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3 Nephi 16: 9

3 Nephi 16: 9


“And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them—”
Notice once again the Lord’s motivation for speaking these words: The Father’s “mercies” and the Father’s “judgments” are what drives the coming events in history. The Father is in control and Christ does not question or gainsay the results. The Father’s mercy is not questioned by Christ, nor is there any degree of shame shown for the terrible circumstances which follow from His “mercies.” Nor does Christ hesitate to announce the Father’s “judgments” despite the anxiety which some may feel at hearing the future.
Truth should be delivered in a forthright and plain manner, whether the result is fearful or vindicating; whether you take joy in the news or you cower at what is to come.
Notice, however, that when the Father’s judgment has been given, then the Lord assumes personal responsibility for the punishment to be inflicted. He does not say it is the Father’s punishment. It is His own. Christ will personally be the one who “caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten.” Christ will personally “afflict” and “slay” the people. The Father decides, Christ fulfills. He seeks no cover, looks to no-one else to be held to account, He does as His Father judges.
Why would Christ assume responsibility to “smite” to “afflict” and to “slay” when it is the Father’s judgment?
What does this tell us about Christ’s acceptance of the Father’s decisions?
Is (or has) there been some good result from those whom Christ calls “my people” (i.e., His people) being smitten, afflicted, slain, and cast out by the Gentiles? If so, what good has come to the Lord’s people?  How can these things that have lasted now for over two hundred years have been beneficial to the Lord’s people?  What can we learn about the Lord calling afflicted, smitten and outcast people as “His people” despite their centuries of subordination?
What does the Gentile “hatred” of the Lord’s people do to diminish the Lord’s plans for them? What does casting them out and making them a “hiss and a byword” by the Gentiles do to remove the Lord’s promised blessing and covenant to “His people?”
What foolish pride allows the Gentiles to measure the Lord’s people as stricken, smitten of God and afflicted?  (Isa. 53: 4.)
Why would the Gentiles be put in this position? Why would Israel? What does it do to the Gentiles’ ability to see through the deception of their time into truth which is timeless?  (D&C 93: 24.)
How should the Gentiles view their momentary triumph and unchallenged possession of the land promised to others?
Why are those smitten and afflicted called by the Lord “my people” and the Gentiles referred to as “Gentiles?”
Is the irony of this beginning to dawn on you?  Maybe you should re-read the title page of the Book of Mormon.

3 Nephi 16: 8

3 Nephi 16: 8:

“But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;”
 
So now the time frame is the latter day when the Gentiles have been given this restoration of the fullness. This comment moves forward from the reasons of the restoration to the Gentiles (earlier faithfulness) to the time when the Gentiles have received the fullness.
 
To make the time frame abundantly clear to both the Nephites and to us, the Lord explains in passing that the Gentiles will come to “this land.” The full description of them coming is set out in the earlier prophecy of Nephi as set out at length in First Nephi.  (1 Nephi 13 & 14.)  But here Christ reminds the audience that when the Gentiles come, they will “scatter my people who are of the house of Israel.”
 
Gentiles certainly did come. They did scatter the remnants who were on the American continent. Not only did they scatter them, but they also “cast out” and “trodden down” those populations who were here when the Gentiles arrived. Smallpox wiped out the Great Plains Indians. There were an estimated 20 million plus Plains Indians when Columbus arrived. Smallpox all but annihilated them.  So few survived that by the time of the western push of the United States, it was believed the Great Plains had never been populated.

To say they were “trodden underfoot” is descriptive. The native populations were destroyed. They were conquered. They died.  Their remains returned to the earth upon which the Gentiles trod.

You must keep this image in mind as you read about the future of the Gentiles being trodden underfoot. We will get to that later in this same prophecy by Christ. 

 
“Wo” is pronounced upon those Gentiles who are ‘unbelieving’ toward the Gospel. This is confirmed again in Section 76, describing those who are Telestial. They are religious, and follow even true messengers. However, they follow, believe in, trust and hope for salvation from the messenger, but fail to have faith, believe in, trust and receive salvation through Christ. They even claim to follow Christ. But they fall short of having a saving testimony of Him. It warns:  “And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world; For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas. These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch; But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.”  (D&C 76: 98-101.)
 
There is a great gulf between those who claim they follow Christ and those who receive the “testimony of Jesus.” There is a difference between claiming to follow a recognized authority such as Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Moses, Elias, Esaias, Isaiah, John or Enoch on the one hand and “receiving the prophets” on the other.
 
