Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Lord’s Wilderness (1 Nephi 16-22): QUESTIONS

The Truth

READ 1 Nephi 16:1-4 and 1 Nephi 17:45
Are “hard things” difficult to understand or difficult to bear, for the wicked?
What does the fact that the wicked are cut to their center by the truth tell us about wickedness and truth?
What does “feeling” God’s words imply about how He speaks to us?
What does it mean to be “slow to remember the Lord”?
What is the secret to understanding “hard things”?


The Lord’s Wilderness: Leaving the World Behind

READ 1 Nephi 16:9
Why does the Lord send people into the wilderness?
Why must the Lord send people into the wilderness to prepare them to be with Him?
What happened to Lehi and Nephi before this “wilderness school” could take place?

READ 1 Nephi 16:11-12 and 1 Nephi 17:21
What did Lehi’s family take into their wilderness school and what was left behind?

READ 1 Nephi 16:34-36
What happens if one starts on a “wilderness experience” but turns back?


The Lord’s Wilderness: Separation from Worldly People

READ 1 Nephi 17:22
Who must be left behind when one enters the “Lord’s Wilderness”?
If these people are not left behind, how might they hinder the Wilderness Traveler?
What does this imply about a wilderness school?


The Lord’s Wilderness: Traveling Only As the Lord Directs

READ 1 Nephi 16:10, 30, and 1 Nephi 17:13
Who directs travel in the Lord’s Wilderness?
Why does the Lord require strict obedience in this journey?


The Lord’s Wilderness: Affliction and Trial

READ 1 Nephi 16:14-22 and 1 Nephi 17:1, 8-10, 17-19
Why does the Lord try His people during their Wilderness experience?
What is the choice you are faced with when experiencing “wilderness trials”?

READ 1 Nephi 16:23-25, 31-32 and 1 Nephi 17:48-52
Why does God require us to exercise faith in the face of trials, even thought He could easily overcome them Himself on our behalf?

READ 1 Nephi 17:35
What does it mean to “esteem” all flesh as one but “favor” the righteous?


The Lord’s Wilderness: Discovering Our Weakness

READ 1 Nephi 17:38-42
Why did the children of Israel harden their hearts in the face of a life-threatening trial?
What can the “Wilderness School” reveal to each of us?
How do we overcome the natural man and these personal tendencies to sin?

READ 1 Nephi 17:2-3, 12-13
What happens when the wilderness traveler does their best to be obedient to the commandments of the Lord and exercises faith in the face of affliction?


The Lord’s Wilderness: Lord Takes Care of Daily Needs

When traveling the “Lord’s Wilderness,” when does He usually provide for our needs?


The Lord’s Wilderness: A Means of Daily Revelation Is Given

READ 1 Nephi 16:10, 26-29
Why did the Lord give Lehi the Liahona?

READ 1 Nephi 18:9, 12-15, 21-22
What happens if the Lord’s revelation is not followed?

READ 1 Nephi 5:20-22
How are the scriptures a tool or “means” through which to receive daily revelation?
What must we do to allow the Lord to “open the scriptures” to us?


The Lord’s Wilderness: Land of Bountiful

READ 1 Nephi 17:5-6
Why did the Lord give Lehi’s family a “Land of Bountiful” between their desert wilderness journey and their ocean wilderness journey?

READ 1 Nephi 17:7, 47-48, 53-54 and 1 Nephi 18:3-5
How does the Lord sustain the Wilderness traveler?


The Lord’s Wilderness: Facing the Imminent Failure of Faith

READ 1 Nephi 18:15-16, 20-24 (see also 1 Nephi 18:9-14)
What was this trial to Nephi?
Must every Wilderness traveler face a trial of imminent destruction?
Was this hurricane trial for Nephi or for Laman and what constitutes passing it?


The Lord’s Wilderness: Entering into the Highest Blessings

Who led the family to the Promised Land?
What does landing on and entering the Promised Land represent?


The Arm of the Lord: Nephi Uses Isaiah

What is Nephi trying to teach us by presenting this material the way he does?

READ 1 Nephi 19:7-17
Why do people value the same information so differently?
Why does Christ suffer all of these shameful abuses at the hands of men?
Why do so many prophets testify of Christ’s death and resurrection?

READ 1 Nephi 19:18-24
Why is Nephi telling us these things?
Why do prophets use the scriptures instead of adopting an “I am scripture” attitude?
Why does Nephi quote Isaiah so much?
Why is Nephi prohibited from plainly sharing all he knows?

