3 Nephi 14: 22-23

3 Nephi 14: 22-23:

“Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Another group will call out to Him in the Day of Judgment saying, “Lord, Lord” showing respect and honor by their lips. It is not the lips which honor Him. The heart must follow His path. (JS-H 1: 19.)

Who will claim to have “prophesied in [His] name?”

Who will claim to have “cast out devils in [His] name?”

Who will claim to have done “many wonderful works” in His name?

What will their conduct in mortality have been in order to justify this claim in the Day of Judgment?

Despite claims to have “prophesied,” and to have “cast out devils,” and to have performed “many wonderful works,” these people are unknown to Him.  He will respond: “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
How can “prophesying in Christ’s name” be a work of “iniquity?”


How can “casting out devils” in Christ’s name be a work of “iniquity?”

How can a person do “many wonderful works” in Christ’s name yet still be doing “iniquity?”

How can people use the Lord’s name with apparent success in claiming to have “prophesied,” and to have “cast out devils,” and done “many wonderful works” yet still be someone He does not know.

How would you determine if you were known to Him?

What would He (not you) need to do in order for you to be known to Him? How would you come to know Him and He to know you?

Do you now see why I have written what I’ve written? The message is an invitation to come to have Him know you. To have Him take up His abode with you. To affirm to you what your true standing is before Him. Joseph Smith could not know what his standing was before God until he asked the Lord, and received a manifestation from Him. (JS-H 1: 29.) How can you know if you do not similarly ask.

This teaching by Christ does not challenge the reasons men claim to be justified. He does not say they “falsely claim” to have prophesied in His name.  He merely accepts the claim without criticism. These people will genuinely believe they were prophesying, casting out devils, and doing what they believe to be many marvelous works in His name. Yet their hearts are far from Him.
Therefore, take care that you do not mislead yourself by presuming the things which are done by you in His name are accepted by Him. It is a terrible thing to take His name in vain. To claim He has sent you when He has not, is not only wrong, it is inviting the Lord to say to you in the last day: “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”


The commandment at the front end is to not take the Lord’s name in vain. (Exo. 20: 7.) The result at the back end is revealed here. Take care in how you presume your acts are in harmony with Him. Until He speaks to you, and affirms that you have a work to do for Him, you may only be working iniquity.

3 Nephi 14: 21

 
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
 
This was a favorite quote from President Kimball. It really puts Christ’s followers on notice that confessing with the lips with no accompanying action to obey Him will not allow anyone into the kingdom of heaven.
 
Christ could not be more clear in this statement. The evangelical crowd quotes Paul’s statement, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” as proof to contradict the Lord. (Romans 10: 10.) Paul does not explain salvation in that brief aside. Confession requires the confessor to go forward and present their entire life as a living sacrifice, continually obedient unto God (as he explains later in the very same letter). (Romans 12: 1-2.) This foolish error is creeping into Mormonism with each passing day. From Professor Steven Robinson’s rapprochement in How Wide the Divide? to Alonzo Gaskill’s awful mistake called Odds Are You’re Going To Be Exalted, the erosion of doctrine to conform to the evangelical “market” continues apace.
 
They teach for doctrines the commandments of men. Their creeds are an abomination.  The professors of these creeds are all corrupt. (I’m only quoting Christ.) (See JS-H 1: 19.)  We would be better informed to draw the starkest, widest and clearest distinctions between ourselves and them, rather than seeking to be regarded as another brand of mainstream Christianity.
 
Calling Christ “Lord, Lord” will accomplish nothing. There will be those who claim they are “of Christ” but who are no better than the liars, thieves and whoremongers. (D&C 76: 99-104.) It is not a “brand name” to associate with. It is a Teacher to follow.
 
Christ teaches the will of the Father. Conforming to the will of the Father is required to “enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Confession without conformity to His will is worse than meaningless. It is evidence that you are superstitious and foolish. You want Christ as a magic talisman, to be invoked to control the outcome of your life. But you do not want to honor Him by doing as He teaches. You do not want to live as He would want you to live. You do not want to surrender your sins and seek after truth and light.
 
The simple life which Christ describes in this sermon is how we are to conform to His will.  We have taken it bit by bit to examine how living that life should be accomplished. This is the blueprint for understanding the Lord and meeting Him. It is not intended to cause pride, but to provoke repentance. It is the means by which we can know Him.
 
As the sermon is ending, He reminds those present that calling out to Him and honoring Him with the title of “Lord” will never be enough. You must do as He taught.
 
There is no other way.
 
The path is identical for everyone.
 
You are as capable of doing this as any person who ever lived here. The difference between you and those who have succeeded only exists so long as you refuse to repent.  Repentance will cure your lack of faith. Your confidence will increase in the Lord as you lay aside the sins which beset you.
 
The symmetry of Christ’s sermon is astonishing. The closing call to follow Him is unmistakably sobering. It is not enough to sit in an audience honoring Him by showing brief attention to His talk. The talk must become alive in you.

