2 Nephi 31

2 Nephi 31: Baptism is Essential

                Nephi explains why baptism is so essential in the Gospel of Jesus Christ;

“…if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!” (2 Nephi 31:5)

If Jesus Christ, being perfect was baptized, how much more are we in need of baptism? Jesus Christ did not have to be baptized, but He did so, to show; “…the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.” (2 Nephi 31:7)

After Jesus Christ was baptized, the dove descended upon Him as a representation of the Holy Ghost and His willingness to follow the Commandments. Jesus Christ set the example, and those who believe in Him will follow in His footsteps.

 “…He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.” (2 Nephi 31:12)

The Gift of the Holy Ghost is promised to those who follow Jesus Christ and are baptized in His name.

“…if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 31:13)

Here in verse 13, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is outlined… first we must follow Him with full purpose of heart, without hypocrisy. We need to have FAITH, we then need to REPENT of our sins and be BAPTIZED in His name. After having been faithful and baptized in His name we will receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the Laying on of Hands and then the last step is completely up to us… the ENDURE and follow Him throughout our lives, repenting anytime we fall short.

Are we saved by Faith alone? Absolutely not! We must endure to the end and always follow the commandments of God. Nephi explains how just faith and baptism is only the first steps in Salvation….

“…. [after baptism] ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:20)

We need to understand that after we have faith in Jesus Christ, we need to abound in good works by keeping the commandments. Good works alone will not grant anyone salvation, but faith without works is dead. Faith requires action.

Nephi reminds us that only through Jesus Christ can we be saved; “And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” (2 Nephi 31:21)

 

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2 Nephi 28

2 Nephi 28: Apostasy

                Nephi explains to his people that in the Last Days, many false churches shall be built up;

“…it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord—And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.” (2 Nephi 28:3-4)

This foretelling of the Last Days by Nephi was incredibly accurate, anyone who takes a close look into the many religions and churches that have been built up in even the last 20 years can see that this has come true. So many churches that proclaim to have the “truth”, without offering any evidence of their divine “truth”, the same churches that are built up for gain.

Nephi knew that this would happen, and continues to explain; “…they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men; Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.” (2 Nephi 28:5-6)

How many churches or religions would say that all we have and ever will have of God is the Holy Bible? These same people fail to understand that the Bible itself, by definition, is a “collection of books” and this ‘collection’ was put together by men who (denying the Holy Ghost) put together the ‘Bible’ omitting parts of the words of God, and did all this by their own precepts and usually by VOTE. God however does not VOTE on these things. His word, and what He wants in His Gospel is to be determined by HIM and not a counsel of so called religious experts.

Today we see so many churches that will claim to preach the Gospel, however, many will actually say its ok to commit a little sin, for if God loves us He will have mercy on us… Nephi explains; “….there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (2 Nephi 28:8)

How many see people who claim that all we need is FAITH in Jesus Christ in order to be saved? They claim that good works are not necessary in order to enter into the Kingdom of God. However, by saying this they are doing exactly what Nephi said they would, they justify committing sin if we just place Jesus in our hearts. Is that really how it works?

Are we saved by Faith alone?

The simple answer is YES. However, one must first ask… What is Faith? Is Faith simply believing that Jesus Christ is your Savior? Could it really be that SIMPLE?

In order for us to BELIEVE in Jesus Christ, we must believe in all of His teachings! If we believe in His teachings we will desire to follow HIS commandments! If we follow His commandments… we will do good works! So yes, Faith requires good works, and it requires us to be good people.

What if I commit sin and then commit good works, will that get me into the Kingdom of God? No, we cannot JUST do good works. We have to have a desire in our hearts to do the good works and to be good people without the reward of ‘getting into Heaven’, so to speak. Faith alone is dead without works.  It is also important to know, that while sinning “a little” is not encouraged with the idea that someone can “repent later”, it is good to know that if we do mess up, we can be forgiven because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ… for He took upon Himself all the sins of the world!

Nephi explains that in the Last Days many intelligent and ‘learned’ men will pervert the right way of God and fool the poor into believing their false doctrines;  “…O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!” (2 Nephi 28:15)

Nephi, speaking of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the Last Days, explains that many will exclaim that; “…We have received, and we need no more!” (2 Nephi 28:27) However, Nephi reminds us that even the Bible explains that we (the Children of God) will receive His Gospel; “…line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” (2 Nephi 28:30)

We must ask ourselves, why would God only leave His children with the Old and New Testaments? Surely an Eternal God would have more to say and teach to His children!

