1 Nephi 13:29 - 33, NC 1 Nephi 3 par. 22
And after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the gentiles, yea, even across the many waters (which thou hast seen) with the gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest, because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book — which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God — that because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceeding great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations upon the face of the land — which is choice above all other lands, which is the land the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance — will not utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed who are among thy brethren. Neither will he suffer that the gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren; neither will the Lord God suffer that the gentiles shall for ever remain in that awful state of blindness, which thou beholdest they are in because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen. Wherefore, saith the Lamb of God, I will be merciful unto the gentiles, unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of Israel in great judgment.
The Stick of Joseph in the Hand of Ephraim, 1 Nefi 3 par. 22
And after it goes forth unto all the nations of the Goyim, yes, even across the many waters (which you have seen) with the Goyim which have gone forth out of captivity, you see, because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book — which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of Elohim — that because of these things which are taken away out of the besorah of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yes, insomuch that HaSatan has great power over them. Nevertheless, you behold that the Goyim who have gone forth out of captivity and have been lifted up by the power of Elohim above all other nations upon the face of the land — which is choice above all other lands, which is the land Adonai yhwh has covenanted with your father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance — will not utterly destroy the mixture of your seed who are among your brothers. Neither will he allow that the Goyim shall destroy the seed of your brothers; neither will Adonai yhwh allow that the Goyim shall for ever remain in that awful state of blindness, which you behold they are in because of the plain and most precious parts of the besorah of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation you have seen. Wherefore, says the Lamb of Elohim, I will be merciful unto the Goyim, unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of Isra’el in great judgment.
Why would it be helpful to understand why Nephi recorded the term "stumble" instead of using other terms to describe the conditions of the gentiles at this point in his vision?
What are the components of Satan's great power over a people who have been caused to "stumble" because of plain and precious truths that have been removed from the Gospel of the Lamb?
In order to look at what it would mean to "stumble" as the Lord sees the term would it be beneficial to look at the history of the Prophet Joseph?
As we look at this part of Nephi's vision with the Gentiles and the limited and altered Book of the Lamb of God, if we consider what the Prophet Joseph experienced would it be possible for us to see a little more clearly what can happen when we "stumble" in the scriptural sense?
What is the difference between the gentiles being said to "stumble" here and what we previously discussed in the blog concerning "dwindling in unbelief"?
Is there a difference or is to "stumble" the exact same thing as "dwindling in unbelief"?
Why is Nephi specific when he declares that exceedingly many gentiles "stumble" because of the plain and precious things taken out of the Book of the Lamb of God instead of stating that exceedingly many gentiles "dwindled in unbelief"?
The following comes from the Glossary of Gospel Terms in the Teachings and Commandments concerning "Dwindling in Unbelief".
When one prizes his or her errors and holds them as true (when they are not), one dwindles in unbelief. Unbelief is often used in connection with losing truth, forsaking doctrine, and therefore, “dwindling.” The phrase “dwindling in unbelief” is the Book of Mormon’s way to describe moving from a state of belief, with true and complete doctrine, to a state of unbelief, where the truth has been discarded. Miracles end because men dwindle in unbelief.
With the gentiles who originally came to this land did they regress from a state of having a fulness of truth to losing truth and forsaking doctrine?
When the gentiles initially arrived did they possess true and complete doctrine?
Are we able to look at history and determine that there were events where the gentiles were shown to prize their errors and hold them as true?
What about miracles?
If we are to review history is it possible for us to see that there were miracles that occurred in the lives of the early gentiles that inhabited this land?
Were there miracles that affected the entire nation of the early gentiles?
If miracles cease when men dwindle in unbelief but history clearly demonstrates that the early gentiles had miracles among them, even though they "stumbled", does that mean that it is better to be in a position of "stumbling" than to be in a position of dwindling in unbelief"?
Nephi clearly states that
And I beheld the spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the gentiles, that they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance. And I beheld that they were white, and exceeding fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord, and the power of the Lord was with them. And I beheld that their mother gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them. And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle. And I, Nephi, beheld that the gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land. (1 Nephi 13:10-12,14-20, NC 1 Nephi 3 par. 20)
Even in the condition of "stumbling" with Satan having great power over them the original gentiles
1) Humbled themselves before the Lord
2) Had the power of God with them
3) Had the wrath of God against all nations that gathered together to battle against them
4) Were delivered by the power of God
5) Prospered in the land (we talked about this phrase earlier in the blog)
Aren't we told by Nephi that the early gentiles obtained this land as a land of promise to them?
