they also brought forth their records, which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire." (Alma 14:7 - 8, NC Alma 10 par. 6)

Alma and Amulek were brought bound to the horrid scene and forced to watch.

When Amulek urged Alma that he and Alma should stretch forth their hands and exercise the power of God which was in them Alma responded that the "spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand."

Then Alma said,

"For behold, the Lord receiveth them up unto himself in glory.  And he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just.  And the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day." (Alma 14:11, NC Alma 10 par. 7)

God allowed the wicked to destroy and kill the righteous that His puposes and judgments might be just.

The righteous believers demonstrated their resolve by remaining faithful inspite of what was being perpetrated upon them.

Another example from the Book of Mormon is the account of the descendants of Laman and Lemuel, after having been converted, burying their weapons of war.

They saw that the Lord had in His mercy forgiven them and made them clean and they were determined to remain in that clean state so they covenanted that they would never again lift a weapon to hurt or kill anyone not even to protect themselves.

"...and all the people were assembled together, they took their swords and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man's blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth.  And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man's blood, and this they did vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own licves, and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him, and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.  And thus we see that when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin, and thus we see that they buried the weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war for peace." (Alma 24:17 - 19, NC Alma 14 par. 9)

Their resolve was tested by their fellow Lamanites and the Nephite dissenters who lived among the Lamanites.

"And it came to pass that their brethren the Lamanites made preparations for war and came up to the land of Nephi for the purpose of dethroning the king and to place another in his stead, and also of destroying the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi out of the land.  Now when the people saw that they were coming against them they went out to meet them and prostrated themselves before them to the earth and began to call on the name of the Lord and thus they were in this attitude when the Lamanites began to fall upon them and began to slay them with the sword.  And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them, and we know that they are blessed for they have gone to dwell with their God." (Alma 24:20 - 22, NC Alma 14 par. 10)

Did the Lord allow this to occur?

Could He have saved them from all of this?

Is their an eternal principle at play here?

When one is having their resolve tested are they offering sacrifice to God?

We talked of faith unto life and salvation in an earlier post and learned from the Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6th that the sacrifice of all things in this world, even not holding back one's own life if necessary, is necessary in order to know that the life one is living is in accordance with what the Lord desires.

That is one of the three necessary things in order to obtain faith unto life and salvation.

Are God's purposes being fulfilled by allowing the wicked to test the resolve of the righteous, even though the righteous must lose their lives in the process?

Is this an easy thing to accept?

Is the principle of resolve being tested the same in all three examples of Nephi and his brothers, the believers in Amonihah and the converted Lamanites?

Is God causing any of the actions of the wicked to occur?

In every case are the wicked allowed their agency to act and thus create the situation where the resolve of the righteous is displayed?

Could it be said of these folks in another creation cycle, "Being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil, therefore they having chosen good and exercising exceeding great faith are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with and according to a preparatory redemption for such..." (Alma 13:1 - 3, NC Alma 9 par. 10)

Is God's foreknowledge of these folks in a future creation cycle informed by their having successfully demonstrated their resolve to be exceedingly faithful to Him here?

If God knows in a future creation that He needs rulers or teachers who He can trust to accomplish what must be done can He Look at these folks from their experience here and declare that they are "good souls"?

Will God use lead to do something that He knows requires iron?

If there is a difficult task to be done in a future creation, from what they have done here, can God determine that they will be faithful to fulfill such a task?

Are God's purposes Eternal?

What does that mean?

Are actions taken in this life on this creation limited in their effects to this life only and this creation only?

Is this at all tied together with what the Prophet Joseph taught?

"God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!  That is the great secret....It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God,...Here, then is eternal life - to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power...When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel - you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation.  But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them.  It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.  (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pgs. 345 - 348)

As we demonstrate our resolve, by facing the opposition of those who do not believe the word of God and being able to sacrifice in the face of that opposition in order to be obedient to the commandments of God, does that prepare us to go from one small degree to another and from a small capacity to a great one because God's foreknowledge of us in a future creation will be informed by our exceeding faith and good works in this creation?
Is that what the Prophet Joseph means as he is talking about ascending step by step until you arrive at the top?

Is this part of what it means to learn our salvation and exaltation beyond the grave?

What would this do to our understanding of "eternal progression"?

Would agency be respected for all eternity with this understanding of "eternal progression"?

We see that in this experience with Laman, Lemuel, Nephi and Sam that Laman and Lemuel fail in this test.

Maybe their failure was inevitable because of the fact that they murmured right from the beginning.

Could it have been possible for them to repent at any time during the test?

What caused them to come apart at this point?

For Laman, his life has been threatened twice now.

They have lost the family fortune and if at this point Laman and Lemuel had any thought of returning to Jerusalem their ability to live the life they were accustomed to before is gone.

Could these two things be contributory to them coming apart?

Is it because they were unwilling to sacrifice, that they had no faith?

Is this another symptom of the affliction we discussed in an earlier post; "Knowing Not the Dealings of That God Who Created Us"?

Is it important for me to look inside myself to see if I am suffering from the same affliction?

Would I respond any differently?

When the angel appears they are completely unimpressed.

Here we see that the appearance of angels does not cause or create faith.

If I have no faith will I always have fear of mens' power on the earth?

In addition to informing them all that the Lord will deliver Laban into their hands the angel informs Laman and Lemuel that Nephi has been given a ministry to teach them because of their iniquities.

Is this simply a rebuke or is it also a statement, given by grace, to Laman and Lemuel that they ought to listen to the words of Nephi in order to repent?

Saturday, May 11, 2019

After This Manner of Language Did I Persuade My Brethren

1 Nephi 3:14 - 21, NC 1 Nephi 1 pars. 11 - 12

And we began to be exceeding sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness.  But behold, I said unto them that as the Lord liveth and as we live we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.  Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; therefore let us go down to the land of our father's inheritance, for behold, he left gold and silver and all manner of riches.  And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord; for he knew that Jerusalem must be destroyed because of the wickedness of the people.  For behold, they have rejected the words of the prophets.  Wherefore, if my father should dwell in the land after he hath been commanded to flee out of the land, behold he would also perish.  Wherefore, it must needs be that he flee out of the land.  And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers; and also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God since the world began, even down unto this present time.  And it came to pass that after this manner of language did I persuade my brethren that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God.

Is it possible for one who is "favored" of the Lord to be perplexed?

Nephi, in this account, states that "...WE began to be exceeding sorrowful."

As a group we consider that this means that Nephi was just as sorrowful and perplexed as his brothers that Laban had not responded to their request through Laman.

Is this something to be expected in this life, even when someone is on the Lord's errand?

In the Book of Mosiah we read of a small group moved upon by the Lord to perform an errand.

"Now it came to pass...the sons of Mosiah...took a small number with them and returned to their father the king and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might with those whom they had selected go up to the land of Nephi, that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren the Lamanites, that perhaps they might bring them to a knowledge of the Lord their God and convince them of the iniquities of their fathers, and that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might be friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God had given them." (Mosiah 28:1 - 2, NC Mosiah 12 par. 1)

At king Mosiah's inquiry the Lord confirmed that He had established this errand for Mosiah's sons.

