Mosiah 15

Mosiah 15:1 God himself shall come down

Jesus of Nazareth was no mere mortal. Yet, He made an unusual transition on that first Christmas-he was transformed from God to newborn child. How wondrous it is to truly understand what was packaged in that tiny body held by mother Mary? The concept that God himself should come down is also taught by the angel who visited Nephi. He spoke of this as the condescension of God, asking Nephi, Knowest thou the condescension of God?...And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! (1 Ne 11:16-21) Speaking of Abraham Lincoln, someone once said that when God wants to change the world, He does it with the birth of a newborn child. Nothing could be more true of the birth of the Savior as God himself took upon himself a tabernacle of flesh.

"Oh, the magnitude of that sacrifice, that condescension! That night, God the Son traded his heavenly home with all its celestial adornments for a mortal abode with all its primitive trappings. He, the King of heaven (Alma 5:50), the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth (Mosiah 3:5), left a throne to inherit a manger. He exchanged the dominion of a god for the dependence of a babe. He gave up wealth, power, dominion, and the fullness of his glory-for what?-for taunting, mocking, humiliation, and subjection. It was a trade of unparalleled dimension, a condescension of incredible proportions, a descent of incalculable depth. And so, the great Jehovah, creator of worlds without number, infinite in virtue and power, made his entry into this world in swaddling clothes and a manger." (Tad R. Callister, The Infinite Atonement, p. 64)

Mosiah 15:3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God

We are used to differentiating Elohim from Jehovah with the terms "Father" and "Son." To refer to the Son as "the Father" can be confusing. This particular passage of Mosiah has confused many readers. Nevertheless, understanding those scriptures which refer to the Jehovah as the Father will help the reader to better understand the great role of our Redeemer. The doctrine is simple if you remember the three ways in which Jehovah is referred to as the Father.

First, he is referred to as the Father by virtue of divine investiture. If one is the Son of God, given all his power, authority, and grace, then one is also God and should also be referred to as "the Father." Abinadi describes it with the phrase, because he was conceived by the power of God. Jesus explained that He is the Father because he gave me of his fulness (DC 93:4).

Second, Christ is the Father by virtue of his role as the Creator of heaven and earth. He is, in effect, the Father of creation. No one would argue that He created under the direction of Elohim, but if He, as a pre-mortal Spirit, could create all things in heaven and earth, then he is, indeed, the Father of Creation. Accordingly, Samuel the Lamanite prophesied of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning (Hel 14:12, italics added).

Third, Christ is the Father by virtue of his redeeming sacrifice. All those who are born again through the mighty power of the atonement become the sons and daughters of Christ. As logic would have it, this spiritual rebirth is not without parentage. The Lord, Jesus Christ, becomes the Father of our Spirits. Benjamin's people experienced this mighty change. Therefore, they were called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters (Mosiah 5:7). As Abinadi explains the meaning of Isaiah, he repeats this doctrine, And who shall be his seed?...they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed? (v. 10-12)

Mosiah 15:4 they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth

If the last verse wasn't confusing enough, this one seems to teach the old sectarian notion of the Trinity-the three-in-one, one-in-three doctrine. Was Abinadi trying to teach that Elohim and Jehovah are indeed the same individual? Absolutely not! Elohim is God, and Jehovah is God. Should we then worship them as two separate Gods, with separate prayers, sacrifices, ordinances, sacraments, and commandments? Obviously not! And what of the Holy Ghost? Shouldn't the Holy Ghost have his own ordinances, commandments, and teachings? As Paul would say, God forbid. Abinadi is teaching of the oneness of God. He is teaching that there is no need to be polytheistic just because there is a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Sunday School answer is that they are "one in purpose," and that concept encapsulates a portion of the doctrine. But they are also one in omniscience, omnipotence, wisdom, and grace. They teach the same doctrine and require the same ordinances of salvation. Though three separate individuals, they are to be worshipped as one God.

Mosiah 15:4 suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation

See Luke 4:1-13.

