It took me a long time to understand what a prophet is and a prophet’s true role. I think it took me so long because I never created questions about it. Honestly, amidst my religious culture, there seemed to never be a reason to have questions about this type of stuff. That was the case until the Lord awakened my soul, and I came to understand the doctrine of Christ.
In this post, I’d like to share with you what the Lord has taught me in relation to my own questions. I invite you to develop your own questions and have the Lord teach you.
Sharing Another Witness
This post is part of a series and personal assignment titled, “Unveiling the Covenant Path in the Book of Mormon.” The true covenant path in scripture is known as “the doctrine of Christ.” In this assignment, we have revealed the Book of Mormon for what it really is. It started with featuring the Savior’s own witness of the doctrine of Christ in the Book of Mormon. Then starting from the beginning, we have demonstrated how other Book of Mormon prophets have taught and shared their own personal witness of the doctrine of Christ.
Today, I will share yet another witness of the Doctrine of Christ from Nephi in 2 Nephi chapter 26. (Links to the other witnesses in this Book of Mormon project are given at the end.) I will always invite you to first read the assignment (2 Nephi chapter 26) on your own first 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. There is so much to comment on in each chapter, but I will limit my comments to only those things that are relevant to the doctrine of Christ and this specific project. I invite you to seek the spirit to 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 Nephi
2 Nephi 26:1 And after Christ shall have risen from the dead he shall show himself unto you, my children, and my beloved brethren; and the words which he shall speak unto you shall be the law which ye shall do.
2 For behold, I say unto you that I have beheld that many generations shall pass away, and there shall be great wars and contentions among my people.
3 And after the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints [those that have received salvation], and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them.
4 Wherefore, all those who are proud, and that do wickedly, the day that cometh shall burn them up [The “burn up” because they have not been sanctified through personal redemption, because otherwise, they would be able to withstand the Lord’s glory which does “the burning.” A person that has been sanctified has received a portion of God’s glory, and therefore able to withstand or endure the presence of it.] , saith the Lord of Hosts, for they shall be as stubble.
5 And they that kill the prophets, and the saints, the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the Lord of Hosts; and mountains shall cover them, and whirlwinds shall carry them away, and buildings shall fall upon them and crush them to pieces and grind them to powder.
6 And they shall be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions, for the fire of the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against them, and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts. [Nephi is speaking in the name of the Lord. This is a distinction and sign of prophet to delineate between a prophet’s own words, versus the words of the Lord. This is the gift of prophecy.]
7 O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto my God: Thy ways are just.
[This is a good time to discuss what a prophet is. Nephi is in his personal holy time in the presence of the Lord. He’s using gifts of the spirit—in this case the gift of visions. There are some that are curtailed by the idea that a prophet does not, or should not, disclose personal experiences with gifts of the spirit because “they are too sacred”—this is a false tradition. Even in previous chapters (and posts) Nephi himself declared that his father, Lehi, and his brother, Jacob, have each ascended and entered the presence of the Lord in the heavenly realms as part of their second comforter experience.
There is a fascination for some to personally carry or apply the label of “prophet, seer, and revelator” to other people. As you know from the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, each person has been invited to seek for all gifts of the spirit. They are freely available. However, there are a few very important things to note. First, each of these labels are actually unique gifts. In addition, each experience with a gift can vary in the intensity of the Holy Spirit. Also, gifts are relevant to each situation.
For example, a person can correctly utter the words of the Lord to others in real-time through the Holy Spirit (the gift of prophecy) in a certain instance. It would be correct to say they were a “prophet” in that instance. However, because of gifts can vary in their intensity with the Holy Spirit, a person could also ascend to the heavenly realms into the presence of the Lord or an angel (by way of the Holy Spirit) and receive the same message, and it would still be correct to say they were a “prophet” in that instance. Note that it would be wise for the person to check the source of the revelation in each situation. Also, with gifts being freely available, this places a responsibility upon each recipient to seek for a confirmation of the quality of the message (source, truthfulness, accuracy, completeness, etc.). Accompanied by the sacrament, this entire type of experience is actually an ideal practice for any gathering of Christians. It enhances each person’s personal relationship with the Lord, praises the Lord, honors His glory and power. His Holy Spirit becomes the teacher, helps people practice exercising gifts of the spirit (part of their ascension), enables truth and learning, and much more. I am a personal witness of this and have participated in these types of experiences. They are wonderful, and no other type of traditional gathering of believers compares.