"King Mosiah went and inquired of the Lord if he would let his sons go up among the Lamanites to preach the word.  And the Lord said unto Mosiah, Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words and they shall have Eternal life.  And I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites." (Mosiah 28:6 - 7, NC Mosiah 12 par. 2)

Since the Lord was the author of this work then all things should have gone easy peasy lemon squeezy right?

If the Lord is in something doesn't everything just fall into place?

Wouldn't everything falling into place be a sure sign that the Lord was at least pleased with what is being done and also prospering the labor?

What was the experience of the sons of Mosiah?

"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us and said, Go amongst thy brethren the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.  And now behold, we have come and been forth amongst them, and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house relying upon the mercies of the world, not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God." (Alma 26:27 - 28, NC Alma 14 par. 20)

Is it more common in this world to experience opposition, reversals, perplexities, etc. while trying to perform a labor, keep a commandment, from the Lord or is it more common that things go smoothly?

What do the scriptures teach us?

Right from the beginning of the Book of Mormon; Was Lehi prospered in the labor he was commanded to perform from the Lord in prophesying to the people of Jerusalem?

Did Lehi run into perplexities and obstacles trying to keep the Lord's commands to him?

When the Lord commands a work to be done and obstacles are encountered where do the obstacles come from?

Does God create the perplexing situations and the obstacles or do men?

Is God a babysitter?

Do the obstacles come from the right of all individuals to choose for themselves and act according to their own mind?

What does this say about this world and the Lord's absolute dedication to not abrogate the agency of anyone?

If the Lord allows this agency to exist even to the extent that it creates obstacles and difficulties for those who are seeking to accomplish His commands does that mean that He holds this agency to be sacred; even maybe more sacred than His commands?

The Lord, speaking to the Prophet Joseph concerning what had been commanded to be done in Missouri, stated this.

"Verily, verily I say unto you that when I give a commandment unto any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their mights and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooves me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept their offering.  And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not and hate me, says the Lord God." (D&C 124:49 - 50, T&C 141 par.15)

If God holds the agency of all men to be that sacred, how ought we to consider that agency even if we feel that it interferes with what ought to be done?

Will allowing all men agency result in the servants of God, those who are "favored", feeling perplexed and sorrowful and even depressed as they seek to fulfill the commandments of God to them?

Is this to be expected in the work of the Lord in this world?

Would this lead to the servants of the Lord needing to be longsuffering, and willing to have mercy, and willing to suffer persecution and needing to possess the attributes in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at Bountiful?

Is this what the Lord experienced as he went about during His mortality here preaching and healing and performing all manner of good works?

"And now Abinadi said unto them, I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men and shall redeem his people...And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked and scourged and cast out and disowned by his people.  And after all this and after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, As a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth, Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain,..." (Mosiah 13:1 - 7, NC Mosiah 8 pars. 5 - 6)

God Himself came down and in His tabernacle of flesh suffered all of the obstacles, burdens, perplexities, sins and so forth from the agency of man while accomplishing what the Father had commanded Him.

If the Master had to run up against all of these things should the servants of the Master consider that they would face anything less?

Is the real test in this experience Nephi and his brothers are having of retrieving the brass plates from Laban, to go to with all their mights to perform the work they have been commanded and cease not in their diligence to perform that work?

It is interesting that Nephi uses an oath or he covenants in the name of the Lord that they will accomplish the task or die trying.

" the Lord liveth, and as we live we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us."

This is a powerful statement to make.

In essence Nephi is swaring an oath that as long as the Lord lives and as long as we live we will not return to our father unless we accomplish the command to get the brass plates.

How can Nephi make such an oath without invoking the Lord's name in vain?

Was it revealed to Nephi by the Lord to speak such an oath?

Even though he is perplexed as well as his brothers, does this oath demonstrate faith?

Does this oath show that the Lord is giving Nephi assurance that they will succeed even though they have run into a brick wall?

Is it something that ought to be considered that at this point Laman and Lemuel and Sam are all ok with Nephi binding them with him by this oath?

Does Nephi's expression of this oath, in addition to the other things he spoke to them,
 give courage to Nephi's brothers?

In all of these things Nephi is seeking to "persuade" his brothers to keep this commandment from the Lord.

We believe that Nephi's use of persuasion is a sign that Nephi is a true servant of God; that he possesses priesthood or a relationship with the Lord.

"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood.  Ony by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned, by kindness and pure knowledge." (D&C 121:, T&C 139 pars. 6 - 7)

We believe that if Nephi were to act in any other way to try to compel his brothers to keep the Lord's command to them that Nephi would lose his priesthood.

"...when we undertake to cover our sins or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion, upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the Heavens withdraw themselves, the Spirit of the Lord is grieved, and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the Priesthood of the authority of that man." (D&C 121:, T&C 139 par. 5)

In this experience Nephi is reasoning with his brothers to encourage and persuade them.

We do not see any claim to his "favored" status as a bonafides that they should listen to him.

As a group we see in the scriptures that all who are truly sent from God with a labor do likewise.

They plead with, they reason with, they implore and they invite those who they are sent to labor among to be faithful in keeping the commandments of God.

They never cite their authority as a reason for people to obey.

They are longsuffering and merciful with those they are sent to work among because those to whom they are sent will most often reject, persecute and abuse them.

It would seem, from the scriptures, that those who truly hold the greatest power from Heaven over this earth have the invariable attribute of seeking to do no more than persuade others to keep the commandments of God.

If I would desire to do a work for the Lord, to labor in His vineyard with Him laboring beside me, must I also possess these attributes?

Must I also be willing to go to with all my might and cease not to be diligent in performing whatever labor the Lord may give me?

We do not have room in this post to talk about one of the things Nephi mentioned as he was reasoning with his brothers; that it was wisdom in God that they should get the record.

We will talk about that in one of the next posts as well as Nephi's "favored" status.

We are sure there is much much more to be gained from this experience with Nephi and his brothers than what is contained in this blog.

Hopefully what we are doing here is encouraging more indepth study of the Book of Mormon.

Isn't it interesting that the command to get the plates of brass was given to all of Lehi's sons together?

Is the Lord interested in groups of people working together to accomplish a labor?

Is Nephi in any way trying to separate himself out of the group to try and get things done or is he remaining with the group and lending encouragement and physical assistance?

What can I or we learn from this example?

We as a group were part of a labor recently assigned by the Lord to an entire movement of people.

During the labor there was much contention and people from the movement divided themselves out into separate groups seeking to perform the labor in differing ways.

I personally must confess that I was involved in dividing myself out and holding onto foolish feelings of accusation and seeking to "correct" my brothers and sisters who did not see things my way.

The labor, after much division and foolishness, was eventually completed and an almost unanimous voice of the people in the movement accepted the outcome and then petitioned the Lord to know if He, the Lord, accepted the labor as complete.

