Repent and Prepare to Stand Before the Judgment-seat of Christ

Mormon 3 (en español)

Mormón niega ser caudillo de los Nefitas. Las razones por lo cual él llega a esta decisión son los siguientes:

  • Muchas veces él había dirigido hacia la batalla
  • los había amado con todo su corazón, de acuerdo con el amor de Dios que había en él.
  • –y todo el día se había derramado mi alma en oración a Dios a favor de ellos;–
  • a pesar de estos esfuerzos, Mormón concluye que ha sido sin fe, por causa de la dureza de sus corozones.
  • Últimamente, es cuando Mormón escucha la voz del Señor que dijo: –Mía es la venganza, y yo pagaré; y porque este pueblo no se arrepintió después que lo hube librado, he aquí, será destruido de sobre la faz de la tierra.–

( vease vs. 12-15 )

Los Nefitas estaban viviendo como si no hubiera hecho una expiación a favor de ellos. Y ahora dice el Señor que venganza es suya. Mormón estaría luchando contra Dios si continuaba como caudillo de los ejércitos de los Nefitas.

In verses 2 & 3, we read that the Lord afforded Mormon a brief period of missionary work where he was instructed to cry repentance unto the people. His teaching was in vain, for said he:

…they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance.

Verse 3 (emphasis added)

Consider the timeline of events in this chapter and how it was at first the Nephites assumed that they had won of their own strengthen and then took false confidence in their own abilities to destroy the Lamanites. Mormon cried repentance unto them, they rejected this, and yet they still won the battle subsequently. But it was for the last time. The Lord does delay his promises, but they are sure.

The second half of this chapter shifts gears away from current events in Mormon’s day, to discuss his role as “an idle witness.” (see verse 16) In his capacity as a witness for Christ, he is heavily reliant upon impression of the Spirit to discern future events and circumstances and even audience. All this that the future reader, me, would “repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.”(vs. 22)

There is some significant instruction here about the final judgment and the need to prepare for that judgment. Here we learn what was revealed to Mormon about this final judgment, some of its logistics. Curious it is that the power of judgement is delegated to the disciple of Christ, both the twelve from Jerusalem and also the twelve from the Americas.

Something that I am also sitting with is the nature of and the characteristics of that final judgment. From what I’m reading both in Mormon and in the referenced footnotes (see Matthew 19:28 or Doctrine and Covenants 29:12, for example), this isn’t a condemnation sentencing sort of.

There is one final note that I feel to make on this chapter. The workings of the Spirit that compelled Mormon to write about the final judgment also brought him to witness that Jesus was the very Christ, or in other words, the true Christ and the true God. (This is how it is translated into Spanish.) His hope was that the reader would be brought to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, thus being prepared to stand before that judgment bar, ready and worthy to enter into a far greater weight of glory.

(There is more here, connecting verse 17 to 2 Nephi 30, and learning more about judgment, etc. To be continued… )

The Judgment-seat of Christ

What this IS and what this is perceived to be are two completely different things. There is a final judgment. It is well-known fact in Christian theology that at the end of times there will be a final judgement. The nature of this judgment and the knee-jerk response to being brought before a judge, which is unfortunately a by-product, or a result of our current criminal justice system, reinforces erroneous thoughts and understanding concerning the true nature of judgments and justice. Christ’s judgment is not one of condemnation, scorn, punishment, nor shame.

1 Samuel 2:1-10 is a prayer that Hannah (the mother of the Old Testament prophet Samuel) offers. This resonates very similar in spirit to the words of Mary in the house of her cousin, Elizabeth. “My soul doth magnify the Lord…” (See Luke 1:46-55) Both detail the judgments of the Lord.

