27 March 2008
The series of events leading up to the introduction of the Book of Mormon is unsuspecting. The Gentiles are blessed in the land of promise. However, the descendants of Lehi (according to the covenants of the Lord that he made with Lehi) are not utterly destroyed either. They are smitten for a season because they had rejected the truth. Then the Gentiles who had smitten them also "stumble[d] exceedingly" (see vs. 34) because of the many important parts of the Bible that were removed in erroneous translations. Both groups in question had fallen short.
It seems that that Book of Mormon didn't come about until the world absolutely needed it.
It is characteristically described as containing plain and precious truths, culminating in a witness for Jesus Christ as the Son of the Eternal Father and as the Savior of the world (see vs. 40). In the Savior's own words, he says that in it is "written my gospel... my rock and my salvation," (vs. 36).
The end of this chapter reminds me that both books of scripture have one unifying purpose, "For there is one God, and one Shepherd over all the earth," (vs. 41).
25 March 2008
Reference: 1 Nephi 13:40 , John 10:14 & 16
Invitation: Today we have accounts of both civilizations and their best efforts to live the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first is the Holy Bible, and the second is the Book of Mormon. May we share with you how God has made both of these records available to us today?
20 March 2008
The title has reference to the Holy Bible. In Nephi's time, it wouldn't have been know as the Holy Bible, however. The angel points out to Nephi that this record is similar to the record that he has upon the Plates of Brass. He also describes it as a record of the Jews containing the covenants of the Lord to the house of Israel and the prophecies of the holy prophets.
It also contained at one point the fullness of the the Gospel of the Lamb.
These verses of scripture are where Latter-day Saints gain our understanding that from its original version, there have been malicious revisions to the sacred text by those with dark motives. (This is offensive to some, that we believe the Holy Bible to have been modified from its original state.) Much of the Gospel of Christ was rewritten, or mystified. Many of the covenants were removed (see vs. 26). However, there is no mention of prophecies being altered.
Indeed, this makes sense that the prophecies would be left alone, for the most part, due to the fact that many were harder to be understood--especially without spiritual assistance. Additionally, the use of symbolism in many ways disguised the prophets' teachings and prophecies.
However, I think what I've failed to understand is the tremendous value that this volume of sacred scripture still contains, even in an altered state. There is so much of my understanding of history and the molding of our nation's moral standards that are influenced by this book. What the Bible has done, even in a crippled state, has improved and influenced many good people.
For Latter-day Saints there is even more substance. There is more depth to the covenants of the Lord found in the Bible. There is more significance and fulfillment of the prophecies which are recorded in it. The terms and conditions of salvation are made obtainable because of the teachings of our Lord and His Apostles.
To borrow a line from a recent talk that Elder M. Russel Ballard gave on the topic of the Bible, the Holy Bible is a miracle!
16 March 2008
Nephi saw in his vision "that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord." That strikes me as pivotal to their position. I think of the religious heritage of the United States of America. "IN GOD WE TRUST" is printed on our currency. Great was that blessed faith of our Founding Fathers. Nephi then notices, and this is a direct result of their humility, "and the power of the Lord was with them."
14 March 2008
In prophetic terms, Nephi is describing the colonization of America and the Revolutionary War. In this group of verses, there are two forces, both originating from God. the Spirit or power of God( I don't think the two are equal) and the wrath of God. Nephi also refers to the Spirit of the Lord and the power of the Lord. All these powers Nephi says that he saw working upon or with the events that transpired.
Why was the wrath of God upon the seed of Nephi's brethren? Why did the Spirit of the Lord favor the Gentiles that came to America? From any historical stand point, it doesn't seem fair to derive an accurate conclusions. From scriptural accounts, we know that the ancestors of the Lamanites that remained had long ago rejected the true religion. The exiled Gentiles that came to find peace in America also were striving as best as they could to live the Christian faith as best they understood it.
Then as we look forward only a few years, we see that among a displaced people who were striving the best they could to scratch out a modest existence, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored. So even before the time of Joseph Smith, we see the hand of God at work in preparing the stage for a great and a marvelous work to begin.
13 March 2008
lesson: Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet, tells about a vision that he had where he saw the history of the world. Towards the end of that history, he saw that in our time there were only two churches -- one was the church of Christ, the other was the church of the devil.
reference: 1 Nephi 14:10(10-17)
invite: We would like to share with you what we can do to insure that we belong to the church of Christ. Do you have time now, or is there a better time that we could come back, to share a brief message with you?
06 March 2008
In this chapter, Nephi learns of a church that is described as both great and abominable, "whose founder is the devil," (1 Nephi 14:17, see also 13:6). The term "great" seems to apply to shear size of its existence and how it prevails throughout the kingdoms of the Gentiles. It is called "abominable", because of its wicked practices and desires.
This church that Nephi describes is an organization of material gain and personal gratification. So powerful were such ambitions that in the time period described, any saint that spoke out against it was destroyed (see 13:9). It is also referred to as the mother of abominations and the whore of the whole earth(see 14:10).
The benefit of hindsight in understanding of whom and what these verses are point to allows me to not focus on any one church in the history books. Though it is in reference to Christianity in general from the death of the apostles up until the time of Columbus.
It is interesting to note that in the general absence of a true religion upon the earth, there were yet saints abroad. Individuals in whom the quest for truth and principle was of greater weight than gold (see 13:8-9). These were they who with their limited scope had taken upon themselves the name of Christ, to live according to the precept of His doctrine the best they knew how.
In the history books these individuals were know collectively as the Reformers, though they were hardly a group in the any sense but the broadest. This is a topic that has been referenced extensively in recent years in our General Conferences.
Men like John Wycliffe, the courageous William Tyndale, and Johannes Gutenberg were prompted against much opposition to translate the Bible into language people could understand and to publish it in books people could read.
... We owe much to the many brave martyrs and reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Huss who demanded freedom to worship and common access to the holy books.
(M. Russell Ballard, “The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” Ensign, May 2007, 80–82)
05 March 2008
I've read through the whole chapter for an overview of the events detailed here in before going through and breaking it apart individually. I noticed in the chapter heading a mention of Zion toward the end of the chapter and admittedly that was my motivation this morning to get to this part of the chapter.
At the chapter's end is this brief reminder that in the end Christ shall manifest himself to all. "...the last shall be first, and the first shall be last," (vs. 42). I appreciate that in the Lord's scheme of things, no one is forgotten.
02 March 2008
These verses exist in prophetic(as opposed to historic) parallel to the vision that his father, Lehi, had where he described the mists of darkness and the multitudes pressing forward towards the tree of life (see 1 Nephi 8:24). It is beautiful, with this in mind, to learn that those that emerge from mists of darkness are brought into the presence of the Lamb of God.
... I saw the vapor of darkness, that it passed from off the face of the earth; and behold, I saw multitudes who had not fallen because of the great and terrible judgments of the Lord.
And I saw the heavens open, and the Lamb of God descending out of heaven; and he came down and showed himself unto them. (vs. 5 & 6)
Nephi then sees in vision the twelve disciples and three generations of his people following the appearance of the Savior. Both groups are distinguished as righteous and as having their garments made white in the blood of the Lamb of God. In both instances, Nephi, or the angel, points out that this cleansing of their garments is "because of their faith in him," (vs. 11). Furthermore, this is stated twice: first for the twelve ministers and then for the three generations.
These statements first establish the qualifications of the twelve disciples as ministers and judges of the people of Nephi. It then demonstrates that in the righteousness of a generation how a people can believe together and that salvation can be obtained by all.