The Lord responded with a revelation which can be found in T&C section 176.

It was a parable in which the Lord showed to us, the entire movement of people, how foolish it was for us to divide ourselves out to try to accomplish the labor He commanded because we did not see eye to eye on how the labor should be performed.

At the end of the revelation the Lord declared as follows.

"...there was honor in the labor of others.  Whereas I look upon the heart and see faithful service, many among you do not look at, nor see, nor value what I, the Lord, love in the hearts of my people.  As I have said before, I say again: Love one another, labor willingly alongside each other.  Learn what you ought, and when I ask you to labor, do so wisely, even if you know not beforehand what you will find.  I do not ask what you cannot do.  Trust my words and proceed always in faith, believing that with me all things are possible.  All who are faithful are mine." (T&C 176 par. 13)

Nephi's example shows me and us that Nephi loved and valued what his brothers were doing in working beside him.

Shouldn't I do likewise?

Nephi's example shows that he loved his brothers and willingly worked alongside them.

Shouldn't I do likewise?

Nephi's example showed that when asked to labor Nephi was willing to do so wisely even though he did not know before hand what he should do.

Shouldn't I do likewise?

Nephi's example showed that he trusted the Lord's words and proceeded in faith believing that with the Lord all things are possible.

Shouldn't I do likewise?

Is it possible that one reason the Lord required the recording of this experience with Nephi and his brothers is so that in our own unique situation when commanded by the Lord to perform a labor together we can look at this experience and consider what attributes we ought to possess ourselves as we willingly work alongside each other?

Monday, April 29, 2019

I and My Brethren Did Consult One with Another

1 Nephi 3:9 - 14, NC 1 Nephi 1 par. 11

And I, Nephi, and my brethren took our journey in the wilderness with our tents to go up to the land of Jerusalem.  And it came to pass that when we had gone up to the land of Jerusalem, I and my brethren did consult one with another; and we cast lots: who of us should go in unto the house of Laban.  And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman, and Laman went in unto the house of Laban, and he talked with him as he sat in his house.  And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass which contained the genealogy of my father.  And behold it came to pass that Laban was angry and thrust him out from his presence, and he would not that he should have the records.  Wherefore, he said unto him, Behold thou art a robber and I will slay thee.  But Laman fled out of his presence and told the things which Laban had done to us."

As we look at this event, is it important that although Nephi has been told by his father Lehi that he, Nephi, would be favored because he had not murmured Nephi does not try to take control?

We are told that they "...did consult one with another."

They have a discussion together as to what is to be done.

In this discussion was everyone's input considered equally?

Do we have any indication that Nephi, the favored one, tried to dominate the discussion or dictate what was to be done?

Why does God have this detail included in the account?

Why not simply say that when they got to Jerusalem Laman went in to see Laban?

Is God showing us with this simple event how one who is truly "favored" by Him acts among his/her brethren (his/her peers); in this case brothers but could the word brethren include those outside of a family relationship?

Would we consider that Nephi should have "presided" in this meeting together with his brothers?

If Nephi is favored of the Lord isn't he above his brothers in standing?

If we return to the attribute of meekness we discussed in the last post we see some other characteristics that exist in a meek individual.

"Meekness, among other things, involves a conscious effort to avoid harming or offending others.  It requires an absence of pride or self-will.  It is not insistent upon being recognized or applauded.  It denotes a willingness to suffer without complaint.  Others may never recognize the meek, because meekness does not vaunt itself or demand notice.  There is great freedom in meekness.  It relieves the meek from the burden of seeking their acclaim.  It gives them the security of feeling God's approval for their course of living.  It is private.  Meekness means a person voluntarily restrains themself and uses the absolute minimum control or authority over others.  It is related to humility.  Humility is voluntary submission to the control or power of God; or in other words obedience.  Meekness affects a person's relationship with their fellow man.  There is nothing showy or attention grabbing about the meek.  Instead, they are content to know they have a relationship and power with God.  Unless God requires something to be done, or revealed, the meek do not voluntarily put this authority on display." (The Second Comforter, pg. 234 and Beloved Enos, pg. 98)

Do Nephi's actions display meekness?

How does the Lord view "greatness"?

What does the Lord think of "presiding authority"?

"Then spoke Jesus to the multitude and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.  All therefore whatever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do, for they are ministers of the law and they make themselves your judges.  But do not after their works, for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens and lay on men's shoulders and they are greivous to be borne, but they will not move them with one of their fingers.  And all their works they do to be seen of men.  They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi - which is Master.  But be not called Rabbi, for one is your Master, who is Christ, and all you are brethren.  And call no one your creator upon the earth, or your Heavenly Father, for one is your creator and Heavenly Father, even he who is in Heaven.  Neither be called Master, for one is your Master, even he whom your Heavenly Father sent, who is Christ; for he has sent him among you that you might have life.  But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant, and whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased of him, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted of him." (Matthew 22:1 - 12, NC Matthew 10 pars. 25 - 26)

Here the Lord clarifies that "brethren" means all of us in relation to each other.

Is this why the Lord used the word "brethren" with Nephi and his brothers instead of saying "my brothers"?

Does He want us to use this principle in the greatest extent of the application; our interrelationship with everyone, not just family?

The Pharisees and scribes deligated.  They put the burdens on other men's backs because they were the "judges in Israel" so to speak.  The Lord even declared, "...they make themselves your judges."  They could not take time to do the work themselves.

They delegated the work to be done out to others who were "under" them.  The Lord referred to this as placing burdens grievous to be borne on other men's shoulders.

The leaders of the day during the ministry of the Lord would sit high and lifted up above congregants. That is descibed by the Lord as the leaders seeking the uppermost rooms at the feasts and the chief seats at the synagogues.

Public image was of the utmost importance.  In our day we would say that they were "protecting the good name of the synagogue (church)."

Is it possible people would stand when the scribes and Pharisees entered the room?

Those individuals found disobeying them, the leaders, were excommunicated; or in the terms of the time "cast out of the synagogue."

They loved to be called by the title "Rabbi", which today might be "President", "Elder", "Bishop", "Father", "Reverend", "Beloved Prophet", and so forth.

The Pharisees and scribes would quote each other in their teachings because they were the leaders.

Would it be good for us to look for similarities today to avoid following what the Lord was decrying?

The Lord, the greatest of all was found always serving and sacrificing.

The Lord, abased Himself; descending below all things so that He would be able to be in and through all things.

If we exalt ourself above others what does the Lord declare will happen to us?

If we humble ourselves below others what does the Lord declare will happen to us?

What would be one of the signs of someone among us who is truly great in the eyes of God; one who is "favored" of God?

Here is an example from the Book of Mormon of one who is "favored" of God.

