Thursday, February 27, 2020

Nephi’s Warning to the Gentiles (2 Nephi 26-30)

Destruction of the Nephites

READ 2 Nephi 26:10-11
What caused the quick destruction of the Nephites as a civilization?
·       The Spirit withdrew from them
·       Because they chose works of darkness rather than light
·       Because they yielded unto the devil
·       Which happened because of their pride and foolishness – selling themselves for the things of this world
What is implied by the statement “the Spirit… will not always strive with man”?
·       That in many cases the Spirit does strive with man undeserved – in mercy and grace
·       Until the people have reached a fullness of iniquity

READ 2 Nephi 26:12-13
What does manifest mean?
·     To disclose that which is secret, unseen or obscure; discovery to the eye or to the understanding; the exhibition of something by clear evidence (1828 Webster’s Dictionary)
Who does Christ manifest Himself unto?
·       All those who believe in Him
·       In every nation and people
·       He is not a respecter of persons, meaning that His manifestation to someone in the flesh has nothing to do with church position, bloodline, intellect, gender, priesthood, prior spiritual experiences, etc
How does He manifest Himself unto them?
·       By the power of the Holy Ghost
·       By working mighty miracles, signs and wonders
·       According to their faith

Warnings to the Gentiles in the Last Days

READ 2 Nephi 26:14, 20-22 
Who does Nephi direct these prophesies to?
·       The Gentiles in the last days
Why have the Gentiles stumbled?
·       Their pride
·       A lack of faith in the power and miracles of God to the degree that they “put down” or disbelieve, disdain and mock that power (see also Mormon 9:7-10, 15-20 and Moroni 7:37-38); for example, church leaders now talk in Conference about having the faith NOT to be healed – in other words, to continue to believe that the church has God’s authority and seal of approval even when the miracles, signs, and fruits that flow from God’s work are no longer present in the Church
·      The loss of truth is a major stumbling block; the plain and precious parts of the Gospel kept back by the abominable church (see 1 Nephi 13:34); many of the beliefs and practices that the Church teaches today are very different from what was taught by Joseph Smith
What are the objectives for which the Gentiles have built up churches in the last days and what are the results?
·       As a vehicle to preach their own wisdom and learning
·       To get gain – which requires grinding the faces of the poor
·    The results are wealth creation for some, plus envy, strife and malice from others – even to the extent of secret organizations forming: $100 Billion in secret assets while LDS children in Africa go starving requiring a non-Church affiliated Liahona Foundation to feed them; Strengthening the Members Committee to document “apostate” behavior by members and then secretly pressure local leaders to excommunicate them, etc
Why does the devil use a flaxen cord and how are these churches part of that strategy?
·       Flaxen cords look like flaxen hair – fair, long, flowing, soft (1828 Webster’s Dictionary)
·     He uses vehicles like churches to bind people because they don’t realize they are being bound – more like they are being comforted with a soft scarf or blanket – they make people feel good, like they are religious or righteous
·      But these “flaxen cords” are converted into “strong cords” as the pious doctrines and passionate rhetoric are good for blinding people to the truth to the point of fighting it, and increasing their pride and “rightness” so that they lose the desire to be seekers after truth anyway – safe in the knowledge that they are right about moral, ethical and religious matters

2 Nephi 26:23-28, 33
What is intended to draw all men unto Christ?
·       This sacrifice and death
·       Implied is that mankind understands that sacrifice and death – and our need for it
·       Understanding these things deeply breaks our hearts and makes our spirits contrite before Him – which is the required sacrifice as per the terms of the covenant; it draws us to Christ
How can Christ love the world, as evil as it is?
·       He is more intelligent, more filled with light than all of us – the mind of God or Holy Spirit
·       As a result of that, He is filled with a fullness of love – He desires to save all of us – but is bound by our agency
Who has Christ invited to come unto Him and who has He forbidden?
·       As He loves us all, He has invited us all to come unto Him
·       No sins are too despicable 
·       He has descended below us all (see D&C 122:8)
·       NONE are forbidden from coming unto Him and being baptized, regardless of our situation
Describe how Satan works vs. how Christ works?
·       Satan binds with subtly
·       Christ invites with plainness

READ 2 Nephi 26:29-31
What is priestcraft?
·       Preach – to share teachings as if they came from God – and they might actually come from Him, directly or indirectly
·       Set themselves up as a light unto the world – so that the light of the gospel reflects on the Preacher and not on the Lord
·       That they might get gain – material or financial gain, praise/recognition or emotional gain, control/power or social gain
How does one preach so that it is not priestcraft?
·       With the pure love of Christ
·       Deflecting all “gain” back on the Lord
·     Only reactively answering questions from the humble seeker when directed by the Spirit – not imposing anything on anyone – do not impart knowledge otherwise
What does the Lord equate Priestcraft with?
·       Grinding the faces of the poor
·       Because of a lack of Godly love for others
·       And a healthy love of riches

READ 2 Nephi 27:1-5
Which nations will be “drunken with iniquity” and “abomination” in the last days?
·       All nations – of the Gentiles and the Jews
·       Including America (“those who shall come upon this land”)
What will the Lord do to all those nations?
·       Warn them with storms, earthquakes, hurricanes and fire – natural disasters or “acts of God”
·      Then put them to sleep because they have already closed their eyes by rejecting His messengers; He will “put them to sleep” by “covering” or stopping the mouths of His true prophets and allowing their own careless indifference to continue unchecked to its natural conclusion and just consequences