Mosiah 15:5 the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit

"Here again we see Abinadi's play upon words, his use of words with equivalent meanings-flesh, Son, and man on the one hand; Spirit, Father, and God, on the other.  The man of flesh, the Son, the mortal Messiah-will subject himself to the will of the Spirit.  So it is for all of the children of God-they must yield to the impressions of the Spirit and put off the natural man in order to become a Saint (see Mosiah 3:19)." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 231)

Mosiah 15:6 as a sheep before the shearer is dumb

David O. McKay

"This Man of Galilee knew little but misunderstanding and ingratitude and criticism and abuse; but he never complained, and at the end of the day he was as sweet as at dawn. Long before he came somebody had said that when the supreme man arrived he would submit to tribulation without complaining. As men looked upon this Man of Galilee they were reminded of the great line of the prophet, 'As a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.'

"Brethren and sisters, what is the attitude, the spirit of the vilifier, as compared with the spirit of the Christ, the spirit of the leaders of the Church, the spirit of every true Latter-day Saint? It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong, and if we as Latter-day Saints will but hold to the truth as it has been revealed all will eventually be well." (Conference Reports, Oct. 1931, p. 13)

Mosiah 15:7 the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father

The Savior had submitted to the will of the Father long before he ever uttered those famous words in Gesthemane, not my will, but thine, be done (Lu 22:42). The will of the Son was swallowed up in the will of the Father beginning with the Savior's work in the temple at age 12. He said to Mary, wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? (Lu 2:49). When he taught of prayer, he said, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). He taught the disciples, For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me (Jn 6:38), and My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work (Jn 4:34). And yet, the work was not finished until He had swallowed that which was most bitter-even the contents of the bitter cup...Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men (DC 19:18-19).

As in all things, our job is to learn to submit our wills to the will of the Father as effectively as did our Exemplar, Jesus Christ.

Neal A. Maxwell

"It was all made possible by the Savior's splendid submissiveness. He did voluntarily what He was not forced to do; it was something no other child of God could do! 'There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin' (Hymns no. 194). 'Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father' (Mosiah 15:7). The imagery and theology of this verse tell us that Jesus was totally, perfectly, and fully consecrated.

"Being 'swallowed up' means being totally enveloped-without question, protest, reservation, or resentment. It is 'all the way,' not halfway. Choosing such spiritual submission is the highest act of deliberate, individual will: 'And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt' (Mark 14:36; emphasis added).

"Though Jesus' will was thus 'swallowed up,' we certainly don't notice any diminution of Jesus' individuality after the Atonement, do we? In fact, not only was He resplendent, but after the Resurrection, amid some of His sheep, He declared that His joy was now 'full' (3 Nephi 17:20). Consecration enhances individuality. Furthermore, when we are 'swallowed up' in His will we will also know what it is like to be 'swallowed up in the joy of Christ' (Alma 31:38)." (That Ye May Believe, pp. 2-3)

Neal A. Maxwell

"In considering consecration, it is well to remember . . . that nothing is held back-whether turf, attitude, or hobbies. One's will is to be swallowed up in the will of God-just as occurred with Jesus...the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father...Most forms of holding back are rooted in pride or are prompted by the mistaken notion that somehow we are diminished by submission to God. Actually, the greater the submission, the greater the expansion!" (as quoted by Henry B. Eyring in On Becoming a Disciple Scholar, pp. 61-2)

Mosiah 15:8 God breaketh the bands of death

Later on, Aaron teaches king Lamoni's father the same principle, he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory (Alma 22:14).

Mosiah 15:9 satisfied the demands of justice

The justice of God demands that every time a law of God is violated, there is a punishment for the transgression. Since God's children are the ones transgressing His laws, justice demands that they pay the appropriate price. However, the mercy of God has allowed an intercessor. The price would still have to be paid, but an allowance would be made such that the price could be paid by someone else. The only individual who met the qualifications needed to act as an intercessor was Jesus Christ. Thus, as our Savior and Redeemer, he answers the ends of the law; he pays the price, he makes sure the irrevocable decrees of a just God are fulfilled, and thereby satisfies the demands of justice.

