Friday, November 23, 2012

A Guide to 45 Self-Contained Book of Mormon Chapter Studies

Here is a list consisting of my recommendations for 45 self-contained Book of Mormon chapter studies. Each chapter focuses on a particular doctrinal principle (or several) and you can easily devote your individual scripture study to a single chapter (devotional-style).  I adapted my list from a similar list found in Preach My Gospel pages 47-48.  I did this at a friend's request, because she is approaching the Book of Mormon for the first time and she wants to learn the doctrine without wading through so much war and history.

To be clear, this exercise is not intended to disparage or downplay the importance of the war chapters in any way, nor is this list intended to be viewed as authoritative or comprehensive.  This is nothing more than a list of the doctrine heavy chapters that I happen to love the most, which I created in order to encourage my friend to read the Book of Mormon.  I encourage YOU to encourage YOUR friends to read the Book of Mormon, and if this list helps you to do that, then so much the better.  To that end, you can request a free copy of the Book of Mormon HERE.  For more on the value and purpose of the Book of Mormon check out my article: "4 Purposes of The Book of Mormon"

Each chapter that I have recommended includes a few brief highlights to explain why it is on the list, and a few special chapters are also marked **MUST READ**.  I have also included a link to a pdf version of this list to make it easier to print.

The Book of Mormon
Suggested Devotional-style Reading Course

Title Page & Intro

1 Nephi 8-11 -- Lehi and Nephi’s visions of the tree of life

2 Nephi 2 -- Individual Agency, Redemption only by merits, mercy, grace of Holy Messiah unto all those w/ broken heart & contrite spirit, The Fall of Adam **MUST READ**

2 N 9 -- Judgment, second death, need for/power of resurrection

2 N 25 -- Salvation by grace “after all we can do,” Law of Moses points to Christ

2 N 27 -- prophecy concerning the intent and coming forth of the Book of Mormon

2 N 28 -- The Great Apostasy

2 N 29 -- Bible and Book of Mormon both vital to salvation

2 N 31 -- Why Christ needed to be baptized, formal statement of gospel doctrine as requirement of salvation  **MUST READ**

2 N 32 -33 -- Power and function of Holy Ghost, Vital importance of prayer

Jacob 4 -- Function of prophets, need for revelation, purpose of law of Moses

Book of Enos (1 chapter long) -- Enos prays and experiences power of atonement

Mosiah 2-5 -- King Benjamin’s great address-too many highlights to list **MUST READ**

Mosiah 12-16 -- Abinadi testifies of Christ before his own martyrdom

Mosiah 18 -- Alma teaches the terms of Baptism & discipleship

Mosiah 27 -- Alma the younger is spiritually born again.  (all subsequent references to Alma will be to Alma the younger).

Alma 5 -- True conversion, Judgment day, Stripped of pride & envy?, Sheep of the good shepherd or not, How to gain testimony for oneself.  **MUST READ**

Alma 7 -- The power and particulars of the atonement **MUST READ**

Alma 11 -- Resurrection  **MUST READ**

Alma 12 -- Fall of Adam, judgment, spiritual & temporal death

Alma 13 -- Foreordination (election), The high priesthood and conversion, Life of Melchizedek, humility

Alma 22 (17-22) -- Miraculous Conversion of Lamanites

Alma 26 -- Ammon rejoices after conversion of many Lamanites, Natural man cannot know the mysteries of God

Alma 30 -- Alma contends with the Anti-Christ Korihor

Alma 32 -- Alma’s great sermon concerning faith **MUST READ**

Alma 34 -- the atonement and the end of animal sacrifice, exhortation to prayer, “This life is the time to prepare to meet God” **MUST READ**

Alma 36 -- Alma recounts his conversion

Alma 40 -- The doctrine of the spirit world, the mechanics of the resurrection  **MUST READ**

Alma 41 --  Judgment, “Wickedness never was happiness”

Alma 42 -- The Fall, This life is a time of probation, Justice and Mercy satisfied by atonement, Anyone who will come may come and partake of the waters of life

Helaman 5 -- Helaman teaches his sons Nephi and Lehi before they devote their lives to preaching the gospel, Christ not come to redeem IN sins, but rather FROM sins, Build on the rock of our redeemer, miraculous escape from prison in which God (not Christ) speaks

Helaman 14 -- Samuel the Lamanite prophesies of the birth of Christ, Power of resurrection, judgment, spiritual death i.e. the second death

3 Nephi 9-10 -- The resurrected Christ speaks to the Nephites from the heavens.  The sacrifices he commands are the sacrifice of a broken heart & contrite spirit

3 N 11 -- The resurrected Christ appears in person to the Nephites, introduced by God, the people witness that He is Christ by touching the wounds in his side and in His hands, gives authority to prophet Nephi and some others to baptize in His name, teaches correct form and manner of baptism, Formal statement of particulars of His gospel, condemns contention  **MUST READ**

3 N 12-14 -- Christ commissions 12 Nephite apostles, teaches “the Sermon at the Temple” which is a refined version of the sermon on the mount

3 N 15-16 -- The Law of Moses Fulfilled in Christ, “Other sheep I have”

3 N 18 -- Christ institutes the Sacrament & teaches significance & blessings of observing sacrament worthily, Power of (personal & family) prayer to protect from Satan, “I know my sheep, and they are numbered”  **MUST READ**

3 N 27 -- Christ explains why His church must bear HIS name, Christ’s resurrection brings all men to stand before God to be judged, formal statement of doctrines of Gospel, must be washed in blood of Savior to enter into kingdom, “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”  **MUST READ**

Mormon 9 -- Sinners more comfortable in Hell than with God, redemption from the fall, miracles

Ether 3 -- The Savior appears to the brother of Jared, nature of Christ, faith to become sons and daughters of God

Ether 12 -- Hope maketh an anchor to the souls of men & faith=hope for a better world, receive not a witness until after the trial of your faith, w/o faith God can do no miracle, "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."  **MUST READ**

Moroni 7 -- How to judge for ourselves, miracles, Faith, Hope, and CHARITY **MUST READ**MUST READ**MUST READ**

Moroni 8 -- Condemnation of false doctrine of child/infant baptism, “The first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins”

Moroni 10 -- “Moroni’s promise”, Spiritual Gifts, How to become perfect in Christ **MUST READ**

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Abuse and Forgiveness: Reconciling Safety and Sainthood.

Q:  Have you ever had to cut ties with someone because they were either abusive, unhealthy or manipulative? How have you applied the Atonement and forgiveness?

A:  When I was young I experienced years of systematic emotional and physical abuse at the hands of my father.  After my mom threw my dad out and we got a protective order, many members of my ward kept putting pressure on me to forgive my dad and let him back in my life.  They even went so far as to help him to violate the protective order on several occasions.  I kept insisting that I had forgiven my dad, but they would invariably and solemnly declare that I hadn't truly forgiven him, the implication being that I was a bad person because I (and my family with me) would not allow him to return to our home.  As a teenager I experienced a lot of self-doubt and wondered if I was sinning because my local church leaders whom I trusted and respected had basically informed me that I was a bad person for not allowing an abuser to return to a position of power over me. (Included in this group were young mens leaders, bishop's counselors, etc. but NOT the Bishop--thank God for a righteous judge in Israel!)

Fortunately I am older now, and I am able to understand that these brethren had no idea what they were talking about.  I can say this because I have researched this subject on my own and I am happy to report that the church holds the opposite of that bad counsel to be true, and that the church rightly acknowledges that to allow such a person back into your life could be potentially dangerous, and detrimental, even in the name of forgiveness.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Hidden Atonement Allegory in Philemon

A Verse-by-Verse Break-down of the Atonement Symbolism in Paul's Epistle to Philemon

Noun:  1) A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.
            2)  The genre to which such works belong.

The epistle of Paul to Philemon contains an incredibly rich allegory concerning the power of Christ to reconcile man to God through his atonement.  I feel that applying an allegorical interpretation to this letter reveals a particularly significant insight into the apostle Paul’s fully developed understanding of and teachings about the gospel (and the atonement) of Jesus Christ.

I present here a breakdown of Paul’s epistle to Philemon, with all 25 verses broken down verse-by-verse and presented in bold type.  Many (but not all) of these verses are also accompanied by scriptures that support and expound on the principle being taught in Philemon as well as by my own commentary (in italics).  I have provided all of this in order to make plain the allegorical meaning behind the text.


1  PAUL, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,

The Zondervan NIV study bible has this to say in its introduction to the epistle to Philemon:

    “Paul wrote this letter to Philemon, a believer in Colosse who, along with others, was a slave owner...One of his slaves, Onesimus, had apparently stolen from him (cf. v. 18) and then run away, which under Roman law was punishable by death.  But Onesimus met Paul [apparently during Paul’s incarceration in Rome] and through his ministry became a Christian (see v. 10).  Now he was willing to return to his master, and Paul writes this appeal to ask that he [Onesimus] be accepted as a Christian brother ( v.17).”

2  And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:

2 Corinthians 5:20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

Understand that from this point on Paul is speaking in the person of Christ-that is, he represents Christ-both in the sense that as an apostle Paul is an actual representative of Christ, and more particularly that Paul figuratively represents Christ for the purposes of this allegory.  Philemon in turn represents God, the injured party who has the right (according to justice) to seek redress for Onesimus’ transgressions, which in this case (and for the sake of the allegory) means death.  Onesimus represents fallen man, or in other words, you and I.  He (and we) has become estranged from the Master through transgression, and without intervention (to wit: mediation) from another Onesimus (and we) have no hope of reconciliation with his (our) estranged master and therefore must face death as the rightful penalty for his (our) crimes.  Fortunately for Onesimus (and us), Paul does intercede and (in his role as Christ) pleads for mercy on behalf of Onesimus and beseeches Philemon to accept him back into his household once again on the condition that Paul will pay Onesimus’ debt.  Paul cites the debt which he merits from Philemon in order to incite him to have mercy on Onesimus.  Rome represents the fallen world, and Philemon’s home represents heaven (specifically God’s throne).


Paul: Christ
Philemon: God
Onesimus: You and I
Rome: The fallen world
Philemon’s household: Heaven/God’s household and throne
Death: Hell/consequences of sin

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