2 Ne 25:1 Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand
The Nephites, understandably, had a difficult time understanding Isaiah. As Nephi points out, they didn't know concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews. This was intentional on Nephi's part, for their works were works of darkness (v. 2). The Jews had a way of prophesying which could confuse just about anyone:
"The prophets sometimes speak of future events as present, because they are present to them in their visions. For instance, 'Unto us a Child is born.' (Isa. 9:6)
"Similarly, they sometimes speak of the future as already past. For instance: 'He hath borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.' (Is. 53:4)
"Another peculiarity is that the prophets sometimes group together future events very much as one combines stars into constellations in the wide expanse, according to their apparent position to an observer on earth, rather than their actual distance from each other." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 370)
We have several advantages which help us understand Isaiah better than the Nephites did. Today, we have the entire Old Testament history to read. We have other prophets, like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zecharaiah, which prophesied in a manner similar to Isaiah. We have linguists and scholars helping us understand the poetic forms of Hebrew writings. But more than all this, we have the advantage of other scriptures which teach us about the writings of Isaiah. There are interpretations of his writings in the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine & Covenants. Lastly, we have the benefit of history on our side. All the things that Christ did during his mortal ministry are easy to understand when looking through the "retrospectoscope." Nephi emphasizes this point later. He explains that when men see Isaiah's prophecies being fulfilled they will finally understand their meaning, in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass (v. 7).
2 Ne 25:4 the words of Isaiah...are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy
Nephi had no trouble understanding Isaiah. This is reminiscent of Joseph Smith's comment about the book of Revelation. He said, "the book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 290). It is easy for Nephi to say that Isaiah is not hard to understand and for Joseph Smith to say that the book of Revelation is one of the plainest books ever written, because they had both seen in vision the same things that Isaiah and John the Revelator saw. If we had the advantage of seeing in vision the same things seen by these great prophets, the interpretation would be a piece of cake.
Nevertheless, this is no excuse for us. The Lord has specifically commanded us to study Isaiah, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah (3 Ne 23:1). We must seek the spirit of prophecy in order to understand Isaiah. The gift of prophecy is one of the gifts of the spirit (1 Cor 12:10). It is through this gift that Isaiah can be understood. We should seek this gift as with the other gifts of the spirit, seek ye earnestly the best gifts (DC 46:8).
John the Revelator further explained the spirit of prophecy, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10). Some have mistakenly assumed that only a priesthood holder, ordained as a prophet of the Lord, could have this spirit. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every member should have a testimony of Jesus. Every member should have some portion of this spirit of prophecy. Without it, the things of the spirit cannot be understood (see DC 50:13-24). As our testimony of the Savior is strengthened, we will gain greater spiritual gifts until we become like Nephi, filled with the spirit of prophecy.
"Remember, when they asked Joseph Smith, 'Are you a prophet of God?' He said, 'Yes, and so is any other person who can bear a testimony of Jesus Christ.' This can only be done by the spirit of prophecy." (Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, lecture 21, p. 6)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Revelation may be given to every member of the Church. The Prophet said that every man should be a prophet; that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. It is not only the privilege but the duty of each member of the Church to know the truth which will make him free. This he cannot know unless it is revealed to him. Moroni has promised every person who humbly and sincerely reads the Book of Mormon that he may know by revelation that it is true. The gift of the Holy Ghost is given to the members of the Church so that they may have the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Let it be understood however, that they will not receive revelation for the guidance of the Church. That gift is reserved for and vested in the man who holds the keys of the Priesthood. But the members of the Church are entitled to receive revelation which is needful for their progress and if they will hearken to the Spirit of truth and walk humbly before the Lord, they will not fall short of this spiritual guidance." (Church History & Modern Revelation, vol. 4, p. 36)
The reason that Nephi and Joseph Smith had a far greater capacity to understand the prophecies of others was not because they were entitled to the spirit of prophecy and we are not. Rather, their ability comes from a more sure word of prophecy. As Peter said, We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts (2 Pet 1:19). And, The more sure word of prophecy means a man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood (DC 131:5).
2 Ne 25:4 my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn
The Lord does not intend to teach us things we cannot understand. Rather, He gives us line upon line, depending on our spiritual preparation, until we understand the mysteries of the kingdom. For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding (2 Ne 31:3).
