When I was young, I hung on every word of this vision of the tree of life that Lehi and Nephi had. The vision was delicious to me as it was. I can say now that it sang to my heart. However, not until years later did I learn to really appreciate it for what it really was. Context really does make the difference. When you understand the context of what the doctrine of Christ (true covenant path) really is you can truly appreciate the vision of the tree of life. I invite you to allow the Lord to teach you its more complete meaning like He did for me and I hope you will appreciate it now as much as I do.
In a previous 5-part series entitled, “The Covenant Path Unveiled”, we uncovered the Savior’s personal teaching of what His true saving doctrine is (3 Nephi 11-26). Though the term “covenant path” is not found in scripture, His saving doctrine is referred to by other names in scripture including “my doctrine,” “the doctrine of Christ,” “the gospel” and others. He teaches some important characteristics of His doctrine. He also includes the very few, yet essential steps or milestones that you personally have to fulfill or receive. If you have not yet studied through that 5-part series, I encourage you to do that first before studying this additional witness.
The purpose of that 5-part series was to clarify what the covenant path really is, to unveil the simplicity and beauty of the true covenant path so that it does not lose its meaning, and that you might know the true way to personal redemption. As I stated about the Savior’s own teachings (3 Nephi 11-26), my witness is that any other teaching of what the covenant path is other than what is taught by the Savior is rooted in darkness and will frustrate your personal journey “in and through Jesus Christ.”
By now you should be reading the Book of Mormon with new eyes. If you have yet to see that the Book of Mormon was restored as an additional witness of the Everlasting Covenant and the doctrine of Christ, I invite you to study The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide. A person that reads the Book of Mormon without this critical insight may miss the mark altogether.
There are some who still might respond to previous posts of this same collection (“Unveiling the Covenant Path”) saying, “This is not how a person receives salvation or exaltation” and yet, they claim to believe the Book of Mormon, the need for its restoration, and its promises. Also, ironically, they also claim to believe God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Awaken! How can you not see what the Book of Mormon really is? Urgently, I plead with you to cease your unbelief!
In addition to the Savior’s own witness there are other Book of Mormon prophets that add their own personal witness of the true covenant path (“the Doctrine of Christ”). So far we have unveiled the following additional witnesses:
- Witness of Lehi – “That they might have Joy”
- Witness of Nephi – “The Doctrine of Christ”
- Witness of Jacob
- Witness of Enos
- Witness of Jarom, Omni & their posterity
- Witness of King Benjamin
- Witness of Abinadi part one & part two
- Witness of Alma
- Witness of Alma the Younger to the church in Zarahemla
- Witness of Alma the Younger to the church in Gideon & Melek
- Witness of Alma & Amulek part one & part two
“The Fulness of Mine Intent”
Very shortly, I have a post coming on the true role and purpose of the Book of Mormon.
Before we dive into the witness of Lehi and Nephi, it will be important to make sure you understand the significance of their witnesses. In chapter 6 of the book of 1 Nephi, Nephi explains the context of everything he records going forward:
1 And now I, Nephi, do not give the genealogy of my fathers in this part of my record; neither at any time shall I give it after upon these plates which I am writing; for it is given in the record which has been kept by my father; wherefore, I do not write it in this work. [Lehi’s record serves a different purpose. But, Nephi’s record going forward will serve its own purpose.]
2 For it sufficeth me to say that we are descendants of Joseph. [keepers of records]
3 And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God. [Now we see the difference between the other records of his father, Lehi. These are supposed to be for spiritual value. Is there a specific spiritual purpose to Nephi’s records?]
4 For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto [literal & deep symbolism] the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved. [Not for cool memes! Not for scripture mastery! Nephi is very specific about the purpose of is own records. This should be very plain. Do not confuse it with any other purpose—there is only one. It is to define what salvation is (to “be saved”) and to reveal the method by which a person can receive salvation (“be saved”).]
5 Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God [nothing else really matters] and unto those who are not of the world [those that have received salvation].
6 Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth [spiritual-salvation-type-worth] unto the children of men.
Mormon’s role and the divine power of God cannot be understated here. What a beautiful process where Nephi, a prophet-originator, keeps a very specific set of records so that he can “persuade men [all mankind] to come unto the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be spiritually saved” (v4) or reborn in Christ. In a beautiful tapestry, several centuries years later, Mormon, a prophet-editor identifies and abridges the “things which are pleasing unto God” (v5) recorded by Nephi and many other Book of Mormon prophets from among piles of records. It is my personal witness that more than a millennia later, a prophet-translator, Joseph Smith, would restore these same pleasing things for you to know how to accept Nephi’s invitation to come unto Christ and “be saved” (a.k.a. receive personal salvation.)
