BOWbutton

This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

 

3 Nephi 15: 3-5

 
“And he said unto them: Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.  Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses.  Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.”
 
Here is the Lord’s announcement that He who gave the law to Moses. He was on the mount. He was the great I AM of the earlier covenant. He is Jehovah. He covenanted with “[His] people Israel.” Indeed, it was He who both made the covenant, and then fulfilled it. He is the one who went before and the one who came after. He was the beginning and the end of the law of Moses. In Him it was fulfilled.
 
All the sacrifices offered in the Mosaic system of worship were designed to point to, and testify of Christ’s ministry. He established the system beforehand to point to His mortal life. They testified of Him as the great and final sacrifice. From the Passover sacrifice of an unblemished lamb, to the altar of incense before the Holy of Holies, the entire Mosaic covenant was made to symbolize His life.

This was the reason He spent most of the day of His resurrection on a seven mile walk explaining to two of His followers that the entire system of worship they followed pointed to Him. His sacrifice was necessary because Moses and the prophets all pointed to Him. (Luke 24: 13-27.) I’ve explained this further in the Appendix to Eighteen Verses and won’t repeat it here. He is affirming to the Nephites what He had earlier affirmed to Luke and Cleopas the day He was resurrected. (I’ve explained why I believe Luke to be one of these two in Come, Let Us Adore Him, and won’t repeat it.)


When the original revelation was given to Moses, it pointed to His great mortal ministry. This is His way. He will tell us beforehand so that when the events occur we can recognize His hand. (Amos 3: 7.) 

These Nephites are not unlike us. They wondered at the transition from one era or dispensation to another. So also in our day there is to be a transition from the original message and promise into the fulfillment of the revelation and promise. The revelation given to us in 1830 when the Book of Mormon was published to the world was intended to inform us about the coming changes we will see through the Lord’s hand. We have yet to see the larger fulfillment of the promised events contained in the Book of Mormon. Gentiles are in the spotlight. But as they fade economically, militarily, socially and politically from center stage, they will fade in significance from the Lord’s final great work, as well. We spent months covering those promises and prophecies. They will all certainly come to pass. As they do, false traditions will not be able to keep pace with the rapid changes to come. The law given to Moses served to point to a greater work. The Book of Mormon prepares and points to another greater work soon to come, as well.

Do not think the Lord changes. He is ever the same. As a result, the tests, trials and experiences of believers in any generation will mirror one another.  Some wondered at the Lord’s fulfillment of the earlier law. There will also be those who are struck with wonder as the Book of Mormon prophecies unfold. If there was ever a time when the caution to be careful about false prophets pretending to be sheep, it is certainly in our generation. Keeping your eye on the Lord, and His promises is more important now than ever before. He is reliable, even if governments, others and institutions fail you.

The fulfillment of the Lord’s covenants is a wonderful thing. When it happens it proves He cares (D&C 133: 52), He keeps covenants (Deut. 7: 9), and He is in control (Psl. 93: 1-5). It is not something to fear, but instead to welcome. As things change, and the pace of change itself accelerates, take heart. Though there will be perplexities of nations with distress (Luke 21: 25), there is still the promise Abinadi reminded us of that the Lord will bring again Zion.  (Mosiah 15: 29-31.)
 
We ought to identify with the message Christ gave these Nephites. We are going to see similar fulfillment of covenant promises made by Him in the not so distant future.

3 Nephi 15: 2

3 Nephi 15: 2:

“And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.”
 
In the preceding verse I asked why Christ was looking at the group. Now we see the answer. He looked about at those who listened to Him because He was taking in their presence. He was listening to them. Not with the ears, but with His eyes and His heart. He “perceived” what concerned them.
 
These people derived their security from the Law of Moses. It was the tradition they were raised with; it was what they understood. The Lord’s declaration that it had “passed away” was disorienting.
 
It is troubling to find your religious tradition has run its course, and will be replaced. People crave certainty and order. This desire is so strong in people that they will endure almost anything in order to keep what is familiar to them.

Once the Lord declared that the law of Moses was fulfilled it raised concerns about how, if at all, the Sabbath was to be kept. How were disputes to be managed? What were the laws respecting interest or usury? Servitude for debt? Punishment for certain crimes? What were the rules to govern society as life went forward?

 
What does it mean that “all things had become new?” Were the things He just said to take effect now? What of animal sacrifice? What of the other offerings? How were religious festivities to be kept, if they were to be kept at all? Which? When?
 
The Lord recognized these people did not understand what the old things passing away meant. He realized there was fear and confusion because of the statement. They needed more teaching. They needed further explanation.
 
Moments of transition in religious epochs are troubling. Most people simply do not want to accept the new acts performed by the Lord, and those He sends. They want to wait. They want to see if the new change prospers; let others decide first, and then join after there is proof of success. They want the security of following along with others. When there are 20 million followers of a new movement, then they can accept the new movement. Not before. The problem is that by the time a movement has acquired 20 million followers, the world has required such compromises to have been made that the original movement has been diluted, altered, compromised and weakened. It may be moving forward claiming to have authority, but it will likely have lost much of its power along the way.
 
Followers of the Lord who were there on the day of this sermon were being told how the new movement was to proceed. He perceives the insecurities of those who are listening. He will take time to explain what is coming next.

The Lord is patient. He will instruct those who follow Him sufficiently that they can go forward with His new dispensation. However, He will expect them to perform exactly as He has taught before they can receive exactly what He has promised.

It is perfect. It is ever the way of the Lord. When He makes an offer, anyone can accept it. But it must be accepted on the terms He established. If you cannot understand, it is not because He did not make it clear enough. Rather, it is because you will not obey in order to gain the light necessary to comprehend what He is teaching. It is your choice to draw away rather than toward Him. As a result, you cannot understand.

