Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Righteousness of Our Redeemer (2 Nephi 2, part 1)

I feel overwhelmed to start this post on 2nd Nephi 2.  It is so chalk full of delicious truths and is such a beautiful testament to The Savior, Jesus Christ., I fear that I will vastly under-represent this veritable feast of doctrine.  It will take at least 2 posts for this chapter. 

Christ and the Young Child -Carl Bloch
2 Nephi 2 is Lehi's speech to his son, Jacob.  First Lehi acknowledges that Jacob had a rough time growing up in the desert.  Verse 1 tells us that Jacob suffered afflictions and much sorrow in his childhood because of the rudeness of his brothers.  Poor kid.  Well, maybe not so poor...

  • Suffered?   Yes
  • Afflicted?  Yes
  • I feel sorry for Jacob?   No
2 Nephi 2: 2
2.  Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.

Whatever Jacob's childhood was like, he chose to hold more tightly to The Lord, and so, knew of His greatness.  Jacob was even given the privilege in his youth of seeing The Savior.

This is "Detail of the Temptation of Christ", by J Kirk Richards.
In Doctrine & Covanents, 20: 22 it says, "He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them."  The reason I bring that up is because of an important point of doctrine in the next verse...

2 Nephi 2: 3:
3.  Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God.  Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou has beheld that in the fulness of time He cometh to bring salvation unto men.
The important point is this:  Jacob was a great man, who was faithful, true and obedient.  He was obedient to his father and his Heavenly Father.  He spent his life in the service of his God, and was worthy to receive a visit from The Savior Himself.  Jacob was a righteous man in every sense.  Yet, Jacob will be Saved in the Celestial Kingdom of God and receive Exaltation and Eternal Life, not because of his own righteousness, but because of The Savior's righteousness.  The reason I think this is so important is because I can't compare my life with those of Jacob, Nephi, Lehi, Isaiah, Moses, the Bishop of my own local congregation, or anyone for that matter. What I can do is...
  • Choose to hold tightly to The Lord during afflictions
  • Spend my life serving in whatever way The Lord would have me
  • Understand and know the greatness of God
  • And because I, unlike The Savior, do give heed to temptation sometimes, whenever I fall short, repent and try again. (and again, and again, and again, and again, and again.... )
If I can do that, then Lehi can say the same thing of me that he said to Jacob:
Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer.

I just snapped this shot of my BOM opened to 2 Nephi 2 and uploaded it.  My haphazard color marking method lacks organization and consistency, but one of the things I try to do is use the color blue to mark verses about Jesus Christ and His Atonement ('cause blue is my favorite).  Verses 5-10 are all blue, as well as verses 25-28 in the other picture.  It's not that you won't find scriptures about The Savior in an orange, red or yellow verse, or even in an unmarked verse, it's just that the blue ones are are those that I go to most when reading of Jesus Christ. 

2 Nephi 2: 4-7
4.  And thou [Jacob] hast beheld in thy youth His glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom He shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.

5.  And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil.  And the law is given unto men.  And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off.  Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

6.  Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for He is full of grace and truth.

7.  Behold, He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
So, let's see...

Verse 4:
  • The way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.
Verse 5:
  • Men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil.
  • It isn't obeying the law (or commandments) that will justify (excuse) us.
  • The fall of man removed us from the presence of God.
  • Not obeying the commandments increases that distance, and, unless we repent, we will remain that way.
  • To remain cut off from God would prevent us from having real joy.
Verse 6:
  • Jesus Christ can redeem us from the fall of man, and bring us back into the presence of God.
  • Christ is full of grace and truth.  Grace is Christ's willingness to do this for us.  Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come (from D&C 93: 24).
Verse 7:
  • Christ offered Himself to pay the price for the sins of all men in order to answer the ends of the law.
  • My own definition of "the ends of the law" is Justice, or the fact that sin must have an eternal consequence.  So, to answer for the demands of justice, Christ offered Himself in our place for those consequences.
  • This offering of Our Savior is open to all who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  The word contrite means to feel sorrow for one's wrongdoings, and expressing remorse. 
  •  The term "broken heart" is our willingness to silence our own will and adopt The Lord's will.  "Willing" doesn't necessarily mean we will always be successful, but we can't let our efforts be without real intent (Moroni 10: 4).
Let's jump ahead to 2 Nephi 31 for a second and read a very groovy verse 13:
13.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow The Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto The Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism -yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to His word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto The Holy One of Israel.
     And then there's this excerpt from a talk about this topic by Bruce D. Porter of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    The Savior’s perfect submission to the Eternal Father is the very essence of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Christ’s example teaches us that a broken heart is an eternal attribute of godliness. When our hearts are broken, we are completely open to the Spirit of God and recognize our dependence on Him for all that we have and all that we are. The sacrifice so entailed is a sacrifice of pride in all its forms. Like malleable clay in the hands of a skilled potter, the brokenhearted can be molded and shaped in the hands of the Master.  -Bruce D. Porter, LDS General Conference, 2007
    -By Carl Bloch

    I love the word WHEREFORE in the scriptures.  I think it says a lot.  I also like THEREFORE and AND THUS WE SEE.  So, all that cool stuff up there...

    1 Nephi 2: 8
    8.  Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down His life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that He may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
    Know it, Love it, Share it.  Right?  Right!

    Closing the blast doors

    I'll share 1 more verse with you, and then leave the rest for another post.  This verse is very meaty, like Mr. Cow up there. Ain't no way he's jumpin' over the moon.  I can relate.

    1 Nephi 2: 10
    10.  And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of Him, to be judged of Him according to the truth and holiness which is in Him.  Wherefore, the ends of the law which The Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement.
    I said before that I define "The Ends of the Law" as Justice.  What is "The Ends of the Atonement"?  What does the word "End" mean the way it's used here?  It reminds me of  that tender verse in the New Testament, John 18: 37, where Christ is asked of Pilate, "Art Thou a King then?"  Jesus answered, "To this end was I born."  See also this video with the same title.

    • So, "End" must mean purpose.  In other words (for the John scripture), "This is why I came." 
    • "End" in my own mind means result.  Like in the expression, "To what end?"  

    What's wrong with both?  How about...
    • The purpose of the law is for us to choose to follow Christ or not follow Him.
    • Breaking the law will result in the punishment, which is affixed.  (and we've all broken it)

    • The purpose of the atonement is that the punishment affixed will be given to The Savior.
    • The result of the punishment being given to The Savior will affix happiness to us instead.

    Here's the scale of Justice and Mercy.  If the mistakes we make in life weigh upon us, the scale will tip toward Justice.

    If we repent of our sins and lean on our Savior, he has put something in the Mercy side of the scale that weighs a whole bunch.

    I'll close out this post by expressing my love for Jesus Christ. I'm grateful to The Savior for His sacrifice for me, and I'm grateful to His Father for sending him... That must have been very difficult.

    His peace be with you...


    1. Thank you - I needed to read this.

    2. I found your blog a week or so ago and must say that I quite enjoy what you have to say.

      Today I wrote an entry on my own blog that quotes a section of this post of yours. Mine is about how making mistakes is one purpose of life, to learn and grow from them. If you're interested in reading it: Messing Up is Growing Up.

      I don't think I used your words out of context, so I hope you enjoy it like I enjoyed yours.