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3 Nephi 12: 17-18

 
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil;  For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.”
 
The Lord sends ministers with a commission to transition from one dispensation of the Gospel to another. From Adam until Enoch there was an order, but with Enoch that order changed. Wickedness and rebellion required a new approach, and Enoch was commissioned to bring it about. (Moses 6: 32-34.) Mankind was in such a state of rebellion that their time was to end.  Enoch gathered together people upon a high mountain where he established a city which would survive the destruction by becoming Zion. (Moses 7: 17-21.)
 
Soon after Enoch was called, the Lord called another, giving him also a dispensation of the Gospel. He, however, was to remain on the earth. (Moses 7: 42-43; Genesis 6: 12-14.) With him a new covenant was made. (Genesis 9: 8-9.)
 
Both Enoch and Noah were contemporaries, but each had been given a dispensation of the Gospel. The covenant with Enoch did not disannul the covenant with Adam. Nor did the covenant with Noah contradict the covenant with Enoch.
 
Abraham also received a dispensation of the Gospel. (Abr. 2: 8-12.) Moses also. (Moses 1: 3-4.)
 
Christ also received a dispensation of the Gospel in the same manner as all those who went before. (Matt. 4: 11; Matt. 17: 1-3.)
 
Christ fulfilled all the law. Not merely the Law of Moses, which indeed pointed to Him (Galatians 3: 24), but also every part of the Gospel from Adam to Christ’s earthly ministry. (Jacob 4: 4; also 7: 11.) All have testified of Him and He has completed His ministry in strict conformity with all that was foreshadowed, all that was prophesied, all that was anticipated of Him. Just how completely He did this is not possible to understand with the current state of our scriptures. But He did fulfill all righteousness, complete every assignment, accomplish every task and live in conformity with every prophesy concerning Him. 

Not one matter respecting Him was left undone. From His hair to His feet, all that was foreshadowed or prophesied was done by Him. He turned not His face from those who spit at Him. (Isa. 50: 6; Matt. 26: 57.) He let Himself be shorn as a sheep and kept silent as it was done. (Isa. 53: 7.)

 
He inherited Kingship, but deferred His reign to another time. (John 18: 36.)
 
He fulfilled, but did not destroy. In this He was like those whom He sent before to complete and open anew. In one hinge point of history a dispensation closes and another opens. Enoch and Noah, Abraham and Moses were all commissioned to open and close. For the Lord, however, He divided the spoil. He sent John to close (D&C 84: 27-28), leaving it to Himself to open (John 8: 12). Mankind cannot measure humility or meekness, but in Christ was a fullness of both.
 
Men in their insecurity and vanity want honors, awards, recognition and fame.  The Lord has hidden from us most of what He did, most of what He is. He is content to confine the record of His doings to the minimum necessary for our understanding so we may have faith in Him. But the extent of His doings mankind has yet to find out. (D&C 76: 2.) This is more than a tribute to Him.  He has understated His accomplishments. He has hidden His glory from us. He has made less of Himself, that we may not be unable to identify with Him. He is meeker and more humble than mankind understands.

He can be trusted with all power because He will never abuse it. (Matt. 28: 18.) He will use it to serve others. (Luke 22: 27.)

 
In Christ was all fulfilled. In Him is all fulfilled. In Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. 2: 9.) He is the light who came to His own, but we will not receive Him. (John 1: 10-11.)
 
He was, He is, and He has risen. Above all others and all else, He has risen.  And because of this He has made it possible for others also to rise. Everything He has done was in fulfillment of the law, pointing for us the way. Now it is only left for us to follow, trusting in Him.

3 Nephi 12: 14-16

 
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house; Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
 
Here, again, is a reference to Zion. Zion will be that city upon a hill which cannot be hidden. It will tower over the landscape, elevated both physically and spiritually. It will be the mountain of the Lord in the top of the mountains. (Isa. 2: 2-3.) He will dwell there. (2 Nephi 14: 5; D&C 76: 66; 84: 2.) I’ve already addressed this and won’t repeat it again here.
 
What is the “light” which you are to be to “this people?” Who are “this people?” What is to be a “light of this people?”
 