Nephi is clear in his statement that the gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations upon the face of the land — which is choice above all other lands,...
What about those who dwindle in unbelief?
And while the angel spake these words, I beheld and saw that the seed of my brethren did contend against my seed, according to the word of the angel. And because of the pride of my seed and the temptations of the Devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed. And it came to pass that I beheld and saw the people of the seed of my brethren, that they had overcome my seed, and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land. And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them, and in wars and rumors of wars I saw many generations pass away. And the angel said unto me, Behold, these shall dwindle in unbelief. And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief, they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.(1 Nephi 12:19 - 23, NC 1 Nephi 3 par. 18)
Doesn't Nephi describe those who "dwindle in unbelief" as becoming dark, and loathsome, and filthy, and full of all manner of idleness and abominations?
Is this a different state than the early gentiles found themselves in?
Did the Lord uphold these who had dwindled in unbelief?
Wherefore, saith the Lamb of God, I will be merciful unto the gentiles, unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of Israel in great judgment.
Is it possible that the principles taught in the following scriptures apply here with respect to groups of people or nations as well as to individuals?
And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they are saved. And there was not a wicked man slain among them, but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people. Now the greatest number of those of the Lamanites who slew so many of their brethren were Amlicites and Amulonites, the greatest number of whom were after the order of the Nehors. Now among those who joined the people of the Lord, there were none who were Amlicites, or Amulonites, or who were after the order of Nehor, but they were actual descendants of Laman and Lemuel. And thus we can plainly discern that after a people have been once enlightened by the spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened; and thus their state becomes worse than if they had never known these things.(Alma 24:26 - 30, NC Alma 14 par. 12)
Yea, they have all gone out of the way, they have become corrupted; because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride, they are puffed up. They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing, and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart because in their pride they are puffed up. They wear stiff necks and high heads, yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray, save it be a few who are the humble followers of Christ. Nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.(2 Nephi 28:11 - 14, NC 2 Nephi 12 par. 2)
Do peoples or nations that dwindle in unbelief find themselves in a position of once having been enlightened by the spirit of God and then falling away into sin and transgression?
Do peoples or nations that "stumble" because of plain and precious parts of the Gospel of the Lamb of God find themselves that they are humble followers of Christ who err in many instances because they are taught by the precepts of men?
Which group finds themselves in a state of condemnation?
Would those who "stumble" find themselves in the following condition?
And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differeth from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fullness of the Father, even as that of the moon differeth from the sun of the firmament. Behold, these are they who died without law, and also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it. These are they who are honorable men of the earth who were blinded by the craftiness of men. These are they who receive of this glory, but not of this fullness. These are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fullness of the Father. Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial and not bodies Celestial, and differeth in glory as the moon differeth from the sun. These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus, wherefore, they obtained not the crown over the kingdoms of our God. And now this is the end of the vision which we saw of the terrestrial that the Lord commanded us to write while we were yet in the spirit. (D&C 76:71 - 80, T&C 69 par. 23)
Could it be said of honorable men of the earth that they "stumble" when they are blinded by the craftiness of men?
Could it be said of those who are without the law that they "stumble"?
Does it appear here that those honorable men who are blinded or those without the law are under condemnation?
This scripture says that they receive the presence of the Son or could it be said that they will be able to abide the day of the coming of the Son?
Would those who have "dwindled in unbelief" be able to abide the day of the coming of the Son in glory to the world?
If any of this relates to a correct idea of a difference between "stumbling" and "dwindling in unbelief" and if I consider that at any point I have been enlightened by the spirit of God and have had the privilege of having a greater knowledge of things pertaining to truth then is it possible for me to find myself in a condition of great condemnation by "dwindling in unbelief"?
As I presently understand things, I believe that if I have truly been enlightened then I am no longer in a state where I could be considered to "stumble", which to me "stumbling" does not appear to be a state that warrants condemnation however lacking it is in being able to receive a fulness, but I may find myself under great condemnation and worthy of suffering God's wrath through my "dwindling in unbelief".
