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.

2 Corinthians 6

2 Corinthians 6: Today is the day to Repent!

Paul opens this letter by explaining that we as believers in Jesus Christ should not take His grace in vain. Essentially, Jesus died for our sins and made it possible for us to return and live with our Heavenly Father; we should not abuse this grace. We need to be actively engaged in doing good. We need to work hard through our afflictions and trials and learn from them! Paul delivers a wonderfully written piece that we can all live by day to day:

“We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;  As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-10)

Paul then reminds the believers in Christ, to be around people that share their beliefs. Light and darkness should not coincide, righteousness cannot fellowship with unrighteousness.

“Be ye no unequally yoked [attached, coupled] with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Essentially, Paul is telling us that we need to choose our friends and our spouse carefully that we might; “…come out from among them, and be ye separate…” (2 Corinthians 6:17) Separate from the world, but still living in the world. We should never cave into the temptations of the world, just because it is being “accepted”. If we do these things, Paul promises that God; “…will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)

 

Romans 16

Romans 16: The Church of Christ Salutes…

                Paul commends Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cechrea. Paul also sends greetings to a number of people and households by name; Priscilla, Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbane, Stachys, Apelles, the household of Aristobulus, Herodion, the household of Narcissus, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, Philologus, Julia, Nereus, and Olympas.

Paul reminds the saints in the church to; “Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.” (Romans 16:1) Paul encourages the members of the church to “…mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17-18) Paul makes it clear that those who disobey the commandments of God and have no desire to do good, should be noted, and shouldn’t be associated with. Evil men exist that have the desire to deceive the hearts of the naïve, or otherwise easily persuaded people.

Paul wants the Saints [the members] to be “…wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” (Romans 16:19) Meaning that we need to be wise and know what is good, but be simple, like a child concerning good from evil.

Romans 5

Romans 5: Adam Fell, Christ Atoned

Paul explains the importance of the Role of Jesus Christ;

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; …  because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly… God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:1-11)

We learn that we should be glad that God gives us tribulations, because through these trials we are able to learn patience, gain experience and have our hearts filled with Christ’s love through the Holy Ghost. We learn that Christ died for everyone, including the sinners. Through HIS Atonement and Sacrifice we have the opportunity to return to live with our Heavenly Father. Grace is a free gift and Salvation is ours if we desire.

Paul explained that “…death reigned from Adam to Moses… after the similitude of Adam’s transgression…” (Romans 5:14). Essentially because Adam and Eve transgressed we were all doomed to a Spiritual death, where we could no longer return to God’s presence. However Jesus Christ made it possible, through His death on the cross and His pleading in the Garden of Gethsemane that we could escape this Spiritual death.

Paul reminds us that we have a choice; “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) This means that YES Adam and Eve broke a commandment of God, but by them breaking the commandment we were given a Savior to take our sins away from us. Jesus Christ Atoned for our sins, and gave us the free gift of Grace, but we still must choose to accept it. The Book of Mormon helps us to understand this further; “Adam feel that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 2:25)

John 10

John 10: The Book of Mormon

                Jesus opens up this chapter by exclaiming; “…He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice…” (John 10:1-2) Essentially Jesus is saying that there can be no other Christ, He is the one and true “…good shepherd…” (John 10:11) Those who try to impersonate will not have true followers, for the true sheep know their shepherd and only follow him.

Jesus goes onto say; “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15) Those who know Jesus follow Him, and He knows them and lays His own life down for them. This was accomplished through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, when He sacrificed Himself for the sins of all mankind!

Other Sheep: One fold, One Shepherd – The Bible and the Book of Mormon:

It is interesting to note what Jesus says next; “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16) Why is this important? During the time of the Old Testament and much of the New Testament there were other people scattered across the world, not just in the “Old World” that we think about in the Bible, which encompasses much of the Middle East. The “Other Sheep” Jesus spoke of lived in the “New World”, or Ancient America and their story and interactions with prophets and God are recorded in the Book of Mormon. Shortly after the death of Jesus on the cross, He visited the people of Ancient America and instructed them and showed the prints on his hands and feet, just as He did with Mary. While He was visiting His other Sheep, He told them; “…I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (3 Nephi 15:21; The Book of Mormon)

                Jesus continues His address to the Jews…

“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again, No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” (John 10:17-18) Jesus essentially tells the Jews that opposed Him, that NO man could take His life, if they managed to kill Him, it was because He allowed it. Some of the Jews in the crown accused Him of being the devil or possessed of the devil. However, others asked how He could be the devil or possessed of one, if He performed great miracles in the name of God. Jesus reassures those people that He does the work in the name of His Father, and that anyone who doesn’t believe Him is not part of His fold, because His sheep hear Him and know Him.

Jesus boldly states; “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) One thing we need to learn here is what Jesus meant when He said that He and His Father were one, did He mean physically? Many believe that God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are One being. But are they? We can see from many scriptures in the Bible that this is not the case, in the next book of the Bible, the Apostle Stephen recounts; “…being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55) The LDS position is that they are not One being, but three SEPARATE and INDIVIDUAL BEINGS, in ONE PURPOSE; Stephens testimony confirms this.

Upon hearing what the Jews thought was blaspheme, they gathered rocks to stone Him. Jesus asks them; “…for which of these works do ye stone me?” (John 10:32) The Jews respond; “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:33) So, Jesus was going to be stoned for comparing Himself to God? We being made in the likeness of God, permits all of us to one day be like our Father in heaven, but never replace Him. Jesus confirms this; “…Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:34-35) Notice how Jesus sad; “god” and not “God”. We being offspring of God, can become like Him, gods. But never become HIM, God. This is important to understand as children of God, we definitely have the ability to become like Him. This is the very reason we are on Earth, to learn and gain a knowledge of Good and Evil and choose the good. In 1 John 3:2, it reads; “…now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be” but we know that, when he [Jesus] shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

                Jesus ends His speaking by telling those gathered they have two choices, to believe Him or not; “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” (John 10:38) Again, Jesus tells them that they have a choice to believe Him, but if they do know Him they will believe. The Father is in Him, and He is in the Father… they are of One Purpose, and He is indeed the Only Begotten of the Father.

Ecclesiastes 9-10

Ecclesiastes 9-10

Chapter 9: Time and Choice Happens to All Men

Solomon believed in enjoying life as a gift from God. The world is finite, and sin has twisted life, making it something other than what God intended. Society honors many things above wisdom such as attractiveness, wealth, popularity, and success. Solomon believed that wisdom is the greatest asset even though it often goes unrecognized.

                “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity [prideful, meaningless life]…” (Ecclesiastes 9:9) – (See Proverbs 5:18-20)

                Life is about getting married and having children… it is about spending your short life with someone that can enlighten you and make you a better person.

                “…Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.” (Ecclesiastes 9:16)

                You don’t need money or fame to make you powerful and wise… even the simplest man can be filled with knowledge. This means that we need to listen to everyone and value their input.

Chapter 10: Fools Are Full of Words

By describing circumstances that are unfair or don’t make sense, Solomon is saying that wisdom alone can’t bring justice. Everything we have is nothing without God. But when he uses what little we have, it becomes all we could ever want or need. If you lack skills, you should sharpen them through training and practice. This will make you more effective for God’s work.

One particular verse really caught my eye… “A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.” (Ecclesiastes 10:2) I am not going to say it, but there is something political about this verse.