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.)

20 thoughts on “2 Nephi 28: 21

  1. I associate “lull” with lullaby: to sing someone to sleep. We are asleep, anesthetized, comatose. At least I have spent entirely too much of my life that way.

    In a recent temple recommend interview when I was asked if I was keeping the covenants I have made, I commented that I wasn’t really up to par on the law of consecration. Then I waited for the usual response from the member of the bishopric. “Oh, we aren’t asked to practice that one anymore.” I always want to ask: “Why, then, would the Lord force us to lie by requiring us to make a promise we had no intention of keeping?”

    Instead I just smiled and tipped my head as if too ask: “Are you SURE about that?” Being awakened from our slumber too quickly can be rather frightening.

  2. I had never before equated “enduring to the end” with seeking the face of the Lord while in this life. If there is a continuing path after receiving the ordinances which MUST be walked in order to please the Lord and enter into His presence, then why would the Lord not be more explicit in His directions? Why obscure the “way,” by lumping all of what is a very long, exacting and absolutely essential process, into a fuzzy, generic directive called, “enduring to the end.”

    It really is no mystery to me why so many members of the church, having received the ordinances, are complacent about their standing with the Lord; the scriptures are written in a way which allows such complacency.

    Or, maybe the Lord’s lack of direction is really my lack of discernment.

  3. Regarding “gradualness” I think C.S. Lewis captured it perfectly in The Screwtape Letters:

    “You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft, underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” [page 60-61 in the 2001 HarperCollins edition, emphasis added].

  4. There are a few ways to look at “the end.” The first is the most common in our culture:
    The end = the end of my life, or the end of my temporal trial. This mentality makes me think that there is plenty of time to work it out, and probably on the “other side,” I’ll have the resources to actually become perfect, come to know Christ, etc.

    But what if we looked at it this way:
    3 Ne 9:18 – I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

    So, using this definition, we endure to the Omega, or to Jesus Christ.

    Another way of looking at it:
    Alma 13:8 – Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end-

    If this ordination is of an eternal nature… that is, “without” the area that does have a beginning and does have an end, then receiving that ordination would mean that one is now in the realms of “eternity.” They have endured through the part that has a beginning and an end, and now they are withOUT it (instead of withIN it).


  5. Denver:

    You have said several times in the past that this blog was about ‘the process’. For a long while I didn’t understand why you spent so much time in the blog hammering away at ‘false, vain and foolish traditions’ since they seemed to me to have so little to do with ‘the process’. However, the relentless message of Nephi hit home somewhere around July 24th. We need to SEE clearly and discern truth from error. Until we wake up we will just keep sleepwalking toward the precipice. The greatness of Alma the younger lie in the depth of his sorrow for sin. He was forced to see by the angelic vision. Only then could he fully repent. Likewise I cannot repent until I, like Alma, am harrowed up by my sins. Until the “cultural fog” is lifted, I will not be able to fully see the jeoparday I am in. Thank you for the water boarding of the last 2 months. For some, like me, there is no other way to get the point across.

    Nephi leaves the current theme in the last chapters and moves into the process, the way. I sincerely hope you will continue your commentary through those chapters.

  6. A centipede was happy quite.
    Until a frog in fun
    Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
    This raised its mind to such a pitch
    It lay distracted in a ditch
    Considering how to run.

  7. I confess I can’t escape the truth that Denver says above, “the ordinances do matter”.

    In previous comments, I downplayed that part of things in trying to talk up the part of ordinances that reflects the sentiment “but [if] you do not come to Christ, will the ordinances alone save you?”

    I didn’t know how to put it into words very good, so I should have framed things better to show I was studying those things out still.

  8. Another thought that came to me in contradiction of previous beliefs I’ve expressed here: If an angel can send a message in a dream, why not in a blog? Truly there are some things that need to be seen, but hearing the word of God can come through written means. Doubtless higher knowledge is confirmed to produce faith in visits face to face, but faith as a grain of mustard seed must start somewhere, and why not the written word, if the word is given by a true messenger?

  9. OK, with that in mind, I think I have a better belief to express about the topic of ordinances, and I hope angels will confirm this for me soon:

    The powers of godliness are not manifest unto men in the flesh without the ordinances, but that doesn’t mean they are not experienced. This is what I am thinking: What happens with someone who experiences a power of godliness before the ordinance associated with it is like what happened to the Lamanites who were baptized with the Holy Ghost, but knew it not. Helaman Chapter 5 has the powers of heaven being poured out upon these Lamanites, none of whom had received the ordinances, apparently, if this is what was meant by Christ in 3 Nephi 9:20 when he said they “knew it not”, potentially meaning they hadn’t been visited by ordinances yet to have it manifest to them in ceremony what they had already experienced, or what they could experience.

