26 February 2009

"That Cunning Plan of the Evil One," 2 Nephi 9:28-39

2 Nephi 9:28-39

I don't know of anywhere else in the scriptures where a prophet lays out the designs of the adversary to destroy us, but this is exactly what Jacob does in these verses. I find in these verses applicable course correction and an appropriate understanding of sin so that I can repent and avoid the more serious sins.

Perhaps I don't struggle with all the major sins listed here, but the tendency is there. For instance, I think of how easy it is to glide into auto-pilot in prayers, Sunday School lesson preparation, or participation in Church meetings. If the metaphorical soil of the soul is not tilled periodically and frequently, it becomes harder to learn and receive counsel.

The uncircumcised, murderers, adulterers, idol-worshipers -- these all have they're consequences laid out in simple terms in these verses (see vs. 33-37). In being able to see the consequences of such actions, there is a strength in understanding the results of even allowing ourselves to think in such a manner.

At the end of these verses, Jacob first offers a reminder of what it means to die in our sins. "For they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins," (vs. 38). The prospect is harrowing. Yet in verse 39, Jacob reminds us that there is an over-arching decision that can be made upfront that determines our approach to dealing with sin. "Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal."

21 February 2009

The Crux of Salvation, 2 Nephi 9:21-27

2 Nephi 9:21-27

The latter verses in this grouping stand out this morning. In verse 26, "The atonement satisfies the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them...". This reminds me of Nephi's resilient observation that the Lord will not give commandments to his children, except he has prepared a way for the commandment to be fulfilled (see 1 Nephi 3:7). God is a merciful and just being. He has not prepared commandments with the intention of condemning us, but to exalt us.

It impresses me that the Lord God Omnipotent performed the atonement on behalf of all. It impresses me that God will not condemn those who never had the opportunity to received his law. It impresses me that God does expect those who have the law, such as I, to live in obedience according to the standards of His law.

13 February 2009

Mercy, Atonement, and Repentance, 2 Nephi 9:19-20

2 Nephi 9:19-20

I've found two scripture in the Book of Mormon this morning that state God's omniscience and mercy in the same thought. Here in 2 Nephi 9:19 & 20, Jacob states that first God is merciful. In the next short verse he adds to his argument that God is all-knowing. In Alma 26:35, Ammon concludes similarly that God, as a being who comprehends all, is merciful to all those who will repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ.

Back in 2 Nephi, these verses are the premise that Jacob sets up for explaining the atonement and the condition of salvation in plain terms.

There is something else that stands out in verse 20: the footnote for holiness. There's a Hebrew translation for the word holiness which means committed or consecrated. I think on the standard of righteousness that is set before us by our God, how he expects us to be like Him even a perfect being. The thought is overwhelming except for the fact that He has also provided the tools to enable us to reach this potential. Our potential is to become like God. This standard is not set up by man to be impossible to obtain, but is the standard that is prepared by a God who is full committed to this cause. There is no one who wants us to become like Him more than does He.

10 February 2009

"Their Joy Shall Be Full Forever," 2 Nephi 9:10-18

2 Nephi 9:10-18

These verses contain a very vivid description of the division between the wicked and the righteousness in the eternal realms and the reasons for this division. This group of verses starts with perhaps the clearest definition of death and hell in all of holy writ.

Death (vs. 11) - A temporal death, also known as the grave. This is what holds our bodies separate from our spirits when we die.

Hell (vs. 12) - Also called spiritual death. This is the holding space for those captive spirits separated from their body. Earlier in this chapter, it was already established that separated from the presence of God, our spirits would be as the devil, consigned to a fallen, disembodied state. This is hell.

In verse 18, the culmination of the blessings of the resurrection are extended to the righteous.
"But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever."

08 February 2009

"Again in the Flesh I Shall See God," Addendum to 2 Nephi 9:4-9

As an addendum to my last post, I've found another scripture that parallels Job's and Jacob's (brother of Nephi) statements about the resurrection (see Job 19:26, 2 Nephi 9:4). This one says nearly the same thing as the others, only the context of this declaration is significant. In Moses 5:10, Adam states, "Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God." This is father Adam, the head of the human race, when he had finally come to understand the meaning of his fall from the Garden of Eden.

In verses previous to this, Adam had learned that salvation was made available to him on conditions of repentance and faith on the Son of God. Though he had been separated from the presence of God, this new knowledge of God's plan for the human family allowed him to understand that at some future date he could be restored to physically and spiritually live in the presence of God.

Adam might have as well joined his witness to Paul's at this point when Paul said, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive," (1 Corinthians 15:22).