The Covenant Path Unveiled in the Book of Mormon: The Witness of Nephi— All Is Not Well In Zion (2 Nephi 28)

In my personal journey with the Lord, He has taught me to see things in the scriptures that I never had previously seen. One of the places where this has been more abundantly true is in the Book of Mormon, and specifically, the many witnesses of Nephi. There are layers to the scriptures. I have learned that when I become as a little child and search the scriptures, the Lord unfolds so many beautiful things through the gifts of the spirit. The Lord truly is a master teacher, and the Book of Mormon truly is a wealth of knowledge.

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 28. (A link 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 28) 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

[In this witness, it is Nephi’s purpose to teach us the false messages, teachings, or philosophies that will exist in the latter and last days. We will call these “false doctrines”—”false” because they do not properly point a person to the Lord and have power to redeem a person. They are also “false doctrines” because they can keep a person from the “true doctrine of Christ,” and even keep a person from a personal relationship with the Lord which can offer them personal redemption.

To do this, Nephi, will demonstrate different philosophies that come from different groups of people—each with its own unique flavor of “false.” For example, those that erroneously deny the power of God and profess that God has done His work and gave power to mankind (v3-6), are not necessarily the same people that will say, “Eat, drink, and be merry” (v7). So, as you study through this chapter and identify the teachings and philosophies of each unique group, you should pause and use the spirit to discern whether you can see evidence today of each unique group of people and their philosophies.]

And now, behold, my brethren, I have spoken unto you, according as the Spirit hath constrained me; wherefore, I know that they must surely come to pass [the words of Isaiah in previous chapter].

And the things which shall be written out of the book [The Book of Mormon] shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.

[Just as important as the message, you should know who the audience is that Nephi is speaking to. You have to go back to the previous chapter (27; Nephi quoting Isaiah) to see that Nephi was is referring to “the book” as the Book of Mormon. Remember that the 1835 version of the Book of Mormon was in paragraph form (no chapter/verse like it is today.) I will be working on chapters in the Book of Mormon in the future where Nephi quotes Isaiah, but I want to point out that in the previous chapter, Isaiah was talking about a people that “claimed” to believe the book, but did not know what it really was or appreciate it for the teachings and truths that were contained in it. My point in bringing this up is to help reinforce that this chapter speaks heavily of “a people” in the latter and last days that had claimed the Book of Mormon as truth—”Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men” (27:25-35). Knowing who the audience is for this chapter should enhance your learning throughout this chapter.]

For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord

And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another [contradictory teachings], and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost [the the means by which all things are given or transferred to mortals from the divine], which giveth utterance [the Lord’s truth].

[This is important because when mankind teaches their own words, or even “teach for doctrine the commandments for men” (Mark 7:7-8; Matt 15:9; JSH 1:19), the pure doctrine of Christ is slowly lost from generation to generation. Without this knowledge of the Everlasting Covenant and the doctrine of Christ (the how-to process to personal redemption), individuals, families, congregations, cities and nations will not know the truth of how to return to Christ.]

And they deny the power of God [gifts of the spirit], the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;

Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.

[(v3-6) Wow! How more plain can this message from Nephi be? Notice each of the false doctrines in bold. Also, notice that each of these false doctrines are how each church and priest justifies themselves as “the Lord’s church” or “the Lord’s true servant.”

These false doctrines keep people from developing their own personal relationship with the Lord. When any person or institution is pointing to themselves by saying anything akin to “hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept” (v5), this is very plain idolatry. Instead of pointing a person to a personal relationship with the Lord to receive all, they say “hearken ye unto my (or our) precept” (v6). Why? Because the Lord “hath done his work” (v5,6) and has now “given his power unto men” (v5). (If you have forgotten what the true limited role of a prophet or even institutional church leader is, see the Witness of Nephi—Prophets & Priestcrafts from 2 Nephi 26.)

