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2 Nephi 28: 24-25

 
“Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!  Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!”
 
The word “therefore” ties all that went before to this warning about “Zion.” The threat of damnation, the pronouncement of “wo’s,” and the cautions about false teachers spreading false teachings are all designed to cause unease to Zion. That would be us. Or it would be what we claim about ourselves.
 
It is foolish to turn Nephi’s message into a warning to some other latter-day group. The gentiles, who have received the Book of Mormon, and who claim they are better than others, puffed up with conceit about being chosen and highly favored of God, are the ones who would identify themselves as “Zion” in Nephi’s prophecy. Not others. Us.
 
If you have reacted to the previous discussion with the notion that the interpretation given is really just my “opinion,” and not an actual warning targeting the Latter-day Saints, you should reconsider. Although Nephi’s message has been construed to apply to other faiths, (and the language certainly permits it) this part of Nephi’s sermon makes the conclusion inevitable. He is not warning others. He is not primarily targeting the world of the last days. He is warning and attempting to save the souls of those who receive his writings and self-identify themselves as “Zion.”
 
This means if we are “Zion” we can never be “at ease.” We can never relent.  Self-praise and assuring words that make us relax are not only false, they cheat us whenever they remove the burden of repentance we must bear.

There can be no ease. There can be no determination that “all is well” until we have repented and come to Christ. When Christ has forgiven us, we can know we are forgiven.  When Christ has promised us eternal life, we can know we have eternal life. Until then, we remain at risk and in jeopardy every hour we are here. (1 Cor. 15: 30.) When, however, you know you are sealed up to eternal life, you have the more sure word of prophecy or the testimony of Jesus. (D&C 131: 5.)

 
When can a person know they have a part in Zion? When the Lord Himself has made them a citizen. When the description given below is the description of their lives, then they may know it will be well with them:
 
“They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—  That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;  And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.  They are they who are the church of the Firstborn. They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—  They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory; And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son. Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—  Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.  And they shall overcome all things.” (D&C 76: 51-60.)
 
These are they who have been told by the voice of God from heaven that they have eternal life. They are those who have obtained a hope in Christ.
 
When the Gospel of Christ is taught, it is always the purpose to bring people to this point. It is not Christ’s Gospel when the teachings fall short of declaring this to the audience. Nephi was not trying to get you to improve your behavior or to become a good citizen. He was not attempting to make you a conservative, mainstream American. He was warning you to flee from this corrupt and failing society to a higher place where you can obtain communion with the Church of the Firstborn. A place where you join the household of God.
 
Zion is not and has never been the product of an institutional organization on this earth.  It is a byproduct of there being citizens of heaven living here. Zion is the only way such persons can live with one another. First obtain a hope in Christ, and then all things will be added to you.
 
Why, then, should there be no ease among us?  Because we have too few for the Lord to bring again Zion. Until then we do not have Zion, and our false claims to it only serve to make us at ease while there remains yet a great unfinished labor to perform.
 
It is Nephi’s love for us, his desire to see us saved and happy, that causes him to use such harsh words of warning. He knows what we lack. He wants us to overcome it all and join him in the chorus singing anthems of praise, because our joy cannot be expressed without such songs! (D&C 84: 98-102.)

Constitutional Forum 2

I will participate again at the American Heritage School in a Constitutional Law forum.  The format is a panel discussion.  It is at 7:00 p.m. this Thursday, the 5th.  American Heritage School is located across the street from the Timpanogos Temple in American Fork.

This panel will be discussing First Amendment freedom of speech issues.  

Since some of you attended last time, I thought I ought to post a notice again.

2 Nephi 28: 23

“Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.” 

This is a continuation of the warning. Nephi wants us to take quite seriously his warnings.

When you read words like these it becomes apparent the only safe way to measure his warning is to apply it directly and personally to ourselves. To think this was meant only for “others” is too complacent.

When the truth has made you angry, and you have forfeited the option of repentance extended to you, the “grasp of death” is upon you. You will remain subject to “death and hell.” Being “seized” by these two things, as you stand before the “throne of God” you will be certain that there will be, for you, a continuation of “the deaths.” (D&C 132: 25.)

