Their Curse Was Taken from Them

3 Nephi 2

Verse 1 states that the people “began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven,” which makes sense, especially if signs or wonders were increasing or become more common place. Is not the sun and moon and all things that are set at motion in this beautiful world evidence of a divine Creator? These are “wonders” that we just expect to work. Yet, how often does the common man pause to recognize these everyday “signs” or “wonders” or proofs of God in his superior majesty and power? Not hardly.

Verse 2 however suggests that those that were witness to the aforementioned signs had assigned them to the works of man or a devil, Satan himself being the author of such lies, all to the end that he might dissuade the people from believing in the doctrines of Christ, or to discount it as “a vain and foolish thing.”


Their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white

Verse 15 is a bit of a controverial read. There is a huge tendency to take this at face value in our current, modern social context, instead of understanding what this has reference to historically. So there are two things that are dealt with simultenously in this verse: a curse and a changing of skin color. The footnotes are extremely helpful in understanding the separation of these two conditions. It is important to understand that this is not a cause and effect statement, but rather two simultenous blessings that were received.

Furthermore, it also important to understand that skins becoming white, is not to be understood in our modern American paradigm of “white” European Americans verses “black” African Americans. To separate ourselves from the cultural contexts of our American society is extremely important in understanding the meaning of these scritpures.

First, the footnotes on the word “curse” takes us to other parts of the scriptures that also make reference to the curse and its connection to idleness or the lack of industry. This verse in Alma describes very well how their faith in Christ, which lead to industry, took away their curse:

And they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them.

Alma 23:18 (emphasis added)

It’s as if the Lord is stating that the people became clean and pure, even in the appearance to others. The following verse states how “their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair.” I know what this looks like and it has nothing to do with skin colors. It has to do with cleanliness of heart and purity of mind. It has to do with being holy and living holy.

There is more to this discussion that I am not going to explore at this moment. Alma 3 discusses peoples putting a mark upon their bodies. I’m not going there for the moment.


I am stopping here, though there is more to discuss. In praying about this however, whether or not, a changing of skin tone literally or figuratively happened, it accomplished the same outcome, a separation between two groups of people.

Here we are now at the end of times, where all things are being brought together into one in Christ. Skin tones are increasingly less relevant, in some spaces. A literal changing of skin tones would have little effect in and of itself in our day and time. But what is still real is the light that shines in the eyes of a disciple of Christ. It can be seen and discerned. The lack there off, or those scales of darkness that form over the eyes of one who does not beleive, can also be seen. Therein lies the separation that will always exist between the world and the the true believers in the Christ.


3 Nefi 2 (in Spanish)

According to the Words of the Prophets

3 Nephi 1

An important theme of Christ’s personal misistry is taught here in these verses:

I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

Verse 13

This brings to memory Doctrine and Covenants 1:38 (what I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken… whether by my own voice, or the voice of my servants…) and the numerous references to the prophets from Christ’s mortal ministry:

Prophets are important, extremely important. They see things that the rest of us do not. This sounds like such a simple statement, but the reality of it is true.


Despite the irrefutable proof of the sign of Christ’s birth and the complete fulfillment of the words of the prophets in “every whit,” almost immediately Satan began to circulate lies among the people “to harden their hearts… that they might not believe in those signs and wonders.” (vs. 22)


3 Nefi 1

Nefi, cuando vio la destrucción que estaba por venir entre su pueblo, clamo a Dios todo el día. Es una situación curioso. Nefi es el profeta, y le viene esta situación en que, a meños que Dios los entrega, él no puede hacer nada por sí mismo.

Me pregunto, ¿Qué habrá pasado si Nefi no orara todo el día? ¿Habría entregado Dios los que creían en los señales?

Sí, lo habría, sin embargo, Nefi no habría tenido confianza en sí mismo sin oración.


No hubo obscuridad

No dice que –hubo luz–, sino que –no hubo obscuridad.–

Finalmente, parte de la tristeza de los que se apartaron de la fe en el fin del capítulo fue que por la juventud que no creyeron.

Notwithstanding the Signs and the Wonders

Helaman 16

The first thing that stands out to me in this chapter is that the same preaching caused some people to repent and others to become angry.

Helaman 16 (in Spanish)

¿Cuales son los propósitos de los señales? No pueden violar el albedrío del hombre.

En este capítulo también tenemos otra racionalidad de los incrédulos. El Libro de Mormón es bueno para articular las racionalidades de los no crean y los formas en que Satanás engaña a las personas.