Today, I will share yet another witness of the Doctrine of Christ with you through the witness of both Lehi and Nephi that is contained in 1 Nephi chapters 8-15. My comments will only touch on 1 Nephi chapters 8 & 15 though. I will always invite you to first read it on your own and use the spirit of the Lord to help you see the doctrine of Christ with new eyes. Then feel free to supplement your own reading with mine if you would like. I have noted many symbols without necessarily revealing their meaning. I invite you to have the spirit teach you their meaning. If you have the proper context of the Doctrine of Christ it should be easier. Use the spirit to discern any of my personal messages. My comments are only there to help clarify the simplicity and beauty of Christ’s true saving doctrine.
The Witness of Lehi & Nephi
Both Lehi and Nephi were personal witnesses to the same vision with an emphasis on varying details. Lehi first shares the vision in 1 Nephi 8. Then, with sufficient hope and great faith in His redeemer, Nephi also receives a vision of the Tree of Life.
17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.
22 And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not. (1 Nephi 10)
1 Nephi 8 (The Witness of Lehi)
1 And it came to pass that we had gathered together all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind, and also of the seeds of fruit of every kind.
2 And it came to pass that while my father tarried in the wilderness he spake unto us, saying: Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision. [A dream is one type of vision. The uniqueness is that it occurs while the body is at rest which is sometimes the only way for a message to be received—when it is not distracted by other things naturally occurring while a person is awake. Your spirit never sleeps and is open to communication from light and dark while your body rests.]
3 And behold, because of the thing which I have seen, I have reason to rejoice in the Lord because of Nephi and also of Sam; for I have reason to suppose that they, and also many of their seed, will be saved [receive personal salvation].
4 But behold, Laman and Lemuel, I fear exceedingly because of you; for behold, methought I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary wilderness. [In general it represents the fruits of the adversary. It is the temptations and manifestations of darkness in all of its forms. These are distractions from the Savior and the light that offers personal salvation.]
5 And it came to pass that I saw a man [an angel… of light or darkness?], and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.
6 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him.
7 And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.
8 And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies. [This was an angel of darkness attempting to impede. It was not until Lehi, first, recognized the darkness he was in and, second, called out to the Lord to deliver him that he was actually delivered. Everyone, including those with familiar titles, are susceptible to angels of both light and dark. It is part of your journey to know the difference and experience opposition in all things.]
9 And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.
10 And it came to pass that a tree [the tree of life], whose fruit [important symbol] was desirable to make one happy [even “that they might have joy“ (2 Nephi 2:25)].
11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake [by choice] of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness [symbol: sanctification] that I had ever seen.
12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy [“that they might have joy“ (2 Nephi 2:25)]; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew [undeniable knowledge] that it was desirable above all other fruit. [The Everlasting Covenant that is “desirable above all other” covenants that you know of. See the introduction in The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide for more understanding on the Everlasting Covenant.]
13 And as I cast my [spiritual] eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit. [important symbol; The positioning of everything in the vision is significant.]
14 And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go [symbolic].
15 And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.
16 And it came to pass that they did come unto me and partake of the fruit also.
17 And it came to pass that I was desirous that Laman and Lemuel should come and partake of the fruit also; wherefore, I cast mine eyes towards the head of the river, that perhaps I might see them.
18 And it came to pass that I saw them, but they would not come unto me and partake of the fruit. [Knowledge is minimum requirement to be able to personally ascend. They had knowledge. Instead, they were stuck at the hope stage. Their hope was insufficient—they did not sufficiently believe in the divine character of God. Thus, they were never truly able to exercise faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and also why they never sincerely repented.]
19 And I beheld a rod of iron [important symbol], and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.
20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path [important symbol], which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain [symbol], unto a large and spacious field [symbol], as if it had been a world.
21 And I saw numberless concourses of people [symbol], many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path [symbol] which led unto the tree by which I stood.
22 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path [symbol] which led to the tree.
23 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness [symbol]; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost. [The timing of the mist of darkness arising is significant. When did it take place and to whom?]
24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end [symbol] of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
25 And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about [symbol] as if they were ashamed [symbol].
26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building [important symbol]; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth [symbol].
