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I have finished what I needed to cover

I have finished what I needed to cover.
 
This blog will become a book. As it gets into final form I may add a few things from 3rd Nephi that haven’t been covered here. When it’s out, I’ll let you know.
There is another book completely unrelated to this blog I need to begin to work on. I need the time I have spent on this to turn to that instead.

When I’ve finished the next book I’ll make it a point to include news of that here. I’m going to leave this up, and will add to it from time to time. In the event I have something to say, I will post here. Check back occasionally.


Here’s an important closing thought – its seems Youkilis, Pedroia and Ellsbury are all recovering nicely. The Red Sox have resigned Ortiz, and will be a force to reckon with again next year (barring injuries). I have to say, however, that the AL East was altogether a playoff disappointment. I get why the BoSox were out of it, but the Rays and Yankees were a complete disappointment. I was hoping the Rangers would win, but I’m good with SF Giants.

3 Nephi 18: 31-32

3 Nephi 18: 31-32:

“Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood. But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.”
 
Even if you know someone has violated the commandment, has partaken unworthily after you have forbidden them to do so, even then you are “not to cast him out from among you.” Instead the Lord puts on His disciples the burden of making intercession for him, praying “unto the Father, in [Christ’s] name” for such a man. For the Lord reminds us that, “if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in [His] name” then the man’s repentance will take care of his failure.
 
Notice the burden on His disciples. What does it mean to “minister unto him” who has transgressed? What does it mean to “pray for him unto the Father” when you know he has eaten and drank “damnation unto his soul?” Why would the Lord have His followers first forbid, then, when the forbidding fails, to follow it up with patience and prayer for the offender? Is this another extension of the teachings the Lord gave in the sermon previously? Does this again testify to you of how serious the Lord is about how kind and patient we are with others?
 
How long are you to bear with the offender, hoping for his repentance? When do you decide that he is determined to “repent not?” What does it mean, after you have determined the man will not repent that “he shall not be numbered among my people?” What does that suggest about further fellowship with that man? Why would that be coupled with “that he may not destroy my people?”  What would such an unrepentant man need to do before you could decide he was attempting to “destroy my people?” How would you decide that?
 
Now, even if you think you have a basis for deciding all this against the man, “nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship.” Did you see that? We are not to forbid even the man who is intent upon destroying the Lord’s people from our places of worship. What selfless behavior is this? Enduring persecution! It is as if the Lord expects His followers to bless those who curse them, to do good to them who despitefully use them.
 
Why such patience? Because “ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.” If there is a chance for repentance, the Lord wants us to bear with, succor and uplift the non-repentant soul who drinks damnation. How often we would do otherwise. Christ instructs us to be more like Him in all we do. It is only by this patience, kindness, gentleness and meekness that He has been able to save my soul. Can a grateful person do anything less for another? Can we expect to forebear any less with the unrepentant than the Lord has with us?
 
How godlike the Master is in all His teachings. How much higher are His ways than are ours.
 
The Lord affirms that He knows His sheep. Not only knows them, but “they are numbered” to Him. He cares for each of them.
 
If we can add another to His fold by our own patient ministrations, then we ought to readily do so. If we do, then He will give us the credit for what we have done: “ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.” Did you catch that? He gives us the credit for the success! We merely follow what He instructs us to do, and if there is any benefit realized He gives us the credit for doing so. Our Savior is more than a good example. He is perfect in all His doings. It is little wonder that in the end every knee will bow before Him. Gratitude will bring some to their knees. Shame will bring the rest. No one will expect to stand or sit in His presence. For in Him we find a soul of such greatness that kneeling alone can give vent to the feelings He inspires.

Nephi 18: 28-29

“And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;  For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.”

This commandment about partaking of the bread and wine is the one He needed them to understand. They should take precautions to prevent those who they know to be unworthy from partaking. The reason is merciful. When they partake of His flesh and blood unworthily, they establish a testimony before the Father of their unworthiness.

Remember the bread and wine become a testimony to the Father. (See 3 Nephi 18: 10.) The observance comes to the attention of the Father. It is a witness before Him. Therefore, when the flesh and blood are taken by those who are unworthy, the witness which comes to the Father is of their unworthiness. The Father cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. (D&C 1: 31.)  When a person comes before the Father in a witness of their unworthiness, such a person “eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul.” This person has asked the Father to take notice of their unworthiness.

