Posted in Jesus Christ, New Testament, Symbolism

Christ in the House of His Parents – John Everett Millais

A little while ago I posted about a picture that my pearl among women and I saw at Manchester Art Gallery – Holman Hunt’s ‘ The Shadow of Death’. The painting depicts Jesus as a young man in the carpenter shop. It is a stunning blend of realism and symbolism.

I recently visited the Tate Britain Gallery . When I saw another Pre-Raphaelite painting depicting Jesus in the carpenter shop my eyes lit up. This time the painting was John Everett Millais’ ‘Christ in the House of His Parents’.

Christ in the House of His Parents ('The Carpenter's Shop') 1849-50 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund and various subscribers 1921 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03584
Christ in the House of His Parents (‘The Carpenter’s Shop’) 1849-50 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 

Jesus is shown as a young boy. He appears to have injured his hand while trying to extract a nail from a door using some pincers (there is a smudge of the blood on the door on the workbench). The wound in the palm of his hand and the drop of blood that has fallen onto his foot clearly foreshadow his crucifixion and the prints of the nails in his hands and feet. To draw attention to this, the painting was displayed with a quotation from the Bible – Zechariah 13:6: ‘And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’ He is dressed in white, symbolising his purity.

Mary is depicted kneeling beside the Saviour, foreshadowing her sorrowful kneeling beneath the cross. She is not embracing Jesus but is instead offering her cheek to him to kiss – perhaps representing her submission to his divine nature.

Joseph has paused in his work, tool still in hand, to reach out and comfort the boy. His physique is lean and wiry and was modelled by Millais on a real carpenter. Joseph is very much a mortal father.

To the right of Jesus, another slightly older boy is coming forward with a bowl of water to wash the wound. This is John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, and the bowl of water symbolises John’s baptism of Jesus. John is wearing clothing made of some sort of animal skin – a reference to the New Testament description that ‘John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins’. (Mark 1:6).  John appears to have a rather guilty expression on his face – perhaps referring to his own statement ‘but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose’ (Luke 3:16).

Also in the picture are an older woman representing Anne, the mother of Mary and an older youth, said to represent the apostles.

In the centre of the table is a large workbench. This represents the Sacrament table. On it is a large door that Joseph and Jesus have been working on. This reminds us of the verse in Revelation:  ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ (Revelation 3:20)

At the back of the room painting are lengths of wood and carpentry tools. These are the tools with which Jesus would make his living but which would also facilitate his death. Amongst them is a triangle – a traditional symbol of the Godhead. There is also a ladder. This may represent the ladder up to Calvary’s cross or, as some scholars think, Jacob’s ladder. Perched on the ladder is a dove, representing, of course, the Holy Ghost.

Through the door at the rear of the room can be seen a flock of sheep symbolising Christ’s role as the Good Shepherd. In the far distance, beyond the sheep is a shadoof (or irrigation machine) reminding us that Christ is the Living Water.

At the front left of the painting is a partially woven basket symbolising that Christ’s work on earth has only just begun.

At the far right is (halo-shaped?) window. Beyond I can be seen a garden, reminding us that Christ’s atonement is necessary because of the Fall, and on the window sill a bird is drinking or bathing in a dish of water – a symbol of spiritual refreshment.

The picture was first exhibited in 1850 and caused outrage. The Times objected to the way in which Jesus and his family were portrayed as ordinary, lowly people. Many observers felt that the realistic depiction was almost blasphemous. Charles Dickens was particularly incensed by it and claimed that it depicted Mary as ‘horrible in her ugliness’.

For me, the realistic portrayal (Millais based it on a real carpenter’s shop), including the wood shavings on the floor and the dirty feet is not blasphemous but is instead a powerful symbol of the condescension of the Saviour in coming to this mortal world. Just like The Shadow of Death, Christ in the House of His Parents contains much that is symbolic. And the symbolism revolves around Christ’s mission to atone for the sins of the world.

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Jesus Christ

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 39 – Behold, My Joy Is Full

1. Jesus commands the Nephites to ponder and pray about what He has taught. He heals the sick, blesses the children, and prays for the people.

3 Nephi 17:1-3 Prepare your minds

‘We read in the “Book of Mormon” that Jesus told the Nephites to return home, for they were not prepared to receive his words. They went home and they did prepare their hearts for the reception of the truth. Why do we not receive more truth than we do? We hear a great many teachings and counsels from the servants of God. And why do we not receive more? Peradventure we are not prepared to receive it. Why does not the Almighty bestow on us more light, truth, intelligence and other blessings he is able to bestow? It is because we are not prepared to receive them. We have more offered now than a great many can receive because their hearts are unprepared, they are filled with the spirit of the world, they have lost sight of the principles of salvation, and do not comprehend them. You may have heard these things preached many times before, but if you have not received them and made them your rule of action, it would have been better for you if you had never heard them.’ (Charles C Rich, Journal of Discourses)

3 Nephi 17:5-7, 9-10 Have ye any that are sick?

“Calling for the sick and the blind, the halt and the maimed, the leprous and the withered, those that were ‘afflicted in any manner,’ Christ asked that they be brought forward that he might heal them. … Sensing with divine insight that these people desired to behold the miracles he had performed for their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, and recognizing instantly that their faith was sufficient for them to be healed, Christ responded to each need within the multitude, ‘and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.’ In response to such an outpouring of compassion and mercy, all of the congregation, the healed as well as the whole, did ‘bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come … did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.’ [3 Nephi 17:5–7, 9–10.]” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ and the New Covenant, 268–69).

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3 Nephi 17:21 He wept

“He wept-he who had descended below all things, the Man of Sorrows, he who bore all our griefs. The height of his infinite capacity for joy is the inverse, mirror image of the depth of his capacity to bear our burdens. So it is with the enlarged caverns of feeling within our own hearts: as the sorrows of our lives carve and stretch those caverns, they expand our soul’s capacity for joy. Then, when the Man of Sorrows turns our bitter tastes to sweet, our joy-and his-will fill the widened chambers of our hearts with what the scriptures call ‘fulness.’ That is when we have accepted his Atonement and love with such completeness that his purpose for us is fully satisfied. Then will we know that we were made for this. Then will we know where, and why, and to whom, we belong. ‘For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.’ (Psalm 107:9.)” (Bruce C Hafen, The Belonging Heart, p. 315)

2. Jesus institutes the sacrament among the Nephites.

3 Nephi 18:1-4 The sacrament

…every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, and surely that is why this particular ordinance with all its symbolism and imagery comes to us more readily and more repeatedly than any other in our life. It comes in what has been called ‘the most sacred, the most holy, of all the meetings of the Church’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation,2:340).

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3 Nephi 18:11 To those who repent and are baptised in my name

“The sacrament is for the Saints, for those who have actually made covenants at the waters of baptism primarily, but there is no evidence that I find where the Lord would ever exclude the children who were rapidly moving toward baptism and who were learning and being taught to worship the Lord and be ready for the covenants as their age and development would permit….

“If a person, not a member of the Church, is in the congregation, we do not forbid him partaking of it, but would properly advise that the sacrament is for the renewing of covenants. And, since he has not made the true covenant of baptism or temple covenant, he is exempt. However, his partaking of the sacrament if he is clean and worthy and devout would not bring upon him any condemnation as it would for those who have made solemn covenants and then have ignored or defied them.” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 226)

3 Nephi 18:25 Feel and see

‘We must feel and see for ourselves and then help all of Heavenly Father’s children to feel and see and know that our Savior has taken upon Himself not only all our sins but also our pains and our suffering and afflictions so that He can know what we feel and how to comfort us.’ (Linda S Reeves, General Conference, Oct 2012)

3 Nephi 18:28 Partake of my flesh and blood unworthily

“The divine instructions concerning the sacredness of this ordinance are explicit; and the consequent need of scrupulous care being exercised lest it be engaged in unworthily is apparent. In addressing the Corinthian saints Paul gave solemn warnings against hasty or unworthy action in partaking of the sacrament, and declares that the penalties of sickness and even death are visited upon those who violate the sacred requirements: ‘For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.’ (1 Cor 11:26–30)

“When instructing the Nephites, Jesus laid great stress upon the fitness of those who partook of the sacrament; and moreover He placed responsibility upon the officers of the Church whose duty it was to administer it, that they should permit none whom they knew to be unworthy to participate in the ordinance.” (James E Talmage, The Articles of Faith, p. 173)

3 Nephi 18:32 Continue to minister

“The principles to activate souls do not change. The lost or less-active must be found and contacted. Loving concern must be demonstrated. They must feel of our love. They must be taught the gospel. They must feel the power of the Holy Ghost through the teachers. They must be included in our fellowship. They must have meaningful Church responsibilities. In the words of the Book of Mormon, we are to ‘continue to minister’ (3 Nephi 18:32). We are particularly concerned that new converts be integrated into full fellowship in the Church. They must be welcomed with open arms.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 234)

3. The disciples teach and minister to the people. The Savior returns to teach the people and pray for them.

3 Nephi 19:4-8 They knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus

‘Notice that the twelve disciples were able to repeat the words of the Savior with perfect exactness. This can only be done when the Spirit conveys the words to the mind of each disciple. This same thing occurred when the Apostles in Jerusalem wanted to quote sermons or statements Jesus had made. The Spirit dictated to them the words which had been spoken. This is what Jesus promised to his Apostles when he said: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things , and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you.”1

By this time the word had spread among the people that the twelve disciples had been given the authority to confer the Holy Ghost. But of course they could only do this with the consent and approbation of the Savior. Furthermore Nephi knew this would not happen until the disciples had been baptized. It is interesting that the disciples prayed for the Holy Ghost as a prelude to their baptism.

