‘Come, Follow Me’ for Jan. 15-21: What have Church leaders said about 1 Nephi 6-10?

This week’s study guide includes Lehi’s vision of the tree of life

This week’s “Come, Follow Me” study guide covers 1 Nephi 6-10, which includes Lehi’s vision of the tree of life.

Church News searched the archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn what leaders have said about these chapters.

1 Nephi 6

“The Book of Mormon is the great standard we are to use. It shows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It contains the words of Christ, and its great mission is to bring men to Christ and all other things are secondary. The golden question of the Book of Mormon is, ‘Do you want to learn more of Christ?’ The Book of Mormon is the great finder of the golden contact. It does not contain things which are ‘pleasing unto the world’ (1 Nephi 6:5), and so the worldly are not interested in it. It is a great sieve.”

— President Ezra Taft Benson, April 1975 general conference, “The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God”

1 Nephi 7

“Nephi is an example of one who knew, understood and relied upon the enabling power of the Savior. Recall that the sons of Lehi had returned to Jerusalem to enlist Ishmael and his household in their cause. Laman and others in the party traveling with Nephi from Jerusalem back to the wilderness rebelled, and Nephi exhorted his brethren to have faith in the Lord. It was at this point in their journey that Nephi’s brothers bound him with cords and planned his destruction. Please note Nephi’s prayer: ‘O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound’ (1 Nephi 7:17).

“Do you know what I likely would have prayed for if I had been tied up by my brothers? ‘Please get me out of this mess NOW!’ It is especially interesting to me that Nephi did not pray to have his circumstances changed. Rather, he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. And I believe he prayed in this manner precisely because he knew, understood and had experienced the enabling power of the Atonement.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the March 2015 Liahona article “Strength Beyond Our Own”

“If you and I are to reach the summit of our divine potential, we must work each step of the way. The path may be rugged, difficult, unheralded; but it can be successfully climbed if we are willing to work with all our strength and commitment. …

“When our lives are consistent with His gospel, we receive confidence through His Spirit to meet the challenges of each day. We can say with Nephi: ‘The Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him. … Wherefore, let us be faithful to him’ (1 Nephi 7:12).”

— Elder Rex D. Pinegar, then a General Authority Seventy, October 1980 general conference, “Decide To Decide”

Lehi stands before the tree of life in this still from the Book of Mormon videos.
Lehi stands before the tree of life in this still from the Book of Mormon Videos. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

1 Nephi 8

“In the scriptures we learn about another key piece of safety equipment — a ‘rod of iron.’ Disciples of our Savior, Jesus Christ, are invited to hold on to this rod in order to safely find their way to eternal life. I am speaking of Lehi’s vision of the tree of life found in the Book of Mormon.

“Through divine personal revelation, the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi and his son Nephi were each shown a vision of our mortal probationary state and its accompanying dangers. Lehi says, ‘And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost’ (1 Nephi 8:23). Yet ‘he [also] saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to [that] rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree,’ meaning the tree of life (1 Nephi 8:30).

“From Lehi’s vision we learn that we must take hold of this safety railing — this iron rod, found alongside our individual straight and narrow path — and hold tight until we reach our ultimate goal of eternal life with our Heavenly Father. Nephi promises that those who hold fast to the iron rod ‘would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction’ (1 Nephi 15:24).

“I invite you to read again the full accounts of this inspired vision. Study them, ponder them and apply them to your daily life. In modern terms we might say we are invited to ‘get a grip.’ We must hold on tight to the iron rod and never let go.”

— Sister Ann M. Dibb, then the second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, October 2009 general conference, “Hold On”

“In that very well-known vision found in 1 Nephi 8, we are reminded of the difficulty of staying on the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life. Father Lehi described to his sons the challenges facing different groups of people seeking the tree of life, ‘whose fruit was desirable to make one happy’ (1 Nephi 8:10). This tree represented the love of God (see 1 Nephi 11:21-22).

“The first group started along the strait and narrow path, but they did not take hold of the iron rod that would keep them on the path, and they got lost in the mists of darkness (see 1 Nephi 8:21-23). …

“To navigate through these mists of darkness we need the iron rod, which represents the word of God (see 1 Nephi 15:23-24). We must study and understand the truths and commandments found in the scriptures. We must listen carefully to the words of our latter-day prophets, whose teachings will give us guidance, direction and protection. And we must hold to the standards found in ‘For the Strength of Youth.’

“Those in the second group of people Lehi saw were clinging to the iron rod. They continued in the right direction, and they were able to partake of the fruit of the tree. They tasted true happiness, but unfortunately their happiness did not last long because as they looked around, they saw those who were making fun of them (see 1 Nephi 8:24-27). They were ashamed and caved in to peer pressure. …

“You may be mocked, you may have fingers pointed at you, you may have to stand alone, but please have the courage to withstand these temptations.

“What will help you to press forward and continually hold fast to the iron rod? Center your life on the Savior and develop daily habits of righteous living.

