Your study of Jacob’s sermon, which began in 2 Nephi 6–8, continues in 2 Nephi 9. In 2 Nephi 6–8 you studied Jacob’s teachings about the Savior’s mercy and His power to deliver the house of Israel from their lost and scattered state. In chapter 9 you will study Jacob’s testimony of the power of the Savior’s Atonement to deliver us from the effects of the Fall, including both physical and spiritual death as well as the consequences of our sins. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that 2 Nephi 9 is “one of the most enlightening discourses ever delivered in regard to the atonement. … It should be carefully read by every person seeking salvation” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:57).
What comes to mind when you think of the word monster?
The word monster usually refers to something that is frightening and capable of inflicting great harm. Although many people think only of imaginary creatures when they think of a monster, consider if there is anything that is actually capable of bringing lasting harm to you and is, therefore, genuinely frightening. Jacob used the image of a monster to symbolize a frightening condition we all face in mortality. Read 2 Nephi 9:10, and identify the two elements of the monster that Jacob described. Then fill in the blanks in the chart below.
“d____________________ of the b____________________”
“d____________________ of the s____________________”
It is important to understand that when Jacob taught about the “death of the spirit” he did not mean that our spirits would literally die, but rather that we are spiritually separated or cut off from the presence of God (see 2 Nephi 9:6). This separation is often referred to as spiritual death in the scriptures. You may wish to write the phrase cut off from the presence of God in the margin of your scriptures next to “death of the spirit” in 2 Nephi 9:10.
Read 2 Nephi 9:6, and notice that Jacob began by talking about the death of the body and ended by discussing being cut off from the presence of God. Search this verse carefully. What event brought both physical death and spiritual death upon mankind? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Read 2 Nephi 9:7–9, and identify what Jacob taught would happen to our bodies and our spirits if there were no Atonement and physical and spiritual death remained forever. Before you read, it will help you to know the meaning of the following terms Jacob uses in verse 7: The phrase “the first judgment which came upon man” (2 Nephi 9:7) refers to the consequences of the Fall of Adam and Eve. The term corruption refers to the mortal body because it is imperfect and will eventually die. The term incorruption refers to the resurrected body, which will live forever.
In your scripture study journal, list a few phrases you identified in 2 Nephi 9:7–9 that describe what would happen to our bodies and spirits if there were no Atonement.
Read the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to clarify what our fate would be without the Atonement of Jesus Christ: “If our separation from God and our physical death were permanent, moral agency would mean nothing. Yes, we would be free to make choices, but what would be the point? The end result would always be the same no matter what our actions: death with no hope of resurrection and no hope of heaven. As good or as bad as we might choose to be, we would all end up ‘angels to a devil’” (“Moral Agency,” Ensign, June 2009, 50).
Write a sentence in your scripture study journal explaining in your own words what you think Elder Christofferson was saying about our fallen condition. Add a short explanation of why you think Jacob would compare physical death and being separated from God to an “awful monster.”
God did not leave us to suffer the full effects of “that awful monster, death and hell.” Read 2 Nephi 9:10, and mark what God has prepared for us.
Read the following analogy from President Joseph Fielding Smith that illustrates our need for a Savior:
“A man walking along the road happens to fall into a pit so deep and dark that he cannot climb to the surface and regain his freedom. How can he save himself from his predicament? Not by any exertions on his part, for there is no means of escape in the pit. He calls for help and some kindly disposed soul, hearing his cries for relief, hastens to his assistance and by lowering a ladder, gives to him the means by which he may climb again to the surface of the earth.
“This was precisely the condition that Adam placed himself and his posterity in, when he partook of the forbidden fruit. All being together in the pit, none could gain the surface and relieve the others. The pit was banishment from the presence of the Lord and temporal death, the dissolution of the body. And all being subject to death, none could provide the means of escape.
“Therefore, in his infinite mercy, the Father heard the cries of his children and sent his Only Begotten Son, who was not subject to death nor to sin, to provide the means of escape. This he did through his infinite atonement and the everlasting gospel” (Doctrines of Salvation, ed. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:126–27).
Most of Jacob’s message in chapter 9 focuses on the way the Lord prepared for us to escape the grasp of physical and spiritual death, and it assures us that we can be delivered.
Search 2 Nephi 9:5, 19–21, and answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Think about how many people “belong to the family of Adam” (2 Nephi 9:21). This includes all those who have lived, are now living, and will yet live on the earth—including you. You may want to write your name next to 2 Nephi 9:21 to remember the Savior’s sacrifice was made for you.
Jacob taught that the Savior’s suffering would help us escape from the awful monster—physical death and being cut off from God’s presence forever. Read 2 Nephi 9:22, and identify a phrase that states we will be able to overcome physical death and a phrase that shows we will be in God’s presence again. Write what you identify in the sentences below:
Because of the Fall, our bodies will die, but because of Christ’s suffering, our bodies will be ____________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Because of the Fall, we are cut off from God’s presence, but because of Christ’s suffering, all will again stand ____________________________________________________________________________________________________.
From Jacob’s teachings we learn the doctrine: The Atonement of Jesus Christ delivers all mankind from physical and spiritual death brought by the Fall.
In addition to this message of hope, Jacob taught that the Savior’s suffering can also deliver us from the spiritual death caused by our own sins. Read 2 Nephi 9:27, and identify how Jacob described the state of those who transgress or sin. Read 2 Nephi 9:15–16, and mark the spiritual anguish or torment that our sins will bring upon us if we don’t repent.
In addition to this torment, notice the phrase “they shall go away” in 2 Nephi 9:16. Because of the Atonement, all mankind will return to the presence of God to be judged. However, if we have not repented of our sins, we will again be separated from God’s presence. While deliverance from the Fall is a gift to all mankind, our deliverance from the consequences of our personal sins depends on our desires and actions. Read 2 Nephi 9:21, 23–24. Because of the Atonement, what can we do to be saved from the eternal consequences of our sins?
After reading Jacob’s words, complete the following principle: Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome the consequences of our sins if we____________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Take a moment and reflect on what you can do to more fully feel the cleansing power of the Savior’s Atonement. Are there things the Lord would have you repent of? Ponder how you can repent of these things. How can you better hearken to His voice?
Write a short paragraph in your scripture study journal expressing how you feel about the Savior’s atoning sacrifice for you.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 2 Nephi 9 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: