Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Remember His Name (2 Nephi 25, part 2)

The Name of Jesus Christ appears in 2 Nephi 25 about 80 times.  I actually didn't really count, but it's a lot. Way back when I did my post about 1 Nephi 11, I talked about Nephi seeing a vision of the Tree of Life.  When Nephi asked for the interpretation of the tree, he was shown a vision of the birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Then the angel put the question back to Nephi, "What meaneth the tree?"

This is my Tree of Life plate that a guy made for me while I was in Japan in 1994.  When he gave it to me, it wasn't upside down, but google blogger had a different idea.  Sorry, it won't fix.
 Nephi says, "It is the Love of God, which sheddeth Itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men."

Nephi loved The Savior, and understood as only a prophet can the depth of Christ's love for him, and the [insert fancy word here that means HUGE] importance of Christ's atonement. 

2 Nephi 25: 12-13
12.  ...and when the day cometh that the Only Begotten of The Father, yea, even The Father of heaven and of earth, 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.

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, with healing in His wings; and all those who shall believe on His Name shall be saved in the kingdom of God.  Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen His day, and my heart doth magnify His Holy Name
I've noticed over the years an interesting something or other about references to the saving power of Christ.  Some scriptures tell us that salvation will come to those who believe in Him, accept Him, worship Him, come unto Him, obey Him, etc.  Other scriptures tell us that it is the Name of Jesus Christ that offers salvation.  I feel like both of these are true, but find it interesting that the scriptures differentiate them.

2 Nephi 25: 19
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.

20.  ...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.

What is it about the Name of Jesus Christ that offers salvation to the human family?  I looked up the name of Jesus on http://www.kabalarians.com/index.cfm to see if I could gain some insight.

It was very insightful (not).  Here's their "analysis":
  • Your name of Jesus has given you the ability to handle people.  You are pleasant and diplomatic, and seem to sense how others feel.  For this reason, you could do well in public relations work.  (Definitely true so far)
  • You appreciate the finer things of life, and like to have a good standard of living.  (Well, he was poor in the beginning, but is now quite well off, so that could be true)
  • You feel that it is important to convey the impression that you are financially secure, and you place importance on your mode of dress, and on appearances generally.  (Um, well, He did say that the body is a temple, and that we should watch what we wear, so... maybe)
  • While you could do well in certain positions of authority, you have a certain lack of initiative and a tendency to procrastinate.  (This one just cracks me up)
  • Difficulty in coming to important decisions and a degree of passivity do not allow you the concentration and application required to attain positions of responsibility.  (Um, no)
  • You prefer to choose the easiest way to accomplish your goals, and would probably readily admit that you dislike hard work.  (The easy way?  Um, no)
  • However, your likeable personality sees you through most situations but when your emotional nature does not allow you to be strictly impersonal in your relationships, you could experience awkward, embarrassing entanglements. (Not real good at this, are they)
  • Weaknesses in the health could affect the kidneys, or lower back.  (Um, well, they're kind of off the mark on that one too)
Here's my think...

A person's identity is much more than just their name, but in a way, their name represents all that they are.  Jesus Christ is perfectly kind, loving, just, merciful, powerful, giving, knowing, fair, humane, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc...........  His name represents not only Who Jesus is, but also what He believes in, what His mission is, what His duty is, what He wants for us, what He offers us, what He did for us, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc...........  To believe in the Name of Christ, is to believe in Christ Himself, and everything about Him.

When we partake of The Lord's Supper, or the Sacrament as we call it today, we covenant to take upon ourselves the Name of Jesus Christ, and always remember Him. 

2 things about that....

# One.  We covenant to take upon ourselves His Name:  In taking His Name upon us, we take upon us all that His Name represents, that is to say, His gospel, His mercy, His kindness, His everything, or at least to make an effort to come as close as we can to these things, we being so not perfect as He is and all that.  We also take upon us His sacrifice, or in other words, accept His sacrifice, His atonement, His forgiveness.

Number 2:  We covenant to always remember Him:  Please remember to not forget to remember His atoning sacrifice.  It's great to be obedient, but it's vital to remember Him, because we will always fall short.  Don't forget to remember all He has done for you, and seek His mercy again and again and again and again, as many times as it takes, even if it's 491 times.  He will never forget about you.  He has "graven you on the palms of His hands," another great Isaiah reference.

2 Nephi 25: 23-26
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; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

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, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.

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, that our children may know to what source they may look forward for a remission of their sins.
Nephi knew and understood that the laws given through Moses to the house of Israel were still in effect, but would be fulfilled at Christ's atonement, and would then be replaced by Christ's higher law.  This higher law is found, at least in part, in The Bible and the Book of Mormon, where Jesus Christ delivered His Sermon on the Mount.  And Nephi understood that it was not obedience to the law that would bring salvation, but the atonement of Christ.  Obedience to the commandments of God shows our commitment to and love for The Savior, and increases our faith in Him and our love for Him.  And it is that belief in, faith in, and love for The Savior that leads us to repent & take upon ourselves His Name, which brings about His amazing grace in our behalf, despite all we do, or all we can do. 
I know this blog post is getting long, but I want to say something about the ending phrase in vs. 23: "We know that we are saved by grace, after all we can do."

The part that says "after all we can do" has caused some to think that we have to measure up to some standard before we can have a hope for salvation.  I clearly remember being a member of this misguided group.  I spent more than 1/2 of my life thinking that I have too many flaws, fall far too short of "all I can do," whatever that means, and ain't never gonna be "worthy enough," whatever that means, to go to heaven.  And why not?  Because I need the Savior's love a little too much?  Sounds silly, doesn't it?  