The same type of thing is true for the gift of seership. It is its own unique gift, it has varying degrees and it is situational. This gift is based on the gift of visions (Moroni 10). The lowest level of the gift of visions is one’s own imagination. Yes, in the basic form, it is the ability to close your eyes, and yet “see,” even though it is “literally dark” behind your eyelids. The gift of visions can be enhanced like every other gift of the spirit. As the gift progresses for a person, light begins to remove the “literal darkness.” This is “seeing in the spirit.” However, because of varying degrees of this gift, to be a seer, requires an advanced relationship with the Lord. A person would have to have received salvation through a baptism of fire and Holy Ghost experience and also have received their second comforter experience. A seer has the ability to use their spiritual eyes to literally see illuminated the past, present and future. Nephi and Lehi are just a couple of examples in the Book of Mormon of exercising this gift as a seer (1 Nephi 8-15). And, yes, note that it would be wise for the servant to confirm the source of the revelation in each situation.
This is just some of the beauty of the gifts of the spirit. The gifts of the spirit are freely available, and like the words of Moses, “God would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:25-29). This is true for all gifts of the spirit. Gifts are the fruits by which a person is to be judged (Luke 6:43-44). (See also Gifts of the Spirit part one and part two). Joseph Smith was called by others a prophet because others received a spiritual witness of Joseph exercising the gift of prophecy. Likewise, he was called by others a seer and a revelator. Joseph exercised many other gifts of the spirit though.
Each gift of the spirit is unique and independent of each other gift. It is a false tradition to lump gifts of the spirit together and automatically assign them to persons with institutional/organizational titles or offices. All gifts of the spirit are to be sought after and exercised for the benefit of all people—God is no respecter of persons. Some gifts of the spirit are only given through advanced relationships with the Lord. However, this is the purpose of the doctrine of Christ—to help each person further their relationship and enjoy all the gifts of the spirit.
A reminder from previous posts and something for you to personally ponder—there is a difference between organizational authority and divine authority. Divine authority comes from the Lord. Organizational authority comes from a people that allow a person to preside over them (with leadership titles, offices or appointment) within an organization until they choose not to, as in a political coup, for example. A person with organizational authority does not necessarily have divine authority or certain gifts of the spirit. A person with divine authority has certain gifts of the spirit (exhibited as fruits), but does not necessarily have, or need, organizational authority. When a person within an organization is “ordained,” they have simply been “ordered” to go and live up to the office, title or appointment they have been given by advancing their relationship with the Lord through the doctrine of Christ. Some do—some don’t. How will a person know if they have? By their fruits—the exercising of the gifts of the spirit. How will a person see the fruits? The person with office, title or appointment will share, declare and utter like Book of Mormon prophets. How should a recipient delineate between an official’s own words (opinion, counsel, advice, etc) and the divine? The person with office, title or appointment should declare the divine by saying “the Lord has said to me” or “the Lord saith” or even “in the name of the Lord, I witness…”. How will a recipient know if it is the word of the Lord? By confirming it with the Lord by asking. Will some, even with office, title or appointment profess “the Lord saith” or “the name of the Lord” and it not really be? Yes! This is a false witness in that situation. According to Section 84 of The Doctrine and Covenants, they are “under bondage of sin, because they come not unto the Lord” (D&C 84:50)—they believe they can shortcut the process and don’t have to become an official servant of the Lord by coming into the Lord’s presence to receive His own appointment under His hands. They believe their office, title or appointment alone gives them His permission/authority. They “are taking the name of the Lord in vain.” This is vanity. It is rooted in pride because it is self-serving. And according to this same Section (84), vanity is one of two reasons (unbelief is the other) that the church was placed under condemnation in the latter days:
45 For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. 47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. [literally] 48 And the Father teacheth him of the covenant [the Everlasting Covenant] which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world. 49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin. 50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me. 51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin. 52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me. 53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now. 54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received [office, title, appointment or commandment to fulfill the doctrine of Christ]—55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. 56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. [Yes, the whole church] 57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written [back it up by actually doing it or fulfilling the doctrine of Christ personally]—58 [Why?] That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom [Church of the Firstborn]; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.