3 Nephi 14: 15-20

3 Nephi 14: 15-20:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.”
This test is only necessary if He intends to send prophets. The test is given so you may identify both true and false prophets. Implicit in this, is the obligation to personally account for your response to those He sends, and those who claim to be sent by Him. You must choose. Your choice will count for and against you. You must grow to apply the test correctly.
The concept of “sheep’s clothing” is worth pondering. Why is it even possible for such a thing as “sheep’s clothing?” Think about it. The attire or mantle  they pretend to possess is necessarily “sheep-like” to the casual observer.  That is, the “office” or the position or conduct or credentials of the false prophet must be misleading. They should appear bona fide. They need to seem authentic.
Now, lest you be confused about the “wolves” who occupy these positions, it does not mean an utterly corrupt, completely perverse man. It only requires the “wolves” to be unable to deliver a true message from the Lord. It only requires that they not be sent with an authentic message from Him. They must pretend to be His, but He has nothing to do with their message.
So, how are we to distinguish between the “sheep” and the “wolves” who come as “prophets” from the Lord? In a word, it is the “fruit.” What does the message produce?
A false prophet’s message will produce as its fruit vanity, corruption, evil, foolishness, arrogance, self-assuredness, error, distance from the Lord, poor understanding, popularity, wealth, success, ease, false hopes, ingratitude, pride, displays of popularity, worldliness, hard hearts and ten thousand other meaningless or deceptive fruits.
A true prophet’s message will produce repentance.
The only good fruit which can be offered in this world is repentance. When mankind lays down their sins because of a message, that message comes from Him. All others are distractions and invite you to err. The fruit which gives eternal life is repentance and a return to Christ.
When the message comes from a false prophet, you can know the messengers, along with those who listen to it, and the message itself will be “hewn down, and cast into the fire.” It will be purged.

When the message comes from a true prophet, you can know the message, along with those who heed it, and the messenger will survive the burning which is to come, because they are purged by repentance and can abide the day of wrath.

Few there be that find it, indeed….  It needn’t be so. But as Joseph Smith commented: “The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves ‘in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth’ (Heb. 11: 38), and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.” (DHC 4: 574.)
I suppose that will always be the case. However, we have a guarantee the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unable (and will always be unable) to lead us astray. It is little wonder we cherish, honor and support that office as we do; preferring it even above scripture. (See Fourteen Fundamentals for Following the Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, BYU Address February 26, 1980; the second fundamental; recently spoken of in our last General Conference.)

3 Nephi 14: 13-14

3 Nephi 14: 13-14:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat;  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”


This is re-affirmation of man’s tendency to reject the right way. The narrowness of it requires surrender of the selfish, parting with pride and sacrifice of self-will.


Many prefer their ignorance to light. Therefore, they will not draw toward the light when it is revealed to them. Without drawing closer to the light they cannot comprehend what the Lord is teaching. It makes no sense to them. For it requires light to comprehend light. Therefore unless a person is willing to increase in light they are left in darkness and unable to apprehend any of what saves them. It remains a mystery to them.


The way to darkness is broad and easy. It requires no effort. It welcomes you.  It tempts you with its ease. Because there are “many who go in thereat” it is also popular. When, therefore, you take opinion polling and focus group testing as the measure of a proposition you are only joining to the wide, broad way which will be popular.


Truth challenges. It requires change. It informs you of your faults and mistakes. It is difficult because you are called to rise above what the world is doing, what the world is saying and what the world accepts as good and true.  This tendency to want to be popular can twist you away from truth quicker than any other corrupting influence here. This is why Nephi cautioned about the latter-day churches which crave popularity and acceptance. (1 Nephi 22: 23.)


There will only be a “few who find it.” Even in the day in which we live, the measure will always be “few.” Not in a relative sense, but in an absolute sense. Few. Period. Only a small number.


Looking down through the ages, speaking with the vision of a prophet, the number of those who, living in the last days would have the Father’s name upon their forehead, were only 144,000. (Rev. 7: 3-4.) Though from all ages the number would be in the millions. (Rev. 7: 9, 13-14.) Still, we live in the time when a living number who are prepared for the return of Christ will be but few in an absolute sense. (D&C 77: 11.) Even if they have wives and children, yet the number will remain but few.


It is foolish to believe the conditions for salvation are any different for you than they were for Enoch, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Elijah, Peter or Joseph.  This Gospel is the same. Always and in every generation it is the same. The odds are that but few of those who are living will go in thereat. All the opinion polling to test for popular acceptance of a message cannot deliver a message from God to mankind. It can only entice you to the broad, wide gate “which leadeth to destruction.”


The Lord could not be more plain. The teachings which preceded this statement are His invitation. Here He gives His prophetic description of the audience’s response. From all those who will read or hear His words, every soul will be accountable. From among those, like you, who are accountable, there will be but “few who find it.”