We should mention that all of these disciples as well as the multitude had been baptized by Nephi long before, but that was just for the remission of sins. Apparently Nephi knew that all of them needed to be baptized to become members of the Church of Jesus Christ, which the Savior was now establishing among them.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

3 Nephi 19:9 The disciples prayed for the Holy Ghost

“There is … a difference between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the enjoyment of the gift. All saints after baptism receive the gift or right to the sanctifying power of the Spirit; only those who are worthy and who keep the commandments actually enjoy the promised reward. In practice, members of the Church enjoy the companionship of the Spirit from time to time as they manage, by obedience, to get in tune with the Infinite.

“The actual enjoyment of the gift of the Holy Ghost is a supernal gift that a man can receive in mortality. The fact of its receipt is a witness that the saints so blessed are reconciled to God and are doing the things that will assure them of eternal life in the realms ahead” (Bruce R McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith[1985], 257).

3 Nephi 19:10-13 Baptism

‘When Christ appeared to the Nephites on this continent, he commanded them to be baptized, although they had been baptized previously for the remission of their sins… . The Savior commanded Nephi and the people to be baptized again, because he had organized anew the Church under the gospel. [ 3 Nephi 19:7–15.] Before that it had been organized under the law. [ 3 Nephi 9:15–22, 11:10–40, 12:18–19, 15:4–10.]

For the same reason Joseph Smith and those who had been baptized prior to April 6, 1830, were again baptized on the day of the organization of the Church.’

(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:336)

3 Nephi 19:19-20, 27-28 I thank thee

“Prayer is an essential part of conveying appreciation to our Heavenly Father. He awaits our expressions of gratefulness each morning and night in sincere, simple prayer from our hearts for our many blessings, gifts, and talents.

“Through expression of prayerful gratitude and thanksgiving, we show our dependence upon a higher source of wisdom and knowledge—God the Father and his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (Robert D Hales, in Conference Report, Apr. 1992).

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3 Nephi 19:23 That we may be one

“That is, of course, a variation on the great intercessory prayer Christ offered for his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion in the Old World, praying that his followers might be unified with the Father and the Son, as well as with each other, and be taken from the adverse temptations and evil influences of the world. (Jn 17)

“From the Savior’s language, we see clearly it is the Holy Ghost that provides such unity, a doctrinal point not so clearly communicated in the New Testament account.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 280)

3 Nephi 19:24 They did not multiply many words

‘The most meaningful and spiritual prayers I have experienced contained many expressions of thanks and few, if any, requests. As I am blessed now to pray with apostles and prophets, I find among these modern-day leaders of the Savior’s Church the same characteristic that describes Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon: these are men whose hearts swell with thanksgiving to God for the many privileges and blessings which He bestows upon His people (see  Alma 48:12 Also, they do not multiply many words, for it is given unto them what they should pray, and they are filled with desire (see  3 Nephi 19:24 The prayers of prophets are childlike in their simplicity and powerful because of their sincerity.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, October 2008)

3 Nephi 19:33 Hearts

‘When we understand more than we know with our minds, when we understand with our hearts, then we know that the Spirit of the Lord is working upon us’ (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], p. 92)

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Jesus Christ

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 38 – Old Things Are Done Away, and All Things Have Become New

1. Jesus teaches the Beatitudes to the Nephites.

3 Nephi 12:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me

“…the Book of Mormon sermon added the phrase ‘who come unto me…’ Obviously in the 3 Nephi rendering, being poor in spirit is not in itself a virtue, but it will be so if such humility brings one to claim the blessings of the kingdom through the waters of baptism, making covenants, and moving toward all the promises given to covenant-making disciples. It is significant that the phrase ‘come unto me’ is used at least four more times in the twenty or so verses that follow this one.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 263)

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3 Nephi 12:4 Blessed are all they that mourn

“The Beatitudes may be viewed as a recipe for righteousness with incremental steps, beginning with ‘the poor in spirit who come unto [Christ]’ (3 Nephi 12:3). The next step in the celestial direction is to mourn, especially for our sins, for ‘godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation’ (2 Corinthians 7:10)” (Spencer J Condie, Your Agency, Handle with Care [1996], 8).

3 Nephi 12:5 Blessed are the meek

“If the Lord was meek and lowly and humble, then to become humble one must do what he did in boldly denouncing evil, bravely advancing righteous works, courageously meeting every problem, becoming the master of himself and the situations about him and being near oblivious to personal credit.

“Humility is not pretentious, presumptuous, nor proud. It is not weak, vacillating, nor servile. …

Humble and meek properly suggest virtues, not weaknesses. They suggest a consistent mildness of temper and an absence of wrath and passion. … It is not servile submissiveness. It is not cowed nor frightened. …

“How does one get humble? To me, one must constantly be reminded of his dependence. On whom dependent? On the Lord. How remind one’s self? By real, constant, worshipful, grateful prayer” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball)

3 Nephi 12:6 Blessed are all they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness

‘The thing that keeps us moving on the path and toward the Savior is our longing (our hunger, our thirst) for the things of the Spirit, and to be reconciled with God (12:6). As we hunger and thirst for righteousness, the Lord makes a simple promise to us:You shall be filled. How long can you go without food before your stomach begins sending urgent messages to your mouth? How long can you go without scripture study, without prayer and service and spiritual experiences before your spirit begins sending messages to your heart?’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSLiving.com)

3 Nephi 12:7 Blessed are the merciful

“Our salvation rests upon the mercy we show to others. Unkind and cruel words, or wanton acts of cruelty toward man or beast, even though in seeming retaliation, disqualify the perpetrator in his claims for mercy when he has need of mercy in the day of judgment before earthly or heavenly tribunals. Is there one who has never been wounded by the slander of another whom he thought to be his friend? Do you remember the struggle you had to refrain from retribution? Blessed are all you who are merciful, for you shall obtain mercy!” (Harold B Lee, Stand Ye In Holy Places, p. 347)

3 Nephi 12:8 Blessed are all the pure in heart

‘The promises of the gospel are uplifting and ennobling, even exalting. We receive those promises by covenants which are conditioned on our living lives of purity and morality. When we live right and seek to purify our hearts, we draw closer to God and the Spirit. The condition of our heart determines how much evidence of divinity we see in the world now and qualifies us for the eventual realization of the promise that the pure “shall see God.” Ours is a quest for purity.’ (L Whitney Clayton, General Conference, October 2007)

3 Nephi 12:9 Blessed are all the peacemakers

“Peacemakers: In the full sense, only those who believe and spread the fulness of the gospel are peacemakers within the perfect meaning of this Beatitude. The gospel is the message of peace to all mankind. Children of God: Those who have been adopted into the family of God as a result of their devotion to the truth. By such a course they become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. (Rom. 8:14–18;Gal. 3:26–29; 4:1–7.)” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1971–73], 1:216).

3 Nephi 12:10-12 Blessed are all they who are persecuted for me name’s sake

“To be persecuted for righteousness’ sake in a great cause where truth and virtue and honor are at stake is God-like. Always there have been martyrs to every great cause. The great harm that may come from persecution is not from the persecution itself but from the possible effect it may have upon the persecuted who may thereby be deterred in their zeal for the righteousness of their cause. Much of that persecution comes from lack of understanding, for men are prone to oppose that which they do not comprehend. Some of it comes from men intent upon evil. But from whatever cause, persecution seems to be so universal against those engaged in a righteous cause that the Master warns us, ‘Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.’ (Luke 6:26.)

“May youth everywhere remember that warning when you are hissed and scoffed at because you refuse to compromise your standards of abstinence, honesty, and morality in order to win the applause of the crowd. If you stand firmly for the right, despite the jeers of the crowd or even physical violence, you shall be crowned with the blessedness of eternal joy. Who knows but that again in our day some of the saints or even apostles, as in former days, may be required to give their lives in defense of the truth. If that time should come, God grant they will not fail.” (Harold B Lee, Stand Ye In Holy Places, p. 348)

2. Jesus declares that His followers are to be the salt of the earth and a light to other people.

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3 Nephi 12:13 The salt of the earth

‘When men are called into mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;

They are called to be the savor of men’ (D&C 101:39–40; italics added).

The word savor (s-a-v-o-r) denotes taste, pleasing flavor, interesting quality, and high repute. …

A world-renowned chemist told me that salt will not lose its savor with age. Savor is lost through mixture and contamination. Similarly, priesthood power does not dissipate with age; it, too, is lost through mixture and contamination. …

Flavor and quality flee a man when he contaminates his mind with unclean thoughts, desecrates his mouth by speaking less than the truth, and misapplies his strength in performing evil acts. …

I would offer these simple guidelines, especially to the young men, as the means to preserve one’s savor: If it is not clean, do not think it; if it is not true, do not speak it; if it is not good, do not do it (see Marcus Aurelius, ‘The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius,’ in The Harvard Classics, Charles W. Eliot, ed., New York: P. F. Collier and Son, 1909, p. 211)” (Carlos E Asay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1980).

3 Nephi 12:16 Let your light so shine

“I wish to say that none of us ever need hesitate to speak up for this Church, for its doctrine, for its people, for its divine organization and divinely given responsibility. It is true. It is the work of God. The only things that can ever embarrass this work are acts of disobedience to its doctrine and standards by those of its membership. That places upon each of us a tremendous responsibility. This work will be judged by what the world sees of our behavior. God give us the will to walk with faith, the discipline to do what is right at all times and in all circumstances, the resolution to make of our lives a declaration of this cause before all who see us. (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, November 1996, p. 51.)

3. Jesus declares that He has fulfilled the law of Moses. He teaches the people a higher law.

3 Nephi 12:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law

“Jesus came to restore that gospel fulness which men had enjoyed before the day of Moses, before the time of the lesser order. Obviously he did not come to destroy what he himself had revealed to Moses anymore than a college professor destroys arithmetic by revealing the principles of integral calculus to his students. Jesus came to build on the foundation Moses laid. By restoring the fulness of the gospel he fulfilled the need for adherence to the terms and conditions of the preparatory gospel. No one any longer needed to walk by the light of the moon, for the sun had risen in all its splendor” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary).