    Any thoughts that will help establish the correct beliefs here would be greatly appreciated. Here are my beginning assumptions:

    -The ordinances then, if the above is true, only manifest what is possible.

    -The experience of the powers of godliness are something separate, and not entirely dependent upon the ordinances, but may happen at the same time as an ordinance, but they may also happen before or after as well.

    -Every individual is still required to receive all the ordinances.

    -Therefore, even if the powers of godliness are already manifest for someone from other means (like from proofs in nature or directly from God), there is some necessary reason for them to experience the associated ordinances as well.

    -What this/these necessary reason(s) is/are I’m not sure, but it/they may have to do with the phrase “to fulfill all righteousness” that the Savior used and that Nephi used as well for the purpose of arguing the necessity of ordinances.

    In past comments I was using the term “ordinance” liberally to apply to any proof from God, and in this post I am using it strictly to apply to the rites of the Church.

    Any help anyone, Denver included? I’m excited already thinking about what good insights might pop up. There is quite an intelligent group hanging around as commentors here.

  10. After receiving the Second Comforter, one must still pay the bills, unclog the sink, serve in the ward, etc.- that seems to be what you’re saying, and it tastes like good doctrine to me. The “perfect day” does not mark the beginning of an extended holiday. Quite the opposite; as you point out, it begins a period of increased expectations.

    My point, probably badly put, was that the phrase “enduring to the end” holds within it the process of seeking the face of the Lord. I didn’t recognize that this phrase contained so much, and I suspect that others in the church also fail to recognize its full import. Which, it seems, leads to the unhappy misconception that, having received the basic ordinances, one can then just put the plane on auto-pilot.

  11. “That is, can you see a reason to say that Zion is well at present? Do our people say that?”

    Well how about building a billion dollar mall and condo complex….Seems to say all is well..no imminent danger, Zion is prospering.

    What about the feeling conveyed when our prophet is seen at the Jazz games? Seems to say all is well, for now at least there is no need to fast, pray, dress in sackcloth and ashes, call our solemn assemblies nor mourn for the judgments coming upon us or our children.

  12. I’ve heard Robert Millet (if I recall correctly) use these words with regards to works of salvation. I think they apply perfectly to ordinances as well:

    They are necessary, but not sufficient.

  13. This entry certainly applies to me. I’m a selfish, wicked man. I’m not looking outward as I should. Do I really care for my brothers and sisters? If so, why do I spend so much time taking care of myself? Do I go with the flow too much? I often say, How sorry I feel for those that don’t have what I have.” What am I doing about it? Have I been lulled?

    I can see Alma going from town to town relentlessly, teaching the truth to all he would come in contact with. He knew what hell was truly like. He knew what being redeemed was truly like. He was relentless and diligent because he knew. When one truly knows, there is only one course of action. Alma and Amulek are both examples of this. They both knew what it was like to procrastinate, to be concerned with other things. This is precisely why we need further light and knowledge from the Lord. It is so we’ll know fully. Alma needed it, Amulek needed it, and I’m no different, I NEED it. Time to get busy.

  14. “What about the feeling conveyed when our prophet is seen at the Jazz games?”

    I obviously don’t follow the cult of personality close enough to keep tabs on when the Prophet is at a Jazz game.

    But if we believe that Joseph Smith was correct when he said:

    “This morning I read German and visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet;’ but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.–DHC 5:265” (STPJS, 278).

    then assuming the Prophet wasn’t seen attending a game on the Sabbath (D&C 68:29) then I wouldn’t think much of it at all…

    [Full Disclosure: From time to time I have enjoyed watching a basketball game myself (Monday-Saturday).]

  15. To comment on the Zang family’s question about ordinances. I am thinking about young Davids anointing to be king of Israel when he was just a young kid by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:13). The Anointing was an ordinance that marked a beginning of a journey “and the spirit of the Lord rested upon him”. David still had the slay Goliath, endure the wrath of Saul, flee to the wilderness, and many other trials before the power and authority of kingship was conformed upon him. When he proved himself true and faithful, He received a second anointing to the kingship of Israel. He received the power and authority thereof (2 Samuel 5:3). Before he was anointed to become king. At the age of 30 he was anointed as king. I think this conferral of earthy power teaches us about the conferral of heavenly power. Davids life afterward is a Cautionary tale. Ordnances alone can’t save us from ourselves.

    I hope this thought is useful.

    Jennifer Bowler

  16. Jennifer…. thank you for those thoughts…. I had not thought of David’s first and second anointings in this way before….they are helpful to me. :) thank you again.

  17. Being a Prophet or Apostle or Gen. Authority does not mean they are more righteous than other members, just that they have a greater responsibility & obligation to serve & be righteous & have the Spirit of discernment.

    The higher the calling the greater the accountability.

    Thus we should pray for & support our leaders in righteousness, for they often have a greater burden to carry than we do in lighter callings.

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