How easy it is to quote a dead prophet. How unlikely it always is to  recognize a living one.

What is meant then by saying “they are of Christ” on the one hand, and saying, “receive not the Gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus?” on the other.  How do you reconcile these two things?  One damns to the Telestial Kingdom, the other exalts.

 
How perilous it is for the latter day Gentiles!

3 Nephi 16: 7

“Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them.”
 
This is a teaching from the first day of Christ’s visit with the Nephites. It is a quote from Christ.
 
The time frame in which the Gentiles were to have “belief in [Christ,]” and merit a special blessing as a result, was the time immediately following the Judean ministry. The Gospel would be taken to the Gentiles and they would believe. The Jews were going to reject Him and oppose His faith, the Gentiles would welcome it and have belief.
 
Now the words Christ spoke and Nephi’s record preserved were from “the Father.”  Christ’s explanation of these prophecies originate with His Father.
 
Gentiles will believe. Moreover, the “house of Israel” will not believe in Him. The result of that acceptance and rejection is the juxtaposition of the roles of Gentiles and Israel.
 
Whereas, the Gospel came to the Jews first, and by the Jews it was transmitted to the Gentiles, later the opposite will occur. The pattern will reverse. It will go from the last back to the first.  (It is an historic chiasm.)
 
Accordingly, the Gentiles will be the ones to whom the restoration of the “fullness” will come in the latter day. The reward for earlier faithfulness is later recognition and reward.
 
Now, it should take no amount of brilliant insight to realize that the restoration involved Joseph Smith. A man of English descent. May have some Israelite blood in him from the earlier disaporia of the Lost Ten Tribes, but he is nevertheless the one through whom the restoration was brought. He is necessarily identified as a “Gentile” in this prophecy by Christ, given by the Father. If Joseph Smith is NOT a Gentile, then the whole promise of the Father and word of the Son is defeated. Therefore, you may know for a surety that the Gentiles are not those nasty non-members. It is US. WE are the Gentiles who receive the first offer in the last offering.
 
So it was that the Father determined and Christ taught that the Gentiles would be the ones to whom the Gospel message would first come in our day. Now we have it. (Or had it anyway.)
This movement from Israel to Gentile and from Gentile to Israel is evening the playing field. This is balancing out the record of history.  It is not that one is more favored than another. Rather it is that each one will have a suitable turn and opportunity to receive what the Lord offers. In the end, no people will be able to say the opportunities were unfair, unequal, or more challenging for one than for another. [I leave it to you to determine why that is so when lives come and go across generations and one dispensation may include different people than another.  It raises the question as to how certain we should be about some of our premises. That, however, is too far afield at the moment. And it may not matter anyway. Today is the day of salvation, not yesterday or tomorrow.  So we should confine ourselves to solving the problem we face at the moment.]
 
The promise is that the “fullness of these things” will come to the Gentiles. What things? What does it mean that the “fullness” will be coming to the Gentiles?  Have the Gentiles in fact received it?

If we received it, what have we done with it? Do we still have it? If not, how do I know that? What will happen if we have not retained that fullness?

 
Fortunately for us, Christ will answer all those questions as He moves along in the message He delivers here.

The talk

“A talk about the first three words spoken by the players in the Endowment”

This is the talk.  This is the talk referring to the King Follett Discourse and this is the talk discussing the pre-existence. If you have received this then you are good to go. If not, be patient – you will. Now go forth and read – and discuss.

CM

On to 3 Nephi

To put Alma’s teachings into a larger perspective you need to understand the pre-earth life. The “picture” you have in your head about that is quite skewed. I’ve tried to unravel it and reconstruct the correct picture in a 42 page long paper. Because of it’s length, it is not appropriate to post it here. However, I am willing to let readers have a copy. It is copyrighted to prevent it from being changed and then attributed to me in an altered form. I am willing to be accountable for every word I speak, write or even think. I am not, however, willing to be accountable for what you think I said, think I wrote, or interpret on your own. Therefore it is copyrighted to prevent an alteration from becoming attributed to me.
 
If you want a copy, send a comment with a return email address to any post on the blog and you’ll get a return email with the attachment. If, after you have read the paper, you want to comment, then the comments should be put on this blog entry.
 
The pre-earth life did not just consist of spirits who were born to a single set of heavenly parents, living happily before coming here, followed by a rebellion led by an older brother. It was far more complex than that. There were those who had exalted themselves before they were born. The definition of exaltation is given in D&C 132.  Joseph Smith had the definition of exaltation, as well as the Book of Abraham, when he made the remark. He knew that to be exalted required they be sealed in a marriage.
 
There were those who were “exalted” and who are called “Gods” in Abraham 4. The wording of the scripture is set out in detail and explained in detail in the paper you can get if you ask. You read that to finish off the missing pre-earth gap in Alma’s teaching.
 
The word “Elohim” is plural. It is plural for reasons explained in the paper.

As I have said in a comment on the Alma 13 materials, I do not think that deep doctrine is what is covered in the caution to not “cast pearls before swine.” I think that comment is reserved only to ordinances. Those are to be kept from being profaned. Deep doctrine is meant to be preached, proclaimed and understood.  Without it, men’s souls are not saved.  And by “men’s souls” I mean mankind, men and women.  All must hear the fullness and be offered it in order to make this life meaningful and fulfill its purpose.  When the doctrine is ignored or suppressed, then those who had a responsibility to proclaim it will be damned for their refusal to sound the alarm.

 
Generally the gentiles are expected in the prophecies to reject the fullness of the Gospel and walk away from it. Therefore, as a gentile, you should be concerned that you do not.
 
Because we need to understand our precarious and limited opportunity as gentiles, I am going to move to Christ’s words in 3 Nephi Chapter 16, beginning at verse 7. That will be the next series of posts.

Alma 13: 31

Alma 13: 31

“And Alma spake many more words unto the people, which are not written in this book.” 

This is often the case. John’s Gospel ended with this observation:  

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”  (John 21: 25.) Records are incomplete. We do not have the full account of Christ’s acts and words. We don’t have Alma’s either.

Mormon was the editor of this portion of the Book of Mormon.  He was the one who determined to omit portions what Alma said to these people on this occasion. From what Mormon left for us to read, his intent is clear. He wanted us to understand the bigger picture of God’s dealings with man, man’s possession of priestly power, and the importance of repentance and defeating religious error. Mormon had seen us, and included specific warnings addressed to us, the Gentiles.  He cautioned us about the Book of Mormon as follows: 

“And then, O ye Gentiles, how can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways? Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll?  Therefore, repent ye, and humble yourselves before him, lest he shall come out in justice against you—lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among you as a lion, and tear you in pieces, and there is none to deliver.”  (Mormon 5: 22-24.)

Mormon knew the book would initially be in the hands of the Gentiles. So you can know we are identified as “Gentiles” in the Book of Mormon. Also, Joseph Smith declared in the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple that we are identified with the Gentiles.  (D&C 109: 59-60.)  Although Brigham Young and President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that Joseph was a “pure blooded Ephramite.” (Doc. Sal. Vol 3: 253-54.)

The selected materials that Mormon gave to us were targeted to the purpose of the Book of Mormon. The title page (written by Moroni) tells us the purpose: “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile.” 

Gentiles would receive, translate and disseminate the Book of Mormon. But the Gentiles are prophesied to fail in their faith. They are to become full of their own abominations. When they reject the fullness of the Gospel, then it will be taken from them and given back to the remnant.  (3 Ne. 16: 10-11.)

Mormon is using the message from Alma to provide to the Gentiles (who will reject the invitation), an opportunity to understand the fullness which was offered to them. It was intended to remove from them the excuse that they were not given an opportunity and did not understand. Therefore, the Book of Mormon’s primary purpose, to make the Gentiles aware and accountable for their failure, is accomplished by Mormon including this portion of Alma’s teachings. The fact that other portions were left out mean that they would not have contributed to the task before Mormon.

A few of the Gentiles happily may be numbered with the remnant.  (3 Ne. 16: 13.) That is conditioned upon their repentance. The degree and completion of that repentance is shown by this portion of the sermon by Alma which Mormon preserved for us.

We are on notice. We are accountable for how we react to that notice. For the most part, the expectation is that we tell one another in reassuring words that “all is well.” and that “Zion prospers,” and to generally allow our souls to be cheated while we are led carefully down to hell.  (2 Ne. 28: 21-25.)  Still, some few will follow Christ, despite the leaders’ teachings that will cause them to err.  (2 Ne. 28: 14.) 

The Book of Mormon is a record that will be used as evidence we have been warned. In plain language and with sufficient truth to hold us all accountable, this is the standard by which we are to find our way back to the Lord in this last dispensation before His return.  We remain, of course, under condemnation because we are unwilling to do that. (D&C 84: 57.)

What a great and terrible book. What an alarming message. It is no wonder we neglect it so.

Alma 13:30

Alma 13: 30: 

“And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.” 