Why is that so? What is so important about the world’s acceptance that a fool will treasure it before their own salvation? What can the world offer in exchange that you tempt you to give your soul? (Matt. 16: 26.) How many will lament when the summer is passed, the harvest has come, that their soul has not been saved. (D&C 45: 2.)


This is a sobering remark by the forgiving Lord. He invites all to come to Him.  But He is realistic about how few will respond. It requires repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and living by every word which comes from Him. It is strait and therefore narrow. But it lies in a straight path before you. You can know you are on it when you encounter the gate-keeper, for He has no servant there. He alone maintains that gate through which entry to salvation is gained.  (2 Nephi 9: 41.)


Study, therefore, to show yourself approved. (2 Tim. 2: 15.)

3 Nephi 14: 12

3 Nephi 14: 12:

“Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets.”


This thought has been taken from the talk and made a law unto itself. Perhaps it belongs there. But it also integrates into the sermon as well.


Remember what preceded this comment. The Father is the giver of “good gifts” and will give you “bread” when you ask it. He will never give you a “stone” when you ask of Him bread.


This follows. You must also become the giver of good gifts. You must also provide to others what they need from you. How you give, unlocks the Father’s ability to give to you. Every principle is eternal. Every life requires the balance.


When you seek, you must free the Father’s hand to give to you by what you give to others. Without equitable treatment of others, the Father cannot give you.


Your relationship with your fellow man defines your relationship with the Father. Your kindness towards others establishes the conditions of His ability to give kindness to you.


Be careful how you treat others. It affects how the Father is permitted to treat you. It is an eternal principle. (Alma 41: 15.)


The law and all the prophets were attempting to teach us to deal equitably with one another. What Christ is summarizing is the intent of all that has been given to us in the law and prophets.


Give what you want. Be fair, even generous. It will return to you. No matter how this life disappoints, discourages or frustrates you, keep pressing forward with good cheer. It will be for your good and, as it all concludes, will return to you glory.


This is how the world can be redeemed. This is how Zion will be brought again.  It will be the Lord’s doing, because it will be through following His commandments that people can be prepared. Those who will participate will necessarily need to heed His commandments. If they do, there will be no poor among them. They will be of one mind and one heart, because they will share the same vision of how to live. They will give one another what they would like to receive, and the result will be the return of a society that has rarely existed on this earth. Heaven can guide and teach us how it is to be done. But we must do it.


Even if no one else will live this principle, you can. If you do, the Lord is able to “take up His abode with you” and even bring you to the Father. (John 14: 23.) Not in some distant time, nor merely “in your heart.” It is literal.  (D&C 130: 3.)


The way to prove these teachings is to live them. If you do, you will know the doctrine’s truth. (John 7: 17.)


In this brief statement Christ has captured the underlying message of all the prophets from Moses to Christ. It is the reason for God working with Israel. It is the way for any person to find their way back to God.


This message is succinct, profound, and able to transform life. Christ was the Master Teacher. In this brief statement He has proven His standing as the greatest source of truth of all those who have instructed others. It is because of this ringing truth that Christ’s message has endured through millennia of apostasy and darkness. Words such as these will outlast empires, shine in darkness and subdue critics. He was and is indeed the way, the truth and the life. (John 14: 6.)

3 Nephi 14: 9-11

3 Nephi 14: 9-11:

“Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
 
This is not self-evident. If it were, then there would be more people with faith. The truth revealed here is that God is always going to bestow a worthy gift upon the person requesting it.

He will not give you a “stone” if you request “bread.” He will give you “bread.” He knows the difference. He will not disappoint you.

 
He knows better than any kind and caring earthly father what the needs of His children are. He intends to meet them.

However, when His children ask for something, (“bread”) and they do not yet qualify to receive, He sets about preparing them to receive it. He is willing to give. We are not always prepared to receive. Therefore, when He intends to bestow the gift upon the person requesting it, He first prepares the vessel.
 
We are impatient. We want quickly what can sometimes only be obtained in patience. We are in a rush, but our development requires patience. Some things require time and persistence to prepare us for the blessing we seek. Joseph remarked: “The things of God are of deep import, and time, experience, and careful and ponderous, and solemn thoughts, can only find them out.” This is the way of God. It is adapted to give us what we lack, even if we are unaware of what we lack.
 
The Father always intends to give to those who ask, seek and knock just as Christ has explained. However, the Father knows “much more” than do we as to how to “give good things to them that ask.” He will not merely give the thing requested. He will add to it such things as are needed to prepare you to receive them.
 
This, then, is the process: We ask. Without a request, the laws governing things prevent bestowal. We can’t be given until first we ask.
 
When we have asked, the Father will give. He will give “every good gift” needed, and not just what has been asked. If there is, (as is almost always the case) a gulf between what you have asked of Him, and your capacity to receive it, then He will set about giving you every needful thing to enable you to receive.
 