If you have light, how is it to be shared? Within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the obligation to preach, teach, exhort and expound is imposed upon everyone having the office of Priest and above. (D&C 20: 46.)  Members of both sexes were commanded in 1832 to teach one another the doctrines of the Gospel. (D&C 88: 77.) If you have light and refuse to share it with others, are you putting a candle under a bushel?
 
How do you let the light you have shine through “good works?” That is how it is supposed to be shown. Christ’s teaching explains that people are to see your “good works” as the means for your light to shine. How would that be accomplished?
 
Most interesting of all is that upon seeing your good works, the glory is to be given “your Father who is in heaven.” How would your works reflect on Him rather than on yourself? What would you need to do in order for those benefited by your efforts to turn their thanks to God, rather than to you?
 
If you were interested in your good works reflecting credit to “your Father who is in heaven” how many monuments would you want built to your memory?  How many buildings would you want named after you? How many statutes would you want carved of your likeness and put on display for men to admire?
 
The light should point to the Lord, who can save. It is nevertheless the case that some have become subjects of adoration or veneration despite their inability to save anyone. Those who are distracted from following the Lord become Telestial and continue to suffer the deaths of false religion. (D&C 76: 99-101.) These are no better than the liars, adulterers and whoremongers.  (D&C 76: 103-104.) They became these vessels of God’s wrath because they worshiped men, rather than God. If, therefore, prophets such as Moses, Elias, John, Peter and Enoch have such followers despite preaching that salvation is in Christ alone, then how much worse is it for a man to intentionally cultivate adoration for himself? How much worse is it to deliberately invite this error? 
 
What steps should you take to make certain there are no thunderous celebrations broadcast on television on your birthdays? How quick would you be to reaffirm you are nothing and no-one, and salvation is through Christ and not a man? How clear would you be about your own weakness, foolishness and inability to save another? How often would you point to the Lord who alone can save?
 
It is not enough to be religious. Hell will be filled with the religious. It is not enough to proclaim you have light if you do not live according to its principles. The sermon we are looking at now is the Lord’s careful formulation of the principles which will save. He delivered it often during His mortal ministry. When He was resurrected and ministered to lost sheep, including the Nephites, He delivered the same address to them all.

Above all other sources of information about the path back to God, this is the greatest message of all. Within it are the very steps that are required for life and salvation, spoken by the author of salvation.

3 Nephi 12: 13

3 Nephi 12: 13:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.”

Salt is a preservative, but in this case it is for the culinary benefit. It produces “savor.” That is, the taste of the whole is affected by the presence of a little.
You don’t need much to preserve the whole. Abraham’s negotiation to preserve Sodom demonstrated that only a little of the “salt” is required for an entire population to receive the Lord’s blessings. (Genesis 18: 17-33.) Progress is enough in our day. (Luke 13: 30.) As long as the wheat is still growing, it is enough.

How can salt “lose its savor” except through contamination or impurities? When that is lost, the salt cannot preserve. There is no remaining savor. Then the salt is nothing more than common dirt, to be cast aside and trodden under foot.

This is the gentile predicament in the last days. They will, of course, lose their savor. They will reject the fullness offered to them. (3 Nephi 16: 10.) When they do, they will be torn apart and trodden under foot. (3 Nephi 20: 163 Nephi 21: 12.)

Notice it is the Lord who “gives unto you to be the salt of the earth.” This condition is a gift from God. Through repentance, or turning to Him, you can receive this. Without repentance you cannot become the salt.

There are no private lives. Every life counts. Your private devotions are more important than your public notice. The salt which preserves may be unknown, likely is unknown, to most people. But if you are the salt, then your private life of devotion to the Lord is saving the lives of many others. The angels want to begin the harvest. They are impatient to begin reaping and cutting down the wicked now. (D&C 86: 5.) There is only time given because of a few who deserve more time to grow in faith before the harvest begins. (D&C 86: 6-7.) Your growth is all that is keeping the harvest from beginning now. Therefore, how you proceed has consequences far beyond your own life.