"And it came to pass that the multitude went forth and thrust their hands into his side and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet.  And this they did do, going forth one by one, until they had all gone forth and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands and did know of a surety and did bear record that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets should come.  and it came to pass that when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves they did cry out with one accord, saying, Hosanna, Blessed be the name of the Most High God!  And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus and did worship him.  And it came to pass that he spake unto Nephi (for Nephi was among the multitude) and commanded him that he should come forth.  and Nephi arose and went forth and bowed himself before the Lord and he did kiss his feet." (3 Nephi 11:15 - 19, NC 3 Nephi 5 pars. 6 - 8)

Does the record say Nephi was in front of or above anyone in the multitude as they came forward and felt the sacred marks in the Savior's body?

Where was Nephi when the Lord called to him?

Was he considered the second "presiding" authority on the rostrum before the multitude (what we might refer to as a congregation)?

Was Nephi, who was favored of God, of an attitude that he was any greater or better or more privileged than anyone else in the multitude?

Would it be wise for us to consider these things as we are tested in this life to see if we can distinguish between the words of God as delivered by those who are truly favored of Him and those words spoken by pretenders who the Lord referred to as thieves and robbers?

It would appear that they decided to go in and ask for the brass plates.

They cast lots to determine who should go.

Again, notice the absence of Nephi declaring that he was "favored" and should go or declaring that Laman should go.

What about casting lots?  Why would they cast lots?

"...There is a method that we haven't tried, so far as I know.  That would be to use "lots" to choose from every male in the church.  This method was used to fill Judas' vacancy in the original Twelve in Jerusalem. (Acts 1:21 - 26)  The description there is ambiguous, but was intended to be random, unpredictable and not just a vote.  It was a recognized way to choose someone. (See, e.g., 1 Ne. 3:11)  It has been used to sort through the entire nation of Israel when all twelve tribes were assembled.  Someone had stolen and idol, resulting in the withdrawal of the Lord's Spirit from them in battle.  The result was defeat for Israel and the death of many men.  They needed to find the one who committed the offense.  So they had to choose from the entire gathering of all twelve tribes.  Beginning at the tribe level, they sorted through to find the right tribe (Judah).  Then proceeded to sort through the tribe to locate the larger family involved (Zarhites).  Then went through the family to find the individual involved (Achan).  The whole thing is in the scriptures. (Joshua 7:13 - 23)  Such a system was uncontrolled by man, done by lot, completely random, but produced the right person.  Left to God, it obtained God's answer.  Did with the sons of Lehi, and with the vacancy in the Twelve in the Book of Acts, too.  There is no reason why such a system wouldn't generate the Lord's choice today." ("Prophet, Seer, Revelator", Denver Snuffer, blog post, 21/May/2010)

Is there a reason the Lord would want Laman to have the first crack at getting the plates?

If the Lord controlled the outcome of casting lots, was the Lord intentionally setting up Laman to fail?

Was it Laman's idea to simply ask for the plates or had they all determined when they consulted together that asking for them was the best route; they just wanted to know who should go?

Was Laman, at very least, maybe a little bit believing by accepting the outcome of casting lots?

Did the Lord love Laman just as much as He loved Nephi?

Laman was the first born of Lehi.

Would it be possible that the Lord, who is loving, wanted to give Laman as many chances as He could to succeed?

Did Laman fail in God's eyes because of his ill fated attempt to get the plates from Laban?

Was failure before God to be determined by Laban's rejection of Laman's request?

Would an attempt by Nephi to simply ask Laban for the plates of brass, had he been chosen by lot, been met with a different result than was Laman's request?

Did Nephi's first suggestion of how to get the plates from Laban end in success?

Does that mean that Nephi failed before God as well, because Laban rebuffed them again?

What was the real test here?

What do we learn here?

Do we ridicule Laman in his attempt, thereby accusing one of our brethren?

Would that be more of a reflection of our own hearts than of Laman's heart to judge him so?

Saturday, April 27, 2019

I Will Go and Do

1 Nephi 3:1-8, NC 1 Nephi 1 par. 10

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father.  And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying, Behold, I have dreamed a dream in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.  For behold Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of thy forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban and seek the records and bring them down hither into the wilderness.  And now, behold, thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.  Therefore go my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord because thou hast not murmured.  And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father, I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.  And it came to pass that when my father had heard these words he was exceedingly glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord.

Is it significant that it is mentioned that Lehi receives so many communications from the Lord in dreams?

"And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams..." (1 Nephi 1:16, NC 1 Nephi par.4 )

"For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream...And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart..." (1 Nephi 2:1 - 2, NC 1 Nephi 1 par.6 )

"And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem." (1 Nephi 3: 2, NC 1 Nephi 1 par. 10 )

"And it came to pass that while my father tarried in the wilderness he spake unto us saying, Behold, I have dreamed a dream. Or in other words, I have seen a vision." (1 Nephi 8:2, NC 1 Nephi 2 par. 7 )

This last entry does also state that in other words Lehi had seen a vision.

But later Nephi declares, " came to pass, after my father had made an end of speaking the words of his dream,..." (1 Nephi 10:2, NC 1 Nephi 3 par. 2 )

Nephi's experiences are different than his father's as far as what is recorded in that Nephi does not record that his communications with the Lord are through dreams like what is recorded with his father Lehi.

Nephi also receives the vision of the same things his father recieved concerning the tree and the fruit and the path and the iron rod with the great and spacious building in the air, but his experience entails him being taken up where he is looking down on the earth instead of a dream.

Is this recorded in this way so as to show that the Lord works by gifts that vary from individual to individual?

"And that you may not be deceived, seek earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given, for verily I say unto you, They are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeks so to do, that all may be benefited that seeks or that asks of me, that asks, and not for a sign that they may consume it upon his lusts.  And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember and always retain in your minds what those gifts are that are given unto the church, for all have not every gift given unto them, for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the spirit of God.  To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby." (D&C 46:8 - 12, T&C 32 pars. 4 - 5)

Is this whole account written with the descritptions of the differences between how Nephi received communication with the Lord and how Lehi did likewise in order to demonstrate to us, as the readers, that there are many gifts and they are given to profit all?

Were those at Jerusalem and those in the fleeing group with Lehi profited by Lehi's gift(s)?

Although Nephi did not prophesy at Jerusalem was the whole group fleeing with Lehi likewise profited by the gift(s) that Nephi received even though they differed from his father Lehi's gifts?

Did Nephi and Lehi both manifest gifts that were overlapping in sameness as well?

If we had a fuller account would we see others in the group manifesting gifts that profited the whole group but that were diffent than those manifested by Nephi and Lehi?

Was the following a manifestation of a different type of gift of the spirit that profited the group overall?

"And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness, and our women did bare children in the wilderness.  And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings?" (1 Nephi 17:1 - 2, NC 1 Nephi 5 par. 11)

Is the record of the manifestations of these differing gifts of the spirit a profit and benefit for all of us?

If the above was a gift of the spirit is it a demonstration that heavenly gifts may exist in many forms we would consider not normal or strange; things possibly unknown or completely unfamiliar to us?

If we were to look around us would we maybe encounter the gifts of a loving Father outside of where we traditionally consider the gifts to exist?

The Lord said that those gifts are given to the "church".

