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.

21 thoughts on “2 Nephi 28: 22

  1. “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?”
    Denver I feel the same way…except I am not entirely confident in my own standing before the Lord. I hope it is improving.
    I woke at 6:00 am this morning with these very thoughts running through my head. I feel quite sad at the state we are in. I feel sad for the Lord, at the little requard we give him.
    I’m so very thankful be gaining the understanding that I am.

  2. That scene you describe with preacher and Satan was my favorite scene… I always “got a kick” out of the expression on the preacher’s face. I only attended a few times before my mission, during which mission the endowment was changed. I think the preacher character added to the LDS view that it’s “the other” churches that are false and wrong and have problems… never ours. So for that, I’m glad it was removed.

  3. Of course there is no hell. The lowest kingdom of all is so amazingly awesome that people would kill themselves to go there! Haven’t you been listening in Sunday School?



  4. What is a “kingdom” of no glory? What is “glory” for that matter? Where would one hide such a kingdom? Could one hide such a kingdom in plain sight?

  5. This was a marvelous post. The attending scriptures were so vital. I was particularly struck by D&C 45. Verses 28-29 all the sudden had new meaning after all the groundwork that has been layed through this blog in the past months. I HAVE NOT received the FULNESS of His gospel yet, because I could not perceive it because of the precepts of men that I have believed, cherished, clung to and passed on to others.

    I fear I am running out of time. I am 43 years old and have studied the principles associated with coming into the presence of the Lord since I was about 16 years old. I am so disappointed in what meager progress I have really made. Yet, I am hopeful that the Lord is indeed mindful of my desires and is giving me access to more knowledge to help me.

    My concern is that if I have taken so long in this journey and yet have so far to go…what of my children that range from six months to 18 years. Surely the fig leaves have begun to shoot forth and summer is nigh. I can teach them of the false precepts of men and convey as much as possible of what I now know…but the truth is that some things just really don’t sink in until one matures with experience and years of study and knowledge. What if they don’t have the luxury of those years before them. If they are on the path to the best of their knowledge, but have not developed their belief to faith to knowledge…is that where the promise comes in from Joseph Smith that I always see thrown around by people? Is that promise only to those parents who have received the “fulness” themselves (that’s how I take it)?

    Any light on how this all works with one being in the midst of a serious attempt at the process… but perhaps running out of time because the signs that the summer is nigh are evident as it pertains to one’s self and their children would be very helpful.

  6. DS said “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.)”

    Many many years ago I asked “If mortality is a finite part of eternity, how can a man be punished by God for the “rest” of eternity (for most an infinite period of duration) and still be just?”

    I came to the conclusion the punishment must also be finite, but with infinite consequences. Then the question became how could this be implemented?

    We are to understand all those consigned to hell will, after having paid the utmost farthing, be released and “inherit” the telestial kingdom (a place where the form of government is based on the law of the jungle–the lone and dreary world that we have heard of before–if you would, where the laws are obeyed out of fear of punishment by the “king”) except the sons’ of perdition.

    A full discuss of these sons and their fate is for another time; but suffice it to say, in order for their punishment to be finite, yet infinite suggests a “special death”. How does one suffer a dissolution of both body and spirit when they are resurrected? How can one be, and yet not be? How is a unitary identity dissolved? Is the “spirit body” composed of a unitary intelligence (one per body), or is it a union of many intelligences (like cells in a body) being added upon? These and more exciting questions come to play in resolving “heaven” and “hell”.

  7. After having been beat up for the umpteenth time by one of your blogs, my sister-in-law suggested that you publish your posts under the title “Odds are you’re going to Hell.”

    I’m pretty sure she was joking. I’m even more sure that what draws my family to your message is that it originates with the Lord. It takes some rearranging of the furniture to accomodate this new more alarming Book of Mormon, but it feels right to do so.

    I feel like all my years of study are falling into place with this tutorial. I feel as if I am literally feasting on the words of Christ.
    I love everyone’s comments!

    Do any of you live out here in North Carolina????? So much too learn…So much to discuss.

  9. Stone, see Denver’s book “Ten Parables.” Especially parable 9, which deals with some of your post’s content.

    Also, I’ve had the understanding that we currently reside in a telestial kingdom. I know I certainly don’t want to continue in this dreary world forever or one like it.

    Here is my question: Is D&C 76 talking about the 3 degrees or glories of the celestial kingdom? Or is it about the 3 separate kingdoms?

  10. Anonymous @ 8:36AM said:
    I fear I am running out of time. I am 43 years old and have studied the principles associated with coming into the presence of the Lord since I was about 16 years old. I am so disappointed in what meager progress I have really made.

    I’m right there with you, brother (/sister). I keep wondering, “What am I doing or not doing that is keeping me from receiving the Lord?”

