Engineers get paid to test materials by tearing them apart, bending them, and crushing them, and measuring how the material reacts under those pressures, and at what point it fails. Sometimes the only way for your love of God to be tested is to require the ultimate sacrifice, all things. Out of all the possible things you can imagine as tithes or offerings, the only acceptable offering is your faith. Your Faith is Your Steel.
Laban’s sword was of such great craftsmanship that Nephi kept it and pattern swords after it. It survived into the restoration, as it was found buried with the plates. Testing the quality of a steel blade, to know if it will flex, crack, or hold an edge, has been done for thousands of years. As an engineer, I took a class called “Strengths of Materials.” Although I utterly failed the course, we did lab work, placing multiple computer sensors on different grades of steel, and pulled them apart, bent them and crushed them, to measure how the materials reacted under applied pressures. We measured how the material behaved under pressure, how it deformed until it failed, and at what point it failed. The results are collected and put into tables, so that when buildings, bridges, or roads are designed, …designers can evaluate the most effective materials to use for the purpose. Tests like these have been performed over, and over, and over again, to be certain of the attributes of materials. As I barely graduated, probably with the lowest GPA in the history of BYU Engineering department, with the most credit hours, my experience under the stresses and strains of school did little to prove my ability to others. Resumes don’t tell the story of the internal lattice of my ability to endure the test. Letters of recommendations cannot begin to assess my performance under pressure. To others, my degree, my experience, my recommendations, are anecdotal. To others, they are simply words on a page, but to me, …I was proven to MYSELF. I had a glimpse of what I was made of.
Sometimes the only way for your love of God to be tested is to require the ultimate sacrifice, all things. Light is the treasure of the heavens, that moth and rust cannot corrupt, and thieves cannot break in and steal. God is the source of that light. Through His Son, all can receive light. The amount of light you are able to bare is determined by your sacrificial offering, or the price you are willing to pay for light. In this earth, satan reminds us, you can buy anything with money. The Lord’s servants always ask, Do you sell your tokens for money? Depending on the price you pay, the Lord promises light. And He always delivers on His promises (D&C 82:10).
“38. What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
To Abraham, all things meant sacrificing Isaac. Historically, Abraham’s story is told in two ways. The most popular is the version where the sacrificed is stopped, and an arrested sacrifice (a substitute sacrifice) is offered instead, using a ram in the thicket. Symbolically, the arrested sacrifice was a type and a shadow of the ultimate arrested sacrifice, Christ. A less popular version states that Abraham actually completes the sacrifice of Isaac, killing him, …but brings him back to life, in similitude of Christ’s resurrection. Both the one making the offering, and the one being offered were given the ultimate test, and proved their grade of steel by their faith. Some, like Abinadi who burned, Isaiah who was sawn in half, Peter who was crucified upside down, etc. require their grade of steel to be proven through death. Others had roles that needed them to continue to live, but they too were positioned, such that they faced offering the very same sacrifice, and passed the test.
Nephi, retrieving the plates from Laban, put it all on the line, and passed the test, offering all things. He did it repeatedly throughout his life, but let’s look at the example of him retrieving the plates. Prior to having to get the plates, Nephi cried unto the Lord, and the Lord did visit him, to make Nephi soft to all the words that his father said, such that he believed his father, and did not rebel against his father, like unto his brothers (1 Nephi 2:16-17). This is a key. Next, in chapter 3, Nephi and his older brothers are tasked with getting the records of Laban. Lots are cast, Laman is chosen, but Laman did not have the Lord visit him. So when Laban rejected Laman, calling him a thief and a robber and chasing him out, Laman did not have the confidence to exercise sufficient faith. Laman attempted to abandon the operation. Nephi, however, does not. The try buying the plates with gold and silver, and that planned was such a mess, Laman and Lemuel take it out on Nephi, beating him with a rod. An angel appears, confirming Nephi, and reaffirming Nephi’s visitation by the Lord, causing Nephi to act, not knowing before hand what he should do. The ultimate test, in this event, was the cutting off of Laban’s head, taking a man’s life, rather than laying down his own. It’s your faith that is being tested. Your Faith is Your Steel.
Laman’s faith was insufficient to make the same offering. Laman abandoned the effort, beating his little brother, even when lots represented God’s will, he was the oldest brother, and the lot fell upon him. Every indicator pointed the test in Laman’s direction. But he abandoned the test, threw in the towel, called it quits, and his faith was insufficient. Laman proved to himself that he wasn’t of the same grade of steel as Nephi. This was the fork in the road, where Nephi proves himself far more capable of withstanding the pressures of the test, …and most importantly, he proved it to himself. He would reflect on this experience, and accumulate more and more light through continual sacrifices, in exchange for greater experiences with heaven. Out of all the possible things you can imagine as tithes or offerings, the only acceptable offering is your faith. Your Faith is Your Steel.
Conclusion: The faith required in all time and all eternity is the same. How it is applied is specific to you. It requires sacrifice. The first comforter teaches you the truth of all things, bringing everything the Lord has taught you to your remembrance. However, the second comforter is their to apply that to your specific circumstance. It is the second comforter alone who has descended below all things, and ascended above them all.
Christ alone has the power to teach Men of Steel how to make an offering in similitude to the offering He himself performed. Christ is the only one who can increase the grade of your Steel by infusing Carbon with Iron, through the heat (Steel = Carbon + Iron). Your Faith is Your Steel.
Nephi sets himself apart in the task to retrieve the plates by receiving the second comforter. He was softened to the words of the patriarchal fathers, those fathers in whom the covenant is offered, for your and my salvation. Christ alone deserves your faith. All will be proven. Seriously study the words of Christ, obtain the first comforter, receive the truth, and seek the second comforter. Your Faith is Your Steel!