Alma’s closing remark here is a prayer. He is asking that the Lord “grant unto you repentance.” This is an interesting cause-and-effect way to state the proposition. We cause it by our desire and willingness to become humble and repent. The Lord causes it because without His atoning sacrifice it could not be done.

We receive the effect because we are cleansed by our acts, humility and willingness to accept what is offered. The Lord receives the effect because He has allowed us to join Him in being pure and holy. He acquires a brother (or, more correctly a son). But He has no jealousy, allowing His brothers/sons to sit upon His own throne.  (Rev. 3: 21.)  He wants to have “all things in common” with us.

Alma’s petition goes further to ask that the wrath of God not be poured out upon these people to whom he is preaching. There are, of course, two levels of wrath. One is temporal–here and now. The wicked are often punished here by letting them pursue their own evil course until it destroys them. Repentance in that sense relieves them of the physical, emotional, social, military, economic, and interpersonal disasters they bring upon themselves by their ruinous pursuit of destructive behavior.

The other is eternal–meaning coming after this life. That second “wrath” is a result of leaving this life with accountability for what happened here, and the lack of preparation for the moment when “judgment” is rendered. That “judgment” consists of you finally facing reality. When you are in His presence you can accurately measure the difference between what you are and what He wanted you to become–i.e., like Him. The gulf is so great that you would rather be in hell than in the presence of a just and holy being when you are stained with the blood and sins of your generation.  (Mormon 9: 4.)

I have been in the presence of President Ronald Reagan. I met with President Spencer W. Kimball at the law school at BYU when he would come to visit with his son, who was a criminal law professor there. I shook hands and spoke with Chief Justice Warren Burger for about a half hour in the law library at BYU. I have appeared at the US Supreme Court, the Utah Supreme Court, argued before Federal and State courts in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas, California, Virginia, Washington DC, New York, Oregon, Nevada, Montana and New Mexico. I have seen Congress in session. Although a boy at the time, I was there when President Kennedy came to Berlin and spoke at Checkpoint Charlie, giving his “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech.  I have seen many other men who have shaped history. But there simply is no comparison between these mere children, these insubstantial and powerless creatures, and the holiness, power, majesty and glory of the one True Man, clothed in light. You may  see what the world reckons as a “great man” and think he was impressive. But you come from the presence of glory with only one conclusion:  Surely man is nothing, which I had never before supposed.  (Moses 1: 10.)

It is awful, fearful and dreadful to be in the presence of God. You realize the horror of your own darkness. (Gen. 15: 7-18.) You cry out with the realization that you are unclean, living your life among the unclean, and you are not ready for His presence. (Isa. 6: 5.) You are not prepared, and all your careful pretensions dissolve until you stand naked, revealed, hollow and unworthy to stand in His presence.

How, then, does a man stand in His presence? Through the merits and mercy and grace of this, our Lord. (2 Ne. 2: 8.) If your mouth is unclean, He will use an ordinance to cleanse your lips. (Isa. 6: 6-7.)  If you are covered by the blood and sins of your generation, He will cleanse them. (John 13: 5-13.)  If you cannot stand, He will raise you up with His own hand. (Daniel 10: 5-10.)  He is the God of mercy. Your discomfort is relieved by what He does, and this not of yourself, least you should boast. There is nothing in you from which to boast other than the merit and mercy and love and sacrifice given to you by Him.

How can He love so? It defies explanation. Words fail. You can search your lifetime through every word you have ever seen or heard – nothing comes close to being able to describe it. It cannot be spoken….  Too sacred for language to capture. Beyond our power.  So, you are left saying only: “Come, see.”

How, then, can a man come to the judgment and not feel the wrath which they might have overcome by His grace and mercy? Through the merits of Him bestowing upon a man the power to stand in His presence.

Alma’s pain at the thought of these people perishing was real. He was powerless to bring them to Christ. That power consists only in the authorized and truthful declaration of an invitation to come to Him.  But the choice remained in those who, having heard, must decide for themselves whether they will repent. They were free to choose iniquity and abominations. Alma was only able to invite.

The invitation, if rejected, will cause those who die to die yet again.  The way is broad which leads to such eternal deaths.  (D&C 132: 25.)

Alma 13: 29

Alma 13: 29:

“Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.”

Here you have faith, hope and charity (or love). You only have a fraction of the understanding of what faith in the Lord means until you have done as Alma is explaining here. True “faith” which is a principle of power, is acquired by the method Alma is preaching.