En el año noventa, cuando empezaron manifestar los señales de la venida de Cristo, fue en le mismo año que mucho empezaron a confiar en su propio fuerzas y sabiduría. ¡Qué Error! En lugar de mantener su fe, se olvidaron de su Dios.


In conclusion, Satan is so expert at manipulating reality that when left to our own devices, it is impossible to sort truth from error.

There are those men and women of great faith that are able to see things that the rest of humanity cannot perceive, because of their disbelief. And even though most of humanity cannot see these things, it doesn’t make them not real or untrue.

Except ye repent

Helaman 15

I would not have understood this chapter had I not experienced a day like yesterday. So my context today is different. At the beginning of chapter 15, Samuel warns the Nephites of desolate houses unless they repent. And then as a follow up to that he warns of their women being left behind and perishing, being pregnant. (It’s a very sad thought indeed.)

What is the connection between repentance and stable home life? It is everything!

In verse 2 where it talks of pregnant women being left behind, I asked myself: where are their men? Why are the women being left to fend for themselves and to perish?

There is a lot of healing in this chapter for me. Later on, it talks about the conversion of the Lamanites and how in their strict observance of the law of Moses and the commandments of God; they were also a missionary-minded people.

Helaman 15 (in Spanish)

Repent and Prepare the Way of the Lord

Helaman 14

Samuel the Lamanite starts this chapter with a prophecy or sign of the Savior’s coming:

…For behold, there shall be great lights in heaven…
And behold, there shall a new star arise…
And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.

vs. 3,5,6

I have only focused on the second of the three, a new star. But he prophesies that there are great lights (plural) in heaven and many signs and wonders in addition to a new star.

Samuel concludes his explanation of these very dramatic signs by adding this simple promise:

And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life.

vs. 8

So even those who are converted by sign, if they believe in the Son of God, the promise is the same.


Reading verses 9 to 13 this morning gives me a much deeper appreciation of Samuel as man bound by love and duty to share with his enemies the only thing that would spare them from an inevitable destruction. Verses 12 and 13 are very succinct version of Christ role as our redeemer.

In verse 17, Samuel states that “the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind.” In verse 16, he says ” this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death—that spiritual death;”


The end of chapter 14 paints an interesting picture of accountability. It seems to me that Samuel is suggesting that God desires that all men have a knowledge of Him that all men might be judged righteously, and that there will be proofs enough for all men to believe in Him, before they are brought before him to be judged.

…That many shall see greater things than these… to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men.

And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a righteous judgment might come upon them; and also if they are condemned they bring upon themselves their own condemnation.

Verses 28-29 (emphasis added)

Helaman 14 (en español)

Este capitulo tiene casi todo los doctrinas fundamentales para actuar en el evangelio de Jesucristo.

…viene el Hijo de Dios para redimir a todos los que crean en su nombre.

versículo 2

… el que creyere en el Hijo de Dios, tendrá vida sempiterna.

versículo 8

Arrepentíos, y preparad la vía del Señor.

versículo 9

…para este propósito… a fin de que oigáis y sepáis de los juicios de Dios que os esperan por causa de vuestras iniquidades, y también para que conozcáis las condiciones del arrepentimiento;

y también para que sepáis de la venida de Jesucristo, el Hijo de Dios, el Padre del cielo y de la tierra, el Creador de todas las cosas desde el principio…

Y si creéis en su nombre, os arrepentiréis de todos vuestros pecados, para que de ese modo logréis una remisión de ellos por medio de los méritos de él.

versículos 11-13

Albedrio

Esto es un tema que no se trate directamente. Sin embargo, me parace que el arrepentimiento abra las puertas del albedrio. Y aunque parece contrario a la naturaleza, lo más que obedecemos, más el albedrio y poder para escoger tenemos. Tal vez por ser tan importante el poder para escoger, tenemos los mandamientos tan fuertemente. Parece también contrario si un Dios vale tanto al albedrio del hombre que diera mandamientos tan fuertes que parace violar el albedrio del hombre. Pero es el desobedecer los mandamientos de Dios que limite el albedrio del hombre.

What is Man?