Judgment is based “according to their works.”  (See also Rev. 20: 12-13; explained further in D&C 128: 6-8.) Joseph ties sealing power to these “works” which must be done under this authority and then recorded to become binding. This is the practice of the church. It is and has always been the practice of those having such authority. They not only perform the work, but upon having done so they create a record of having done so.

Upon being judged, they go “into the place prepared for them.” This place is, for those who are grasped with “death and hell” called “a lake of fire and brimstone.” A lake because it engulfs them so tightly they are flooded with the guilt. Fire because it is designed to purge and refine. Brimstone because of the bitterness of the experience. The torment there is “endless” meaning from God. (D&C 19: 4-12.)

This purging does not confer blessings, but merely balances out the claims of justice for those who would not accept mercy. (D&C 19: 15-19.)

Crying repentance is to warn, so the claims of justice may be avoided by obtaining mercy through Christ. Christ’s mercy is offered to all, but will only be received in full by few. All will be resurrected because of His sacrifice (1 Cor. 15: 22), and those who died without law will not be punished for their ignorance (D&C 76: 71-72; D&C 45, 54), but to receive the full benefit of His atonement must do as He commands (D&C 132: 22-23).

Those who love others and want their eternal welfare will invite everyone to repent and come to Christ. The prospect of others suffering needlessly because they would not repent is a great horror to them. This is why Nephi’s words are at times so blunt. This is why he wants to stir us all up to our terrible situation. It is merciful to speak to us in these frank terms.

I know some who have read these words of counsel from Nephi and find them objectionable. However, Isaiah spoke against those whose words were “smooth” but filled with deceit. (Isa. 30: 10.) To people who are content and filled with pride, it takes a great deal of candor to bring them to their senses. (Enos 1: 23.) Nephi’s warnings are intended to save as many of the gentiles who read his record from self-destruction as he can bring to repentance. It is better for us to take counsel from his hand than to dismiss his teachings. He can only warn his readers.  Since we are his readers, he must be speaking to us.

2 Nephi 28: 22

 
“And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.”
 
How can the devil “flatter” someone? Why would it be “flattery” to tell someone “there is no hell?” What does it mean that “there is no hell?” Have you ever heard this idea taught?  Historic Christians are fully persuaded of the existence of hell. We, on the other hand, have three degrees of GLORY in which the idea of hell is sometimes lost.
So, is there a “hell?” (D&C 19: 15.) Do those who go there suffer? How difficult is the suffering? (D&C 19: 16-18.)
 
How can it be flattery for the devil to tell someone “I am no devil?” Would his appearance to someone as an “angel of light” be flattery? (2 Ne. 9: 9.) Did the devil attempt to do this with Joseph Smith? (D&C 128: 20.) How was Joseph able to determine the devil was the devil, rather than an “angel of light” when he appeared? Did Joseph learn something about detecting evil spirits from this encounter?  What did Michael do to teach Joseph how to detect the devil? What did Joseph later teach about how to detect the devil? (D&C 129: 8.)  What kind of a handshake would you expect to be used to detect a true messenger?
 
Have others been confronted by Satan appearing as an angel? (Moses 1: 12.) Now if one were deceived by the devil, thinking him an angel of light, would the devil teach them false doctrines? (Alma 30: 53.)

Would the false doctrines make them and those hearing from them feel secure, or would it stir them up to repentance?

 
What does it mean for the devil to claim “there is none?” I’m reminded of Peter asking a minister if he knew who he (the minister) worked for. The minister did not know, and so Peter informed him he worked for the devil.  We don’t think about that much anymore, but it is nonetheless the case that there are many people offering instruction who are really either in the employ of the devil, or using then precepts of men as the fodder for their teaching.
 
What comes to mind with the image of the devil “whispering in their ears?” How close must the devil come to be whispering into a person’s ears? How attentive must the devil become to his target?
 
Why “awful chains” and not just “chains?”  Are there “chains” that are not “awful?” Why would these particular chains always become “awful?”
 