3 Nephi 12:21 It is also written before you

‘The Nephites relied more heavily on the written law than the Jews in Jerusalem. The Nephites saw the law primarily as a written body (see 1 Nephi 4:15–16) and viewed any change in the written law with deep suspicion (see Mosiah 29:22–23). The Jews in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, on the other hand, had an extensive body of oral law to accompany the written Torah, and the oral law was very important in the pre-Talmudic period of Jewish legal history.

Accordingly, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says repeatedly to the Jews, “Ye have heard that it was said . . .” (Matthew 5:21,27,33,38,43; ). To the Nephites, however, such a statement would not have carried as much weight as would a reference to the written law. Thus, in the Sermon at the Temple Jesus consistently cites the written law, saying, “Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you” (3 Nephi 12:21), “it is written by them of old time” (3 Nephi 12:27), “again it is written” (3 Nephi 12:33), “behold, it is written” (3 Nephi 12:38), “and behold it is written also” (3 Nephi 12:43). “[John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount, F.A.R.M.S., p. 99]

3 Nephi 12:22 Anger

‘The New Testament account of the Savior’s teachings is, “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:22). The Savior’s teachings on this subject in the Book of Mormon are the same except that the phrase “without a cause” is deleted. This indicates that it is best to avoid anger altogether. It should be noted that the earliest known manuscript forMatthew 5:22 does not contain the phrase “without a cause” (see Daniel K. Judd and Allen W. Stoddard, “Adding and Taking Away ‘Without a Cause’ in Matthew 5:22,” in How the New Testament Came to Be, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Frank F. Judd Jr. [Sidney B. Sperry symposium, 2006], 161).’ (Institute Book of Mormon Student Manual)

3 Nephi 12:27-29 Avoid lust

“Love, as defined by the Lord, elevates, protects, respects, and enriches another. It motivates one to make sacrifices for another. Satan promotes counterfeit love, which is lust. It is driven by a hunger to appease personal appetite. One who practices this deception cares little for the pain and destruction caused another. While often camouflaged by flattering words, its motivation is self-gratification” (Richard G Scott, in Conference Report, Apr. 1991).

3 Nephi 12:32 Divorce

‘Divorce is not part of the gospel plan no matter what kind of marriage is involved. But because men [and women] in practice do not always live in harmony with gospel standards, the Lord permits divorce [as in Moses’ time] for one reason or another, depending upon the spiritual stability of the people involved…

‘In this day divorces are permitted in accordance with civil statutes, and the divorced persons are permitted by the Church to marry again without the stain of immorality which under a higher system would attend such a course.’ (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:547)

3 Nephi 12:34 Swear not at all

‘From the beginning of time the oath was the most sacred, solemn attestation a person could make to affirm a statement or his word on a matter. Before much time had passed, however, the oath was misused or used for nefarious purposes, as when Cain and his followers swore an oath to Satan in order to gain power (see Moses 5). . . . Though we in modern times are prone to refer to the use of profanity or vulgarity as swearing, and though such things are and should be reprehensible and inappropriate for one who seeks to follow Jesus, in reality these verses have nothing to do with condemning this latter vice. ‘[Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, Brent L. Top, “Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon]

3 Nephi 12 :39 Turn to him the other also

“To conquer by kindness is the greatest victory to be had. We should right all wrongs by kindness, and show those with whom we are associated that our love is broad enough to forgive them and that we have charity for their weaknesses. We ought to attain to this. We cannot go to God till we do.” (George Q Cannon, Collected Discourses 1886-1898)

3 Nephi 12:44 Love your enemies

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“It is not always easy to live by these doctrines when our very natures impel us to fight back…Most of us have not reached that stage of compassion and love and forgiveness. It is not easy. It requires a self-discipline almost greater than we are capable of. But as we try, we come to know that there is a resource of healing, that there is a mighty power of healing in Christ, and that if we are to be his true servants, we must not only exercise that healing power in behalf of others, but, perhaps more important, inwardly.

“I would that the healing power of Christ might spread over the earth and be diffused through our society and into our homes, that it might cure men’s hearts of the evil and adverse elements of greed and hate and conflict. I believe it could happen. I believe it must happen. If the lamb is to lie down with the lion, then peace must overcome conflict; healing must mend injury.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Faith, The Essence of True Religion, p. 35)

3 Nephi 12:48 I would that ye should be perfect

“Perfection is an eternal goal. While we cannot be perfect in mortality, striving for it is a commandment which ultimately, through the Atonement, we can keep” (James E Faust, in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 22; or Ensign, May 1999, 19).

3 Nephi 15:4-5 The law is fulfilled

‘The old things (the law of Moses) have “passed away”—not by being removed or torn down but by being fulfilled or completed. Indeed, it might be more accurate to say that they have been transformed. They are still the law but are transformed into something new: the law of the gospel.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

4. Jesus teaches the Nephites how they must live to be His true disciples.

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3 Nephi 13:1 Do not your alms before men to be seen of them

“The tossing of alms to a beggar, the pouring of offerings into the temple treasure chests, to be seen of men, and similar displays of affected liberality, were fashionable among certain classes in the time of Christ; and the same Spirit is manifest today. Some there be now who cause a trumpet to be sounded, through the columns of the press perchance, or by other means of publicity, to call attention to their giving, that they may have glory of men — to win political favor, to increase their trade or influence, to get what in their estimation is worth more than that from which they part. With logical incisiveness the Master demonstrated that such givers have their reward. They have received what they bid for; what more can such men demand or consistently expect?” (James E Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 237)

3 Nephi 13:9 Our Father

“How glorious it is to address such a holy and exalted person by the greatest of all titles, Father, and to be privileged to have audience with him on our own invitation, anytime we pray in faith with all the strength and energy of our souls!” (Bruce R McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, Book 2, p. 151)

3 Nephi 13:14-15 Forgiveness

“Life is too short to be spent nursing animosities or in keeping a box score of offenses against us…We don’t want God to remember our sins, so there is something fundamentally wrong in our relentlessly trying to remember those of others. When we have been hurt, undoubtedly God takes into account what wrongs were done to us and what provocations there are for our resentments, but clearly the more provocation there is and the more excuse we can find for our hurt, all the more reason for us to forgive and be delivered from the destructive hell of such poisonous venom and anger. It is one of those ironies of godhood that in order to find peace, the offended as well as the offender must engage the principle of forgiveness.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Ensign, Nov. 1996)

3 Nephi 13:19-24 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth

“Our affections are often too highly placed upon the paltry perishable objects. Material treasures of earth are merely to provide us, as it were, room and board while we are here at school. It is for us to place gold, silver, houses, stocks, lands, cattle, and other earthly possessions in their proper place.

“Yes, this is but a place of temporary duration. We are here to learn the first lesson toward exaltation—obedience to the Lord’s gospel plan” (Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Apr. 1971).

3 Nephi 13:34 No thought for the morrow

‘The Book of Mormon clarifies the meaning ofMatthew 6:25–32 by indicating that Jesus was speaking to the twelve Nephite disciples for this portion of the sermon (see 3 Nephi 13:25–34). After Jesus delivered this charge to them, he then turned and began to speak to the multitude again (see3 Nephi 14:1). It is helpful to note that Jesus repeatedly turned back and forth between these two audiences throughout His sermon.’ (Book of Mormon Institute Manual)

3 Nephi 14:2 Judgement

“Throughout my life…I have observed that as a rule it seems as if human beings like to gossip. We like to hear unsavory things about our neighbors and talk about each other. It seems that ofttimes we get a certain degree of satisfaction or even joy out of saying bad things about other people. We thoughtlessly and sometimes maliciously judge each other. We censure our associates sometimes unjustly, many times unkindly; and most of the time we speak without having the evidence to back up what we are saying. We seem to forget that James, the brother of the Lord, warned that the unbridled tongue is ‘full of deadly poison.’ (James 3:8.)

“I know that even sometimes people who are faithful in the Church pass judgment and condemnation on those with whom they associate without knowing the facts. Such is displeasing to God.” (Milton R Hunter, Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 64)

3 Nephi 14:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, cast not your pearls before swine

‘These phrases make good sense in a temple context. The clue couldn’t be more obvious, it is the word “holy.” Jesus is talking about a covenant and an obligation of secrecy at this point. There are certain things that are not to be divulged. Interestingly, we also encounter a covenant penalty. If you do cast “your pearls before swine,” they will “turn again and rend you” and trample [the covenants] under their feet” (3 Nephi 14:6). Those are common curses that you will see referred to in the Old Testament, reserved for those people who violate the covenant.’ [John W. Welch, “Christ at the Nephite Temple,” in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 143]

3 Nephi 14:7-8 Asking through prayer

“Access to our Creator through our Savior is surely one of the great privileges and blessings of our lives. … No earthly authority can separate us from direct access to our Creator. There can never be a mechanical or electronic failure when we pray. There is no limit on the number of times or how long we can pray each day. There is no quota of how many needs we wish to pray for in each prayer. We do not need to go through secretaries or make an appointment to reach the throne of grace. He is reachable at any time and any place” (James E Faust, in Conference Report, Apr. 2002).

3 Nephi 14:12 The Golden Rule

“[Jesus] taught the Golden Rule, saying, ‘All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them’ [Matthew 7:12]. This principle is found in nearly every major religion. Others such as Confucius and Aristotle have also taught it. After all, the gospel did not begin with the birth of the Babe in Bethlehem. It is everlasting. It was proclaimed in the beginning to Adam and Eve. Portions of the gospel have been preserved in many cultures. Even heathen mythologies have been enriched by fragments of truth from earlier dispensations.

“Wherever it is found and however it is expressed, the Golden Rule encompasses the moral code of the kingdom of God. It forbids interference by one with the rights of another. It is equally binding upon nations, associations, and individuals. With compassion and forbearance, it replaces the retaliatory reactions of ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’ [Matthew 5:38]. If we were to stay on that old and unproductive path, we would be but blind and toothless” (Russell M Nelson, in Conference Report, Oct. 2002).