Outline

  1. Identity Crisis
    1. Nothingness or Everything?
  2. Our True Identity
    1. Quote from Pres. Packer
  3. The Plan that Gives Our Identity Meaning
    1. The Fall
    2. Diabolic Oposition
    3. The Atonement of Christ, Redemption and Repentance
  4. Agency:
    1. Agency strengthens our Identity
    2. Kindergarden Decisions
    3. Covenant Commitment Strengthens our Ability to Choose Right
      1. Quote from Elder Gong
    1. Real Intent and Prayer – Ask
      1. Moroni 7:9
  5. Choices:
    1. Repentence
      1. Central Tenant of our Faith
    2. Honesty
      1. Shwan’s Truck Story
    3. Obedience
      1. Missionary Bag
    4. Moral Cleanliness
      1. Joseph of Egypt
    5. Following Jesus Christ
  6. Jesus Christ – Exemplar of Identity and Agency
    1. Our invitation to Act:

Identity and Agency.

In youth, we try so hard to create an identity for ourselves.

My remarks are designed today to be directed towards the youth, as has been requested by President Beard. My first thought is to reflect upon the foundational principles of my youth that gave me the catapulting ability to jump into life and the experiences that have shaped my life since then. It is my attempt today to put into word some of those primary principles which if we embrace, whether in youth, or at some later date, will provide us with the building blocks for success.

First however, I would like to give this conversation some context or paint a backdrop against which we might begin to understand our place in our Father in heaven’s overarching objectives.

A few days ago, I was reading a scholarly/religious article written the year after Sputnik went into orbit. 1958. 61 years ago.

The Nothingness or Everythingness of Man?

Moses has this amazing experience where he behold God and all his creations and his concluding thought, a very humbling and debasing thought is this: “Now I know that Man is Nothing, which thing I had never supposed.”

But then the Psalmist declared:

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?… For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Psalm 8:4-5

Just a little lower than the angels? That’s definitely not a position of nothingness that in all of God’s creations, man is esteemed as just one off from the angels of God, which dwell in His presence.

So which is it? All or nothing?

In ancient times we read of God confounding the languages of those who attempted to reach heaven in tower. But now God has allowed man to touch the moon, soaring to heights unimaginable. We communicate in living color instantaneously around the globe. Indeed, our thoughts and ideas ascend into the skies, akin to the angels.

Which is it? Is man nothing or everything?

So clearly, God is interested in promoting the human race, not in destroying it. We sing “I am a Child of God?” What if each one of us had a sense of the royal position that we occupied in celestial realms of glory before this earth was formed? What would be our approach/attitude

All or nothing? It depends upon our adherence to principles of light and truth.

Talk about identities? The word of wisdom in my opinion is far more than a simple law of health. Understanding the premise, helps us to understand the purpose, and exposes to our minds additional potholes and man-made or demonic devices aimed at ensnaring us in money making schemes.

As we follow the Gospel covenant path, our true identity becomes more visible to us.

Elder Boyd K. Packer – Identity as a Son of God

You are a child of God. He is the father of your spirit. Spiritually you are of noble birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it. However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!2

President Boyd K. Packer

Our identity is made clearer as we strengthen our capacity to act on our agency. Making right choices is as a muscle to be exercised. Some choices are made once. Kindergarden decisions. When we decide what our commitments are, choices become easier to make. But we need to acknowledge that every day we are choosing to follow Jesus Christ.

Consider the connection between choice and asking. Elder Gong illustrates how our prayers have stronger conviction and answers become more clearly discernible when we attach our choices to our petitions. This is what elder Gong said:

Elder Gong

Elder Gerrit W. Gong spoke about the choice to marry his wife.

Covenant marriage becomes supernal and eternal as we daily choose the happiness of our spouse and family above our own.

When I asked, “Heavenly Father should I marry Susan,” I felt peace. But it was when I learned to pray with real intent: “Heavenly Father, I love Susan and want to marry her. I promise I will be the best husband and father that I can be. When I acted and made my best decisions, it was then [that] the strongest spiritual confirmations came.”

Covenant Belonging

Real Intent – Prayer

And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.

Moroni 7:9

The power to strengthen our identity grows as we exercise our agency. How to illustrate this?

Beloved, now are we the asons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall bappear, we shall be clike him; for we shall dsee him as he is.

1 John 3:2

Being converted unto the Lord starts with an unwavering commitment to God, followed by making that commitment part of who we are. Internalizing such a commitment is a lifelong process that requires patience and ongoing repentance. Eventually, this commitment becomes part of who we are, embedded in our sense of self, and ever present in our lives.

…As we choose to be baptized, we begin to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ11 and choose to identify ourselves with Him. We pledge to become like Him and to develop His attributes.

Unwavering Commitment to Jesus Christ

The choice to repentance.