What does it mean that “there is no deliverance” from these chains? Why would there be no more deliverance provided?
 
The verses we are considering are part of a careful message and cannot be separated from each other. They blend together. So when considering this portion of the message you must also keep in mind the other things that went before in Nephi’s sermon.
 
I am awestruck by this great prophet’s message. It inspires fear for my fellow man when I read it. The plight in which some men find themselves by the traditions handed to us seem to be such a trap as to defy escape.  What can I say to liberate them?  What can I do to help them escape? Who am I to even dare think I can make any difference? What petitions might I weary the Lord with to help avert this end for others?

We seem to all be asleep and incapable of noticing this terrible warning. Why cannot we all awake and arise and put on the beautiful garments, going forth to meet with the Bridegroom? (Moroni 10: 31; D&C 133: 10.)

 
Perhaps some of you may make a difference in this battle. All of our souls are at risk and we seem more interested in preserving our current circumstances than in understanding them.

This Book of Mormon is alarming when we consider it a warning for us. Not at all the docile and superficial text we can turn it into when studying 8 chapters in a single 50 minute Gospel Doctrine class– reduced by the time taken for announcement, opening and closing prayers, and witty banter exchanged among affable Saints as part of our renewal of weekly fellowship. Those things are good, of course, but the book commands deeper attention.

 
If I had to say one thing has done more to bring me into harmony with the Lord than any other thing it would be this: I have taken the Book of Mormon seriously. I have assumed it is an authentic and ancient text written by prophetic messengers whose words ought to be studied for how they can change my life.  Though all the world may treat it lightly, I have tried to not do so. For that I believe the Lord’s approval has been given to an otherwise foolish, vain, error-prone and weak man.

Take the Book of Mormon seriously. Apply it to yourself. Not as a means to judge others, but as a means to test your own life. It is one thing to evaluate our circumstances, which the book compels us to do, but we needn’t go further than to realize our terrible plight.  From that moment the warning should work inside ourselves to help us improve within, see more clearly our day, think more correctly about what is going on, and act more consistent with the Lord’s purposes.

 
The Book of Mormon is the most correct book available. A person can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than with any other book.

2 Nephi 28: 22

 
“And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.”
 
How can the devil “flatter” someone? Why would it be “flattery” to tell someone “there is no hell?” What does it mean that “there is no hell?” Have you ever heard this idea taught?  Historic Christians are fully persuaded of the existence of hell. We, on the other hand, have three degrees of GLORY in which the idea of hell is sometimes lost.
So, is there a “hell?” (D&C 19: 15.) Do those who go there suffer? How difficult is the suffering? (D&C 19: 16-18.)
 
How can it be flattery for the devil to tell someone “I am no devil?” Would his appearance to someone as an “angel of light” be flattery? (2 Ne. 9: 9.) Did the devil attempt to do this with Joseph Smith? (D&C 128: 20.) How was Joseph able to determine the devil was the devil, rather than an “angel of light” when he appeared? Did Joseph learn something about detecting evil spirits from this encounter?  What did Michael do to teach Joseph how to detect the devil? What did Joseph later teach about how to detect the devil? (D&C 129: 8.)  What kind of a handshake would you expect to be used to detect a true messenger?
 
Have others been confronted by Satan appearing as an angel? (Moses 1: 12.) Now if one were deceived by the devil, thinking him an angel of light, would the devil teach them false doctrines? (Alma 30: 53.)

Would the false doctrines make them and those hearing from them feel secure, or would it stir them up to repentance?

 
What does it mean for the devil to claim “there is none?” I’m reminded of Peter asking a minister if he knew who he (the minister) worked for. The minister did not know, and so Peter informed him he worked for the devil.  We don’t think about that much anymore, but it is nonetheless the case that there are many people offering instruction who are really either in the employ of the devil, or using then precepts of men as the fodder for their teaching.
 
What comes to mind with the image of the devil “whispering in their ears?” How close must the devil come to be whispering into a person’s ears? How attentive must the devil become to his target?
 