A person can individually come out from this condemnation by seeking to fulfill the Everlasting Covenant in and through the doctrine of Christ. The Book of Mormon is a supporting witness.]
8 But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets [true prophets], and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ [This is a sign of the righteous, that they seek Christ as the end goal, not the prophet. You’ll see how this plays out further into the chapter.] with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution—behold, they are they which shall not perish. [Those that truly seek Christ will truly receive Him and His salvation that keeps them from spiritually “perishing.” Those that seek a prophet will also receive just that.]
9 But the Son of Righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them [spiritually heal them which is to redeem them], and they shall have peace with him [This is oneness in the Lord that is offered through His personal redemption] of one heart, until three generations shall have passed away, and many of the fourth generation shall have passed away in righteousness.
23 And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one… 29 Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them.3 Nephi 19
10 And when these things have passed away a speedy destruction cometh unto my people; for, notwithstanding the pains of my soul, I have seen it; wherefore, I know that it shall come to pass; and they sell themselves for naught; for, for the reward of their pride and their foolishness they shall reap destruction [spiritual and temporal]; for because they yield unto the devil and choose works of darkness rather than light, therefore they must go down to hell.
11 For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul.
12 And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;
13 And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him [by now you should know this is literal and part of the doctrine of Christ], by the power of the Holy Ghost [God’s Holy Spirit is the means by which He can safely pierce the veil and reveal Himself to telestial beings, and it is the power by which telestial beings become terrestrial and even ascend into the heavens to be in the presence of the Lord. See also “Pondering More on the Holy Ghost” (p. 47) in The 3 Voices of Personal Revelation Study Guide.]; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith [the prerequisite to receiving all things and fulfilling the doctrine of Christ].
14 But behold, I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men.
15 After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief [Throughout a person’s journey “in and through” the doctrine of Christ, the one constant opposition is unbelief, which is manifested in various ways and holds a person back. Unbelief is a consistent theme throughout the Book of Mormon because the book is an ascension text taught through the doctrine of Christ.], and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten.
16 For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.
17 For thus saith the Lord God: They shall write the things which shall be done among them, and they shall be written and sealed up in a book, and those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not have them, for they seek to destroy the things of God.
18 Wherefore, as those who have been destroyed have been destroyed speedily; and the multitude of their terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away—yea, thus saith the Lord God: It shall be at an instant, suddenly—
19 And it shall come to pass, that those who have dwindled in unbelief shall be smitten by the hand of the Gentiles.
20 And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor.
21 And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice.
[The cause of these symptoms is very clear—pride. Because of their pride, they “teach for doctrines the commandments of men.” It’s these commandments of men that create competing doctrines, which cause confusion for the people. Note, not everything is true that comes from one who is called a “prophet” or even personally claims to be one. As long as there have been, are, or will be prophets, there will likewise be false prophets. A false prophet is one that lacks the gifts of the spirit and instead “teaches for doctrine the commandments of men.” It is the responsibility of each person, and none other, to discern. (See also, Gifts of the Spirit parts one and part two.) You will see Nephi’s points come to life as we get into priestcrafts.
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.Matthew 15; Mark 7:7-8
It is important to note that when the Lord comes to the people in the land Bountiful in the Book of Mormon, that the first thing he did was clarify His doctrine (the doctrine of Christ) to eliminate confusion, contention, and strife that existed among them (3 Nephi 11-12). He even included a stern warning against teaching an alternative doctrine (3 Nephi 11:39-40).]
22 And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.
23 For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. [Again, this is literal—that He would draw all to “Him.” A gathering of like-minded Christians or even a religious institution/church is, at best, only a means or vehicle to point people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.] Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. [His commandment is to receive salvation, which is personal redemption through a baptism of fire and Holy Ghost.]
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price [personal salvation].
26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
27 Hath he commanded any that they should not [personally/individually] partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men [mankind; male/female]; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. [Repentance is the beginning of one’s journey to ultimately receive personal salvation. Repentance, and therefore a covenant to make one’s “eye single to the glory of God” in pursuit of personal salvation, is signified by a baptism of repentance (water).]
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.