Jesus Christ – Judge

Come Unto Jesus with Broken Hearts and Contrite Spirits

Mormon 2 (en español)

La primara cosa que me da pausa para reflexionar es la razón por lo cual Mormón quedó con el pueblo Nefita aun cuando ellos ya no eran un pueblo justo. Encuentro la respuesta en el versículo 12. Al ver el sufrimiento, los lamentos y quejidos del pueblo, Mormón empieza a tener esperanza de que tal vez se tornaran a un pueblo justo. Jamas pudiera haber tenido tal esperanza si no moraba con ellos. Uno no se puede sentir amor y compasión por un pueblo si no lucha con ellos.

By verse 15, 144 years had passed since the first people separated themselves from their brethren through pride in the way or manner in which they dressed. Now bodies are being heaped as dung piles upon the earth, so great was the wickedness and destruction of the same people. Oh how a memory of their fathers would have proven for a different outcome! Perhaps it is this perspective, of who they all once were, that kept Mormon fighting for a people who were beyond hope.

In verse 14, Mormon observes that the people “did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits.” This is why, though the people where mourning and lamenting, there was no change in their condition. They failed to find Christ.

The footnote on “heart” causes me to consider the power that comes through humility and contrition before the Lord.

Why does such a chapter like this exist as a witness for Christ? There are a couple of key passages here and the bulk of the chapter sustains and is illustrative of the principles at play.

Mormon is very interested in his people coming to a state of contrition, where their hearts are broken or humbled before the Lord. There are a couple of moments that Mormon accounts for where the people are mourning and lamenting for their iniquities. In those moments, Mormon is hopeful that this will bring them to a state of such humility that the people would repent. He hopes they will come unto Christ, which is the only means by which any real redemption would be realized.

This exchange here is thus very helpful in seeing that one can experience sorrow and great suffering, mourning and lamentation, but still not come unto Christ.

(A similar observation about the Spirit is made later in the chapter, see verse 26.)

This morning though I am brought to consider one very important point back in verse 13, which I was discussing yesterday. Mormon says that “their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God;”

Because of the goodness of God? Is this what drives people to repentance? It’s not shaming, it’s not condemnation; it’s not calling someone out for their misdeeds and poor conduct. Repentance comes best upon a recognition of God’s goodness and His abundant blessings in our lives.

Mormon, later in the chapter, incites his army to victory by inspiring his people to remember their wives, children, and homes, the good things in their lives. This strategy of focusing on goodness was a powerful motivating force that led this otherwise godless people on to victory against their enemies.

An interesting aside, I mentioned in the study of the last chapter that Ammaron had commanded Mormon to retrieve the record when he was 24 years old. I hadn’t thought to put two and two together, but Mormon wasn’t able to access the records until he was 35 years old, 11 years later.

Mormon doesn’t account for it this way though. We have dates. Ammaron comes to Mormon in the 320th year, about the same time that he hid the records (see 4 Nephi 1:48). Mormon is 10 years old. Then back here in Mormon 2:16 & 17, Mormon gives us the year, its the 345th year! So Mormon is now 35 years old. This is eleven years after he was commanded to go make the record.

This is important to me on so many levels when it comes to understanding the Lord’s timing, promises not yet realized, obligations not yet fulfilled, hopes and dreams not yet materialized. Wow and wow! Did Mormon ever think that he was not doing what the Lord had commanded him to do? Did he worry that he may never live to realize Ammaron’s directive, especially after so many years?

“…Because the Lord Had Cursed the Land”

Mormon 1 (en español)

Ammaron finds Mormon as a 10 year old youth, and give him a singular charge to make a history of this people at the age of 24. Are these arbitrary years? Was there something about the timeline of the people that was important for Mormon to record 14 years into the future. Or did it have something more to do with Mormon’s own personal development and Ammaron’s perceptions of human development. Joseph Smith after 10 years of preparation, organized the Church when he was 24 years old. The age of 24 is pointed to by childhood development psychologists as the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood. Was Ammaron aware of the subtle shifts of reasoning and ability that take place around this age? Possibly.

