3 Nephi 12: 10

“And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


It is not just persecution, but persecution “for [His] name’s sake” that makes you blessed. When you are doing what you should for His name’s sake, you are likely to provoke persecution. He will later explain this is almost inevitable. It won’t be because you are provoking it by your obnoxious behavior. It is because people will question your sincerity and commitment. The world expects hypocrites. They regard everyone with suspicion. And, let’s face it, most charlatans adopt religion as one of their cloaks. We’ll get to that a little further into this sermon from the Lord.


The kind of persecution which produces the “kingdom of heaven” is, of course, martyrdom. Originally the word “martyr” meant witness, but so many of the early Christian witnesses were killed that it came to have the modern meaning, that is one who dies for their faith.


Martyrs were seen in John’s vision below the altar of God. (Rev. 6: 9.) This of course means they were holy because of their sacrifice. The heavenly altar being a symbol of them having shed their blood as witnesses. Joseph Smith and Hyrum joined those who qualified for such a witness. (D&C 135: 7.)


Zenos, author of the Olive Tree allegory (Jacob 5: 1), prophet of the three days of darkness upon the isles of the sea (1 Ne. 19: 10), witness of the Lord’s burial in a sepulcher (1 Ne. 19: 10) seven centuries before His birth, was slain for his testimony (Helaman 8: 19).


Stephen was killed for his testimony but clearly inherited the kingdom of heaven. (Acts 7: 55-59.)


There are many others, including Able, Isaiah, Peter, Paul and Abinadi.


Blessed are those who are willing to endure persecution for His name’s sake.  For they are those who are willing develop faith which cannot be obtained in any other way. It is through the sacrifice of all things that faith necessary for salvation is developed. Read again the post on Lecture 6 of the Lectures on Faith on April 21, 2010.


Beginning with faith to follow Him, then enduring persecution as a result, to offering the sacrifice necessary to develop faith, then inheriting the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel of Christ is one great whole.


Sometimes we bring persecution upon ourselves because we are unwise. The Lord will address that. We are to take offenses, but not give them. When we unwisely give offenses and cause persecution, that is not for His name’s sake.  There is a balance between wisdom and righteousness.


As an aside on the subject of persecution I wanted to add this:


I’ve thought about Elder Packer’s talk and the homosexual community’s reaction to it. Elder Packer was right, and he was addressing a community of believers who look to him for teachings like the ones given in that talk.  Nobody ought to take offense at that. If you can prevent Elder Packer’s teaching in that setting, then you can invade and stop talk in any setting on any subject.


However, nothing in that talk would encourage or justify invading the privacy and causing the shame visited upon the Rutgers University student who committed suicide. The invasion of his privacy was cruel, the act of publicizing it was a calculated act of terrible insult. His grief, despair and subsequent suicide are the fault of those who invaded his privacy and exposed his weakness. It was wrong. Elder Packer’s talk was to benefit a community of believers, not to persecute an audience of unbelievers.


I have friends I ride Harley’s with who have absolutely no interest in Mormonism. One of my dear friends hates my church, thinks it barbaric and unenlightened. But that does not stop our mutual friendship nor define the areas about which we find common ground. Another person’s differing views are only offensive when they demand I accede to them. If they will suspend judgment against me because of my faith, I am willing to suspend judgment against them because of theirs. This ought to define the boundaries of conduct, not militant demands for conceding the argument on questions of faith and belief. I can believe that my friend’s lifestyle is corrupt and even immoral. But so long as he does not expect me to join him, I am pleased to be a friend, share what we have in common, and leave our differences for polite disagreement.


There are some sins I simply do not understand. But if my friendship may help someone to understand my faith, then I would sooner be friends with someone of another faith than one of my own. I do not expect many people to accept what I believe. In fact, I think there are very few fellow Latter-day Saints who believe or understand the Gospel as I do. If I were to limit my friends to those with whom I have everything in common, then my wife and children alone would be my friends.


Elder Packer should have the right to speak and preach the truth as he understands it. Those who would censor him are wrong.


If he is mistaken, then point out his error in a kindly way and seek to reclaim him. But condemning, protesting and attacking only shows intolerance and coercion which all of us have a responsibility to resist and condemn. It is wrong when the homosexual community does it, and it is wrong when the church does it. Win the argument with persuasion and strong reasoning.  Yelling, condemning and protesting only attempts to silence thought, not to provoke it into correct understanding.


