For many years of my and my wife’s life, we were dedicated to living for personal redemption through the law (“works”)—what was culturally expected, prescribed or even required. We found satisfaction and comfort in the law. We were really good at it—seriously. We were so good at it that we even believed we were better than others.
However, when we found the Lord, we truly saw with new eyes. We saw that our so-called “works” really were dead. We found that we were living our lives exactly like the children of Israel and the biblical Jews. It was humbling, to say the least, and regrettable to some degree, because after years of service to the law and building our culture, we realized Jesus Christ was actually missing from a huge part of our experience. Perhaps, at best in the periphery, but certainly not central. The Lord loves infinitely and took each of us as we were and where we were. There is no way of ever going back, but we and the Lord would prefer it that way.
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 25. I will always invite you to first read the assignment (2 Nephi chapter 25) 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 try to 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 25
1 Now I, Nephi, do speak somewhat concerning the words which I have written, which have been spoken by the mouth of Isaiah. For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews. [The beauty of this chapter is that Nephi is going to summarize Isaiah’s words and make them plain so there is no mistake.]
2 For I, Nephi, have not taught them many things concerning the manner of the Jews; for their works were works of darkness, and their doings were doings of abominations.
[What are works of darkness? What are abominations? Notice the footnote:
13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. 14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them. 16 And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. 18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. 19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made [created and taught their own doctrines for commandments of men]. 20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.2 Kings 17:13–20
See also Jacob 2-3, where Jacob is a second witness of the wickedness and abominations of the Jews in Jerusalem. Jacob was clear that the Lord led them out of the land of Jerusalem to leave those wicked, abominable whoredoms behind, and instead, be a righteous people. Among those abominations was polygamy–having multiple wives and concubines. The righteous seed the Lord wanted to raise up was a righteous, sanctified and personally redeemed people—”a seed unto the Lord.”]
3 Wherefore, I write unto my people, unto all those that shall receive hereafter these things which I write, that they may know the judgments of God, that they come upon all nations, according to the word which he hath spoken. [Who is he talking to?]
4 Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit [gift] of prophecy. But I give unto you a prophecy, according to the spirit which is in me; wherefore I shall prophesy according to the plainness which hath been with me from the time that I came out from Jerusalem with my father; for behold, my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn. [What is notable here is that Nephi is saying that even he has to use the gifts of the spirit to understand the prophecies of Isaiah. Then he takes it one step further by saying he is going to use the gift of prophecy to now make plain Isaiah’s words so long as you also use the gifts of the spirit to “receive” them.]
5 Yea, and my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, for I came out from Jerusalem, and mine eyes hath beheld the things of the Jews, and I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews.
6 But behold, I, Nephi, have not taught my children after the manner of the Jews; but behold, I, of myself, have dwelt at Jerusalem, wherefore I know concerning the regions round about; and I have made mention unto my children concerning the judgments of God, which hath come to pass among the Jews, unto my children, according to all that which Isaiah hath spoken, and I do not write them.
7 But behold, I proceed with mine own prophecy, according to my plainness; in the which I know that no man can err [it is not only plain but absolute]; nevertheless, in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass.
8 Wherefore, they are of worth unto the children of men, and he that supposeth that they are not, unto them will I speak particularly, and confine the words unto mine own people; for I know that they shall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good have I written them. [As if to say, “Pay attention because what I am about to say or make plain to you is really important to you in the last days.”]
9 And as one generation hath been destroyed among the Jews because of iniquity, even so have they been destroyed from generation to generation according to their iniquities; and never hath any of them been destroyed save it were foretold them by the prophets of the Lord. [One of the signs of true prophets is that they repeatedly say things akin to “go the the Lord, repent, seek for personal redemption from Him or you will be destroyed” (spiritually and possibly physically).]
10 Wherefore, it hath been told them concerning the destruction which should come upon them, immediately after my father left Jerusalem; nevertheless, they hardened their hearts; and according to my prophecy they have been destroyed, save it be those which are carried away captive into Babylon [This was a physical captivity to the Jews, but to us, a spiritual symbol of Babylon is to be caught captive by the world].
