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!

Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2: Saved by Grace through Faith

                Paul explains that we are saved by grace that we might “…sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 4:8-9)

                We are indeed saved by grace, through faith on the name of Jesus Christ and not from works. In order to understand the FREE gift of Grace, we must understand what it means to have Faith in Jesus Christ. Having Faith in Jesus Christ means that we accept Him in our hearts, which means that we accept all of His teachings! If we say we accept Jesus Christ and then ignore His commandments, we are not accepting his grace through our faith. Paul does say that grace is not achieved through works, and this is absolutely true… you cannot only do good works and never accept Jesus Christ. You have to do both, but like he said… to not do them unto boasting.

Jesus Christ Himself said; “Not every one that saith unto, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21) See what Paul is trying to say after we read what Jesus said in Matthew? Being saved is not just about a verbal; “I accept Jesus Christ” neither is it a “I do good works, so I should be given grace”… rather it is about having Faith in Jesus Christ and desiring to live like Him!

Jesus goes on to state; “Many will say to me in that day [the day of judgment]. Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have we cast out devils? And thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23) Jesus clearly tells us that if we don’t have true Faith in Him, it does not matter how many times we claim to be doing good in His name, nor does it matter how many times we say His name, or say that we accept Him. It is a combination of good works that are brought on by our faith in Him.

Paul explains that if we do what is right and follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, following the example He gave to us, we can be saved. He then tells the Saint in Ephesus that they “…are not more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone;” (Ephesians 2:19-20)

                As Saints [members of Christ’s church] are not strangers, but fellow citizens of His household, which is built on the foundation of Apostles and Prophets. This is the same organization that exists in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Galatians 6

Galatians 6: As Ye Sow… So shall Ye Reap

                “BRETHREN, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

                Paul opens this last chapter of Galatians with a letter urging the members of the church to consider those around them, which may have fallen into temptation. He asks the members to help by restoring them spiritually. He urges the members to do this with a spirit of meekness, or in other words to guide the person who has fallen into temptation with humbleness, and patience. However, if someone does not want to be restored spiritually or in the process of helping them you are also dragged down into temptation… we should stop. In other words, helping people is good… but if it starts to affect our own personal salvation we should tread lightly.

Paul goes on to say that we should rejoice in our own work and burdens; “…let every many prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.” (Galatians 6:4-5) We should not seek praise or praise one another to the point of idolatry. Being happy in our own work and being proud of another person’s work is another thing. Paul explains that we are responsible for ourselves and our sins, we cannot pass them on to another… therefore we are also not born with sin, for we cannot be punished for the Fall of Adam and Eve. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that; “…men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” (Articles of Faith; 1) Therefore we are saved by grace, after all that WE do PERSONALLY. In the Book of Mormon; “…we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23; The Book of Mormon)

Paul explains that we are going to be judged according to our works. He also explains that God will not be mocked… Whatever a man gives, he shall receive. If you do evil works, evil will be your reward. If you do good works, good will be your reward.

“…God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

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)

Romans 4

Romans 4: Faith, Works and Grace

Paul explains that Abraham was not justified by works, but declared righteous through his faith. Grace is a free gift from God, whereas the works and obedience to the Law, prove our worthiness to God. We know that Abraham was counted righteous before he was circumcised; meaning that circumcision is a sign of righteousness to the Law, but not the cause of that righteousness. God’s promise to Abraham was based on the principle of faith, and not by law or works.

If we are born into this world, we are immediately saved from our sins and the spiritual death. Jesus Christ opened the door to Salvation, is alone we could not do on our own. Jesus Christ had to take upon our sins so that we could return to live with God, this is our gift. However, we can chose to accept or reject that gift. How do we do that? If we accept the gift, then we must believe on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we do not want to accept the gift, then we do not believe on Jesus Christ. It is very simple; we can chose to accept Jesus Christ or not. However, if we decide to accept Jesus Christ we must understand what accepting Him means.

What does Believing on Jesus Christ mean?