[v24-28: These are some powerful verses (24-28) and there is an important point that Nephi makes here. He is setting up all the verses that follow (29-33.) In verses 24-28, Nephi is making sure you very clearly know that salvation is “free”—even “without price” of money. It does not require membership in a religious institution. You cannot purchase it with money. You cannot purchase in exchange for doing a series of checklist items required by an institution—even to be able to participate in temple rituals. You cannot purchase it through service and undying loyalty to any religious institution. Nephi is very clear that salvation is free and none of these things will earn it.
In particular, notice the words in verse 24 where it gives the reasons for why the Lord and Savior did what He did—because of “love.” Love is free and it comes at no temporal expense. He is telling you the basis for not only why He did what He did, but also how He expects you to come to Him—by and through love. Love is the basis for your entire personal relationship with the Lord. How else do you expect your relationship to grow? It is the basis for how and why He gives you more and more through daily bread:
“If you love me, keep my commandments (personal revelation)”John 14:15
“32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses [a prophet; arm-of-flesh] gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”John 6
This is a very important distinction and plain teaching because in the next verses, Nephi is going to say not to be fooled into thinking that you have to pay for your salvation through priestcrafts. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to go through another person or thing to obtain personal salvation—this is idolatry. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to live according to the commandments of men or even live according to “the teachings for doctrine the commandments of men” (Matthew 15; Mark 7:7-8). The commandments of men might include traditional checklists or even law-of-Moses-type checklists (institutional attendance, institutional membership status, institutional program participation, etc.). Instead, the Lord says that it is freely available to those that will repent—turning away from seeking after the world and its wisdom—having sufficient hope, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and have a broken heart and contrite spirit. This is the manifestation of your love for your Savior and as a result the Lord will offer you personal revelation to the time and place the Lord will bestow your salvation experience upon you. You can and will receive all “in and through Jesus Christ”—the relationship. Do you believe Nephi’s words? Do you really believe the Book of Mormon? Or do you have unbelief and succumb to false traditions and even false doctrines about personal salvation/redemption?]
29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
[Above we explained what a prophet is. Now to explain what the role of a prophet is, and how it contrasts with priestcrafts. The role of a prophet is simply to direct, or even redirect a person to the Lord in order to receive all things personally from the Lord, especially personal salvation/redemption. It is the most simple way I can say it, and Nephi’s prophetic words here do not get more plain on the matter. This is the standard by which each so-called or professed prophet can be evaluated. It is important to not embellish the role of a prophet or make it more than this.
This is not a new idea. It has been around since the beginning of time. It is more clear in places in the scriptures than others, and even occurred among the children of Israel. For example, it is highlighted throughout all four chapters of Malachi as a rebuke to the priests who were corrupt—including “robbing God” by taking the tithes of the people unto themselves. (You may not be aware, but the entire book of Malachi was directed at corrupt priests. When the references in Malachi of “robbing God” are used to rationalize law of tithing today, it is in error and a false tradition. There is a true law of tithing, but this is the wrong basis for it.)
Priestcraft was also alive and well during the Savior’s mortal ministry. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and other religious leaders of His day set themselves up as the intermediary to the Jewish people. They did not preach the true doctrine of Christ or encourage a personal relationship with God in order to receive personal salvation. Instead, their salvation was conditional upon their obedience to leadership. Leadership did not teach or encourage personal gifts of the spirit. Instead, they claimed exclusivity of these things pertaining to their own title and office and expected the people to rely upon their interpretation of the religious texts (e.g. Torah). On that same line, they claimed to have divine authority simply because of their organizational authority, titles, and office. They developed a culture based on both oral and written laws captured in the Mishnah and Talmud—each an oral and written handbook of instruction respectively. The culture they developed required obedience and compliance to their oral and written commandments, policies, procedures, and cultural practices in exchange for validation of personal righteousness or worthiness. Truly, they did “teach for doctrines the commandments of men.”
Priestcrafts have not ceased, but rather, today, they are found everywhere within every shade of Christianity. Again, you are personally responsible for identifying it and removing priestcrafts (idols) from your life and instead, seeking for a personal relationship with the Lord in order to receive personal salvation from Him. Do not rationalize away any degree of priestcrafts.]
30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing [priestcrafts]; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.
[Why would priestcraft be “forbidden?” Because it is one of the most bold manifestations of idolatry—the creation of an intermediary between the Lord and a person, and the destruction of a personal relationship with Him.
Scripture, especially the Book of Mormon, teaches that this priestcraft is forbidden. The following are just a few examples.