War prevails upon the land followed by a period of peace, but the real loss happens when the Lord takes decisive action to remove his disciples and his spiritual gifts from the people. Did the people even realize that this had happened? No, it was of no importance to them. Their priorities were elsewhere. It was sin and disbelief that brought about the withdrawal of the gifts of the Lord.

Mormon, at the age of 15, comes to know the Lord and to taste of and understand the kindness (or goodness) of Jesus. This event happens when general wickedness prevails and the default tendency is for sin and disbelief. Mormon wants to share his discovery with those around him, but he cannot because of wilful rebellion.

How Blessed Were They!

4 Nephi 1

This is the “Zion” chapter in the Book of Mormon; the only glimpse we get into what it would be like to belong to a celestial society and what it takes for us to achieve such peace. After the complete conversion of all the remaining Nephites and Lamanites, so that all were organized into a Church after their repentance and baptism, they became a people who were equal. This equality came on two fronts. There were no more rich or poor, there was no more bond or free. They were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

There is a side conversation that has resulted from my study of these verses and helps me to orient in my mind the proper role of government among us. Government does not exist to bring us to a Zion state. Government cannot do that. But it can allow us basic freedoms and a framework in which to allow us to be free as far as is possible. So government has a role to preserve freedom, not to compel equality. Equality must be chosen and must come from within oneself. Perhaps with this perspective, I might more willingly engage in civil activities of government.

Government cannot dictate the conscience of man, it can only ensure that man is free to act and answer to the voice of his own conscience, but never compel a man to so do. Only when man, of his own free will, chooses to act kindly towards another will true equality exist within the world.

After Christ’s appearance and ministry, it took two years for the complete conversion of all the people, from the 34th year to the 36th year.

Verse 5 talks about the miracles that the disciples of Christ were able to perform. The list is not unlike recorded miracles that we find Jesus himself performing in the New Testament. I read this and think to myself that this is evidence of this great conversion to Christ that took place among the people. It is faith in Christ that brings to pass miracles, and such was the people’s faith in Him on every hand that “all manner of miracles” were able to be performed by the disciples.

By verse 7, we are now two decades in to the Zion experiment. Faith continues strong among the people and so curiously, our author points out that the Lord had prospered them exceedingly in the land. Consequently, the people have rebuilt cities that had been destroyed at the time of the Lord’s coming.

Verses 10 and 11 deal with the manner of their family life in this dynamic situation. (I have more to say about this, given the recent changes in my own family dynamics.)

One of the proofs of the society’s well being that is offered here is that they were married and given in marriage. Having experienced a transformation in my own marriage, and this through the my increased earnestness in prayer as a disciple of the Christ, and working directly on my marriage with my wife, I can see how this could be a blessing of the highest magnitude.

There is no mention of or reference to temple ordinances or blessings here, but after referencing marriage, it does state: “and [they] were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them.” Does not the same thing happen in the temple?

Verse 12 holds keys to their prosperity:

  • They obeyed the commandments.
  • Continued in prayer and fasting
  • And they gathered often to hear the word of God.

And then in verse 13, we read that the dream of every noble heart had finally been realized: “there was no contention among all the people, in all the land”. There is no other way to achieve peace. This is the pattern which must be followed. And of a truth, it seems that only Christ is able to effectively realize such a goal on a global scale.

The use of the word “generation” in verse 15 is different than how we use it modern terms. My understanding of the term “generation” has to do with the duration of time between parent and child: 30 years on average. “Generation” as it is used in the Book of Mormon seems to suggest the life span of a human being, being somewhere between 70 to 100 years. And we have this available to us because of the dual reckoning of time both by years and generations. So one (1) generation in Book of Mormon terms is the equivalent of what I had traditionally thought to be three (3) generations.