   And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

   And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption. (Alma 34:15-16)

Boyd K. Packer

"Each of us, lives on a kind of spiritual credit.  One day the account will be closed, a settlement demanded.  However casually we may view it now, when that day comes and the foreclosure is imminent, we will look around in restless agony for someone, anyone, to help us....

"Unless there is a mediator, unless we have a friend, the full weight of justice untempered, unsympathetic, must, positively must, fall on us.  The full recompense for every transgression, however minor or however deep, will be exacted from us to the uttermost farthing.

"But know this: Truth, glorious truth, proclaims there is such a Mediator.  'For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.' (1 Timothy 2:5.)  Through Him mercy can be fully extended to each of us without offending the eternal law of justice.  This truth is the very root of Christian doctrine.  You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them.

"The extension of mercy will not be automatic.  It will be through covenant with Him.  It will be on His terms, His generous terms, which include, as an absolute essential, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.  All mankind can be protected by the law of justice, and at once each of us individually may be extended the redeeming and healing blessing of mercy. (CR, April 1977, p. 80.)" (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, pp. 233-4)

Hugh Nibley

"...having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice. Then he says, Now can I get them through?...So he goes ahead as our sponsor and clears the legal difficulties. There is serious doubt about whether our admission is really justified, so he generously intercedes for us. He breaks the barrier, and then he faces the problem of our legal right to go on. Do we deserve it? No. His argument on our behalf is for mercy and compassion." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon,  Lecture 35, p. 85)

Mosiah 15:10-13 who shall be his seed?

Abinadi is obviously expounding on the words of Isaiah, when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed (Mosiah 14:10). By virtue of Christ's atoning sacrifice, He becomes the Father of our spiritual rebirth. This happens when we are born again. Abinadi teaches what the requirements are for this process. He explains that Christ's seed are those who have heard the prophets, hearkened to them, believed in the Lord's redemption, and looked forward to the remission of their sins. In essence, they have listened, hearkened, and exhibited faith and hope. Through this process they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God (Mosiah 27:25). Abinadi is sure that all the holy prophets have met these requirements. Therefore, he declares, I say unto you that they are his seed. But do you have to be a prophet to be born again? The answer is a resounding, No! All of Benjamin's people had made the transition, for they were spiritually begotten...changed through faith on his name (Mosiah 5:7). Furthermore, this spiritual transformation is a necessary requirement for entering into the kingdom of God. Otherwise He won't bear our sins and redeem us from our transgressions. And so the message is the same for us today, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? (Alma 5:14)

Mosiah 15:14-18 these are they who have published peace

Back in Mosiah 12:20-24, the priests of Noah asked Abinadi about the interpretation of an Isaiah passage (Isa 52:7-10). Abinadi is finally ready to give them the answer. To do it, he first had to review the Law of Moses, he had to review the reason the Law of Moses was given, he had to remind them to whom the Law of Moses pointed, he had to explain the process of Christ's atoning for sins, and he had to teach what it means to be spiritually reborn. Having done all this, he is finally ready to explain the meaning of the scripture. Thus, we see that the greatness of Isaiah's words can only be fully understood with a comprehensive understanding of God's plan. Abinadi's teachings had to be fairly comprehensive before the priests would understand the meaning of the passage.

Commentary on this Isaiah passage can be found under the section for Mosiah 12:21.

Mosiah 15:15-17 how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace

Abinadi embellishes on the passage by Isaiah. He explains that all those who have published peace will be blessed for their efforts. This applies to those thousands of saints who were yet to proclaim the gospel. This scripture applies to the prophets and apostles of our day. How beautiful upon the Rocky Mountains are the feet of those great men whose lives have been dedicated to bringing good tidings and publishing peace! They continue to proclaim the same message that Abinadi did, that salvation comes through the sacrifice of the Only-Begotten, to break the bands of death and satisfy the demands of justice. When we raise our arm to the square to sustain the leaders of the Church, the words of Abinadi and Isaiah should come to mind, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace!

