1 Nephi 17:19 - 22, NC 1 Nephi 5 par. 17
And now it came to pass that I, Nephi, was exceeding sorrowful because of the hardness of their hearts. And now when they saw that I began to be sorrowful, they were glad in their hearts, insomuch that they did rejoice over me, saying, We knew that ye could not construct a ship, for we knew that ye were lacking in judgment; wherefore, thou canst not accomplish so great a work. And thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart. Yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years. And our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things save it were death. And it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions. Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy. And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people, for they keep the statutes and the judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people. And our father hath judged them and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his word; yea, and our brother is like unto him. And after this manner of language did my brethren murmur and complain against us.
The Stick of Judah in the Hand of Ephraim, 1 Nefi 5 par. 17
And now it came to pass that I, Nefi, was exceedingly sorrowful because of the hardness of their hearts. And now when they saw that I began to be sorrowful, they were glad in their hearts, insomuch that they did rejoice over me, saying, We knew that you could not construct a ship, for we knew that you were lacking in judgment; wherefore, you cannot accomplish so great a work. And you are like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart. Yes, he has led us out of the land of Yerushalayim, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years. And our women have labored, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things except it were death. And it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Yerushalayim than to have suffered these afflictions. Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yes, and we might have been happy. And we know that the people who were in the land of Yerushalayim were a righteous people, for they keep the statutes and the judgments of yhwh, and all his mitzvot according to the Torah of Moshe; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people. And our father has judged them and has led us away because we would hearken unto his word; yes, and our brother is like unto him. And after this manner of language did my brothers murmur and complain against us.I have always considered that Nephi was sorrowful here because he was, in my previous determination, at the very least a little "impatient" and "desperate" in his feelings.
... for God had commanded me that I should build a ship. And I said unto them, If God had commanded me to do all things, I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, Be thou earth — and it shall be earth. And if I should say it, it would be done. And now, if the Lord has such great power and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me that I should build a ship? And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said many things unto my brethren, insomuch that they were confounded and could not contend against me; neither durst they lay their hands upon me nor touch me with their fingers, even for the space of many days. Now they durst not do this lest they should wither before me, so powerful was the spirit of God; and thus it had wrought upon them. (1 Nephi 17:48 - 52, NC 1 Nephi 5 par. 22)
Could it properly be said concerning Nephi that his confidence in the Lord was unshakeable?
Is it possible from the careful consideration of Nephi's record to this point to arrive at an understanding of how Nephi came to have such unshakeable confidence in the Lord?
How does Nephi's confidence in God to build a ship have anything to do with me?
Is the Book of Mormon telling me "what" great things the Lord has done or is it telling me "how" great things the Lord has done?
If this is a "how to" book, does that mean that I likewise am authorized and capable of arriving at confidence in the Lord that is unshakeable just like Nephi?
There is a book of scripture from the Prophet Joseph that was initially part of the LDS church canon but was removed by a committee from the LDS scriptures that has now been restored to its proper place in the scriptures through the renewing of the restoration in 2014 that was begun by the Prophet Joseph. It is titled The Lectures on Faith.
The Lectures on Faith is contained in the Teachings and Commandments volume of the restoration scriptures in T&C section 110.
I would invite everyone living to read and re-read and study and give careful and solemn and ponderous thought to the Lectures on Faith.
These lectures describe 1) what faith is 2) the object on which faith rests; knowledge that God exists 3) The character of God in their perfection 4) the correct idea of the attributes of God in their perfection 5) a correct definition of the Godhead 6) the knowledge a person must possess (and how to obtain that knowledge) that the course of life they are pursuing is in accordance with the will of God 7) the effects of faith.
My present understanding is that Nephi's life was an example of an individual who applied what is taught in the Lectures on Faith and thereby obtained confidence in the Lord that was unshakeable.
As an example, consider the following from the Lectures on Faith when contemplating Nephi's life.
Such was and always will be the situation of the saints of God: that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course that they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint, for such has been and always will be the opposition in the hearts of unbelievers and those that know not God, against the pure and unadulterated religion of Heaven (the only thing which ensures eternal life), that they will persecute to the uttermost all that worship God according to his revelations, receive the truth in the love of it, and submit themselves to be guided and directed by his will, and drive them to such extremities that nothing short of an actual knowledge of their being the favorites of Heaven, and of their having embraced that order of things which God has established for the redemption of man, will enable them to exercise that confidence in him necessary for them to overcome the world and obtain that crown of glory which is laid up for them that fear God.