3 Nephi 14:13 Strait is the gate

“The course leading to eternal life is both strait and straight. It is straight because it has an invariable direction — always it is the same. There are no diversions, crooked paths, or tangents leading to the kingdom of God. It is strait because it is narrow and restricted, a course where full obedience to the full law is required. Straightness has reference to direction, straitness to width. The gate is strait; the path is both strait and straight. (2 Ne. 9:41; 31:9, 17-18; 33:9; Alma 37:44-45; Hela. 3:29-30; 3 Ne. 14:13-14; 27:33; D. & C. 22; 132:22; Matt. 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24; Heb. 12:13; Jer. 31:9.)

“Thus by entering in at the strait gate (which is repentance and baptism) a person gets on the ‘straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life.’ (2 Ne. 31:17-18.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 769)

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 37 – Whosoever Will Come, Him Will I Receive

1. Great destruction occurs in the Americas at the time of Jesus’ death.

3 Nephi 8:5 In the first month, on the fourth day of the month

“The New Testament account of the crucifixion of Christ would seem to indicate that the Savior was crucified the very week he became thirty-three years of age. The Book of Mormon not only substantiates this account, but also provides us with an exact date of the crucifixion. According to the Nephite calendar system, the Savior was crucified ‘in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month.’ (3 Nephi 8:5.) Although we are not certain when the first month of the Nephite calendar would occur, if the Nephites were using the same calendar system as the Hebrews, the first month would be in the spring of the year sometime between about the middle of March and the middle of April.” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion To Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 258-9)

3 Nephi 8:6-19 Physical upheavals testify of Christ

“A great and terrible tempest … such as never had been known in all the land” unleashed untold natural destruction (3 Nephi 8:6–7). These physical upheavals were signs in America witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem (see 1 Nephi 19:10–12; Helaman 14:20–21). Some physical upheavals in our day signal the approaching of the Second Coming.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cited the increase of major earthquakes as one of the signs of the Second Coming: “Signs of the Second Coming are all around us and seem to be increasing in frequency and intensity. For example, the list of major earthquakes in The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 shows twice as many earthquakes in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s as in the two preceding decades (see pages 189–90). It also shows further sharp increases in the first several years of this century. The list of notable floods and tidal waves and the list of hurricanes, typhoons, and blizzards worldwide show similar increases in recent years (see pages 188–89). Increases by comparison with 50 years ago can be dismissed as changes in reporting criteria, but the accelerating pattern of natural disasters in the last few decades is ominous” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2004). (Book of Mormon INstitute Manual)

3 Nephi 8:20-22 Thick darkness

“This, like much else in the account (e.g., that God ‘did send down fire and destroy them,’ 3 Nephi 9:11), suggests nearby volcanic activity. And indeed, in many cases earthquakes are the preparation for the volcano that follows, as in the Chilean 1960 quake, which triggered the activity of long-dormant volcanoes in the area. Most of the victims of the great catastrophes of Pompeii, St. Pierre (Martinique, 1902), and Mt. Pelee (1906) died of suffocation when earthquake dust, volcanic ash, steam, and hot gasses (mostly sulfureted hydrogen gas) took the place of air. In some areas, the Book of Mormon reports, people were ‘overpowered by the vapor of smoke and of darkness,’ and so lost their lives (3 Nephi 10:13). Even without volcanic accompaniments, however, major earthquakes kick up a terrible dust and, according to Sieberg, are accompanied by phenomenal vapors and astonishingly thick air. In the Assam earthquake such contamination ‘reduced [visibility] to a few feet and made breathing a nightmare.’

“According to 3 Nephi 8:20-21 the ‘vapor of darkness’ was not only tangible to the survivors, but defeated every attempt to light candles or torches for illumination. At present, intensive studies are being made of the destruction of the Greek island of Thera (today Santorini) in 1400 B.C. This catastrophe, well within historic times, is thought to have been eight times as violent as Krakatoa and is described in terms exactly paralleling the account in 3 Nephi. Among other things it is pointed out that the overpowering thickness of the air must have extinguished all lamps.” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, p. 236)

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3 Nephi 8:23 No light for 3 days

“These three days of darkness obviously accord with the three days that the body of the crucified Christ lay in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. How appropriate that the lands of the Book of Mormon be draped in darkness to commemorate the death and suffering of their king! The coming of light each morning ought be a reminder to all of the manner in which our Redeemer brought to an end that long night of darkness we associate with death and ought also be a reminder of the promise granted us, through him, of a newness of life.” (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 39)

3 Nephi 9:8-10 Cities destroyed

‘The Lord’s account of destroyed cities tells a story of great damage. The listing of their fates (see 3 Nephi 8-9) informs us of sixteen named cities that bore the brunt of the natural catastrophe. The list appears to be in two parts: 3 Nephi 9:3–7 gives the names of three destroyed places that we know were located in the land southward, so it is logical that the four cities mentioned with them were also located in the south. 3 Nephi 9:8–10 form a distinct segment of text and probably name cities farther northward. Jacobugath was farther north than all the other cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon for which we know locations. Very likely the others mentioned with it in these three verses were likewise to the north.’ [John L. Sorenson, Mormon’s Map, F.A.R.M.S., p. 118]

2. Survivors hear the voice of the Lord inviting them to return to Him.

3 Nephi 9:10-12 Great destructions

‘In this passage, cities that are particularly wicked in casting out the prophets are burned. The burning of Zarahemla (v. 3) therefore acquires new meaning. These cities thoroughly and violently rejected the gospel. Their burning fulfills Messianic prophecies of God’s wrath in purging the wicked at his coming: “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Ps. 11:6). This verse must have been particularly significant for those who survived these events.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

3 Nephi 9:14 Come unto me

“‘Come,’ [Christ] says lovingly. ‘Come, follow me.’ Wherever you are going, first come and see what I do, see where and how I spend my time. Learn of me, walk with me, talk with me, believe. Listen to me pray. In turn you will find answers to your own prayers. God will bring rest to your souls. Come, follow me” (Jeffrey R Holland in Conference Report, Oct. 1997).

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3 Nephi 9:19 Your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away

‘It is an interesting reflection that up to the time of Christ, apparently, the peoples of the world . . . worshiped with the ritual which in reality . . . looked forward to the sacrifice of the Son . . .
The sacrifice was always vicarious. Animals were, with some, sacrificed, as under the Mosaic Law, for the sins of the individual and for the sins of the people, and among other and pagan religions, human sacrifice was made for the same purpose, but it was always a vicarious sacrifice, apparently with little actual sacrifice except for the value of the animal sacrificed, but the individuals themselves, to cancel the debt, so to speak, against their lives and living in the eyes of the Almighty One. The sinner, seemingly, in general, took on no obligation to abandon his sins, but took on only the obligation to offer sacrifice therefore.
But under the new covenant that came in with Christ, the sinner must offer the sacrifice out of his own life, not by offering the blood of some other creature; he must give up his sins, he must repent, he himself must make the sacrifice, and that sacrifice was calculated to reach out into the life of the sinner in the future so that he would become a better and changed man.’ (Behold the Lamb of God, by J Reuben Clark, Jr., pp. 107-108)

3 Nephi 9:20 A broken heart and a contrite spirit

‘True worship begins when our hearts are right before the Father and the Son. What is our heart condition today? Paradoxically, in order to have a healed and faithful heart, we must first allow it to break before the Lord. “Ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit,”7  3 Nephi 9:20 the Lord declares. The result of sacrificing our heart, or our will, to the Lord is that we receive the spiritual guidance we need.

With a growing understanding of the Lord’s grace and mercy, we will find that our self-willed hearts begin to crack and break in gratitude. Then we reach for Him, yearning to yoke ourselves to the Only Begotten Son of God. In our brokenhearted reaching and yoking, we receive new hope and fresh guidance through the Holy Ghost.’ (Neill F Marriott, General Conference, October 2015)

3 Nephi 9:22 Repentance

‘Herein lies the beauty of the gospel: the opportunity for repentance, forgiveness, and life eternal, thus giving meaning to our Savior’s atoning sacrifice.’ (Delbert L Stapley, General Conference, April 1974)

3 Nephi 10:4-6 As a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings

“The image of the hen calling after her chickens to come to the shelter and safety of her wings portrays the love of the Savior, his desire to nourish his children, to keep them safe from their common enemy, Satan, to shelter them from the storms of life, to give them the opportunity to grow and fulfill the promise of their nature.

“The image suggests other ideas as well. The chickens have strayed away from the hen. They have been lured from safety by their desire for adventure or rebellion, out into the tempting world where danger lurks beside every step. The hen calls to her chickens, but they must come of their own volition. They are not forced under her wings; they are invited, even urged, but they must exercise their own agency. In using this metaphor, the Lord designates his call to those of the fallen cities, who are descendants of Jacob, and to those of the house of Israel, who live at Jerusalem, establishing the right of the Savior to issue the call to repentance-they are his people who owe him obedience. And his use of the three verbs: ‘how oft have I gathered you; … how oft would I have gathered you; … how oft will I gather you’ emphasizes his timeless call to repentance-past, present, and future. The Savior’s love is always there. His arms are always extended in mercy as long as there is any hope for his children to return to him. The true nature of repentance is not a test, not an indulgence, but a gift of love. It is one that we must take-it cannot be forced upon us.” (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, 3 Nephi 9-30, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 79)

3 Nephi 10:9 It was in the morning

“Jesus was crucified and died on the cross at 3 o’clock in the afternoon at Jerusalem, and consequently for it to have been just three days and three nights, you might suppose that the darkness must have dispersed in the afternoon. But this book tells us that when the three days and three nights of darkness had passed away it was morning. Now why this discrepancy–for it seems to be one–between the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Can you account for it, and tell why it should have been morning in America? …Now you take a map of the world, and see the difference in longitude between the place where Jesus was crucified, and that where the writer of the Book of Mormon lived, and you will find that it is about seven and a half hours. Now you subtract seven and a half hours from 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and what time would it be when the three hours of quaking and the destruction of cities expired, or when the darkness commenced? Would it not be in the morning? Take away seven and a half hours longitude from 3 o’clock–the time that Jesus expired–and would it not be half past seven o’clock in the morning with the inhabitants of this land, while it was afternoon with the inhabitants in Jerusalem?” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 15:259)

3 Nephi 10:12 They who received the prophets

‘On one occasion [Karl G. Maeser] was leading a party of young missionaries across the Alps. As they slowly ascended the steep slope, he looked back and saw a row of sticks thrust into the glacial snow to mark the one safe path across the otherwise treacherous mountains.