Mark E. Petersen

"Have you ever asked yourselves who these people are, who preach the gospel of peace and whose feet are so beautiful upon the mountains? Abinadi, in the Book of Mormon, gives us the explanation. These people are the prophets of God - they who preach the gospel of the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ." [Quoting Mosiah 15:13-18]

"So spoke Abinadi. The prophets, then are the servants of Jesus Christ and have been from the beginning of time. . . .We honor them. We shall follow them, and through them we shall work out our salvation here on earth in the Lord's own way." (LDS Church News, Deseret News, Mar 30, 1996)

Mosiah 15:21 there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection

When members of the Church speak of the "first resurrection," they are referring to the resurrection of the righteous which occurs at the Second Coming. Abinadi is not referring to this "first resurrection." He is speaking of those prophets and saints who lived and died from the days of Adam to the resurrection of Christ. He explains that they shall come forth in the first resurrection, but he is referring to those saints who were resurrected with Christ, And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many (Matt 27:52-53). The Nephite prophets and saints were also part of this "first resurrection," I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so? And his disciples answered him and said; Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled (3 Ne 23:9-10). Alma explains that there is a division in the "first resurrection." Those who die before the resurrection of Christ were to be resurrected with Christ. Those who die after the resurrection of Christ will be resurrected at the Second Coming. This is the meaning of the following passage, their resurrection cometh to pass before the resurrection of those who die after the resurrection of Christ (Alma 40:19).

What then should be our definition of "the first resurrection"? The first resurrection is the resurrection of life (Jn 5:29). It began with Christ himself. It includes all those who were resurrected with him after his First Coming. It includes all the prophets who have since been resurrected in order to fulfill special angelic functions (i.e. Peter, James, and Moroni). It includes all those who are resurrected at the Second Coming of Christ. Therefore the first resurrection covers a very long time period.

James E. Talmage

"Two general resurrections are mentioned in the scriptures, and these may be specified as first and final, or as the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust. The first was inaugurated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ; immediately following which many of the saints came forth from their graves. A continuation of this, the resurrection of the just, has been in operation since, and will be greatly extended, or brought to pass in a general way, in connection with the coming of Christ in His glory. The final resurrection will be deferred until the end of the thousand years of peace, and will be in connection with the last judgment." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 174)

Bruce R. McConkie

"To those who lived before the resurrection of Christ, the day of his coming forth from the dead was known as the first resurrection. Abinadi and Alma, for instance, so considered it. (Mosiah 15:21-25; Alma 40.) To those who have lived since that day, the first resurrection is yet future and will take place at the time of the Second Coming. (D. & C. 88:96-102.) We have no knowledge that the resurrection is going on now or that any persons have been resurrected since the day in which Christ came forth excepting Peter, James, and Moroni, all of whom had special labors to perform in this day which necessitated tangible resurrected bodies." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 639)

Mosiah 15:24 in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them

The Book of Mormon teaches about the salvation of two special groups-those who had not the law and children. Abinadi refers to the former as those who did not have salvation declared unto them. Mormon describes them as follows, they that have no law (Moroni 8:22). Nephi said of them, the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them (2 Ne 9:26). These souls are innocent, like children, because they knew not the law of God. The atonement has power to save those in a state of innocence. This principle is taught in the law of sacrifice as found in the law of Moses, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord....[the priest] shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering...the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them (Lev 4:2,20).

We don't often speak of this doctrine because our frame of reference is different. We know the law. We know the consequences of rebelling against the law. But how many millions of people have died without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ, without ever being taught of a Messiah, without ever understanding the nature of the God who created them? Are they all doomed to suffer in spirit prison and be resurrected to a telestial glory? If so, why are we working so hard to redeem the dead? Those innocent through ignorance will be resurrected according to the justice of God. Some will inherit a celestial glory. Think on the story of Alvin Smith. Joseph Smith records:

 I beheld the celestial kingdom of God...I saw Father Adam and Abraham; and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept;

 And marveled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.

 Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;

 Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;

 For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts. (DC 137:1-9)

What DC 137 doesn't tell us is what will happen to those who died without a knowledge of the gospel but would not have received it with all their hearts. The Lord will have to judge them according to the desire of their hearts. We get a hint of what will happen to them from the D&C, And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection; and it shall be tolerable for them (DC 45:54, italics added). If it is only tolerable for them, that must not mean a celestial glory. Abinadi uses similar language, saying, they have a part in the first resurrection. It is a part of the first resurrection because they will come forth after those who are "the first fruits" (or those who come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, see DC 88:98). For the most part, they will inherit the terrestial kingdom and will be resurrected as "those who are Christ's at his coming" (or those who come forth in the afternoon of the first resurrection, see DC 88:99). The above doctrine can be deduced from the available scriptures. See the scriptures already quoted and DC 88:98-9, DC 76:71-73, Heb 5:2, and Mormon Doctrine, p. 640.

Joseph Fielding Smith

"We are taught that we will be punished for our own sins, but what of these millions who sinned ignorantly, not having any knowledge of the mission of the Son of God? According to the divine plan the truth of the gospel must eventually be declared to them, for it is written that '... the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated.' (DC 1:2)

"...We are taught that mankind through the ages will be judged by the privileges and opportunities to know the truth. If a person never had the opportunity to know anything about the plan of salvation, then surely he should not be held accountable for his deeds in the flesh on an equality with the man who knew the truth and then refused to obey it. Thousands of these people who lived in this ignorance were devout and faithful to the doctrines which they had been taught. They cannot be held accountable for their actions which were done in faith and obedience to that which they devoutly believed and had been taught.

"Fortunately the Lord will judge us all by the intent of the heart as well as by our understanding. Therefore it seems that it was only a matter of justice for the Lord to do what Abinadi said he would do and permit these who innocently died in 'their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them' to have part in this great resurrection. " (Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 4, pp. 76-77)

Mosiah 15:25 little children also have eternal life

The doctrine of salvation for little children is not as complicated. They will have eternal life. They will receive a celestial glory. Any other doctrine is mockery before God (Moroni 8:23). Little children cannot repent; wherefore it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy (Moroni 8:19). Joseph Smith also recorded, I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven (DC 137:10).

Mosiah 15:26 the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him...that have wilfully rebelled

We have seen from the preceding passages that the Lord is merciful to the innocent whether by age or through ignorance. Those who exhibit willful rebellion are on the shallow end of the mercy pool. These feel the weight of the ruthless demands of divine justice more fully than any other group. This is because they would not receive of the power of Christ's atonement for sins. In other words, they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received (DC 88:32). "Willful rebellion" more aptly describes the attitude of Satan than any other phrase. It is the defining characteristic of those who become the Sons of Perdition. The Lord says they are those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and yet deny the truth and defy my power (DC 76:31).

Mosiah 15:28-29 salvation...shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people

There are many signs of the times. In Mormon Doctrine, Elder Bruce R. McConkie lists 51 different events which are to accompany the Second Coming. One might ask which of these signs is the most important. One of the best candidates is the preaching of the gospel unto all nations. This can be deduced from the quintessential scripture on the signs of the times-the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 24. That scripture was given to Christ's disciples in response to the following question, what is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (JS-M 1:4) In the rest of the chapter, many signs are given and then the Lord says, this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come, or the destruction of the wicked (JS-M 1:31, italics added). As a just God, Christ can't destroy the wicked until they have received a sufficient witness. However, the scriptures indicate that as soon as that witness is given, the end will come. This doctrine is subtly repeated by Abinadi. In verse28, he speaks of the preaching of the gospel to the entire world, and in verse 29, he speaks of the Lord bringing again Zion. The latter occurs with the coming of the Lord and the coming of the New Jerusalem (Ether 13:10). Thus we see that Abinadi's teachings coincide with the Savior's rendition of events which are to occur just prior to the destruction of the wicked and the Second Coming of the Lord.