There are prophecies from Nephi early into the Book of Mormon that talk about the time of Christ’s visitation and how afterwards three (3) generation should pass away in righteousness, and also many of the fourth generation. (See 1 Nephi 12:12 & 2 Nephi 26:9–10, and also 3 Nephi 27:30–32 )

Continuing to piece together this time table of generations. Verse 18 confirms that by the 110th year all the first generation had passed away. Or this would be approximately 76 years from Christ’s visitation in the Americas, so not exactly 100 years, but more the average life span of a human. Then in verse 22, all but a few of the second generation has passed away by the 200th year. This is 90 years from when the end of the first generation was indicated.

Interesting to note, is that by the end of 200 years, a small faction has broken off into Lamanites again. The prophecies state that is the 4th generation from Christ that would be destroyed.

In verse 23, Mormon breaks into the narrative to point out ( and I find it important to understand these points that Mormon feels to interject into the narrative) that the people had spread out across the land and had become rich, through their prosperity in Christ. Then immediately after making this observation, Mormon notes how pride began to seed itself among the people, and division and class resulted.

Is there no other direction for a people to go other than towards pride and self destruction, when the people wax strong and rich in the prosperity of Christ? Why then would Christ want to bless us with prosperity, if it leads to destruction? Is there something more that we should be doing with prosperity?

In the situation of the Nephites, they had all things in common. They were living the law of consecration. If Christ desires that we living in prosperous circumstances, what is its purpose? This cannot be the end goal? Is it just to give to the poor? The Nephites had no poor among them.

Within the space of just 100 years, we go from a history of a people who are undivided in their faith in Christ, to a people who (through a series of progressive steps) are all esteemed as wicked, focused on their riches and the pursuit of more riches. Such a society naturally has robbers because that’s all anyone is at that point: a robber – someone who unjustly takes from another to get gain.

One of the more interesting facets of the Gospel of Christ is the very real inability of one to judge their own performance and progress based on the fruit or outcomes of others, even immediate family members. This is one of the thoughts that I have as I re-read and contemplate this shift away from righteousness among the Nephites.

The righteousness of the leadership of the church was likely no less powerful during the Nephites’ decline than during their periods of righteousness. We read that the three Nephites still had power over beast and element. At one point, the members of the Church were mocked for their humility and belief in Christ. It became unpopular to believe. Societal shifts are powerful influencers.

One of the first steps away form Christ and God was to setup a new form of religion, a new church that was focused on getting gain. (See verse 26) As I read this, I think that church here becomes representative of any organization, focused on getting gain.

These “churches” were growing because of iniquity. False churches were able to administer things to the unworthy that was not allowed them in the true church of Christ. (See verse 27) Thus in their iniquity, these churches became popular. Therefore, growth is not always the best indicator of progress.

In verse 29, we learn that despite persecution, among the true disciples of Christ there was humility, faith, and miracles. The power of God remained with the church. Those disciples who did tarry were still working mighty miracles in the name of Jesus. And yet, multiple times the people tried to kill them. And multiple times they did harden their hearts against the truth. (See verses 31, 34)

This strikes me as an important distinction and reminder: that even in the presence of strong faith, people can and do reject the truth.

An important commentary on labeling or classifying people is offered here (see verses 35-39). A very subtle nuance is offered in verse 36. These labels originate from Lamanites, or those that had rejected the gospel of Christ. Not only did labels come from those that didn’t have faith in Christ, but they also tried to compartmentalize and label those that did have faith in Christ, separating the true believers into different groups. “and among [the true believers in Christ] there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;”

This is so important to understand where the labels are coming from. Christ does not divide people into groups or classes, and neither should we.

Now in the 300th year, all are esteemed as following wickedness. Trafficking of goods here seems to be pointed to as a sign of their wickedness. That is a sober thought, for such activities significantly describe the activities of our modern world. (There are other scriptures that point to trafficking as a sign of an industrious society. See Ether 10:22)

I’ve gone back to the beginning of the chapter, looking specifically for references to the Christ. It’s always bothered me how the authors of the Book of Mormon seem to glaze over the first 200 years as if nothing was worth noting. Today, however as I look for Christ in these verses, I can see that this chapter is a testament to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the reality that it actually does work. There is nothing to report, because the teaching and everything that constitutes their faith in Jesus Christ has already been spelled out elsewhere. What we have here is the proof that the gospel of Jesus Christ really does make for an ideal and better society.

There are no contentions, no suffering for sin nor wickedness. “Where’s the fun in that?” one might say. Yet there is no impediments to their spiritual progress. The field is wide open to allow the real work of Christ: our disciplined, becoming like the Father through Christ and His atonement. This is where real growth happens.

Not the very first, but one of the first actions in denying the Christ was building up churches for gain, which subsequently led them to step away from His true church. Verse 27, again, talks about churches administering that which was sacred those whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness. Why is this important? It not because the church needs to be protected from defilement, as if it were a delicate flower easily spoiled. It seems to me that this has more to do with the spiritual progress of the individual or the group. When all manner of wickedness get received into the church, then the individuals cease to progress.

Two final thoughts as I am seeking to find Christ at the end of this chapter/book. First, we go from having a Church of Christ, to a people of Jesus, to just a few disciples of Jesus. The author makes a set of interesting observations. Secondly, the people now have robbers in the land and are storing up gold and silver. Then in the final verse we learn that Ammaron feels constrained to hide up the record unto the Lord. I wonder if there is not a correlation here in that he longer felt it safe to have possession of the records, owing to the wickedness of the people, and the chance for theft that now existed among the people. The one surety that Ammaron has is that he can turn to the Lord and seek to protect the record after this manner.

Turn, All Ye Gentiles

3 Nephi 30

This is an inclusive chapter in that Christ would that all the Gentiles would repent of their wickedness and then come unto him and receive his ordinances and be saved, numbered with the house of Israel.

Can I see anything in myself in this description of the Gentiles? Do I see in the systems that I am a part of any of these characteristics that I could change?

I am pondering upon these different forms of wickedness and why it is that we would resort to any of these things. Verse 2 offers a fairly comprehensive list of the different categories of sin, lasciviousness, wickedness, stagnation, or even damnation. There seems to be a division, such as was illustrated in Lehi’s dream between the Tree of Life and the great and spacious building.

As I conclude this chapter, I return to the first thought. This week we have also studied the account of Enoch from Moses 7, and yes, there is a description of the establishment of Zion, but the real emphasis of the chapter seemed to be on the rest of humanity that wouldn’t give heed to the teachings of Enoch. God wept over all those that would not come unto Him, because they too are His children.

It was important for Mormon to articulate the Source of this inclusive statement of gathering. This wasn’t Mormon’s invitation (as it never was). These were the words of Christ. It is our Savior who wants us to gather to Him, every one of His Father’s children.

Unto the Fulfilling of the Covenant

3 Nephi 29

A sword of justice? Are we now experiencing this “sword of justice” as a society? Does the Father really wield a sword over the heads of his disobedient children? What are the effects of such sword play? Division, woundedness, hurt, separation?

Mormon, the prophet, is now offering commentary. He points to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon as proof that the Lord has remembered His covenant which originated with Abraham, the ancient patriarch. However, in these verses Mormon never references Abraham, but rather his discendents: the children [or house] of Israel.

the Lord will remember his covenant which he hath made unto his people of the house of Israel.

vs. 3

While in the middle of studying this chapter, I’ve taken a couple of detours into the Bible. First was with Abraham and the covenant that was made with him (See Genesis 50, 51). The second seems to be mostly unrelated to this chapter: John 8, where Jesus declares the truth shall make you free.

I have received some additional insights into sin, and what constitutes sin, and stagnation seems to be a powerful word in helping me to internalize what sin does to the soul. Sin is rejection of God’s commandments and standards. Why is this sin? Because God designs for us to be beings of growth and light and expansion. We don’t realize any of this potential when we reject the commandments of God. These commandments and standards are the means to growth and discovery, progress and realization of dreams.