For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief, or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge, realizing that when these sufferings are ended he will enter into Eternal rest and be a partaker of the glory of God.
For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator were he to say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life. But when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God.
Let us here observe that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. For from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life, and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.
It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him. (T&C 110, Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6, pars. 4 - 8)
In this very same lecture, we read the following concerning unshaken confidence.
But those who have not made this sacrifice to God do not know that the course which they pursue is well-pleasing in his sight, for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind, and where doubt and uncertainty is, there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time. So that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence, and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak, and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus, and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them. (T&C 110, Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6 par. 12)
If God is an unchanging God, is it possible for me to, like Nephi, obtain unshaken confidence unless I follow the very same path?
What does God declare to me in this Lecture?
It is in vain for persons (me) to fancy to themselves (myself) that they are heirs (I am an heir) with those, or can be heirs (an heir) with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they (I) in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are (I am) accepted of him,
Do I need to obtain unshaken confidence in the Lord?
Is it possible for me to obtain faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life without it?
Just as Nephi was commanded to do physical works as well during his ministry, is it possible that the Lord has physical works that He would like me to do as well in my own small sphere of influence?
Given my weakness and failings, is it possible that such physical works might be to me just as challenging, relative to my greatly limited capacities, as building a ship was to Nephi's capacities?
Would I be found hardening my heart against a command from God and telling myself that I, knew that ye were ( I was) lacking in judgment; wherefore, thou (I) canst not accomplish so great a work. And thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart (I am led away by the foolish imaginations of my heart).
Why do these things concern me?
When the Lord extended a covenant again today in September of 2017 these are some of the remarks that He required to be spoken before the covenant was administered.Although the laborers in this final effort are “few” you will be the means used by the Lord to complete His work in His vineyard (Id., v.70). You are required to labor with your might to finish the Lord’s work in His vineyard (Id., v.72). But He will labor alongside you. (Id.)
My present understanding is that anyone who responds to the work the Lord is going forth to accomplish right now is right now or will be in some way at some time called by the Lord Himself to labor alongside Him in His vineyard to complete His work, whatever that work may entail.
As I consider how exceedingly important His work is at present and my own constant propensity to screw things up really bad really fast, it terrifies me to think of being called by Him to do anything unless I am able to have confidence in Him (unshaken confidence?) that He will prosper my inadequate efforts if I will meekly cooperate with Him.
Why the above sentiments?
I believe that the Lord allows everyone their agency when they are called by Him to labor beside Him. Anyone can work at cross purposes with the Lord, He allows that, even though He has called them to labor and even though He will accomplish His purposes regardless, in the way He has determined from the beginning.
Can you imagine how terrifying it would be to think about appearing before the Lord on the day of judgment if I have gone about jamming myself into His work to hinder it (working at cross purposes)?
How great and terrible would my accountability be before Him on that day?
My present understanding is that if I am to responsibly respond to a call the Lord may give to me to work beside Him cooperatively to accomplish something in His vineyard, whatever that may look like or whatever that may entail, my confidence must be solely in Him and it must become unshaken confidence or I will grow weary in my mind and faint because I believe that if I do willingly respond to a call He may give me I will be challenged and stretched and tested.
There is another facet to obtaining confidence in the Lord that I believe is important for me at this time in world history.So, some of you feel an inordinate anxiety at the events we can all see taking place throughout the world. You've allowed the politics of everything to make you desperate to flee. Well, it doesn't matter if you flee; the circumstances aren't going to change. And if you bring with you the conviction that “everything is political,” you're not going to escape the anxiety that you feel.
One of the reasons why political leaders find it very useful to make people frightened is because when they are frightened and they get to the “fight or flight” part of their mind, they cease to be rational—and they find themselves willing to adopt irrational choices to try and solve the problem that is making them afraid, even if the problem that they fear is of very little or even no consequence.
