marvelous work
Scheduled for study Feb. 24 – Mar. 1, 2020. What is the Lord referring to when He talks about performing a “marvelous work and a wonder”? Let’s look at what qualifies as God’s marvels and wonders of the last days.

Day 1

2 Nephi 26:20–33 – Jesus Christ invites all to come unto Him.

The Lord said, “I command all … that they shall write the words which I speak unto them” (2 Nephi 29:11). Through the Spirit, the Lord will speak to you as you study His word. Record what you receive.

Let’s look at these verses in two sections. Section one is what Satan is doing with God’s children. Section two is what God is doing with His children. This comparison should help us better understand the lesson’s comment quoted from Joseph Smith stating that Heavenly Father is more “boundless in his mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.”

Satan and God’s children

2 Nephi 26:20–22 tells us that the gentiles (the people of the world) are lifted up in the pride of their own eyes. In other words, they think they know everything. They have created a great stumbling block that causes them to make many mistakes (to stumble). What is that stumbling block? The answer is in verse 20 – “that they have built up many churches.” What are the mistakes they make because they were so proud that they built up their own churches? See verse 21.

21 And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice.

In verse 22 we find that the gentiles have adopted many of the secret combinations to murder and get gain that Satan provides to lead people astray. But this raises the question: How does Satan lead people who are full of pride, who think they know everything? Verse 22 says he leads them with a flaxen cord.

The fiber of the flax grass is very soft and pliable by itself. Flax fibers are naturally light weight individually, but when combined with more of their kind they become very stiff. Satan leads proud people by the flaxen cords of flattery and vanity. The more people learn to follow his flattering words, the more Satan is able to bind them, until at last they are bound to him with unbreakable chains of servitude.

Note that none of these things come from God. All of them originate with Satan. He inspires their pride then leads them with his soft words and flattery until he is able to bind them to him in unbreakable chains.

God and His children

The difference between Satan and God that Nephi points out here is pretty stark. Verse 23 says that God does not work in darkness, intimating that Satan prefers to operate in the dark. While Satan seeks our enslavement, God seeks our prosperity and freedom. Below I have listed some of the descriptions of how God likes to deal with His children.

Verse 24 – He wants only the best for His children. Everything He does is for the benefit of the world. He turns no one away from his blessings, but invites all to come unto Him.

Verse 25-27 – God invites all to come, free of charge – meaning no strings attached. All that He offers He offers freely. He would never turn anyone away. In fact, He commands His people to persuade all to repent and come to Him.

Verse 28-32 – All are equal in His eyes. All are equally privileged to come and partake of His goodness. He lists basic sins He has forbidden, like priestcrafts and murder, etc. If you look at what the Lord forbids, they are all the things that are qualities of those who follow Satan. Nephi ends this passage by reminding us that all are alike to God. He doesn’t favor the Jews over the Gentiles (the people of the world).

Nephi endeavors in these verses to point out God’s endless mercy and love, His charity. In the context of Nephi’s writing, if you aren’t a Jew then you qualify as being a gentile. So the phrase “Jew and gentile” encompasses the whole human family. Race, ethnicity, language, culture – none of this matters to our Father in Heaven. His invitation to come and partake freely of the happiness He offers is extended equally to one and all. I fear that sometimes when we read passages such as this, we see the Lord inviting us, and us alone to come and eat and drink of His bounty. We create our own divisions, cutting out the non-believers, the communists, the people in that country, or that one over there. But Nephi makes it clear that there are no people on this earth God is not beckoning to come.

Day 2

2 Nephi 28 – Satan seeks to deceive.

The Lord said, “I command all … that they shall write the words which I speak unto them” (2 Nephi 29:11). Through the Spirit, the Lord will speak to you as you study His word. Record what you receive.

What are some of the reasons for Satan to lie to us? Why would he be so invested in getting us to believe something that isn’t true? Perhaps the basic answer is because we can’t find salvation in falsehoods and lies. Salvation comes only through knowing and living truth.