This is how Christ, in a very real way, makes us free.

Still in John 8, Verse 12 resonated deeply with me this morning especially the phrase: “I am the light of the world… the light of life.” Christ’s declaration. Perhaps this is that eros energy that is discussed in more secular forums.

I am yet still in John 8, contemplating the promise of freedom (see verses 32 & 36), and recognizing that promise being realized within me and Rachel in our relationship to one another.

I am concluding my study on 3 Nephi 29 this afternoon. Mormon ends with the argument that no needs to suppose that God cannot do his own work after the same way and manner as he had always done it, and that the gifts of the Spirit that were freely available in times previous are not also as available today as well. There is no need to hiss, spurn, or make game for the Jews for their faith in these things.

…Ye need not suppose that… he may not execute judgment unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel.

Vs. 9

What Is It That Ye Desire of Me?

3 Nephi 28

I missed an important detail in the first verse of this chapter. Though he spoke with the twelve disciples, he did it individually, “one by one.” He asked each the same question: “What is it that ye desire of me?” But it was their replies that were divided into two camps:

  • Most wanted to return to heaven after having lived to the age of man. (see verses 2 & 3)
  • Three wanted to remain to continue their ministry (see verses 4 – 11)

(Now the bulk of this exchange doesn’t seem to support the idea that he was having individual interactions with each of the disciples, but perhaps it is also being abbreviated.)

Desire plays such an interesting part in these interactions. It was the desires of the lesser part of the disciples (the three) that the Lord then expounded further upon and called them “more blessed” for they should never taste of death. Yet these disciples initially felt shame or “sorrow in their hearts” for they would not speak the thing which they desired. This is all the scriptures say. Did they feel that their desires were wrong or not right before God? We don’t know. But it is interesting that Lord gave them according to their desires and then proceed to validate those desires with statements like “more blessed are ye.”

The remainder of this chapter documents in summary the ramifications of this granted desire, and the blessings that resulted because of their labors according to their desires.

Knowing that the Book of Mormon is given as a tool for the last days, and knowing that accounts and records were specifically curated for this time, our time, the account of the three Nephites is even more compelling. Statements at the end of this chapter cause me to consider things that I perhaps would not have considered previously.

Notable is the statements that say that they shall perform a great and marvelous work. This wording sounds like other prophesied scriptures of a marvelous work and a wonder.

It is repeated several times:

  • “they shall minister unto all the scattered tribes of Israel, and unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, and shall bring out of them unto Jesus many souls” (vs. 29)
  • “Therefore, great and marvelous works shall be wrought by them” (vs. 31)
  • “…among the Gentiles shall there be a great and marvelous work wrought by them” (vs. 32)

How does one minister to others without being made known? How do you teach the gospel of Christ to people in such a way that it impacts them unto conversion, and not have theses people be aware of who you are? (See verses 25, 27, 28 & 30)

The only precedence that I can readily thing of in this regard is when Christ appeared on the road to Damascus to the disciples and he spent all of an afternoon and evening with them without them being made aware of his true identity. “A Poor, Wayfaring Man of Grief” makes a similar reference to the Savior being hidden from view.

Verse 34 and the footnote on the word “sent” (which leads over to the Matthew 10:5-42) are where I have spent the remainder of this morning reviewing.

I had a very curious experience last evening. Recently, I facilitated a discussion on a particular topic. At the end of the that discussion, I posed an question that also served as an invitation of sorts to those who answered it. It was well received and many responded. The following Sunday, our Sunday School lesson dealt with the same topic. Last evening, I overheard a conversation between two sisters in which they referenced that question/invitation and the multitude of responses that resulted from it, but they attributed it to the Sunday School teacher. Suddenly, the answer to my question from the morning’s studies came into full view.

Perhaps there is more preparation going on behind the scenes to receive the Gospel of Christ than we realize.