If you ask for strength, He will provide you with that experience necessary to develop the strength you seek. If you seek for patience you will be given Divinely ordained experiences by Him that are calculated to develop in you what you have sought. He knows you and knows what you need. Whatever is asked of Him, He will set about to ordain.
 
It will come in a perfectly natural progression. It will occur in accordance with both natural and eternal law. If you fight against it, you prolong the time when you will receive what you have asked of Him. If you cooperate, it will flow unto you without compulsory means in a natural progression. (D&C 121: 46.)
 
If you do not ask, it will not be given. If you do not seek, you cannot possibly find. If you are unwilling to knock, the door will remain shut to you. But if you do these things, then you must cooperate with Him as He prepares you to receive what He will bestow.

After asking, seeking and knocking, then a process is invoked in which the Father prepares you to receive. You will receive as soon as He can prepare you by experience, by careful, thoughtful, ponderous thought through time and experiences adapted to give you what is asked. When, at last, you have been adequately prepared, you will have gone through exactly what every other soul before you has experienced to prepare them. There are no shortcuts. There are no exceptions. It is in accordance with laws ordained before the foundation of the world. Everyone who has obtained what you seek will have done so in conformity with the very same laws. The Father will work with you to prepare you to receive what you seek.
 
This is a reaffirmation by Christ of the process and the Father’s role in bringing it to pass. If you trust Him, trust also His Father’s deliverance of you. You will be delivered. You will receive from Him who knows how to bestow every good gift what you have asked of Him.

3 Nephi 14: 7-8

 
“Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”
 
Just after the caution to not give holy things to the unworthy, Christ reminds all of their obligation to ask, seek and knock. If you will ask it will be given to you. If you seek, you will find it. If you knock, things will be opened to you.  But be careful not to give what is holy to the unworthy.

These ideas are related in two ways:
 
First, if you want what is holy, then stop being a “dog” or a “swine.” Ask, seek and knock.
 
Second, if you are one who is qualified and will receive holy things by your willingness to be repentant, then press forward by asking, seeking and knocking. If you do, the things which are most holy will be given.
 
“For every one that asketh, receiveth.” Really? Everyone? Even you? That is what Christ is saying. However, the manner in which you will receive is illustrated by “The Missing Virtue” in Ten Parables. Meaning that the effort to receive what you have asked the Lord could take nearly two decades, and a great deal of internal changing before you acquire what you lack. Receiving may include not only what you’ve asked to receive, but also everything you do not have in order to finally qualify to receive what you seek.
 
What do you associate with “findeth?” Does it suggest to you active effort, or passive receipt? To “find” something you are missing (even a small thing) what must you do? If searching is required to locate, then what do you suppose the Lord is implying by the word “findeth?”
 
What does it mean that “it shall be opened?” Does “opening” imply merely a view? Does it suggest also ‘entering in?’ If it opens to view, and you then fail to ‘enter in’ has “opening” been worthwhile? Has anything been accomplished?  Does it suggest that there is activity required of someone who has something “opened” unto them?
 
It is my view that the words chosen all imply a burden upon the one who asks, seeks and knocks. They are not entitled to anything just by speaking the words. They must make the effort to search into and contemplate the things they seek. Then they must change and repent of everything amiss in their lives that is revealed to them. This is to be done before they can see what is to be shown to them. If, for example, a person wants to see the other side of the mountain, they can ask daily for a view to be opened to them without ever seeing the other side. But if the Lord prompts them to take the path to the top, the Lord has given them the means to “find” and “have opened” to them the very thing they seek. Provided, of course, they are willing to walk in the path to the top of the mountain. When they remain on the valley floor, asking or demanding more, they are not really asking, seeking and knocking. They are  irritating and ungrateful. The Lord’s small means are capable of taking the one who seeks to the very thing they desire. (Alma 37: 7.) But without cooperation with Him they can receive nothing.
 
The Lord’s small means are how great things are brought to pass. (1 Ne. 16: 29.) But for some people the Lord’s answers are never enough. However, when the humble who ask, seek and knock follow Him in these small means, they will eventually stand in His presence and partake of eternal life. But not until they have done as all others have done before them. Faith is only replaced by knowledge when the faith is strong enough to rend the veil. At that point, there is no great advantage to the person who has already attained to this understanding by their faith. I’ve written about this in The Second Comforter. It is a true principle and remains true even today.

3 Nephi 14: 6

 
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
 
This is a preamble to what immediately follows. It is a caution about how to weigh what can be said, and what is to be kept private between a person and the Lord.
 