    Last week I had the privilege of baptizing and confirming my daughter. In the blessing, after I had told her to “receive the Holy Ghost,” it hit me then and there. That’s it! Just receive Him! His arm is lengthened all the day long for us, could it be as easy as just accepting Him, and then trusting in our decision?

    There were some comments a while back about how men, of their own accord, could merit NOTHING. That we are saved by grace AFTER all we can do… meaning that we have given up on saving ourselves and have finally accepted fully the gift of the Savior. Could it be that the reason we are not having an audience is because we don’t have sufficient faith to believe that we have received Christ’s endowment to us? Since a witness comes only after a trial of our faith, should we not expect and believe that the witness will come in the Lord’s good time, but believe in the mean time that we did accept the gift and act as if it has been received?

  11. I have found that hardly any LDS people really believe there is a real hell. They believe that God will beat us with a few stripes & eventually everyone will be saved in the Celestial Kingdom, especially those close to them or who they do temple work for.

    For most unrighteous people seem very nice & wonderful & good most of the time. We just can’t imagine them not making it& worse yet, we can’t imagine Heavenly Father making them go to Hell. It seems that no matter what people may do we still tend to call them ‘good people’ at heart.

    Most members also seem to believe that doing temple work for someone is a sure way for that non-member relative to get into the Cel. Kingdom. They don’t realize that it will only be effective IF that person would have opened their door to the missionaries (had they ever knocked) & accepted the Gospel & lived it very valiantly on earth if they had the chance. It is very rare for even LDS to live the Gospel valiantly, let alone to say all our ancestors would have if they had had the gospel.

    Everyone, even our decessed ancestors who never had the Gospel will be judged by how they lived their lives while on earth, whether they were good or bad, for we all know basic right from wrong & have the Ten Commandments,etc.

    If people were not faithful & loving to their spouse on earth no matter what religion they were or not religion at all, the Prophets say, they have no promise of further progression & blessings in the next life. To think that non-members don’t understand right from wrong or have the Gospel is usually very wrong. Many non-members understand & live the Gospel of Jesus Christ better than most members, so even non-members have to be very valiant to the level of light they had & the level of the Gospel their Churches teach in order to have the opportunity for more progress in the next life with temple blessings.

    There are really 2 Hells. 1 temporary – Spirit Prison (though some may be there suffering for over a 1000 years) & 1 never-ending – Outer Darkness.

    Hell (Spirit Prison) will be filled with many church going people who thought they were very righteous & good while on earth but who didn’t realize that the devil had decieved them to do evil or to support & accept their family & friends who did evil, because they didn’t want to speak out & offend them & stand for right.

    This Hell will be more awful, torturous & painful than any punishment ever known to man. To pay for our own sins is so terrible we know not. But it caused even the Son of God to bleed at every pore. We will weep for even our worse enemy when we see what they have to go through in Spirit Prison.

    The worst part though, is when those who must pay for their sins & repent in Hell are finally released & have to live for eternity in the Telestial or Terrestrial Kingdoms. Even though they will be wonderful places, beyond our imagination, they will still suffer for all eternity knowing that they could have had much more, knowing that their spouse & children & other family members & friends are happily together progressing in the Celestial Kingdom.

    They will have eternal remorse & pain for losing their spouse & children. Many people will have divorced a difficult or even unrighteous spouse on earth only to find they were very wrong & deceived to do so & they will painfully long for them & miss them & regret it forever, as they live out eternity single without that spouse or any spouse at all.

    The saddest thing in life is to lose what we once had & know what might have been.

  12. Hey Dan, thanks for the tip on the 10 Parables. I ran aground of these ideas etc back in the mid-70s I’ve written several long unpublished papers on some of the things I have touched on.

    Dan, remember the kingdoms are representative forms of government and can co-exist on the same planet at the same time. We certainly have examples of Telestial and Terrestrial available to us: for instance, Cuba, China, North Korea are examples of Telestial Kingdoms; while the United States is an example of a Terrestrial Kingdom. The former are governed based on fear, the latter is governed based (supposedly) on “justice of all”.

    So Dan, you live at least in a Terrestrial styled Kingdom right now!

    Concerning the 3 degrees of glory, which in D&C 76, I hold are 3 separate kingdoms with their symbols of “glory” as the sun, the moon and the stars. I hold, which I am sure many will disagree with, all “three kingdoms of glory” are here on the earth (now and in the future). Exactly what is a kingdom? A political unit? Can a political unit contain within itself other political units? Can on traverse between them? What makes one political unit (kingdom) different than another? Could it be the foundational laws?

    One kingdom governed by the law of jungle (fear and power), known as the “lone and dreary world” because one is “alone” and it becomes dreary because of all the effort placed into not becoming “prey” for someone more powerful.

