armed with righteousness
Scheduled for study Jan. 20-26, 2020. When we are armed with righteousness we are given the spiritual power we need to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the sins and influences of the world. This week’s lessons discuss at least five very different points of doctrine.

Day 1

1 Nephi 11 – God sent Jesus Christ as an expression of His love.

Can you see yourself in 1 Nephi 11-15? What passages are of most value to you and your family?

So often when we think of the term “God’s love” we think of the love Christ has for us. This is normal, since it was Jesus who was present in the flesh, who healed the lame, cast out the devils, died for us, and was resurrected for us. But what we often forget or minimize is that Jesus was appointed and chosen to be the Savior and Messiah. He didn’t take upon himself that title.

In the premortal councils our Father in Heaven presented His plan for our progression. For this plan to work we would have to fall from His grace, leave His presence, and be redeemed by a Savior. There was no other way for us to become like Him. There was no other way for even those who wouldn’t become like Him to receive any glory and even a resurrected body. This shows that our Father’s love extends to each and every one of His children, whether or not they choose to return to live with Him.

Our Father chose His best, His brightest, His most beloved, both because Jesus was the most obedient, as well as being the most capable of all His children, to be the representative of our Father’s love to the whole human race here in mortality. All throughout the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, the works of Jesus were all done by command of the Father. While it is true that Jesus shares God’s love for all of us, he is not operating on his own agenda. Jesus came to fulfill the will of the Father in all things.

All the expressions of love Jesus demonstrated for his fellow man were meant to show us and communicate to us the message that ‘If My Father were here, this is what He would be doing for you.’ So everything Jesus did was a two-fold demonstration of love. It was a demonstration of his own love for us, and at the same time it was a demonstration of the love of our Father for each of us. Over and over again Jesus tried to get the people to understand that he was only doing the works of his Father. These two are so united in purpose that it is impossible to distinguish between the love of one and the love of the other.

Day 2

1 Nephi 12-13 – The Lord prepared the way for the Restoration.

Can you see yourself in 1 Nephi 11-15? What passages are of most value to you and your family?

The problem with talking about Nephi’s vision is that he saw a lot of things. Many of the things he saw were not explained to him – meaning the reason behind why they were shown to him was not given. He was left to figure out many of the lessons of his vision on his own. What are some of the lessons we can glean from Nephi’s vision? Here are some suggestions.

Everything God does is for the love of His family

Nephi saw the destruction of almost all of his own posterity in the vision. He saw them dwindle or wither in a state of unbelief, becoming dark and loathsome before God. For many centuries they would remain in this condition until God (the Father) restored the gospel and the covenants that Jesus would bring to earth in his lifetime. We are left to ponder why He waited so long before restoring the gospel. The answer lies in God’s ability to exercise infinite patience, waiting for the right time, the perfect time to act for the benefit of His own children.

Nephi was shown the fulfillment of the plan of salvation for God’s children through the events surrounding his own posterity. He witnessed everything that would befall these children of Israel from his own day down to the day of judgment. This gave him great cause to rejoice, for he saw that none of them would be truly lost in the end, though many of them would suffer for their sins in this life and in the next, until they repented. He looked forward to the Restoration because with it his own posterity would begin to be taught once again their true position before the Lord as covenant people. He saw the redemptive work Lehi, his father, would promise to the posterity of Laman and Lemuel on his deathbed.

God uses His patience to bring about His righteous purposes

The Lord showed Nephi what would happen to the descendents of Laman and Lemuel, as well as to his own posterity. He witnessed the Lamanites destroying his own posterity. He saw the long centuries of ignorance and darkness. But then the Lord prepared the perfect plan to restore His covenants to the world through His prophets. Again, as mentioned above, the Restoration, though almost 1700 years in coming, brought with it not just the old covenants, but everything and more that Jesus, himself brought to his people. This was a real source of rejoicing and comfort for Nephi. This showed Nephi that the remnant of his seed would not be utterly destroyed, nor forgotten. In the end they would be offered salvation.

God planned out the work of salvation before any of us came to earth

All of Nephi’s vision demonstrates dramatically the foreknowledge of God. It is very difficult to wrap our heads around His ability to know what will happen before it happens, but that is something we must learn to accept on faith. He has demonstrated His foreknowledge of things over and over again in the scriptures. This is what prophecy is, the fulfillment of God’s foreknowledge. This is why He was able to assure Nephi that his posterity would be brought back into the covenant fold in the future. This is why Nephi was able to exercise faith in his vision. He had faith in God’s foreknowledge and in His love for His children.

Day 3

1 Nephi 13:1-9; 14:9-11 – What is the “great and abominable church” that Nephi saw?

Can you see yourself in 1 Nephi 11-15? What passages are of most value to you and your family?

It can be difficult to wrap our heads around the idea that, morally speaking, there are two ideologies only, that which leads us to God and his covenants, and that which does not. Morally speaking, there is no middle ground. No third option. That being said, anything at all that does not lead to repentance and forgiveness of sin, sooner or later leads us away from God. That is a large playing field of thought and behavior.

The great and abominable church represents every form of thought or behavior that leads away from Christ and his gospel. It is not any one religion, philosophy, thought, or way of thinking or behaving. The abominable church includes all of them together. That is why the vision shows so many depictions of what God calls the whore of all the earth. This is why the scriptures say she sits on many waters, because in truth, those philosophies that glorify man and the things of the world are universal and are all over the earth.