Read the following two Isaiah chapters with the mindset that Nephi is using what Isaiah wrote of the vision of the Last Days, which they both saw, to describe his vision to us – and make no mistake, it is a warning!

READ 1 Nephi 20:1-2
Who is being addressed here by God?

READ 1 Nephi 20:4
What does it mean that one’s neck is an “iron sinew”?
What does it mean that one’s brow is “brass”?

READ 1 Nephi 20:8
Why do we not hear God?
What does it mean that we are “treacherous” and “transgressors from the womb”?

READ 1 Nephi 20:9-11
So why is God willing to defer His justified anger and continue to work with us to refine us?

READ 1 Nephi 20:14, 18-21
What is Nephi trying to tell us about his Last Days vision by quoting these verses?

READ 1 Nephi 21:8-11
What does “in an acceptable time” imply about those living on the “isles of the sea”?
What does the command to those who sit in darkness to “show themselves” sound like?
What does it mean to have their “pastures” elevated to the “high places”?
What is “the Way”?

READ 1 Nephi 21:14-16
Since 1833 and the expulsion from “Zion” in Jackson County, it seems like the Lord has forgotten Zion, but is this true?
Who has forgotten the Remnant of the House of Israel?

READ 1 Nephi 21:22-26
What does it mean that the Gentile “kings” will be the Remnant’s “nursing fathers”?
What does it mean that the “prey of the terrible shall be delivered”?

READ 1 Nephi 22:2
How are prophetic writings understood?

READ 1 Nephi 22:3-5
What became of the House of Israel after Christ’s mortal ministry and why?

READ 1 Nephi 22:6-10
Who will scatter the Remnant?
What is the marvelous work that the Lord will perform among the Gentiles?
Why is the “marvelous work” of “great worth” to the Remnant but only of “worth” to the Gentiles?

READ 1 Nephi 22:11-12
What does it mean for God to “make bare His arm”?
What is the relationship between the “marvelous work” and the Lord making “bare His arm”?
How are a people (the Remnant) brought out of obscurity and darkness?

READ 1 Nephi 22:13-19
What is the relationship between the Lord making “bare His arm” and the destruction of Babylon?
How does the Lord use fire or “glory”?
Why are the wicked destroyed but the righteous are saved by the same fire/glory?
Where does the Lord first “pour out” His “wrath”?

READ 1 Nephi 22:20-28
What kinds of objectives do the churches of the devil have?
Can Churches do a lot of good with political, economic and public relations power?
Does gaining political, economic and public relations power at the expense of the truth benefit Zion?
How can you identify Christ’s true sheep?
How can we avoid being consumed as stubble?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Nephi’s Apocalyptic Vision (1 Nephi 12-14)

The Fate of the Children of Lehi

READ 1 Nephi 12:5-6
What is Nephi being shown?
·       The resurrected Christ descending from Heaven
·       Christ showing Himself – that He is the Son of God - to the Nephite survivors of the calamities in the Americas

READ 1 Nephi 12:10
What is the difference between “keeping the commandments” and being “righteous forever” because of faith in Christ, such that one’s garments are made “white in His blood”?
·       We cannot be “righteous forever” through commandment keeping alone – because in our current state we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
·       We must exercise faith in Christ to be washed clean by Him through His sacrifice – we are “righteous forever” in His perfection (perfect in Christ) until a time that we can truly and completely become like Him; and even then He will continue to be our Father (the Father of our salvation – of our spiritual rebirth), as Heavenly Father continues the same relationship with Christ
What does it mean to be “righteous forever” before one’s mortality (the twelve apostles being called out here would not be born for another 600 years)?
·       Righteous forever means that you WILL be exalted
·       It is not predestination but the omniscience of God who knows all things – the end from the beginning
How can someone be exalted before they are born? 
·       The “noble and great” are referred to as “Gods” (see Abraham 3:22-Abraham 4:1)
·       They are the Sons of God (see TPJS 423:2); they had attained to this title or state of righteousness or light
·       In the “first place” they had been “left” (out of God’s presence) to choose between good and evil and they had chosen good (see Alma 13:3)
·       They have progressed (further than us) from grace to grace to be called Sons of God (see D&C 93:7, 12-14) before this earth was created, as Christ did who is our example and the prototype of the saved being (see LoF 7:9)
·      Part of their role here is to “prove” those of us who have not progressed as far (see Abraham 3:25) but they are also still be progressing themselves and must act in alignment with their greater light during their mortal life and ministry, living by every word that proceeds from the Father or risk falling from grace (see 1 Corinthians 15:30)
·     We have the same opportunity to rise up and move from a small degree of glory or intelligence to a great one (see TPJS 391:2; D&C 130:18-19)

