Learning the Will of God

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants is a direct result of inspired pondering over the scriptures and the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. President Joseph F. Smith gives us a remarkable illustration of this process:

On the third of October, in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures;
And reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world (D&C 138:1–2).

At the center of the prophet’s attention was a statement from the New Testament concerning the mission of the resurrected Savior to preach “unto the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19), including the reference: “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6). He then proceeds to give us the account of the heavenly plan of missionary work in the spirit realm for those who await deliverance and exaltation. How grateful we can be that prophetic pondering has enriched our lives with an expanded understanding of the mercy and love of the Father and the Son for their children. (Richard J. Allen)

“Desire to Behold”

Nephi has a great desire to experience the remarkable spiritual manifestations his father has seen. Because of Nephi’s righteousness and divine calling, he is given the privilege of receiving this vision wherein he is caught away by the Spirit and led by an angel into holy precincts. The angel instructs him, taking him through a series of inspired views regarding the future.

Each of us, if we are worthy and if there is a need, according to the will of the Lord, can receive angelic messengers. Certainly each of us, as well, can ponder the visions of the prophets and mingle our spiritual sensibility with theirs as we meditate upon the things of the Spirit.

Reading the account of Nephi’s vision in Chapters 11 through 14 of 1 Nephi is akin to taking a grand spiritual tour through the centuries of time. Through the eyes of Nephi, we are blessed with some two-dozen different sequential scenes of human history that are opened to us from a heavenly perspective. As we open our spiritual eyes, we see played out on the mortal stage the key events that form a continuum leading from Nephi’s time to the final scenes of the world’s history. During the early scenes, the familiar images from Lehi’s vision of the tree of life are replayed for the young prophet Nephi and intermingled with the flow of history being portrayed in vision. Because the Lord has given us the Book of Mormon, we can relive again and again the inspiration from this angelic instruction unfolding before our eyes. The following chart may be helpful in covering the material in 1 Nephi 11–14:

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1