Now I’m off topic…

3 Nephi 12: 9

3 Nephi 12: 9:

“And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
More often than not those who are “peacemakers” will be abused. They will at least have to endure aggression and give a soft word in return. (Prov. 15: 1.) There will be no end to the peace which comes from Christ because there was no end to the suffering He was willing to endure. (Isa. 9: 7.)
When we hearken to the Lord’s commandments we have peace like a river flowing. (Isa. 48: 18.) This is because the Lord will fight for you, and you can hold your peace. (Exo. 14: 14.) The Lord will fight Zion’s battles. (D&C 105: 14.)
When a man is right before God, even his enemies are at peace with him. (Prov. 16: 7.) At least until his time comes and his mission is completed. (D&C 122: 9; John 19: 10-11.)
When the Lord was taken with violence and crucified, He was at peace. (Luke 23: 24.) He purchased peace through what He suffered. He alone can share that with all. (Isa. 53: 5.)
Through Him, the “peacemakers” have found this peace. This is why they have become His “children” for He has begotten them. (Mosiah 27: 25.)
In a world of violence and abuse, it is peace we seek. But that peace comes only to the children of God and only because they know they are the children of God. At their rebirth, they are at rest from the cares of this dreary world, and informed by a better promise of things to come. (See Alma 13: 29, and our earlier discussion about that verse; see Moroni 7: 3.)
Those who bring peace bring hope to this world. This world if filled with tribulation, but the Lord has overcome this world. (John 16: 33.)  Many have experienced this peace, become children of God, and then been persecuted, hated, reviled and killed. (Hebrews 11: 33-35.)
Peace is a gift from Christ, and His peace is for this world and for the world to come. (John 14: 27.) But the promise of triumph is hereafter, when the world can no longer make any claim upon a child of God.  (D&C 122: 4 and 135: 6-7.)
Though a man may declare peace, the world will not be at peace until the Lord slays the wicked. (Rev. 19: 11-16.) Peace, as all other sacred things in our day, must be internal. We live in a day of overwhelming ignorance, foolishness and wickedness. It is not possible to obtain peace except on the terms which allow it. If you live those, you will have peace. But the world will not live them with you.
Patrick Henry put the problem of peace in this world into immortal words: “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
The war remains today, but now it is against all righteousness. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6: 12.) Elder Packer cannot even preach a sermon to a congregation of Saints belonging to a church over which he holds office without the anger and vilification of the homosexual community and others being aroused. 
If you are to find peace, and to become a peacemaker here, then it is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The world will not know peace again until He returns. To be a child of God and know peace is, in our day, to cry repentance and to bring others to Christ.

3 Nephi 12: 8

3 Nephi 12: 8:

“And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
This is a remarkable promise. Would you like to see God? Then first purify your heart.
Notice this is not just ritual purity, which had been the focus of the Law of Moses. Christ is replacing earlier ritual based purity with internal purity. 

He speaks about the heart, rather than the hands and feet. Christ is speaking about beholding God, unlike the retreat Israel took from the offered opportunity at Sinai. (See D&C 84: 22-25.) He is returning to the time of Moses, when a higher way might have been chosen.

Purity of the heart is a borrowed benefit from the Savior. Man cannot become clean before God without the necessary offering of a sacrifice. The Law of Moses taught this, but Christ would actually bring it to pass. (See, e.g., Alma 34: 36.)
Christ’s atonement cleanses us. (Alma 13: 11; Ether 13: 10.)
When we repent we turn to Christ and listen to and follow Him. Until then, we are not even facing the right direction in life.  
Some reminders of how the heart may be purified:
-Let virtue constantly prevail in your thoughts. (D&C 121: 45.)
-Pray to the Father with a devoted heart. (Moroni 7: 48.)
-Repent and call upon God with a contrite spirit, asking the atonement to be applied to your sins. (Mosiah 4: 2.)
-Fast and pray often, that you may become humble. (Helaman 3: 35.)
-Follow what light you have to receive more light, until you have the “perfect day” in which you are a vessel of light. (D&C 50: 24; D&C 93: 28.)

It is also interesting that what must be “pure” is the “heart.” There are so many other things one might measure. But what the Lord looks upon to determine purity is the “heart.”

I’ve said that there is almost nothing about us that can become perfect in this life. The only thing that can approach perfection, however, is our intent. We can mean to follow God at all times. Even if the dilemmas of life make it impossible to actually do so, we can still intend to follow Him. We may not even know if what we are doing pleases Him, or how to resolve conflicting interests or commandments. We may even be making a mistake, but if our intent is right, our hearts may be pure.
This is also one of the reasons we cannot judge another. They may be weak, foolish and error prone, but if they intend to be doing the right then God alone can measure their heart and decide whether they are approved. It would take a God to know if the person’s life, training, understanding and intent are pure before Him. I suspect there are those we look upon as deluded and even evil but the Lord views them with compassion and understanding. He may find their hearts to be perfect even before the heart of the proud who claim they have and follow the truth. Though a person may misunderstand a great deal, still if they have love for their fellow man, relieve suffering where they can, give patience to the foolish and water to the thirsty, they may be perfect before God. (Luke 18: 9-14.)
There are so many illusions here. Some who are regarded as high and lifted up by God, temperate in their conduct, studying how they are seen by others before acting; are in fact wretched, miserable, poor and naked. (Rev. 3: 14-17.) I say with authority that there are some regarded as the very chiefest of the righteous among the Latter-day Saints who are before God wretched, miserable, poor and naked. They cannot survive even a glance from His all seeing eye. Yet they pretend they share in His vision, when they do not.

How few hearts are pure before God. How rare a thing it is to contemplate such a person. How few we produce in this restoration of the Gospel. We remain as a people too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending to be called of God. No wonder we stumble and fall backward and many are taken in snares. (Isa. 8: 11-17.)

3 Nephi 12: 7

3 Nephi 12: 7:

“And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

The standard applied to us is the standard we apply to others. This is repeatedly set out in scripture:

Alma teaching his son Corianton recorded: “Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.  For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all.” (Alma 41: 14-15.)