READ 1 Nephi 12:22
What does it mean to “dwindle in unbelief”?
·       Everyone believes something or they would not get out of bed in the morning
·       Unbelief is not disbelieving but it is believing that which is wrong/false
·       Dwindling means to degenerate, sink or fall away
·     “Dwindling in unbelief” means to lose light and fall away from the truth because what you believe is not true but you don’t realize it – and as a result, you cannot have faith unto salvation


History of America and the Coming Forth of the Bible & Abominable Church

READ 1 Nephi 13:1-3
What are the “nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles”?
·       European countries and those who hail from them

READ 1 Nephi 13:4-9
What is an “abominable” church?
·       A church that pretends to be true and living and capable of saving people but is not
·       A church that performs ordinances that it is not authorized to perform – they profane them
·       A church that speaks in God’s name but actually does not represent Him
Where and when is the abominable church established?
·       Among the Gentiles
·       After the Bible goes to the Gentiles but before it is widely distributed or available (see 1 Nephi 13:26) 
·       So most likely it starts in Europe before 400 AD – probably before 200 AD 
·    From the definition given above, there have clearly been more than one abominable churches throughout history; another likely candidate is the Church at the time of the Deuteronomists.  Many critics of the Book of Mormon point to its Christological perspective which is not (nearly as) evident in the books of the Old Testament for proof that it is not an ancient book; however, the BOM gives clear insight into the kinds of things that the Deuteronomists changed in or removed from the Old Testament, causing the Ancient Jews to also stumble because of unbelief and dwindle to the point that when Christ was born, the great majority did not recognize their God when He came to live among them
What motivates those who lead the abominable church?
·       Celebrity, money, power, immorality, and the fine things of the world
Why do they destroy and take captive the saints of God?
·       For the praise of the world
·      Implied is that supporting the saints of God is deeply offensive to the people of the world, and offending the people of the world will cost you their praise and the money and power that go with it

READ 1 Nephi 13:10-19
Why did Columbus sail to America?
·       Because he was heavily inspired or moved by God to do so
Why did the Puritans leave the “captivity” of England to risk colonizing America?
·       Because they were heavily inspired or moved by God to do so
How did the American Revolutionaries win their independence?
·       They humbled themselves before the Lord
·     They were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations – implied that the other nations were much more powerful and should have won, and that America did not win by military might
·       They were enabled or inspired by God to do so

READ 3 Nephi 21:2-5
Why were the Gentiles “inspired by God” to come to America and enabled to win their independence?
·       So that the Father could fulfill the covenant He made to Abraham and the “fathers” that He and the Lord would one day redeem a Remnant of Jacob living in America so that they could prepare a Zion people for the Second Coming of Christ

READ 1 Nephi 13:20-29
What was the book (Bible) like when the “Jews” first wrote it?
·       It contained the Fullness of the Gospel
·      The doctrine was pure - uncontaminated or unadulterated (see 2 Nephi 29:5) according to the truth which is in God (1 Nephi 13:25)
·     It was similar in content to the Brass Plates except not as complete a record (again, the Brass Plates were the pre-Deuteronomist or pre-Babylonian captivity “Old Testament” – what we have today is not the same book)
What plain and precious things and covenants were taken away from the Bible?
·       The fullness of the gospel (v24)
·       The truth that engenders in mankind saving faith in Christ (1 Nephi 13:40)
·       The covenants that enable mankind to come unto Christ in the flesh and be redeemed
Why does the abominable church take away the plain and precious things?
·       To pervert the right ways of the Lord – to change the doctrine so that it is no longer true or accurate
·      To blind the eyes and harden the hearts of those who read and believe what is being taught – they think they have the truth; Satan either imitates or appropriates the truth via his earthly organization
·       To prevent saving faith
·       To prevent people from rending the veil and coming unto Christ
·      To place men between the people and God so that they can control them; to set themselves up as a light, to get gain and the praise of the world (see Alma 1:16; 2 Nephi 26:29; Helaman 7:5)
How does the abominable church take away the plain and precious things and covenants?
·       They “keep them back” or knowingly withhold them (v32)
·       They “take away” or remove them (v26)
·       They “pervert” or actually change them to (v27)
What is the result of taking away plain and precious things from the Bible?
·       The fullness of the gospel is perverted/changed or contaminated which…
·       Blinds people’s eyes
·       Hardens their hearts
·       Cause them to stumble exceedingly
·       Resulting in giving Satan power over the people
How does the absence of the plain and precious things from the Bible cause people to stumble?
·       They think they have the truth but they do not
·      If one does not have a correct understanding of God and know that the path one is pursuing is pleasing to Him, one cannot have faith unto salvation (see LoF 3:2-5)
What does it mean when the gospel is described as “plain”?
·       Clear and obvious
·       Simple and unadorned