Why “awful chains” and not just “chains?”  Are there “chains” that are not “awful?” Why would these particular chains always become “awful?”
 
What does it mean that “there is no deliverance” from these chains? Why would there be no more deliverance provided?
 
The verses we are considering are part of a careful message and cannot be separated from each other. They blend together. So when considering this portion of the message you must also keep in mind the other things that went before in Nephi’s sermon.
 
I am awestruck by this great prophet’s message. It inspires fear for my fellow man when I read it. The plight in which some men find themselves by the traditions handed to us seem to be such a trap as to defy escape.  What can I say to liberate them?  What can I do to help them escape? Who am I to even dare think I can make any difference? What petitions might I weary the Lord with to help avert this end for others?

We seem to all be asleep and incapable of noticing this terrible warning. Why cannot we all awake and arise and put on the beautiful garments, going forth to meet with the Bridegroom? (Moroni 10: 31; D&C 133: 10.)

 
Perhaps some of you may make a difference in this battle. All of our souls are at risk and we seem more interested in preserving our current circumstances than in understanding them.

This Book of Mormon is alarming when we consider it a warning for us. Not at all the docile and superficial text we can turn it into when studying 8 chapters in a single 50 minute Gospel Doctrine class– reduced by the time taken for announcement, opening and closing prayers, and witty banter exchanged among affable Saints as part of our renewal of weekly fellowship. Those things are good, of course, but the book commands deeper attention.

 
If I had to say one thing has done more to bring me into harmony with the Lord than any other thing it would be this: I have taken the Book of Mormon seriously. I have assumed it is an authentic and ancient text written by prophetic messengers whose words ought to be studied for how they can change my life.  Though all the world may treat it lightly, I have tried to not do so. For that I believe the Lord’s approval has been given to an otherwise foolish, vain, error-prone and weak man.

Take the Book of Mormon seriously. Apply it to yourself. Not as a means to judge others, but as a means to test your own life. It is one thing to evaluate our circumstances, which the book compels us to do, but we needn’t go further than to realize our terrible plight.  From that moment the warning should work inside ourselves to help us improve within, see more clearly our day, think more correctly about what is going on, and act more consistent with the Lord’s purposes.

 
The Book of Mormon is the most correct book available. A person can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than with any other book.

2 Nephi 28: 21

2 Nephi 28: 21:

“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”

Now we have reached a point where the audience becomes unavoidably identified with the gentiles of the last days who claim to be assembling as “Zion.” This term gets applied in the Book of Mormon in a highly selective way. It includes the following:

-Last days time frame;

-Post-restoration of the Book of Mormon;
-People who are either claiming or who have actually assembled together as Zion.

We are the only ones who fit this definition. Therefore the application of these verses to include us is required. We cannot point to others and say we are not among those being warned.

What does “pacify” mean?

What does “lull” mean?
What does “carnal security” mean?

If you have people who are pacified, lulled with carnal security, what kind of people are you speaking about?

Why would these people think they were “Zion?” What possible basis could people who are pacified, and lulled with carnal security have for thinking they are “Zion?”

What does it mean that “all is well in Zion?”  What does it mean “Zion prospereth?” Does “all is well in Zion” mean the same thing as “Zion prospereth?” If not, what is the difference?  Is one “spiritual” and the other “carnal?” 

Can one be an attitude, while the other is a measurement or statistic? Can “all be well in Zion” mean that we have comfortable controls and guarantees in place which will protect us?

Can “Zion prospereth” mean new converts, new buildings, new numbers, more tithing receipts, growth and political influence? What else might it mean?

Do we satisfy the notion that “all is well in Zion?”  That is, can you see a reason to say that Zion is well at present? Do our people say that?

Do we satisfy the notion that “Zion prospereth?” That is, can you see any reason to say that Zion is presently prospering? Do our people say that?

Why would it “cheat souls” to make them think “all is well in Zion” and that “Zion prospereth?”

Why would it lead people “carefully down to hell” for them to believe all is well and Zion prospers?