Remeber how the Lord defined the "church" or His "church" where the manifestations of the gifts exist?

"Behold this is my doctrine: Whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church." (D&C 10:67, T&C 1 JSH part 10 par. 21)

Does that mean that someone with very little understanding of God, someone who is not part of any organization, someone who does not subscribe to any type of creed could by the above definition manifest gifts of the spirit?

"And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord upon his knees yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth and cried mightily saying, O God Aaron hath told me that there is a God and if there is a God and if thou art God wilt thou make thyself known unto me and I will give away all my sins to know thee and that I may be raised from the dead and be saved at the last day." (Alma 22:17 - 18, NC Alma 13 par. 10)

For anyone who is familiar with this account, did this Lamanite king, who did not even know if there was a God, manifest any spiritual gifts at this time?

How was this possible?

Were all the household and even the nation of the Lamanites benefitted by the manifestion of the gifts of the spirit in Lamoni's father, this king?

If Lamoni's father manifested a spiritual gift would that mean that he was a part of the "church" that the Lord defined?

If all spiritual gifts come from God to bless all, should we be observant because maybe someone, who we would not imagine, manifests a gift or gifts of the spirit to benefit all, which means us as well?

Are we losing benefits for ourselves by supposing that God will only manifest His spiritual gifts to certain individuals in certain ways thereby limiting what we consider to be a manifestaion of His gifts?

Even if we consider a gift of the spirit or a person manifesting a gift of the spirit "odd" or "weird" can we still be benefitted by the manifestation of the gift if we humble ourselves and receive what God is giving?

As a caution, though, the Lord stated to Joseph,

"And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts, lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God." (D&C 46:27, T&C 32 par. 6)

Is it possible for the gifts of the spirit to be compromised?

If the Lord explains about discerning the gifts because of those professing a gift but being not of God is it important for each one of us to carefully consider the matter in all our observations of "gifts?"

Is this admonition from the Lord important as we discern these things?

"He that asks in the Spirit, asks according to the will of God, wherefore it is done even as he asks.  And again, I say unto you, All things must be done in the name of Christ, whatever you do in the Spirit, and you must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatever blessing you are blessed with.  And you must practice virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen." (D&C 46:30 - 33, T&C 32 par. 7) 

When it comes to gifts of the Spirit and not having them compromised is the will of God important?

Is it important for things to be done in the name of Christ?

"And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear.  And all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men, and in nothing did they work miracles save it were the name of Jesus." (4 Nephi verse 5, NC 4 Nephi par. 2)

Are giving thanks to God and practicing virtue and holiness before God important elements involved in having the gifts not compromised?

What constitutes virtue?

What constitutes holiness?

Was Nephi receiving a gift of the Spirit as he was being directed to kill Laban?

If so, how does that fit with virtue and holiness?

Is the will of God at work in this event?

Could it be that gifts of the Spirit is a complex issue that we ought to look into diligently, relying on scripture and revelation from God to assist us?

There is a section in the Teachings and Commandments, section 147, which is an editorial by the Prophet Joseph published in the TIMES AND SEASONS, 1 April 1842 entitled "Try the Spirits."

We would encourage an inclusion of the study of this editorial for anyone who is serious about  studying the gifts of the Spirit.

A conversation of what Lehi said to Nephi that he, Nephi, would be favored of the Lord because Nephi had not murmured we will save for a later post.

As we come to the well known statement of Nephi that he would go and do as the Lord commands, knowing that the Lord would prepare a way to accomplish the command we considered a question or two.

As stated before, as a group we believe that God Himself translated the Book of Mormon and told the Prophet Joseph what to write down.

"...the interpretation thereof by the gift of God." (Book of Moromon Introduction)

As such it is God who gave us these words of Nephi.

Why these specific words?

Are these words from Nephi related to an attribute the Lord desires us to possess?

"Meekness  This is difficult to recognize.  The attribute is found in the relationship between man and God, not man and man.  That is, to be meek is to follow the Lord's will, even when you don't want to do so.  Even when it brings you into conflict with your friends, family or community.  You measure meekness as between the servant and the Lord, not as between the servant and his critics." (Denver Snuffer Blog, "Power in the Priesthood, Part 3", May 22, 2012)

Remember that the Lord declared that the gifts of the Spirit are given to those who keep all His commandments and to those who seek so to do?

Is the Lord including this account and these words to allow us a practical definition of meekness?

Could we reasonably state that the meek are those who will receive gifts of the Spirit?

The Lord tells us that the meek will inherit the earth.

Would it be the meek who manifest the gifts of the Spirit according to the will of God?

Is this an easy thing that Nephi and his brothers are commanded by the Lord to do?

As we continue to read further into the account will we discover that the Lord is willing to test Nephi's resolve to be meek?

Could we expect that if we likewise determine to be meek and go and do whatsoever the Lord commands that the Lord will also test our resolve to do so?

Is a testing of this or any other attribute of godliness neccessary in order to determine our true resolve to follow the Lord in all things and at all hazards?

We talked about sacrifice a little in the post "God's Mighty Power to Deliver".  

We talked about sacrifice being the means whereby men may know that they are living their lives in accordance with the will of the Father; a requirement for salvational faith.

Does the Lord ordain these sacrifices to test our resolve to be meek and thereby "set up" so to speak the situations to increase our faith by our follow through?

Is there going to be sacrifice and conflict and a test of resolve for Nephi and his brothers in order to do as the Lord has commanded them?

Will God keep His word and do His part?

Nephi stated that he knew that the Lord would never give a commanment unless He prepared a way for the children of men to complete it.

"And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled.  And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God, he doth nourish them and strengthen them and provide ways and means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; Wherefore, he did provide ways and means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness." (1 Nephi 17:3, NC 1 Nephi 5 par. 12)

What about His command, "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." (3 Nephi 12:48, NC 3 Nephi 5 par. 13) ?

What about, "...I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you..." (3 Nephi 12:44, NC 3 Nephi 5 par. 13)?

Our little study group is part of a larger "movement" that seeks to unite as equals into one people to serve the Lord in righteousness.

The Lord has given commandments to any who would desire to be a part of this "movement."

"I descended below it all, and know the sorrows of you all, nad have borne the grief of it all, and I say to you, Forgive one another.  Be tender with one another, pursue judgment, bless the oppressed, care for the orphan, and uplift the widow in her need, for I have redeemed you from being orphaned and taken you that you are no longer a widowed people.  Rejoice in me, and rejoice with your brethren and sisters who are mine also.  Be one." (T&C 157 par. 50)

"As I have said before, I say again, Love one another, labor willingly alongside each other.  Learn what you ought, and when I ask you to labor, do so wisely even if you know not beforehand what you will find.  I do not ask what you cannot do.  Trust my words and proceed always in faith, believing that with me all things are possible." (Answer:Build A House, Denver Snuffer Blog Downloads)

To keep all of the above commands from the Lord, to be meek, will the resolve of anyone seeking to do so be tested?

Will sacrifice be required to keep the above commandments?