My present understanding of the above statement is that I ought to obtain confidence in the Lord so that I have the capability of getting rid of my unproductive anxieties and also so that I can develop the patience necessary to not charge forward when I ought not but to wait upon the Lord with confidence in Him that He can and will complete His work precisely as He has determined that it will be completed in the timing that he has also determined is appropriate.
I realize that I have been applying my present understanding of confidence in God to situations that involve groups of people and not just me but also, individually speaking, my present understanding is that I must obtain this unshaken confidence in the Lord in order to be able to be redeemed even as Nephi was redeemed.
Because of the above explanation, I do not believe now that Nephi's sorrow came because he doubted that the ship would be built, but I am able to look at the unshaken confidence Nephi was able to obtain in the Lord and determine where I am at present and that I must press forward personally to obtain the same.
If Nephi was not sorrowing because of a lack of confidence about the ship being able to be completed, can it be properly determined that Nephi really was troubled by his brothers' hard hearts?
Do we have other examples in scripture that describe individuals who sorrow because of the hard-heartedness of others?
What about Lehi concerning his sons?
Wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words. Oh that ye would awake, awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe. Awake and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth. But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell — I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love. And I desire that ye should remember to observe the statutes and the judgments of the Lord; behold, this hath been the anxiety of my soul from the beginning. My heart hath been weighed down with sorrow from time to time, for I have feared, lest for the hardness of your hearts, the Lord your God should come out in the fullness of his wrath upon you, that ye be cut off and destroyed for ever, or that a cursing should come upon you for the space of many generations, and ye are visited by sword and by famine, and are hated, and are led according to the will and captivity of the Devil. O my sons, that these things might not come upon you, but that ye might be a choice and a favored people of the Lord. (2 Nephi 1:12 - 19, NC 2 Nephi 1 par. 3)
What about the prophet Mormon for the Nephites?
And it came to pass that the Nephites began to repent of their iniquity and began to cry even as had been prophesied by Samuel, the prophet. For behold, no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land. Thus, there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi. And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation, and their mourning, and their sorrowing before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them, that they would again become a righteous people. But behold, this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance because of the goodness of God, but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin. And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God and wish to die. Nevertheless, they would struggle with the sword for their lives. And it came to pass that my sorrow did return unto me again, and I saw that the day of grace was past with them, both temporally and spiritually, for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus three hundred and forty and four years had passed away. (Mormon 2:10 - 15, NC Mormon 1 par. 6)
What about Alma's experience here?
And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass that while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying, Blessed art thou, Alma. Therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou received thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you. And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah and preach again unto the people of the city, yea, preach unto them, yea, say unto them, except they repent the Lord God will destroy them. For behold, they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people — for thus saith the Lord — which is contrary to the statutes and judgments and commandments which he has given unto his people. (Alma 8:14 - 17, NC Alma 6 par. 5)
What about the three Nephites?
And it came to pass when Jesus had said these words, he spake unto his disciples one by one, saying unto them, What is it that ye desire of me after that I am gone to the Father? And they all spake, save it were three, saying, We desire that after we have lived unto the age of man, that our ministry wherein thou hast called us may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom. And he said unto them, Blessed are ye because ye desire this thing of me; therefore, after that ye are seventy and two years old, ye shall come unto me in my kingdom, and with me ye shall find rest. And when he had spoken unto them, he turned himself unto the three and said unto them, What will ye that I should do unto you when I am gone unto the Father? And they sorrowed in their hearts, for they durst not speak unto him the thing which they desired. And he said unto them, Behold, I know your thoughts, and ye have desired the thing which John, my beloved who was with me in my ministry before that I was lifted up by the Jews, desired of me. Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death, but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the Powers of Heaven. And ye shall never endure the pains of death, but when I shall come in my glory, ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father. And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow, save it be for the sins of the world. And all this will I do because of the thing which ye have desired of me, for ye have desired that ye might bring the souls of men unto me while the world shall stand. And for this cause ye shall have fullness of joy, and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father. Yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fullness of joy, and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father, and the Father and I are one. And the holy ghost beareth record of the Father and me, and the Father giveth the holy ghost unto the children of men because of me. (3 Nephi 28:1 - 11, NC 3 Nephi 13 par. 3)
There are many more scriptural examples but I believe these are sufficient to demonstrate the point.