Something about those sticks impressed him, and halting the company of missionaries he gestured toward them and said, ‘Brethren, there stands the priesthood. They are just common sticks like the rest of us—some of them may even seem to be a little crooked, but the position they hold makes them what they are. If we step aside from the path they mark, we are lost.’

I bear witness, my brethren and sisters, fellow students, that in this Church men are as they indeed must be—called of God by prophecy. May we learn in our youth this lesson; it will see us faithful through all of the challenges of our lives. May we learn to follow the brethren.’

(Boyd K. Packer, Follow the Brethren, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 23 Mar. 1965], p. 10)

He that hath the scriptures, let him search them

‘Search the scriptures-search the revelations … and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 11-12.)

3. Jesus Christ descends from heaven and teaches the people

“It is clear that 3 Nephi contains some of the most moving and powerful passages in all scripture. It testifies of Jesus Christ, His prophets, and the doctrines of salvation. What a blessing it would be if every family would frequently read together 3 Nephi, discuss its sacred contents, and then determine how they can liken it unto themselves and apply its teachings in their lives!

“Third Nephi is a book that should be read and read again. Its testimony of the resurrected Christ in America is given in purity and beauty.” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, p. 43)

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3 Nephi 11:1-2 The temple

‘It happened at the temple in Bountiful. Of course it did. If you and yours had survived such an experience—a devastation that destroyed all general communication and interaction—when you were able, you would make your way to the home of the person whose voice you had heard. If the phones were not working and the roads were impassible for cars, you would go to the stake center or the ward building, or, if possible, to the temple. A “great multitude” had come there, “marveling and wondering one with another . . .” And they were “conversing about this Jesus Christ.”’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSliving.com)

3 Nephi 11:3 A small voice

“On the one hand, the voice of the Lord speaks softly, for it is a ‘still small voice,’ even ‘a still voice of perfect mildness’-‘a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper’; it is ‘not a harsh voice,’ neither is it a loud voice, but rather a voice that pierces to the very soul of man, causing the heart to burn. On the other hand, the voice of the world speaks loudly, imitating thunder, or some great and strong wind, the crashing earthquake, or the raging fire. The voice of the Lord says, ‘Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved.’ Indeed, it is the voice of the Lord that says to the righteous of every age: ‘I will not leave you comfortless,’ for ‘peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.’ The finger-pointing voice of the world, in contrast, is but the echo of the voice of Satan-the slanderer, that ‘accuser of [the] brethren’-and it is the voice of accusation, of naysaying, of character assassination, gossip, and falsehood; it is the voice of ridicule and scorn, always speaking against the cause of Christ, promoting vice in the name of some virtue, and, like Korihor, speaking with missionary zeal.” (Mark McConkie, The Father of the Prophet, p. 135)

3 Nephi 11:5-6 They did hear the voice

‘The people hear the voice speaking, but they don’t understand its words until the third time. This has other parallels in scripture; in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, for example, Eli does not understand that it is God’s voice calling Samuel until the third time the boy tells Eli that he heard a voice calling his name (1 Samuel 3:1–9).

And in Joseph Smith’s account of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (now canonized as part of the LDS book of scripture called the Pearl of Great Price), the angel Moroni tells Joseph the same information about the golden plates’ history and significance several times with almost no variation.

It would seem that people need time to adjust to hearing divine voices and receiving angelic visitations; they are so overwhelmed at first that they are liable to miss the all-important spiritual message that is to be imparted. God and his messengers repeat their teachings so that people will have a chance to attend carefully to the words.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

3 Nephi 11:7-8 Behold my Beloved Son

“How few people in all the history of the world have heard the actual voice of God the Father speaking to them. As the people looked heavenward, ‘they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them’ [3 Nephi 11:8].

“A glorious, resurrected being, a member of the Godhead, the Creator of innumerable worlds, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, stood before their very eyes!” (Ezra Taft Benson in Conference Report, Apr. 1987).

3 Nephi 11:13-15 Arise and come forth unto me

‘This personal, intimate involvement of the Savior with 2500 people is a wonderful witness of his individual concern for us and our welfare. He had just descended from heaven. 2500 people had heard a whisper. He had told them who he was and what he was. There were no doubters in the crowd. And yet he extended this invitation.’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSliving.com)

3 Nephi 11:22 There shall be no disputations among you

‘Brothers and sisters, if we are obedient to the commandment of love, there will be no disputations, contention, nor hatred between nor among us. We will not speak ill of one another but will treat each other with kindness and respect, realizing that each of us is a child of God. There will be no Nephites, Lamanites, nor other “ites” among us, and every man, woman, and child will deal justly one with another.’ (Robert F Orton, General Conference, October 2001)

3 Nephi 11:25 Having authority

“Some students have raised the question as to why the words of the baptismal prayer in the Book of Mormon differ slightly from the prayer listed in the Doctrine and Covenants. In this dispensation the Lord has counseled us to use these words in baptizing a person, after calling the candidate by name: ‘Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.’ (D&C 20:73.) The only difference in the two prayers is the introductory statement. In the Book of Mormon the disciples were counseled to say ‘having authority given me of Jesus Christ,’ whereas in this dispensation we are told to say ‘having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.’

“…[One] possibility for explaining this difference is that the disciples in the Book of Mormon received their authority directly from Jesus Christ; therefore, they rightfully could say ‘having authority given me of Jesus Christ.’ However, in this dispensation priesthood bearers have been given the power to baptize from John the Baptist, who was commissioned by Jesus Christ to come to earth and restore this authority. Therefore, in this dispensation we use the words ‘having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.'” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 262-3)

3 Nephi 11:29 Avoid contention

“Where people have that Spirit with them, we may expect harmony. The Spirit puts the testimony of truth in our hearts, which unifies those who share that testimony. The Spirit of God never generates contention (see 3 Nephi 11:29). It never generates the feelings of distinctions between people which lead to strife (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 131). It leads to personal peace and a feeling of union with others. It unifies souls. A unified family, a unified Church, and a world at peace depend on unified souls” (Henry B Eyring, in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 86).

3 Nephi 11:32 The Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me

“…God’s love (understood as his desire for a relationship with us) is unconditional. In fact, God commands all men and women everywhere to repent and come to him (3 Nephi 11:32). He desires to redeem us, to glorify and exalt us equally and unconditionally. Does God desire to have an eternal relationship with all his children? Yes, and in this sense God’s love is unconditional. ‘All are invited, none is excluded.’ But it takes two people to have a relationship. A relationship, by definition, requires two points of reference, and only some of God’s children love him back and agree to enter into the desired relationship. He does not initially love them any more than the others, but in time the relationship of love that is possible with them is much, much greater than it is with those who reject him. They ‘abide in his love.’ (Jn 15:10)

“Many of God’s children will not love him. They will not accept the proposal of the Bridegroom, though he loves them dearly. They will never experience the joys the gospel marriage brings. However, that is not because God is unwilling or because they failed to meet conditions that would have rendered him willing. It is because they will not accept his proposal; they will not come to the wedding. Though he loved them first, they did not love him back, and by their choice the relationship will not be as great as it might have been-they refuse to ‘abide in his love.'” (Stephen R. Robinson, Following Christ, p. 149 – 150)

 

 

Posted in Inspirational, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Christ-like attributes – hope

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In the scriptures hope is often linked with faith and charity. While we often talk about faith and charity, we seem to discuss hope less frequently. And yet it is an important virtue  for us to understand. In the Encyclopaedia of Mormonism we read:

“The concept of hope plays a vital role in Latter-day Saint thought. Firmly centered in Christ and his resurrection, it is the ‘hope of eternal life’ (Titus 1:2) repeatedly alluded to by Paul. It is the opposite of the despair found among those who are ‘without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world’ (Eph. 2:12). As the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni writes, ‘If ye have no hope, ye must needs be in despair’ (Moro. 10:22). For those, however, who accept Christ’s Atonement and resurrection, there comes a ‘brightness of hope’ (2 Ne. 31:20) through which all who believe in God ‘might with surety hope for a better world’ (Ether 12:4).”

Note that hope must be firmly centred in Christ – we are not using hope in the everyday sense of something that we would like to come true but we are not sure of, like we hope that it will be sunny tomorrow. Preach my Gospel defines hope thus:

‘Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement. The scriptures often describe hope in Jesus Christ as the assurance that you will inherit eternal life in the celestial kingdom.’ 

In the gospel sense, hope is linked to Christ and the atonement. So faith (or more accurately faith in Jesus Christ), hope and charity (the pure love of Christ) are all rooted in the Saviour and his atoning sacrifice. President Uchtdorf goes further in explaining the links between hope, faith and charity:

‘Hope is critical to both faith and charity. When disobedience, disappointment, and procrastination erode faith, hope is there to uphold our faith. When frustration and impatience challenge charity, hope braces our resolve and urges us to care for our fellowmen even without expectation of reward. The brighter our hope, the greater our faith. The stronger our hope, the purer our charity.