                If we decide to accept Jesus Christ into our lives, then we also accept His teachings, commandments and Laws. Therefore, if we chose to not follow the commandments of God, then we are not truly accepting Him into our lives. For this very purpose, Grace comes from our individual works and obedience to the Law. How can this be, if Jesus Christ made Salvation a FREE gift? Remember, Jesus Christ opened the door (something we couldn’t do alone), this was His gift to us. Fortunately for us, we have something called Agency. With this Agency we can choose good or evil, right or wrong. In order to take part in this FREE gift, we must accept it. By accepting the gift, we agree to accept Jesus Christ into our lives and into our hearts. This means that we ALSO accept to be a disciple of Christ. It is no coincidence that Disciple is a root word of Discipline. If we chose to accept Christ into our lives, we must be disciplined to follow His commandments and His law. This is where Faith and Works come into play, in order to obtain Salvation.

Grace and law are the principles, and faith and works are the means by which we pursue those principles for our relationship with God. In order to obtain Salvation we must accept the Grace of God, through His Son Jesus Christ and then work to fulfill righteousness in our lives.

Romans 3

Romans 3: Man is Judged by Faith in Jesus Christ

 

“What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision?” (Romans 3:1) Paul addresses the Romans and states that regardless of being a Jew or a Gentile, ALL are saved through the grace of Jesus Christ. He asks: what does it profit a man to have only the LAW, and not the FAITH? Man’s unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God. The law cannot save us from our sin and the penalty that accompanies it. Paul points out that “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:23-25)

Sinners (everyone) are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Because Jesus Christ Atoned for the Sins of ALL, we can be saved. However, we must understand what being Saved means.

What is Salvation?

Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, everyone will experience a temporal death. However, through grace, which was made possible by the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, everyone will be resurrected and receive immortality. Resurrection alone does not qualify us for eternal life in the presence of God. Remember, Paul said; “…all have sinned…” (Romans 3:23), these sins make us unclean and unfit to dwell in God’s presence. For this reason, we are saved through Grace, ONLY after all we can do. After all, Jesus Christ died for us, the very least we can do is follow His law. Essentially, Jesus Christ unlocked and opened the door to Eternal Life, we however must make the choice to enter through that door. This is where Grace is a FREE gift from God, but Eternal Life and Salvation require our part. What is it that we must do? We must live by God’s law and we must follow in the steps of Jesus.

Paul ends this chapter by asking; “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31) What does he mean? He means that we should throughout either the Law of Faith, but have both. Faith without works is dead! The Book of Mormon helps us to understand a little more about grace; “…we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God, for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 25:23) 

Matthew 7

Matthew 7:

The Sermon on the Mount: Part 3 

                Jesus starts this chapter with the simple and very famous;

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) 

Jesus asks His disciples; “…why beholdest thou the mote that is in they brother’s eye, but considereth not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) Essentially Jesus asks, why do you criticize or gossip about your neighbor/friend/stranger etc., when you, yourself have your own things to be criticized or gossiped about? If you allow yourself to be critical of others, without considering that you are not without flaw, then you are a hypocrite.

Jesus encourages us to ask, for if we ask; “…it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7) How hard is it to ask our Father in Heaven for something? It is easy, pray and ask him. Are you confused by doctrines? What job to take? Who to marry? Etc… anything can be asked for!

Jesus then tells his disciples to enter into the straight and narrow path, which leads back to our Heavenly Father. For “…wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction…” (Matthew 7:13) The path back to our Heavenly Father, the path that leads us to righteousness is not a broad path, it is a path that is EASILY accessible, but only if WE CHOOSE to take that path. If we decide to take the righteous path, it won’t be easy. But the reward is worth the obstacle! Jesus warns us about the other path, which is wide and easy to travel, for that path will lead ONLY to DESTRUCTION. He sadly adds that “…few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14), referring to the path that leads back to our Heavenly Father.

Jesus warns His disciples about False Prophets; “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits… every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-17) In the last days many false prophets will arise, but by their fruits we can determine which prophets are true prophets of God. Joseph Smith was one of those prophets called of by God. Smith’s fruit or evidence that he is a prophet is the Book of Mormon, which was written thousands of years ago and translated by Joseph Smith.

Jesus also proclaims that it is not JUST by grace that you are saved, you must also do good works. For “…Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many shall say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils?…And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-22)

Jesus ends his Sermon on the Mount by explaining that we should be wise and build our house upon his rock [the Gospel], instead of the foolish man who built his house upon sand, which washed away in the rain storm. We must do as the Lord has done, He has set an example and we would do good to follow him. The disciples explained that Jesus spoke as “…one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:29), therefore in the ending of the Sermon on the Mount we learn of the great importance having authority from God is.