In an upcoming lesson, Sherem begins to preach to the Nephites that there will be no Christ, for no one can know of the future. That is absurd. One of the basic principles of all of Satan’s lies is that they have to appear to have a payoff to make them look attractive. Why might Sherem find followers with his lies about there being no Christ who will come? The answer is found partly in that to believe in Christ means to accept accountability for our behavior. Those who believe in Christ have to repent of their sins and live a higher standard of moral behavior than those who live the Mosaic law only.

By accepting Sherem’s lies about there being no Christ and that they should only live the law of Moses, the people can go back to living a law of daily rituals where they don’t have to take responsibility for their own repentance. If they commit a sin they can just go take an animal to the priest and the priest will do all the work to expunge the sin. Living the law of Moses let the people live more in the here and now, and not have to worry so much about the eternities and all the responsibilities those eternal blessings held.

As you work your way through chapter 28, think about each of the lies being identified by Nephi. Can you identify the payoff for those who accept these lies? Can you see what damage they will do to their own soul if they choose to believe in any one particular lie? Believing in truth always brings blessings and benefits, even when trials accompany the performance of our faith in those beliefs. Believing in lies always brings, in the end, sorrow and a stunting of our spiritual growth. Satan’s lies always lead us away from God, no matter how “holy” Satan’s arguments are meant to sound in the beginning.

Day 3

2 Nephi 28:27–31; 29 – God continues to give revelation to guide His children.

The Lord said, “I command all … that they shall write the words which I speak unto them” (2 Nephi 29:11). Through the Spirit, the Lord will speak to you as you study His word. Record what you receive.

The phrase “we have enough” is an interesting thing to ponder. As you read today’s verses, you may think to yourself, “Why can’t I be happy with what I have? Why do I have to want more?” This principle is a spiritual truth. When it comes to progression you are either moving forward or moving backward. There is no standing still.

It is a spiritual truth that when someone learns truth from God, the joy that fills their soul causes them to want more. It feels too good to be ignored or to be complacent about it. When someone says, “I have enough!” That doesn’t mean they are full and can’t hold any more truth or joy. It means they no longer want any more of what they already have. Such a statement is the first outward sign that they are prepared and willing to reject the truth they already have. God has promised that if we reject what He has given us He will take it way from us. Hence, we are either given more or we have what we once had taken from us.

We, ourselves declare which direction we want to move. We decide if we are going to seek for greater truth, joy, and responsibilities, or if we have lost interest and want what we have taken from us so we don’t have to deal with it any longer. We sometimes forget that God gives us exactly what we want. That is, perhaps, the most dangerous thing a parent can do with a child, but that is the nature of the agency with which we have been endowed. He will not violate our choices, no matter what those choices may do to us. This is why we are told over and over again in the scriptures that it is we who choose eternal damnation and death or eternal life and exaltation. This is why the final judgment is a restoration, not a judgment in the traditional sense. God will only be restoring to us what we have already chosen in mortality.

Can you see why people might become angry when taught the word of God? If they don’t want to be held accountable for what is being taught, they feel condemned by the truth (which is true). This is why Laman and Lemuel were always angry with Lehi and Nephi. They taught them the truth and expected them to find the same joy they felt in it. But Laman and Lemuel wanted none of it. They wanted Nephi to just shut up and go sit in the corner so they could enjoy life the way they wanted to live it. They kept accusing Nephi of speaking hard words to them, and Nephi kept reminding them that only the wicked take the truth to be hard. The righteous find joy in the truth.

At some point all of us will decide which path we will walk. We will either learn to thrill in new knowledge and greater revelations from God, or we will learn to shun them and want all such talk to stop, because it is too uncomfortable for us to listen to. The point here is that there is no middle ground. We may change our minds and head the other direction, but we will never come to a complete stop. We will always be moving, even if it is ever so slowly, in one direction or the other.