The things we hope for lead us to faith, while the things we hope in lead us to charity. The three qualities—faith, hope, and charity —working together, grounded on the truth and light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, lead us to abound in good works.’ (General Conference, October 2008).

So, hope supports and sustains and leads to faith and charity. Likewise, hope leads to faith. In Moroni 7 we read:

40 And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?

 41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

 42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.

Elder Jeffrey R Holland comments on this scripture:

“What is the nature of this hope? It is certainly much more than wishful thinking. It is to have ‘hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.’ That is the theological meaning of hope in the faith-hope-charity sequence. With an eye to that meaning, Moroni 7:42 then clearly reads, ‘If a man have faith [in Christ and his atonement] he must needs [as a consequence] have hope [in the promise of the Resurrection, because the two are inextricably linked]; for without faith [in Christ’s atonement] there cannot be any hope [in the Resurrection].’ (Christ and the New Covenant, p. 335)

In Romans 8:24 Paul says that we are ‘saved by hope’. It is clearly not hope for a sunny day tomorrow that saves us but the quiet assurance that comes to us through Christ’s atonement. Neal A Maxwell wrote:

“Christ-centered hope, however, is a very specific and particularized hope. It is focused on the great realities of the resurrection, eternal life, a better world, and Christ’s triumphant second coming ‘things as they really will be.’ (Jacob 4:13.)

“Moroni asked rhetorically, ‘What should we hope for?’ and, responding, said: ‘Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.’ (Moroni 7:41.)” (Notwithstanding My Weakness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 41.)

How do we gain this hope? President Uchtdorf said:

‘We learn to cultivate hope the same way we learn to walk, one step at a time. As we study the scriptures, speak with our Heavenly Father daily, commit to keep the commandments of God, like the Word of Wisdom, and to pay a full tithing, we attain hope. We grow in our ability to “abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,” (Romans 15:13) as we more perfectly live the gospel.’ (General Conference, October 2008)

Aaron taught Lamoni’s father:

“If thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest” (Alma 22:16).

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 36 – On the Morrow Come I into the World

1. The signs of the Savior’s birth vindicate those who have endured in faith.

3 Nephi 1:7 The people who believed began to be very sorrowful

‘Samuel had prophesied that in five years time there would be a day, a night, and a day without any darkness, and now the wondrous time had come. Those who already hated the Church found in the prophecy an opportunity to terrorize the believers, planning to execute them on the day should the prophecy not be fulfilled.

The scriptures tell us that the people began to be “sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass” (3 Nephi 1:7). We might see ourselves in a similar circumstance, as sometimes we tremble that God may have forgotten us or that he has overlooked our needs or promised blessings. We sometimes wonder, “Can I trust the Lord to be as good as his word?” So much of our experience is with mortals who mean to do well, but often don’t, whose words are sometimes slippery. We live in a world with people who often break their promises, and so we may be tempted to look at all promises as pie crust-easily made, easily broken.

 But God is a God of truth. He cannot lie. “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, “(D&C 1:38) Often, like the believers in this historical event, we must wait until all looks desperate before the blessing arrives.. God asks us to hold on with patience, so that, in fact, we can develop patience. God has his timing and it is perfect, however much it revises our plans and our thinking.’ (Maurine Proctor, Meridian Magazine)

3 Nephi 1:8 As if there were no night

‘It is very significant that one of the most profound events which to this day echoes through the fibers of native American legends and culture is the glorious emergence of the “Dawn Star.”

Certain cultural traditions of the Aztecs recall a time when in the remote ancient past, all the people of the nation were in expectation; some went upon house tops, others mounted terraces, while others watched from the windows of their homes, all of them waiting for the sign, by which it would be known that a new age had dawned.

According to certain Indian legends and writings, the people of all the tribes beheld a tremendous manifestation in conjunction with the appearance of a great star, called in the Quiche language, the great Icoqui, and also Nima Chumil which means “Great Star,” which illuminated the skies over America. ‘[Ammon O’Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, p. 262]

3 Nephi 1: 9 All those who believed…should be put to death

“Church members in another age were being held hostage until certain prophecies were fulfilled-with their lives being forfeit if those prophecies were not fulfilled precisely on time. They, too, were told by the Lord to be of good cheer. Why? Because, said Jesus, ‘On the morrow come I into the world.’ (3 Ne. 1:13.) With His birth, the mortal ministry of the Messiah would, at last, be launched!” (Neal A Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 1982, p.  66)

3 Nephi 1:11 Cried mightily to his God

‘In that awful hour of waiting, the prophet Nephi “cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people” (3 Nephi 1:11). It is often urgency and crisis that moves us to a different level of prayer. Nephi’s pleas were answered with these glorious words of comfort. “Lift up your head and be of good cheer.” Clearly God does not want us to be anxious and tormented.’ (Maurine Proctor, Meridian Magazine)

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3 Nephi 1:15-20 The words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled

‘As the prophesied birth of Jesus drew near, there were those among the ancient Nephite and Lamanite peoples who believed, though most doubted. In due course, the sign of His birth arrived—a day and a night and a day without darkness—and all knew. Even so today, some believe in the literal Resurrection of Christ, and many doubt or disbelieve. But some know. In due course, all will see and all will know; indeed, “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him.” (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2014)

2. The Gadianton robbers come to battle against the Nephites.

3 Nephi 2:1 The people began to be less and less astonished

“How quickly [Satan] moves in even where people have had special spiritual experiences, seeking to get people who have seen signs ‘To disbelieve all which they had heard and seen.’ (3 Nephi 2:1-2.) The adversary has a better chance to persuade us that what we believe is foolish if we worry about looking foolish in front of our fellowmen. We read about the subtleties of the devil and that the adversary persuadeth not one man to do good. (Alma 12:4; Moroni 7:17.)” (Neal A Maxwell, Things As They Really Are, p. 41)

3 Nephi 3:1 An epistle

‘With all of the dissensions and disputations going on among the Nephite it is rather astonishing that they had elected a strong religious-oriented governor. His name was Lachoneus.

The righteous judge Lachoneus received a rather amazing letter from the supreme leader of the Gadianton robbers. The letter started out with a classical example of the “flattering words” that criminally-minded confidence schemers are experts in using.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

3 Nephi 3:17-18 Gidgiddoni

‘It was among the Nephite customs to never choose for their military leaders common men like themselves. In fact, they reached out to put their armies under the most spiritual and inspired men they could find among their military forces. And that is how Gidgiddoni happened to be chosen. Notice that Gidgiddoni, as the chief commander of the Nephites, was a prophet with the spirit of revelation.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

3 Nephi 3:25 -26 In one land and in one body

‘The Nephite defences took several forms. As already seen, they gathered into a concentrated and defensible area taking all of their supplies and possessions with them. They launched a coordinated effort to arm themselves; and most importantly, they prepared themselves spiritually by praying that Yahweh “would deliver them.” (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

3 Nephi 4:3 They had gathered their flocks and their herds

“Since flocks and cattle of every kind have to be fed for seven years, and since horses are only necessary where there is a demand for transportation, it is plain that the Nephites were not all shut up in one city, but united within one land. The area was not enough to support such a host indefinitely but it must have been considerable.” (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 421)

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3 Nephi 4:13-14 Pursue and slay them

‘The Gadianton army, recognizing its defeat, flees toward its homeland. Gidgiddoni follows up the Nephites’ military advantage by ordering pursuit with the goal of continuing to kill. In a weakened state from battle, the Gadiantons would be fleeing for their lives and were probably disorganized. Because fewer Nephite defenders would have been required than Gadianton attackers, it seems possible that the pursuing army had been held in reserve and were fresh troops. The story ends with the death of the Gadianton general, Giddianhi. Mormon communicates some respect for Giddianhi’s prowess (even while he disparagingly calls him a “robber”), since he notes that Giddianhi falls because of weariness, not lack of skill.

This decisive defeat was not the end of the Gadianton robbers. The strength of their position and population is indicated in their ability to quickly mount another offensive.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

3 Nephi 4:33 Their hearts were swollen with joy

“Recollect the deepest moments of marital and familial joy, whether in rejoicings, reunions, or reconciliations, when ‘because of the great goodness of God’ there was a ‘gushing out of many tears’ (3 Nephi 4:33); when your ‘heart [was] brim with joy’ (Alma 26:11). Yet this was but a foretaste of the ultimate homecoming, when our cups will not only be brim but will run over without ceasing.” (Neal A Maxwell, Not My Will But Thine, p. 143)

3. The Nephites live righteously and prosper, but pride and dissensions arise.

3 Nephi 5:1 There was not a living soul…who did doubt in the least

“…changing circumstances can like wise affect nearly a whole people’s faith…Listen to this verse: ‘There was not a living soul among all the people of the Nephites who did doubt in the least the words of all the holy prophets who had spoken; for they knew that it must needs be that they must be fulfilled.’ (3 Nephi 5:1.)

“Now, listen to this: ‘There began to be great doubtings and disputations among the people, notwithstanding so many signs had been given.’ (3 Nephi 8:4.)

“As I check the years of these two verses, I note that this decline happened in the space of a mere ten years or less! Circumstances changed from one in which ‘not a living soul’ doubted the prophecies to a time in which there were ‘great doubtings.’ It isn’t very confidence inspiring, is it?” (Neal A Maxwell, We Talk Of Christ, We Rejoice In Christ, p. 64)

3 Nephi 6:1-2 The Nephites did all return to their own lands

‘It must have been a glorious season of homecoming as the Nephites once more returned to their respective homes and the cities where they had previously lived. They also brought back their flocks and whatever wealth they had. All this took place in 26 A.D.and applied to those who had migrated from both the land southward and the land northward.