27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. [all detailed symbols]
28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost. [important symbols]
[v21-28: There is a false tradition that exists here among many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A traditional teaching is that this is a reference to those that are baptized members of the church and then “go in-active” or even no longer carry a current temple recommend—as if these are the critical factors of one’s righteousness. In this tradition, “the church” is made out to be the fruit. This is a false tradition. The fruit is salvation and further, even eternal life. Notice that these are people that have partaken of the this exquisite fruit already and afterward were ashamed and lost to forbidden paths. At a minimum, these are people that have received their baptism of fire and Holy Ghost. These are sons and daughters of perdition that willingly chose the dark after they had partaken of the fruit. This is very important because it helps to develop a correct understanding of the Doctrine of Christ.]
29 And now I, Nephi, do not speak all the words of my father. [There is more to this but what was recorded by Nephi and edited by Mormon is important to understanding the true covenant path or doctrine of Christ.]
30 But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.
31 And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way [symbol] towards that great and spacious building.
32 And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain [symbol]; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads. [symbols]
33 And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not. [symbol]
34 These are the words of my father: For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.
35 And Laman and Lemuel partook not of the fruit, said my father. [important symbol; The “why” is really important to understand.]
36 And it came to pass after my father had spoken all the words of his dream or vision, which were many, he said unto us, because of these things which he saw in a vision, he exceedingly feared for Laman and Lemuel; yea, he feared lest they should be cast off from the presence of the Lord. [important symbol]
37 And he did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them, and not cast them off; yea, my father did preach unto them.
38 And after he had preached unto them, and also prophesied unto them of many things, he bade them to keep the commandments of the Lord; and he did cease speaking unto them. [Why would he tell them to keep the commandments? Because they had to receive their own personal salvation. They could not or would not receive it by simply being part of the family. Lehi, even being their father, could not give it to them. They had to choose it for themselves and they each had to receive it from the Lord personally. At this point, the best advice from Lehi to his sons could only be to learn personal revelation and follow the personal revelation (“keep the commandments of the Lord”) because it is how the Lord leads and guides a person to receive personal salvation.]
1 Nephi 15 (The Witness of Nephi)
21 And it came to pass that they did speak unto me again, saying: What meaneth this thing which our father saw in a dream? What meaneth the tree which he saw?
22 And I said unto them: It was a representation of the tree of life.
23 And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?
24 And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction. [Personal revelation is every part of the Doctrine of Christ. Personal revelation is “the word of God.” It is tailored to you, your situation, your knowledge, your gifts of the spirit, your divine mission, and more. There is nothing that cannot be revealed to you so long as you consider that it all comes line upon line and precept upon precept. “Holding fast unto it” will guarantee that you will “never perish” because of the omniscience of God (and other divine characteristics.) The “destruction” spoken of here is spiritual.]
25 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did exhort them to give heed unto the word of the Lord; yea, I did exhort them with all the energies of my soul, and with all the faculty which I possessed, that they would give heed to the word of God [listen and recognize the Lord’s voice] and remember to keep his commandments [obey the Lord’s voice] always in all things [no exceptions; the Lord always knows best].
26 And they said unto me: What meaneth the river of water which our father saw?
27 And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water.
28 And I said unto them that it was an awful gulf, which separated the wicked from the tree of life, and also from the saints of God. [This is a spiritual division that exists between the adversary and the realms of light. The “saints of God” is not referring to members of the LDS church. A “saint” is a title of one that has ascended.]
29 And I said unto them that it was a representation of that awful hell, which the angel said unto me was prepared for the wicked.
30 And I said unto them that our father also saw that the justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous; and the brightness thereof was like unto the brightness of a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God forever and ever, and hath no end. [Light is very real. The amount of light one has is relevant to their spiritual ascension. Light is bestowed upon a person by the Lord who is the giver of the light.]
31 And they said unto me: Doth this thing mean the torment of the body in the days of probation, or doth it mean the final state of the soul after the death of the temporal body, or doth it speak of the things which are temporal?
32 And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual; for the day should come that they must be judged of their works, yea, even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation. [I have explained this in other places but it is good to clarify here that “works” are not the accumulation of your own good deeds. Your “works” are the activities that you undertake to “work out your own salvation with the Lord” (Alma 34:37; Mormon 9:27). These activities take place within your personal relationship with the Lord. As your relationship develops you will receive more from the Lord including continual direction and guidance that is tailored for your soul. The only way for an action to qualify as “good” is for it to come as direction from the Lord.]