Was this statement by the Lord to the early saints of the church related in any way to this?
And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation rests upon the children of Zion, even all, and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon, and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say but to do according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom. Otherwise, there remains a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion, for shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, verily I say unto you, nay. (D&C 84:54 - 59, T&C 82 par. 20)
Shouldn't we be greatly concerned and ever vigilant of what condition of understanding we find ourselves in personally, as a group, and as a nation?
As we look at the events in the Book of Mormon over the periods of both the Jaredite and Nephite histories can we detect that those who "dwindle in unbelief" invariably seek to control and rule over others?
As a whole, did the early gentiles possess a desire to control and rule over others or did they possess a desire to allow others to choose their own way?
Is Nephi in any way relating the "stumbling" of the gentiles, because of their lack of a fulness of truth, to how they treated and destroyed the remnant of Lehi on this land?
Were the gentiles actions towards the remnant of Lehi considered God's judgments upon the remnant of the house of Israel in Nephi's eyes?
For God to complete judgment upon the remnant of Lehi was it necessary for the gentiles to "stumble" for a time?
Are any or all of the above ideas in any way maybe related to the why of Nephi using the term "stumble" instead of the phrase "dwindle in unbelief" when describing the early gentiles even though there is a bit of overlap in the characteristics of "dwindling" and "stumbling"?
As we look at the great power that Satan has over a people who are stumbling can we look first at what the Lord stated to the Nephites concerning His doctrine and gave them power to baptize?
And again, the Lord called others and said unto them likewise, and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them, On this wise shall ye baptize, and there shall be no disputations among you. Verily I say unto you that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them: behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying, Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy ghost. Amen. And then shall ye immerse them in the water and come forth again out of the water. And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name, for behold, verily I say unto you that the Father and the Son and the holy ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. And according as I have commanded you, thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there hath hitherto been, neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there hath hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the Devil, who is the father of contention; and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another, but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (3 Nephi 11:22 - 30, NC 3 Nephi 5 par. 8)
What was the Lord's declaration to the Nephites concerning disputations and contention concerning the points of His doctrine?
At the time in history when the Prophet Joseph was considering the things of God leading up to the first vision what were the events that Joseph observed and what were his thoughts concerning these events?
During this time of great excitement, my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness, but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. But in process of time, my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them. But so great was the confusion and strife amongst the different denominations that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. My mind at different times was greatly excited; the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all their powers of either reason or sophistry to prove their errors, or at least to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself, What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right? Or are they all wrong together? And if any one of them be right, which is it? And how shall I know it? While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse [Epistle of Jacob 1:2], which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did. For how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, would never know, for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passage of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible. At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs — that is, ask of God. I at last came to the determination to ask of God, concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally and not upbraid, I might venture. So in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties, I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally. (Joseph Smith History 1:8 - 14, T&C Section 1 Joseph Smith History Part 2, pars. 2 - 3)
Could any of these actions observed by the Prophet Joseph fall into the category of disputations and contentions?
What condition does a "war of words and tumult of opinions" bring to mind?
Is it "stumbling" for the teachers of religion of the different sects (to understand) the same passage of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.?
Is it possible for Satan to have great power over a people who are engaged in a war of words and a tumult of opinions who understand the same passage of scripture so differently from one another?
Was it the differing understanding of scripture that caused Satan of have power over them or was it the war of words over their different understandings?
Is it possible for people who hold different understandings of scripture and other matters to have wonderful and insightful communications with each other?
When Joseph decided to find out from God for himself what direction to go he received this counsel.
My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner therefore did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt, that, They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof. He again forbade me to join with any of them, and many other things did he say unto me which I cannot write at this time. (Joseph Smith History 1:18 - 20, T&C Section 1, Joseph Smith History Part 2, par. 5)
When a people "stumbles" because the plain and precious parts of the Gospel of the Lamb have been hidden from them is it possible, maybe even likely, that they will establish creeds?
We discussed earlier in the blog about abominations.
My present understanding is that an abomination is as follows.
