Study on 2 Nephi 2 (Grace in Lehi)


Several questions guiding this ongoing study:

  • How does Lehi see grace?
  • What is the purpose of this life?

We had a long conversation with a good friend the other day about grace, works, salvation, choice, etc. My understanding is changing, so of course the way I read scripture is changing.

“The way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.”

“[T]here is no flesh that can dwell [with] God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.”

Salvation is free. v.4

Law justifies no one. v.5

God answers the ends of the law through his sacrifice for sin. v.7

He brings to pass the resurrection. v.8

He makes intercession for all. v.9,10.

Therefore, all men come unto God. v.10

Then men are judged. v.10

Here we come to choices. Lehi takes a tanget to explain that there must be opposition in all things, and paints us a picture of a world without opposition. This brings us to verse 16, with the  grand statement: “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself.” Satan is allowed to tempt Eve, and us, to allow us a chance to choose. “It must needs be that there was an opposition” (v.15); “man could not act for himself save it should be tht he was enticed by the one or the other” (v.16).

But, Adam and Eve fell. Everyone was “lost, because of the transgressions of their parents” (v.21). “By the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good” (v.5).

What now? Would it have been better to live without this temptation and never to have fallen? God forbid! “If not [for opposition] righteousness could not be brought to pass … all things must needs be a compound in one … [and would] remain as dead” (v.11). This would frustrate God’s purposes, and “there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation” (v.12). Adam and Eve would have remained as dead, having no life, nor furtherance of life: “they would have had no children” (v.23).

What is the purpose then, that God has by sending us here? I’m asking this specifically of Lehi. Apparently we are here to choose and to have children. To do good, to bring to pass righteousness.

But what about salvation? How are we to get back? Are we getting back to the garden? Let’s look at verse 26.

“And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.” Everyone?

“And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever.” Questions: 1, Free from what? 2, Does the redemption mentioned here essentially cancel out the fall? They are free from the law, then? 3, free forever? no going back? No way to deny it?

“…free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.” They are free from the guilt of the fall, yet now they have knowledge. Now they can truly act.

“…save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.” I thought Lehi said God’s sacrifice answered this end of the law? Are ends and punishment different? Are we talking about two different instances of law, such as Alma speaks of in Alma 12:31-37? What are we free from?

Verse 27:

“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death.”

Ah! So we are free to choose, but if law were done away with altogether then we could not receive consequences according to our choices. Opposition must exist so that we can choose. There needs to be “ends of atonment” affixed in opposition to “punishment” so that we can even choose good! But, we also can choose bad if that’s what we want.

We are given everything – knowledge, in a fully redeemed state, without guilt, innocent. But, with knowledge inside us, and opposition in front of us, we are set to the task of acting for ourselves to pick whatever path we desire. We are not in debt to one or the other; we have nothing to repay. We are free, not in prison! In fact, you could say that when the effects of the fall first took place we were all in a sort of prison, kept away from God, but through the atonement we are set free. Then, this life “became a state of probation” (v.21) to see what we will do. A probation is not a time where a prisoner earns his way out of jail; it is a testing time to see what a prisoner will do when they are set free.

It is only when someone is free that their true desires show. My husband’s mission president used to say to them, Do you want to know what kind of person you will be after the mission? Just look at how you spend preparation day.” There is a lot of truth in that. What will we be like when we retire from a job? Well, what do we do on our Saturdays right now? What will I do when the kids are grown up? Well, what do I do in their nap times or early mornings before they are up? While time constraints may not allow some of the things I would like to do (I can’t take a train trip across the country with Joe during nap time), the things I do each day do reflect my desires; and if I were left fully to my desires I would probably follow out the course they are leading to.

INSIGHT ABOUT CHOICES – added Aug 12

We are looking for housing right now, and my stress there gave me some understanding about choices.

I am free to choose a place to live. My husband got a job (a gift) that is in the city we want (a gift) and will pay him money that we can live on (a gift). I couldn’t force that job to come; it was a surprise and a gift. They gave him a job. We felt good about it, even though we didn’t know how much money would be coming in, so we took it. We felt like staying there was a gift from Heavenly Father, one we had prayed for, so we received the gift.

Now I am trying to find “the perfect” place to live. Since I can choose, I am looking online, finding “for rent” signs, asking around, etc. I am making charts to see which places have yards and dishwashers and washers and dryers, what the rent costs, how close they are to parks, campus, etc. And so I begin to obsess on finding the “right” place for us. I spend so much time that finally I say: “If someone were to just give me a place and tell me that’s where we were living, I’d be fine and start making it work. But to have this choice, I feel like I have to find the best place! Arg!”

Interesting that the moment I am given the opportunity to choose, and this choice came because we felt strongly that this was a good place to live and we’d be taken care of, then I begin to worry.  If I can choose, then I want the best. What is the best? I don’t know. I guess I’d better look at every single place and bargain and feel cheated if someone gets a good place before I can look at it.. etc. etc. etc.

How do I know what place would be good for our family? I don’t. I don’t know which places have leaky pipes or bad landlords. I don’t know who our neighbors will be. I don’t know any of the future. Yet, because someone said I could choose where to live, I feel like I should know all of these things somehow, or else how could I make the perfect decision?

The answer of course is that the person (God, in this case!) who told me I could pick a place to live is not requiring me to solve this impossible problem. He just said I could live here. It was a gift, so that we could get some good work done for Him. That’s all. It wasn’t a housing-hunting test, it was a gift.

What is it about a gift of choice that makes us obsess? Is this why we obsess about whether or not we are going to the Celestial Kingdom? Salvation was a gift, and now we can choose. But then we get obsessive about whether each action is perfect. What do you think?

More to come.

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One response to “Study on 2 Nephi 2 (Grace in Lehi)

  • Roberta Gruber

    Yes, exactly. There is a lot of work (i.e. responsibility) connected to receiving a gift and your example of the apartment hunt is a perfect illustration. It’s got me thinking (again….!)

    rg

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