"If the Book of Mormon said only what we wanted it to we wouldn't need it. But we do need it. It is written 'according to the plainness of the word of God' (Jacob 2:11), 'in plainness, even as plain as word can be' (2 Nephi 32:7). It needs no handbook (not even this one) to explain its meaning. 'I glory in plainness,' said Nephi (2 Nephi 33:6), 'for my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work, . . . for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding' (2 Nephi 31:3). So that leaves us pretty much without excuse." (Since Cumorah, p. 387)
Orson F. Whitney
"A speaker's first duty is to make himself understood, to speak with plainness, and he must also be in earnest, must mean what he says, and say what he means, or he can never impress the hearts of his hearers. If he be sincere, earnest, and plain in his instructions, eloquence will take care of itself. A man is never eloquent when he tries to be. Eloquence comes from being earnest, from having in our hearts a desire to bless the people and feed them with the bread of life. It is my desire, during the few moments I shall stand before you, to speak plainly, to make myself understood, and reach your hearts by the power of the Spirit of God." (Conference Report, Apr. 1910, p. 59)
Elder Charles W. Penrose
"The President alluded to some of these things this morning, and the counsel he gave to us is very pertinent and very necessary at the present time, and if our brethren, and some few of our sisters, perhaps, would quit this quibbling, when they search, when they seek, they will be sure to find. If they are seeking for contradictions, they will find them, but if they are seeking for the word of life, they will find it, and they will rejoice therein, and everything will be clear and plain before their minds. In that I delight, and I rejoice in the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been revealed to us in these latter days because of its plainness. I am one with the prophet Nephi in this respect. He said, 'My soul delighteth in plainness,' and this has been a joy to me ever since I first heard the gospel." (Conference Report, Oct. 1916, p. 18)
2 Nephi 25:6 I know concerning the regions round about... and I do not write them
Nephi has just quoted Isaiah’s chapters 2-14. The next section of Isaiah is different with descriptions of the punishments of God for surrounding nations. These chapters can be referred to as the “burden chapters;” they are pronouncements of doom for the nations of Moab (Isa. 15-16), Damascus (Isa. 17), the land beyond Ethiopia (Isa. 18), Egypt (Isa. 19), and Tyre (Isa. 23). Nephi doesn’t think his descendants will understand or appreciate these chapters, and so he decides to stop quoting Isaiah. This is what he is referring to when he says, “I know concerning the regions round about” and “the judgments of God” and “I do not write them.” Nephi knows about the regions of Moab, Damascus, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Tyre but his children and grandchildren don’t.
For those who struggle to understand the Isaiah chapters, it is a great thing that Nephi didn’t keep copying the Isaiah chapters, especially chapters 15-23.
2 Ne 25:8 [the words of Isaiah] shall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in that day shall they understand them
Nephi is declaring that the people of the last days will understand the words of Isaiah. This is encouraging. It suggests that our understanding of Isaiah is correct. Still we worry because we cannot understand every reference that Isaiah makes. Let's look at an example. We may be worried by the fact that we don't understand all the terms used in the passage in 2 Ne 13, where Isaiah speaks of the daughters of Zion and their changeable suits of apparel, mantles, wimples, and crisping-pins. Even if these accessories are foreign to us, we still understand the principle that Isaiah is teaching. We understand that the Lord is not pleased with the vanity of the daughters of Zion. We understand that this applies to our day as well as Isaiah's. And we understand that there will be an appropriate punishment for those who are vain and proud. The important principle is that the Lord is not pleased with pride and vanity not that we understand every reference to ancient Hebrew dress. We should not be worried if we cannot understand certain passages if we can get the big picture, the overriding spiritual truth, or the latter day reference. We must be encouraged by the statement of Nephi, for in that day shall they understand them. We should understand the words of Isaiah because he frequently spoke of our day and the events which are soon to take place.
"We are all here today in fulfillment of the words of the prophets, and I love the prophecies of Isaiah because it seems to me that he lived almost more in our day than when he was actually upon the earth, because the Lord gave him to see so many of the things that would transpire in the latter days" (Conference Report, Oct. 1956, p. 23)
2 Ne 25:11 notwithstanding they have been carried away they shall return again
When the Babylonians captured Jerusalem (c. 589 BC), they took the Jews who survived back to Babylon. The Jews remained there for 70 years. When they finally returned, they reestablished their nation and rebuilt the temple. As Jeremiah prophesied, this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years (Jer 25:11).
2 Ne 25:12 the Father of heaven and of earth, shall manifest himself unto them in the flesh
We like to think of the Godhead as consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Therefore, references to Jehovah as "the Father," can sometimes be confusing. Here, Nephi is prophesying that the Father of heaven and of earth will become mortal and minister to the Jews.
We need to look at how Jesus Christ can be referred to as "the Father." Jesus Christ can be referred to as the father in three different contexts. First, as the creator of the heavens and the earth (under the direction of Elohim), He becomes the "Father of heaven and of earth." Second, as the redeemer, he becomes our spiritual father by redeeming us from spiritual death. When we accept Him as our Savior, we become sons and daughters unto Christ. If we are his sons and daughters, then he must be our father. And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you (Mosiah 5:7). Third, Jesus Christ is "the Father" because of his special designation as the Only-Begotten of the Father (Elohim) in the flesh. Abinadi explained how Christ is both the Father and the Son, The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son (Mosiah 15:3).
Neal A. Maxwell
"Jesus is even described as the Father, because he is the Father-Creator of this and other worlds. Furthermore, he is the Father of all who are born again spiritually. When we take upon ourselves his name and covenant to keep his commandments, we then become his sons and daughters, 'the children of Christ.' Additionally, since he and the Father are one in attributes and in purpose, Jesus acts for the Father through divine investiture, sometimes speaking as the Father." (Mosiah, Salvation Only Through Christ, ed. By Nyman and Tate, pp. 5-6 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 62)
2 Ne 25:14-15 Jerusalem shall be destroyed again...the Jews shall be scattered among all nations
This has reference to the destruction of the Jews at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, they took the surviving Jews and scattered them all over the vast Roman Empire. For a detailed discussion of the atrocities which befell the Jews at this time, refer to the commentary for 1 Ne 19:13.
2 Ne 25:16 until they (the Jews) shall be persuaded to believe in Christ
One of the most consistent signs which is to precede the Lord's fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers regarding the restoration of the house of Israel is this sign-that the Jews shall be persuaded to believe in Christ. This sign is given in numerous other passages, 2 Ne 9:2, 2 Ne 10:7, and 2 Ne 30:7. As Nephi explains, when this happens, the Lord will set his hand...to restore his people and proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men (v. 17). The Lord has already set his hand to recover his people and has been performing his marvelous work and a wonder for the past 190 years. Therefore, this scripture, that the Jews are persuaded to believe in Christ, must have already come to pass.
This may not make sense to some. One could argue that the Jews of today have not yet accepted Christ in sufficient numbers to fulfill this prophecy. Such an interpretation misunderstands the difference between the way Nephi used the term, "Jews," and the way that we sometimes use the term, "Jews." If we think of the "Jews" as that group of people which recognizes its heritage, accepts the religion of Judaism, and is returning in vast numbers to the Holy Land, the scripture doesn't make sense. That group of people is not turning to Christ as their Messiah in any great numbers. When the Savior comes again there will be some of this group which ask, What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet (DC 55:68), signifying that they have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
However, if we understand the way in which Nephi uses the term, "Jews,"-to mean anyone of the house of Israel-this prophecy makes a lot more sense (see 2 Ne 9:1-2). In that sense, all those of Nephite and Lamanite descent who have accepted the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ have fulfilled this prophecy. All those who lived in Europe and America, who unknowingly are of the blood of Israel, and accepted the gospel have fulfilled this prophecy. The blood of Israel has been scattered all over the earth. Those who accept the gospel are either adopted into the house of Israel or belong to it by birthright, even if they did not realize their own lineage. This is what Nephi was speaking of when he said, And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ (2 Ne 30:7).
2 Ne 25:17 a marvelous work and a wonder
The "marvelous work and a wonder" doctrine comes from Isaiah, Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid....And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel (Isa 29:14,18-19). What is marvelous and a wonder is the work the Lord performs in the last days. Verse 18 above shows that the Book of Mormon plays a role in the process but is not the "marvelous work and a wonder." The phrase means that the Lord will build a kingdom in the latter days using the simple and meek of the earth. He will gather the tribes of Israel by a great missionary effort that will be successful because of the Book of Mormon and other latter-day scriptures. LeGrand Richards explains how crucial the ministry of Joseph Smith was to this process.