READ 2 Nephi 27:6-11, 21-22
What is the book that the Lord God will bring forth?
·       The Book of Mormon
How is the Book of Mormon a “sealed” book?
·       A portion of the plates were sealed shut and not translated by Joseph Smith
·       All of the plates were written in “reformed Egyptian” and had to be translated by the power of God, otherwise they were “sealed” or unreadable
·       The Book of Mormon is a “sealed book” to those who either don’t read it when they have the opportunity or fail to read it with the same Spirit with which it was written, meaning that they do not truly understand the messages that were intended to be shared
What is contained in the literally sealed portion of the plates and when will they be translated and shared?
·       A revelation similar to John’s and Nephi’s – recounting the true history of the world from the beginning to the end; but much more plain and detailed than the apocalyptic messages we have now
·       The revelation will be kept until the “due time of the Lord” when they will finally be read everywhere by everyone but not in the day of “wickedness and abomination” – those people will have the book kept from them; but this doesn’t preclude a scenario where the Lord could have separated Zion into the tops of the mountains and reveals the sealed portion to them, even while the rest of the world is fighting themselves or waiting to be utterly wasted at His coming
·       These messages are not for the unprepared world; this may be because they contain keys to accessing the powers of heaven – required reading for those who would survive the days of wickedness, abomination and burning which are to come

READ 2 Nephi 27:23
How does He show the world that He is the same yesterday, today and forever?
·       The Way back to Him has always been the same
·       Even the Law of Moses was just an elementary way to get mortals to align themselves to the Light such that they could gain the faith to rend the veil and do what was required to be saved
·       He shows them He is the same through His works or “miracles”; He is God – He has all power over this universe and if we will exercise sufficient faith, He will show us who He is by His works, and ultimately, He will reveal Himself unto us and seal us up to eternal life
·       He works among us according to our faith – so in the beginning, His works in our lives are barely perceptible by us
·      But we can know they are His works as they align with the kinds of works He has always performed among men, as recorded by those who have had interaction with Him in the past

READ 2 Nephi 27:24-30, 35
Who is the Lord’s mouthpiece in these verses and who is the audience?
·       Joseph Smith is the one receiving the Lord’s message
·       The Gentile Church of the Last Days (LDS) is the intended audience – “this people,” who draw near to Christ with their words, among whom He will do a “marvelous work and a wonder”
What does the fact that their “fear” (“holy awe or reverence”) of God is taught them by the precepts of men mean – is this a bad thing?
·       Yes it is bad, because they know not the God that they profess to believe in
·       They do not know Him because they have never encountered Him
·       As a result of this, they are fooled by the precepts of men, thinking that these men know more about God than they do
·      And as a result of never knowing God and trusting others who have never met Him either (but profess to have met Him), they have removed their hearts far from God
·       Instead, they have placed an idol between themselves and God – albeit today it is one who gives “prophetic counsel” which come out of committee deliberation instead of obtaining actual revelation themselves, direct from God – they worship an idol of men or brethren who they think will talk to God on their behalf… but even if they did (like Joseph Smith did), it is still displeasing to God to rely on the arm of flesh instead of knowing God for yourself
What is the “marvelous work and a wonder” that the Lord will work among these Saints who profess Him but do not know Him?
·         The coming forth of the Book of Mormon – translated by the gift and power of God by a young, uneducated farmer
·       The content of the Book of Mormon: through the revelations contained in the Book of Mormon and their faith in what they have learned, He will “proceed” or begin to do a marvelous work among them – with the objective that their holy awe or reverence for Him will be because they have a correct understanding of His attributes and character; the “wonder” will also include healing the deaf and blind, according to their faith, that they may hear the revelation or mysteries of godliness (the Way back to the presence of God) contained in the Book of Mormon and see the light in the darkness that they are currently living in (being blind to the truth) – they will come to understanding and learn true doctrine
·       Coming unto Christ in the flesh and being redeemed by following the examples and principles taught in the Book of Mormon - the marvelous work and a wonder will conclude by the Lord making Himself known unto the meek and poor Saints such that their joy shall be “in the Lord” – which is exactly the path illustrated by so many of those who wrote the Book of Mormon – it is their testimony of Christ and the Way back to Him – it is THE revelation contained in the Book!  And because He is the same yesterday, today and forever, it can work for you, too
·       The removal of those in power who disbelieve the true message of the Book of Mormon (i.e. the need to come unto Christ in the flesh) – the “wonder” or miracle that will happen will include the removal of the “wise, learned and prudent” leaders – those who seek deep to hide their counsels from God (and show their lack of faith in God by thinking that there was even a possibility that God would know their hearts and remove them from their places of power over His people)

READ 2 Nephi 28:1-2
How did Nephi know that the words he has told us will “surely come to pass”?
·       He has spoken his words with permission from God – as the Spirit constrained him to say; he did not use God’s name in vain spouting his own insights and predictions and attributing them to God
·       As Nephi held the High Priesthood, he sealed what he wrote since what he had written was completely aligned with the Lord’s will (see also D&C 132:45-49 and Helaman 10:5) and the Lord’s will will surely come to pass
·       Nephi’s book contains a seal upon it bearing the power of God
Who will benefit the most from the “marvelous work and a wonder” or revelations and covenants found within the Book of Mormon?
·       The Remnant of Lehi’s ancestors
·       All those who take it seriously enough to pursue it to its end – to find the most glorious discovery and eternal certainty waiting for them (see LOF 2:56)

