How unkind would it be to fail to warn people of this risk they face? How unkind would it be to allow them to proceed into the afterlife unprepared, uncleansed, and unredeemed? Which would be better, to stay silent while the idolatry of the Latter-day Saints robs them of redemption, or to speak up and warn? Men and institutions will never redeem a man. Idolizing an institution will damn every participant. Idolizing men will damn those false religionists. In the Latter-day Saint community we have two groups: Those who are humble and follow Christ, but who are taught by the precepts of men and err. (2 Nephi 28: 14.) And the rest are those who follow men and worship the institution and proclaim “All is well” with their faith. For the first group there is hope, so long as they are able to find the truth. (D&C 123: 12.) For the rest, they will become heirs of this prophecy of Nephi’s, all the while assuring one another that the odds are they are going to be exalted.
I’ve referred to these verses before. When Elder Mark E. Peterson claimed the Lord would not visit with “gentiles” but only with the house of Israel relying upon 3 Nephi 15: 23, it was my view that the 3rd Nephi statement of Christ was as to His immediate post-resurrection appearances to the various scattered lost tribes. He had no commission from the Father to appear to the gentiles in that time frame. These verses are about a different, much later time. These are speaking of the time when the Book of Mormon (record of the Nephties) would come into the possession of the gentiles. The gentiles will, if they hearken to the “Lamb of God IN THAT DAY,” have the Lamb manifest Himself to them. Today is THAT DAY. It is now when the gentiles are promised He will manifest Himself to us, in “word” and in “power” and “in very deed.”
What does it mean to stumble? What is a “stumbling block?” What kinds of things would impede you from walking back to the presence of God? How will Christ’s ministry in “word, power and deed” to gentiles remove these things?
This was the priesthood that was bestowed upon Joseph Smith, as a result of which he received the promises of Abraham. While looking for references to Abraham throughout Section 132 is interesting, I’ll just take an excerpt. [PLEASE forget about plural wives while you read this. Think only about Patriarchal Priesthood and the authority which was with Abraham and renewed in Joseph. It is that issue that I want to focus, and not to become side-tracked on plural marriage. At some point I’ll spend a few weeks on that side issue. NOT NOW.] So here is Section 132: 28-32:
Christ showed Himself to the Jews during His mortal ministry.
He showed Himself to the Nephites after His resurrection.
He visited others, who have also kept records of His appearances to them. The full extent of the records that have been kept has not become apparent to us yet. Nephi would report in the final summation of his lifelong ministry the following about the many records to come forth:
“Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews. And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.” (2 Nephi 29: 10-14.)
The “lost tribes of Israel” are plural. However many the number may be, each kept records and they are to come into our possession at some point in fulfillment of this prophetic promise.
All of this was foreseen by Zenos even before Isaiah. Zenos tells us the lost tribes of Israel will be spread all about, into the “nethermost” parts of the earth: “And these will I place in the nethermost part of my vineyard, whithersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also, that I may lay up fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard went his way, and hid the natural branches of the tame olive-tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard, some in one and some in another, according to his will and pleasure.” (Jacob 5: 13-14.)
Where is “nethermost?” How many were there?
When Christ informed the Nephites of His post-resurrection ministry, He informed them He would be visiting the various Israelite people: “But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them.” (3 Nephi 17: 4.) He visited the Nephites. They were an organized body, led by prophets, expecting His birth and death. There were other organized believers who also looked for His coming. What their prophets told them, and how they understood His ministry will be in their records. What He taught them when He visited with them after His resurrection will also be in their records. It is likely to mirror the Nephite experience and record. However, it is undoubtedly true that we will again learn how involved a Redeemer He has been. Should we already realize that from what we’ve been given? We ought to welcome His direct ministry among us. Somehow we find His intimate involvement hard to comprehend. We think, if someone should acknowledge they have seen Him, that such a person is somehow special, different, or unique. It ought to be commonplace.
In the unfolding ministry of the Lord, the Jews were the first, but will be the last, to receive again His ministry. The gentiles have been given the Gospel. The remnant will be receiving it from them – soon.
One other thought: I think there are a number of you that are really seeing the Book of Mormon in its true light. That is joyful for me. Such a treasure; so unused; so little understood. To have it become treasured by some of you for the first time is truly a delight for me. Thank you.
Will they actually “bring again Zion” or is that the Lord’s doing? Unless the Lord determines to “bring again Zion” will men be able to accomplish it? Even if they are quite sincere and determined? What, then, must precede Zion’s return?
What does it mean to “publish tidings of great joy?”
Tuesday I went to the Salt Lake Temple early with a missionary who reported to the MTC on Wednesday. I teach him in priest quorum. I wanted to make sure before his departure that the “endowment” he received would include some details of what the Mountain of the Lord’s House was intended to confer. Young men are still teachable. I’d really like to move to the Primary, however. Primary kids, despite their energy, have open hearts and they are willing to receive.
By the time we get LDS adults to teach there is just too much idolatry to deal with….