Almost without exception, people who are unable to keep sacred things which are most sacred will never receive exposure to the most sacred. The Temple ordinances are an elaborate test of ones trustworthiness. There are a variety of things designated as “most sacred” which are then “guarded by covenants and obligations” that require they not be revealed “except in a certain place” which will always be limited. The material then revealed is to be kept as “most sacred,” though in truth, it is a test where symbolic information is imparted to allow the spiritually mature to learn by symbol some hidden meaning and mystery about God. To the immature, the material is worthless and meaningless. Nothing of value is gained. It is a symbol without an interpretation. It can only be an idol to them as they mistake the symbol for underlying meaning.

When a person treats the information in an appropriate way, they “prove” themselves (Abraham 3: 25) worthy of weightier information to be given them. (D&C 132: 20-21.) Then they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart, only according to the heed and diligence which another should give to the word. (Alma  12:9.)

 
What is holy belongs to those who make themselves holy through their repentance. It does not belong to the unclean, who are “dogs” and unrepentant.
 
When the price is paid, the person trusted, and the mysteries shown them, they possess pearls of great price. Such things do not belong to “swine” who are unclean and unrepentant, unwilling to do what is needed to qualify for the Lord’s presence, unthankful and unholy.

Entrusting the things that are in truth “most sacred” to those who are not qualified will arouse their anger. They will “turn and rend you” because you have shown them something which excites their envy, jealousy, hatred and fear. They know you have something they lack. They resent you because of what they cannot easily obtain. Therefore, you must measure carefully what you give to others. The final arbiter of the decision to impart is not made by you, it is made by the Lord. 

Those who are eager to share with others any tidbit of information they learn about the sacred are not helping anyone, and may forfeit things themselves. Why would they do such a thing? Is it to make themselves look good; therefore vanity? Is it to try to help others? If it is to help, then the information should not be shared; the manner in which the information is gained should be shared. Teaching another the way to receive sacred information for themselves is charitable.  Showing off sacred information is worse than foolish, it will bless no one, and destroy both the unprepared audience and the unwise speaker.
 
I have tried to be an example of this principle. First I learned something, then I began to teach it. When teaching, I have carefully measured anything I have taught against the Lord’s cautions and limitations. I have affirmed in the fewest words that the promises made by the Lord are true, and that I am a witness of their truth. But I have not shared anything beyond the process, which I have taught so others may learn how to proceed. It has not been about me, or about anything I may know. It has been about the Lord and the process to know Him. It is clear that some people are completely uninterested in anything other than some new disclosure, some new mystery unfolded. They are not interested in anything other than to be titillated. I cannot help them. I have nothing to offer. But if someone wants to approach God, then I may be able to teach something of value in what I’ve written. But not if they are unwilling to start at the first and proceed through everything I’ve written in the order they were written. Jumping to the end of the process is worthless. Gathering tidbits is unwise as it gives you only enough information to be dangerous. It is the path to follow Christ that matters.
Getting to know the Lord is the definition of salvation. (John 17: 3.) Getting to know me will save no one. It is foolish to consider anything or anyone more important than learning the means to come back to the Lord.

3 Nephi 14: 3-5:

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
 
The defect in judging is the position from which we proceed. We are blind. We have too many subjective problems in our background. Our training, education, culture, presumptions, prejudices, “things we just know to be true”, ignorance, preoccupations and impatience interfere with our perceptions. We act on errors and reach wrong conclusions. We measure with defective tools, then decide the matter from the wrong measure.
 
Christ is reminding us that whenever we are inclined to correct another person, more often than not, we suffer from whatever defect we see in others. This is why we notice it. We see it because it is really us. We are sensitive to the problem because we own the problem.
 
First, whenever we see something amiss in another, start with the realization that we are seeing ourselves. Start inside. Ask, “why does this bother me?” “Am I really seeing myself in a mirror?” Then be grateful you saw another person display your problem. You now know what is wrong with you. Forgive them, fix you.
 
The tendency to withhold patience is more often than not because their “mote” excites your notice through your own “beam.” A “mote” is a speck, a bit of sawdust. A “beam” is a board. Yours is the greater defect. For in you is not only the defect, but the tendency to judge others harshly. Both are wrong.
 
When you have at last purged the defect, struggled to overcome and conquer the temptation or tendency, perhaps the price you pay to do so will make you humble enough to assist another. Not from the position as judge and condemner, but from the position of one who can help. When you “see clearly,” then you may be able to “cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” For now you see him as your “brother.” And in a kindly and affectionate manner you may act to reclaim him. Not as a judge, but as a brother.
 
This is a continuing petition to make things better. But the only way you make them better by starting inside. It is not for you to work on others, nor move outside your own range of defects, until you have first fixed what you lack. When you can proceed with charity to assist others to overcome what you have overcome yourself, then it is appropriate to approach your “brother” in kindness to help. Until then, stop judging and start removing “beams” from yourself.
 
Brilliant and peaceful. Revolutionary and kind. Christ is the ultimate True Teacher. He could teach such things because He was such things. His disciples will, in turn, take His teachings and His example and do likewise.

