From the time of Adam, until now, the same Faith is Required. In the story of Lehi’s family, we learn that every person will follow one of two patterns of faith. What pattern will you choose to follow?
From Adam until now, the test is the same, and passing the test requires the same faith, …even great faith. As God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, …faith grows exactly the same then, as it does now, and as it will in the future. The reason scriptures matter so much is because the faith required of ancient saints is precisely the same faith required of modern saints. The pattern of Nephi’s faith is not restricted to church leaders. It is a pattern meant for each individual who has eyes that see, and ears that hear, male or female, from the least to the greatest, to apply. We know the story, but consider the summary anyway.
In the story of Lehi’s family, we learn that every person will follow one of two patterns of faith. Either you can choose to grow your faith as Nephi did, until you enter into the presence of the Lord in the flesh, …or you can ignore the words of Christ, and follow the pattern of Laman and Lemuel’s faith. The scriptures are funny in that you exercise faith by studying it, or you reject the Book of Mormon by giving heed to it. Likewise with a covenant, those who receive it must say and do it. But those who reject the covenant only need pay it no attention. Consider the two options in the lives of brothers.
Nephi is a good person, like all of you. His father, Lehi, was cast out of the Jewish church (the apostate Mormons of their day), being threatened to be stoned to death. It took a certain degree of faith for Nephi to retrieve the plates from the leader of the church (Laban), with the threat of possibly loosing his life, looming overhead. The faith necessary for Nephi to acquire the plates had to exceed the faith of his three older brothers, waiting outside the city walls.
You gotta wonder what’s going through their minds, as they are left all alone in the wilderness, dad being excommunicated, Nephi cutting off the head of Laban, and literally stealing the plates. By common law, Nephi’s hands should be cut off for stealing, and he should be killed for murdering, and tortured for murdering a church leader, to boot. Lehi is also guilty of the same crimes because he was the one behind all of it. Laman and Lemuel wouldn’t go to the same extreme to retrieve the plates, having insufficient faith. But, they logically and rationally battled within themselves, trying to decide if they shouldn’t be the ones to execute the law of the land, by killing their father and younger brother. Their false traditions of unbelief, established by the Jewish church, were so deeply engrained, that they would die for it. Or in this case, Laman and Lemuel wouldn’t kill their church leaders, but they would kill their brother and father, to defend their false traditions of unbelief.
When Lehi told his family of his dream, Nephi’s faith went through another growth spurt, as we find Nephi struggling at the base of the mountain, pondering and wanting to know what his father was trying to tell them in his dream. Nephi knew that he believed all the words of his father, despite Lehi being badly rejected of the commonly acceptable church, …but to Nephi, knowing his dad knew it wasn’t enough! He sought to know for himself, and because of that, an angle did visit him. It was an angel of the highest degree. It was “The Great Angel,” even Jesus Christ. The tile “Lord Sabaoth” literally means Lord of the hosts of heaven, …anciently: “The Great Angel.”
Laman and Lemuel, although they went into the wilderness with Lehi, failed to lay hold upon the words of Christ for themselves. Their faith failed them when retrieving the plates. Their faith failed them as they sought to kill their father and brother. Their faith failed them in hunger. Their faith failed them crossing the ocean. And their faith failed them when they separated their families, passing on their ignorance many generations after them. They wouldn’t read for themselves, using the excuse that God makes no such thing known to them. They rejected the words of Christ, not by doing something to the records, …but by simply not reading them, not seeking diligently to understand them. Because they rejected the words of Christ, they found legitimate reason to rebel against a servant of Christ in their family members, …in their father and in their little brother. You would think that because they were family, they would have had an advantage because they knew the hearts of their father and brother. But being related to the prophet served as no advantage because of their lack of faith. Having rejected the words of Christ, and the servant of Christ was sufficient to communicate to God and His witnesses that they also rejected Christ Himself.
The faith of Nephi is a pattern available to all of us, if we have eyes to see, and ears to hear. We understand the physical odds facing Nephi when he retrieved the plates. We too must face physical odds as did Nephi. However, the growth of Nephi’s faith to believe in and acquire his personal witness of Christ was far greater than the physical odds of retrieving the plates. After Nephi had a personal witness of Christ, Nephi is able to endure far greater trials, doing precisely what is asked of him by the Lord, even when his father’s faith failed him with hunger, his brothers tie him to the mast of the ship, and eventually try to kill him, his wife, and his children. Nephi’s faith wasn’t dependent on any man, not his father, and not a prophet, …because he knew Christ for himself.
There are two patterns that everyone on earth must choose: accept or reject the words of Christ. To reject, nothing is required of you. God assumes rejection by the absence of acceptance. There are two doctrines being pitched in this world. Their are two ways. There are two masters. In the story of Lehi’s family, there are two patterns of faith expressed. Which pattern are you going to follow?
Conclusion: From the time of Adam, until now, the same Faith is Required. No one can take your place on the judgement seat, but Christ. Only He has atoned for you. He will redeem you from the fall if you do not reject Him. Doing nothing is the same as rejecting Him. No one can do the work of accepting for you. You must do it if you want it, otherwise you are rejecting your redemption. No one can substitute for your labor of diligently searching (seeing) the words of Christ. No one can do the hearing of the voice of the Lord through the servant of Christ. And no one can enter into the presence of Christ in your place.
The times might change. Circumstances might be unique to our day. People may differ from persecutors in the past. But the same Faith is Required for all men to be redeemed from the fall. Receive the covenant by taking seriously the words of Christ, and you will not see me so offensive. Instead you will recognize the words I speak align with the words of Christ in the scriptures. When you do, you will naturally hear the false traditions of unbelief that has been filling your empty minds for so long, taking the place where truth should reside. In order for truth and light to accumulate, foolish traditions of unbelief must be removed. They cannot co-exist. You must choose this day, and every day, from here on out who you will serve, …and then act like it!