 
Moroni’s final discussion about the Gospel included these words: “And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.”  (Moroni 7: 18.) 
 
Peter asked a practical question about the extent of forgiving others. He wanted a mathematical limit to be set. The Lord, however, raised the limit beyond an ability to reasonably count: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18: 21-22.)

There are others. I’d commend the chapter on the Atonement in Come, Let Us Adore Him for a more complete explanation of this doctrine.
 
If you want mercy from the Lord, you must give it to your fellow man. If you do not show mercy to your fellow man, the Lord cannot provide it to you. There is a law which binds the Lord to the same standard you set for yourself. It is an irrevocable law. Therefore, the Lord teaches us to show mercy so that we might merit mercy. We are the final beneficiaries of all the mercy we show to others.
 
It really is true that “what you send out shall return unto you again,” to quote Alma. This is called “karma” in another faith. It is a true principle. Perhaps it operates within an larger time frame than just this life, but it operates, nonetheless. Alma knew the truth and was teaching it to his son.
 
It was Laban’s judgment of Nephi and his brothers that got him killed. I’ve discussed this in The Second Comforter. It was his decision that a robber was worthy of death (1 Nephi 3: 13) which sealed his fate. For when he became a robber (1 Nephi 3: 25), then the Lord was free to show him the same judgment he had rendered (1 Nephi 4: 11). Sometimes what you send out returns to you again in this life

3 Nephi 12: 6

“And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

This is not about hunger or poverty. This is about fasting and seeking after righteousness.

You qualify for this blessing by hungering “after righteousness.” You qualify by thirsting “after righteousness.” In other words, you receive the Holy Ghost in proportion to the hunger and thirst you display to receiving it.

Fasting is a promised means for increasing the Holy Ghost in your life. We read this about Alma when he served as High Priest over the church: “And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?  Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.  And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God.” (Alma 5: 45-47.)

Fasting and praying opens the Spirit. It allows you to know a matter through the power of the Holy Ghost. Again, we read this about the Sons of Mosiah who were completing their service as missionaries: “…Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.  But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” (Alma 17: 2-3) They not only searched the scriptures, but they also spent time praying and fasting, that they might show God their earnest commitment to know the truth. The result was the “spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation.” Or, in other words, they were filled with the Holy Ghost.

The Lord speaks in simple formulas. They work; when tried in sincerity, acting no hypocrisy, with real intent, they work. Half-hearted efforts are not so effective. But when a soul, any soul, hungers and thirsts after righteousness, they are filled with the Holy  Ghost.

This sometimes presents a problem for those who have medical conditions which prevent them from fasting. In The Second Comforter, I’ve suggested there are other ways to subordinate the desires of the flesh as a way to “hunger and thirst” while keeping medical needs satisfied. Reducing calories, or doing without some other thing as a form of “fasting” can be substituted. The decision would be between you and the Lord, but there are always ways provided for meeting what the Lord asks, including fasting by those who are medically unable. (1 Nephi 3: 7.)

This sermon is a blue-print of the Lord’s new charter for mankind. It is the new, higher way of living. It is intended to result in a new spiritual life for those willing to live it. Therefore you should not dismiss “hunger and thirst for righteousness” as something trivial. If you are among those who does not believe the Lord speaks with them, take these invitations from the Lord seriously. They are designed to reconnect you with God. They have the power to accomplish it.
Also, in the case of the Sons of Mosiah, there was actual “power” which came through this means. These missionaries could teach “with power and authority of God” because of their fasting, prayer and study of scripture.

3 Nephi 12: 5

3 Nephi 12: 5:
“And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

This earth abides by a Celestial Law. (D&C 88: 25.) Therefore, it is destined to become a Celestial Kingdom because it will be sanctified by a Celestial Law. (D&C 88: 25-29.) The destiny of the earth is glory. (D&C 84: 101.) Therefore, to “inherit the earth” is to inherit a Celestial Glory.

Since this is so, you need to understand the definition of “meekness.” Elder Hales made these remarks about “meekness” in General Conference: “To be meek, as defined in Webster’s dictionary, is ‘manifesting patience and longsuffering: enduring injury without resentment.‘ Meekness is not weakness. It is a badge of Christian courage.” (Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship, October 2008 General Conference, Elder Robert D. Hales.)

I’ve given another explanation in Beloved Enos. There I explained it is necessary to be meek first before being trusted with great power. The power to seal on earth and in heaven is something which cannot be handled apart from meekness. Without meekness a man cannot be trusted with such a power. When Enos used the power, he did so meekly. He asked rather than pronounced. He petitioned rather than decreed. Though the Lord would hearken to his words, he refrained from acting.

This is because the proper way to use such authority is only and strictly in conformity with the Lord’s will. The reason Nephi received the authority was because he was meek. The account of the conferral is also the account of his qualification: “Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people. Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people. And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done. And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done. And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.And now behold, I command you, that ye shall go and declare unto this people, that thus saith the Lord God, who is the Almighty: Except ye repent ye shall be smitten, even unto destruction.” (Helaman 10: 4-11.)