3 Nephi 14: 1-2

 
And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
 
This reiterates the doctrine in the Lord’s instruction on prayer. Your judgment of others will become the basis for your own judgment by the Father. Apply mercy to receive mercy. Apply forgiveness to merit forgiveness. Act harshly to receive harsh treatment. Show strict judgment, and receive it in return. It is the perfect balance. What you send out returns to you. It is karma. The words are right out of Christ’s own mouth.
 
More importantly, notice how He transitions from speaking to His twelve about their new, spontaneous ministry into the public judgment of what was to follow? In other words, if these thoughts are related, (and I think they are) then He is saying His twelve disciples may take a while to get to the needs of those assembled. Therefore, be patient. This new lifestyle for the disciples will be difficult on them. In order to receive a reward, those who are being ministered to need to bear patiently with the ensuing efforts of the twelve.
 
This was to be a new community formed among these people. In it, there will be servants called to minister (the twelve), who will be limited in what they are able to do. They will be needy, dependent, and vulnerable. They will have needs. Supply the needs without being put off by what they are not able to do. View them with compassion as they seek to do as they have been told. Don’t withhold substance, food, raiment, or housing from them because you are unhappy with what little they have been able to do. Show them kindness.
 
The statement is broader than that, of course. It implies similar patience with everyone. But the point that this practice should begin with these twelve ministers ought not be lost.
 
The context of “judge not that ye be not judged” is framed by the statement that “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” We do “judge” one another because we must. But the judgment should err on the side of forgiving. It should err in favor of trusting motives to be pure, and intent to be good. We should be generous with our gratitude, evaluations and suppositions. When we know someone is misbehaving, we should make allowances for their shortcomings, forgive them before they ask, and impute no retribution because of their offensive conduct.

This does not make us better than another, it makes us whole. It allows the Lord to forgive us for our own, much greater offenses against Him. For when we are generous, we merit His Divine generosity. It is how we are healed. It is the means for our own salvation. Instead of thinking ourselves better than an offender, we should look upon them with gratitude for they provide the means to obtain salvation– provided we give them forgiveness from all their offenses. This is why we should rejoice and be exceedingly glad. (3 Nephi 12: 10-12.) They enable us to obtain salvation by despitefully using us, as long as we measure them by the same standard that allows God to forgive us.

 
What perfect symmetry: You measure to others using instrument that will be used by God to measure back to you. So your ready forgiveness is how God will treat you. All those grudges can be replaced with petitions to God to forgive those who abused you. As you lay aside all those sins against you, committed by others, it will purge from you all your own sins.
 
Straight and narrow indeed…. But oddly appropriate and altogether within your control.

3 Nephi 13: 34


“Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.”

This is the child’s view of life. A child is perpetually in the “now” and does not regret yesterdays or plan tomorrows. It is all about what happens to you at the moment.


Each day’s challenge is the end goal. In addition to severing the disciples from regular income, regular work for support, dependence on those to whom they minister for bread, drink, shelter and clothing, the Lord adds to their burden the heavy responsibility to “take no thought for the morrow.” For them their ministry is to be moment to moment. No planning and rehearsals. No staging and frantic preparation. No three-year budgets. Only now. Forever only now.
It is an interesting position Christ wants to put His chief disciples into. It forces us to carefully consider why He would do so?


Is it to keep them humble?


Is it to prevent pride and arrogance?


Is it to require they remain in constant direct touch with at least some of those over whom they minister?


Is it to keep them keenly aware of the necessity of relying on Him?


If they cannot plan for more than the day’s events, how can they plan a busy travel schedule to take them all over the world? Is that somehow built in already to the “sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof?”


What kind of life would this create for His disciples chosen to minister to others? Would they ever be able to minister to more than just a few at a time under this system? If they are limited to serving only a few at a time, then how would an entire church receive benefit from this kind of spontaneous ministry? What kind of changes would that make in how a church is run and organized?


Just how impractical do we think this manner of organizing would be in a multi-national, multi-lingual, 13 million member church? If it is impractical, should the Lord’s teachings be revised or should we change our way of thinking about His church and system?


If this were to be implemented, how would you go about organizing it? Would you divide the world into twelfths? Within that division, would you expect the disciple assigned to “drop in” to stake conferences and ward meetings unannounced? Would that prevent central planning and budgeting by the chief disciples? Would it force the Presiding Bishop’s office to take concerns for all temporal concerns and budgets? Why would letting an Aaronic Priesthood office be concerned with temporal affairs and freeing up Melchizedek Priesthood for spiritual concerns be an unwelcome change?


Would this fundamentally transform the role of leadership? How? Would it be chaos, or would it be an improvement? Why?


Just how dumb an idea is this that Christ is teaching to the chosen twelve? If not dumb, then it is at least of limited practicality when growth in numbers and locations makes it burdensome? Was Christ’s teaching here short-sighted? Did He fail to make provisions for the modern church, with its global spread and cross-language needs and budgets?