Can Zion ever relent? Can Zion tolerate a little sin? Does it cheat us if we are good, decent people, and we recognize we are good and decent? Even if we are good and honorable, can we be deceived? (D&C 76: 75.) How does prosperity blind us? Do John’s words to the Laodiceans tell us how we can err? (Rev. 3: 17.)

What quality does the devil employ to mislead us? Does being led away “carefully” mean it is harder to recognize the peril? Should it be hard to avoid deception? Why do those who take the Holy Spirit as their guide avoid this kind of deception? (D&C 45: 57.) Can anyone qualify to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit (Moroni 10: 5.) Can anyone qualify to receive Christ as their guide? (D&C 93: 1.)

What good does it do to follow even a true messenger, if you do not receive a testimony from Christ? (D&C 76: 98-101.)

To whom should you look for salvation?

Does part of the problem Nephi relates here grow out of the notion that being part of a group will matter? If you accept baptism and other saving ordinances from those with authority to minister them, but you do not come to Christ, will the ordinances alone save you? Since the ordinances do matter (Mark 16: 16; 2 Nephi 9: 23), what must you do after receiving them? (D&C 20: 25.) Is part of enduring to the end helping others within your own ward family? Can you just walk away from your obligations to the church after entering into the covenant of baptism? (Mosiah 18: 8-10.)

2 Nephi 28: 20

 
“For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.”
 
One of the most effective ways to end thought or discussion is to get angry. Lawyers use anger as a tool to turn witnesses into thoughtless and emotional pawns. People make very bad decisions when they are angry. I’ve mentioned before my father’s saying that he never spoke a word in anger than he did not later regret.
 
This is a time of great anger. Anger about religious ideas flows from insecurity and feeling threatened by the idea. It is not possible to have a discussion when people are insecure, angry and unwilling to be thoughtful about ideas.

This is the work of the devil. He succeeds when people close their minds and fill with anger at teachings which introduce ideas that challenge assumptions.

 
This is why the Jews wanted Christ killed.  This is why they wanted to kill Lehi when he spoke of Christ. The teachings ran contrary to the presumptions, and as a result the response was emotional, angry and closed down thought and discussion.
 
Using fear to shut down people’s ability to consider, ponder and pray is a technique used with amazing success. When you hear the argument that something will put you in peril, jeopardize your salvation, and to be afraid of the idea or discussion, you ought to ask yourself whether the notion that shutting down discussion seems right or not. Is it merely using fear to cause rage and anger? Can it be a tool to cause you to turn “against that which is good?”
 
All kinds of ideas need to be considered to bring you to the Lord. Closing down because of fear will hinder the process, as the devil knows. (D&C 38: 30.)
 
The tool of anger is the other side of fear.
 
The object of this is always to cheat your soul, close your mind, keep you from learning the truth.
 
Now is the great day of anger. Have you noticed how much of the discourse in public life is based upon fear and anger? Those larger social dynamics invade the community of Saints, as well. We are as vulnerable to this technique as the rest of society.
 
Be slow to anger, quick to forgive; open and prayerful. The great plan to cheat your soul will not succeed with you if you remain humble and open.

2 Nephi 28: 18-19

 
“But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof. For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;”
 
Remember that this comes at the end of Nephi’s ministry. He saw the vision of the great and abominable church at the beginning of his journey into the wilderness. There has been over forty years between the time of the earlier visions and the time of this summary of his great teachings. (See 2 Ne. 5: 34.)
 
Between the time Nephi saw the visions (set out beginning in 1 Nephi 11) and the time of this final instruction, Nephi has had decades to ponder on the things he was shown in vision. He has, in fact, spent those years reflecting constantly upon the visions he received. (2 Ne. 4: 16.) It is foolish to believe that Nephi, Joseph Smith or any prophet understood what they saw the day they saw it. Only time, careful, solemn and ponderous thought can unravel what a person is shown in vision by the Lord. The understanding of a prophet is not static. It unfolds. Joseph’s first impression of the first vision was personal. He thought it was a message to him about himself. By the time he had finished translating the Book of Mormon, organizing the church, and collecting a following, Joseph realized the first vision was not his, but it belonged at a minimum to a larger community of believers. Eventually he would come to see it belonged to the world. The version we have in the Pearl of Great Price reflects that changing understanding. In it he gives the first understanding in what he told his mother the day it happened: He learned that Presbyterianism was not true.  (JS-H 1: 20.)
 
