Here is a great lesson on nature vs. nurture and how it correlates to salvation.
I've always looked at the Lamanites as wicked and ferocious people- as a whole. They were the bad guys. They were the ones that fought against the righteous. They were the ones who weren't blessed. They were ferioucous; they killed people; they did not follow the Lord. They were bad.
I always thought the Nephites were better. But, I have been totally wrong.
First of all, in verse 4 where he says "the Lamanites hath he hated because of their deeds," we know that the Lord doesn't hate anyone. He abhors sin, and cannot look upon it with any degree of allowance. Vs. 3 proves that when you love someone you must do what you can to correct them... even chasten them.
Some of the Lamanites were really bad people- just evil. But then, so were some of the Nephites.
Some of the Lamanites were really good people- even prophets. So were some of the Nephites.
The difference is that the Nephites, as a whole, had the gospel and struggled with it.
The Lamanites, as a whole, did not have the gospel at all. BUT- when they did receive it, they were better members than the Nephites.
Vs. 5 "the more part of them in the path of their duty... walk circumspectly before God... do observe to keep His commandments..." Vs. 6 "... striving with unwearied dilegence that they may bring the remainder of their brethern to the knowledge of the truth..." They worked hard and they shared the gospel with everyone. Vs. 7 They "... believe the holy scriptures... and the prophets..." And they (vs. 7) exercised "faith and repentance" that brought "a change of heart." They were (vs8) "firm and steadfast."
Amazing! The Lord used this group of people, who, for the most part were ignorant of His ways, to teach and compel the Nephites to repent.
But, in verses 14 and 15 we learn that, as a whole, if the Lamanites had been given the opportunities as the Nephites to hear, learn and live the gospel, they would had never wavered. They were kept in ignorance, not as a punishment, but so they could be used as a tool.
Now, is that unfair? No. BECAUSE, we also know that in the morning of the First Resurrection that the believers will rise up, as well as those THAT WOULD HAVE BELIEVED if they were given the chance here.
But, here we learn that if they had received the gospel, they would have been more firm than the Nephites. We can see glimpses of that in King Lamoni and his people, the people of Ammom, etc.
They lived in ignorance, but it was the Lords choice- and they will be blessed for it.
And they are now, as their people are coming to the gospel in droves. The church in South America is exploding with sweet, humble and diligent converts. It's beautiful. I'm excited to see see two of my seminary students will be leaving soon to serve among these strong people.
I've always looked at the Nephites as the blessed ones, but now it see them more like the mediocre kids who needed more attention and work to straighten up. The Lamanites are actually the good kids who would have gotten straight A's if only they could have gone to school.
But, the Lord, in his wisdom and mercy, will give them what they have earned.
What have you learned?