The one common denominator of idolatry is that they literally “deny the power of God” (v5). They believe that the idol, instead, has the power—whether it be a person, a statue, or an institution. The reality is that all power is God’s power. The power of God is manifested through the gifts of the spirit. God is no respecter of persons, and invites all to seek after and receive all gifts of the spirit. Some may rationalize this away saying there are exceptions to the warnings in verses 5 and 6, but these exceptions are unfounded in the Book of Mormon.

Can you see evidence of this group of people and their false doctrines today? Do you identify with this group of people? Do you believe this warning and teaching of the Book of Mormon? Do you believe the Book of Mormon was really restored for our day? (To learn more about how you will know them by their fruits and what the fruits are see Gifts of the Spirit part one and part two.)]

Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

[New Group: Can you see evidence of this group of people and their false doctrines today? Do you identify with this group of people?]

And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

[New Group: Can you see evidence of this group of people and their false doctrines today? Do you identify with this group of people?]

Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord [don’t seek counsel from the Lord]; and their works shall be in the dark.

[We have explained why these doctrines are “false,” but why are the doctrines of these groups “vain?” Because they are preaching them “in the name of the Lord,” when in reality they are not of the Lord—none of them. Why are they “puffed up in their hearts?” Because they point people to their own precepts, don’t counsel the Lord, and they claim God has given them power and more.]

10 And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.

11 Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted.

[From previous posts and even from Nephi, you will know that “the way” is “the doctrine of Christ. (See also 2 Nephi 31-33 & The Witness of Nephi – The Doctrine is Plain). Nephi says that in each group of people and in each false doctrine, they have strayed from the doctrine of Christ, and they—the people—”have become corrupted” (v11). Do you identify with any of these groups of people?]

12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up. [Thinking they are not just better than another church, but even “the only true church.”]

13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.

14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few [people, not churches], who are the humble followers of Christ [people, not churches]; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men [as opposed to the true doctrine of Christ].

[Notice that in these verses, Nephi is reiterating that the Lord is focused on spiritual state of individuals. Because not all are corrupt or not all are puffed up, He is open to the individuals that will turn away from these things, and He will meet any person where they are at.]

15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts [Notice, not all wise, learned and rich are puffed up], and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord [teach an alternative doctrine to the true doctrine of Christ], wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!

[NEPHI WARNING: Take this very serious. Any person had better be certain they are learning, believing, subscribing to, living and teaching the correct doctrine of Christ. Be discerning. The consequences are grave.]

16 Wo unto them that turn aside the just [the right thing] for a thing of naught [the wrong thing] and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! [Even those in established Christian institutions, including my own church/institution, may say that the true doctrine of Christ is wrong.] For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth [that’s us]; and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish. [Consequences for not getting the doctrine of Christ correct.]

17 But behold, if the inhabitants of the earth [that’s us] shall repent of their [our] wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts. [Consequences for not getting the doctrine of Christ correct.]

18 But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof.

19 For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance [Nephi is referring to the entire personal redemption process in this case], or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;

[As the Book of Mormon and Nephi has already told us, “Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth” (1 Nephi 14:10). For some, this is still really hard to wrap their head around. Yet, neither church is a single institution. Each are assemblies of souls. The souls of each assembly have common spiritual characteristics. Those in the church of the Lamb of God are those that have, at a minimum, received a personal redemption through the baptism of fire and Holy Ghost experience. Those that have not been personally redeemed by the Lord are left to “the devil,” where he “will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish.”]

20 For behold, at that day [latter and last days] shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good. [Why would a Christian, or even leaders of Christian churches, be “stirred up to anger against that which is good?” Nephi said earlier in this chapter that it is because of pride, they are puffed up, their doctrine is corrupt, and they don’t want anyone to preach against it. It is their corrupt doctrine that controls their members/followers in which they receive all of their praises—all of which creates a vicious cycle.]

21 And others will he pacify, and lull them [slowly] away into carnal security [by way of arm-of-flesh], that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.[Hell is spiritual captivity, which is the opposite of personal redemption. Why would “all be well?” Because of “carnal security”—security in the arm-of-flesh. Some might say this is impossible to have so-called righteous church leaders with titles, offices and appointments to lead them to a path to hell (no personal redemption), but remember, it is done by “lulling” them and it is done “carefully.”]