This is meekness. First, Nephi had conducted his life meekly. He did not fear others. He was not afraid to lose his standing, even his life. He kept God’s commandments to him above all else. He possessed an iron will, his face like flint, unwilling to waiver from what the Lord would have him say and do. He could not be tempted to betray the Lord’s will. Therefore, the Lord knew by the way Nephi lived his life that he would “not ask that which is contrary to [the Lord’s] will.” Never.

Therefore, when the Lord had tried him and determined he was willing to serve Him at all costs, he qualifies to receive trust from God. That trust allows the Lord to confer upon the man great power. (See also TPJS p. 150: “After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, is baptized for the remission of his sins, and receives the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness and living by every word of God. The Lord will soon say unto him, ‘Son, thou shalt be exalted.’ When the Lord has thoroughly proved him and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made  sure.”)

Meekness is required to qualify for great power. And you know a man is meek when, having great power, he uses it strictly in conformity with the Lord’s will; never varying from the Lord’s command, and never pursuing his own agenda. This kind of meekness is men is a rare thing. Nephi, after receiving that power, was instructed that he was to deliver the Lord’s message: “thus saith the Lord God, who is Almighty: Except ye repent ye shall be smitten, even unto destruction.” It is the Lord’s judgment. It is a meek man who delivers it. But such judgments only come after the Lord has a meek soul upon whom He can place this trust. For He has covenanted to always first employ such a servant before imposing judgments upon mankind. (Amos 3: 7.)

Therefore, when the Lord teaches the “meek shall inherit the earth” it is a statement which includes exaltation for the meek. It is one of the Lord’s deepest teachings, and most profound descriptions of those who will be exalted and why. 

3 Nephi 12: 4

3 Nephi 12: 4: 

“And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 

This is unconditional. “All” are included. “All they that mourn” will be blessed.

Between sessions of conference Saturday I attended a friend’s funeral. Mourning because of death is the first cause we associate with this promise. Over death, however, He has gained the victory. It was His mission and ministry to bring about victory over death. “And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death.” (Alma 7: 12.) This done now, though death continues to claim all of us. We know we will have part in His victory. Comfort from that victory will come to us all.

Death is not the only cause of mourning, however.  We all experience afflictions, troubles, temptations, and pains while mortal. He has gained the victory over all of these also: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.” (Alma 7: 11-13.)

Do you mourn because of afflictions? Temptations?  Pains? Sickness? Infirmities? The troubles of the flesh? Sins and transgressions? It does not matter the cause of your mourning, Christ has suffered all these things so that He may understand the troubles of the flesh and, by understanding them to overcome them all. By overcoming them all, He then in turn can share the victory.

Your failures are not going to be reason to punish you. If you repent, they will be lessons from which to learn. The guilt will be removed, you will be comforted, and the lessons will remain. Your mortal trials will confer upon you the taste of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Gen. 3: 17-19.)  You will have learned from what you suffer the difference between the two, and have the benefit of Christ’s atonement to remove all guilt. (2 Nephi 2: 26.)

All will be comforted from every offense they have ever suffered. All that remains will be the choices you have made. (Moroni 7: 16-17.) The offenses you suffered at the hands of others will be made up to you. All infirmities you have been plagued with while mortal will be removed. (Alma 40: 23.) Only your choices will remain as either a continuing blessing or continuing affliction. But that is your choice. (Alma 41: 13-14; Moroni 7: 18-19.)



Earth’s valuable lessons will remain with you, and inform you eternally with knowledge of good and evil. In this you will have become like God. (Gen. 3: 22.)  But the experiences you suffer, which are the means of learning good from evil, will all be removed. You will no longer “mourn” for anything. You will, however, remain accountable for your choices.

This is the perfectly balanced experience. Through it we learn and gain experience (Abr. 3: 25-26), but we are only burdened by what we voluntarily impose upon ourselves through our choices. (1 Nephi 15: 32-33.) The promised “comfort” against our mourning will be complete if we have chosen to follow Christ, and incomplete if we have chosen to reject Him. Because He can only remove all the burdens of nature and mortality imposed as a condition of life here, He cannot remove those voluntarily assumed by wrong choice while living here. (Mosiah 16: 8-13.)

The balance between necessary experience and accountability is maintained. Through Christ are all things made possible.

An Aside about Alma

In response to a question about re-baptism and power to perform the ordinance, I would add the following:
Alma was one of the priests of King Noah. In hindsight he knew what he did among them was wicked. (Mosiah 23: 9.) It was in the position as a priest in King Noah’s court that Alma received his priesthood authority. (Mosiah 11: 5.) Unlike his peers, Alma was converted by the message of Abinadi, and was moved to repentance. (Mosiah 17: 1-2.) When he repented, he received from God authority to proceed in using his priesthood. (Mosiah 18: 18.) The moment Alma’s authority was conferred came after he repented, preached righteousness, asked if others were willing to receive baptism, and proceeded to perform the ordinance. It was at that moment Alma received power through the Spirit. (Mosiah 18: 10-14.)

This pattern is in scripture for a reason. It is intended to be a guide for us as we ask questions such as: Although the priesthood has been conferred upon me, what must I do to obtain power? (D&C 121: 36-37.) It is almost always the case that the priesthood is merely “conferred,” and there is no power within it. Through repentance, the powers of heaven are accessed and the priesthood’s power becomes real. Alma is a prime example of this transition from powerless and error-filled pride into repentance and possession of the Spirit of God.

