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.

Moses 4

Moses 4: How Satan Became the Devil

 

In the pre-mortal existence, before the world was, God created a plan for His children and during this plan Satan rebelled against God. The Lord speaks to Moses and explains to him how Satan became the Devil;

“…That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4:1) Satan came to God in the pre-mortal existence and told God to send him as the Redeemer of Mankind. Satan promised that NO SOULS would be lost, but he demanded the entire honor for doing so. This of course would defeat the purpose of coming to the earth to obtain a body and earthly experiences; to be tried and tested.

But in that pre-mortal existence Jesus Christ came forth and said; “…Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Moses 4:2) Jesus Christ would do as commanded and would give all the glory to the Father.

The Lord goes on to explain to Moses that; “…because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” (Moses 4:3-4) Because Satan was cast out of the presence of God, this angered Him and Satan desired to make ALL miserable like unto himself.

God explains to Moses that “…the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made. And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.

And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said—Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (And he spake by the mouth of the serpent.)

And the woman said unto the serpent: We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; But of the fruit of the tree which thou beholdest in the midst of the garden, God hath said—Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman: Ye shall not surely die; For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Moses 4:5-11)

When Satan was cast out of Heaven, He brought with Him 1/3 of all the host of heaven. These were his followers. Satan knew that God had a plan for man (at this time, Adam and Eve). So Satan, knowing this plan came to Eve and tempted her to partake of the forbidden fruit.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they had been naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.” (Moses 4:12-13) After Satan had tempted Eve, she partook of the fruit, because she desired to be wise. Adam, having no other choice partook of the fruit also. God had commanded them to multiple and replenish the earth. If Adam had not partaken of the fruit, Eve would have been cast out of the Garden and reproduction would not have been possible. So Adam partook, that men might be!

Because Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, they now had knowledge of good and evil, and shortly after eating the fruit they were walking in the garden and heard the voice of God;  “…and Adam and his wife went to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

And I, the Lord God, called unto Adam, and said unto him: Where goest thou?

And he said: I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I beheld that I was naked, and I hid myself.

And I, the Lord God, said unto Adam: Who told thee thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, if so thou shouldst surely die?

And the man said: The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.

And I, the Lord God, said unto the woman: What is this thing which thou hast done? And the woman said: The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” (Moses 4:14-18)

Before partaking of the fruit, Adam and Eve did not know they were naked. They were both as little children in the garden. Partaking of the fruit was part of God’s plan, and part of our gift of Agency. Adam and Eve’s actions are known by some as the ‘Original Sin’, however, Adam and Eve did not sin, but rather used their agency to further the plan of God. As a result, we are separated from God physically and must rely on faith of His existence. Because of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, He gave us the ability to overcome this physical death and return to live with our Heavenly Father again.

Because of what had just occurred in the Garden of Eden, God punishes the Devil;

“…I, the Lord God, said unto the serpent: Because thou hast done this thou shalt be cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life; And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; and he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Moses 4:20) God gave man the ability to overcome Satan. God in fact took away much of the power of Satan from those who do not wish to follow him.

Because of Eve’s disobedience, God said; “…I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Moses 4:22) Child birth would be painful and Man would be placed as head of household.

God tells Moses that he also instructed Adam directly after their disobedience in the Garden of Eden;

“And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying—Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Moses 4:23-25) When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden they were taken care of, now because of their disobedience they would have to work for their food and endure hardships of the Earth.

Adam names Eve and calls her; “…the mother of all living…” (Moses 4:26) God makes them coats of skin to wear as clothing and God says to His Only Begotten [Jesus Christ]; “…Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil…” (Moses 4:28) Adam and Eve made one step closer to becoming like their/our Heavenly Parents. We too, being offspring of an Eternal God, have the ability to become like Him and become gods. For Jesus Christ Said; “…Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34)

God drove both Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden into the Earth, and placed a; “…cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Moses 4:31) So that no one could gain access to the tree of life.

Revelation 2

Revelation 2: Overcome the World = Eternal Life

                John writes a specific letter to each one of the seven churches throughout Asia, in verse 2 he covers 4 of the church and he starts each one off with; “Unto the angel of the church of ______” (Revelation 2:1;8;;12;18) It is interesting to note that in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible “angel” is changed to “servant”, which is probably more accurate considering John was writing to the leaders of each one of the branches of the churches throughout Asia.

This is the counsel that is given to these churches by John;

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” (Revelation 2:2) John explains that sometimes leaders will fall away or will lie completely to say they are leaders. However only those authorized by God to teach, shall teach.