[New Group: Can you see evidence of this group of people and their false doctrines today? Do you identify with this group of people?]

22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

23 Yea, they are grasped with death [spiritual], and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment [for those that actually are lulled into believing the devil to the point of making covenant with him, and “whence there is no deliverance.”]

[New Group: Can you see evidence of this group of people and their false doctrines today? Do you identify with this group of people?]

24 Therefore, wo [condemnation] be unto him that is at ease in Zion! [What does it mean to be “at ease in Zion?”]

25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well! [Why would someone declare that “all is well?” What is their security in? Why would things not be all well when others say they are?]

26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God [gifts of the spirit], and the gift of the Holy Ghost! [What do people choose instead of gifts of the spirit (the power of God)? Carnal security in the arm-of-flesh. Like the children of Israel, they choose their modern-day Moses. They do not choose to have a personal relationship with the Lord. This is unbelief, and it is manifested in so many different ways: believing “the power of God is given unto man” (v5), or even that “only select persons with titles, offices and appointments can have gifts of the spirit,” or that “gifts of the spirit are automatic with select titles, office or appointments.”]

27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!

[1 Nephi 6 reminds us of Nephi’s purpose to keep a record of “the things of God.” Nephi was only focused on “persuading mankind to come unto God… and be saved.”

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.

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 [salvation].

Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.

Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men. [spiritual worth unto salvation]

1 Nephi 6

So, when the phrase, “we need no more” is used multiple times, a person has to ask what spiritually did a Zion-minded people believe they had, but did not actually possess? All things related to salvation or even exaltation. What would cause them to believe they have received all things related to salvation or exaltation?]

28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall. [I think of the Lord’s own teachings of the doctrine of Christ in 3 Nephi 11-12 in the Book of Mormon, and yet people disagree or claim a different doctrine of Christ. How do you receive it?]

29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! [The word of God is the written word, but equally—it is personal revelation. In and through a personal relationship with the Lord, a person can be brought into His presence while in mortality. It is there that you can know all things. Your personal ascension is endless, and you are not limited even by your earthly probation.]

30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God [a very important distinction made by a prophet to delineate between his own words (ideas, counsel, opinions) and the words of the Lord]: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little [Do you really believe this?]; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have. [To be “blessed” is to receive more glory from the Lord.]

31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

[Nephi, in this chapter and others, has repeatedly condemned those that seek for a Moses (arm-of-flesh) to lead them like the children of Israel to place an intermediary between them and the Lord. The Lord’s invitation is literal—to come unto HIM! (See also the personal relationship.)

Some will dispute that “man” with titles, offices or appointments by default, are speaking “by the power of the Holy Ghost,” and therefore, they are the exception to being labeled arm-of-flesh. This is a false tradition. Each person has a personal responsibility to discern using the gifts of the spirit whether a person is giving “their precepts by the gifts of the spirit.” (For dozens of quotes from church presidents and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints about excessive dependence upon leaders—even to idolatry, see Appendix A in The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide.)]

32 Wo be unto the Gentiles [that’s us], saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day [He is so merciful], they will deny me [Is this you?]; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me [literal invitation repeated]; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts. [Do you really believe this? Do you believe Nephi? Do you believe the Lord? Unbelief still?]

Your Turn

I hope the spirit has opened your mind to a new context for this chapter. I invite you to take this new context of chapter 28 and compare it to my church’s institutional curriculum or your own preacher/teacher/instructor’s context. Ponder the contrast. And even prepare questions to take to the Lord and ask why the contrast exists. Develop other questions and have the Lord teach you more.

Nephi’s witness is very bold. He does not mince words or soft-pedal his prophecies for the latter and last days. It’s this type of witness from Nephi where a person has to really ask themself if they really believe the verses in this chapter—and do they really believe the Book of Mormon?


Links to the complete list of witnesses in this assignment series (“Unveiling the Covenant Path in the Book of Mormon”) can be found here: ASSIGNMENT SERIES: The Covenant Path Unveiled in the Book of Mormon


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 learnbelievelive 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.

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