It is the responsibility of those who minister these things to “forbid him” in such circumstances. They are their brother’s keeper. Though it may be difficult for the person to be warned, it is merciful to do so. The sacrament is to be offered to the worthy, never offered to the unworthy. The worthy should “forbid” the unworthy from taking.

This is not an unkind teaching. It is not exclusionary or discriminatory. It is based on the doctrine Christ teaches, and the import of the act which witnesses to the Father. That witness occurs whenever the sacrament is properly administered, with appropriate power to bless, in a setting the Lord has authorized, by those who have repented and are properly baptized. Among such people the bread and wine should be given only to those who are worthy.

Now, the responsibility is on the ones administering the bread and wine. But the duty only extends to those who are “knowingly… unworthy.” That is, the ones who administer are not obligated to police others. They are not required to interview and determine worthiness. They are only to take note of such things as come to their attention and require the conclusion that the recipient is “unworthy.” Obvious misdeeds are important, private matters and individual failings are not consequential to the ones administering the rite.

“Therefore, if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink [Christ’s] flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.” But only if you “know” such is the case. Then, you should “forbid” him from doing so.  Not by force, but by refusing to minister the sacrament to him. This becomes impractical, however, when it is a tray passed down a row of people, who cannot be forbidden to partake. In that kind of ceremony, the individual cannot be forbidden except through general teaching and warning. Then the individual is free to choose for themselves whether to heed the caution or to ignore it. The question remains, however, if that relieves the persons ministering the sacrament from their obligation to “forbid him” if he is known to be unworthy.

These are interesting points. All the more so because the Lord has taken the time to teach us these principles. And for Him to teach them, and provide them to us as part of restoring the Gospel to our day, I presume that informs us these points are to be followed.

Whether we choose to follow His teachings or not becomes, for most of us, a matter of convention and acceptance of popular behavior. If these teachings are found in the Book of Mormon, but not observed by us in how we proceed each Sabbath, then we tend to feel comfortable that what we do is right and the text has been corrected by modern practice. It is an interesting conclusion to draw. One which, upon careful examination, does not always leave us with the same feeling of comfort.

Well, the Lord had this to say about us in 1832: “your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—” (D&C 84: 54-57). 

I am glad others are responsible for enacting the Church Handbook of Instructions, and not me. I was glad to attend the leadership meeting and be again informed about this newly revised handbook for use today. It was just a few short years ago President Hinckley’s administration reduced it by a third. Now it has been further reduced by 12%. That is, in my view, a very healthy trend. If this keeps up we may eventually wind up with nothing but the scriptures to guide us.

3 Nephi 18: 26-27

“And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, he turned his eyes again upon the Disciples whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Behold verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you another commandment, and then I must go unto my Father that I may fulfil other commandments which he hath given me.”

Christ first introduced Himself by reference to the Father in 3 Nephi 11:11. He reiterates the connection between Him and the Father again in this scripture. He does not only testify of the Father. He makes it clear that everything done is by the will or command of the Father.

 
If Christ is the example in all things (and He is). Then in this He serves once again to clarify things for us.
 
Christ did not come to do His own will, but submitted to the will of the Father. Just like Christ submitted to the will of the Father, we too are invited to submit to the example and teachings of Christ. We ought to put away our own agendas. We ought to give credit to Him. We follow Him, we trust Him, we seek His will.
 
This is not just a passing point. It is the central point. Studying to know, and then working to do the will of Christ is our responsibility.
As Christ served the Father, we are to serve Him.
 
Christ becomes our Father when we are born again. He is the one who liberates us from sin, and will liberate us from death. Our resurrected bodies come to us as a gift from Him. Therefore, He is literally the Father of our bodies, because they return to us as a gift from Him.
 
As Christ has set an example in following the Father, He has thereby become our Father. We follow Him if we are hoping to go where He is.
 
Notice also the Lord has “other commandments” which He knows He is obligated to fulfill. The Lord has a continuing ministry under the direction of the Father. His ministry is not confined to the appearances we have in current scripture, but comprehends visits to those who have faith in Him throughout the world. He continues that ministry today, as promised in John 14: 18.
 
Part of the “commandments which [the Father] hath given” to Christ include the ministry to save, redeem and teach those who abide the conditions to be taught. Today as in times past.

3 Nephi 18: 24-25

 
“Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.  And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation.”
 