3 Nephi 12: 3

“Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The blessing referred to for those who are “poor in spirit” comes as a result of “coming unto” Christ. Any who come to Christ will receive “the kingdom of heaven.” However, to obtain it, you must “come unto [Christ].”

Christ is approachable. But the approach is determined by the Gospel. The earlier “doctrine of Christ” taught in Chapter 11 tells you how to “come unto Christ.”

Belief on His teachings, then repentance and baptism are all essential prerequisites to coming to Him.

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit?” Does that make you more open to Him? Have you ever had a season in which you felt “poor in spirit?” Were you more open to Him as a result?

Before I converted, though I did not consider myself a candidate to convert, I also felt a hollowness in life. There was something missing. The void inside us was meant to be there. Filling it was always the responsibility of the Gospel. We were all meant to feel “poor in spirit” until we find truth. Then, upon finding truth, we were meant to “come unto Christ” so the void may be filled. Coming to Christ is the return to life and light. It is the journey back to that light from where we originated.

Converting was more of a homecoming than anything else. The Gospel rings true and His sheep hear His voice (John 10: 27) because these are things we long ago accepted and decided to follow (Abr. 3: 26-27).  Each of us needs to be converted. Even if you were raised in the church, you still need to convert. The steps Christ is outlining are the ones each of us are expected to follow. Whether you do so as an adult, or did so earlier in life, we are all required to “come unto Christ” and be converted.

We are not meant to remain “poor in spirit” but to “come to Christ” and move beyond that. Moving beyond it we find ourselves joyfully informed that “ours is the kingdom of heaven.” We cannot claim it for ourselves. But Christ can claim it for us. This is how our poverty of spirit is to be cured. The Lord juxtaposes poverty with the riches of heaven itself. The contrast is designed to make us think, and to make us grateful. We were always intended to have joy. Above all else, Christ is a Deliverer from sorrow. (Rev. 7: 17.)

3 Nephi 12: 2

 
“And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.” 
 
Some people are given knowledge. (D&C 46: 13.)  This would include the Prophet Joseph Smith. Others believe on their words and trust in Christ through what they have learned from witnesses of Him. (D&C 46: 14.) This would include President Thomas S. Monson, who in last General Conference testified he has no question about the testimonies of those who have seen Him. As President Monson testified: “I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those who experienced the grief of Christ’s Crucifixion and the joy of His Resurrection. I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those in the New World who were visited by the same risen Lord. I believe the testimony of one who, in this dispensation, spoke with the Father and the Son in a grove now called sacred and who gave his life, sealing that testimony with his blood. Declared he: ‘And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.’ The darkness of death can always be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. ‘I am the resurrection, and the life,’ spoke the Master.Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.’ Over the years I have heard and read testimonies too numerous to count, shared with me by individuals who testify of the reality of the Resurrection and who have received, in their hours of greatest need, the peace and comfort promised by the Savior.” (He is Risen!, Sunday Morning Session, April, 2010 Session; footnotes omitted.)
 
Why would someone be “more blessed” because they “believe in the words” of those who have “seen Christ” than those who have seen Him? What is it about believing on the words of those who have seen which is “more blessed” than the ones who see Him?
 
Notice once again the connection between having seen the Lord and “ye know that I am.” Notice the use of “I am” in the statement of the Lord about Himself.
 
Now note too how the “believing in the words” is not enough, because He adds action to the belief. That is, those who “believe in your words” are required then to “come down into the depths of humility and be baptized” for the “blessing” to have any effect. It is not enough for someone to be moved to believe when they hear a witness of Christ, they must also respond to His invitation to be baptized. Before being baptized they need also to “come down into the depths of humility.” The intention and inner meaning are everything. But the outward act confirms the inner change which takes place.
 
Action is married to belief and intent. Both are necessary.
 
When it is done in faith, sincerity, complying with the steps the Lord has prescribed, He promises to visit the obedient “with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” This is how a person will know they have received “a remission of their sins.”
 
The instructions of the Lord are intended to change lives. Change is repentance. And repentance leads to redemption. He expects our behavior to mirror our beliefs, because if behavior does not model our professed beliefs then we are hypocrites – not converts.

This is why commandments are given to us. They tell us how we can continue to receive and renew a continuing conversion to Christ’s way of life.  Commandments are not a burden to bear but a roadmap to follow. They are not a measuring stick to judge and then abuse others. It is a light for us to follow.

These explanations by Christ are beyond the question of “faith verses works” because Christ is telling us we act from our heart in faith, receive ordinances because of our faith, then have our hearts filled again. We proceed from grace to grace. This is how Christ received the fullness, and the only way we may receive the fullness. (D&C 93: 12-14, 19-29.)

 
The task of knowing God always begins by trusting on the words of those who have seen Him. But it should never end there. Everyone is invited to lay aside their sins, call upon God in faith, obey His commandments, listen to the voice of inspiration and do as you are told, thereby coming to see Him face-to-face. (D&C 93: 1.) This is the reason for the book The Second Comforter. It is a manual for how any person can come back into the presence of the Lord and join those witnesses who can testify they have seen Him.
 
He lives. And He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

3 Nephi 12: 1

 
“And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.”
 
