4 Ne 1:1-49
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The relationship of the book of Fourth Nephi to the rest of the Book of Mormon is discussed at The Book of Mormon.
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- Verse 3. The "heavenly gift" mentioned here may be a reference to a temple ritual where people learn to recognize the resurrected Christ (see Ether 12:8).
- Verse 3. The phrase "they had all things common among them" may imply the people were living under formal rules similar to the united order, where members practice the law of consecration by giving all they have to the Church and the Church then redistributes goods among the members as needed (see links below). Alternatively, it could be that the people achieved a similar result by sharing their goods without a centralized structure for determining how this was to be done.
- Verse 24. It is interesting that pride is the first sin mentioned among this people who had been so happy for so long, and that a description of suffering and strife among the people follows immediately afterwards (vv. 26ff).
- Verse 27: The sacrament. I am always surprised a bit in reading the scriptures when I am reminded how bad it seems it is to allow someone who is unworthy to take the sacrament. As a missionary I always found it a bit awkward to tell people not to take the sacrament when they came to Church with us. My surprise at reading how bad it is to allow someone who is unworthy to take the sacrament is probably a reflection of the fact that it is easy for me to forget how sacred the sacrament is--because I participate in it so frequently. I don't find myself similarly suprised that we have processes to help make sure only the worthy enter the temple. --Matthew Faulconer 09:47, 7 Mar 2006 (UTC)
- I thought I remember hearing something about this recently. I couldn't find it, but did find this quote from Elder Groberg in General Conference, April 1989:
- What does it mean to partake of the sacrament worthily? Or how do we know if we are unworthy?
- If we desire to improve (which is to repent) and are not under priesthood restriction, then, in my opinion, we are worthy. If, however, we have no desire to improve, if we have no intention of following the guidance of the Spirit, we must ask: Are we worthy to partake, or are we making a mockery of the very purpose of the sacrament, which is to act as a catalyst for personal repentance and improvement? If we remember the Savior and all he has done and will do for us, we will improve our actions and thus come closer to him, which keeps us on the road to eternal life.
- If, however, we refuse to repent and improve, if we do not remember him and keep his commandments, then we have stopped our growth, and that is damnation to our souls.
- I thought I heard something about non-members taking the sacrament, but couldn't find it. At any rate, there doesn't seem anything in Elder Groberg's discussion that would necessarily preclude non-members from taking the sacrament. My mission president also instructed us to explain to investigators that this was a way that members renewed their baptismal covenant, but I think I've heard of instances where the policy was to allow non-members to take the sacrament.... --RobertC 00:01, 8 Mar 2006 (UTC)
- Elder Russell M. Nelson made a statement about visitors taking the sacrament; he said this in a worldwide leadership training meeting and it was reproduced in the August 2004 Ensign.
- Because we invite all to come unto Christ, friends and neighbors are always welcome but not expected to take the sacrament. However, it is not forbidden. They choose for themselves. We hope that newcomers among us will always be made to feel wanted and comfortable. Little children, as sinless beneficiaries of the Lord’s Atonement, may partake of the sacrament as they prepare for covenants that they will make later in life.
- This is the most recent statement I remember about non-members taking the sacrament. MJ 09:47, 8 Mar 2006 (UTC)
- Thanks MJ, this sounds like what I remember hearing, though I'm not sure I heard this from the training meeting. --RobertC 14:57, 13 Mar 2006 (UTC)
- Verse 27. Here we are told about many churches which professed to know Christ but denied the more parts of his gospel. (Compare JS-H 1:19.) Mormon then explains that these churches allowed wicked practices and then links this with administering that which was sacred unto those who had been forbidden because of unworthiness. That which was sacred would seem to refer to the sacrament, thought it might instead, or might also, refer to the endowment. Either way it is interesting that in the few words he tells us about these corrupt churches, Mormon chooses to conclude by pointing to this problem. It seems that for Mormon this error is the most obvious example of apostasy.
- Verse 30: Disciples of Jesus. Though the word disciple is often used to refer to simply a follower, it may mean here someone in a certain office in the Church. That is the way the phrase is used a few verses earlier in verse 14. There the disciple of Jesus refers first to those Jesus had chosen (see 3 Ne 11:22 and 3 Ne 12:1) and then others ordained in the stead of those initial disciples after they died.
Points to ponder
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- Verse 10. It is interesting to note in the end of verse 10 that the Nephites became an exceedingly "fair and delightsome people." What warrants a people to become fair and delightsome? We know that at this time, the Nephites were all converted unto the Lord and they were walking uprightly before him. When the Nephites are filled with the spirit of the Lord and emanate the light of Christ, fair and delightsome become appropriate words to describe their state. We can follow this example in our own lives by living how the Lord would have us do and therefore, achieving this fair and delightsome state. We must always be wary, however, because becoming fair and delightsome may lead to pride and destruction which occurred with the Nephites. Always remember the Lord and we can emanate the light of Christ without falling into destructive paths.
I have a question
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- Verse 3. What does it mean to have "all things common"?
- Verse 3. What is the "heavenly gift"?
- Verse 11. Would it be totally irresponsible and speculative to ask if the "multitude of the promises" carried a reference to temple marriage, in addition to the promise of prosperity?
- Verse 24ff. Pride is mentioned as the first sin among this people that had been living so peacefully. Then the account describes suffering and strife starting among the people (vv. 26ff). Did pride cause the ensuing strife and suffering, or was pride a symptom of an underlying spiritual lapse and pride was just the first observable sign of this lapse? What other scriptural instances are there where pride is the precursor of increased unhappiness, suffering, and/or strife?
Relation to other scriptures
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The relationship of Fourth Nephi to the rest of the Book of Mormon is discussed at Book of Mormon: Unities.
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- Verse 3. The law of consecration and united order are described with scripture references at lds.org here and here.
- Verse 24. Regarding pride, see Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4.
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