Here is another clarification for the earlier sermon. When admonished to “let your light so shine before this people that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (3 Nephi 12: 16) what the Lord meant is that it is He who should be held up. He alone. Not you, or your good intentions, your conspicuous acts or philanthropy. Not you at all. Him.
 
The obligation to hold up a light is circumscribed by His direction that He “is the light which ye shall hold up.” Nothing and no one else. He is the lifeline. Therefore, when you offer, preach, teach, exhort and expound, He must be at the center of this prophesying, or you are engaging in priestcraft. (2 Nephi 26: 29.)
 
The Lord has “prayed unto the Father” in their presence. Therefore, His example points to how prayer is to occur, and to whom it is addressed. They “all have witnessed” this, and know for themselves how it is to be done.

He has not told any of those who were present to go away. He has brought the same message to all. He gives them His example of liberality: “Ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me.” No one is refused. All are welcomed. Whether those in the multitude thought someone was unworthy, or whether there were some with conflicts, it did not matter. All were invited.  None were refused. They are all “commanded that they should come unto Him.”
 
What is the reason we are commanded to come to Him? It is so “ye might feel and see.” So that you might know Him. So that you can also be a witness of His physical evidence of suffering, crucifixion and death. The wounds He bears could not be received without death. His body testifies that He died. His body also testifies of His resurrection. Despite the wounds which memorialize His suffering and death, He lives! He stands before you in life! He has risen!
 
As you testify of Him, you must invite others to likewise come “that they might feel and see” Him. This is how witnesses of Him are commanded to “do unto the world.” This is their ministry, their burden, their witness, and their command from Him. When they fail to testify, teach and proclaim, they “break this commandment and suffer themselves to be led into temptation.” This is why the Lord required at my hands the book The Second Comforter. That is how He directs all those who are “commanded to come unto Him, that they might feel and see.” It will not be in vague innuendo or veiled language. It may not be in a published book, and may well be in private. But they will all be required to invite others to likewise “come unto Him” that everyone “might feel and see” our Risen Lord.
 
He is accessible. He invites. More than that, He commands. All are commanded and “none of you should go away.” We think it a great thing when someone testifies of Him. Yet He wants all to “come” so that everyone “might feel and see” Him.
 
If we have the same Gospel, we have the same commandments.

The Book of Mormon is, as I have testified in everything I have written, not merely a book of scripture. It is the preeminent volume of scripture for our day.  All other volumes of scripture are not just inferior to it, but vastly so. It is the covenant we are condemned for neglecting. It is the reason I have found Him. For above all else, I have used the Book of Mormon to direct my thoughts, actions, teachings and understanding. Here in these verses we see again – He is inviting us, using the text of the Book of Mormon to find Him, individually, for ourselves.

 
This Book is the restoration of the Gospel. Unfortunately, most people have missed that. Nevertheless, it is true.

3 Nephi 18: 21-23

3 Nephi 18: 21-23:

“Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.  And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not; But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.”
 
Interesting that the admonition to “pray in your families” is so “that your wives and your children may be blessed.” This puts the burden on whom to pray? For whom are blessings sought? Why?
 
What does it mean to “meet together oft?” Is that weekly? If so, then why didn’t the Lord say “each Sabbath” instead of “oft?” What does meeting “oft” suggest?
 
Why would you be told to “not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together?” What kind of meeting is it? What kinds of meetings are open to the public? Is it appropriate to close some meetings from the public? If so, what distinguishes between those meetings which are to occur “oft” and anyone is invited, and other meetings which are to be private?
 
What does it mean to “suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not?” Why would you be admonished to keep the meetings open for public participation? Why would anyone want to “forbid” others from meeting with them?
 
Why would you be told to “pray for them, and shall not cast them out” for those who are not part of your group?
 
Why does the Lord phrase it: “and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name?” Does this suggest that you don’t pray for them until they have “come unto you oft?” Why would that be the condition established before you “pray unto the Father” for them?
 
This is an interesting passage involving an interesting process. Essentially it deals with the un-baptized, the unrepentant, and the unprepared. They are to be welcomed. They are not to be excluded. If they are persistent enough to return frequently, then you have an obligation to pray to the Father for them.  Once they have seen the manner of worship, if they remain interested, they are to be prayed for, and perhaps brought in to the group. Not in a frantic, “we-need-another-baptism-today” kind of way. No rush. Instead, they need to “come unto you oft” of their own free will. They must be interested. They must be motivated by their own desire to know more. They should not be force-fed and “converted” by argument, persuasion, or aggressive marketing. They should be gently brought to see the truth of the Lord in the worship they observe first.
 