Verses 34 & 35 are a warning, a woe decreed against those that will not believe in the words of Christ. Mormon poses this stirring question: “For do ye suppose that ye can get rid of the justice of an offended God, who hath been trampled under feet of men, that thereby salvation might come?” When I read these verses, they don’t do anything for me personally, for I have believed in the words of Christ, I think. Yet I am very interested in what this means for my family members who have not believed in the words of Christ.

The final verses of this chapter are for me some of the most instructive in this chapter, not for the topic that is discussed as much as for the manner in which the topic was received. Verse 36 – 40 seem to be offered as a postscript, and Mormon offers an explanation. In essence he says, “I didn’t know what the mortal state of the Three Nephites was after their transfiguration, but then I prayed about and asked the Father for further instruction, and here is what I’ve learned.” What this offers me is a validation of how prayer is used as a tool to receive further light and instruction. I can do what Mormon is doing here as I seek to grow spiritually.

I tried moving on, but there was some individualized instruction found for me in a footnote on “trampling” in verse 35.

Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people… yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.

Helaman 12:2

Perhaps, I feel just a little indicted by this observation. I am not trying to forget Him, but it is an effort to successfully remember Him.

I am sitting with these verses for one more day and realizing that Mormon intended these for my personal consideration, not in the measured judgement of another, but of myself. He’s talking to me!

Going back to Heleman 12 one more time, I am brought to consider verse 1, in addition to verse 2. “Yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.”

God, the Father, is calling me back to Him. See also Psalms 1:2-3.

I have actually spent a second morning in these same verses, reflecting on my own path, and the blessings of the course of life that I have taken. The one thing that I can say is that my course in life is undefined by the world’s standards, and thus it seems unruly except in the Light of the Gospel. I do well not to depart from the law of the Lord, or to forget by what power I have been brought here.

Now This Is the Commandment: Repent

3 Nephi 27

I am sitting a lot with the thought that righteousness is neither piousness nor self-indulgence. The sinners and the pious do not approach heaven. It is only those that do the will of God. Doing good within myself and doing good externally with others are two different activities, but they shouldn’t be. That is my challenge, in my external piousness, or putting on of airs. I am covering up and crowding out the space for the true good works. Garden analogies work good here too.

Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

Verse 20

I have sat with this chapter for many days now. I have given a talk at church based on this chapter. Repentance, is not the main theme (it is part of these foundational principles of faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, reception of the Holy Ghost, and endurance until the end), however the more that I sit with this, it feels like this is the main purpose of our existance. We are here to repent, to change, to grow into something beautiful so that we may be able to dwell in the presence of the Divine.

There are several times where Christ repeats the same principles but each time in a slightly different order they are as follows:

Verses 16-17:

  • Repentance: “And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth”
  • Baptism: “and is baptized in my name shall be filled”
  • Endurance: “and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.”

Verse 19:

  • Sanctification/Reception of the Holy Ghost: “therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood,”
  • Faith in Christ: “because of their faith,”
  • Repentance: “and the repentance of all their sins,”
  • Endurance: “and their faithfulness unto the end.”

Verse 20:

  • Repentance: “Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth,”
  • Faith in Christ: “and come unto me”
  • Baptism: “and be baptized in my name,”
  • Reception of the Holy Ghost: “that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost,”
  • Endurance: “that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.”

(See also Ether 4:18, Moroni 7:34)

Christ also repeats the teaching that we shall be judged according to our works. (Verses 14, 15)

This chapter ends with an admonition to the Savior’s disciples, the twelve that he had chosen to lead these people, to “enter in at the strait gate.” This seems like a curious statement for these disciples/leaders, but it is also a reminder that each one of us, brings full humanity to our leadership callings, and we are yet individuals on a mortal journey, having to choose for ourselves every day, even when it appears that we are steeped into our religion.

All Things

3 Nephi 26

Mormon accounts for the remainder of the Savior’s ministry to the Nephites in this chapter, but is very clear that this only contains the hundredth part of what Jesus actually taught the people. He taught them for three days in this second visit to them.