Priestcrafts are a Nehor doctrine and Alma the Younger taught against it and he lived his life opposed to it:
2 And it came to pass that in the first year of the reign of Alma in the judgment-seat, there was a man brought before him to be judged, a man who was large, and was noted for his much strength. 3 And he [Nehor] had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people… 5 And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money. 6 And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching… [yet, Alma and the practice of the leadership of the church was opposed to it] 26 And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.Alma 1
31 And he did rise up in great swelling words before Alma, and did revile against the priests and teachers, accusing them of leading away the people after the silly traditions of their fathers, for the sake of glutting on the labors of the people. 32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people. 33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time [being a judge was a paid temporal profession and separate from spiritual duties]. 34 And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren? 35 Then why sayest thou that we preach unto this people to get gain, when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain? And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts?Alma 30
Alma in establishing the church was very clear on priestcrafts at all levels even explaining that it helped leaders become dependent upon God and be able to “teach with power and authority from God.”:
23 And he commanded them that they should observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy, and also every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God. 24 And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained should labor with their own hands for their support. 25 And there was one day in every week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God, and also, as often as it was in their power, to assemble themselves together. 26 And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.Mosiah 18
And Alma in consultation with King Mosiah were also very clear on priestcrafts:
2 And it came to pass that king Mosiah sent a proclamation throughout the land round about that there should not any unbeliever persecute any of those who belonged to the church of God. 3 And there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men; 4 That they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself, laboring with their own hands for their support. 5 Yea, and all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support, in all cases save it were in sickness, or in much want; and doing these things, they did abound in the grace of God.Mosiah 27
Again, this plain instruction on priestcrafts should cause any person to ask themself if they truly believe the Book of Mormon? Does any person believe the book was deliberately restored for the latter days? Or does one rationalize this away and “wrest them?” (Alma 41:1; D&C 10:63; 2 Peter 3:16)]
31 But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.
[Priestcraft includes not only getting paid for doing the Lord’s work, but requiring payment from people in exchange for personal validation of spiritual righteousness or worthiness.]
32 And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain [Taking the name of the Lord in vain is not what some might have supposed. It is to speak on behalf of the Lord (and even use the phrase “in the name of Jesus Christ”) when in reality their words are not from the Lord, but instead, are “teachings for the commandments of men.”]; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.
33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men [So what is “plain” that is referred to here? Read the next line.]; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness [Yes, what is “plain” is the simple and forever invitation to each person to come unto HIM and receive HIS salvation and to partake of HIS goodness which is HIS glory and HIS gifts of the spirit.]; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God [He truly is no respecter of persons.], both Jew and Gentile.
Ok, this chapter culminated into a some very important points. First, Nephi has identified the simplicity of the Lord’s relationship to each person. It is that there is a simple invitation to literally “come unto Christ and receive His personal salvation.”
Second, the Lord, through Nephi, has identified a lot of things that will keep you from receiving personal salvation from Him. These things include:
- Persecute or kill true prophets and even saints that witness of the true doctrine of Christ
- Covenant with the adversary to do works of darkness including “secret combinations” and conspiracy (murder, lie, steal, etc.)
- Take the name of the Lord in vain (incorrectly speak on the Lord’s behalf)
- Deny or “put down the power and miracles of God” (gifts of the spirit)
- “Preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning (‘teaching for doctrines the commandments of men’), that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor”
- Not teach the doctrine of Christ plainly (“many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice”—confusion)
- Engage in priestcrafts (setting oneself up or setting up another person or thing as a light or an intermediary between them and the Lord; receiving any type of payment for the Lord’s work)
Each example on Nephi’s list is an idol because it is what separates a person from the Lord in some way or in some degree. One has to really ask themself if they really believe the verses in this chapter—do they really believe the Book of Mormon?
Links to other witnesses in this “Unveiling the Covenant Path in the Book of Mormon” project that we have demonstrated so far include (chronological order within the Book of Mormon):
- The Witness of Lehi & Nephi— “The Tree of Life”
- Witness of Lehi – “That they might have Joy”
- The Witness of Nephi— Idolatry & “The Relationship”
- The Witness of Jacob—The Words of Isaiah & Last Days Part One and Part Two
- Witness of Nephi—The Doctrine of Christ is Plain
- 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
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.