2 Nephi 2

2 Nephi 2: Agency is Important

                Lehi speaks to Jacob and promises him that God; “…shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2:2) Jacob shall find comfort and shall dwell in safety with his brother Nephi. Lehi explains that; “…the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” (2 Nephi 2:4) Lehi goes on to explain that men are instructed to know good from evil and by the laws that are given unto mankind, we shall be justified. Lehi then explains that NO man can return to the presence of God without the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ. Even though Salvation if FREE, one has to have a broken heart and contrite spirit in order to accept this free gift.

“…redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth… he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah…” (2 Nephi 2:6-8)

Why does God permit suffering?

Lehi goes on to explain that there needs to be opposition in all things! He answers the grand old question; why does God permit suffering?

“…it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” (2 Nephi 2:11)

But why is this? For if there was no opposition in all things, there would have been no reason for our creation, for our very being! All things would; “…have been created for… naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.” (2 Nephi 2:12)

Atheists claim that there is no God, others who believe in God claim no need to follow God’s commandments, because salvation is free and no works are required for entering the Kingdom of God.

Lehi explains that this is not so;

“…if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” (2 Nephi 2:13)

Science explains that every action, has an equal and opposite reaction. Here we see that there must be opposition in all things. We also see that without anything to be acted upon, all things would have vanished. Who or What acted first in the creation of all things? Science explains that everything was created from the Big Bang. We do not have to discredit science, for the universe most likely was created by something similar to what science has explained as the Big Bang. But what caused that? One could easily argue that science, as we know it, was created by a higher power. God must exist, or we would not exist.

Everything has its opposite

                From the very beginning, God has given us the ability to CHOOSE for ourselves. This choice is known as agency. We have been given the gift of agency, to ACT on our own accord, to be our own AGENTS. Go has given us this agency, and the ability to act as our own agents so that we could exist and have a reason for existence. After God had created the earth, the fowls of the air and the fields, God created our first parents [Adam and Eve] and gave the opposition; “…it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” (2 Nephi 2:15)

The Fall of Mankind: The Purpose of Mankind

                After rebelling against God in the pre-mortal existence, Satan was cast out of heaven and became a fallen angel. He was there [because God permitted him to be there] when Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden. God did this, so that man could be their own agents. In order to choose for themselves, God needed to place opposition to the good. After being tempted by the devil to partake of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were cast out into the world so that men might be.

“And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.” (2 Nephi 2:21)

God gave the children of men [all mankind] a time of probation [their lives] to repent and follow the commandments of God that they might one day return to live with their Heavenly Father. Nevertheless, we were given the ability to choose to return to our Father in Heaven.

What if Adam did not Fall?

                Some look at the Fall of Adam as the ‘Original Sin’ that prevents us from having a paradise in this life. These same people claim that if Adam and Eve would not have partaken of the fruit, that we would be living in paradise in the Garden of Eden. All of the world’s problems today, would not exist. But, we too would not exist!

“…if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end… they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:22-25)

                ADAM FELL, THAT MEN MIGHT BE! Without the fall of Adam and Eve, WE WOULD NOT EXIST! God is all knowing, the opposition in the Garden of Eden was all part of the plan, He had for His children! Because Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, men were destined to be apart from God. But, God had this in mind, when he called a Savior for mankind!

“…the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.” (2 Nephi 2:26)

God made it possible for Jesus Christ to come and die for all our sins! Through His Atonement and Sacrifice we ARE ALL SAVED from the Original Sin. Jesus Christ RESTORED our ability to return to God! This ability to return to God, is FREE. Salvation is FREE. But, we are all FREE to choose good from evil. Therefore it is our choice to accept Salvation.

“…men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:27)

Satan chose not to follow the Plan of Salvation, and because of His rebellion he was cast out of the presence of God. We, being FREE agents, have the ability to choose to follow God. If we choose to follow God, we must follow His commandments. Only then, can we accept His free gift of Salvation.

Summary of Acts

Summary of Acts

Acts begins with Jesus’s commandment to the Twelve Apostles to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Peter serves as the leader of the apostles and the small congregation of the faithful, first “Christains” in Jerusalem. The Apostles, by means of Revelation call Matthias as the twelfth Apostle, replacing the traitor Judas Iscariot. During the year of Jesus’s death and resurrection, the Apostles are gathered for Pentecost. The Holy Ghost descends upon them, and as a result of the Holy Ghost’s presence, they begin speaking other languages. Peter explains the miracle, saying that the gift of tongues is given to everyone through the laying on of hands. He explains that the Gift of Tongues or speaking in Tongues means other languages.