The use of religion to suppress truth or impose a false form of truth. It involves the religious justification of wrongdoing. That is, something becomes abominable when it is motivated out of a false form of religious observance or is justified because of religious error. (T&C, Glossary of Gospel Terms, "Abomination")
If, because of a lack of possessing truth, one follows a certain religious path that is an abomination or in other words a false form of religious observance can it be said of that person that Satan has great power over them because they cannot receive a fulness of God's glory in such a condition?
If one believes in teachings that draw near to God but because of a lack of possessing the truth their hearts are far from God can it be said that Satan has great power over them even if their condition does not merit God's condemnation?
If, again because of a lack of possessing truth, a person is taught or is teaching for doctrines the commandments of men and have a form of godliness but deny the power of godliness (we talked about this earlier in the blog) can it be said of them that Satan has great power over them even if their condition does not merit condemnation from God?
Clearly God did not want Joseph's mind polluted with the teachings of the day.
My present understanding is that it was and is infinitely easier for God to take someone who, although they are "stumbling", has no preconceived notions as to what is truth so They can teach them truth.
Is it possible that is why the Lord commanded us to become like children?
Do children have any preconceived notions concerning truth?
The reason this is important to me for me to understand is that I believe that the condition of "stumbling" because of a lack of truth, as bad as that condition is, is preferred to the condition of "dwindling in unbelief".
I do believe that a concerted effort to remain in a state of "stumbling" does bring the condemnation of Heaven, though.
My present understanding is that once truth is offered it ought to be embraced or we are damned for rejecting it. But one who is "stumbling" because of no fault of their own is not under condemnation even though it is impossible for them to receive a fulness of what God desires to offer.
I believe that this difference is critical for all of us individually, as groups, or as a nation as a whole right now.
Lehi and others warned their contemporaries that they “must repent or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.” 1 Ne. 1:2RE Although he made the warning, he prayed for the people he had been warning, “even with all his heart in behalf of his people.” Id., paragraph 3. This should make us ask, who exactly were “his people?”
While praying on behalf of “his people” a pillar of fire descended “and he saw and heard much.” Id. This overcame him, and he went home and collapsed. As he laid on his bed, he was “carried away in a vision.” Id. In the vision he was shown “concerning Jerusalem: that it should be destroyed and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.” Id.
Terrible destruction was just around the corner. His city and many of its residents would die, and the rest would go into captivity. But Lehi’s response seems oddly out of place. Instead of being sorrowful at what he saw instead, “he did exclaim many things unto the Lord, such as, Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the Heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!” Id. Why this reaction?
Destruction was coming, but that had nothing to do with those who “come unto” the Lord. People were to be destroyed and enslaved, but Lehi’s prayer on behalf of “his people” gave him assurance that “they shall not perish” because they had come unto the Lord.
When wickedness overcomes people who have been taught to be better, it is a natural progression for them to be destroyed. The Book of Mormon has been available for nearly two centuries. It warns us and our ancestors of the following: “we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God or they shall be swept off when the fullness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fullness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity. For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands. Wherefore, he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off, for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fullness of iniquity among the children of the land that they are swept off. And this cometh unto you, O ye gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God, that ye may repent and not continue in your iniquities until the fullness be come, that ye may not bring down the fullness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land hath hitherto done. Behold, this is a choice land; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under Heaven if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who has been manifested by the things which we have written.” Ether 1:7RE
But destruction does not await those whom the Lord has promised by covenant that: “And you shall be called the children of the Most High God, and I will preserve you against the harvest. And the angels sent to harvest the world will gather the wicked into bundles to be burned, but will pass over you as my peculiar treasure.” T&C 158:17-18
So there is reason to fear coming judgments upon the wicked, but also reason to exclaim, like Lehi: Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God Almighty! Your throne is high in the Heavens, and your power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and because you are merciful, you will not suffer those who come unto you that they shall perish! ("Destruction and Rejoicing", Denversnuffer.com, Jan 10, 2021)
As a nation, I do not believe that we are in a position of "stumbling". I believe that we are well into "dwindling in unbelief" that has made us a dark and a loathsome and a filthy people full of all manner of idleness and abominations.
I believe that the Lord has set His hand again now the second time to redeem His people Israel because the first attempt begun by the Prophet Joseph was halted because those who initially received God's words came under God's condemnation.
Any and all who desire to accept the Doctrine of Christ and be baptized/rebaptized and enter into a new covenant They, God have established may do so.