The captivity spoken of is a general description of any way of thinking that leads us into sin and into trying to find our happiness in the world, instead of through the covenants and the commandments of God. There really is only one path to freedom from the captivity of sin, and that is through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth.

Day 4

1 Nephi 13:12 – Who was the man Nephi saw whom the Spirit “wrought upon” to go “forth upon the many waters”?

Can you see yourself in 1 Nephi 11-15? What passages are of most value to you and your family?

The quote from Christopher Columbus in the manual is wonderful. It is sad that he has gotten such a bad reputation for fulfilling his foreordained work to discover the new world. The Book of Mormon says over and over again that when the Nephites and Lamanites dwindle in unbelief that the day would come when the gentiles would be brought to the promised land (the Americas) and that they would become God’s punishment or scourge to them for their rejection of God’s gospel.

The Book of Mormon people were specifically told that only a few of them would survive this encounter, but that the Lord would give the gospel to the gentiles, and from the gentiles the gospel would once again be brought to the posterity of Lehi. The Nephites and Lamanites no doubt thought they would be killed by war with the gentiles. It probably didn’t occur to them that they might be killed by common diseases like measles and chickenpox. It was these diseases, brought by the Europeans that did most of the damage to the people living in the Americas. Yet it is Christopher Columbus who bears the brunt of the blame for the death of almost 90% of the indigenous population.

What we need to remember about this famous explorer is that it was the Holy Ghost who brought him to the Americas. His voyage was prophesied many centuries before, and he was inspired in what he did. In other words, Christopher Columbus came to the Americas with God’s blessing.

Day 5

1 Nephi 13:20-42 – Latter-day scripture restores “plain and precious things.”

Can you see yourself in 1 Nephi 11-15? What passages are of most value to you and your family?

One of these times when you decide to read the New Testament, try an experiment. Make sure you read all of the verses as the King James version  (KJV) of the Bible lists them then compare them with the corrections of the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). Don’t just compare words, but look at the nature and character of Jesus in the different versions. The Jesus as portrayed in the KJV is not the same man as portrayed in the JST. When you read the JST you will feel very differently about Jesus. According to the changes made by Joseph Smith, Jesus is far more caring, compassionate, and patient. And there is doctrine missing in the KJV of the Bible that is mentioned or talked about in the JST.

Because wicked men deliberately removed or changed portions of the Biblical record we now have, many of the doctrines taught by Christ and his apostles is either missing or is misunderstood by those who read the Bible today. The only way to fix these problems is to do at least one of two things: retranslate the original record and put in place all the corrections and missing parts, or have the truths about the gospel contained in new books of scripture. The Lord chose to do both.

It can be difficult for many latter-day saints to recognize how much was actually taken from or changed in the New Testament and Old Testament. We were raised with all the additional scriptural records that contain the missing or corrected teachings. Because of this we often don’t recognize how much was actually changed or lost. Here are a couple of examples for you to research.

Look up the phrase “no man has seen God at any time.” Look for JST references on this verse from the New Testament then look for references in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants of times where someone saw God.

Look at 1 Corinthians 15:29, the only verse in the New Testament that talks about doing baptisms for the dead. Now do a search in the Doctrine and Covenants on baptisms and see how many explanations there are about this doctrine.

Finally, see how many verses in the New Testament talk about the atonement then look in the Book of Mormon and see how often this same subject is referenced and explained. These are all basic doctrines of the latter days, but almost unheard of and not discussed in modern-day Christianity.

Scripture Study and Family Home Evening

1 Nephi 14:12-15 – Being armed by keeping our covenants

I especially love verse 14 in this passage. Let’s look at it specifically.

14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

Glory is an interesting concept that bears looking at. How do you think we give God glory? Remember that glory in spiritual matters is given, not taken. How did Jesus glorify the Father? To start off, Jesus did the works of the Father. He imitated or demonstrated God’s behavior. He taught God’s behavior and attitudes. This behavior gave glory, status, or increased reverence for God in the minds and hearts of those who listened to Jesus. The act of reverencing God increases God’s glory. By glory I am not saying that God shines any brighter because of what Jesus did, but God’s reputation and reverence increased because of what Jesus did.

In the same way as Jesus reverenced or gave glory to His Father, we give glory to Jesus by duplicating his goodness and good works in our lives. We spread his glory in all that we do when we keep his commandments and give God the credit for the good that we do. When we imitate the goodness of God we increase His good works and influence, thus increasing His glory among the children of men.

The promise from the Father to us, through His Son, is that when the Father shares all that He has with Christ in the day that the Father fully glorifies Jesus for having successfully completed his work as Savior, the Savior has promised us that he will, in turn, share all he has been given from the Father with all of those who have been faithful to the covenants the Father gave us to live in mortality. In other words, Jesus will share with us the glory he receives from the Father, thus glorifying each of us.

In verse 14 of 1 Nephi 14 the saints are armed or made strong with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. I believe the saint’s glory consists in our willingness and ability to live and behave like Christ. When we behave like Christ, we are blessed with greater endowments of spiritual power and abilities. Think about this when you read Doctrine and covenants 130:20-21.

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

God is not going to bless us or enlarge our spiritual capacities until we make the effort to live the spiritual laws we have been given to direct our lives. Only when we do this can he, according to his own word, give us the blessings that are based on the laws we are given. When Christ glorifies us he shares his power with us, as his friends. When we are armed or protected by our righteousness, part of that protection comes from the spiritual power we receive from God from our obedience. It won’t matter that we, as saints, are few in number. What matters is that we will have all the power, strength, and protection we need from the Lord to keep us spiritually safe.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

BoM Week 04