In this week’s review of the Book of Mormon, we’ll look at chapters 1 through 4 of 2 Nephi. However, our focus will be on the concepts presented in chapter 2. Lehi in chapter 2 takes us into a philosophical discussion about mortality and expands our understanding of the need for a mortal experience by introducing us to the concept of free agency and how man determines his own existence by the choices he makes and how he can retain his agency in eternity through the redemption of the Messiah.
Lehi’s Narrative Progression
If you have been reading my posts, you can see that I employ a linear sequencing of ideas, which accomplishes two objectives. First, by sequencing ideas, we see a logical progression of concepts and see an overall theme of the narrative. Second, as we examine each of the concepts, we get the details of the narrative and see how each concept relates to other concepts. When we examine chapter 2 of 2 Nephi, we get the following flow of ideas.
Here is a short video on free will by Rabbi Sacks.
Free Agents Forever
One of the important concepts that comes out of Chapter 2 is the idea of man becoming free agents. Free agency is defined - as the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. ... One's agency is one's independent capability or ability to act on one's will. Lehi implies here in chapter 2 that free will and agency exist only in a physical existence. Indeed, free agency only exist in a physical world because it is only in a physical world that we can act on our choices, which shapes our existence and has a direct impact on our future. What we get from chapter 2 that expands our understanding of man’s free agency is that –
1. Man needed a physical body and a physical world to be able to take action and to exercise his agency.
2. There needed to be opposing choices, which was introduced in the Garden of Eden to know good and evil.
3. God’s Law defined these opposing choices of good and evil.
4. Man’s choices would either bring him happiness and life or misery and death.
5. The Messiah’s redemption of Humanity from the Fall of Adam would give man immortality so that man could be free agents forever.
God’s Three Laws
With agency, God has set out consequences on how we use our agency. If we use our agency wisely according to the Law of God we reap His blessings. If we don’t, we suffer His judgements. For God has said that we will be judged by our works or in other words by the laws we live. In eternity, God has established three realms of glory to recognize the choices we make on earth with each realm having its own laws. We can identify these three sets of laws in the scriptures – the Noahide, Sinaide and Davidide laws. I have summarized what these three realms look like in the following table.
A Place of Eternal Death and Misery
For those who reject the redemptive mission of the Messiah and His Gospel, they are denied resurrection, a realm of glory and free agency forever.