1 Nephi 11

1 Nephi 11: Nephi’s Vision of the Tree of Life

                Nephi , believing on the words of his father Lehi desired to see for himself the things which is father was able to behold he prayed to the Lord and; “…was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord… into an exceedingly high mountain, which I [Nehpi] never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.” (1 Nephi 11:1) Nephi is then asked by an angel of the Lord if he truly believed on the words of his father, and Nephi responded that he believed all the words. Because Nephi believed the words (had faith without seeing) he was then granted the ability to see what his father had seen in visions and dreams.

The Angel then shouts for Joy that Nephi believed, and told him to LOOK. Nephi looked and asked the Angel to give him an interpretation of the Tree which his father Lehi had seen. Nephi is then left by the Angel to see a vision;

“…it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.” (1 Nephi 11:13) The heavens then open and the angel comes down and asks Nephi; “…what beholdest thou?” (1 Nephi 11:14) Nephi responds; “…A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.” (1 Nephi 11:15) The Angel then asks; “…Knowest thou the condescension of God?” (1 Nephi 11:16)

What is the Condescension of God?

Condescension: the act of descending to a lower and less dignified state; of waiving the privileges of one’s rank and status; of bestowing honors and favors upon one of lesser stature or status.

The Angel asks Nephi if he understood what the condescension of God was, to which Nephi responded; “…I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” (1 Nepi 11:17)

The Angel explains that the virgin he had seen is; “…the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh…. [the Angel then carries Nephi into another vision and commands him to look] …I [Nephi]  looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Nephi 11:18;20-21)

So what is the Condescension of God? Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained it better than I could;

“When we think of him, we think of the most noble and exalted being there is. Then we read this question, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” and discover that somehow it is associated with his love for us, his children, his spirit children who are now dwelling as mortals here on earth. We discover in our text that he shall be the Father of a Son born “after the manner of the flesh”; that is, he condescends, in his infinite wisdom, to be the Father of a holy being who shall be born into mortality…

So when we think of Christ’s condescension in this matter, we must think of the glory and dominion and exaltation that he possessed. We read in the revelations that he was ‘like unto God’ (Abraham  3:24). We read the language of the Father where he says, ‘worlds without number have I created; … and by the Son I created them, which is mine only Begotten’ (Moses 1:33). We discover that Christ was like the Father; that he was co-creator, that he had the might and power and dominion and omnipotence of the Father and that he acted under his direction in the regulating and the creating of the universe.

We read the words which an angel spake to King Benjamin, in which the angel described him as “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity,” and then said that he would come down and tabernacle in a body of clay and minister among men; that he would be the Son of God and that Mary would be his mother (see Mosiah 3:5, 8).

Here we have a glorious thing. Here we have exalted, noble beings on a plane and status so far above our present circumstance that we have no way of comprehending their dominion and glory, and we have one of them, God our Eternal Father, through the condescension and infinite love and mercy that he has for us, stepping down from his noble status and becoming the Father of a Son after the manner of the flesh. We have that Son being born, that Son who was his firstborn in the spirit, who had like power and omnipotence with the Father. We have each of them performing a work that there is no way for us to understand as far as magnitude and glory and importance is concerned.” (Bruce R. McConkie – Behold the Condescension of God; December 1984)

Nephi, after seeing the virgin and the Lamb of God being born explains to the Angel that the Tree is; “…the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.” (1 Nephi 11:22) The Angel confirms that this is true and proceeds to show Nephi more visions of the Lamb of God and his ministry upon the earth. Nephi is commanded to look, and he looks; “….I [Nephi] beheld the Lamb of God going forth among the children of men. And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits; and the angel spake and showed all these things unto me. And they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.” (1 Nephi 11:31)

Nephi is commanded again to look, and he beholds the Lamb of God being judged before the world, lifted upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world. Nephi is then shown the vision of the Tree of Life, which his father Lehi had seen. In the vision, there was a great and spacious building which Nephi declared; “….was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (1 Nephi 11:36)

2 Corinthians 11

2 Corinthians 11: Satan sends forth False Prophets

                Paul speaks to the Corinthians with his concern that just as Eve was beguiled by the Devil in the Garden of Eden, so will the Members be fooled into believing a different Gospel than the one he preaches.

“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have no preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2 Corinthians 11:4) In other words, if someone preaches a different gospel than what is the truth, you should not listen to them! Paul goes on to explain that the Gospel has no price, and asks the Corinthians if he has done something wrong by offering them the Gospel free of charge; “Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?” (2 Corinthians 111:7) It seems that the Corinthians were confused as to how the gospel could be free, and were somehow offended that they were not being taken advantage of. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is FREE, and no one preaching the gospel should be paid for doing so! That means that ministers, reverends, fathers, pastors, etc. should not be paid!

Paul explains that many will come and deceive them, Paul describes such people as; “…false prophets, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ… for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)

Paul knows that the Corinthians are being fooled and because of this, Paul decides to “…glory after the flesh…for ye suffer fools gladly…” (2 Corinthians 11:18-19) Because the Corinthians are not so accepting of his speaking without having divulged into his credentials and boast of himself… Paul caters to them and boasts of himself;

“(I speak as a fool) … Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren.” (2 Corinthians 11:23; 25-26) Essentially Paul is saying that he has no need to boast of his credentials, as to why they should listen to him. He should have no need to explain all of his acts, but he does so anyways. Why? Because they wouldn’t listen to him if he didn’t.

Acts 11

Acts 11: Church and Revelations

                When Peter returned to Jerusalem, after having converted many of the Gentiles, the Jews were quick to contend with him for having associated with the Gentiles. In his defense, Peter recounts the vision of the sheet, with the unclean and clean animals on it. (See Acts 10)

He explained that God had commanded him to preach unto those people, he goes on to state; “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift [Gift of the Holy Ghost] as he did unto us who believed on the Lord Jeus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17) Many of the people, after having heard this testimony of Peter, rejoiced!

The church in Antioch grows as Gentiles turn to the Lord. We learn that Barnabas ministered in Antioch. Saul works with Barnabas in Antioch where “…the disciples were called Christians first…” (Acts 11:29) Agabus prophesies famine, so the disciples send relief to their brethren throughout Judea.

Acts 10

Acts 10: The Gospel of the Gentiles

There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, who was a centurion [ancient Roman army officer: in ancient Rome, an officer in charge of a unit of foot soldiers] of the band called the ‘Italian band’. Cornelius was a devout man, who gave to the poor and prayed to God daily. Cornelius has a vision, where an angel of the Lord is sent commanding him to send men to Joppa and call for Peter.

Meanwhile in Joppa, Peter is on the roof top of the house of the Tanner, where he is praying to God. During his prayer, he falls into a ‘trance’, where he sees the heavens open and sheet filled with clean and unclean animals descends down upon him. The Lord tells Peter to “…kill, and eat.” (Acts 10:13) Peter refuses, because some of the animals are unclean. The invitation from the Lord to eat happens three times before the sheet goes back into heaven. Peter is awoken from his trance by the men that Cornelius had sent knocking on the gate of the home. Peter is told by the Spirit; “…Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” (Acts 10:19-20)

The men explain why they were sent, and Peter lodges with them. The next morning they depart together to Caesarea to meet Cornelius. When they arrive, Cornelius falls at the feet of Peter and worships him. Peter quickly corrects him, saying: “…Stand up; I myself also am a man.” (Acts 10:26)

Peter then speaks to Cornelius and his house, he points out that it is actually unlawful for a Jew to keep company with other people from other nations, but he explains from his vision the previous day that God had taught him; “…that I [Peter] should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) Peter then teaches of Jesus Christ and opens up his address by emphasizing “…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him.” (Acts 10:34-35) Peter goes on to explain the story of Jesus Christ and how He died for the Sins of all. While Peter spake, the Spirit of God fell upon all who were gathered and they did believe.