3 Nephi 15: 1

3 Nephi 15: 1:

“And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and said unto them: Behold, ye have heard the things which I taught before I ascended to my Father; therefore, whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day.”
 
Christ affirms that the sermon He just delivered was His sermon and teachings “before [He] ascended to [His] Father.” This sermon was likely delivered at many gatherings by Him during His mortal life. For example, when, Mark mentions Him teaching without any discussion of the content (Mark 2: 13), this sermon was likely being repeated by Him. There are other occasions when His message was not preserved, but where He was clearly teaching. The remark here suggests the sermon was not a one-time event. Rather it constituted His mortal ministry’s primary message.
 
Why do you suppose He “cast His eyes round about on the multitude?” Was that mentioned because it was important to your understanding? What should you understand by this act?
 
Why does He mention “ascending to the Father?” Why is it important for these people to know of that event? What does that event tell you about Him?
 
What is the difference between “remembering these sayings,” and “remembering and doing these sayings?” Do you both remember and do them?
 
What does the promise to be “raised up at the last day” mean? Unto what would the Lord raise one up? Can you rise from the dead and be “raised up at the last day?” Would there be more to His “raising up at the last day” for someone who had done as He taught?
 
The way Christ lived His life gives Him the right to teach us all what we need to do in order to be saved. He understood because He lived these principles.
 
He “looks upon” each of us because we can all live these teachings. Adding a little at a time, bit by bit, precept by precept, we can all live them. Not in a rush, but deliberately and with appropriately measuring each of life’s events against His teachings as they come to us.
 
We are capable of much more than we think.
 
In fact, we are capable doing and being everything He has been teaching us. He hasn’t given this talk to govern the lives of some special, small group of distant icons. They were meant to be the means for healthy living. They are how we are supposed to deal with one another.

Remember them. Then live them. He will “raise you up” not only in the last day, but each day as you have His Spirit to be with you.

3 Nephi 14: 26-27

“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand— And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

This is where it ends for most people. They “hear” what Christ has to say, but they don’t “do” anything to change what they are, how they live, or if they will repent.

We are all in need of repentance, more or less continually. Repentance is required for a lifetime.

There comes a point when passions and tempers cool with age. But for most people, even with the Lord’s help, it will be some time before they obtain the upper hand on their weaknesses. What is it, then, that repentance does to cure us?

To repent is to turn to Him. To turn to Him is to face Him, listen to Him, heed Him and pay attention to what He is, says, does. It is to seek to be in contact with Him.

If you are in contact with Him, He will teach you all things you should do. (2 Nephi 32: 6.) Constant contact between you and Him can and will occupy your desires, thoughts and deeds. But turning to face Him is left to you. He cannot enter where He is not invited. He may want to be a part of your life more than you want Him to. It is your choice to let Him in.

 
Hearing alone will not save you. Doing is the thing which saves.
 
Implicit in this is that there is no new great secret you need to uncover in order to be built upon His rock. It is only necessary to do what you already know needs to be done. Discovering mysteries, particularly borrowed ones from others who have had them revealed to them, is little more than eavesdropping on a conversation you have not been invited to share. It avails you nothing. Go have your own conversation with Him.
 
The means to having that conversation is within your grasp. Do what you already understand is required of you. I’m not speaking of a list of do’s and don’ts out of some church manual. I’m talking about asking with real intent, repenting and seeking to have His will revealed to you. Act without hypocrisy. Be willing to take upon you His wishes for you. We’ve been going through that for months now. It is the “system” He has ordained for us can come to Him. It is not enough to hear it, or read it. It must be done. So do it.
 
Some people have reacted to the earlier discussion on this blog about rebaptism as if that were a radical idea. It is only taken from the Book of Mormon. I noted, however, that in the early church of this era, it was customary to be rebaptized. There was a time when stake presidents were told to issue temple recommends to members after they were rebaptized. However radical it may seem today, it is not foreign either to the Book of Mormon or to practices of the church in this dispensation.

Most of you have more than enough left undone at the moment. You needn’t find some new tidbit if you have not become a “doer” of the things already in your possession.
 
When the Lord asks anything of you, do it. Do it even when it is something you would greatly prefer not to do, because that is when He will draw close to you.

3 Nephi 14: 24-25

3 Nephi 14: 24-25:

“Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.”
 
The “wise man” is the one who is saved.

The “house” is an eternal family, continuation of seed, or eternal life.
 
The “rock” is Christ.

The descending storm represents the waters of chaos that destroyed the lives of the rebellious at the time of Noah. The rain, winds, floods are descriptive of God’s judgment of mankind at that moment. Any soul must build their character, the light they possess, and their choices on Christ to withstand the day of judgment. If they do not, they construct their life on the unstable sand of this broken world, and nothing will endure.

Stability into eternity is built upon Christ’s teachings. He came to us to show by example and to teach by word the things which all who are saved must become.

Few are interested in becoming what He was.

This summation is brief, cutting to the heart of the matter. But it is powerful in its plain language.

Christ was the Master Teacher. He said, with great clarity, in a few direct words what He wanted us to understand.

If we fail to heed this warning, then our eternal weakness is because of our choice. If we heed it, then He has provided both the teaching and the example to let us follow.

It is interesting how history has been affected by Christ’s teachings. Wars and empires have claimed Christ as their sponsor. He has been a shield for every excess and wickedness imagined by man.

These comments are not about how to build a country, empire or corporation.  It is about how to build your life. You cannot control anything other than your choices. But you can choose to follow Him, build your life on the teachings we have been looking at in this sermon. If you do, you build upon the Rock of Heaven. (Moses 7: 53.)

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.)