"Joseph Smith, or any other man, could not have obtained all this information by reading the Bible or studying all the books that have ever been written. It came from God. It is exactly what Isaiah promised the Lord would do when conditions upon the earth should become as Joseph Smith found them when he went into the woods to pray for light as to which of all the churches he should join....
"It truly is a marvelous work and a wonder. Can you conceive of anything that could be more marvelous or more wonderful?" (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 411)
Heber J. Grant
"Truly a great and marvelous work has come forth and been proclaimed in every land and in every clime all over the wide world. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored--by a personal visitation of the apostles Peter, James and John, laying their hands upon the heads of Oliver Cowdery and the Prophet Joseph Smith and ordaining them to the apostleship; by a personal visitation of John the Baptist, who baptized the Savior, laying his hands upon Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith and ordaining them to the Aaronic, or the lesser priesthood--the gospel is again restored to the earth, with the power and authority that existed in the days of the Savior. Millions of dollars in money have been expended for erecting and maintaining temples wherein ordinances are performed for the salvation of those who have died without a knowledge of the gospel. All these things bear witness of the inspiration of God to that man Joseph Smith, when he delivered this statement in a revelation to his father, that a great and a marvelous work was about to come forth among the children of men." (Conference Report, Apr. 1920, p. 4)
2 Ne 25:18 he shall bring forth his words unto them, which words shall judge them at the last day
John the Revelator recorded, I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Rev 20:12). Nephi explains that the Book of Mormon is one of those books out of which the dead were judged. If you have read the Book of Mormon, you will be held responsible for living by all the principles contained therein, And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way (v. 28).
Ezra Taft Benson
"Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation. Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not." (A Witness and a warning, pp. 7-8 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 152)
Marion G. Romney
"For me there could be no more impelling reason for reading the Book of Mormon than this statement of the Lord that we shall be judged by what is written in it." (Conference Report, Apr. 1960, pp. 110-111 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 152)
2 Ne 25:19 his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God
"One of the marvelous contributions of modern revelation (including the Book of Mormon) is an insight into the nature of Christ's eternal gospel, the revelation to the Church and to the world that Christian prophets have taught Christian doctrine and administered Christian ordinances since the days of Adam. The name of the Messiah--revealed to us as Jesus Christ, meaning literally 'Jehovah is salvation, the anointed one'--was known from the very beginning of earth's history. God spoke to Adam as follows: 'I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh. And [God] also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, ... ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.' (Moses 6:51-52.) Enoch, whose name and city are associated with transcendent righteousness, pleaded in behalf of the people of the earth: 'I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods' (Moses 7:50). Noah called upon a wicked generation: 'Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our Fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost' (Moses 8:24). Likewise, the brother of Jared, the spiritual leader among that colony which left the eastern hemisphere at the time of the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel was told: 'Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ.' (Ether 3:14.)" (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 292)
2 Ne 25:20 there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ...whereby man can be saved
As a missionary, I once had a long conversation with a Buddhist about the process of salvation. He contended that as many roads lead to Rome, there are just as many ways that one can reach heaven. He had asked me if it was possible for a Buddhist who never converted to Christianity in his lifetime could, according to my beliefs, be saved. I responded that he could, but there were qualifications. In discussing these qualifications, the doctrine that there is no other name whereby man can be saved was discussed. This is not what the Buddhist man wanted to hear. He thought that this Christian doctrine was narrow-minded and ethno-centric. It would be both of those things if it weren't the truth.
We understand from the scriptures that salvation comes only in and through the name of Jesus Christ. This applies to the Buddhist as well as to the Muslim. It applies to the Jew as well as to the Hindu. It applies to the atheist as well as the agnostic. There is no way around this doctrine, for every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mosiah 27:31).
2 Ne 25:23 it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do
This is the key scripture in the argument against the sectarian, "by grace ye are saved" doctrine. This doctrine teaches that as soon as one accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, the individual is saved. Being saved, then, is a single event in time and space which takes place when one accepts Christ. The reason why this doctrine is so unacceptable is not because of the words used, for it truly is "by grace that we are saved." Rather the doctrine is unacceptable because of the implications of "being saved." How then do you work out your salvation with fear and trembling if it has happened already? (Philip. 2:12) If salvation comes as easily as that-by a cursory acceptance of Christ-it implies that an individual has no responsibility to follow God after being saved. Theoretically, one could accept Christ today, then return to a wicked life tomorrow and still expect salvation. On the other hand, the individual who accepts Christ and then devotes the rest of his/her entire life to following the Master can expect no greater reward than the former individual. Such a doctrine denies the justice of God.