When I was fifteen years old, I made a choice that now was the time for me to repent. I choose to talk with my bishop about some concerns in my past. I choose to face any consequences that would result. Since that time, I have choosen to frequently repent of the smaller details. I have become more anxiously compelled as of late to learn how to use the gift of repentance even more frequently, even daily to draw myself closer to God. I am choosing to repent. I want this in my life.

The choice to be honesty.

Several years ago I drove truck for the Schwan’s Company. (Tell the story of driving the truck.) That day I choose to be honest.

The choice of obedience.

I love the example of Nephi. Nephi not only was obedient, but can you hear in his words his choice to be obedient? “I will go and do the things the Lord commands.”

Obedience as missionary was critical to my success.

The choice of moral cleanliness.

The story of Joseph of Egypt is one that demonstrates the choice to stay morally clean.

Of this Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said:

We can also emulate the spiritual reflexes of Joseph in Egypt: when he was tempted, “he … fled” (Gen. 39:12), showing both courage and good legs! Youth and adults must get out of circumstances and situations which threaten.

The Tugs and Pulls of the World, October 2000

Perhaps being somewhat aware of the target that sat on my head as a young man preparing to serve a mission, and that the devil was bent on my destruction before getting into the mission field, I found myself at one such junction.

The choice to follow Jesus Christ.

We use phrases to describe intentional choice. We say things like “full purpose of heart” “with all the energy of my heart” “with real intent” What we are saying is that we choose. We are exercising that one defining characteristic that set us apart from all the rest of Creation. We are beings of decision to act for our selves. As we choose God we become more aware of our identity as such.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, apray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, (or in otherword, with the full awareness and active choosing and desiring to choose this thing) that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true bfollowers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall cbe like him, for we shall see him as he is…

Moroni 7:48

Choose you this day whom ye will serve…

It is my prayer that as we intentionally choose to follow our Savior Jesus Christ through our actions, that we will become more aware of our true identity as Sons and Daughter of God.

Ye Do Cast Out the Prophets

Helaman 13

The voice of the Lord comes to Samuel telling him to return to Zarhelma, and to “prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart.” Notice the mode of communication! That which should come into his heart, that he should prophesy unto the people.

A prophet standing on a city wall crying repentance unto the people — this is a typical iconic image of prophets from ancient scripture. What may perhaps be overlooked here is the seriousness of the circumstances that led Samuel to stand on a wall and prophesy.

Verse 7 illustrated a much different perspective, one of peace and glad tidings. An angel had appeared unto Samuel, declaring unto him the glad tidings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This thing brought joy to his soul. Hence, he had been commissioned to share this joyful message with the Nephites. Yet, the Nephites would not receive it and they rejected the messenger.


Matthew 23 expresses a very similar sentiment to what is found here in at the end of chapter 13.


Helamán 13 (in Spanish)

El Señor trabajó con Samuel por medio de su corazon. Le dio instrucciones que debe regresar a predicar al pueblo todo que puso el Señor en su corazon. Y así lo hizo.


Preservación de los justos

Hay un principio de instruccion en los versículos 11 a 14: Se salva a un pueblo por causa de los justos que en ello mora. Samuel detalle muy claramente a los habitantes de Zarahemla de que si no hubiera sido por la presencia — de los que son justos — que el Señor — haría que descendiera fuego del cielo y la destruyera. — Mas bien, los justo se definen como — los que se arrepientan. —

A veces, seamos tentados a creer que nuestras acciones no afecta a los demás. Pero, aquí me hace recordar que aún la vida de una persona justa se puede salvar a un pueblo.

Tesoros ocultos

Otra doctrina importante es el escondimiento de tesoros tangibles. En los versículos 17-23 Samuel avisa al pueblo de la perdida de sus riquezas a causa de sus iniquidades. Los que escondan a sus tesoros para los propósitos del Señor no son afectado por esta maldición.

Rechazamiento de los profetas

Yo he pasados varios días estudiando este grupo de versículos donde habla del rechazamiento de los profetas. Cosa interesante es en el rechazamiento de los profetas, las personas aceptan a otras personas como sus profetas o guías. Cristo preguntó ¿Puede el ciego guiar a los ciegos? Samuel añada –Sí, ¿hasta cuándo os dejaréis llevar por guías insensatos y ciegos? Sí, ¿hasta cuándo preferiréis las tinieblas a la luz?–

Post Conference Thoughts and Impressions

It is the morning after the 189th Semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There have been a couple of doctrines that have sunk deep into my being this morning. The most important being choice and agency.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong spoke about the choice to marry his wife.