READ 2 Nephi 28:3
In the day that the Book of Mormon becomes of “great worth” to the Remnant of Lehi, there will be many churches built up who will all claim to be the Lord’s but will not be “built up” unto Him - what does it mean for a church to be built up “unto the Lord”?
·      The church would enable you to gain saving knowledge of Christ (see Ether 3:19)
·     It would do it by having its members trade unbelief (belief in things that are wrong and will not save you) for belief in truth
·       It would enable them to then use their newfound belief in truth to develop faith in Christ
·       It would encourage them then leverage that faith in Christ to receive knowledge of Christ Himself
·       And the proof would be in their fruits – because very many would go forth and experience these things themselves 
What would a church built up unto the Lord teach its members with regards to how to develop saving faith?
·    It would teach them to sacrifice all things to gain the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation (see LoF 6:7)
·       It would not teach that “all is well in Zion” as long as you “stay in the good ship” …
What would a church built up unto the Lord teach its members about knowledge and how to gain it?
·       It would teach them that knowing Christ is eternal life (John 17:3)
·       It would teach them that knowing Christ happens when He ministers unto you in the flesh (see D&C 132:21-25; 3 Nephi 11:14-17; Ether 3:13, 19-20)
·      It would teach them how to receive the Second Comforter and make their calling and election sure (see D&C 93:1; TPJS 170:6, 171:2 and 172:5)
·       It would not teach that receiving Christ’s own testimony in the flesh is unnecessary (see D&C 76:74 and D&C 88:75) because following the leaders is enough to guarantee exaltation, as they cannot lead you astray and they have the keys to seal you up to eternal life, whether it is by their voices or by the voice of the Lord, as they would tell you it was the same thing…

READ 2 Nephi 15:13 and TPJS 246:1
Why is knowledge of Christ the ultimate goal of a Church built up unto the Lord?
·       Because knowledge of Christ Himself (which means becoming His Son or Daughter and part of the Kingdom or House of God on Earth) is what the true Church of Christ is supposed to give you – remember the Woman clothed with the Sun in Revelation?  (see JST Revelation 12:1-2, 7)
·       Because captivity comes from a lack of knowledge (see also TPJS 341:1)
·      Because without knowledge of Christ, the honorable are famished and those who follow them are dried up with thirst because they are not taught enough to be saved – they cannot find the living waters (see 2 Nephi 22:3)
·       Those who remain on the earth after Christ’s coming do so because they have knowledge of Christ and are filled with His glory and seal – they knew the Lamb and so were able to avoid being utterly wasted by the glory of the Lion (see Joel 2:28-29)

READ 2 Nephi 28:4-6
What are the churches contending about?
·       Which church is true
·       Which church is Christ’s
·       Which church has authority
How can we tell that none of these churches are true or Christ’s?
·       They will teach with their own learning – they have created their own precepts and creeds from their scholarly study or their focus group opinion gathering and social science data analysis
·       They will deny the Holy Ghost which speaks to mankind in the very moment (see D&C 84:85) and deny the power of God and Christ
How can churches professing to be Christ’s teach that there is no God today?
·       They believe in God (hopefully) but have not connected with Him directly in so long that, in effect, they believe that He is not operating actively today, outside of their teachings, pronouncements, policies and work as a church – as they still all claim to be true churches…
·       Since they all believe strongly that they each are the true church, they assume He will correct them if they go astray – so by default, they must be doing His will or He would have revealed Himself to stop them or command them to do otherwise
·       In all cases, the religious institution has taken over for the spiritual transformation which will lead you back to Christ (this is true even in the Protestant religions who get their “authority” from the New Testament) – the “keys of authority” have been given to the church to act as God on earth – to confess your sins, gain forgiveness, and receive ordinances that will guarantee your salvation as long as you remain faithful to the church
How can churches professing to be Christ’s deny the power of God and teach that there are no miracles today?
·       Their lack of faith in connecting with God and receiving revelations or even answers from prayer leads to skepticism about any other manifestation by God
·       If the church leaders aren’t having direct experiences with God, they distrust claims by anyone else; particularly if the leaders see themselves as being more righteous than the rank and file
·       This envy and distrust of any who claim to have experienced a miracle or revelation or have connected with God leads to first downplaying and then denouncing the gifts of God – after which, they truly do depart from us
·        Those that do experience them become afraid to share them; and the less they are shared, the less they are expected, and in time faith is negatively affected; those who do share are increasingly doubted (as liars) and scorned (as mentally unstable) or thought to be deceived (by Satan, in an ironic twist of faith in him but not in God!)
·        And when the presence of the Gifts and Fruits ends, revelation and the recording of them into scripture ends – there is nothing to add, so nothing is added

READ 2 Nephi 28:7-9
What is the problem with preaching a gospel of repentance in a culture of feeling good about oneself?
·       All of us sin, and many are laden with sin (see Romans 3:23 and Isaiah 1:4)
·       But the culture teaches that God intends for us all to be “happy” (see 2 Nephi 2:25)
·       Regardless of the fact that happiness cannot be found in sin (Alma 41:10)
·      So a warning to repent and forsake sin is viewed as negative – as it makes the listener uncomfortable (1 Nephi 16:2); and if God desires our happiness, it may also be unneeded – particularly if an incorrect understanding of grace is used or flattery and reassurance that all is well with us
What is the problem with preaching a gospel of repentance if you want to remain popular with your church membership?
·       Only the humble, penitent seekers after Christ will appreciate you
·       You will lose the rest to those who preach that all will be well with them or that God will beat them with a few stripes but odds on they’ll be exalted…
·       And the humble seekers are not usually the ones with a lot of extra tithing funds to donate…
What does it mean that a doctrine is false, vain and foolish?
·       False = untrue or incorrect; although Satan does his best work when he mixes a lot of truth with just a few lies
·       Vain = futile or without power
·       Foolish = void of understanding or sound judgement
How might these false, vain and foolish doctrines result in a proud church following?
·       They will think they are “chosen people”, in possession of the truth, unable to be led astray, and with nothing of note to repent of
Why are the works of these churches done in the dark?
·       They do not want their membership to know that they do not really connect with God
·       They are themselves lost in the dark, due to an absence of revelatory light
·    Some really believe that they are being led by God in some de facto way via the keys they have received from predecessors but God never visits them and they proceed in counsels and committees, determining that together they cannot all be wrong or if they are, God will stop them or worse, just honor their good faith efforts
·       Some engage in dark works – fooling members into supporting them financially and grinding the faces of the poor; or even engaging in immorality (BY’s polygamy) and murder (Mountain Meadows Massacre)