In my mind, what Nephi is presenting here ought to make us consider quite seriously our condition before God.
Are we in a position of "stumbling" or "dwindling"?
Last night a question occurred to me that I will add here.
Until we come to a "perfect day" and see as we are seen and know as we are known as Paul put it do we continue to exist in a condition of "stumbling"?
Turn back to Mormon—in the Book of Mormon—Mormon chapter 9. I wanna begin in verse 2 of chapter 9. And this stuff really sounds ominous, so I’m gonna read it with an ominous voice, because I just want to make you feel. Behold. You know, this is Mormon; this is late in the gig. He’s lived an NC-17 life. Between the rape, followed by the cannibalism of the women that had been raped, and the murder and the mayhem and the torture, I mean, this is the guy who abridged the Book of Mormon, okay? That’s the life that he was subjected to. So look at these words:
Behold, will ye believe in the day of your visitation—behold, when the Lord shall come, yea, even that great day when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, yea, in that great day when ye shall be brought to stand before the Lamb of God—then will ye say that there is no God? Then will ye longer deny the Christ, or can ye behold the Lamb of God? Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your [own] guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws? Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell. For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and… the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you.
Now I want you to read those verses and ask yourself, “Exactly what is it that God is doing?” The only thing that God is doing is being. He simply exists. This is you. God is. And He’s simply revealing Himself to you. And this is your reaction. And why is this your reaction? Because you don’t have the power of godliness. And why don’t you have that? Because you need to repent. And what is it that you must repent of? The absence of knowledge about God. You don’t know enough yet to be saved.
The plan of salvation is the plan of education—the plan of knowledge about God and the principles of godliness and the basis upon which all of you can live together and be of one heart and one mind. And it doesn’t matter that some of you have strange political beliefs. And it doesn’t matter that some of you would like to see every gun in the universe recalled and melted down, so we could all, I don’t know, attack one another with the remaining butts of the guns that weren’t melted down, ‘cause they’re wood? I don’t know; I mean— And others of you would like every child issued their own concealed-carry permit and to be armed in kindergarten. None of that stuff separates you from being able to love one another and be one. Because much of what you think matters, doesn’t matter one whit to the Lord. And you know what? When you’re anxiously engaged in the right cause, you’ll be surprised how much of our deepest concerns are merely trivial. The things of the heart are what matters. The things upon which we are capable of becoming one, in love toward one another, are infinitely greater.("Love Part 1", Denver Snuffer Podcast, Denversnuffer.com)
If we don't know enough yet to be saved, then aren't we in a condition of "stumbling" until we finally receive the knowledge about God that we need to receive in order to be saved?
If the plan of salvation is a plan of education is that education planned precisely to remove our "stumbling blocks"?
Is what Nephi is pointing out here a pattern that we can use?
If the early gentiles, even though they "stumbled", had the spirit of God with them because they humbled themselves before God then is that the same pattern for us until we receive a "perfect day"?
Is this what is pointed to by the experience of Abraham?
In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of my father, I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence. And finding there was greater happiness, and peace, and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the Fathers and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same. Having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a Father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a high priest, holding the right belonging to the Fathers. It was conferred upon me from the Fathers: it came down from the Fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning (or before the foundations of the earth) to the present time, even the right of the firstborn (or the first man — who is Adam — or first Father) through the Fathers unto me. I sought for my appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the Fathers concerning the seed.(Abraham 1:1 - 4, T&C Section 145, The Book of Abraham 1 par.1)
Was Abraham, a follower of righteousness who desired to be a greater follower of righteousness by gaining greater knowledge testifying to us that he knew that he was "stumbling" and desired more and more knowledge in order to finally emerge from his "stumbling" (he learned enough to be saved)?
Is it possible that to humble yourself before God while stumbling leads to or represents the pattern of restoration while dwindling in unbelief leads to or represents apostacy from truth?
So would the greater question individually, as a group, or as a nation as a whole be do we find ourselves in a condition of humbling ourselves before God while we stumble or do we find ourselves in a condition of dwindling in unbelief?
My present understanding is that we are never standing still. We are either moving in the direction of restoration (humbling while stumbling) or the direction of apostacy (dwindling in unbelief), personally, as a group, or as a nation as a whole.