The opportunity for the people to live in prosperity and peace was unlimited so long as they obeyed the commandments of God and remained righteous.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

3 Nephi 6:4-5 Prospering continually

‘As in verse 2, Mormon sees righteousness as resulting in prosperity. Here he spells out that moral. Because of righteousness, the people experience peace, prosperity, “great order,” and just laws (v. 4). As a result, they “wax great” and could prosper “continually”—unless they “fall into transgression.” There is a direct connection between peace, prosperity, and righteousness. Those things go together. Rejection of righteousness reverses the trend and leads to destruction.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

3 Nephi 6:7-9 Peace

‘The contrast begins. Peace is now troubled by “disputings,” and righteousness is replaced by “pride and boastings.” What Mormon describes is the same cycle all over again. His mention of “great persecutions” signals that this is an internal contention, one seen only because a group sees itself as separate from and superior to another group. We can therefore surmise the return of social hierarchies based on wealth. The Mesoamerican mode of accumulating wealth brings with it the adoption of Mesoamerican worldly values that we have seen repeatedly in Nephite history. The problem is not simply the wealth but that the very definition of wealth carries with it the disease of social segregation, social hierarchies, and persecution of those lacking “wealth.”’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

3 Nephi 6:12 Prosperity and peace can lead to pride

“A little prosperity and peace, or even a turn slightly for the better, can bring us feelings of self-sufficiency. We can feel quickly that we are in control of our lives, that the change for the better is our own doing, not that of a God who communicates to us through the still, small voice of the Spirit. Pride creates a noise within us which makes the quiet voice of the Spirit hard to hear. And soon, in our vanity, we no longer even listen for it. We can come quickly to think we don’t need it” (Henry B Eyring, in Conference Report, Oct. 2001, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 2001, 16).

3 Nephi 6:17 Carried about by the temptations of the devil

“Surely it should give us more pause than it does to think of how casually we sometimes give to him who could not control his own ego in the premortal world such awful control over our egos here.  We often let the adversary do indirectly now what we refused to let him do directly then.

“Thus we can expect no immunity from either trial or temptation, because these are the common lot of mankind.  Mortality without the dimension of temptation or trial would not be full proving, it would be a school with soft credits and no hard courses.  These features of mortality were among the very conditions we agreed to before we undertook this mortal experience.  We cannot renege on that commitment now.” (Neal A Maxwell, We Will Prove Them Herewith, p. 45)

3 Nephi 6:29-30 A covenant given and administered by the devil

‘The seeds of rebellion are now blossoming into revolt. The secret combination does what it has always done. It threatens the government and with it the religion. A clear item on its agenda is establishing a king. Mormon understands that a monarchy represents the destruction of the Nephite political way. Establishing a king would destroy Mosiah’s reforms. Rejecting Mosiah means rejecting his laws and the gospel he preached. There would be no more Nephites.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

3 Nephi 7:1 They did murder the chief judge of the land

“In A.D. 30, the last chief judge of the once-great Nephite nation was assassinated by a secret combination of judges, lawyers, and apostate high priests. That murder ended the sole republic of the Nephite record and continued a process of social disintegration halted only by the coming of the resurrected Christ. In that process, the unrighteous Nephites destroyed what remained of governmental regulation and divided their society into tribal units. One large band selected ‘one of the chiefest who had given his voice against the prophets who testified of Jesus’ to be their king. (3 Ne. 7:10.) The reign of the judges had lasted only 120 years.” (James R. Moss, Ensign, Sept. 1977, 61)

3 Nephi 7:15 Nephi

“There are some Book of Mormon figures whom we glimpse only briefly, whom we can never know well, but who intrigue us immensely because that brief glimpse seems to show us the tip of a remarkable iceberg. Nephi, the grandson of Helaman, is such a figure for me. He moves very quietly onto the scene and backs very quietly out of it, but he is no ordinary record-keeper. This is the man who was the spiritual leader of the Nephites at the time of the birth of the Savior and during the Savior’s ministry on the American continent. This is the man who wrote the account that Mormon abridged as Third Nephi, one of the most powerful sections of the Book of Mormon. So great was his faith and so vigorous his spiritual power that he raised his brother from the dead and communed regularly with angels.

“Rereading Third Nephi, I have become more and more aware that perhaps our only real access to Nephi‘s character is through Mormon’s perception of him as Mormon reads and abridges Nephi’s record. I think Mormon must have been impressed with Nephi because he keeps interrupting his narrative to pay respect, either directly or indirectly, to the earlier prophet. (See, for example, 3 Ne. 7:15–16 and 3 Ne. 8:1.) Since we can, in effect, know Nephi only secondhand, it seems important that we try to look through Mormon’s eyes, try to see Nephi as Mormon saw him. Careful study of Mormon’s abridgement confirms in both subtle and obvious ways that Mormon knew he had encountered a remarkable human being.

“I have often wondered, in reading between the lines, if Mormon might have been a little reluctant to cut and summarize Nephi’s account. It appears that at times he prefers to omit parts of the account rather than attempt to shorten it. Speaking of Nephi’s ministerings, for instance, he says, ’And all of them cannot be written, and a part of them would not suffice, therefore they are not written in this book. And Nephi did minister with power and with great authority.’ (3 Ne. 7:17.)

“Even in making rather casual references to the record, Mormon adds extra praise for Nephi: ’And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record—for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity.’ (3 Ne. 8:1.)

“…Interesting as these kinds of observations are, it is nevertheless Mormon‘s perception of Nephi’s great spiritual stature that really stirs our minds and hearts. More concerned about the well-being of his people than about himself, strong in spirit and will, Nephi kept a record chiefly to bear witness to the divine ministry of Jesus among the Nephites. Moving chronologically through Third Nephi, we become more and more aware of Nephi’s spiritual magnitude, largely, I think, because Mormon was keenly aware of that magnitude. It is somewhat difficult to get even a limited understanding of Nephi’s character because there is so little direct description of him and there are so few explicit references to his activities. I find, however, that as I read Mormon’s account, a picture of a dynamic spiritual leader takes shape because the few statements Mormon does make resound through my mind as I read the book of Third Nephi.” (Marilyn Arnold, “The Nephi We Tend to Forget,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 69)

3 Nephi 7:21-26 Full conversion

“Each of us has observed how some individuals go through life consistently doing the right things. … When difficult choices are to be made, they seem to invariably make the right ones, even though there were enticing alternatives available to them. We know that they are subject to temptation, but they seem oblivious to it. Likewise, we have observed how others are not so valiant in the decisions they make. In a powerfully spiritual environment, they resolve to do better. … Yet they are soon back doing the same things they resolved to abandon. …

“Sometimes the word converted is used to describe when a sincere individual decides to be baptized. However … conversion means far more than that. … President Marion G. Romney explained conversion:

“‘Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another. Conversion is a spiritual and moral change. Converted implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings but also a motivating faith in him and his gospel. A faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God in interest, in thought, and in conduct. In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments’ [in Conference Report, Guatemala Area Conference 1977, 8].

“Stated simply, true conversion is the fruit of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience. Faith comes by hearing the word of God [see Romans 10:17] and responding to it. You will receive from the Holy Ghost a confirming witness of things you accept on faith by willingly doing them [see Ether 12:6]. You will be led to repent of errors resulting from wrong things done or right things not done. As a consequence, your capacity to consistently obey will be strengthened. This cycle of faith, repentance, andconsistent obedience will lead you to greater conversion with its attendant blessings” (Richard G Scott, in Conference Report, Apr. 2002).

 

 

 

 

Posted in LDS Church History

Heber’s call

I love this account by Heber J Grant that I came across recently. He tells of an experience he had in relation to his call to be an apostle in 1883. He records that while riding through the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona:

“I seemed to see, and I seemed to hear, what to me is one of the most real things in all my life, I seemed to see a Council in heaven. I seemed to hear the words that were spoken. … The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles had not been able to agree on two men to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. … In this Council the Savior was present, my father [Jedediah M. Grant] was there, and the Prophet Joseph Smith was there. They discussed the question that a mistake had been made in not filling those two vacancies and that in all probability it would be another six months before the Quorum would be completed, and they discussed as to whom they wanted to occupy those positions, and decided that the way to remedy the mistake that had been made in not filling these vacancies was to send a revelation. It was given to me that the Prophet Joseph Smith and my father mentioned me and requested that I be called to that position. I sat there and wept for joy. …

“… From that day I have never been bothered, night or day, with the idea that I was not worthy to stand as an Apostle.” (Church History in the Fulness of Times Institute Manual page 430)

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Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 35 – Repent and Return unto the Lord

1. Samuel warns the Nephites that they will be destroyed unless they repent.

Helaman 13:2 Samuel, a Lamanite

“The condition of society in the days of Samuel was somewhat peculiar (6 B.C.). The Nephites and the Lamanites had, in so far as righteousness was concerned, to a great extent, changed places…The majority of the Lamanites…walked circumspectly before God; they were full of faith and integrity, were zealous in the work of converting their fellows, and in keeping the commandments of God according to the Law of Moses.

“Such was the condition of affairs when the Lamanite prophet, Samuel, appeared among the citizens of Zarahemla…[After he prophesied in Zarahemla], the voice of Samuel was never heard again among the people of Nephi, but in later years, Jesus, Nephi, Mormon, and others quoted his prophecies or referred to his testimony.

