All Nephite dissenters were potential sons of perdition. This was because they had, according to Lehi, “all the commandments from the beginning” (2 Ne. 1:10). These commandments were on the plates of brass. Additionally, Lehi and Nephi received more commandments, which Nephi engraved on the large plates of Nephi. He also engraved some of them in the abridged account found on the small plates of Nephi.
When Nephite prophets and missionaries preached the gospel, or when Nephite priests and teachers taught it, they did so by teaching all the commandments which were found written upon the plates of brass and the large plates of Nephi. All the Nephites, then, were taught these things from the very beginning.
To become a son of perdition, you have to have a certain degree of knowledge. All Nephites had this knowledge, for the plates of God contained the mysteries of God. This left them without excuse. If they kept the commandments of God, which they were taught, they would receive eternal life in the celestial kingdom of God. If they did not keep His commandments, they would receive eternal damnation, to be cast out into the lake of fire and brimstone with the devil and his angels. They were incapable of receiving an inheritance in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the telestial kingdom, for they all had the required knowledge of the sons of perdition.
This is why all Nephite prophets and missionaries—who went out to reclaim the transgressors and dissenters—continually threatened them with “repent or perish!” language. This is also why every transgressor and dissenter became super hard-hearted. Transgression—after having all the commandments taught to them, after keeping all those commandments and receiving prosperity and power to do all things by faith, thus becoming convinced of the power of God—caused the good spirit to leave them and the former unclean spirit to return to them with seven other more wicked spirits, so that the last state was worse than the first, even as the Savior taught in JST Matt. 12:36-39.
Then came some of the scribes and said unto him,
Master, it is written that,
Every sin shall be forgiven;
but ye say,
Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven.
And they asked him, saying,
How can these things be?
And he said unto them,
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest and findeth none; but when a man speaketh against the Holy Ghost, then he saith,
I will return into my house from whence I came out;
and when he is come, he findeth him empty, swept and garnished; for the good spirit leaveth him unto himself. Then goeth the evil spirit, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
In other words, Nephite transgression always resulted in full on demonic possession, in which a legion of devils took up residence in their now empty souls.
Gentile readers of the Book of Mormon get confused over the actions of the Nehors of Ammonihah, who burned women and children to death in front of Alma and Amulek. They also get confused over the wickedness and impenitence and unbelief of Laman and Lemuel and all the other dissenters throughout Nephite history. They simply cannot understand how transgression and ceasing to believe the truth caused all these people to become such hardened, murderous sinners. From our terrestrial kingdom perspective, people stop attending church or believing in the gospel all of the time, and they don’t go to our enemies to try to stir them up to battle against us, to kill us and take our possessions. So why did this happen among the Nephites?
Gentiles also get confused at the “fire and brimstone” language of the Book of Mormon. We have the vision of the three degrees of glory. We know that there is more than just a heaven and a hell. So why isn’t this three-degrees doctrine in the Book of Mormon? Those among us who do not have the Spirit of God in them merely ascribe it to Joseph Smith, saying that he hadn’t, yet, developed that doctrine, therefore he didn’t put it in the Book of Mormon. Others ascribe it to the Nephites being primitive, or less advanced and enlightened than us Gentiles, so that they were unaware of these middle kingdoms. All these theories are false.
As I stated in my previous post, the Nephites were at the pinnacle, and when you are at the pinnacle, and you fall, you fall the entire distance. This is why Lucifer, when he fell, became a devil. He was an angel in authority in the presence of God, therefore, having such a high position, he didn’t fall into the terrestrial or telestial kingdoms, but swept right past them into hell. All Nephite dissenters did the same.
A knowledge of this—which I’m giving now to whomever reads this post—allows us to more fully understand what the prophets and missionaries were up against, when they tried to reclaim the dissenters. They had to, essentially, convert Satan back to the truth of God. They had to perform exorcisms upon all the dissenters, getting the legion of unclean spirits out of them, and bring these spiritually dead people back to life, through the power of the Holy Ghost working miracles in them. Even one convert, in such a situation, is miraculous and astounding. The fact that Nephite preaching was so exceedingly powerful and their faith was so exceedingly strong, that they reclaimed thousands of such dissenters, shows that the Nephites were the master preachers. They were at the very pinnacle of preaching. (See, for example, what I wrote about Mormon’s preaching in Mormon as a restoration prophet.)
Now, why is this important to us? Precisely because the Book of Mormon was written in the “fire and brimstone” manner because it will have special application to the Gentiles of the last days. Right now the vision of the three degrees is applicable to us, for we do not have “all the commandments from the beginning.” But at some point, Joseph-Nephi-Lehi will be raised up, and he will have the same convincing power that these ancient Nephite prophets, missionaries, priests and teachers had. And he will translate the plates of brass and the large plates of Nephi into our languages, and send them forth. Then the Gentiles will be left without excuse, just as the Nephites were without excuse. Then the wo pronounced by Jacob will apply to the Gentiles:
But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state! (2 Ne. 9:27)
Then Nephi’s words will condemn us:
And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day. For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen. (2 Ne. 33:14-15)
And the angel’s words will condemn us:
And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.
And even at this time, when thou shalt have taught thy people the things which the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, even then are they found no more blameless in the sight of God, only according to the words which I have spoken unto thee. (Mosiah 3:20-22)
And Alma’s words in Alma 5 and Mormon’s words in Moroni 8 and so on and so forth. All the Book of Mormon words will be fully applicable to the Gentiles at that day and the doctrine of the three degrees of glory will no longer apply to us. We will finally be brought to the two-handed condition spoken of in 1 Ne. 14:7:
For the time cometh,
saith the Lamb of God,
that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken.
And thus we, also, will have no middle ground and no middle kingdoms.