Covenant marriage becomes supernal and eternal as we daily choose the happiness of our spouse and family above our own.

When I asked, “Heavenly Father should I marry Susan,” I felt peace. But it was when I learned to pray with real intent: “Heavenly Father, I love Susan and want to marry her. I promise I will be the best husband and father that I can be. When I acted and made my best decisions, it was then [that] the strongest spiritual confirmations came.”

The bulk of his talk was about “covenant belonging” but this tagent near the end about using agency to form covenant relationships was profoundly signficant.

In my patriarchal blessing there is a line “you can find a young lady of your choice…” this in discussing temple covenants and relationships.


Christ is the champion of agency and choice. Perhaps when I am studying in the scriptures and I cannot find anything that points me to Christ, a second line of strategy would be to ask, “What does this teach me about agency or choice?”

Action Item: There is a greater marriage narrative that needs to be written with this increased light and understanding.

Restored Unto Grace for Grace, According to Their Works

Helaman 12

The doctrine of change, the doctrine of repentance, brings about the purposes of God and reason for our existence.


Second morning, I am going back and reviewing the references at the beginning concerning prosperity:

10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.
11 God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.
12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

Psalm 62:10-12

Here is another one:

And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.

2 Chronicles 26:5

And one more:

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalm 1:1-3

And then a warning not to forget is found in the subsequent verse’s footnotes:

19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.
20 As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 8:19-20

Oh How Great Is the Nothingness of the Children of Men

I read this explanation this morning in verse 7. Verse 6 leads up to it. And it really strikes me as profoundly significant that God, our Creator, would give man instructions, and man would think himself greater than God, ignore his instructions, and go in a different direction. In any other context, a thing created that didn’t fulfill the purpose of its creation would be considered of no value, meaningless, worthless. (Perhaps that is why so frequently we feel this way when we disobey God’s commands.)

But the bigger “Aha!” for me this morning is that if we don’t follow God’s instructions for our design, we are nothing! In any other context, a thing that does not act according to design would be wasted, thrown out, tossed aside as having no purpose, discarded.


Saved, Salvation

I have a problem with the word “salvation” this morning, and that is its association with the thought of a “passive redemption”, which clearly the authors of the scriptures don’t believe in or teach. But salvation is a privilege reserved unto God to grant unto those who exercise faith unto repentance.

the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord:

Psalm 37:39

The above is not a passive statement in as much as righteousness is not passive, but requires work to become righteous and to maintain righteousness. For the moment that the righteous man stops working to do good, then is he no longer righteous, but become idle and hence wicked.


Restored Grace for Grace

And may God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works.

Verse 24

This verse of scripture left me puzzling for a few moments. There are a couple of key insights that are revealed in these verses. First, this verse acknowledges a fall. In other words, that our original habitation was one of glory where we dealt with God “in his great fulness” living “grace for grace”. The path that restores us back to our primeval state of grace, fullness, and glory is that of repentance AND good works. All this is a gift from God, and yet strangely, all this requires our very best efforts to achieve it. “Then is his grace sufficient for you!” (Moroni 10:32) And me!

Why is it so hard? Why is repentance and good works required? Because we’re bring a body in tow with our spirits. We left the presence of God as spirits. Our very purpose in mortality is to return back to God with our spirits clothed in tabernacles of flesh. According to the degree that our spirits could master these tabernacles of flesh, this is the glory to which we are restored, the fullness of which bring us back into the presence of God and His Son. These are not prizes or trophies to be won. NO! It is much more. These are purposes to be achieved, and preparations to be secured. For what? The next chapter has a far greater weight in Glory than could every be conceived in this mortal realm of things.

So in the meanwhile, we are left to limited confines of this mortal existence. Its purposes are to share what we have, and to acquire as much light and knowledge as we can afford to retain.


Helamán 12 (en español)

Los propósitos de Dios se logran cuando los hombres se arrepienten y hacen las buenas obras.

La Vida Sempiterna

¿Cuáles son las escritpuras que testifican o enseñan sobre la vida sempiterna?

No hay mucho que habla de que es la vida eterna. Doctrina y Covenios 132:19,20,24,55 explica con más detalles. Juan 17:3 es el otro lugar.

Condenación Sempiterna

¿Y de la condenación sempiterna? Tal vez lo estudiaré más adelante.