Peter summarizes the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. He gives scriptural proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the savior whom God promises in the Old Testament to send to save Jews from their adversity. Responding to Peter’s testimony, 3,000 people are baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ. A man named Barnabas is particularly praised for his generosity, and a couple that defrauds the church are stricken dead. Going to the temple to pray, Peter and John cure a crippled beggar. Peter tells a crowd the story of Jesus’s persecution and his eventual resurrection, concluding with a reminder that the Jews are favored by God and a call to repentance. The Sadducee high priests of the temple, who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, bring Peter and John before the Jewish high court, where Peter preaches the Gospel. The court, which is called the Sanhedrin, recognizes that public opinion is in favor of the Apostles and releases them.

The high priest imprisons the Apostles, but they are miraculously freed by an angel, and they continue their preaching. Brought again before the court, Peter leads the apostles in their defense, saying, “…We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).

A controversy ensues between Stephen and some Jews, who accuse him of heresy before the Sanhedrin. Stephen delivers a long speech, in his defense,  detailing the history of Jewish leadership in the Bible. For his words, Stephen is stoned to death, with the approval of a young man named Saul of Damascus, a vigorous persecutor of the Christians. Stephen is the first Christian martyr. Saul is a Jewish leader who has been trying to wipe out the new community of Christians because he believes that they are trying to destroy Jewish law. While traveling to persecute Christians, Saul is blinded by a light and hears the voice of Jesus asking, “…Saul, Saul why persecutes thou me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul is converted and sets out to be one of the best missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ. He travels to the coast, performs miracles, preaches the Gospel, and converts Gentiles.

Barnabas and Saul, who is renamed Paul, depart on a missionary journey.

  • In Cyprus, Paul blinds a magician, Elymas, who tries to prevent Paul from teaching.
  •  At Antioch in Pisidia, Paul preaches to a Jewish congregation, telling his listeners about forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus.
  • At Iconium, they have some success until nonbelievers, including both Jews and Gentiles, drive them from town.
  • At Lycaonia, Paul cures a cripple, and the local Gentiles take them for the pagan gods Zeus and Hermes before Paul is able to convince them otherwise. As usual, however, the missionaries are chased from town, and Paul is nearly stoned to death.
  • In Greece, Paul meets with mixed success, converting some but meeting opposition from many Jews and some Gentiles.

Later Paul travels to Jerusalem, where he meets with James and the church leaders, who are concerned that Paul has been urging Christians not to follow Jewish law. They plan for Paul to go to the Temple and explain that he is not encouraging breaking Jewish Law. In the temple, however, Jews seize him, accusing him of profaning the temple and preaching against the law. Paul tells the crowd his personal history; he relates the stories of his past persecution of Christians, his miraculous vision of Christ, and his conversion to Christianity and mission to preach to the Gentiles.

The crowd becomes outraged, and the Roman tribune seizes Paul. The tribune then has him brought before the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, where Paul creates dissent by setting the two factions in the court, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, against each other. The tribune saves Paul from the ensuing riot, and, hearing of a Jewish plot against Paul’s life, sends him for his own protection to Felix, the governor of Palestine, in Caesarea. At the trial in Caesarea, Paul professes to worship God and adhere to Jewish law. Hearing that Paul collects and distributes alms, Felix holds him in jail for two years, hoping for a bribe. After Felix’s death, Paul is tried before the new governor, Festus.

Paul appeals to Caesar’s judgment, and Festus; who does not believe Paul guilty, but who wants to appease the Jews calling for his execution. Finally Festus decides to send him to Caesar, in Rome. First, however, Paul is brought before King Agrippa.  Again, Paul recounts the story of his vision of Jesus and conversion to Christianity, and argues that his missionary activity is merely a fulfillment of Jewish hopes and Old Testament prophecies. King Agrippa is impressed, but Paul is sent to Rome. On the way to Rome, Paul’s ship is wrecked, and through a series of sailing mishaps it takes months to arrive at Rome. Awaiting his hearing at Rome, Paul begins to spread the Gospel to the Roman Jews, who disbelieve him. He turns his emphasis again toward the Gentiles. Paul goes throughout, preaching; “…no man forbidding him.” (Acts 28:31)