This is an interesting concept. This is inviting to come to the light by the light the believers possess. It is meekness, gentleness and ultimately love unfeigned. It is quite Christ-like.
 
I suppose a convert who came to believe in this manner would have thought it through before joining with the believers. Such a person would be unlikely to ever depart from the way. They would have ample opportunity to know beforehand whether they find it enticing, inviting, and desirable. Good fruit, so to speak. Something they want to have for themselves.
 
The Lord’s ways are indeed interesting to contemplate. This great God of heaven proceeds in meekness in all that He does. He teaches meekness to those who will follow Him, as well

3 Nephi 18: 19-20

3 Nephi 18: 19-20:

“Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;  And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.” 
 
When you “always pray unto the Father” in Christ’s name, there will be an inevitable closeness between you and Him. You draw closer to those with whom you associate. Praying always triggers that association. As with everything else, it is dynamic, not static. You move closer or you move farther apart, but you do not remain static.

What does “whatsoever ye shall ask” include? If you think Christ is inviting you to turn the Father into a short-order cook, jumping to your will, you do not understand this process. However, this is how some people view prayer. It is a list of wants, desires and aspirations to be imposed on the Father.

What does the limitation “which is right” do to modify “whatsoever ye shall ask?”

What does the phrase “whatsoever ye shall ask, which is right” mean?

 
Who determines whether a request you make “is right?” What about those occasions when the Lord invites someone to “ask anything of Him”? (See, e.g., 1 Kings 3: 5; 3 Nephi 28: 1–if you do not understand this concept it is explained in Beloved Enos. It occurs in a very specific setting.) Is there any limit to what might be asked at that moment? What does that suggest about those persons this offer is extended?
 
The purpose of this teaching by the Lord is to invite harmony between those who ask, and the Father, who gives. Inspired requests to Him are intended to come to you by revelation, so you may understand what you should ask.  Then, when you have conformed your will to His, what you receive is according to His will, and not your own.
Throughout, the Lord is leading those who will follow into a condition of unity with the Father and the Son. The goal has always been the same. The teachings have always been the same. The Lord’s great Intercessory Prayer taught the same concept. (John 17: 1-26.) The ability to be “one” with them is not accomplished by men persuading God to follow man’s will. It is accomplished in the same manner as Christ accomplished it. That is, by conforming to the will of the Father even when it is painful, or terribly burdensome. (See, e.g. D&C 19: 18-19; 3 Nephi 11: 11.)
 
The whole meaning of this promise is captured in the qualification that it must be that “which is right.” If you acquire an understanding of what “is right” then by asking for it, you submit to the Father’s will. Even if you would shrink from it, beg that it may pass from you, and cower at the thing required of you.  When you “ask of the Father in Christ’s name” for whatsoever “is right” despite your desire for things to be otherwise, you are going to become one with Them. Then you will be like Them. At this time you will learn the great truth that the will of the Father IS indeed “whatsoever is right.”
 
Joseph Smith explained it: “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 his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints.” The way heaven knows a man has arrived at that point is by the offered prayers. When they seek to do the will of the Father, and the requests are “what is right,” then the heavens cannot withhold anything from that man. Indeed, the Lord will prompt the right questions by what the Lord says to that man, so that the knowledge of that man will reach into the heavens. (See Ether 3: 9-20.)
 
Therefore, you must not only “pray always unto the Father in Christ’s name,” but you must also grow in understanding, humility and meekness so you may “ask the Father” for that “which is right.” This is a process. Christ is explaining it in His sermon.