READ 2 Nephi 28:10-13
Why might the blood of the Saints cry from the ground against them?
·      They foster a culture of “God has given His power unto us” – damning their membership, who have faith in them instead of God, trusting in the “arm of the flesh”
·     They foster a culture of distrust for spiritual experiences and gifts – damning their membership who no longer seek them and lose the faith to receive them
·       They foster a culture of “all is well” – damning their membership who feel justified in not repenting
What does Nephi mean when he says that “all” churches have gone out of the way and are corrupted?
·       We are under condemnation (see D&C 84:53-58)
·       We have lost the High Priesthood (D&C 124:28) and were driven out of Nauvoo (see D&C 124:40-48)
·     We have changed our “exalting” doctrines (see BY’s doctrines of polygamy, blacks and priesthood, blood atonement, Adam-God – all of which he preached as essential to salvation but for which you will be excommunicated and damned today – there is another argument that says that Joseph never taught those things, but he taught things we no longer teach like the Law of Adoption, Theosis, and the necessity of receiving the Second Comforter in mortality)
·       We have not had a prophet clearly and unequivocally claim that he’d stood in the presence of God since Joseph Smith; nor have we canonized scripture since D&C 138 in 1918
·    And yet we preach Wilford Woodruff’s doctrine that we cannot be led astray by our leaders (which he said when confronted with the fact that he was disavowing the doctrine of polygamy, which he said God would never forsake)
How can you recognize the true Way?
·       It demonstrably leads back to God
·       In this life and the next
·       It accomplishes the work of God – it brings about our immortality and eternal life
·       The signs or gifts of God are evident – including miracles and the ministry of angels
What pride can religion impose people upon people who believe false traditions?
·       That they are chosen – better than anyone else on earth; 
·       That they are infallible – as a people and as leaders, they cannot fall and cannot be led astray
·       False teachers perpetrate both of these doctrines because they make people feel prideful
What kind of teaching would cause a listener to become contrite, humble, meek, repentant and submissive to God?
·       The truth or word of God taught with the Spirit (See Alma 31:5 and 1 Nephi 16:2)
·       The truth is very hard to bear because it cuts you to the very center
Why does Nephi equate “fine sanctuaries” with “robbing the poor”?
·       Because there are always a finite set of resources – and tradeoffs are made when the money is spent – funds spent for one thing preclude it being spent on something else
·      The question then becomes “what is the best way to spend your money” or put another way: “what would Jesus do?” With the exception of Mary’s anointing of Christ prior to His death with the royal oil spikenard and Judas’ suggesting that it should be sold and given to the poor, there is no place in scripture where the Lord tells His people to construct a building instead of ensuring that there are no poor among them… and if you ask, “what about the Kirtland temple?” the answer is that the Lord was testing his people – all of whom were poor at that time – with regards to the desires of their hearts; it was not robbing the poor but a test for the poor themselves – would they give up what little they had for the Lord?
·       The $330 million dollars spent on building a new Conference Center or the $2 billion spent on a high-end shopping mall or the billions spent on land speculation in Florida or annually on chapels and Church employees could have been used to help the poor, not to mention the $100 billion worth of investments from tithing money and the “investment income” gained from investing those “talents” with the exchangers…but instead, private foundations like Liahona must exist to try and help the poor LDS children around the world…

READ 2 Nephi 28:14
Why do the few humble followers of Christ also err?
·       They are misled into accepting false, vain (powerless), and foolish beliefs because the ones who preside over them are only able to offer the precepts of men
·       These precepts of men are not able to bring the humble followers of Christ to the knowledge of Him – they do not lead them to the Lord
·       It is interesting that the humble followers of Christ have not been invited to lead the churches themselves; they do not have the “stiff necks” and “high heads” manifested by the competent and successful people of the world who have demonstrated “leadership” and are selected to lead
·       Christ always intends to save those who cry unto Him for salvation – who offer their whole souls as an offering to Him.  But they must put James to the test and “ask God, who giveth to all men liberally” and do their best to see and then remove the cultural fog that the precepts of men have created by coming to Christ directly – they must awake to their current state and arise to find Christ.

READ 2 Nephi 28:15
What does a “three-fold wo” mean?
·      It is an eternal curse
·     When spoken by a man like Nephi who holds the High Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God (the sealing power), a three-fold wo is a condemnation not merely for this life but for the eternities
·       Nephi has also used three names for God (“Lord God Almighty”) as a threefold assertion of divine authority, as anything sealed on earth with this High Priesthood must be God’s will
Who is being condemned into the eternities by God and Nephi?
·       The wise, learned and rich Gentiles in the last days who are filled with pride
·       That teach false doctrines (the precepts of men) and pervert the right way of the Lord
·       These are people who profess to lead God’s church – in fact, they do lead it, but have no connection with Him and are leading the church, including the few humble followers of Christ, astray – otherwise how could they qualify to “pervert the RIGHT way of the Lord”
·       Note: it is not “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed” when a condemnation comes from a prophet with sealing power speaking the words of God and written in canonized scripture – but it is a terrible thing and we must pity and pray for those to whom the curse is directed that they will repent