Will keeping these things have the effect of putting us in conflict with the world?

Will the Lord prepare a way that these commandments may be kept?

when Nephi's resolve was being tested, after sacrificing, remember that as he entered Jerusalem in the dark he received a gift of the spirit.

He was led by the Spirit not knowing beforehand what he should do.

Does this match up with the Lord's command to us, "...when I ask you to labor, do so wisely even if you know not beforehand what you will find?"

May we be meek as well as Nephi and go and do as the Lord commands us knowing that the Lord will use His gifts to prepare a way for us to accomplish what He has commanded.

We must expect that He will test our resolve and set up the opportunity to sacrifice in order to accomplish His command but if we follow through we will eventually arrive at the point where we know that our lives are being lived according to His will.

How great is the Lord who teaches us these things.

Friday, April 12, 2019

A Ruler and A Teacher

1 Nephi 2:21 - 42, NC 1 Nephi 1 par. 9

And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.  And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren.  For behold in that day that they shall rebel against me I will curse them with a sore curse and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also.  And if it so be that they rebel against methey shall be a scourge unto thy seed to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.

The first question that comes to mind is why does the Lord tell Nephi that if Laman and Lemuel rebel against Nephi they will be cut off from the presence of the Lord?

Is this similar to what was told to Abraham?

"And I will bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee." (Abraham 2:11, T&C 145, Abraham 3 par. 1)

Is this in any way related to what was told to the Prophet Joseph by the Lord in Liberty Jail?

"Cursed are all those that shalllift up the heel against mine anointed, says the Lord, and cry, They have sinned, when they have not sinned before me, says the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.  But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves, and those who swear false against my servants, that they might bring them unto bondage and death, woe unto them because they have offended my little ones.  They shall be severed from the ordinances of my house, their basket shall not be full, their Houses and their barns shall famish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them.  They shall not have right to the Priesthood, nor their posterity after them, from generation to generation.  It had been better for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks and they drowned in the depth of the sea." (D&C 121:16 -22, T&C 138 pars. 13 - 14)

By what we looked at before in the post "There Came Many Prophets" we touched on priesthood being an association or fellowship with angels, The Lord and ultimately The Father.

By the Lord telling Nephi that if his brothers rebel against Nephi they will be cut of from the presence of the Lord is the Lord telling Nephi that He will bless Nephi's brothers if they bless Nephi and He will curse Nephi's brothers if they curse Nephi?

Is the Lord indicating in the Book of Mormon that Nephi has now become one of His anointed and that if Laman and Lemuel rebel and say that Nephi has transgressed or sinned when Nephi hasn't that they, Laman and Lemuel, and their posterity from generation to generation, will not have priesthood, or in other words an association with the Lord because of their rebellion?

As we look at the Book of Mormon is this what occurred?

How many generations passed before the descendants of Laman and Lemuel were brought back into association with the Lord?

Now the question that really hurts.

Is it possible for me to rebel against one of the Lord's anointed?

What would that look like?

If the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever, and I am found rebelling like Laman and Lemuel what cursing or condemnation would come down upon me and my posterity for generations to come?

This seems like a very serious matter.

To me, it seems that for the Lord to declare such a fate upon individuals and their posterities this must be super serious for Him.

Is it because of the message that the Lord's annointed bring that this is such a serious matter?

Is it because one who is the Lord's anointed is not on their own errand but meekly completing the Lord's errand that it is so serious to rebel against them?

Nephi is further told that if he keeps the Lord's commandments that he will be made a ruler and a teacher over his brethren.

There are two things that come to my mind with this statement.

1) Nephi was chosen before he was born.  He was one of the souls who condescended to come down to save others.

"Now the Lord had shewn unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was, and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones.  And God saw these souls, that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them and he said, These I will make my rulers." (Abraham 3:22 - 23, T&C 145 Abraham 6 par. 1)

Our understanding of a ruler in God's terms is a teacher seeking to persuade all men to work righteousness before God.

"And I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.  And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.  And this is the manner after which they were ordained:  Being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil, therefore they having chosen good and exercising exceeding great faith are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with and according to a preparatory redemption for such...And thus being called by this holy calling and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest,..." (Alma 13:1 - 3, NC Alma 9 par. 10)

2) Those who are priests after this order, teachers of righteousness, His rulers, have dominion.

This is how God interprets dominion.

"...the word "dominion" in the understanding of the gentile can convey the impression of a prison warden exercising control over captives.  I think the word "dominion" should be understood instead to convey the idea of a gardener who is responsible for making the garden thrive, grow and bear fruit.  To be clear, the three greatest examples of wielding "dominion" in the correct manner as we should understand it are, first: Christ, who is probably without any peer, unquestionably the greatest example of one holding the greatest dominion, and who also likewise showed the greatest example of how to wield dominion.  He beseeched people to believe.  He pled with them for their own good.  He knelt to serve them.  He denied that He had a kingdom of this world. (John 18:36)  He tried to prepare people for a better one.  But He was more intelligent than they all and He was the greatest of them all. (Abr. 3:19)  Unquestionably holding the greatest dominion and He wore it as a light thing.  His yoke was easy. (Matt. 11:30)
In this world, Adam, after Christ held the greatest dominion. (Gen. 1:26 -28)  But Adam taught and pled and instructed (Moses 5:12) but did not abridge the agency of his children, even when one of his sons killed another of his sons.  Adam did not execute Cain.  Cain was sent away.  Adam held dominion, but he exercised it like our Lord, pleading for the interest of others.  Adam invited and solicited all to obey God, hoping for their best interests.
The third great example of holding dominion in a godly way was Moses.  He is called in scripture "meek above all men which were upon the face of the earth." (Num. 12:3) and yet gentiles depict him as a bully and strongman.  Moses saw no reason to be jealous when others were out prophesying.  "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them." (Num. 11:26 - 29)  Moses, like Adam and Christ, is an example of how the word dominion should be understood.
All three were gardeners responsible for trying to make their garden thrive, grow and bear fruit.  In reality, those who have held the greatest dominion given by God have invariably lived lives of meekness and service.  They were opposite of what gentiles regard as a strongman.  They were the opposite of a dictator or boss.  They were more like loving grandfathers, gentle gardeners, and encouraging friends -- trying to get the best from those who would allow them to teach." (Things to Keep Us Awake at Night, Denver Snuffer, St George Conference, Mar. 2017, pg. 19)

The Lord further told Nephi that in that day that Laman and Lemuel should rebel against Him, the Lord, that He, the Lord would curse them with a sore cursing.

This eventually took place and the Lord's words were fulfilled every whit.

