CLICK HERE to read 2 Nephi 28.
After the last chapter’s teaching about how the Scriptures will come forth for the benefit of all people, this chapter focuses on why that will be important. Nephi says that in the last days, apostasy will reign. There are two kinds of apostasy, really, or rather – two forms of it. First, there is general apostasy that refers to periods of time when the authority of God (the power of the priesthood) was not passed down as it should have been, either because of people not behaving like covenant people or because of the world martyring the covenant people (and combinations of both). There is also a personal apostasy, which is falling away from the truth once you have received it.
Nephi says that this great apostasy will not just happen, but he also explains that it will happen because of false teachers. So then instead of one church, the church of Jesus Christ, there are many “churches which are built up” (verse 3). “And they shall contend one with another…” (verse 4). These churches will say the Holy Spirit is finished with its work (so no modern day revelation in prophets or personal revelation in our own lives), and that there are no more miracles (verse 6). These are false teachings that Satan has stirred up to help turn away the hearts of people, so that they do not learn to listen to or pay attention to the evidence of God.
“Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us” (verse 7). This is one extreme of people who will not care at all for spiritual matters.
“And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God – he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at least we shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (verse 8). This is another extreme of people who will twist the truth of God in order to justify their behavior, not realizing they are being their own judge and choosing already their own sentence.
“Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord…” (verse 9). But we know from scripture, that nothing is hidden from the Lord. Not only can we not hide our counsel from Him, but we should not be giving Him counsel. We should be receiving our counsel from Him!
So all these extreme ways, these twisted ways are perversions of the truth.
“Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted” (verse 11).
And so it spreads.
“Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up” (verse 12).
This is how false teachers lead whole peoples away from God.
And then they take what is God – by taking from God’s people – and keep it for themselves, like a physical type of the spiritual theft they represent.
“They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up” (verse 13).
Verse 14 is a kind of prophetic phrase, taken from Isaiah’s teachings. He says these people who are proud and rebelling against God have “stiff necks and high heads”, which is a reference to the people literally not bowing down before God. Their heads are high instead of bowed down, and their necks are stiff instead of bowed in submission.
And what is not of God will be pruned away and burned, like cleaning out my garden in the fall.
“For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains…” (verse 19).
And how does Satan do it? How does Satan lead the people away?
Some he will “pacify, and lull them away into carnal security… and others he will flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell…” (verses 21 and 22).
“And thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance” (verse 22).
And so, “wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!”
Because God is still God, and God never changes.
And because He never changes, He is still our constant while the world changes around us.
And God works in the same ways He has always worked, leading His people the same way He has always led them, through prophets and through revelation and through scriptures.
That is how He leads us, one step at a time.
“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (verse 30).
There is always more.
There is always something unfolding.
There is always a surprise waiting, just ahead of us.
But we have to take the next step to get there.