READ 2 Nephi 28:16-20
What does it mean to “turn aside the just for a thing of naught, and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth”?
·     This is a warning not to walk away from the truth being taught by a just or true source, thinking that it is of no value because of who is teaching it
·       It is a warning not to call good “evil” and revile against it – to treat with reproach or contemptuous language
·       Implied also is the following instead of that which has no value (the precepts of men), thinking that they will save you – perhaps because of the credibility of the teacher (it is calling evil, “good”)
·       Disregarding and reviling true messengers and their messages will lead to a fullness of iniquity and destruction
Why would the Lord allow His true messengers and their messages to be reviled?
·       He has given us our agency
·       Part of our probation is to test whether we can hear God’s voice and discern His truths – regardless of the source
What does it mean to be “fully ripe in iniquity”?
·       To no longer listen to the truth – they have completely closed minds
·       There is no need to extend further opportunities to repent because they will not take any advantage of it
Will the Lord accept repentance and stay His hand from those who turn to Him in the last minute of the 11th hour?
·       Yes
·       He wants all to be saved and will accept true repentance at any time
·      The “12th hour” is not God’s pronouncement upon men, it is the state of “fullness of iniquity” where men no longer will repent – it is up to the men, not to God
Why must the abominable church fall to the earth?
·       To bring about the repentance of any within it that will repent at that time
·       Because it is the just consequence of the actions of that church
What will the devil do at the time that the abominable church falls to the earth?
·      He will try to stir the people up to anger – he will try to harden their hearts, and so blind their eyes to what is really happening
·       Instead of being humbled by the fall of the church, he will try to make them angry at their losses - they will lament the loss of what they held so dearly
·       The test in any trial is how do we react to it.  Do we choose to humble ourselves before the Lord or do we get angry and fearful?  (see also Alma 62:41)

READ 2 Nephi 28:21, 24-25
Who claims to be Zion in the last days?
·       The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
·       These verses are directed completely to the Church – there can be no one else who qualifies
·       This is the same “holy Church of God” that is ashamed to take upon themselves the name of Christ (see Mormon 8:38) because their alleged personal experiences with Him are “too sacred to share” even with the Saints
What does it mean to be pacified and lulled?
·       To appease, to tranquilize, to allay agitation, to quiet, to still, to cause to rest (1828 Webster’s Dictionary)
What is carnal security?
·       Carnal = pertaining to the flesh, being in the natural state
·       Security = protection, an effectual defense from danger, freedom from fear
·       Together they mean that protection or defense from danger is ensured by one’s temporal blessings or wealth
Why would people who are lulled with carnal security think they qualify as “Zion”?
·       Because they are told by their leaders that they are Zion
·       Because they don’t understand Zion at all
·       Because they are asleep spiritually
What does “all is well in Zion” mean?
·       It is an attitude where people feel good about their chosen, righteous status – they feel safe in their salvation because they are blessed materially and those blessings are proof of God’s favor
What does “Zion prospereth” mean?
·     It is a measurement of Zion’s success – membership numbers and growth, buildings, financial holdings and cash, political and cultural influence, the wealth of the members
Why would it cheat souls to think that all is well in Zion and that it prospers?
·       Because “well off” is defined in terms of how the world uses the word – successful, comfortable
·      Because people who are “well off” as they perceive it – spiritually and temporally – are much less likely to be humble and seeking for the Lord – they don’t feel the same need or hunger/thirst – they are “at ease”
·      It is a “careful” road to hell – in the moment that Zion adopts the “I think we’ve made it if we stay this course” attitude, they are out of the way but just barely at first – it is just a few degrees off but that is enough as it leads to “we’re chosen; we don’t have too much to repent of; we’re blessed above (i.e. better than) all others because we have the truth; join us or be damned; we can’t fail because we can’t be led astray…”
How would the Lord use the phrase “well off”?
·      To refer to someone who was saved in the Kingdom of God by His own voice – had their calling and election made sure, received the Second Comforter and were humbly abiding in covenant acting as a quiet savior on Mount Zion – in other words, they have an actual knowledge that the course of life they were pursuing was according to God’s will (see D&C 131:5; D&C 76:51-60; D&C 88:75; and LoF 3:5)
·       And even then it is possible to fall from grace as we are all in jeopardy every hour of mortality (1 Corinthians 15:30)

READ 2 Nephi 28:22-23
How does Satan flatter people away by telling them there is no hell and that he was no devil?
·       You will be going to a kingdom of glory, not a hell to be tormented in (see D&C 19:15-18)
·       I (Lucifer) am an angel of light, not a devil – there aren’t “devils” just “spiritual beings” who are here to help you mortals – to teach you things that will make you more successful on earth and ensure your salvation in heaven (D&C 128:20)
·       And you must be “extra spiritual” to warrant me coming to visit you…
What kind of message does Satan appearing as an angel of light bring to people?
·       “Everything (about you) is awesome!”  There is no need for YOU to repent!  
·       He teaches them false doctrines (see Alma 30:53)
How close must Satan be to his target to “whisper in their ears”?
·       Close in proximity
·       Close in knowing them – he’s watched them and knows their weaknesses
Once you have forfeited the option of repentance through your anger, what is your state?
·        You are in the grasp of death and you remain subject to hell
·       Standing before the throne of God, you will be certain that there will be, for you, a continuation of the “deaths” (see D&C 132:25)
·      As judgment is based upon merit or works and if you have not repented and covenanted with Christ, it is your own works and your own name (or the devil’s) that you will be judged on (see Mosiah 5:9-12) and you will be found wanting, not being perfect (see LoF 7:9 and Moroni 10:32-33)
Why does God cast children that He loves into an endless torment in a lake of fire and brimstone?
·       It is us, not God, who is the tormentor; we feel the guilt and remorse – God does not impose it – He just is and we can’t abide His presence (see Mormon 9:3-5 and TPJS 401:1)
·       Lake = it engulfs us or immerses us in guilt
·       Brimstone = symbolizes the bitterness of the experience
·     Fire = because the torment is designed to purge and refine but it does not confer blessings, it only balances out the claims of justice for those who would not accept mercy (see D&C 19:15-19)
·       Endless = meaning from God (see D&C 19:4-12)

