Saturday, January 19, 2013

President's Weekly Letter #19

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission



We talked about some doctrinal points of 1 Nephi 12, 13 and 14 at Zone Conference in December 2012.  These chapters contain a continuation of the vision Nephi received as interpretation of his father’s dream of the tree of life.  We frequently forget that the vision of the tree of life is much more than a tree, fruit, rod, river spacious building, path, etc.  These items are also symbolic representations of events in the days from Nephi to and including future events.  Nephi literally saw our day and into the future to the judgment similar to John, Enoch and others.

This is particularly relevant to us because we are engaged in bringing forth the marvelous work and wonder spoken of by the Lord in the last days and we are armed with righteousness and the power of God.  We can learn of our destiny and duty from these verses.

Nephi speaks of the 12 Disciples of Christ and three generations after Christ that had white garments (1 Nephi 12:10-11).  White is a symbol for cleanliness, righteousness and holiness.  White garments symbolize a person who is clothed in purity.  Whiteness in a garment means that purity is a characteristic of the garment (individual) not just a superficial attribute of the garment.  Such cleanliness is made possible only through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ in which His blood was shed for our sins.

Such cleanliness is difficult to attain by being a member of the Church in name only without internalizing purity in ones way of life. There is a difference between going through the motions of membership compared to having pure hearts, pure consciences, fearing God and keeping his commandments.

The mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil.  His temptations have two effects:  they blind the eyes or harden the heart.  This may be all he has power to do but that power is enough to lead people into broad roads to perish. (1Nephi13:17)

Nephi prophecies about the great and abominable church.  Elder Bruce R. McConkie offers the following description of the meaning of this church:

“The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all churches or organizations of whatever name or nature—whether political, philosophical, educational, economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious—which are designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 137–38).

The great and abominable church is a symbol of apostasy in all its forms.  Actually, no single church or organization meets all the requirements for the great and abominable church which requirements are:

·      It must have formed among the Gentiles 13:4;
·      It must have edited and controlled the distribution of the scriptures 13:26-27;
·      It must have slain the Saints of God, including the Apostles and prophets 13:5;
·      It must be in league with civil governments and use their police power to enforce its religious views 13:2-5
·      It must have dominion over all the earth 14:11;
·      It must pursue great wealth and sexual immorality 13:8;
·      It must last until close to the end of the world 14:17.

A harlot (1Nephi 13:7) is a symbol of Satan and impurity.  When people are unfaithful to covenants they are as a faithless woman who sold herself to immorality and sin and prostitutes all that is noble and good.

Regarding the discovery of America (1 Nephi 13:12), consider a quote from Christopher Columbus’s diary:

“Our Lord, unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed.  Those who heard of my enterprise called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed.  But, who can doubt but that the Holy Ghost inspired me?”

Without divine intervention, it is impossible to conceive that the pathetic Continental Army could win the Revolutionary War against the strongest army that existed on earth at that point in history. (1 Nephi 13:13-19)  Establishing the kingdom of God with no religious freedom under other monarchal governments of the world at that time would have also seemed impossible. The Lord began to establish his great kingdoms on earth just fourteen years after the Bill of Rights on December 23, 1805 when Joseph Smith was born.

The Lord knew that the great and abominable church would try to destroy the word of God in the Bible. (1Nephi 13:20-29)  The angel talking to Nephi makes it clear that he is not talking about subtle accidents of hand and eye, resulting in a few misplaced letters or words.  The changes were the planned editorial work of designing men.

The Lord said he will in the latter days do a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting and our numbers will be few because of the wickedness of the great whore.  The whore shall gather together multitudes to fight against the Lamb of God.  Clearly, today, the fight is against Christianity, not against any one Christian church.  The covenant people of the Lord will be armed with righteousness and with the power of God. (1Nephi 14:7, 12-14)  As a side note, the Lord told Enoch, who saw the same vision of the last days that righteousness and truth will sweep the earth to gather his elect. (Moses 7:62)

Finally, the covenant people will prevail.  In Enoch’s vision the Lord said, “…but my people will I preserve…” (Moses 7:61)  The wrath of God will be poured out upon the abominable church.  There will be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it. (1Nephi 14:3, 15, 17) 
President Robinson

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