READ 1 Nephi 13:32, 34-37
What does “much of my gospel” mean?
·       The Book of Mormon contains the “fullness of the Gospel” (D&C 20:8-9) to the extent that it lays out the fullness – faith in Christ, repentance, baptism by water and fire, abiding in covenant, rending the veil and ascending to God
·       The Book of Mormon that we have now (minus the sealed portion) does not contain a detailed account of exactly how to rend the veil and ascend to God, although it does give numerous examples of people doing just that; this was why Joseph Smith revealed the Temple Endowment ceremony and celestial marriage sealing in the Red Brick Store, to fill in what was explicitly missing from the Book of Mormon and begin to round out the teachings that encompass the “fullness”
·      Mormon stated that the Book of Mormon contains the “lesser part of the things (Christ) taught the people” (3 Nephi 26:8-11) and Moroni wrote that the sealed portion was hid up until we exercise faith like the Brother of Jared and rend the veil and come unto Christ (Ether 4:6-7, 13) – this is the only way to gain this knowledge: directly from God (see 2 Nephi 32:6)
·       But the Book of Mormon is enough to engender enough faith in people  to receive the ministering of angels, who will prepare the individual for the Fullness
Why does it say “seek” to bring forth Zion at that day (when the Book of Mormon comes forth)?
·       Joseph Smith sought to bring forth Zion but, like Moses, the people would not come unto Christ themselves but would rather that Joseph be their spokesman with God and strongman prophet to lead them (but not directly to God, which is Zion)
·     God knew that Joseph Smith would try to establish Zion but that his attempt would fail because of the jarring and contentions of the people, Joseph’s desire and righteousness not withstanding
How does the phrase “bringing forth Zion” differ from “establish” or “create” Zion?
·       Man cannot establish or create Zion
·       Zion comes when men rise up, rend the veil, and know God for themselves
·       It must be “brought forth” to mankind through persuasion and ministering but it is up to men and women to rise up 
Who is promised that they will be lifted up at the last day if they endure?
·       Those who sought (successfully or unsuccessfully) to bring forth Zion
·       Those who “published” peace
·       Not the people who declined the offer and requested the strongman to stand between them and God

READ 1 Nephi 13:39-42
To what does “other books” refer?
·       The Book of Mormon
·       The Doctrine and Covenants
·       The Lectures on Faith
·       Other books that have not yet been revealed
What is the purpose of the “other books”?
·       To remove the stumbling blocks put in place by the Bible after it had been perverted 
·       By restoring the plain and precious things that were removed (the fullness of the gospel)


Two Churches Only

READ 1 Nephi 14:1-2, 5-7
Who are the “Gentiles” in the Book of Mormon?
·       Generally, the gentiles are those primarily of white, European descent
·      But specifically, the “gentiles” in the book are those to whom the Book of Mormon was given to be read and followed – so not the Catholic or Protestant “gentiles” but the “LDS gentiles” (see 1 Nephi 13:34-35; D&C 109:60; 2 Nephi 30:3; 3 Nephi 16:6-15)
What is the promise to the Gentiles in the Last Days?
·       If they listen to Him and do not harden their hearts against the Lamb – if they will repent - they will be numbered among the Remnant of Lehi and be saved
·       The gentiles must humble themselves
Does the Lord promise to manifest Himself unto the Gentiles?
·       Yes – in word, in power, and in very deed will He “manifest Himself unto them”
·       He will come to them in the flesh and minister to them – which will remove their stumbling blocks
·       BUT ONLY IF THEY REPENT AND COME UNTO HIM
What does it mean to be delivered to the hardness of one’s own heart and blindness of one’s own mind unto captivity and destruction?
·       We are all “self-elected”
·       Christ will save all those who chose to come unto Him
·     But if you harden your own heart and blind your own mind by choosing not to come unto Him, you will one day be “delivered” to the natural consequence of that choice = captivity and destruction