    Another kingdom governed by the principles of “saving justice” or “equity” where the rights etc of the individual is protected by the whole (thus preserving the whole).

    And yet another kingdom whose foundational law is based upon sacrifice. All are willing to sacrifice, but not all are willing to sacrifice equally. Hence 3 general degrees of “sacrificial willingness”. To reach the highest “degree of glory” one makes certain covenants, acquires certain obligations et al.

  13. Question — How do you others respond to family members who constantly respond to your comments about the depth of the gospel and there being so much to learn, with: “The gospel is simple and that’s why the Church manuals are so basic and simple. There’s just not any more to it!”

    I am at a loss for having ANY doctrinal discussions with any family member due to the fact that they won’t even acknowledge Christ’s gospel goes beyond the basics taught in Sunday School! Is it worth even discussing? I always come away so empty and hopeless, yet I try, time and time again. My family members are all considered to be some of the best members in the Church. I just don’t get it.

    This knowledge that some of us seek after is so delicious. How come others can’t sense deeper truth?

    I know it’s a basic question – but I’d love to hear what others think in the same position as myself.

  14. I loved what Denver said about taking the Book of Mormon seriously. I also take the New Testament seriously. I believe it was my willingness to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously (AND the James scripture that so affected the Prophet)that brought the Book of Mormon into my life.

    Strange things happen when you start to believe that Jesus and the Apostles really MEANT what they said.

  15. To Anonymous with the short-sighted family members: If you feel sad and empty, ask yourself “What do I feel like is being done to me?” It will likely be a form of oppression (trust me on that). Then ask the Lord, “how have I done that to someone else in the past in a similar way?” Don’t stop asking until you know the full story about your past and then you will be at peace.

    Sadness is another way of saying you lack hope. Hope is stolen away when you yourself have oppressed others or yourself. No one can take away hope from you but you. When it seems like others are saddening you (not the sorrow for others sins, but the lacking hope kind of sorrow, in any degree), then they are merely reminding you of yourself in some way, and bringing about the feelings of your own prison term you’ve been uselessly serving while laboring under the demands of justice. When you talk to the Savior about it, you can accept the side of mercy. When you get there, stay there. Justice is useless for you. Let Him tackle justice and let Him justify you. There is no “your part” to do but to receive it and give up the sin He reveals to you. That is not doing something, that is letting go and letting God. When He has you obeying His commands, He is really doing the work and you are the instrument. Maybe then some amends will be made for your past mistakes. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. That is all up to Him. The labor you have to perform is to look (the way I described above). In that sense, the Gospel is easy, but it is also deep. Not the easy your family is talking about, of course. They are saying the Gospel is shallow, which is a lie.

    The Gospel is easy, but that doesn’t make it shallow. A shallow Gospel is the most difficult thing to endure. D&C 19 shows how God Himself endured the pains of a shallow Gospel and could hardly bare it. The shallow Gospel is extremely difficult! The lack of information is so damning, so dark, so excruciatingly painful, it is called spiritual death!

  16. Ten Parables is, in my view, perhaps as important as anything I have written. You can say things indirectly in a parable that cannot be said directly. If that book is understood by the reader they will have a wealth of information about the Gospel.

  17. Yo, Doghouse … I read, but don’t have much to say very often. Occasionally comes a verse I feel impressed to comment upon. Most of the time I am impressed to be constrained.

    Should add this:

    Celestial – Father (Patriarch)
    Terrestrial – Priest
    Telestial – King

    Where have we heard these titles before?

  18. His Gospel is easy & simple.

    It does not require great knowledge & visions to earn the promise of Exaltation & Eternal Life. It only takes living worthy of the Spirit & keeping your covenants to have True Love for your spouse.

    The Spirit will, of course, continue to teach you all things until you have perfect understanding, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is easy, it’s just having True Love for our spouse, which will then shed forth to others.

    No one can truely love Christ if they don’t truely love their spouse.

    No one can obey Christ’s requests if they don’t obey their spouse’s requests.

    No one can be worthy of Christ’s presence until they are worthy of their spouse’s presence.

    No one can give their life for Christ until they give their life (one day at a time) for & to their spouse.

    No one can be saved by Christ until they are willing to save their spouse.

    Giving our life to sacrifice for, serve & save our spouse is the key to our own Eternal Salvation.

    It really is just that simple & easy.

  19. So, we should judge ourselves against the Book of Mormon? When I compare my “progress” with Nephi’s gate and path in 2 Ne 31, I come up way too lacking after 42 years of membership in the Church. It’s downright depressing. I don’t think that I’m necessarily a wicked man, but I can’t say that I have consciously experienced a remission of sins, the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost and the witness of the Father and the Son. Of the Father I guess I could say that I have indirectly received such, but still…

    I wonder what percentage of the Church falls into this boat.

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