Nephi and the other twelve heard and recorded the words we’ve been reviewing in Chapter 11. But here Christ makes certain all others who were present also knew the same doctrine. Notice the following:
 
“He stretched forth His hand.” What does that mean? Why is it noted in the record? Why would the fact that He stretched forth His hand be significant enough to etch into metal plates? 
 
Why does it say Christ “cried unto them?” How loud would He need to make His voice before it would be considered “crying” out to the audience? This suggests that what was covered in Chapter 11 was not loud enough for all those present to hear. But what follows He wants everyone to hear.
 
The Sermon at Bountiful begins with a new beatitude. “Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you.” A commenter recently suggested this means that any person ever called to any council of twelve is entitled to the same kind of status. Is that correct? Does membership in a group entitle someone to respect? Would receiving power directly from Christ entitle a person to respect? What if someone were to receive power from Christ, but not be included in some presiding group? For example, John the Baptist received power from an angel to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews at eight days old. He was never among a presiding group. (D&C 84: 28.) Paul was given power directly from heaven, calling himself “born out of due time” because he became a witness after Christ’s resurrection and was not among the leadership when first visited. (1 Cor. 15: 8-10.) Which does this apply to: those called to preside, or those called directly by the Lord (as the scriptures testify is sometimes the case)? Or does it only apply to the twelve disciples the Lord was referring to standing before the crowd on that day? Is limiting it to that narrow an application appropriate? Is expanding it to include anyone ever called to preside too broad an application? How are you to decide that question?
 
Is it appropriate for Christ to couple “minister to you” with “and to be your servants?” Can a “servant” exercise authority over you as the gentiles do? (Luke 22: 25-26.) Why not?
 
When Christ says these people have “power to baptize you” and then promises that He, Christ, “will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost” does this promise mean that Christ will send the Holy Ghost if you are baptized by one having power from Him? Always? If it hasn’t happened, does that mean the one who baptized you did not have this “power?” Why or why not? What is the relationship between the power to baptize, and the promise of the Holy Ghost? What role does your own repentance have to play? Christ has previously given the order of things, and included repentance first.
 
What does the statement mean: “blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.” How likely would it be for you to “believe in [Christ] after that ye have seen [Him]?” Do you suspect any of those who were present would not believe in Him? Why?
 
Would you expect those present to believe in Him after seeing Him descend from heaven, hear the voice of the Father testify of Him, see His wounds, witness Him healing all their sick, and beholding angels minister in tongues of fire to their young children? Would you be able to do so? What about reading the record of the events in the Book of Mormon; is that enough to testify of Him? Can you ask in prayer if these things about Christ are true and get a testimony of them for yourself? Have you done so? Have you acquired belief in Him as a result of praying to know if they are true? Can you then believe in Him? Are you “blessed” for it? Do you “know that He is?” What more do you need to do in order to “know that He is?” Why haven’t you done that yet?

3 Nephi 11: 41

“Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.”
This is the charge given by Christ to the twelve whom He had called and given power to baptize. It was overheard by those who had been witnessing these events. But the charge is to the twelve.
The obligation to declare the doctrine of Christ, preach repentance, baptize with authority and make known the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is imposed upon the twelve. This burden, therefore, rests on them and is theirs to bear off “unto this people.” They are to warn everybody of these obligations. Not just those who were there.
The extent of the duty runs “unto the ends of the earth.” From where they were at the time Christ was preaching, to the entire North and South American continents and all those who may be living there at the time were the assigned mission field to whom the doctrine of Christ was to be declared.

The break between this portion of Christ’s teachings and what would follow is interesting to consider. The remainder of His teachings will form the primary message foundational to Christianity. It is the new, higher law which replaces the earlier Law of Moses. Yet this portion, declared by Christ as His “doctrine” is the part to be taken first and declared everywhere. Why?

A fair conclusion to reach is that before you consider the new, higher law you must first:
-Repent
-Be Baptized
-Receive the Holy Ghost
-Have a correct understanding of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Ghost
These things precede His replacement of the older, lower law with His new, higher law. It is reasonable to conclude you will not comprehend His follow-on teachings if you have not first repented, been baptized, received the Holy Ghost, and understand the Godhead. Or, even more to the point: You will never be able to LIVE His new, higher law unless these steps are taken first. Until then you may aspire, but you will not be able to live them. They address the heart, rather than just conduct. They go to the deepest convictions inside you, what motivates you, and the reasons for your conduct. Your conduct will follow these precepts when you have been changed.  For the required change, the tools discussed first must be acquired.   

He will return to the themes of this opening statement, declaring nothing more or less than what He has taught should be given as His. (See 3 Nephi 18: 12-13.)
So we turn from this introductory, first statement of His doctrine to His great foundational Sermon at Bountiful in which the higher law is first given in one, complete statement of what we are to become. It is not merely direction to us. It is also a revelation of what kind of person Christ was. He explains it Himself…

3 Nephi 11: 40

 
“And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.”
 
Here is Christ’s explanation of why we must focus on these doctrines to be saved. I’ve heard more words of caution about speaking “more” than I’ve ever heard cautioning about “less.” Both are a problem. It is more fashionable today to speak less about Christ’s doctrine, or to circumscribe it into so narrow a meaning as to render it powerless in effect.
 