In reality, the individual who "accepts Christ" and then returns to living a wicked life never really accepted Christ in the first place. A cursory acceptance and a few monetary donations do not make a disciple of Christ. This Nephi passage makes it clear that we have some responsibility in the relationship-it guarantees salvation by grace after all we can do. After one has started on the path of discipleship, Nephi clearly teaches what must take place next, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay...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 Ne 31:20).
There is a doctrinal spectrum with faith on one end and works on the other. Paul was teaching people who thought that salvation came through the works of the Law of Moses, so he emphasized faith and grace. Many latter-day saints respond to the sectarian emphasis on grace and faith with an emphasis on works. In doing so, their teachings become reactionary-they overemphasize the importance of works. The best place to be in the Faith-Works Spectrum is right in the middle. We need to understand that faith without works is dead (James 2:17), but also that works without faith are dead. Indeed, the more we understand about the process of salvation, the more we understand that it is not our righteousness that gets us there. This is beautifully taught by Stephen E. Robinson:
"At first glance at this scripture (2 Ne 25:23), we might think that grace is offered to us only chronologically after we have completed doing all we can do, but this is demonstrably false, for we have already received many manifestations of God's grace before we even come to this point. By his grace, we live and breathe. By grace, we are spiritually begotten children of heavenly parents and enjoy divine prospects...The grace of God has been involved in our spiritual progress from the beginning and will be involved in our progress until the end.
"It therefore belittles God's grace to think of it as only a cherry on top added at the last moment as a mere finishing touch to what we have already accomplished on our own without any help from God. Instead the reverse would be a truer proposition: our efforts are the cherry on top added to all that God has already done for us.
"Actually, I understand the preposition 'after' in 2 Nephi 25:23 to be a preposition of separation rather than a preposition of time. It denotes logical separateness rather than temporal sequence. We are saved by grace 'apart from all we can do,' or 'all we can do notwithstanding,' or even 'regardless of all we can do.' Another acceptable paraphrase of the sense of the verse might read, 'We are still saved by grace, after all is said and done.'
"In addition, even the phrase 'all we can do' is susceptible to a sinister interpretation as meaning every single good deed we could conceivably have ever done. This is nonsense. If grace could operate only in such cases, no one could ever be saved, not even the best among us. It is precisely because we don't always do everything we could have done that we need a savior in the first place...
"Thus, the correct sense of 2 Nephi 25:23 would be that we are ultimately saved by grace apart from whatever we manage to do. Grace is not merely a decorative touch or a finishing bit of trim to top off our own efforts-it is God's participation in the process of our salvation from its beginning to its end." (Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News, p. 91-2)
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The prophet Nephi made an important contribution to our understanding of God’s grace when he declared, “We labor diligently … 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.”
However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that “after” does not equal “because.” We are not saved “because” of all that we can do. Have any of us done all that we can do? Does God wait until we’ve expended every effort before He will intervene in our lives with His saving grace?
Many people feel discouraged because they constantly fall short. They know firsthand that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” They raise their voices with Nephi in proclaiming, “My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.”
I am certain Nephi knew that the Savior’s grace allows and enables us to overcome sin. This is why Nephi labored so diligently to persuade his children and brethren “to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God.”
After all, that is what we can do! And that is our task in mortality! (General Conference, Apr. 2015)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Man cannot save himself. He cannot be saved by the works of the Mosaic law; he cannot be saved by the works of the gospel. Man cannot resurrect himself; neither Mosaic works nor gospel works can bring him forth from the grave. The resurrection comes by the grace of God; all men are resurrected, and in that sense all are saved by grace alone. And further: No man can raise himself unto eternal life; he cannot create a state of salvation and provide the means to obtain it. Man cannot create the kingdom of God, nor can he save himself in such a kingdom. If it were not for the grace of God, as shown forth in the redemption of his Son, there would be no eternal life. Neither the works of the Mosaic law nor the works of Christian righteousness, standing alone, without the grace of God as manifest in the sacrifice of his Son could save a man. Salvation does not come into being by the works of men; it comes because of Christ and his atonement. Because there was such an atonement, man can have faith, perform the works of righteousness, endure to the end, and 'work out [his] own salvation with fear and trembling.' (Philippians 2:12.)
"Nephi's teachings accord with Paul's. 'Believe in Christ,' the American Hebrew exhorts, 'and be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.' (2 Nephi 25:23.) His brother Jacob also accords: 'Reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.' (2 Nephi 10:24.) But perhaps no one has ever expounded the doctrine of salvation by grace better than Moroni did in these words: 'Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ.' Hear it, O all men: the grace of God, in the full sense, in the sense of salvation, is manifest only to those who, through righteousness become perfect in Christ. 'And if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ,' Moroni continues, 'ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.' (Moroni 10:32-33.) God be thanked and God be praised for his goodness and grace unto the children of men." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 150)
2 Ne 25:24-5 we keep the law of Moses
The Law of Moses was given as a lesser law, with a lesser priesthood, as Paul said, to be a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (Gal 3:24). Every time the Lord reveals his will to a given people by giving them commandments, there is a group of indispensable components. The law is not given in isolation; it is given with associated covenants, priesthood, ordinances, temple services, blessings, cursings, and sacrifices. The author of the Book of Hebrews taught this beautifully in chapters 7-10:
The days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt (Heb 8:8-9).
For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law (Heb 7:12).
High priests...offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he (Christ) did once, when he offered up himself (Heb 7:27).
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made (Heb 9:1-2)
|The Law of Moses||The Gospel of Jesus Christ|
1. The Law: the 10 Commandments, etc.
focusing on one's actions & the outward
1. The Law: the higher law, focusing on one's actions,
thoughts, and desires and requiring the exercise of faith.
2. The Covenant: If the Israelites keep the
commandments, they are promised, I will
walk among you, and will be your God, and
ye shall be my people (Lev 26:12).
2. The Covenant: the new and everlasting
covenant. See also Heb 10:16-20
3. Blessings: see Deut 28:1-14
3. Blessings: all the blessings of the covenant
of Abraham and eternal life (DC 132)
4. Cursings: see Deut 28:15-68
4. Cursings: to be turned over to the buffetings
of Satan (DC 104:9). See also DC 84:41-42.
5. Priesthood: Aaronic
5. Priesthood: Melchizedek
6. Temple: Tabernacle of Moses, and the
Temple of Solomon
6. Temple: Latter-day Temples with saving
ordinances for the living and the dead
7. Sacrifice: of the firstborn
shall make an atonement for...his sin, and it
shall be forgiven him (Lev 4:26)
7. Sacrifice: The offering of Christ's perfect
sacrifice requires of us a broken heart and a
contrite spirit (3 Ne 9:19-20)
In spite of the Nephite obedience to the Law of Moses, they understood the reason the law was given-as a symbol for the mission of Jesus Christ. Hence the explanation by Nephi, the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith.
"So firm a foundation having been laid for the faith of the Nephite people, we find that in every period of their history they retained their reverence for the law of Moses, though disputations sometimes arose, by reason of iniquity, with regard to its symbolism or its saving quality. The apostates, who separated themselves from the Church, occasionally fell into the grievous error of exalting the law above the Gospel, and, whilst maintaining its divine origin, they ignored its typical value and denied that it was a preparatory system leading to a higher, holier and more perfect law; they refused to recognize it as a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ." (The Mediation and Atonement, chapter 14)
2 Ne 25:26 we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ
Ezra Taft Benson
"Those who are committed to Christ 'stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places' that they may be in 'even until death' (Mosiah 18:9). They 'retain the name' of Christ 'written always' in their hearts (Mosiah 5:12). They take upon themselves 'the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end' (Moroni 6:3).
"When we live a Christ-centered life, 'we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ' (2 Nephi 25:26). We 'receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love' (Jacob 3:2). Even when Nephi's soul was grieved because of his iniquities, he said, 'I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support.' (2 Nephi 4:19-20.)
"We remember Alma's counsel: 'Let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings.' (Alma 37:36-37.)" (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 11)
Spencer W. Kimball
"Parents must first teach of Christ. We can see that not all activities we could engage in are of equal weight, even though they may appropriately be a part of a spiritually balanced family unity development program. Some concerns have higher priorities. We remember the words of Nephi as he counseled: 'And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ ... that our children may know to what source they may look.' (2 Nephi 25:26.) What inner strength would be in every person if he knew that the Master and His teachings were indeed his great source of guidance, his great source of correct example, his great source of help! That is our prime goal in all our teaching in the home. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 333)
Carlos E. Asay
"I emphasize the 'all-ness' of the baptismal commitment. Witnessing of God is not confined to a specific time, place, or circumstance. It is not something to be done once and then forgotten. It is not something to be reserved for a select few. It is not something to be jealously hoarded. Those who enter the Church through the waters of baptism covenant to do what Nephi declared: 'For 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. . . . And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.' (2 Nephi 25:23, 26.)" (The Seven M's of Missionary Service, chapter 3 under the heading, " A Warning")
Bruce R. McConkie
"In pleading with men to believe in Christ and be reconciled to God so as to gain a remission of their sins, Nephi said: '...we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ,...[for] the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.' (2 Ne. 25:26, 29.)
"Thus we are bold to extol his holy name, to proclaim that he is the Lord Jehovah, the Great I Am, the Creator of heaven and earth and all things which in them are. And thus we testify that he is the God of Israel, the promised Messiah, the Only Begotten, the Son of God.
"Our proclamation is that he came into the world to ransom men from the temporal and spiritual death brought upon them through the fall of Adam; that he was born of Mary, inheriting from her the power of mortality, which is the power to die; that he is literally the Son of God, in the same sense in which all men are the offspring of mortal fathers; and that he inherited from his Father the power of immortality, which is the power to live.
"We know that because he is the Only Begotten in the flesh, he was able to work out the infinite and eternal atonement, whereby all men are raised in immortality, which is redemption from the temporal fall, while those who believe and obey his laws are raised also unto eternal life, which is redemption from the spiritual fall." (Conference Report, Oct. 1970, p. 127)
2 Ne 25:29 worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul
No phrase better sums up how we should treat our Maker. It encompasses the first great commandment-to love the Lord thy God.
Joseph Fielding Smith
"In answering the question of the lawyer, 'Master, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said unto him: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.' (Matt. 22:36-40.) This commandment which was given to Israel before they entered into their inheritances in the promised land, has again in this dispensation been commanded of all members of the Church, and particularly of all who receive inheritances in Zion. So important is this commandment that the Latter-day Saints have had their attention called to it in a number of revelations. It is plain to be seen that on these commandments hang all the law and the prophets. If a person observes these commandments as they are given in verses 5 and 6 of this section (59) he will keep the full law of God. We cannot love our Heavenly Father, and worship him in the name of his Only Begotten Son, our Redeemer, with all our 'heart, might, mind, and strength' without keeping all other commandments. It naturally follows that we will love our neighbor as ourselves and have sympathy and love for all men who are the . There would be no occasion for us to be constantly reminded that we should keep the Sabbath holy, or pay our honest tithes, or keep our bodies clean by observing the Word of Wisdom, or that we should not neglect our prayers, secret and in the family circle, we would observe all of these things and all else that we are instructed to do, If we loved the Lord our God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. To the extent that members of the Church observe the laws of the Lord, may their love for him be measured." (Church History and Modern Revelation, p. 199-200)
Mark E. Petersen
"When the Lord gave us the first great commandment, I am thankful also that he gave us that part of the 4th Section of the D&C which says:
"'. . . O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.'(Doc. & Cov. 4:2.)
"If you really and truly believe in the first and great commandment, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, might, mind and strength, it means then that you will serve him with all your soul, and with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your might, and with all your strength. That means that you will serve him without reservation of any kind, and that of a truth you will put your whole soul, your whole heart, into the work of Almighty God, that you will apply the best of your intelligence, you will serve him with all your mind, by seeking to know the program of the Church, and then to live up to that program with all your soul.
"It means likewise if you are going to love him and serve him with all your strength, that you will serve him, with all your physical strength, with all your mental strength, with all your spiritual strength, and with the strength of all your resources, whatsoever they may be. If you really love the Lord your God you will serve him in that manner. And all who do so are likened unto a wise man that built his house upon the rock, and the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock." (Conference Report, Oct. 1944, p. 126)