"And behold, the words of the Lord had been fulfilled unto my brethren which he spake concerning them that I should be their ruler and their teacher according to the commandments of the Lorduntil the time they sought to take away my life.  Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilledwhich he spake unto me, saying that inasmuch as they will not hearken to thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence. And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing because of their iniquity.  For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him that they had become like unto a flint.  Wherefore, as they were white and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.  and thus saith the Lord God, I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people save they shall repent of their iniquities.  And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing.  And the Lord spake and it was done.  And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people full of mischief and subtlety and did seek in the wilderness for bests of prey.  And the Lord God said unto me, They shall be a scourge unto thy seed to stir them up in remembrance of me, and inasmuch as they willnot remember me and hearken unto my words they shall scourge them even unto destruction." (2 Nephi 5:19 - 25, NC 2 Nephi 4 par. 4)

Alma, speaking to the people of Amonihah exhorted them to remember what had taken place so that they would not befall the same fate.

"Behold, do ye not remember the words which he spake unto Lehi, saying that inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land?  And again it is said that inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments, ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.  Now I would that ye should remember that inasmuch as the Lamanites have not kept the commandments fo God, they have been cut off from the presence of the Lord.  Now we see that the word of the Lord has been verified in this thing, and the Lamanites have been cut off from his presence from the beginning of their transgressions in the land." (Alma 9:13 - 14, NC Alma 7 par. 3)

We see again that being prospered in the land involves an association or enjoyment of the presence of the Lord.

We are either propered or cut off from His presence.

The curse and being cut off had the effect of the Lamanites becoming idle and full of mischief and subtlety.

They are later described as an indolent people who delight in bloodshed.

Is it possible for this very cursing and cutting off to happen to me?

I believe so. 

I believe this is why it is so very important for me to look at a message that is claimed to be from the Lord and determine if it really is from God.

As unlikely as the source of the message may be, what are the consequences of hardening my heart and not hearkening to the words that have been deliveredby one who is anointed of the Lord?

Isn't the above a terrible fate?

Would the Lord be any less serious today about a message He sends through one of His anointed than He was with Laman and Lemuel?

Finally we see as well that the Book of Mormon bears out that the Lord's words were fulfilled every whit about the Lamanites being a scourge to the Nephites.

"And it came to pass that they came many times against us, the Nephites, to battle.  But our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord, and they taught the people the ways of the Lord.  Wherefore, we withstood the Lamanites, and swept them away out of our lands, and began to fortify our cities, or whatsoever place of our inheritance.  And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceeding rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron, and copper, and brass, and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war, yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war.  And thus being prepared to meet the Lamanites, they did not prosper against us.  But the word of the Lord was verified which he spake unto our fathers, saying that inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land." (Jarom 1:7 - 9, NC Jarom 1 par. 4)

"Behold, it came to pass that three hundred and twenty years had passed away, and the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed.  For the Lord would not suffer, after he had led them out of theland of Jerusalem, and kept and preserved them from falling into the hands of their enemies, ye, he would not suffer that the words should not be verified which he spake unto our fathers, saying that inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments, ye shall not prosper in the land.  Wherefore, the Lord did visit them in great judgement; nevertheless he did spare the righteous, that they should not perish, but did deliver them out of the hands of their enemies." (Omni 1:5 - 7, NC Omni 1 par. 3)

Is the account of Nephi speaking with the Lord included in the Book of Mormon to show a pattern that has existed from the beginning of how the Lord calls someone to His holy ministry?

Are the details of the cursings to warn us not to reject the words of one of the Lord's anointed?

If we reject the words of one of the Lord's anointed can we expect to become dark and loathsome and filthy and idle even to the point of eventually delighting in bloodshed?

Does this account show as well as all of the other scriptural accounts that the Lord Himself, in person, calls an individual to His ministry?

Is this how one would enter in through the gate? 

We are told that the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; the Lord Himself.

If someone claims to have a word from God and they have not entered through this gate are they a thief and a robber?

If I exercise faith and seek the Lord diligently with lowliness of heart can this likewise happen to me?

What a remarkable experience.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Lord Spake Unto Me

1 Nephi 2:19 - 20, NC 1 Nephi 1 par. 9

And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me saying, Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently with lowliness of heart.  And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper and be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you, a land which is choice above all other lands.

Before discussion about the above I would like to express again, as I did at the beginning of the blog clear back in 2017, that what is shared here reflects my current understanding of things that I have been taught in our Book of Mormon study group.

I do not claim to have all truth.  I am looking for truth and so if I am able to meekly progress in the path towards God I expect that many of my presently held understandings will change with time and experience.

I invite anyone who so desires to comment on any Book of Mormon subject being discussed here. 

I appreciate my sister for her question in the beginning of the Book of Mormon study group posts that made me look into a matter that I really had not considered before as I should have.

I appreciate Leonard sharing his insights into a topic that was recently looked at.

I would hope that anyone who so desired would express their opinions, ideas and understandings about any or all of the subjects with their own self awareness that what they are expressing is their present idea, opinion, or understanding. 

I do not feel threatened if someone expresses something I had never considered or something that is different or in disagreement with what I have shared. 

I would hope no one would feel threatened or angered by the expression of an honestly held opinion, idea, or understanding of anyone else even if it is different than or in disagreement with their own.

I believe that I would be able to learn much from the insights of others.

I have learned so much from the insights of those just in our little Book of Mormon study group.

If at anytime anyone feels to comment please do so. 

Please remember that what you express is your present understanding, opinion or idea.  I do not believe that anyone could be offended or threatened by another expressing their views this way even if they are different from each other.

I do believe that we could share things of immeasurable good; things we had never considered before.

When I ask questions in a post I am asking questions to myself as much as to anyone else in an attempt to get my head around things that I am just barely becoming aware of. They are not meant to corner anyone in their views or feelings.  They are helpful to me to help me hopefully consider more angles to a topic than I have considered before.

The Lord, who is speaking with Nephi here, tells Nephi that he is blessed because of his faith.

If God is no respecter of persons, which we believe to be the case, then if a person is to be called "blessed" by God will it be because they possess faith like Nephi?

What kind of faith or what quality of faith; what is it that Nephi possesses?

As a group we have read through The Lectures on Faith which I have made mention of in previous posts.

This book is now contained as scripture in Teachings and Commandments section 110.

The Lectures on Faith contains the following and much more concerning faith.

"Faith, being the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness, necessarily claims the first place in a course of lectures which are designed to unfold to the understanding the doctrine of Jesus Christ. (T&C 110, Lecture First, par. 1)

We believe that Nephi is on an individual path back to the presence of God.

Is this path, what Nephi is doing, what the Prophet Joseph is referring to when he mentions  "revealed religion"?

If it is, would that make "revealed religion" a very personal, singular and indivdual experience?

If we are to believe Joseph, then Nephi is in possession of the first principle of revealed religion.

Is this the religion that God revealed to Adam in the beginning?  Is that what is meant by stating that it is "revealed religion?" 

Is Joseph in essence saying this is what God revealed from the heavens in the beginning to be religion?

If that is the case, does that mean that any other idea, group, institution, philosophy, etc. that claims to be a religion is false or a false religion?

Joseph claimed that these lectures were designed, "to unfold to the understanding the doctrine of Jesus Christ."

