2 Nephi 2: Free to Choose Because of the Atonement

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 36–37


Jacob was the first of two children born to Lehi and Sariah in the wilderness (see 1 Nephi 18:7). Consequently, he experienced many trials while growing up—both from the difficulty of traveling and from the “rudeness of his brethren” (2 Nephi 2:1). Lehi’s counsel in 2 Nephi 2 was especially for Jacob, and helps explain how it is possible to experience peace and joy in a world of misery and opposition. This is one of the chapters in the Book of Mormon that tells us much about Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness.

Understanding the Scriptures

2 Nephi 2

Tribulation (v. 1)Suffering
Consecrate (v. 2)Set apart for a sacred purpose
Redeemer (v. 3)One who pays the price to save another from spiritual bondage (Jesus Christ)
Justified (v. 5)Shown to be free from sin or guilt, forgiven
Contrite (v. 7)Sorrowful for sin, humble
Merits (v. 8)Gracious and good works (in this case, the Savior’s Atonement—which includes His suffering, death, and Resurrection)
Grace of the Holy Messiah (v. 8)Power of Jesus Christ (see Bible Dictionary, "grace," p. 697)
Intercession (vv. 9–10)Acting as a mediator to help two parties resolve a problem or difference (in this case it is the Savior’s help for all people who have become separated from Heavenly Father through sin)
Inflicting (v. 10)Applying, imposing
Affixed (v. 10)Attached
Compound (v. 11)mixture of two or more things put together to form one thing
Naught (v. 12)No purpose, nothing
Enticed (v. 16)Tempted, persuaded
Prolonged (v. 21)Lengthened
State of probation (v. 21; see also v. 30)Time of testing or proving
Transgression, transgressed (vv. 21–22)To break or violate a law
Save (v. 26)Except
Expedient (v. 27)Necessary, essential
Mediator (vv. 27–28)One who works to bring into harmony two parties who are not in agreement (in this case, Jesus Christ)
Object (v. 30)Purpose

2 Nephi 2:3–10—“The Way Is Prepared … and Salvation Is Free”

The Atonement of Jesus Christ frees all of mankind from the effects of the Fall and provides a conditional escape from the effects of personal sin (see the accompanying diagram). As Lehi told Jacob, “salvation is free” (2 Nephi 2:4). We are not saved because of any act of ours but because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There are requirements we must fulfill, however, to receive all of the benefits of the Savior’s Atonement. Lehi said that salvation is granted only to those “who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” (v. 7). If we would claim the conditional benefits of Christ’s Atonement, we must exercise faith in Him sufficient to repent of all our sins. There is no other way to receive the full benefits of this redemptive act. (See Book of Mormon Student Manual [Religion 121–22, 1996], 23.)

The Results of Adam’s Fall from
Which We Need to Be Saved

•Physical death: We are all born with mortalbodies that will eventually die.

•Spiritual death: We are all born into a fallen world and are separated from our Heavenly Father.

•We live on a telestial, fallen earth.

The Unconditional Blessings
of the Atonement

•All who have ever lived will be resurrected with an immortal physical body (see Alma 11:42–44).

•All will be brought back into God’s presence for judgment (see Alma 11:44; Helaman 14:15–17).

•The earth will be made celestial (see D&C 88:18–20).

Christ in Gethsemane

The Results of Our Own Fall from
Which We Need to Be Saved

•As we become accountable for our choices, our sins make us unworthy to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence (see Mosiah 16:2–5).

The Conditional Blessings
of the Atonement

•If we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and are baptized, we can be cleansed from our sins. Through the gift of the Holy Ghost we can become sanctified and worthy to remain in the Father’s presence and become as He is (see Alma 34:13–17; 42:15; Moroni 10:32–33; D&C 76:58; 132:19–20; Moses 5:5–11).

2 Nephi 2:5—“By the Law No Flesh Is Justified”

To be justified means to be declared not guilty, to be forgiven of sin. It is to be acceptable or righteous before God. Lehi taught that no one is justified (made righteous) by the law, but that because of violations of the law, men are cut off from God (see 2 Nephi 2:5). As the Apostle Paul taught, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “So by the law, that is, speaking as though there were nothing but the law operating, men would be cut off both temporally and spiritually. They would be cut off temporally because they cannot keep the law perfectly and they would be cut off spiritually because violation of the law makes one unclean and ‘no unclean thing can dwell … in his presence’ (Moses 6:57; see also 2 Nephi 9:6–10)” (Gerald N. Lund, “The Fall of Man and His Redemption,” in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds., The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, the Doctrinal Structure [1989], 90). “Redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah” because “he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law” (2 Nephi 2:6–7).

Studying the Scriptures

Do three of the following four activities (A–D) as you study 2 Nephi 2.

Activity A iconExplain How Salvation Is Free

  1. 1.

    Study 2 Nephi 2:3–9 and explain Lehi’s statement that “salvation is free” (v. 4) and his statement that salvation is granted to those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ (see v. 9) are both true. (See the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for help, if needed.)

  2. 2.

    Search 2 Nephi 2:5–8 and explain what price the Savior paid to save us temporally and spiritually. What would be our situation if there were no Savior? (see v. 5).

Activity B iconLaws of God: Keys to Happiness

Some people think that all laws are manmade—that there are no eternal laws and, therefore, no such condition as sin. They believe people should be able to do whatever they want so long as they do not hurt anyone. After teaching about the need for “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11), Lehi explained how God’s laws relate to our happiness. Read 2 Nephi 2:13 and write in your notebook the principle you think Lehi was teaching Jacob.

Activity C Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—2 Nephi 2:25

  1. 1.

    This short verse states a simple truth about the Fall. Read also 2 Nephi 2:22–23, which explains what would have happened had Adam not transgressed and partaken of the forbidden fruit. Write “Because Adam fell …” and finish the sentence by listing the consequences of the Fall mentioned in 2 Nephi 2:22–25. (Lehi sometimes explained what would not have happened without the Fall; rephrase those consequences to explain what did happen.)

Adam and Eve
  1. 2.

    Lehi said, “Men are, that they might have joy” (v. 25). Review the verses in 2 Nephi 2 that have the words happiness, joy, misery, and miserable (vv. 5, 10–11, 13, 18, 23, 25, 27). What did Lehi teach in those verses about how and why we can have joy and who wants us to be miserable?

Activity D Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—2 Nephi 2:27

In your notebook, draw a diagram that illustrates the important doctrine taught in this verse. Make it so that you could hang it in a place where you will see it frequently, to remind you of these important truths.