So this statement goes back forty years earlier and Nephi’s vision of the fall of the great whore. This universal false religion will fail. It will “fall.” The “fall” will be “great.” It will “tumble to the earth”– meaning that it will no longer stand on its own, but will altogether collapse.
The purpose of this great calamity is to bring about repentance. The purposes of God, even in punishment, are to elevate and save others.
Notice the devil’s tool that will be used in opposition to repentance: they will “be stirred up to anger, and perish.” That is, to harden hearts and to blind eyes, anger will be the most effective tool. Rather than being humbled by the fall of the great whore, those who will continue to resist repentance will be angry for the losses. They will lament the loss of what they held so dearly.
 
This, then, is how the groups break down – For those who repent, the difficulties they encounter bring humility and contrition. For those who refuse to repent, they respond with anger at their trials.

This is the great watershed test. If your set backs in life humble you, then your heart is soft and you are a candidate for repentance.  If you become angry, accuse God of causing evil, and refuse to be comforted, you are not a candidate for repentance. Your anger is a tool used to blind you. The one employing the tool is the enemy to your soul.

 
The trials and difficulties are gifts to stir you up to repentance. That is how you ought to respond. The only way to approach the Lord is through humility. Anything that aids you in becoming humble is good, merciful and just.  You should view it as a gift. No matter the difficulty. Christ descended below it all; and none of us are greater than He.  (D&C 122: 8.)

2 Nephi 28: 16-17

 
“Wo unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth; and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish. But behold, if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
 
Nephi warns against “turning aside the just for a thing of naught.” A “thing of naught” means something without value.  To “turn aside” is to leave or move away from. So he is telling you to be careful to not walk away from the truth being taught by a “just” or true source, and instead follow after something of no value.
 
This rejection of a true messenger and following after a false one inevitably results in “reviling that which is good.” When you reject the truth you normally have to deal with a troubled conscious. The way to calm it is to “revile against” the thing you have rejected. Not only do people “revile against” the message, but they go on to “say that it is of no worth!”
 
Think about the general reception given to the Lord’s messengers throughout scripture. They are always the object of criticism and reviling. Nephi is describing a syndrome here which always attaches to the true message and true messenger. They aren’t valued, but thought “a thing of naught.” The argument is always: “If what they had to say were important, it would come from someone more important.”  Content is ignored in favor of status.
 
Now the Lord allows this to go on and always has. But, as Nephi reminds us, there does come a time when the limit has been reached. When the limit has been reached, the end “will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth.” That is, when the time has come, the turn will be so swift that they cannot repent any longer. Judgment will overtake them too quickly.

The moment when they have reached the limit is described by Nephi as “fully ripe in iniquity.” That means they will no longer even listen to the truth. They have completely closed minds. It would do no good to extend them further opportunity, because they will not take any advantage of it.
 
So they are scheduled for destruction.
 
BUT, Nephi reminds us, they can repent. If they will change their minds and come to Christ, He will forgive them and heal them. If they repent, they will be preserved from the destruction. However, as has already become clear, their destruction is due to the fact they are “fully ripe.” So although repentance remains theoretically possible, and the Lord will accept even late return to Him, the offenders are committed to their offense. They are not likely to take advantage of the opportunity.

How humble it is for the Lord to be willing to accept the reluctant, tardy and slow to repent. Nevertheless, He is willing to accept even them. He suffered for all, and will redeem as many as will come to Him. Initially, He won’t destroy them with the wicked. Ultimately the outcome will depend upon how committed they are to the process of repentance. For to repent is to come to Him. They decide if His open arms will be where they finally embrace Him; of if they will stand afar off and think it too hard to surrender their sins and go further.