1 Nephi 13

1 Nephi 13: The Restoration and Zion

                 Nephi sees many nations throughout the world and is told by the Angel that those nations and kingdoms were of the Gentiles;

“…I [Nephi] saw among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church. And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity… I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it.” (1 Nephi 13:4-6) Nephi saw the formation of an evil church, whose founder was the devil. In this church there was gold, silver, silks, scarlets and fine-twined lined and all manner of precious clothing.

Nephi sees that many of the seed of his brethren were divided among the waters and a multitude of them forming in the promised land [America], where they; “…had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations… I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them.” (1 Nephi 13:19-20) Nephi had seen the colonizing of America and the scattering of the Gentiles!

Nephi also beheld a book that was carried with them into the Promised Land; the Angel asked him if he knew that this book was, and Nephi responded that he did not. The Angel explains; “…Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew… a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.” (1 Nephi 13:23) This book that is being referred is the Bible, more specifically the Old Testament of the Bible which was written in part by the Jews.  The Angel explains to Nephi that at the time this Book “…contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record…” (1 Nephi 13:24) However, the Bible was continued with the New Testament which included more of God’s word and at the time of its completion was also considered the ‘fulness of the Gospel’. In this sense the Book of Mormon only adds to the value of the Old and New Testaments the same was the New Testament adds value to the Old Testament.

The Angel explains that after Jesus Christ formed His Church and called Apostles the church fell apart upon the death of Jesus Christ. From this point the great and abominable church was formed and from them; “…they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away…. all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God…. after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles… even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—…because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.” (1 Nephi 13:27-29)

Apostasy

                After Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, the Apostles he had called attempted to hold the church together, but even they were eventually persecuted and killed. With TRUE Authority gone from the earth the Church, its scripture and gospel were perverted. Elder M. Russell Ballard [An Apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] explained it well;

                “It’s no wonder, then, that the thousand year period known as the Middle Ages wasn’t exactly the best of times for Christianity. The name of the Lord was invoked upon all manner of horrifying campaigns, from the Crusades to the Inquisition, leaving a bloody trail of death, persecution, and destruction. Christ’s central teachings of faith, hope, charity, and tolerance seemed lost upon zealots who were absolutely determined that ‘every knee shall bow’ one way or another.”

Many wonderful men tried to bring those lost gospel truths to the light of the people, however with so many truths lost, many argued over who was right and as a result we see the formation of many churches throughout the world. It is also no wonder that this ‘great and abominable church’ was that of the Catholic Church. William Tyndale, a man who desired to have the scriptures in the hand of the common man, had an argument with a ‘learned’ clergy man, who said; “We had better be without God’s laws than the Pope’s.” Tyndale responded: “I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!

The Angel continues to speak to Nephi and explains that God will be merciful unto the Gentiles;

…I [God] will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious….” (1 Nephi 13:34) The Lord will command prophets in the Americas to write his Gospel, that it might not be perverted from the writings of the Bible in the ‘Old World’.

Nephi sees the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the coming forth of Zion in the Last Days, the Great Apostasy being unfolded and the coming forth of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon as sacred writings of God. The Angel of the Lord explains to Nephi that both books must come forth to reveal the truths that had been lost and to help guide people to their Savior Jesus Christ;

“…These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.” (1 Nephi 13:40) Both the Book of Mormon and the Bible will help people come unto their Savior. The Angel explains to Nephi that in the Last Days the Book of Mormon and the Bible shall be established as one;

 “…wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.” (1 Nephi 13:41)

2 John 1 + Summary of 2 John

2 John 1: John Rejoices + Summary of 2 John

                John writes a general epistle and explains that; “…love [is when we]…walk after his commandments…” (2 John 1:6) He explains that if anyone comes to you and teaches you something different than Jesus Christ and His doctrine; “…receive him not in your house, neither bid him God speed.” (2  John 1:10)

                In other words, if someone comes preaching something other than Christ, do not listen. If you love God, you will follow His commandments, simple as that!