Mormon was anxious to include as much as he could within the record about Jesus’s teachings but it was forbidden for him to offer anything more than a basic summary of the thing that had transpired. Three days are hence summarized into one smaller chapter.

The Savior near the beginning of the chapter offers a comment on his editing of the scriptures that were available to the Nephites, stating: “for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.” So I’m sitting with this for a moment, the wisdom of the Father. The order, the timing, the manner in which He orders things for the benefit of His children. This causes me to consider also the timing of things, or the manner in which God has ordered thing within my own life.

After his editing work is submitted, the Savior then expounds on the scripture that has been included and, according to Mormon’s account, the Savior teaches them about things from the beginning of the world until the end of it, pointing to the final judgement and resurrection.

Mormon then wants to include much of the details from what the Savior is teaching the people, but it is forbidden him. So instead he includes instructions on how to obtain it: believe in the lesser part of the things which Mormon had recorded, and then shall the greater things be revealed unto you. (verse 9)

The footnote in verse 9 leads me to consider the “greater things” that will yet be revealed to the gentiles. The question that is in my mind is: when will this happen? The answer is in Ether 4:6: “They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.”

(Returning back to this verse this morning makes me thing that we’ve got a bit of a ways to go in this matter if it is the Gentiles that need to be penitent and clean before the Lord. Humbug! It’s as if I’d have to do some work or something to make this happen. Ha!)

But whenever it is that we will be permitted access to the greater things, that great revelation that is still contained in the sealed part of the golden plates, that doesn’t seem to be the point here. The point that Mormon would have us consider is in verse 13:

Therefore, I would that ye should behold that the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them.

A brief description of those three days is what the remainder of the chapter attempts to illustrate. Many sick were healed and babes did speak things which were forbidden that they should be recorded. The net effect of these events were disciples who were now absolutely riveted to the Christ through testimony and covenant.

At the beginning and end of this chapter the phrase “all things” is used multiple times. At the beginning, we learn that Jesus expounded “all things” to the people. Then at the end, the people had “all things” in common.

For Behold, the Day Cometh

3 Nephi 25 (See also Malachi 4)

Verse 1 starts with the statement that I am very familiar with:

For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

The sobering realization that I came to yesterday is that I have found comfort in my false judgements of many people, or in other words, my pride. I am (if unchanged) among the proud that would be destroyed.

What is petrifying to me, absolutely unfathomably terrifying is for how long I have carried on in this fashion. Never suspecting it within myself. How do I go about changing who I am?

On the other hand, I feel that I may be acting too harsh on myself. (Maybe.) Verse 2 talks of those that fear the Lord, and of the healing that comes through the Son of Righteousness, and of their protection as cattle in the stall. I very much feel that this has been my lot. Often I have claimed such healing, renewing strength through the Son of Righteousness.

This chapter goes on to not create a pleasant picture for “the wicked,” stating that these shall be as ash under the feet of those that fear God.

A reminder to follow the law given Moses is found in verse 4.

And then we get the most profound promise found in all of the Old Testament:

I will send you Elijah the prophet… And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers…

One more morning, on these last verses. The profoundness of this promise seems to highlight one of the chief events of the last days. It underscores many of the events of the last days and gives an explanation for many things, like the rise and advances in technology, the globalization of the world economies, and many things that are unique to the last days.

Of course, as is the case in most days now, I think I am more questions. For example, there is a family I know, who’s father was of the most deplorable character before he took his own life. I wonder how this promise will be realized in this family’s behalf.

The hearts of the children are turned to their fathers. What healing will have to take place? What damage control will need to be performed? Does God really intend to stitch the human family back together? And how does that happen when children are born out of wedlock? To whom do children belong in the eternities?

These are questions that I know God intends to answer, and that much of this healing happens in the temple in ways that cannot be fully comprehended with mortal reasoning.