First, as to “more.” When we “declare more” we are getting ahead of the process. We aren’t to worship the “hosts of heaven,” nor a heavenly mother. Despite all we may know about Her, that knowledge won’t save. Other personages or ministers cannot save either. Gabriel will not. Enoch will not. Michael will not. Only the Son will save; and the Father will bear testimony of Him. Interesting stories about individual spiritual encounters or experiences will not save. They are evidence that heaven is still attending to us, but the details are for the individual. The experiences that will save have already been recorded in scripture for our general instruction. Outside of scripture those individual experiences are only useful to the extent they shed light upon scriptural accounts. If a person can help you understand Daniel’s visionary encounters by what they have been shown, then their personal experiences are not as important as the light they may shed upon Daniel’s prophecy. Similarly what I’ve written is helpful only to understand scripture, and not otherwise. Even the account of Gethsemane is anchored in scripture and useful only to the extent it sheds light upon what has been given to us in the New Testament Gospels, Nephi’s prophecy, Alma’s testimony and D&C 19. I do think my account goes further to explain what occurred than any other writing which has come to my attention. Nevertheless the scriptures are needed as the primary tool for understanding our Lord’s atonement. So the definition of “more” would include such things that supplant scripture or suggest anything is more important than the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; but things as may shed additional light on the meaning of scripture. 
 
Interestingly enough, when we “declare less” we are also condemned.  It works both ways. It’s a two-edged sword. Not “more nor less” is permitted. We sometimes greet preaching “less” with applause, because we want less. But that is no better than missing the mark while preaching “more.” Perhaps it is worse, because it represents a rejection of truth. It is active suppression of what needs to be proclaimed.
 
All of us must be concerned about declaring less. Deleting or omitting is as serious a matter as adding. Either will allow the gates of hell to prevail.
 
When you adopt creedal Historic Christianity and amalgamate the Father, Son and Holy Ghost into a single cosmic siamese-triplet construct, you are declaring them as less. The disembodiment of God the Father was a lie to supplant and replace Him by another disembodied pretender claiming to be the god of this world.

Christ’s teaching here is preliminary to the Sermon that follows. In the coming Sermon we will read a better preserved version of the Sermon on the Mount from Jerusalem, called here the Sermon at Bountiful. But this explanation of doctrine is given by Christ first. The foundation of doctrine of the oneness of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the conferral of power to baptize, and manner of baptism come before the great Sermon. First we receive the instruction to avoid disputes. These disputes lead to contention that lays the foundation for anger between men. This doctrine is so foundational that Christ covers it before any other teaching. Therefore, you should realize its importance.

We will be captured by hell if we do not understand and follow these teachings. Though they are Christ’s very first instructions, we almost never discuss them. You may want to re-read these verses again, and realize their fundamental importance.

Christ is saying it is “evil” to do more or less with His doctrine. It surely is, for ignoring, altering, omitting or enlarging leads to evil.

3 Nephi 11: 39

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”
This is the reason for this doctrine. It will allow those who accept and follow it to endure against all enemies. It will allow them to prevail.
Even the “gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” Meaning that death and hell can have no claim upon them. They will not be taken captive either in this world (Alma 12: 11) or when they leave this world (Alma 40: 13.)

When we consider the Father is to bear record of the Son, and the Son bears record of the Father, and the Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and Son, then we realize this doctrine of Christ is designed to put us in contact with all three members of the Godhead. We are to join them. We are to be one with them.

There is no separating us from God when we have the record of each given to us.

It is interesting that the “rock” upon which we build is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. There is abundant evidence of other “gods” and of “goddesses.” It is beyond dispute that the “image of God” includes both “male and female.” (Gen. 1: 27; Moses 2: 27; Abraham 4: 27.) It is inescapable, therefore, that the God we worship includes a Father and a Mother. However, we are only to seek after the Father, Son and Holy Ghost as the “rock” upon which our salvation is to be built.

Oddly enough, mankind prefers a female deity over a male deity.  Catholicism has reconciled this preference by the doctrine of Immaculate Conception and the cultic veneration of Mary. Pope John Paul II was an ardent believer in the Cult of Mary and made no secret of that veneration. It is almost beyond dispute that Mary’s status is preferred over Christ’s in the lives of the common Catholic.

In the Old Testament, the goddess Ashtoreth, (in her various iterations) was a leading figure in apostasies of ancient Israel. She was the female consort to Baal (who also had various spellings). The Egyptian counterpart being Hathor, whose image appears in figure 5 of Facsimile No. 2 in the Book of Abraham. The representation there being Egyptian, that is, emerging through the great cycle of life, afterlife and resurrection coming through the womb. An understanding of which Hugh Nibley was setting forth in One Eternal Round. This work was reduced in volume by half before publication. This resulted in problems with the published text. That, however, is another subject not relevant here.

Notwithstanding man’s preference for the female god, for salvation we must anchor ourselves to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. They are the “rock” upon which we must build to avoid the gates of hell, despite our knowledge of heaven, salvation and the necessary unity of the sexes before salvation is obtained. (1 Cor. 11: 11.) It is through the union of the sexes that mortals imitate immortality, for all of us will die. Yet if joined together we will continue through the seed forever, as the gods.  (D&C 132: 20-22.)