3 Nephi 18: 17-18

3 Nephi 18: 17-18:

“And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto his Disciples, he turned again unto the multitude and said unto them: Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”
The image of Satan “sifting as wheat” is interesting for several reasons. One involves the early claim, now discredited, that the ancient Nephite civilization did not cultivate wheat. Under that argument they would not have understood the analogy. However, once stores of ancient wheat and barley were discovered, the criticism was debunked. There’s a BYU article on this by Robert R. Bennett titled “Barley and Wheat in the Book of Mormon.”
Satan “desires to have you.” You are wanted. Not because he has your best interest in mind, but because he wants control. He wants to gain power over others, limit their choices, and make them his slaves.
The manner wheat was sifted was to use a sieve to separate grain from husks, tares, stones and other chaff. The wheat would be kept, the refuse tossed into a pile to be discarded. Sifting was vigorous and tossed the grain about to separate it. This suggests being completely under Satan’s control, being tossed about, and being discarded. It is a horrifying image, because the result would be domination by the adversary of your soul.
Satan’s great desire has always been to separate men from their agency. He seeks to enslave those who fall under his power. Using wickedness, appetites of the flesh, drug dependence or other addictions, the end goal is always the same. He seeks control. He craves the god-like power to have dominion over others. Since he forfeited any right to gain power in a godly way, he seeks now ungodly power through coercion and compulsion.
Whenever you find compulsion, dominion, control, or force being employed, you have found Satan. (D&C 121: 37-41.) He wants to cut you off from heaven, and  uses control to limit access to the heavens. When people voluntarily surrender their responsibility to follow the Lord, Satan has acquired by persuasion what he craves to acquire through force.
The antidote for falling under Satan’s control is to “watch and pray always.”  Why watch? Why “pray always?”
To watch is to be observant and detect elements of control, dominion and compulsion. It is to become vigilant in separating the will of men from the will of God. It is to keep the Lord’s teachings in mind, and to measure any person’s teachings, actions and persuasions against the standard the Lord has explained.
To “pray always” is to retain a personal connection with heaven. Particularly, to retain that connection through the Holy Ghost, and through Christ’s Spirit, you seek to always have with you. If this is a lively connection, you are able to avoid being “sifted.” If it lapses into darkness, you are vulnerable to being taken captive.

These are simple expressions anyone can understand. It is not the difficulty of the teaching, but the difficulty of the implementation which keeps people bound in darkness. Traditions, widespread acceptance of false ideas, excuses for failure, and rationalizations for why things are as they are, all prevent us from reading these teachings with the eyes of a child. The Lord’s teachings are distorted even as they are being read by the blinders we wear. When the eye is filled with darkness, how great is the darkness within. Christ spoke about that in the previous sermon.

3 Nephi 18: 16

3 Nephi 18: 16:

“And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church, among my people who do repent and are baptized in my name. Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you.”
 
The “prayer” referred to here is the sacrament prayer. There is one among the twelve disciples who is given power to dedicate the emblems of the sacrament. But all of them are to do likewise in the Church in the future.
 
He has provided the example for them to follow. He has taught them how, and then demonstrated how. He has explained why. Now He tells them to do “even so” in His church.
 
But notice once again the Lord defines His church. It is those who “do repent and are baptized in [His] name.” This ordinance is not for those who are casual investigators of His doctrine. It is not for those who, though baptized, have not repented. It is reserved for those having the proper qualifications. Without having done these things first, the sacrament of the Lord’s body and blood are eaten and drank to their condemnation. Instead of it being a testimony before the Father of their faithfulness, it becomes a testimony of their unfaithfulness.
 
Notice the Lord explains His role as “light.” He “set an example for you” and therefore is “the light.” The “light” is the guide. It is the pattern. It shows you the way to go. He has done that in word and in action, so that He can claim to be the “light” for those to follow.

In turn, He has told these disciples they must also become “a light unto the people.” (3 Nephi 15: 12.) To accomplish that it is essential they must “set an example for” them; meaning that they follow as the Lord has led them. Not an example of vainglory or superiority. Instead to meekly do as He has bidden them to do. Adding nothing, leaving nothing undone. Honing in on the things He would have done, and going about to do them.
 
The “light” must reflect the Lord’s teachings and the Father’s will. Otherwise it is darkness. A light cannot shine as His if it is distorted to reflect credit upon the man rather than the True Light, our Lord. When an erring soul entertains mistaken admiration for a man, they are damned. (D&C 76: 99-101.) Therefore, if a person is called upon to be a light, they cannot seek to attract notice for themselves.
 
The Lord saves. Messengers sent by Him point to Him. They mirror His acts, teachings and practices. They do not seek their own will, but only the will of Him who sends them.
 
Throughout this visit between the Lord and the Nephites, we are given an extended view of how the Lord establishes His church and doctrine. So long as it is followed, it has the power to allow mankind to always have His Spirit to be with the followers. However, when they depart from the practices and keep merely a form of godliness, they lose the power He sends to us.
 
These teachings are important enough for the Lord to dwell on, and Mormon to etch them into metal plates. They should be carefully studied, explicitly followed, and greatly appreciated.