Day 4

2 Nephi 29-30 – God prepared the Book of Mormon for our day.

The Lord said, “I command all … that they shall write the words which I speak unto them” (2 Nephi 29:11). Through the Spirit, the Lord will speak to you as you study His word. Record what you receive.

Let’s look for a moment at why we need the Book of Mormon at all. The law of witnesses has been in play since the beginning of the plan of salvation. God implemented this law before the world was created to solidify all testimonies. There must be some standard by which we can be held accountable for what is taught to us. God has told us that by the mouth of 2 or more witnesses we will be judged. Is God, Himself exempt from this law? No, He is not. This is why we have more than one book of scripture. This is why more than one prophet prophesied of Christ, of Joseph Smith, of the Restoration, of the scattering and gathering of Israel, etc. The Lord, in all of these cases is following His own law and giving us ample number of witnesses with which we will be judged in the last day.

Since the Lord is all-knowing, He knew that many of the truths of the scriptural record meant for the world would be corrupted or lost before the last days ever arrived. With this knowledge He began to assemble the record for another book of scripture to resolve the problems created by the corruption of the first book. That first book being the Bible, and the second book being the Book of Mormon. The whole purpose of the Book of Mormon is to put down contention and secure the testimony of Christ given to us in the Bible. The fulness of the gospel that was in the Bible, but was lost due to the work of wicked men, is presented in its original glory in the Book of Mormon. The Bible spent a couple of thousand years in the hands of uninspired men. The original copy of the Book of Mormon was sealed up unto God by a prophet then delivered by that same prophet to Joseph Smith to translate in its purity.

The Book of Mormon does not replace the Bible. It verifies the Bible, corrects the Bible, and supports the Bible as being the word of God given to His ancient covenant people. We give greater authority to the Book of Mormon only because it is more complete and pure of doctrine than the Bible. But we need both of them to stand together in order for the law of witnesses to be fulfilled. They both come together to testify of Christ, and him the Son of God.

Scripture Study and Family Home Evening

2 Nephi 27:20–21 – “I am able to do mine own work.”

I will confess here that I have always harbored the belief that God actually needed us to accomplish the work of the last days. We were the ones to build up the Church, do the missionary work, temple work, and to do all else that needs to be done to move the kingdom forward. What a fool I have been.

When I read the two verses in this mini lesson, I suddenly saw a parent who enlists the aid of their children to get the work done around the house. They don’t need the children to do the work. The parents could probably do a much better job, and do it more quickly, if the children left them alone to work. After all, the parents know what is needed, and how to do whatever is required to achieve the end result. So why do parents include the help of their children?

We include our children because it is the responsibility of a parent to teach a child how to be an adult. We have to give them experience in all things necessary for their safety and happiness when they leave home. They have to learn how to make decisions, how to work, how to learn, how to develop ethical behavior and discernment. There are so many lessons children need to learn in those first 18 years of life. If the parents do everything for them then how will they ever learn to do for themselves?

This is what God is doing. Have you ever heard the sentiment that if the Church was not true the missionaries would have ruined it years ago? I fully believe it. Just talk to any mission president or returned missionary and ask them what kind of stupid things the missionaries pulled in their mission. I hope it doesn’t ruin your testimony. God calls imperfect people to leadership positions. Each one has lessons they need to learn for their personal growth. And all of us have to deal with their imperfections while they learn their lessons, which is one of the lessons we each need to learn for our self.

I am embarrassed that I ever thought that He who designed and assembled the whole universe might actually need someone like me to get the work done for the welfare of His children on earth. No, He tolerates me – loves me, is patient with me, but doesn’t need me. We need the lessons He is offering us when we are sent forth to do His bidding in mortality. It is God’s patience that puts up with us slowing down His work as we stumble our way through all the lessons we need to learn along the way. What a kind, patient, and loving Father we have!

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

BoM Week 09