“The ninth chapter of II Nephi . . . should be carefully read by every person seeking salvation” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:57).
To be honest, this chapter is so big I think I need to divide it into 2 days just to give justice to all the cool things I’ve found in chapter 9. I need time to read it carefully and to take it all in.
It is important to remember that in 2 Nephi 9 Jacob uses the term O to express awe and reverence and the term wo (I found 11 of them in this chapter) to express sorrow and dread.
By his consistent interjections of exclamatory testimony, Jacob reminds us of how wonderful and glorious the doctrines pertaining to the Atonement really are:
“O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace!” (2 Nephi 9:8).
“O how great the goodness of our God [!]” (2 Nephi 9:10).
“O how great the plan of our God!” (2 Nephi 9:13).
“O the greatness and the justice of our God!” (2 Nephi 9:17).
“O the greatness of the mercy of our God[!]” (2 Nephi 9:19).
“O how great the holiness of our God!” (2 Nephi 9:20).
“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness and the frailes and the foolishness of man! (2 Ne 9:28)
And then in his conclusion: “And behold, how great the covenants of the Lord, and how great his condescensions unto the children of men[!]” (2 Nephi 9:53).
Notice, however, that these exclamations are more than just expressions of enthusiasm. Each one proclaims an important truth about Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Truths which, if understood and believed, engender the kind of faith that sustains a person through the challenges of this life, and brings eternal life in the world to come.
In 2 Nephi 9, Jacob also explains the seriousness of sin, why we need to avoid it, and how faith in the Lord’s power can help us overcome it.
But isn’t it nicer to focus on the Atonement. I love that he uses the word infinite. An Infinite atonement is not limited. It covers all time. It conquers all the effects of death. It covers all of the world He created. Christ is infinite!
In v. 10 - Jacob leads us out of the dilemma and shows us how to escape Satan.
No wonder the thought of the alternative had there been no Atonement caused Jacob to exclaim, "O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster" (vs. 10).
Elder Russell M. Nelson: “There is another type of separation known in scripture as spiritual death (see 2 Nephi 9:12; Alma 12:16; 42:9; Helaman 14:16, 18). It ‘is defined as a state of spiritual alienation from God’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56], 2:217).
Thus, one can be very much alive physically but dead spiritually. . . .“If physical death should strike before moral wrongs have been made right, opportunity for repentance will have been forfeited. Thus, ‘the [real] sting of death is sin’ (1 Corinthians 15:56).
“Even the Savior cannot save us in our sins. He will redeem us from our sins, but only upon condition of our repentance. We are responsible for our own spiritual survival or death (see Romans 8:13–14; Helaman 14:18; D&C 29:41–45)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 102; or Ensign, May 1992, 73).
Jesus Christ’s Atonement has the power to overcome not only physical death but spiritual death as well.
Physical death is automatically overcome for all men through Christ by the resurrection, wherein the body and spirit are reunited, never to be separated again. However, something that is not so well understood is that the resurrection also automatically brings all men back into the presence of God, or overcomes the state of spiritual death caused by the fall of Adam. Thus all the effects of the fall of Adam are overcome automatically without condition.
In the case of spiritual death, however, we must remember that our state of being separated from God in mortality is only partially due to Adam's transgression—we are born mortal, away from the presence of God because of the Fall. But once we become accountable and yield to temptation, then we are responsible for our own state of uncleanness. In other words, we are now to blame for maintaining our state of alienation or spiritual death. If we will but turn to God and accept the sacrifice of his Son before the judgment, when we are brought back into his presence to be judged (the automatic overcoming of the spiritual death caused by Adam), then we can be "clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness" (vs. 14) through the redemptive power of our Savior. In other words, the spiritual death caused by our own fall will also be overcome in Christ and we can dwell with God forever. But all will be brought back into God's presence (vss. 13-15), or in other words, all will have their state of spiritual death (caused by Adam's fall) temporarily overcome. For those who refuse to come unto Christ, their state of spiritual death or separation from God will be overcome only long enough to bring them into his presence for the judgment, in which they will be banished from his glory and presence because of their refusal to repent.
I love the first half of this chapter. The first few verses again clarify that there has been a plan from the beginning. We are of the house of Israel. The same people the in the Old Testament. Again, that makes me feel connected to the scriptures, but also very much connected to all those who have come before me and followed God in whatever way He has shown them.
I love scriptures about the Savior. I love my Savior. I know that I don't understand the power of the Atonement, the sacrifice that He made for me, or the love that He has for me. I don't know how. And sometimes I don't even know why He did it for me. But, I do know that He did die for me, that He loves me, and that He did save me from spiritual and physical death- if I but follow Him.
What did you think/learn today?