When wheat is ripe it will be protected. When tares are ripe they will be burned. But the tender plants worthy of preservation are the only ones allowed more time. (D&C 86: 4.) I advocate for them and realize how tenuous a position humanity itself is in at present. But you are the ones in the balance and for whom time is granted. How much longer no one knows, but your sins are not private. Your repentance is critical to all of creation. Do not think your life is your own. All of us have a share in your good works.

Do not think the Savior’s words are without cosmic significance. I define “cosmic” to include the cosmos or organized creation here. Even the earth itself longs to be freed from the burden of sin upon her face. (Moses 7: 48.) It is the Lord alone who has granted you time to repent. This current state of the creation we live is affected by the promise held in those who are repenting. As soon as that hope ends, and no further repentance is to occur, then the harvest will begin. Therefore, becoming salt has never been so important as it now is.

3 Nephi 12: 11-12

3 Nephi 12: 11-12:

“And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake; For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.”
 
If your actions are misjudged, that is only normal. There have been charlatans using religion to cloak their evil deeds from the beginning of time. They are so widespread, so often exposed for what they really are, that humanity has a legitimate skepticism about those who come in the name of the Lord.
 
From Jimmy Swaggart’s prostitutes to Ted Haggard’s homosexual encounters, the evangelical world has been rocked by the sexual misconduct of ministers. Catholic priesthood sexual abuse has been so widespread that there is a whole legal industry devoted to bringing and defending claims from victims of that abuse. The LDS Church has quietly settled a number of claims on both coasts and adjusted how membership records are documented and what precautions are taken when calling a man to teach in Primary because of sexual misconduct and associated legal claims. 
 
The Burt Lancaster film Elmer Gantry was based on the Sinclair Lewis novel and illustrated the life and deeds of a false prophet. Indeed, the term “prophet” is rarely used in modern vernacular outside of LDS circles unless coupled with the term “false.” “False prophet” is expected. What is unexpected is the contrary.
 
So when first reactions are taken, it will always be to sneer, to jeer, to mock and to suspect those who come in the name of the Lord. They are right to do that. Everyone OUGHT to question motives. Everyone OUGHT to think you’re a fraud. They should expect you are like all those others in whom society trusted. No one wants to follow Jim Jones to their death, drinking strychnine laced Kool-Aid in another mass-suicide. That has happened too often already. Indeed, the fruits of such false prophets have been so devastating, so evil, so wrong in spirit and result that only a fool would be eager to trust you even should you have a pure heart and a true message.
 
The first reaction should be skepticism which will result in an attempt to measure your sincerity. Until you’ve been tested by the world, there is no reason for the world to believe anything you have to say. They will revile you, thinking you just another fraud. They will persecute you as if a charlatan, though you are His disciple. They will say all manner of evil against you falsely, all the while thinking they are only giving you what you deserve.
 
This is how the world decides if you are following Him. They have seen and heard no end of those who have claimed to follow Him, and you are no different in their eyes. That is, until you have actually followed Him;  borne their criticism, returned good for evil, and shown how devoted you are in fact, as Christ will address in coming verses. When you have proven your devotion, then some few will soften their hearts. Others will remain unwilling to admit the truth, even when it is apparent you are His.
 
This is the way in which Christ lived His life. These teachings are an explanation of Him. And, in turn, it is also an explanation of the lives of any who follow Him. To follow Him, and to learn of His ways always requires experiencing some of what He experienced. While He assumed a full measure of these teachings, we are required to experience some of what He did only to allow us to understand Him. But these teachings are meant to be lived. They are meant to be applied and tested. If you test them, you will discover Him through them.
 
You will also come to know and understand the prophets who went before. This is a timeless brotherhood. Some of them invariably also come to succor their fellow Saint. This is always the same when the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is lived on the earth.

3 Nephi 12: 10

“And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


It is not just persecution, but persecution “for [His] name’s sake” that makes you blessed. When you are doing what you should for His name’s sake, you are likely to provoke persecution. He will later explain this is almost inevitable. It won’t be because you are provoking it by your obnoxious behavior. It is because people will question your sincerity and commitment. The world expects hypocrites. They regard everyone with suspicion. And, let’s face it, most charlatans adopt religion as one of their cloaks. We’ll get to that a little further into this sermon from the Lord.