                “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7) Those who overcome the temptations of the world will obtain the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

                “Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried ; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life…. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Revelation 2:10-11) Often times we will be tried, but if we overcome we will receive the crown of Life and be able to return to live with our Heavenly Father and we will not be hurt by the second death (the spiritual death)

                “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first” (Revelation 2:19) God knows us all, therefore it is important that we do good in the sight of others as well as when we are in private… for God knows.

2 Peter 2

2 Peter 2: False Teachers Among the Saints

Peter warns the members of the Church that there are false prophets among the people; “…even as there shall be false teachers among you… who… shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord… And many shall follow their pernicious [harmful] ways…with feigned words make merchandise out of you…” (2 Peter 2:1-3) Essentially Peter is saying that False prophets and teachers will arise and try to bring those who believe in God into damnation. Unfortunately many will follow these false teachers and shall be made like unto merchandise in the eyes of those who follow them. Remember, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is FREE. Those who make money off of the believers of Christ will be held accountable for their wickedness.

Peter explains that God did not save the angels who sinned, or the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah, nor did he save those outside of Noah and the people/animals on the ark. However, those who followed God and His commandments were in fact saved. God even promises to help deliver those righteous followers “…out of temptations.” (2 Peter 2:9)

Those who follow Satan will never be saved, in fact those same angels of Satan and false teachers; “…promise them liberty… of the same is brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19) We may think that rebelling against God will make us FREE, however, Satan will trick us into thinking we are free when in fact we are slowly put into bondage under Him.

1 Corinthians 10

1 Corinthians 10: Christ is the Rock

                Paul reminds the Corinthians of the Jews that traveled with Moses through the red sea on dry ground. He reminds them that they were all baptized and did all eat and drink from the “…spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4) Paul says that while many followed Moses, an equal number or more were not well favored in the eyes of the Lord. Paul reminds the Corinthians that “…we should not lust after evil things…” (1 Corinthians 10:6)

We also should not… worship idols, fornicate, murmur or tempt Christ as many of the Jews traveling with Moses did do. After having warned about committing sin, Paul reminds them (and us) that God “…will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) So is it wrong to Sin? Yes. Are we all guilty of Sin? Yes. Is there a way to overcome our Sin and become closer to Christ? Yes.

Paul tells us that as a body [group] of people who believe in Christ, when they partake of the Sacrament together, they become one Body… because they are all partaking of the same bread. Paul tells us that we should avoid meat that was offered as a sacrifice to an idol, for it had been offered to a devil. Finally, Paul explains that he is “…not seeking mine [his] own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:33) Therefore, as an Apostle of the Lord he freely preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ without cost. He does it for the good of others and not himself.

Matthew 4

Matthew 4:

Jesus Tempted of the Devil

 

                Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, because of this Jesus fasted for “…forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.” (Matthew 4:2)

After he had fasted for many days, Satan came to tempt Jesus.

Satan tries to use his incredible knowledge of the gospel and the scriptures to trick Jesus. Remember just because Satan is evil, does not mean that he is dumb. In fact, I would say that second to only Jesus and God the Eternal Father, Satan’s scripture knowledge tops the charts.

Satan tries to outsmart Jesus…

“…If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” (Matthew 4:3)

Jesus responds quickly and firmly; “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

Satan then takes Jesus upon the top of the pinnacle of the temple and tells him; “…If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Matthew 4:6)

Jesus responds simply; “…It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:7)

Upon Satan’s last and desperate try to trick Jesus, takes Him upon the top of an exceedingly high mountain top and shows Jesus the kingdoms of the world and tells Him; “…All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:9)

Jesus at this point has had enough and tells Satan; “…Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10)

Even the most spiritually grounded individuals; the ones that wear the armor of God can be weakened and beaten down. Jesus, after having fasted for 40 days and nights was at one of the weakest moments in his earthly life. He let Satan tempt him 3 times, each time resisting his demands. By doing so, Jesus was able to feel the pressure of evil temptation from the devil himself! These temptations allowed Jesus to enter into our own shoes, so that he would know what we would go through during our lives. Jesus suffered the greatest temptations, and yet overcame them for our benefit.

In the end, Satan was spewing lies. Could he have offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world? No, because they were never his to give. Jesus knew this and garnered enough strength to fight the adversary and become triumphant. We too can overcome Satan’s temptations and become triumphant! After Jesus casts Satan out of his presence, angels came to administer to Jesus. If we focus on ridding the devil from our own lives and overcome the temptations of the world, we too can feel the presence of administering angels.

With full strength and victory over evil, Jesus departs into Galilee to follow word that John the Baptist has been imprisoned. From that time forward; “…Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee and calls the fisherman; “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) These men, being called to serve “…straightway left their nets, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:20). In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no waiting, there is no hesitation. When you are called to serve, to preach the word of God you GO and you DO.

Jesus began his ministry and “…went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” (Matthew 4:23)