There's a part later in the BOM that throws some light on the phrase "after all we can do."  It's in Alma 24: 10-11, and is spoken by the King of a people who came to know Christ, ask His forgiveness, and believe in His ability and willingness to save them.
10.  And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that He hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things. and also that He hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of His Son.

11.  And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that He would take away our stain.

Mosiah 4: 30
30.  ...And now, O man, remember, and perish not.
Peace be with you...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Back to the plain words of Nephi (2 Nephi 25, part 1)

With 2nd Nephi 25, we leave Nephi's Isaiah obsession and come back to Nephi's own words.  Nephi is much plainer, and easier to comprendo than Isaiah.  So Welcome back to...

Right off the bat, Nephi admits that Isaiah is a tough cookie to understand...

2nd Nephi 25: 1
1.  ...for behold, Isaiah spoke many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews.
&then down at the bottom of this same column, Nephi says that, even though he loves the words of Isaiah (vs. 5), his soul delights in plainness unto his people, that they may learn (vs. 4).  

Any questions about that?
Then why in the name of Jonathon Livingston Seagull did Nephi just spend 12 chapters of precious room on the Plates of Nephi quoting Isaiah, when he knew his people wouldn't really understand it?  And if it is more for our day than Nephi's day that he quotes Isaiah, didn't he know that we would have all of those chapters in our Old Testament?

2 Nephi 25: 8
8.  Wherefore, they [the words of Isaiah] 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 the last days; for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good I have written them.
Mine own people:  Who's Nephi's own people?  I got 2 possible answers... The Jews that Nephi knows will be scattered and smitten for generations to come, and his own descendants, the Nephites and Lamanites.  And here's the horcrux of the matter...

2 Nephi 25: 16-17
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.

17.  And The Lord will set His hand again the second time to restore His people from their lost and fallen state.  Wherefore, He will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men.

Ya see, kids... 

The restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon through the Prophet Joseph Smith is the marvelous work and a wonder Nephi is talking about.  The Book of Mormon is the means by which the gathering of Israel will be accomplished in the last days.  The Isaiah chapters in the BOM have a GREAT deal to do with that, at least that's my take on it.

And now...

And so I face...

So this concludes our show for today.  2 Nephi 25 is a significant chapter in the BOM.  I'm going to do 2 posts on it.  Tune in next time when we talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, preach of Christ, prophesy of Christ and discuss what worshiping Christ with all of our mind, might, strength and whole souls means.  I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with having clean hands and a pure heart.

Peace be with you....

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Isaiah: A Great Feller (2 Nephi 24)

Today we're on 2nd Nephi 24 (compare Isaiah 14).  First thing I do when I blog a BOM chapter is read the chapter clear through once, and look and listen and sense for impressions or ideas or whatever.  These are my notes...

So, I looked through it again.  This time I really put on my thinker...


So, I'll sum the chapter up for ya, and we'll color it good.

2 Nephi 24: 1
1.  For The Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land; and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
After this, past, and future scatterings, Israel will become a chosen people once again, and be gathered in as He promised from the beginning.

Strangers shall be joined with Israel.  Hopefully, when we meet them, we'll know who not to talk to.  You know, 'cause we ain't supposed to talk to strangers.  Never mind.  Ok, we're the strangers.  You know, Gentiles.  Anywayz...

2 Nephi 24: 3
3.  And it shall come to pass in that day that The Lord shall give thee rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.
Those who beat up on Israel won't bug 'em anymore.

2 Nephi 24: 8
8.  Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and also the cedars of Lebannon, saying:  Since thou art laid down no feller is come up against us.
Ha, no feller.  That's awesome.  Bad news for that cool feller, Paul Bunyan...
Then it says some stuff about a couple of fellers who were serious losers.  Isaiah is a smart feller who is real good at speaking about multiple people and times at once.  Verses 12 through 16 is about the king of Babylon on the surface, but it is widely believed that it's really about Satan.  This is where Satan gets the name Lucifer, which actually means "light bearer" or "morning star".  Satan was a nice feller at one time in the pre-mortal realm, but then got greedy, and was thrown outta there.

Since then he has sought that "man might be miserable like unto himself." (-2 Nephi 2: 27). 

2 Nephi 24: 12
12.  How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  Art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!

13.  For thou hast said in thy heart:  I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north;

14.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.

15.  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
It's a sad story, really.  But it's important to know that we know who the winner will be, we know who the loser will be, and we can decide to be a winner or a loser by joining one or t'other.  As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord. (-Joshua 24: 15)

That's the end of the Isaiahs, at least the tough ones.  There's a few more, but they don't scare me.  It's taken me months and months to get from 2 Nephi 11 to 2 Nephi 25.  I'm sorry to see him go.  I'm going to miss Isaiah.

I hope you know that I'm kidding about not liking the Isaiah chapters.  Jesus Christ said, "Yea, a commandment I give unto you, that ye search these things diligently, for Great are the words of Isaiah," and I believe Him. (-3 Nephi 23: 1) He's just a hard feller to blog about that many times in a row.  I seriously can't wait to get to Mosiah something or other when Abinadi quotes Isaiah 53 (-Mosiah 14) before he is burned alive. 

Let's celebrate our completion of the Isaiahs by figuring up some way to sum it all up.  How do you sum up Isaiah? 

Isaiah 9: 6
6.  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 50: 6
6.  I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair:  I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

2 Nephi 24: 7
7.  The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing.

Great are the words of Isaiah.

Peace be with you...