READ 2 Nephi 28:26-28
Who is Nephi now addressing in verse 26?
·       The few who are the humble followers of Christ
·       Not the leaders or teachers – Nephi has already consigned them to hell
What does hearkening to the precepts of men require?
·      That you deny the power of God and the Gift of the Holy Ghost – that you say we have received (in the past, say in Joseph Smith’s time) and we need no more of the power of God or revelation from the Spirit - “we don’t need a lot of continuing revelation.  We have a great, basic reservoir of revelation.” (Gordon B Hinckley, interview with David Ranson, 1997)… “We need to pay more attention to the revelation we’ve already received.” (Gordon B Hinckley, San Francisco Chronicle interview by Don Lattin, April 13, 1997).
·       If you put men and their precepts above God in this way, you are hearkening to the precepts of men and will earn a “wo” (not a threefold condemnation but still a curse)
·       It means you are not using the Holy Ghost to understand the truth of all things – you are not testing the words you hear from others but just accepting them based on worldly credentials (see Moroni 10:5); but you are accountable to connect with the Spirit yourself, hence the “wo” (see 1 Thessalonians 5:21); and remember that teachers resorting to emotion and sentimentality as a proxy or replacement for a witness from the Spirit – which is pure intelligence and the mind of God – are selling you something that cannot stand on its own merits
Why do people get angry when they are told they are out of the way and need to repent?
·      Anger comes because the wicked taketh the truth to be hard for it cuts them to the very center – all of their assumptions about themselves – their success, their self-esteem, their convictions, their integrity, their competence – all are being called into question when you are called to repent and it is deeply offensive (see 1 Nephi 16:2 and Moses 6:37)
Why do people “built upon the rock” receive this same offensive message with gladness?
·       They are always asking “what lack I yet”?
·       They are the humble followers of Christ – they are seekers, they live the Psalm of Nephi and have been born again, so the Lord balances “a perfect brightness of hope” with “divine discontent” within their souls
·      They will not be at ease in Zion – they are seeking to find their Lord that they might be sealed up to eternal life AND they are doing whatever they can to love, serve and help all others to have the same experience with God

READ 2 Nephi 28:29-30
Why would Nephi, in a part of his discourse that is directed squarely on the Latter-day Saints, repeat the warning to be open to new words from God – new scriptures and revelations?
·       Because we say we have enough and need to live what we already have
·       Because we are not open to the message of repentance from any source – credible or fringe
·      Because we have not received much revelation since Joseph Smith and that which was received by Brigham Young and others is now questioned (and rightfully so – i.e. polygamy as a basis for exaltation, Adam-God, blood atonement, etc.)
·       We have not done enough to merit additional scripture like the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, but we do not seem to want it – we focus instead on soundbites from General Conference where the Correlation Department must vet all talks and even requires some to be rerecorded if something is slipped past them live (see Elder Poelman’s Conference talk in October 1984)
·       And the list of authorized subjects for teaching is reduced by the Correlation Department regularly, while we are being distracted by memes from the last Conference talks – we are losing light not gaining it (see Alma 12:10-11)
·       We do not hear about visions or visitations from nearly anyone – credible or fringe; very few are having them and those who do are afraid to share
·       The Apostles will tell us they are called to testify of the NAME of Christ, not the PERSON of Christ; anything else is “too sacred to share”, contrary to Jeremiah 23:28; 
·       And who needs angelic messengers anyway when we have men on the earth who hold the same keys as Abraham, Joseph Smith or John the Beloved?
What are our “rules” with regards to continuing revelation in the Church today?
·       “We believe in continuing revelation, predicated upon the following: Mostly to the President of the Church
·       But with others whenever:
o    It is a grandparent or relative who lived sometime during the restoration, but never:
-  An ancestor who lived back in Bible or BoM times (that would be only for the President)
-  If they had a message for general interest (again, would only be for the President)
-  If they had a sacred message, because that would be wrong to discuss – at least outside the Temple
o    It is the Lord, because He gets to do what He wants; except if it’s important we’d want Him to explain why He didn’t go to the President of the Church with it (the Road to Emmaus would be an example of the Lord’s questionable decision making, happening as it did before He met with Peter…), and it better be a pretty good reason or we’ll question the report!”
·       A little sarcasm from the internet: “We believe all that God has revealed to authorized people in positions of authority, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal to the proper channels many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God; and that once it has been reviewed by the Correlation Department and published by Deseret Book it will become something which we can all accept as being from an authorized source and reliable.”
What is the Lord’s promise to those who say, “we have enough” and why?
·       He will take away even that which they have
·      They have closed their minds to the Lord – they want to retain control of their relationship with Him and what He can command them to do
·       They do not have faith that He will lead them to a place that they would like to go
·       They do not have faith to receive revelations themselves but have depended upon someone else to receive them and share them (see Moroni 7:37-38)
·       He will honor their request but since knowledge and a relationship with God is never static – it is either growing in light (restoration) or diminishing (apostasy), He will withdraw from them and they will lose the connection and with it all they had as their minds become darkened (see also Alma 12:9-12); 
·       You “take your shoes off and put them on again” once to show you have accepted God’s Way, because once you are on the path, you are to remain so.  As you progress along the Way you receive greater light and truth, going from grace to grace until you receive a fullness (see also D&C 93:19, 26-28)