Christ declared,

"Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.  And this is my doctrine which the Father hath given unto me,...and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men everywhere to repent and believe in me.  And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized the same shall be saved, and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Can we say that anyone who comes to an understanding of the lectures on faith will have unfolded to their understanding what it truly means to believe in Christ, be baptized, and inherit the kingdom of God?

Joseph declared that faith is the, "foundation of all righteousness."

What constitutes righteousness?

Faith is the foundation of it so if Nephi possesses faith, which the Lord declared Nephi does, then as we look at Nephi's recorded works can we consider that his works were done in righteousness?

Is it righteousness to kill an individual?  Nephi is going to run into this dilemma.

The first lecture continues.

"In presenting the subject of faith, we shall observe the following order:  First, faith itself - what it is, Secondly, the object on which it rests, and Thirdly, the effects which flow from it." (T&C 110, Lectures on Faith, Lecture First, pars. 2 - 5)

 Anyone studying these lectures will discover that they contain precisely what the above introduction states will be presented.

It is immpossible to cover faith, in an adequate way here.

Suffice it to say Nephi possesses it at this point in the journey and it is because of his possessing it that the Lord declares that he is blessed.

Faith, then is an indispensable part of the path back to the presence of God.

For a real understanding of faith we would encourage anyone who seriously desires to possess it to study, The Lectures on Faith combined with the talk on Faith given during the Ten Talks on the 40 years of Mormonism. 

This talk is found on and then scroll down to "Lecture 2 - Faith."

Lectures on Faith can be found in a PDF copy of Teachings and Commandments found on

We might ask at this point, what does it mean to be blessed?

Does being blessed mean that the individual is above those around him or her?

We know from what the Lord is declaring to Nephi that an individual must possess faith in order to be blessed.

The Lord declared the following to the Nephites at Bountiful.

"Therefore, blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized after that ye have seen me and know that I am.  And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me and know that I am.  Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost and shall receive a remission of their sins.  Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.  And again, blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted; and blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.  And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.  And blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.  And blessed are all the pure in heart for they shall see God.  And blessed are all the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.  And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name's sake for their's is the kingdom of Heaven.  And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, for ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad for great shall be your reward in Heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you." (3 Nephi 12:1 - 12, NC 3 Nephi 5 par. 10)

The Lord associated blessedness with willingness to believe in Him and follow Him.  He associated it with humility, being poor in spirit but coming to Him, meekness, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, mourning, mercy, pureness in heart, peacemaking and enduring persecution and revilings, having all manner of evil spoken against you falsely for His sake.

Does any of this denote some grandiose position of praise or authority over others?

Is it more of a situation of kneeling to lift others in obedience to Him?

Is it a situation of seeking after Him unceasingly?

Is it clear from the Lord's declaration to the Nephites at Bountiful why it would require faith to do such things?

Is the Lord declaring to Nephi, in a way, right here, Because you possess faith you will now be able to do these things; be merciful, be a peacemaker, be able to hunger and thirst after righteousness, be able to endure persecution for My name's sake, etc?

The lord further declared to Nephi, "thou hast sought me diligently with lowliness of heart."

Is Nephi is receiving something like Abraham at this time?

We are told in the Book of Abraham of an experience with Abraham and the Lord were the Lord declared to Abraham as follows.

"My name is Jehova, and I know the end from the beginning.  Therefore, my hand shall be over thee, and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations.  And thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and priesthood unto all nations.  And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this gospel shall be called after thy name and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as unto their Father.  And I will bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee.  And in thee (that is, in the Priesthood) and in they seed, (that is, thy Priesthood) - for I give unto thee a promise this this right shall continue in thee and in they seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed or seed of the body) - shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life Eternal." (Abraham 2:8 - 11, T&C 145, Abraham 3 par. 1)

After explaining these promises and giving a minsitry to Abraham the Lord departed and this is what Abraham records.

"Now after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me and withdrawn his face from me, I said in mine heart, Thy servant has sought thee earnestly, now I have found thee." ( Abraham 2:12, T&C 145, Abraham 3 par. 2)

Is Nephi being told in so many words, by the Lord, You have sought me earnestly and now you have found me?

A little further on in the narrative, after Nephi declares that he will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, we read that when Lehi, "...had heard these words he was exceeding glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord." (1 Nephi 3:8, NC 1 Nephi 1 par. 10)

This event is similar to Mormon and Moroni.

"An epistle of my father Mormon, written to me, Moroni; and it was written unto me soon after my calling to the ministry...My beloved son, Moroni, I rejoice exceedingly that your Lord Jesus Christ hath been mindful of you, and hath called you to his ministry, and to his holy work." (Moroni 8:1 - 2, NC Moroni 8 par. 1)

When Abraham spoke with the Lord and was blessed by the Lord he was given a ministry and promises.

Notice that when Mormon referred to Moroni's call to the minstry he stated "your Lord Jesus Christ."

Is that the same as acknowleging for example the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?

The Lord appearing to Mormon and calling him to a ministry became the God of Mormon and now Moroni had been called to a ministry and so the Lord was also now the God of Moroni.

If we compare it all with Nephi, was Nephi given a ministry by the Lord at this time? 

Was Nephi given promises even the promise of land?

Could it be that at this moment the Lord is now the God of Nephi even as He has already become the God of Lehi?

Would Lehi have received revelation from the Lord about Nephi's call to the ministry just as Mormon received revelation from the Lord about Moroni's call to the ministry?

Would this be the reason Lehi would have known that Nephi had been blessed of the Lord just as Mormon knew of Moroni's call to the ministry?

Is there a pattern here that has existed from the beginning with Adam?

Would someone called to the holy ministry by the Lord need to possess the attributes that would make them blessed as we discussed above?

The Lord tells Nephi that inasmuch as he keeps His commandments Nephi will prosper.

Does prospering have more to do with an association with the Lord and being able to accomplish what He commands rather than having vast physical wealth or success?

Could we say that Nephi and his brothers were prospered in obtaining the brass plates from Laban even though they lost the entire family fortune in the effort?

The Lord then tells Nephi that He would lead him to a land that He, the Lord had prepared for him; a land choice above all other lands.

Is this a pattern that the Lord uses; leading people out if they will obey His commands?

"Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited, and he hath created his children that they should possess it.  And he raiseth up a righteous nation and destroyeth the nations of the wicked.  And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands and the wicked he destroyeth and curseth the land unto them for their sakes." (1 Nephi 17: 38, NC 1 Nephi 5 par. 20)

The scriptures seem to confirm this all the way through with the Lord leading out His people.

The Lord led Abraham out and the children of Israel and those with Jared and his brother; Enoch and his people, king Mosiah the first and all who would listen to him, Nephi and all who would listen to him, and so forth

Is it possible for Him to lead a people out today?

Is it within His power today to create a safe place, a land, where His people may dwell in peace apart from the wickedness and chaos and violence of a fallen society?

Is what Nephi is experiencing here a pattern that shows what happens to anyone who comes to the Lord by their faith in Him?

Is this Nephi's call to the ministry?

If it is, would this be the experience of anyone who is called by the Lord to the same ministry?