Why are these individuals sorrowful about the wickedness or hard hearts of others?
In the case of the three Nephites, they were changed so that the wickedness of others could not affect them in a physical sense at all. So why would they sorrow?
As a parent, I believe I can say that I understand a little at least of how Lehi felt with his children because I feel sorrow for my children's sorrows.
But how is it that the hard-heartedness of people who are completely unknown to those above-mentioned examples would cause sorrow in their hearts?
Is it possible that their sorrow at the hard-heartedness and wickedness of others is in any way related to the following?There’s a direct relationship between faith, hope, and charity. Faith comes from obedience and sacrifice. Hope comes from the promise given to a person, by God, which their faith has secured for them. And charity comes as those holding faith and receiving hope, seek to have all others share in the same promises. The greatest gift you can give to another is eternal life. All those who have such a promise from God want everyone else to have a similar promise for themselves. They teach, preach, exhort, and write to share with everyone that same opportunity to gain hope in God. They understand how rare a thing it is to bring a soul to salvation. But they’re not interested in merely making a bad-person good or a good-person better, nor are they content to move souls from a Telestial destiny to a Terrestrial destiny. Those who have such promises for themselves long, hope, pray, and preach to bring every other soul back to God to dwell with Him in Celestial glory. They seek the eternal life of all mankind. They participate with God in His great work. They join Christ in His declaration:
For behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore, he suffered the pain of all men that all men might repent and come unto him. And he ha[th] risen again from the dead that he might bring all men unto him on conditions of repentance. And how great is his joy in the soul that repent[eth]. Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people. And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people and bring save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father? And now if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me in the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me? (JSH 15:31 RE)
It’s a rare thing when any person acquires the firm hope of a glorious resurrection, secured through the voice of the Father, declared by the Holy Spirit of Promise. The wonder is that it happens at all. But it does. And for those to whom such hope has come, they want all others to receive the same promise. Joseph Smith, who had such a hope in him, spoke openly of these things. He wanted all mankind to be exalted. To some extent, we have quieted our voices on this subject. And we need to raise them again.
(82:Hope, part 3, Denver Snuffer Podcast, transcript, August 18, 2019)
Is it possible that because of the above, Joseph, who had a firm hope in Christ, was able to declare the following?Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 174)
human mind, and hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness. The nearer we get to
our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel
that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 241)
Is this why Alma felt to declare this?
Oh that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people. Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption — that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might be no more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish, for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me. I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life. Yea, I know that he allotteth unto men — yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable — according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men, or he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless, but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience. (Alma 29:1 - 5, NC Alma 15 par. 12)
Could it be reasonably stated that an individual who has real hope in Christ has unshaken confidence in Christ as well?
Are all of these things given by God in order that we may see and measure ourselves in order to detect our own need to improve?
Should I be thinking about these things when I read about them in the Book of Mormon?
Should I note from this recorded event that even if I repent and arrive at the point where I do feel sorrow for the wickedness and hard-heartedness of others because of a hope that I have in Christ I should expect that they would misapprehend the reason for my sorrow just as Laman and Lemuel misapprehended the reason for Nephi's sorrow?
Does it matter at all if someone misapprehends someone else's godly feelings, intentions, or actions?
I would like to share two websites here.
The scriptures.info website contains all of the restoration scriptures available for free to anyone who would like to access them.
The Bornofwater.org website states the "Doctrine of Christ" as declared by Christ Himself at the time He visited the Nephites following His resurrection from the dead.
If an individual, any individual anywhere in the world believes in the "Doctrine of Christ" they are eligible and worthy for baptism. Anyone anywhere in the world may register on the Born of Water website to request that someone with authority come to baptize them. There is no cost to be borne and there is no institution to join.
I invite all to study the restoration scriptures found on the scriptures.info website and I invite all who believe in the Doctrine of Christ to act in faith by requesting baptism.
My present understanding is that not all scripture that has come from God is contained on the scriptures.info website but that there are sacred writings that They, God, have established all around the world in all of the various cultures, which sacred writings will at some point be gathered together again in one in Jesus Christ; showing that Christ is the Redeemer of the entire world and showing that God has spoken to and loves every nation in the world.