READ 1 Nephi 14:8-17
To what does the “covenants of the Father unto the House of Israel” refer? (see also v17)
·       That they will inherit a land of promise on earth and the kingdom of God in heaven
·    That they will receive the High Priesthood which will enable them to stand in the presence of God on Earth and in Heaven
·    That through them their descendants will be blessed and they will have eternal increase – exaltation and celestial marriage
What is the connection between the covenants and the “two churches”?
·       Both churches promise to administer the covenants of the Father
·       But only one Church is Christ’s and can actually facilitate the administration of those covenants
·       The other Church is an “abomination” because it pretends to be Christ’s and be able to administer the covenants, but it cannot
·       The covenants of the Father can only be administered by God Himself
·     The true Church of Christ can be known by its fruits: it facilitates the administration of the covenants by the Father Himself to those who are still in the flesh
·       All other Churches fail to facilitate this event for you
What is the Church of the Lamb and how does one become a “member”?
·       The Church of the Lamb is the “Church of the First-born” (see D&C 76:54)
·      These are the 144,000 sealed by the angels who receive the High Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God (see D&C 84:19-25, 33-48) and can stand in His presence (see D&C 77:11 and JST Genesis 14:28-30)
·      This is not a mortal organization or institution – while it is a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” proposition, “many are called but few are chosen” because they will not “self-elect” to be chosen, they will not awake and arise!  Christ would have all mankind be members of His Church of the Lamb but we will not come unto Him (see 3 Nephi 9:13-14 and 3 Nephi 10:4-6)
·      But the fact that many are called – that the invitation is extended to many – should give us hope and a reason to humble ourselves and repent
Why is the church of the devil the “mother of abominations” and “whore of all the earth”?
·       Because it pretends to be the Church of the Lamb – but because it isn’t, its rites and covenants are an abomination
·       Instead of a heavenly reward, it is built up to gain earthly rewards (it cannot bestow heavenly rewards anyway, as it has no power to do so)
·       It sells its pretended heavenly gifts for earthly money = “whore”; and all the earth is engaged with it except the few who have actually connected with Heaven itself and are members of the Church of the Lamb
Where are the few members of the Church of the Lamb located and why are their dominions small - what does that mean?
·      They are scattered all across the globe (at least at the point they are sealed; at some point they will be gathered to Zion) – they could be members or former members of many different churches; however, they must have the faith in Christ to receive God’s true messengers, enabling them to be sealed up (see LoF 3:2-5)
·          There are not many of them because few will come unto Christ (see D&C 121:34-40)
·      The wickedness of the world constrains the “dominion” of the members of the Church of the Lamb – they will not engage in certain activities that could lead to an increased dominion in this telestial world and the nature of their testimony and behavior is such that they are mocked and scorned by the world and a source of embarrassment to those who know them (who are not of the Church of the Lamb)
·       They don’t seem to have massive land holdings, run luxury shopping malls or have more than a $100 billion dollars in cash and stocks…
How are the members of the Church of the Lamb armed?
·       With righteousness and the power of God in great glory
·      Not with earth’s weapons (including money) – they will not use them and do not need them; and they will not do the things which would enable them to gain them anyway

READ 1 Nephi 14:18-27
Why is Nephi shown a vision of “all things” but is forbidden to write them?
·     Some things are necessary to learn but cannot be taught by one man to another – they must be learned through revelation directly from God to be understood
·       We are not to have a knowledge of these things in plainness now – John’s writings are hidden in symbolism for those with ears to hear and eyes to see only; however, we are invited to seek that knowledge through repentance and sanctification, as we’ve seen previously
·      The records that have been sealed up to come forth in purity are for the covenant-keeping House of Israel, not the Gentiles (except those that have been adopted in) and at this moment, we still seem to be in the times of the Gentiles, which we have been in since the publishing of the Book of Mormon
Why were others also shown the vision and told to write it so that their accounts might come forth after the Book of Mormon was published?
·       Because they will come forth to those who are already members of the Church of the Lamb, so they are spiritually prepared to receive the accounts of the end of the world, in purity and plainness
·       The Book of Mormon is the Lord’s tool in the last days to enable people to become members of the Church of the Lamb, but after they have joined Him, He will tell them what they must do next – and these revelations might be one of the ways He will do that (see 2 Nephi 32:6)

The Lord’s Wilderness (1 Nephi 16-22): QUESTIONS

The Truth READ 1 Nephi 16:1-4 and 1 Nephi 17:45 Are “hard things” difficult to understand or difficult to bear, for the wicked? Wha...