When the Book of Mormon was restored, this sermon was restored to us. When restored, it clarified how this portion of the sermon was addressed to the presiding twelve disciples. Was there a Divine purpose or message behind it? Should it be considered as meaningful to us today? Christ lived an interesting life. He more or less followed this counsel, though in truth He understood and fulfilled the prophecies concerning Himself. Yet, throughout it all, He also seemed to surrender control to the Father in everything. (See, e.g., Mark 13: 32.) He commented on how spontaneous a life He lived, and how unpredictable things were when following the Spirit. (John 3: 6-8.)

3 Nephi 13: 33

3 Nephi 13: 33:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

What comes first? Why?

How can “all these things” then “be added unto you?” What are “these things?” Is it the food, raiment, etc.?

Why would the Lord want the disciples to first seek the kingdom of God before promising that the things would be “added unto” them?

If they don’t first seek the kingdom, then will things not be added to them?

What is “the kingdom of God?” Is there a difference between:
-The Church of Jesus Christ
-The Kingdom of God
-Zion?

What is the “kingdom of God” if it is not the church? When is the “kingdom” to be found? What is necessary for it to exist? Joseph Smith taught: “What constitutes the Kingdom of God? an administrator who has the power of calling down the oracles of God, and subjects to receive those oracles no matter if there is but 3, 4, or 6 there is the kingdom of God.” (William Clayton Journal entry January 22, 1843, capitalization as in original.) If we accept Joseph’s definition, why would the disciples be encouraged to “seek the kingdom of God?”

What does the clarification that the “kingdom of God” should be sought first tell us about everything else?

Has the “kingdom of God” been here before now? Is it here now? What does it mean to call down the oracles of God?

Does man control this or does God?

What is man’s role in establishing the “kingdom of God?” Is man’s role confined to “seeking first” for it to come? How would man seek it?

If you want to “seek the kingdom of God” how would you go about doing so?

What does your “seeking” have to do with the return of the “kingdom of God?”

The Lord will not bring again Zion without there being a people who are prepared to receive what He intends to bring. How can you do that?

3 Nephi 13: 26-32

3 Nephi 13: 26-32:


“Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;  And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”



Christ illustrates His teaching of how His disciples are to be supported by analogy after analogy. He likens the principle of how His disciple-ministers are to be supported to:


-Fowls of the air, provided for by God.
-Lilies of the field, whose glorious appearance comes from God.
-Grass of the field, which are adorned by natural beauty from God.


Inherent in these analogies is the message that so long as fowls shall fly, this principle ought to be followed. So long as lilies remain on the earth growing wild, this manner of supporting His disciples ought to be followed. So long as grass shall be here, this principle should be followed.


The hopelessness of man’s presumed independence from God is stressed in His statement that by taking thought none of us “can add one cubit unto his stature.” Our lives are not ours. They belong to Him. We have no independence from Him. We are NOT self-existent beings. We borrow all we are and have from Him. Even, as it turns out, the dust from which we are made belongs to Him. (Mosiah 2: 20-25.)


If God gives us air to breathe, power to exist, the capacity to move, and sustains all of us from moment to moment, then how little faith is required to rely on Him to provide His disciples with food and raiment?


The analogy to Solomon is also telling. “Solomon, in all his glory” is a useful way to think of the greatest man can hope for himself. The glory of Solomon was legendary. The Queen of Sheba came and marveled at what she saw in his court. (1 Kings 10: 1-13.) This was splendor, wealth and power indeed! However, Christ reminds us that these man-made marvels are nothing compared with the beauty He can supply those who are “not of little faith.” He can cover a man in glory indeed. Not as the world defines glory, but the real glory. (See D&C 93: 28, 36.)


The purpose of putting a man in such a dependent state before God is not to find out whether God can take care of him. God already knows what a man needs before he should even ask. But the man will, by becoming so dependent upon God, acquire a broken heart and a contrite spirit, always quick to ask, quick to listen, quick to do. Vulnerability makes a man strong in spirit. Security and wealth make a man incorrectly believe in his independence from God.


He wants His disciples to be dependent upon Him. He wants them praying, and then grateful to Him for what He provides. He wants them, in a word, to become holy.


Such a system would be impractical in a post-industrial society like ours, wouldn’t it?

3 Nephi 13: 25

3 Nephi 13: 25:

“And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”

The preceding teachings were given to all who were there. Christ changes the audience at this point, and addresses the twelve whom He had given power to baptize. To them He addresses the admonition: “Remember the words which I have spoken.” These are two things: First, a Divine admonition to follow. Second, an empowerment to make it possible to do as He asks. Without both, they would have been unable to preserve the record of the teachings. As will become apparent from the text, they will later meet following His ascension and reduce the words taught to a transcript that all twelve will be able to present to the audience that assembles the next day.
The reason these same twelve who had power to baptize were given power to “remember the words [Christ] had spoken” was because they were “chosen to minister unto this people.” When Christ chooses a minister to speak for Him, He enables them to accomplish the mission or ministry assigned to them. (See, e.g., D&C 132: 59.) They receive His support. That makes them more than equal to the assignment given them.
It is the chosen twelve, and not the the multitude, who are told to “take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what he shall drink.” It is those who are to minister who are freed from the earthly cares of providing for their needs. Their lives are to be given over to ministering to others, and not to work for their support. The Lord intends to provide for them.
This is a very narrow group to whom this promise is made. It does not include others in the audience.  For the rest, we are required to provide for our families.  If we fail to provide for them by laboring for their support, we have denied the faith. (1 Tim. 5: 8.)  Wives are to be supported by their husband’s labor.  (D&C 83: 2.) Children are to be supported by their parents. (D&C 83: 4.) This requires all to labor. (D&C 42: 42.) But as to these twelve, their labor is the ministry and their support will come from the Lord.
It is a small thing for the Lord to provide for His ministers. To Him property is nothing. (D&C 117: 4.) He can provide for His ministers even if there is no apparent means to accomplish it. (See, e.g., 1 Kings 17: 8-16.) The Lord has provided food for thousands when necessary. (Luke 9: 13-17.)  Providing food for His people when needed is within His Divine power. (Ex. 16: 11-31.)
Why would the Lord give this commandment to the twelve? Why would He do it publicly? What responsibility does that impose upon the twelve?  What responsibility does it impose upon the audience? If the twelve today were to be supported by only food given them by believers, clothes provided by followers, material given through donations from those to whom they ministered, would it be different than the system we have in place today? Would that be different from tithing money used for salaries paid them today? Would the supplemental income from book sales, service on boards of directors (which has been greatly reduced and was planned to be entirely eliminated) fit into the system Christ describes here? [President Monson’s General Conference talk about his wife’s surgery a while back included a reference to paying taxes. She was emerging from an eighteen day coma and her first words to him were about failing to pay the “fourth quarter income tax payment.” (Abundantly Blessed, Ensign, May 2008.) These kinds of “quarterly income taxes” are self-employment taxes and would arise either from book royalties or service on boards of directors. His paycheck from the Church would have withholding and would not require quarterly deposits.]

Is the different, more simple and very direct connection between the disciples and those to whom they ministered of value today? Is our modern sophisticated society unable to provide similar support today? Is Christ’s teaching on this point outdated? If it is, then can we disregard other portions also as outdated? How do we decide what to discard and what to keep?

3 Nephi 13: 24

“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.”

This is Christ’s great division. We all have but one Master. Choose carefully.
This is another way to describe the “jealous God” of the Old Covenant.  (Ex. 34: 14.) Since He requires everything of you, any holding back is infidelity to Him.
Christ is reaffirming God’s primacy. Your affection for Him cannot be shared. It simply can’t be done. When attempted, it shows you “hate” or “despise” Him, because when you share your fidelity, you reject His direction.
It is this principle that justified the earlier prophets in likening Israel to a “harlot” or a “whore” when she worshiped other gods. (See, eg. Jeremiah 3: 6; Hosea 9: 1; Judges 8: 33.) It is not possible to be converted to the Lord and not be devoted to Him.
All of what is “Mammon” is subordinate to God. The Lord’s ways require the things you have in this life to be used for His purposes and according to His desire. His commandments cover all things, and you cannot divorce your temporal concerns from His teachings. (D&C 29: 35.)
Devotion to Him requires that what you do, say, and think be aligned with Him. Conversion is a progressive process where you develop to be more like Him throughout life. You can’t just “get a testimony” and then not be completely converted to Him. He expects to completely remake you. This sermon is the blueprint for the new creation you are to become.
This statement deals in absolutes because the Lord’s way is the way of absolutes. He can accept nothing less than all. The adversary knows this and is content with getting even a little from you. The adversary knows that a little compromise is everything when compromising your faithfulness to the Lord.

The world will accept anything half-hearted. The world knows you love it, if you will just give in a little to its persuasion. Contamination is contamination and will eventually poison you. So any degree of unrighteousness is enough to please the world. For the Lord, however, it is all or nothing. It is complete fidelity to Him which alone will satisfy.  Keeping one foot in the world, while giving lip service to Him will never meet the requirements for loving Him. (D&C 1: 31.)

Those who think the Lord is announcing a new, easier system to replace the earlier, more demanding Law of Moses do not understand His teachings. This is far more exact and moves the battleground into your heart. He is asking you to transform the soul. He is asking you to become like Him. This is not outward observances. However troubling and wearisome those may have been, they were at least something that could be done without battling in your heart with motive, intent and desires. Here Christ wants you to conform everything, even your desires, to be instruments of your salvation.

This is a call to a much higher way of life. It is a much deeper and more meaningful way to approach God. It is inside you.