Hope that one can receive eternal life is not the vague optimism that it might happen – it is a certitude. You have the promise. You know you will have eternal life. You haven’t died and entered into the resurrected state yet. Between the time of the promise and the time you leave this sphere, you have hope. (The way it is used here is defined in Eighteen Verses.)

When God has promised you eternal life then you have “the love of God always in your heart.” It is there through the indelible promise He has made. He has changed your status. He has declared through His own voice what great thing you have become. Therefore it is by knowledge alone that such love resides in the heart of man.

This life will end. But you will be raised up. You know when you are lifted up in the last day it will be the power of God that raises you.  Such power as God employs to lift a man up confers upon such a person eternal life. The promise alone is a power, conferring the right to lay hold on eternal life when the moment comes. No power in earth or hell can rescind God’s word.  (D&C 1: 38.)  It cannot be done. Therefore, you have knowledge that you will not only be raised from the dead, but “lifted up” as well.  Powers, principalities, dominions, exaltations are all promised as yours.

This is how you attain to “rest.” It is the “rest of the Lord” as soon as the promise is made by Him. It is His rest when you inherit it in the last day. The words of the promise are enough to guarantee the inheritance. Therefore once the promise is made it is true enough that you have entered into the rest of the Lord. However, until you depart this life, you remain subject to the difficulties of mortality.  Graduation is assured, but you must tarry for a little while here.
As one possessing this hope, being filled with faith, hope and charity, it becomes your responsibility to raise up others. Hence the ministry of Alma, and Alma’s exposition on the ministry of Melchizedek. God does send true messengers. They can lead you in the way of life and salvation.

Alma 13: 28


“But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;”

Alma’s formula is quite direct and clear:

“Humble yourselves:” Without humility you are not teachable.  Humility and the capacity to accept new truth are directly related.  This is the character flaw that prevents the Lord from teaching the Nephites when He appeared to them. They THOUGHT they already knew things.  Therefore nothing that contradicted their false notions would be accepted.  Christ advised the Nephites who saw Him descend from heaven to go prepare themselves for His teaching. “Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.”  (3 Ne. 17: 3.)  This was the Lord telling these witnesses that they were not humble enought to be taught–even by Him!  So the first requirement is no small matter. Are you really humble?  Can you accept truth if it is taught to you?  Even if it contradicts your traditions?  Even if it alienates you from family, friends, comfortable social associations, your neighbors?  (Matt. 19: 29.)  See, humbling yourself is not just some droop-faced, hang-dog expression to wear on your countenance.  Rather it is opening your heart up to higher things.

“Call upon God:”  Not just prayer. Call upon Him. To call is to invite Him to come. How do you call Him?  By devoting yourself, in humility, to living every principle He has taught to you through His messengers and in His scriptures.  It’s not a laundry list of “to-do’s.”  It is meekness and prayerful watching; humbling yourself and accepting what His spirit will advise you to do.  When He testifies to you that you are hearing a true principle, accept it.  No matter the effect it may have upon your life. Change your life, but never abandon His truths. Call, listen, and obey what you are told.  Never close that line of communication.  Don’t trust a message which does not come from Him.

“Watch and pray:”  Answers may come in many ways. Be watchful so you don’t miss them when they are given to you. Pray that you might be seeking, preparing your mind to behold what He sends. Stay tuned, and stay attuned.  Without such diligence you will miss His messages, that come sometimes frequently, but from unexpected sources.

“That ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear:” Implicit in this is that you may be tempted beyond what you can bear. So how do you avoid falling? Does humility and calling upon God and watching and praying insure that you can avoid an excess of temptation?  How would they all go together?  In particular, how would being “humble” be a protection against this kind of temptation?

Alma connects all this together with the word: “thus.” Meaning as a consequence of the foregoing. As a result of what he’s just told you. As a product of this approach, you will then “be led by the Holy Spirit.” You can’t do what comes next without being so led.  It isn’t in you. Not without help from within through the Holy Spirit.

So, if you do all the above, and then acquire the Holy Spirit to be your guide, then it follows that you will “become humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering.” You won’t be imitating humility, but you will be humble with the Holy Spirit’s assistance. You won’t feign meekness, but you will acquire the power to be meek (in the sense it is explained in Beloved Enos). You won’t pretend to submission, patience, love and long suffering, but you will be these things as a result of the Spirit within you.  This will be your character.  Not as the world understands such things, but through the power of the Spirit to lay hold upon such things.

Formulas like this one are inspired statements, providing a road map to the Lord’s methods of changing lives. Alma is making such a declaration and invitation in this sermon. It is amazing, really.  How succinctly he cuts to the core of the matter.