1 Peter 4

1 Peter 4: Gospel Preached unto the Dead

Peter writes that just as Christ had suffered for our sins in the flesh, we should do “…likewise  with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2) If we cease from sin (or at least do our best) we can please God by doing His will.

Peter then goes on to ask an important question; “Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6) Why is this important? Because it helps us to understand God’s Plan for us; Remember when Jesus Christ died on the cross and then rose 3 days later? Where did He go for those three days? Jesus Christ went to the Spirit World to teach those who were in ‘Spirit Prison’, who did not hear the word of God or have the opportunity in this life. The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God;

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God… for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.” (John 5:25;28)

Peter goes on to explain that we should have Charity; “…for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) Peter is not saying to  go out an sin, but what he is saying is that if we DO sin, we can be forgiven of our sins easier if we are actively engaged in charity.

Peter encourages us to; “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” (1 Peter 4:9) He also advises that if we suffer in this life, we are suffering like Jesus did… which means that when Jesus Christ reveals His glory in the Second Coming, we will also have part of that glory and joy; “…rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:13)

James 1

James 1: Ask God!

                James, as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ writes a letter of wisdom. While the letter is not addressed to any specific people or person, it serves as New Testament literature and as a letter written to all.

James explains that we should be filled with joy when we fall into temptation, knowing; “…that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3) In other words, when we are tempted and overcome those temptations we will be made stronger for having been through the temptation.

Paul urges us all to ask God when we are in doubt; “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:5-6) In this life we will pass through trials and tribulations, we may have doubts and we may not understand everything in this world. But we can ask God, and those who ask God with faith will be given the answers to their righteous desires.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God: The Restoration of the Gospel

firstvision

                This very same scripture is what led Joseph Smith to ask God the question; “Which of all the sects was right?”

Joseph Smith was a young farm boy who lived in the east coast of the United States in the early 1800’s, he explains in his own words;

“I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five (1805)… in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont… My father, Joseph Smith, Senior, left the state of Vermon, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the state of New York, when I was in my tenth year… In about four years… he [Joseph Smith Senior] moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario… Some time in the second year of our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country… which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist…. Priest contending against priest, and convert against convert… During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness… though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was… to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong…. In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself : What is to be done? Who of all these parties is right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (Joseph Smith History 1:3;5-6;7;8)

                Joseph Smith, like many today may ask themselves, which of all the sects is the correct one? Why would there be different beliefs, if there be one God? Joseph Smith was confused and unsure of which religion was right. So he consulted the Bible, God’s word! He read in James 1:5-6; which says that anyone who lacks wisdom will be given it. So, who better to ask which religion was right… then GOD HIMSELF!?!

Joseph Smith decided to take this advice from James and retired to a grove of trees near his home;

“ After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description,standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My BelovedSon. Hear Him!

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History 1:15-19)

Joseph Smith followed the advice given by James and asked God; which of all the sects was right. Joseph Smith was answered and told that none of the sects were right. This single question from a young, 14 year old boy would lead to God restoring His Church on the Earth, using Joseph Smith as an instrument in His hands.

James goes on in the first chapter to explain that those who endure temptation shall receive a just reward; “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (James 1:13) James explains that God does not tempt anyone, but rather we choose to sin on our own accord; “…every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust…” (James 1:14)

James explains that anything GOOD is from GOD, and anything BAD or EVIL is from the DEVIL; “Every good gift any every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17)

James encourages people to be DOERS and not just HEARERS; “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass.” (James 1:23) James explains that anyone who seems to be religious but does not follow his religion; “…deceiveth his own heart… this man’s religion is in vain.” (James 1:26) James goes on to explain that pure religion is; “…undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27) While many may claim to be religious, anyone who fails to take care of those around them and stay clean and worthy are not following the will of God.

Hebrews 4

Hebrews 4: Saints will enter into Rest

                Paul writes to the Hebrews and explains that “…the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Hebrews 4:2) In other words, those who hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but are not filled with faith will not hear the message with their spiritual ears and will ultimately reject its teaching. Paul explains that God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day He rested. Paul urges the Hebrew members of the Church to follow this counsel and rest in the Lord on the Sabbath.

Paul explains that the “…word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) Because the word of God is SO POWERFUL, Paul invites all to come unto its power, that all can be touched and comforted from our infirmities.