The kind of persecution which produces the “kingdom of heaven” is, of course, martyrdom. Originally the word “martyr” meant witness, but so many of the early Christian witnesses were killed that it came to have the modern meaning, that is one who dies for their faith.


Martyrs were seen in John’s vision below the altar of God. (Rev. 6: 9.) This of course means they were holy because of their sacrifice. The heavenly altar being a symbol of them having shed their blood as witnesses. Joseph Smith and Hyrum joined those who qualified for such a witness. (D&C 135: 7.)


Zenos, author of the Olive Tree allegory (Jacob 5: 1), prophet of the three days of darkness upon the isles of the sea (1 Ne. 19: 10), witness of the Lord’s burial in a sepulcher (1 Ne. 19: 10) seven centuries before His birth, was slain for his testimony (Helaman 8: 19).


Stephen was killed for his testimony but clearly inherited the kingdom of heaven. (Acts 7: 55-59.)


There are many others, including Able, Isaiah, Peter, Paul and Abinadi.


Blessed are those who are willing to endure persecution for His name’s sake.  For they are those who are willing develop faith which cannot be obtained in any other way. It is through the sacrifice of all things that faith necessary for salvation is developed. Read again the post on Lecture 6 of the Lectures on Faith on April 21, 2010.


Beginning with faith to follow Him, then enduring persecution as a result, to offering the sacrifice necessary to develop faith, then inheriting the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel of Christ is one great whole.


Sometimes we bring persecution upon ourselves because we are unwise. The Lord will address that. We are to take offenses, but not give them. When we unwisely give offenses and cause persecution, that is not for His name’s sake.  There is a balance between wisdom and righteousness.


As an aside on the subject of persecution I wanted to add this:


I’ve thought about Elder Packer’s talk and the homosexual community’s reaction to it. Elder Packer was right, and he was addressing a community of believers who look to him for teachings like the ones given in that talk.  Nobody ought to take offense at that. If you can prevent Elder Packer’s teaching in that setting, then you can invade and stop talk in any setting on any subject.


However, nothing in that talk would encourage or justify invading the privacy and causing the shame visited upon the Rutgers University student who committed suicide. The invasion of his privacy was cruel, the act of publicizing it was a calculated act of terrible insult. His grief, despair and subsequent suicide are the fault of those who invaded his privacy and exposed his weakness. It was wrong. Elder Packer’s talk was to benefit a community of believers, not to persecute an audience of unbelievers.


I have friends I ride Harley’s with who have absolutely no interest in Mormonism. One of my dear friends hates my church, thinks it barbaric and unenlightened. But that does not stop our mutual friendship nor define the areas about which we find common ground. Another person’s differing views are only offensive when they demand I accede to them. If they will suspend judgment against me because of my faith, I am willing to suspend judgment against them because of theirs. This ought to define the boundaries of conduct, not militant demands for conceding the argument on questions of faith and belief. I can believe that my friend’s lifestyle is corrupt and even immoral. But so long as he does not expect me to join him, I am pleased to be a friend, share what we have in common, and leave our differences for polite disagreement.


There are some sins I simply do not understand. But if my friendship may help someone to understand my faith, then I would sooner be friends with someone of another faith than one of my own. I do not expect many people to accept what I believe. In fact, I think there are very few fellow Latter-day Saints who believe or understand the Gospel as I do. If I were to limit my friends to those with whom I have everything in common, then my wife and children alone would be my friends.


Elder Packer should have the right to speak and preach the truth as he understands it. Those who would censor him are wrong.


If he is mistaken, then point out his error in a kindly way and seek to reclaim him. But condemning, protesting and attacking only shows intolerance and coercion which all of us have a responsibility to resist and condemn. It is wrong when the homosexual community does it, and it is wrong when the church does it. Win the argument with persuasion and strong reasoning.  Yelling, condemning and protesting only attempts to silence thought, not to provoke it into correct understanding.


