Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Are You Listening to and Heeding the Counsel of Modern Prophets?

             The Come, Follow Me studies for this week are about Samuel, a Lamanite, and his visit to the Nephites. We know little about Samuel other than he was a Lamanite prophet who delivered the word of God to the Nephites. We do not know where he lived, where he came from, or where he went after his visit.

            We know that Samuel’s visit to the Nephites took place five years before the birth of Christ. At the time of the story, the Lamanites were more righteous than the Nephites, and Samuel came to share the glorious news that the Savior was coming (see Helaman 13:7).

Samuel preached repentance to the Nephites for “many days” before they cast him out of their city. (See Helman 13:2.) As he was traveling to wherever he was going, “the voice of the Lord came unto him” telling him that he should return “and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart” (Helman 13:3).

The Nephites were most likely surprised to see Samuel return to their city, and they would not let him enter. Samuel understood that he was under divine orders, so he climbed up on the wall of the city to deliver his message. The basic message was: This people will be destroyed in 400 years unless you repent and have faith in Jesus Christ.

            The word of the Lord came into Samuel’s mind, and he told spoke to the Nephites: God would cause fire to come down from heaven to destroy the capital city of Zarahemla except for the righteous people in the city. God was sparing the city “for the righteous’ sake.” However, the people of Zarahemla were “ripe for destruction” if they should “cast out the righteous from among you” (Helaman 13:12-13). The Lord named other cities where “wickedness and abominations” were strong, and He said that a curse would come upon the land because of their wickedness and abominations” (Helman 13:15-17).

            Samuel continued delivering the message from the Lord as it came into his mind. He recounted the sins of the Nephites: They “set their hearts upon their riches” (Helaman 13:20). They did not remember the Lord but were puffed up with pride. Their pride led to envy, strife, malice, persecutions, murder, and “all manner of iniquities” (Helman 13:20). They mocked the prophets that the Lord sent to teach them and get angry with them for their words. They cast the prophets out of their cities and stone them to death because they do not like what the prophets tell them. (See Helman 13:24-26.).

            The prophet Samuel listed four truths he wanted the people to know from his teachings:              (1) know the judgments of God. (2) Know the conditions of repentance, (3) Know of the coming of Jesus Christ, and (4) Know of the signs of His coming. (See Helaman 14:11-12)

            Still standing on the wall, Samuel prophesied of the birth of Jesus Christ and gave signs to let the Nephites know when He was born and died. Christ would be born in five years. On the night before Christ was born, there would be no darkness, but a new star would appear in the heavens as well as “many signs and wonders in heaven” (See Helaman 14:2-6.)

Samuel gave signs of the death of Christ: The sun, moon, and stars would be darkened for three days (Helaman 14:20). There would be great storms with thundering, lightning, tempests, and earthquakes. Cities and highways would be destroyed. Graves would be opened, and resurrected saints would appear to many of the people (Helaman 14:21-25). The signs would be so obvious that “there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (Helaman 14:28).

Maybe to give hope, Samuel taught the Nephites about the resurrection of Christ and told them that Christ must die to “bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord” (Helman 14:15). He said that Christ’s death and resurrection would bring to pass the resurrection and redemption of “all mankind from the first death – that spiritual death” that came because of the Fall of Adam (Helaman 14:16). He added that everyone will be brought “back into the presence of the Lord” to be judged by God (Helaman 14:17).

Samuel added a second reason for the resurrection of Christ: to bring “to pass the condition of repentance” (Helaman 14:18). Those people who repent will be saved, and those who do not repent will be “hewn down and cast into the fire” and suffer a second death – a spiritual death caused by being “cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness” (Helaman 14:18). He added that each person could “act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free” (Helaman 14:30).

31 He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you, or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you (Helaman 14:31).

            Ending his sermon, Samuel told the Nephites that they would see some difficult times when many of them would die. He reminded them that they “have been a chosen people of the Lord; yea, the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them” (Helaman 15:3).

            Samuel taught an important principle: The Lord chastens those He loves. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught three purposes for divine chastening:

·         “To persuade us to repent.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 1:27; 93:41-50; 105:6.)

·         “To refine and sanctify us.” (See Mosiah 23:21-22; Doctrine and Covenants 101:1-5; 136:31.)

·         “To redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path” (“As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign 2011, 97-100).

The Savior will come again in the not too far future. Although He has given signs of His Second Coming, they are not as specific as the signs given by Samuel. Samuel told the Nephites that Christ would be born in five years; that there would be a day, a night, and a day without darkness; that a new star would be seen in the heavens. Samuel was just as specific about the signs of the death of Christ. He said that the sun, moon, and stars would go dark and not give any light and that the darkness would last for three days. He said that there would be terrible storms and earthquakes as well as much destruction.

Many of the same signs will be seen when Christ comes again. We are told that the sun, moon, and stars will go dark. We are told that there will be terrible storms and earthquakes. We are told that we must repent and turn to the Savior if we want to join Him in His heavenly kingdom. The prophets and apostles of our day are giving us the same messages that Samuel and other prophets have delivered. Are we listening to and heeding their counsel?

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