“Nearly all the events, great and glorious, terrible and heart-rending, of which Samuel prophesied were fulfilled before the inspired historians of the Book of Mormon sealed up the Record. Prominent among these predictions were the signs that should occur at the advent of our Savior; the two days and a night of continued light and the appearance of a new star in the heavens that should mark His birth at Bethlehem. He even told the exact year when these things should take place; also he told of the convulsions, the storms, the earthquakes that should attend His crucifixion, and the resurrection of many of the Saints that would follow His own resurrection. He also foretold, with great clearness and minuteness, that in subsequent years, the Nephites should grow in iniquity and because of their wickedness, their treasures, their tools, their swords, etc., should become slippery, and that within four hundred years the Nephite race should be destroyed. To the fulfillment of these predictions, Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni, bear record.” (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 5, p. 304-6)

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Helaman 13:8 Thus saith the Lord

‘Ancient scriptures contain a number of revelatory speech forms or formulaic expressions which are unique to the prophetic writings. That is to say, the prophetic speech forms are present in sections of scripture where God reveals his word directly to the prophets (i.e., Isaiah, Amos, Nephi, Joseph Smith). As might be expected, the same prophetic forms are also present in the Book of Mormon, for it too, consists of prophetic writings. In the writings of Samuel the Lamanite (Helaman 13-15), six speech forms can be identified:

1. Messenger Formulas — “Thus saith the Lord” (Helaman 13:8)

2. Proclamation Formula — “Listen to the words of Christ” (Helaman 13:21)

3. Oath Formula — “As the Lord liveth” (Helaman 15:17)

4. Woe Oracle — The characteristic woe oracle consists of the accusation, the addressee, the

intent of the accusation, and the promise of judgment. (Helaman 13:11–12, 14–17, 24; 15:2-3)

Helaman 13:16–17, for example, contains the following elements:

a. Accusation: Yea and Wo

b. Addressee: Be unto all the cities which are in the land round about

c. Intent: Because of wickedness and abominations which are in them

d. Promise of Judgment: And behold, a curse shall come upon the land, saith the Lord of

Hosts.

5. Announcement Formula — “I say unto you” (Helaman 15:6, 12, 14)

6. Revelation Formula — “The word of the Lord came to me, saying” (Helaman 13:3)

These speech forms and others dealing with the commission and divine workings of a prophet are indicative of the prophetic authority and prerogative contained within the verses of the Book of Mormon.’ [Donald W. Parry, “Thus Saith the Lord”: Prophetic Language in Samuel’s Speech,” in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Fall 1992, pp. 181-183]

Helaman 13:11-16 Spared because of a few righteous people

‘There have been times when the wicked were spared from terrible destructions because there were righteous people living among them. The wicked people of Zarahemla had the righteous people to thank for their preservation from destruction, though, of course, they did not know it. In a few years Zarahemla lost this silent and unappreciated protection, and Samuel’s words were fulfilled (see 3 Nephi 9:3). Even Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared if only 10 righteous people had lived there (see Genesis 18:23–33).

How we live really does make a difference. The personal righteousness of a few can become a great blessing to others, especially to those in our ownfamily and local community.’ (Institute Book of Mormon Manual)

Helaman 13:19-22 Riches and spirituality

“Materialism, which gives priority to material needs and objects, is obviously the opposite of spirituality. The Savior taught that we should not lay up ‘treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal’ (Matthew 6:19). We should lay up treasures in heaven: ‘For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Matthew 6:21). …

“There is nothing inherently evil about money. The Good Samaritan used the same coinage to serve his fellowman that Judas used to betray the Master. It is ‘the love of money [which] is the root of all evil’ (1 Timothy 6:10; italics added). The critical difference is the degree of spirituality we exercise in viewing, evaluating, and managing the things of this world and our experiences in it.

“If allowed to become an object of worship or priority, money can make us selfish and prideful, ‘puffed up in the vain things of the world’ (Alma 5:37). In contrast, if used for fulfilling our legal obligations and for paying our tithes and offerings, money can demonstrate integrity and develop unselfishness. The spiritually enlightened use of property can help prepare us for the higher law of a celestial glory” (Dallin H Oaks in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 78; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 62–63).

Helaman 13:23-29 Follow the living prophet

“Now, my dear brothers and sisters, please pay attention to those things that the leaders of the Church have taught. … Apply the teachings that will help you and your family. Let all of us, regardless of our family circumstances, bring into our homes the teachings of the prophets and the apostles to strengthen our relationships with each other, with our Father in Heaven, and with the Lord Jesus Christ. I promise you in the name of the Lord that if you will listen not just with your ears but also with your heart, the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth unto you of the messages delivered by [the President of the Church], his counselors, the Apostles, and other leaders of the Church. The Spirit will prompt you to know what you should do as individuals and as families in order to follow our counsel, that your testimonies might be strengthened and that you might have peace and joy” (M Russell Ballard in Conference Report, Apr. 2001, 86; or Ensign, May 2001, 67).

Helaman 13:38 Sought happiness in doing iniquity

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255-56).

2. Samuel prophesies of the signs that will precede the birth and death of the Savior. He continues to call the people to repentance.

Helaman 14:2 I give unto you a sign

‘The specificity of this prophecy is unique in the scriptural canon. Other time-specific prophecies (e.g., that the Messiah would be born six hundred years from Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem, and that the Nephites would be destroyed in four hundred years) were uttered about a future so distant that no listener would still be alive. Because six hundred and four hundred are round numbers, they also might be understood by the listeners as generic rather than specific figures. (They are known to have been specific in the Book of Mormon only after their recorded fulfillment.) This five-year prophecy, however, is absolute, finite, and testable within the lifetime of virtually all of Samuel’s listeners.

Like Nephi1’s prophetic vision of the Savior (1 Ne. 11–12), Samuel’s details are firmer and more elaborate than any prophecy recorded from the Old World. I hypothesize that these New World prophecies are qualitatively different those of the Old World because Joseph was translating them after the fact. The originals may have been more ambiguous; but Joseph, clearly understanding their fulfillment, phrased them to reflect his own understanding.

This cannot be the complete explanation, however, because the Nephites and righteous Lamanites genuinely did have more specific prophecies than those in the Old World. I argue that the very locale of fulfillment is a reason for their specificity. The world-altering events in Jerusalem occurred in the same city where the earlier prophets had made their predictions. God’s honoring of human agency required that Jesus be recognized as the Messiah through his own actions, not because of the expectations of those around him. In a very real sense, he became the Messiah in spite of the people’s Messianic expectations. It was also necessary for Jesus to accept his Messianic mission rather than have it thrust upon him.

This requirement to honor the agency of both Jesus and those around him did not exist in the New World. Even this dramatic five-year prophecy influenced the Nephites’ faith only briefly and ultimately condemned many, rather than saving them.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Helaman 14:3-7, 20-28 Signs

‘Signs Samuel said would attend the Savior’s birth and death included great lights in the heaven, a night with no darkness, the rise of a new star, and many unspecified signs and wonders in heaven at the time of his birth; and at his death the sun would be darkened along with the moon and stars for three days, thunderings and lightnings occur for many hours, the earth would tremble with earthquakes, solid rock masses above and beneath the earth’s surface would be broken up and remain so ever after, great tempests would arise, mountains would collapse into valleys while valleys would become mountains, highways would be destroyed and cities devastated, graves open to yield up their dead and saints would appear.’ (Neumanninstitute.org)

Helaman 14:16 Spiritual death

“Therefore, spiritual (or the second) death becomes a matter of great importance to us while we sojourn here in mortality. Even the Savior cannot save individuals in their sins. He will redeem them from their sins, but then only through their repentance. Only rarely may we be responsible for physical death, but we are solely responsible for spiritual death.

“Whether spiritual death be numbered as the second or the first death is incidental. The real objective is to avoid it.” (Russell M Nelson, The Gateway We Call Death, p. 14)

3. Some believe Samuel and are baptized. Others harden their hearts and try to kill Samuel.

Heleman 15:3 He chastened them

“We should learn to accept counsel. All of us need counsel. Sometimes there is need for reprimanding. I do not suppose that any of us who served for any length of time have not been on the receiving end of some pointed counsel that was for our benefit. ‘Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth’ (Hebrews 12:6).” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 332)

Helaman 15:7-8 A lasting change of heart

“Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains” (Ezra Taft Benson in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 96; or Ensign, May 1975, 65).

Helaman 16:6 The more part of them did not believe in the words of Samuel

“And, therefore, a prophet is seldom popular, and the cost of being a prophet is always great, for he may be called upon to say those things which are not pleasing,…and he may find himself fighting against a tide of mass-misconception, and, as history records, be stoned, crucified, banished, ridiculed, shunned, or rejected. For the truth is not pleasing unto all men, and time has proved that majorities are not always right….

“It is not important that a prophet should say those things with which you and I are in full accord. But it is important that you and I should bring ourselves into full accord with those things which a prophet speaks by virtue of his office and calling.” (Richard L Evans, Improvement Era, Nov. 1939, p. 672)

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Helaman 16:15 Began to depend upon their own strength

“The Book of Mormon describes that attitude among a people who depended solely ‘upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom’ and upon what they could ‘witness with [their] own eyes.’ (Hel. 16:15, 20.) Upon the basis of reason, these persons rejected the prophecies, saying, ‘It is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come.’ (vs. 18.) Applying that same attitude, a prominent professor dismissed the Book of Mormon with the assertion, ‘You don’t get books from angels. It is just that simple.’

“Those who seek gospel knowledge only by study and reason are particularly susceptible to the self-sufficiency and self-importance that sometimes characterize academic pursuits. As the apostle Paul observed in his day, ‘Knowledge puffeth up.’ He cautioned the learned: ‘Take heed lest by any means this liberty [knowledge] of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. . . . And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?’ (1 Cor. 8:1, 9, 11.)

“The apostle Peter foresaw that attitude in our time: ‘There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.’ (2 Pet. 3:3-4.)

“A Book of Mormon prophet described the origin and consequences of this attitude: ‘O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.’ (2 Ne. 9:28.)

“The fulfillment of these prophecies is evident in our day.” (Dallin H Oaks, The Lord’s Way, p. 47)

Helaman 16:18 They began to reason and to contend among themselves

“The worship of reason, of false philosophy, is greater now than it was [in the past]. Men are depending upon their own research to find out God, and that which they cannot discover and which they cannot demonstrate to their satisfaction through their own research and their natural senses, they reject. They are not seeking for the Spirit of the Lord; they are not striving to know God in the manner in which he has marked out by which he may be known; but they are walking in their own way, believing in their own man-made philosophies, teaching the doctrines of devils and not the doctrines of the Son of God. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 275)