“And They Did Testify Boldly of Christ's Death and Sufferings”

Brant Gardner

As in other times when his children have strayed, God sent human messengers to his children imploring them to repent and return to him. The message included the reiteration of the message of the Atoning Messiah. As before, this emphasis on the Messiah as part of the message of repentance suggests that those who had apostatized had abandoned their belief in the Messiah, a theme we have seen in previous occasions.

In the modern world, their may be those who leave the church, but many of those retain a belief in the Savior. Their apostasy is from an organization, or perhaps a particular set of beliefs. Their fundamental belief in God and the Savior might remain, but they elect a different organization to present those concepts to them. In the case of the Nephites, however, this was not typically the case. The abandonment of the Nephite church was tantamount to abandoning the Atoning Messiah. The religious picture of the ancient Nephites was not similar to that of the fragmented Christianity of the early hundreds of years after Christ, but to the initial Christian church in a pagan world. The competition was not from other Christian denominations, but from pagan religions. The adoption of a pagan religion would forcibly preclude a belief in Jesus Christ in Rome in the first century AD. The apostasy from the Nephite gospel in the New World would have been just such a change, with the similar result of denying the Atoning Messiah. It is for this reason that the focus of the preaching was on this most important foundation of the Nephite gospel.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon