Saturday, March 3, 2012

Nephi Receives the Second Comforter

Finally, after the course of faith building experiences, Nephi was prepared to receive the Second Comforter. Nephi records the following:

“For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.” (1Nephi 11: 1)

After a short interview in which Nephi was required to ask, he was told, “blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou hast desired. (1Nephi 11: 6)

I have read the account of Nephi's great vision comprising chapters 11 through 14 of 1Nephi, over and over again. I am intrigued with the interaction Nephi experiences with heaven and heavenly messengers during the course of this vision. I am convinced it was during the time of this great vision that Nephi received the initial visit from the Second Comforter. I have also become convinced after reading these chapters repeatedly, that Nephi says almost nothing specifically about his personal encounter with Christ in his record of the vision.

In his vision, Nephi is shown; the mother of Christ, (1Nephi 11: 13-18) Christ Jesus as an infant, (1Nephi 11: 20) Christ's ministry among men, (1Nephi 11: 24, 28, 31) Christ's baptism by John the Baptist, (1Nephi 11: 27) Christ's twelve apostles in Palestine, (1Nephi 11: 29) and the trial and crucifixion of Christ. (1Nephi 11: 32-33) 

I had never read the account of Nephi's vision closely enough to notice that Nephi is promised by the "spirit," "thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God." (1Nephi 11: 7) This was to have been shown to Nephi immediately after "thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted." After this promise from the "spirit" and after Nephi had seen the tree, the closest thing in Nephi's record that might fulfill the promise that he would "behold a man descending out of heaven," is found in 1Nephi 12: 6, Which says, "And I saw the heavens open, and the Lamb of God descending out of heaven; and he came down and showed himself unto them." "Them," referred to in this verse is the offspring of Nephi who would receive and be ministered to by Christ after His resurrection. (3Nephi 11) But, in this case, the Lord was seen by Nephi showing Himself unto "them" in the larger context of a visionary recounting of future events that were to happen among his (Nephi's) offspring. Though magnificent, Nephi's vision of Christ among his future descendants may only partially have fulfilled the promise of the spirit to Nephi that he "shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God." (1Nephi 11: 7)

Joseph Smith taught:

"When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses….
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; …when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions-Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the First Born." [TPJS, pp. 150-51].
Nephi received the Second Comforter. That encounter was more intimate, more personally meaningful, and relevant, than simply seeing Christ minister to his offspring in a yet future ministry. I believe Nephi's record is complete enough only to let us know that he finished the journey into Christ's presence. What happens in detail to men (or women) who are personally ministered to by Christ has never been publicly spoken, written about, or revealed in a general way. Joseph Smith said just enough publicly to let us know that he had spoken to Christ face to face; Moses, Enos, the brother of Jared, and Moroni, (among many others) provide only the briefest and scant references to their encounters with the Second Comforter. Nephi is no exception. 

Nephi did indeed see Christ and speak to Him face to face. Nephi claims later in his record,  "for he (Isaiah) verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him. And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him;" (2Nephi 11:2-3) Nephi was speaking from a position of knowledge and pure understanding when, near the end of his record he says, "there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do." (2Nephi 32: 6) One only comes to the level of understanding by which such a statement can be made if one has had "the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him and the Lord will teach him face to face..." (Joseph Smith [TPJS, pp. 150-51])

There have been those few that were allowed to write the details of their instruction and interaction with the Redeemer. The brother of Jared for example was commanded to write "these things and seal them up." (Ether 3: 27-28) As a rule, however, there is no written or spoken record of the highly personal ministering that comes to an individual only from the Second Comforter.

The author of The Second Comforter Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil said this,

"You will generally not be able to tell anyone, except for close family members about these things...these mysteries are given to you only if you have the willingness and ability to honor the requirement that "you shall not impart" of them to others...Among you and your friends, associates or neighbors, there will appear to be nothing particularly noteworthy about you...This is between you and God. It must remain so." (Second Comforter Pg. 392)

And so it was, even with the mighty prophet Nephi. He leaves us as much as he was allowed to write publicly about his experience with the Second Comforter but no more. 

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