11 And now this I speak because of the spirit which is in me [gift of prophecy]. And notwithstanding they have been carried away they shall return again, and possess the land of Jerusalem; wherefore, they shall be restored again to the land of their inheritance [more spiritual symbolism].
12 But, behold, they shall have wars, and rumors of wars; and when the day cometh that the Only Begotten of the Father, yea, even the Father of heaven and of earth [description of the Lord, Jesus Christ], shall manifest himself unto them in the flesh, behold, they will reject him, because of their iniquities, and the hardness of their hearts, and the stiffness of their necks. [There is dual symbolism and meaning—he is referring to the Jews and yet also speaking to us in the last days.]
13 Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead [overcome death physically but most importantly, spiritually], with healing in his wings [spiritual healing power which is “personal redemption power.”]; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God [shall receive personal salvation]. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day [gift of Seership—to literally see His day], and my heart doth magnify his holy name.
[This is so important to understand. Nephi is going to crescendo here in this chapter, but it starts with an important point that Nephi makes plain. Because Jesus Christ fulfilled the atonement, He and only He has power to spiritually redeem (“the healing power”). Therefore anyone who seeks for personal redemption has to go “in and through” Him. How? By “believing on His name” in and through the doctrine of Christ. Then, “you shall be saved in the kingdom of God” which “saved” is “personal salvation.” It is all going to start with this important point. Don’t lose sight of this as we finish this chapter.]
14 And behold it shall come to pass that after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold, Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for wo unto them that fight against God and the people of his church.
[What is “His church?” He is clearly not speaking of the Jews as His church. The Book of Mormon is consistent in explaining that the Lord has a church and it is simply a group of like-minded souls that repent and choose the Lord and choose to seek for personal redemption from Him. His church is also clearly not a singular institution either.
67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. 68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.D&C 10
15 Wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered among all nations; yea, and also Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations.
16 And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind—and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things. [This verse is very much connected to verse 13 by making sure we not only believe in the “Son of God,” but also His “atonement.” This is true, because then, and only then does a person believe that Jesus Christ is the only one qualified “to heal,” which is to spiritually redeem. Are we guilty like the Jews, and even the children of Israel, by seeking for any other Messiah? Are we making arm-of-flesh or an institution/religion a Messiah?]
17 And the Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state [spiritual state as mentioned above]. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men. [Contrary to tradition, this marvelous work and a wonder has yet to be fully realized—it is in its infancy. The marvelous work is to redeem persons, which is exactly what Nephi explains—”to restore His people from their lost and fallen state.” Does Nephi not make this plain for you?]
18 Wherefore, he shall bring forth his words unto them, which words shall judge them at the last day, for they shall be given them for the purpose of convincing them of the true Messiah, who was rejected by them; and unto the convincing of them that they need not look forward any more for a Messiah to come, for there should not any come, save it should be a false Messiah which should deceive the people [ponder this deeply]; for there is save one Messiah spoken of by the prophets, and that Messiah is he who should be rejected of the Jews. [Once again, this is connected to verse 13. Nephi makes it very plain that the Jesus that was rejected, crucified and resurrected is the ONLY one that has power to redeem.]
19 For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God. [Remember, Nephi was a first-hand witness to all of this and was shown (he “saw”) all things according to the Lord, Jesus Christ.]
20 And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved. [In each of the historical examples Nephi gives here, the people were “saved” by faith (obedience to Him and His personal commands/revelation). He is also saying that just as these temporal/physical things did truly happen, the spiritual things will also surely happen—to “be saved.”]
[I believe that we may acknowledge this statement by Nephi as true. However, we may not truly believe its depth and breadth, or even believe that it is 100% literal. I believe we think it is a nice thing to say we believe it, but it is still laced with unbelief.]
21 Wherefore, for this cause hath the Lord God promised unto me [Nephi] that these things which I write shall be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to generation, that the promise may be fulfilled unto Joseph, that his seed should never perish as long as the earth should stand. [The Lord has kept this promise by always taking a portion of people out of wickedness to preserve them as a new branch, and even try to preserve them as a righteous branch and seed unto Him.]
22 Wherefore, these things shall go from generation to generation as long as the earth shall stand; and they shall go according to the will and pleasure of God; and the nations who shall possess them shall be judged of them according to the words which are written.
[So, why did Nephi write this and make plain His words? (See verse 23)]
23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God [receive personal redemption/salvation]; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
[To understand “after all we can do,” we need to first read the next few verses.]
24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us [the law does not have “saving power”], and we are made alive [spiritually resurrected; personal redemption/salvation] in Christ because of our faith [our commitment to keep the Lord’s personal command/relationship through our personal relationship with the Lord]; yet we keep the law because of the commandments. [It was commanded of the Lord because it was such a powerful way to keep any person’s mind continually focused on the end goal—the Lord, Himself, and a person’s relationship with Him.]
26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, [why?] that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
[v24-26: Nephi is going to great lengths to explain who saves, and yet, why it is that they kept the law of Moses? The law simply pointed their minds continually to the Lord. Why? Because He is the only one that has power to save—offer “remission of their (your) sins.” This is what it means by “after all we can do.” The doctrine of Christ (the how-to-process for personal redemption/salvation) has always existed in parallel to any temporal law given by the Lord. Like the law of Moses, these temporal laws simply serve the purpose of pointing any and all persons to the Lord—the real thing. Yes—like Nephi in his plainness and repetition, I too will say it again—because He and only He is capable of offering your personal redemption/salvation. And if you are thinking that He gives this power to mankind generally to do the work of salvation in His seeming absence, I will refer you to a study of 2 Nephi 28.]
“3 Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents. 4 For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ [the literally knew Him], and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us. 5 Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.”Jacob 4
27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law [It itself does not save—”it’s dead.”]; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life [redemption/salvation] which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.
[Are you in love with the law(s) of your day? What are the laws of your day? Are they dead to you?—they should be. However, not even all the laws of today actually point us to Christ. These are false traditions—”false” because they actually lead us away from the Lord and maybe even to the arm-of-flesh, false messiahs, idols, and more.]
28 And now behold, my people, ye are a stiffnecked people [“stiffnecked” because they will not bow, honor and worship the true Lord.]; wherefore, I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand. And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law.
29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way [the doctrine of Christ] is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul [the opposite of “stiffnecked.”]; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out [left spiritually dead].
30 And, inasmuch as it shall be expedient, ye must keep the performances and ordinances of God until the law shall be fulfilled which was given unto Moses. [Why did they have to keep the law? Yes, because it pointed them to “life”—not the “dead law” or “dead works.”]
Nephi’s version of “plainness” also includes repetition. This is purposeful. It adds strength and power to his words and his witness. It is absolute. Nephi’s plainness is beautiful. And yet, sometimes, we gloss over the repetition and don’t take it for what it is really worth.
As you come to really understand what it means to only receive personal redemption/salvation “in and through” Jesus Christ, you will see with new eyes. With these new eyes you will become aware of your own personal false traditions, idols, and maybe even false messiahs that you once thought had the power of redemption. Notice that not only does Nephi make plain who offers personal redemption, but he also boldly declares what does not—what is considered “dead” or “dead works.” Ponder what these things or even what “laws” might be for you, and consider that they include institutions, buildings, ritualistic ceremonies, arm-of-flesh, even prophets, and more.
After reading chapters like this and others from the Book of Mormon, each person should pause and identify any unbelief that might exist. Do you really believe the Book of Mormon is for our day? That it was divinely inspired for any reader that will lay eyes upon its words? That Mormon literally saw our day and was divinely inspired to include each and every word? Do you have any unbelief?
This is one more evidence of the doctrine of Christ being discussed and taught throughout the Book of Mormon. I invite you to ponder more on how the witness of Nephi and the Book of Mormon continually points a person to the Everlasting Covenant—avoiding spiritual death, perishing, or destruction and instead seek to receive personal salvation. I invite you to prepare questions to take to the Lord and have the Lord teach you more.
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 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.