READ 2 Nephi 28:31
What do the phrases “trust in man” and “maketh flesh his arm” mean and what happens if you do these things?
·     “Trust in man” means to rely on another man to save you; they are man’s theories or hopes about how to be saved; they come from scholarly study or what may be popular or those in priestly authority
·       “Maketh flesh his arm” symbolizes the strength of man; it is about saving yourself through your righteous works
·       The “arm” is also how man makes covenants with God – so to make flesh his arm means to make covenants with man instead of God – it is to hold up man as a surrogate or proxy for God – it is to mistake the ceremony for the real thing!  Ceremonies and ordinances are important – they are authorized invitations when given by the power of the Holy Ghost, but they are not substitutes for entering the true covenant with God (e.g. baptism of water vs. the baptism of fire; or temple endowment vs. Second Comforter)
·       If you trust in men or make flesh your arm, you will be cursed

READ 2 Nephi 28:32
Does it say the Gentiles WILL deny Christ or MAY deny Christ?
·       It says “will” deny Christ (see 3 Nephi 16:10)
·       We prefer our false teachings to the truth taught by the Holy Spirit, so we will not repent
What must we do to avoid the condemnation and cursing that Nephi says is our lot?
·       We must repent while the “day is long”
·       In other words, we must come unto Christ in this life
·     And it is only the “few humble followers of Christ” that Nephi sees will do it – this is sobering to the extreme for us, particularly in light of the assurances of eternal glory that we regularly give ourselves
Why are Nephi’s words to us so blunt?
·       He has seen us and he desperately wants us to repent before it is too late – he is trying to save us
·       He is filled with charity for us – the pure love of Christ
·      Taken in this light, if we are offended by his words, it is because we choose to be!  It is not his intent to offend, but to prick our hearts with plainness
How would you summarize Christ’s words to the latter-day Gentile Church that claims to be Zion?
·       He is heartbroken as He says to Nephi: “I will reach out my arms to them but they will deny and reject me, but even then I will have them back if they will lay their whole souls on my altar and muster the faith to rend the veil that I may embrace them again!  I have promises to make to them and hope to give them!  And I will wait their whole lives if only they will come unto me.”

READ 2 Nephi 29:1-2
What does it mean about the Book of Mormon when the Lord says “the words of your seed should proceed forth out of MY mouth unto your seed”?
·       The Lord is taking personal ownership of the words of the Book of Mormon
·       We ignore that Book at our own eternal peril

READ 2 Nephi 29:3, 6, 8
Which book is preeminent – the Bible or the Book of Mormon?
·      While I love the Bible, the Lord (in verse 2) just took ownership of the Book of Mormon as “His words” and Joseph Smith called it the “most correct book”
·      The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the Gospel in plainness – it clarifies parts of the Bible that have been changed by several waves of revisionists
Does the Lord have still more to say or have we now received all of His words?
·       Until we can comprehend all things that God can comprehend, He has more things to say
·       We already know that the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon contains the history of this earth, which we don’t have; neither do we have the records of the Lost Tribes of Israel
·      But there are many doctrines that we don’t understand at all (or barely scratch the surface) including the atonement, attaining to the resurrection, Christ’s growing from grace to grace and the implications on our journey to be perfect even as He and our Father are perfect, what the “deaths” and “lives” are and the implications into multiple mortal probations across other eternities, what the Holy Spirit is, who the Holy Ghost is, the nature and implications of gender in the eternities including the role of the Mother, etc.
·       But the most important thing He can say to us here is His testimony to us of our being sealed up to eternal life through His mercy and merits (D&C 88:75)

READ 2 Nephi 29:9-11
Why does the Lord want us to trust in this idea that He is the same yesterday, today and forever?
·       His expectations are the same from one generation to another
·       His ordinances and the Way back to Him is the same
·       He is the same – His character, attributes and plan have not changed from the foundation of the world
·       His promises will endure – as a God of truth, if He promises something to you, He will deliver it
·       If He changed, He would cease to be God, as to be saved is to be precisely as He is and nothing else (LoF 7:9)
·       The fact that He is the same is the basis of our faith in Him – we can know that He is no respecter of persons and if we do what He has asked, we will get the associated blessings He has promised us
What is the implication of Christ’s statement that He “speaks forth (His) words according to (His) own pleasure”?
·      Christ, the Second Comforter, cannot be controlled by an organization or anything else – Christ will visit who He will visit, when He wants to visit them, and He will tell them whatever He deems appropriate – institutional “lines of authority” do not apply to Christ
·       We seem to impose rules on the Lord – when He can or can’t speak to certain people (or genders) about certain things, given our Church hierarchy, but He does not honor our wishes, per this scripture
How many books of scripture have been written and could be revealed according to the good pleasure of the Lord?
·       We don’t know but the implication is that there are many – that Christ has been in contact with prophets and seekers all over the world and that they have written down their experiences and His words – which He wouldn’t command them to do unless He meant to share them with others
·       The fact that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever means that these ancient records and modern visitations will be aligned – the standard of measurement and the Way to salvation are unchanging.  What is growing is the amount of light we have.  At present it is small in comparison to all Christ has/knows, but as “knowledge saves a man” and intelligence is light, Spirit and glory, we must gain a fullness if we are to be precisely as He is – which is required to be saved
·       Any saving truth, wherever it is to be found in the world, is part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; even if it is one kernel of truth hidden in a load of falsehoods; we must be open and searching for the truth, we must be able to discern it from the rest, and we must be humble enough to accept it, even if it contradicts things we already think we know are true
·       The other thing to consider is this: one of the reasons one has not come unto Christ is because they do not yet know enough of the commandments to keep them; it is not just about keeping all of the commandments you know of (although that is another important part of the criteria) but it is also about knowing (and aligning yourself with) all that is required – or the necessary light, truth, intelligence to be able to stand in God’s presence; what more of this knowledge could be revealed?