There is also the continuing trouble about polygamy which so often afflicted the discussions on this blog before comments were discontinued. Those who preach on the subject often speak out of the coarseness of ambition and insecurity (for those always go together), and without understanding how a marriage must work to warrant preservation beyond this life.

Ask yourself what kind of a relationship would be godlike? What association between a man and a woman would be something the heavens would want to preserve and continue? Is an ambitious man who looks upon a woman as someone to rule over worthy of heavenly preservation? Is such a man worthy of one wife, let alone several?

Wouldn’t you expect the relationship between a man and woman worthy of eternal preservation to evidence such things as equality, respect, kindness, joyful and voluntary interchange of thoughts, and to be grounded in love? Wouldn’t you expect such a marriage to be part of heaven, though the parties live as mortals on the earth? Why would you expect a form of marriage, having as its chief output, unhappy but frequently pregnant women, having an absentee husband to be godlike?

Have you read the tenth parable? If you have and still think you need a “brood” of women to become godlike, then you haven’t understood the tenth parable.

Foolishness never was enlightenment. Ambition is unbecoming in a candidate for exaltation. We will keep going into Christ’s sermons to the Nephites and, as we do, you will find He emphasizes how to become like Him through service and abasing yourself. By sacrifice and devotion to the best interests of others. Not by compulsion, dominion and ruling over others. 

If you want to prevail against the gates of hell, then Christ’s simple doctrines need to become yours. They need to be how you live and what you do. They are the only rock upon which you can build and have something which will endure the buffetings of hell itself.

If a man hasn’t made a single woman happy, why would he be trusted to have more wives? Why would he want them? What does such a man think the purpose of marriage to be? Gratification? Industrial baby-production? What’s the reason? If happiness is the end of our design by God, then wouldn’t you need to find someone who can live in peace and happiness with another person as their husband as the first step? If that is true, then why isn’t that challenge enough in a marriage between one man and one woman? Until that has been conquered, why should misery be multiplied by adding additional spouses into a failed interpersonal relationship?

Too many people are advocating too many alternatives which distract from the simplicity of what is really needed. There aren’t enough marriages worthy of preservation. Make yours one of them. That is a very good work and challenge enough for all of us at present. 

Onward, then…

3 Nephi 11: 37-38

“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.”
Repentance is not likely unless a person is willing to undergo a change to become more “childlike” in perspective and attitude. I’ve written a chapter on this in The Second Comforter. I used that as the basis for my comments at the recent Chiasmus Conference. It is more than just an analogy or good advice. It is a prerequisite. It is the only way you can “inherit the kingdom of God.”
Children are open to change and willing to learn. They welcome new ideas for all ideas are new to them. The world is new to them. They feel their ignorance and are anxious to fill it with information and understanding. They know they are unable to cope with the world they live in unless they obtain more understanding than they have. So they relentlessly search to know more.
On the other hand, adults are generally closed. They believe they already know something, and therefore are unwilling to receive more. (2 Nephi 28: 29.)
Adults learn disciplines of study and then think the Gospel should be viewed by the tools of the scholar. To the economist, all of the Gospel appears to be financial. To the philosopher, all of the Gospel appears to be dialectic. To the lawyer it is a legal system. But the Gospel is separate from the understanding of men. It requires us to surrender our arrogance and foolishness and come as a child to learn anew everything about life and truth. This is why the Gospel always begins with creation, informs of the Fall, and preaches the Atonement.
We must “repent” because the foundation of accepting new truth begins with the realization that we’re not getting anywhere by what we’ve already done. We need to abandon old ways and begin anew. Until we are open to the new truths offered through the Gospel, we can’t even start the journey. We’re headed in the wrong direction and don’t even know it. First we need to realize our direction is wrong. Then stop going that way. When we turn to the new direction, we’ve begun repenting. (2 Cor. 5: 17.)
From repentance comes light and truth. At first, just turning to face the new direction is a great revelation. But you’ve not seen anything until you walk in that direction for a while. As you move toward the light and receive more, the world itself changes meaning and nothing you used to think important remains important. (Isa. 65: 17.)
Becoming as a little child, or repenting, must precede baptism if you are to be saved. Otherwise, you cannot “receive these things” or, in other words, you cannot accept the new truths and perspectives the Gospel will require you to know and accept. Unless these steps are taken you cannot “inherit the kingdom of God” because only such people will be able to enter.

Teachable. Open. Willing to receive more. Able to endure difficulties as a result of the changes which come to them. Patient. Submissive to God.  And eager to learn more. (Mosiah 3: 19.)

Not arrogant. Not trying to fit the new truths into your existing framework of false notions. (Mark 2: 22.) Not resisting truth and arguing against it. (1 Tim. 6: 4-6.) Not proud or boastful, secure in your own salvation. (Luke 18: 11.) Not holding a testimony that you will be saved while others around you will be lost because they do not believe as you do. (Alma 31: 14-18.)
How few there will be who find it. (Matt. 7: 14; 3 Ne. 14: 14; 3 Ne. 27: 33; D&C 132: 22.) Most people are simply unwilling to repent.  They have such truth as they are willing to receive already, and want nothing more. (2 Nephi 28: 14-15.)
Even Christ is unable to persuade them to accept His Gospel.