“Come to know the Savior and all He has done for you. I find it interesting that when [the] last group arrived at the tree of life, they fell down. They were humble. They realized that they could not have arrived without the Savior’s help.”

— Sister Mary N. Cook, then the first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, April 2009 general conference, “A Virtuous Life — Step by Step”

“Recently a group of bright, faithful young Latter-day Saints wrote down some of the most pressing questions on their minds. One sister asked, ‘Why doesn’t the Church defend itself more actively when accusations are made against it?’

“To her inquiry I would say that one of mortality’s great tests comes when our beliefs are questioned or criticized. In such moments, we may want to respond aggressively — to ‘put up our dukes.’ But these are important opportunities to step back, pray and follow the Savior’s example. Remember that Jesus Himself was despised and rejected by the world. And in Lehi’s dream, those coming to the Savior also endured ‘mocking and pointing … fingers’ (1 Nephi 8:27). ‘The world hath hated [my disciples],’ Jesus said, ‘because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world’ (John 17:14). But when we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christlike, we invite others to feel His love and follow Him as well.”

— Elder Robert D. Hales, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008 general conference, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship”

People in the great and spacious building jeer and mock in this scene from the Book of Mormon videos.
People in the great and spacious building jeer and mock in this scene from the Book of Mormon Videos. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“Laman and Lemuel’s rejection of the prophets and the scriptures meant there could be no useful likening or rehearsals of remembrance and no freshening of personal revelation to them for their time. … They enjoyed intellectual ‘slumming’ in their portable equivalent of the prideful ‘great and spacious building’ (see 1 Nephi 8:26, 31).

“Hence Laman and Lemuel became rebels instead of leaders, resentful instead of righteous — all because of their failure to understand either the character or the purposes of God and His dealings with His children.

“As to their spiritual significance, Laman and Lemuel were sad ciphers. True, we could know more facts about them, but it would not change the ‘bottom line.’ If, in some respects, they seem to be undeveloped characters, it is because theirs was a haunting emptiness, which could have been filled by the ‘love of God.’ In vision, there was the forlorn scene when Lehi cast his eyes anxiously about, searching for Laman and Lemuel that ‘perhaps [he] might see them.’ Finally, Lehi saw them, ‘but they would not … partake of the fruit’ (1 Nephi 8:17-18). Of all self-inflicted punishments, this eight-word epitaph describes the most awful and consequential!”

— Elder Neal A. Maxwell, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 1999 general conference, “Lessons From Laman and Lemuel”

“In his dream of the tree of life, Lehi found himself in a dark and dreary wasteland and saw others surrounded by a great mist of darkness. The pathway home from this darkness was the way to the tree of life — the same tree, I suppose, as the one from which Adam and Eve were barred until they, too, had walked the trail Lehi took. The path was marked by the iron rod, the word of God. (See 1 Nephi 8:7-30.) Holding fast to this rod in the mists of darkness, we, as did Lehi, grope and move our way homeward. As we do, we are likely to find that the cold rod of iron will begin to feel in our hands as the warm, firm, loving hand of Him who literally pulls us along the way. We find that hand strong enough to rescue us, warm enough to tell us that home is not far away; and we summon our deepest resources to reciprocate, until we are again ‘at one’ in the arms of the Lord.

“It is so important for us to be on the Lord’s side. But we should never forget that the Lord is also on our side.”

— Elder Bruce C. Hafen, then a General Authority Seventy, in the April 1990 Ensign article, “Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ”

Nephi prays by a stream, as depicted in this photograph from the portrayal in the Book of Mormon Videos.
Nephi prays by a stream in this still from the Book of Mormon Videos. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

1 Nephi 9

“Sometimes when we are asked to be obedient, we do not know why, except the Lord has commanded. From 1 Nephi 9:5 we read, ‘Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.’ Nephi followed instructions even though he didn’t fully understand the wise purpose. His obedience resulted in blessings to mankind all over the world. By not obeying our present-day leaders, we plant our seeds in stony places and may forfeit the harvest.”

— Elder Marvin J. Ashton, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 1978 general conference, “Who Will Forfeit the Harvest?”

1 Nephi 10

“[The] temptation to delay comes from our enemy, Lucifer. He knows that we can never be truly happy unless we have hope in this life and then realization, in the next, of eternal life. It is the greatest of all the gifts of God. It is to live in families forever with our Heavenly Father and with Jesus Christ and to have eternal increase. Satan wants us to be miserable as he is. And he knows that we can only have that true happiness if we are washed clean through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, by deep and continuing repentance, and the making and keeping of sacred covenants offered only through God’s authorized servants. The scriptures confirm the hazard:

“‘Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever’ (1 Nephi 10:21).

“And so Satan tempts with procrastination throughout our days of probation. Any choice to delay repentance gives him the chance to steal happiness from one of the spirit children of our Heavenly Father.”

Then-Elder Henry B. Eyring, now a counselor in the First Presidency, October 1999 general conference, “Do Not Delay”

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