READ 2 Nephi 30:1-3
What should be troubling to us about Nephi’s statement that the Nephites are not “more righteous than the Gentiles shall be”?
·       The Nephites were destroyed as a people
·       If we are no more righteous than they were, we are headed for the same destruction
What should be troubling to us about the fact that Nephi warned his people not to be like us or they would perish as we will?
·       That we will perish – Nephi has seen it in vision!  Being called a “Latter-day Gentile” is something dreadful – from what Nephi has seen, we are doomed.  It’s like likening a ship to the Titanic – “don’t end up like the Titanic”
·       That the Nephites were warned about not being like us but they refused to repent and were destroyed as we will be.  
·       What is most troubling is how few will heed the warning voice of a true prophet of God
What is the difference between the “House of Israel” and the “covenant people of the Lord”?
·       The House of Israel are “His” people
·       The House of Israel are descended from a certain bloodline – Jacob the son of Isaac
·       The covenant people of the Lord are all those from the House of Israel, the Gentiles and the “Heathen” who accept the Fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and come unto Him and receive a covenant from Him to save them
·       The covenant of the Lord is offered first to the House of Israel and later to the Gentiles
What will the Lord do for the House of Israel?
·       For the sake of the covenant He made with their ancestors who have become the “friends of God”, He will extend every opportunity to them to repent
·     He will forbear, entreat, beseech, send true messengers, labor alongside His messengers – He will do all He can to reclaim the heirs for the covenant’s sake
·       But there are limits – He will not violate their agency – ultimately it is up to each individual to repent and come unto Him or be cast off (see Moses 4:1-3)
What will the Lord do for the Gentiles?
·       He will extend to us the same opportunities to repent and come unto Him or be cast off
·       And as many as repent become the covenant people of the Lord because they, personally – like Abraham and Israel – make a covenant with God that He is bound to honor, and by so doing are adopted into the House of Israel – their “hearts” are turned to the “fathers” who are in heaven or Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; they are sealed to them and become their children by adoption
·       But most Gentiles will demand to be judged by a law they impose upon themselves and each other but cannot satisfy – they will refuse to forgive each other but seek to control and punish each other to compel “righteousness” and in turn be condemned themselves as they will not be able to live up to the standard they have set for others
·      Remember that repenting includes not just turning away from all evil and laying one’s whole soul on His altar in sacrifice, but also refusing to judge or accuse others, forgiving those who have sinned against us – actually interceding with the Lord on their behalf, and loving with unconditional love – especially one’s enemies.  The strait and narrow path requires us to lay down any just claim against another in order to enter in.  It seems that only a few Gentiles will be willing to do this.

Finding the Remnant of Lehi

READ 2 Nephi 30:4-6
What does it mean that the Remnant shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers?
·       Verse 4 already tells us that the Remnant will learn who they are from the Book of Mormon
·       The knowledge that their fathers’ had that will be restored to them is the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the fullness of His gospel – remember that their fathers include Abraham, not just Lehi.  And the “knowledge of Jesus Christ” means knowing Him personally, not merely know about Him
What are “scales of darkness” and why do they only “begin” to fall from the Remnant’s eyes?
·       Scales of darkness are errors or “blindness” that result from false understanding or traditions that blind people to the truth
·       They only begin to fall because the process of removing “unbelief” or believing things that are wrong can take time – sometimes generations
·         Note: “pure and delightsome” was the original Book of Mormon translation – not “white and delightsome”

The End and the Millennium

READ 2 Nephi 30:9-10
When His breath brought life to Adam and the Spirit to His apostles, what does it mean that with the “breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked”? (see also Genesis 2:7 and John 20:22)
·       They will slay each other as He allows the offended Spirit to withdraw from them and they are left to themselves to snuff out the remaining life they find in each other
Can and will the Lord protect His people selectively, even by fire?
·       Yes – He can and will
·       Precedent includes the preservation of the more righteous Nephites at the time of His crucifixion (see 3 Nephi 9:1-13) and the preservation of Nephi and Lehi by fire (see Helaman 5:23)

READ 2 Nephi 30:15
Why does the Lord call the earth His “Holy Mountain”?
·       Because the whole earth will effectively be a Temple – 
·       As Christ will be here 
·       And His knowledge – the mysteries of Godliness – will be taught openly to all – “as the waters cover the sea”
What consolation can we find in the fact that the social statistic surveys the Church conducts show Latter-day Saints are around 7 years behind the larger population?
·       It should give us none
·       We are heading to hell like the rest – they may be on the express and we’re on a slow goods train, but we’re all headed to the same place
·       Being 7 years behind is nothing to celebrate
·       Zion will require a complete break from Babylon
·       And the Lord will provide the break – a “great division” (v 10)

READ 2 Nephi 30:16-18
Why is Satan cast out?
·       He can no longer deceive because all truth will be completely revealed
·       Including all the evil deeds and heinous lies
·       And all of the saving truths
·    And because no one will pay him any more heed, as the desires and passions of the flesh will be kept within the pleasing bounds the Lord prescribes, because the people will know better – and be filled with light – they will no longer desire the filth (or to not live their lives in line with God’s commandments)
·       Once the lies are exposed and the lusts of the flesh are subdued, the hearts of men are freed from captivity.


Due to some recent work and life changes, I'm taking a hiatus from the weekly blog.  I will leave the blog up for anyone who would like ...