33 Wherefore, if they should die in their wickedness [never receivng personal salvation/redemption] they must be cast off also, as to the things which are spiritual, which are pertaining to righteousness; wherefore, they must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works (see v32); and if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God; if so, the kingdom of God must be filthy also. [It might sounds harsh but your own wisdom, or your own idea of what is “good” or righteous is no comparison for the righteous guidance (words) of the Lord.]
34 But behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God [Anyone that has not received personal redemption cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Do you doubt the justice of God?]; wherefore there must needs be a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy.
35 And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken. [There are only two options available. Have you received personal salvation/redemption from the Lord? Are you seeking for it? Do you have unbelief? Have you been told that you have something you really don’t?]
36 Wherefore, the wicked are rejected from the righteous, and also from that tree of life, whose fruit is most precious and most desirable above all other fruits; yea, and it is the greatest of all the gifts of God. And thus I spake unto my brethren. Amen.
Nephi is so plain in telling us what his purpose is in keeping this spiritual record of his father and his own experiences:
For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.1 Nephi 6:4
The shared vision of Lehi and Nephi (1 Nephi 8-15) teaches us how to “be saved.” It is the doctrine of Christ. It is the precedent and foundation for Nephi’s last will and testament found in 2 Nephi 31-33. The common words, phrases and themes between the two consist of:
- “Believing” (hope)
- “The way”
- “Straight and narrow path”
- “Pressing forward”
- “Keep his commandments” (personal revelation)
- “Hearken to the words of God” (personal revelation)
- “Endure to the end” (continue and be believing until you receive)
- “In the day of probation”
- “To partake of”
- “To be saved”
- “Eternal life” & “Tree of life”
- “The kingdom of God”
- or “ye must perish”
- or “be cast off”
Partaking of the fruit “is the greatest gift of God.” Part of partaking of the fruit means to first receive personal redemption through the baptism of fire and Holy Ghost. It is what enables you to be sanctified and justified to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and prepare you to enter the physical presence of the Lord while in mortality. If you have not received this yet, I plead with you to seek for it from the Lord. Do not worry yourself with second comforter at this point. Just focus on initiating and developing your personal relationship with the Lord. It is “in and through” this tailored relationship that the Lord will guide with personal revelation the entire way until He baptizes you with fire and Holy Ghost—activating “sanctification” and “justification” (Moses 6:59-62).
Lehi’s and Nephi’s witnesses and plea to their family members and all readers of their words is to do as they have both seen (in vision) and done—repent (turn to the Lord with an eye single only to His glory and then seek to receive receive salvation “in and through” Jesus Christ. I will add my personal witness that this is available to all who seek Christ through a personal relationship with the Lord. The true covenant path unveiled is the Doctrine of Christ:
- Exercising key principles: Sufficient Hope; Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; Broken heart & contrite spirit; Repentance
- Receiving essential ordinances: Baptism in the name of the Son [consisting of both: (3a) Baptism of Repentance (water); (3b) Baptism of Fire and Holy Ghost (personal salvation/ redemption/ remission of sins)]
- Receive gift of the Holy Ghost and begin being mentored as a servant
- Receive eternal life even the literal presence of the Lord and more
The Book of Mormon was restored primarily to outline the way to personal redemption. I will speak more about this specific point in a future post. Mormon is consistently compiling and editing select portions of stacks of records while knowing exactly what would be needed in the latter and last days. Lehi’s and Nephi’s witnesses is consistent with the Lord’s own teachings in 3 Nephi and all throughout the Book of Mormon. Other individual witnesses have been noted above.
For more understanding of this covenant path and its milestones taught throughout the scriptures, you are welcome to begin your personal study and your own journey in and through the doctrine of Christ through The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide. Also, to help you increase your confidence in personal revelation and develop your own gift of discernment, I invite you to study The 3 Voices of Personal Revelation Study Guide.
JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org is based on free, online study guides to help you learn, believe, live and teach the Doctrine of Christ. The Study Guides invite any and all to see and know this truth for themselves that the Savior, Jesus Christ, has, in fact, introduced His doctrine and He personally invites all to receive personal redemption and to even literally receive Him while in the flesh (mortality).
Blog posts are only intended to supplement the Study Guides. Per all blog posts, seek the understanding and confirmations from the Lord in your own personal revelation. Study guides are intended to point you to both the Lord’s written word and His voice (personal revelation). These study guides will help you uncover what the Doctrine of Christ is and other essential topics that will help you in your journey to literally “come unto Christ” while in mortality. All study guides are available at JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org.