The ancient Book of Mormon prophet Nephi was well acquainted to speak about God’s power of deliverance. His experiences were much like Moses or Joseph of Egypt or anyone else in the history of the world. There were many times that he needed to draw on this power. He was well acquainted with His Savior and His grace. As we look at his life, we are able to discover and recognize the infinite number of times that God has delivered us in our lives.
As Nephi concluded the introductory words of his smaller record, he draws our mind to the idea of deliverance through the mercy of the Lord.
“But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” 1 Nephi 1:20
Through the mercy and grace of Christ, we will be delivered if we are willing to exercise faith in God. This does not mean that our paths are going to be easy. Often, it is just the opposite; we are tested, tried, and challenged through life’s many circumstances. This was the case with Nephi as well as with Moses, whom he often cites in his experiences. Nephi and Moses were by no means contemporaries. Still, we see Nephi holding Moses as a sort of kindred spirit because of the shared experiences of faith and leading a group through the wilderness to a promised land.
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, deliverance from sin and death is a reality. These two deliverances are paramount for our exaltation and joy in this world and the world to come. This deliverance is freely given to all who have faith in Him, who is our deliverer. Elder L. Tom Perry once taught, “The Savior is the Great Deliverer, for He delivers us from death and from sin.” (The Power of Deliverance, L. Tom Perry, General Conference April 2012) Through His perfect life that culminated in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross at Calvary, we are lifted above our fallen state. This is the condescension of God. The grace of Christ not only redeems us from these two falls, but it empowers us to become mighty and great.
In the initial pages of the Book of Mormon, we get this in-depth insight into Nephi’s view of the grace of God. As we look at grace through the lens of Nephi, I would like to reference the more refined definition that we get in the Bible Dictionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.” Bible Dictionary: Grace
Here, we learn that grace is this divine strength that assists us in our ability to accomplish things that seem outside our capacities. As a youth, Nephi left all his possessions, relationships, and all he knew in following his father’s dream to head into the wilderness to an unknown promised land. Along with his three brothers, they were asked to carry only what was necessary to head out on this journey. After journeying into the wilderness for three days, Nephi and his brothers were commanded to return to Jerusalem to obtain a scriptural record from Laban. Also, they had to eat raw meat, help their women toil through pregnancy and labor, recover from broken hunting tools, and then build a ship. Over the course of their eight years without a home, they had to face many challenges. How Nephi dealt with these challenges is what brought the grace of Christ to help develop him into what he became.
We grow by facing challenges, exercising faith, turning to the Lord, working through our ideas, and learning to follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost. This is where the example of Nephi early shows us the power of deliverance. I may never come face to face with a mighty man that wants to kill me, but I do face trials of the flesh, temptations of the world, and my selfish desires. As I learn to allow myself to “go forth as I am led by the Holy Ghost, then I grow. I become a better man. I am a more patient, loving, and respectful husband. I am a more diligent father. I have grown grace for grace.
“The Book of Mormon, which is a tender mercy of the Lord preserved for these latter days, delivers us by teaching us in a pure and ‘most correct’ way the doctrine of Christ.
“Many of the stories of the Book of Mormon are stories of deliverance. Lehi’s departure into the wilderness with his family was about deliverance from the destruction of Jerusalem. The story of the Jaredites is a story of deliverance, as is the story of the Mulekites. Alma the Younger was delivered from sin. Helaman’s stripling warriors were delivered in battle. Nephi and Lehi were delivered from prison. The theme of deliverance is evident throughout the entire Book of Mormon.” (The Power of Deliverance, L. Tom Perry, General Conference April 2012)
God desires to deliver us. He will not always make it easy. Working out our salvation requires just that, work. We need to put in the effort, and as we do, then we will be strengthened by His grace and become more like Him. Then will we experience the power of deliverance to be delivered from our weakness and become mighty before the Lord.