Now I’m off topic…

3 Nephi 12: 9

3 Nephi 12: 9:

“And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
More often than not those who are “peacemakers” will be abused. They will at least have to endure aggression and give a soft word in return. (Prov. 15: 1.) There will be no end to the peace which comes from Christ because there was no end to the suffering He was willing to endure. (Isa. 9: 7.)
When we hearken to the Lord’s commandments we have peace like a river flowing. (Isa. 48: 18.) This is because the Lord will fight for you, and you can hold your peace. (Exo. 14: 14.) The Lord will fight Zion’s battles. (D&C 105: 14.)
When a man is right before God, even his enemies are at peace with him. (Prov. 16: 7.) At least until his time comes and his mission is completed. (D&C 122: 9; John 19: 10-11.)
When the Lord was taken with violence and crucified, He was at peace. (Luke 23: 24.) He purchased peace through what He suffered. He alone can share that with all. (Isa. 53: 5.)
Through Him, the “peacemakers” have found this peace. This is why they have become His “children” for He has begotten them. (Mosiah 27: 25.)
In a world of violence and abuse, it is peace we seek. But that peace comes only to the children of God and only because they know they are the children of God. At their rebirth, they are at rest from the cares of this dreary world, and informed by a better promise of things to come. (See Alma 13: 29, and our earlier discussion about that verse; see Moroni 7: 3.)
Those who bring peace bring hope to this world. This world if filled with tribulation, but the Lord has overcome this world. (John 16: 33.)  Many have experienced this peace, become children of God, and then been persecuted, hated, reviled and killed. (Hebrews 11: 33-35.)
Peace is a gift from Christ, and His peace is for this world and for the world to come. (John 14: 27.) But the promise of triumph is hereafter, when the world can no longer make any claim upon a child of God.  (D&C 122: 4 and 135: 6-7.)
Though a man may declare peace, the world will not be at peace until the Lord slays the wicked. (Rev. 19: 11-16.) Peace, as all other sacred things in our day, must be internal. We live in a day of overwhelming ignorance, foolishness and wickedness. It is not possible to obtain peace except on the terms which allow it. If you live those, you will have peace. But the world will not live them with you.
Patrick Henry put the problem of peace in this world into immortal words: “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
The war remains today, but now it is against all righteousness. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6: 12.) Elder Packer cannot even preach a sermon to a congregation of Saints belonging to a church over which he holds office without the anger and vilification of the homosexual community and others being aroused. 
If you are to find peace, and to become a peacemaker here, then it is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The world will not know peace again until He returns. To be a child of God and know peace is, in our day, to cry repentance and to bring others to Christ.

3 Nephi 12: 8

3 Nephi 12: 8:

“And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
This is a remarkable promise. Would you like to see God? Then first purify your heart.
Notice this is not just ritual purity, which had been the focus of the Law of Moses. Christ is replacing earlier ritual based purity with internal purity. 

He speaks about the heart, rather than the hands and feet. Christ is speaking about beholding God, unlike the retreat Israel took from the offered opportunity at Sinai. (See D&C 84: 22-25.) He is returning to the time of Moses, when a higher way might have been chosen.

Purity of the heart is a borrowed benefit from the Savior. Man cannot become clean before God without the necessary offering of a sacrifice. The Law of Moses taught this, but Christ would actually bring it to pass. (See, e.g., Alma 34: 36.)
Christ’s atonement cleanses us. (Alma 13: 11; Ether 13: 10.)
When we repent we turn to Christ and listen to and follow Him. Until then, we are not even facing the right direction in life.  
Some reminders of how the heart may be purified:
-Let virtue constantly prevail in your thoughts. (D&C 121: 45.)
-Pray to the Father with a devoted heart. (Moroni 7: 48.)
-Repent and call upon God with a contrite spirit, asking the atonement to be applied to your sins. (Mosiah 4: 2.)
-Fast and pray often, that you may become humble. (Helaman 3: 35.)
-Follow what light you have to receive more light, until you have the “perfect day” in which you are a vessel of light. (D&C 50: 24; D&C 93: 28.)

It is also interesting that what must be “pure” is the “heart.” There are so many other things one might measure. But what the Lord looks upon to determine purity is the “heart.”

I’ve said that there is almost nothing about us that can become perfect in this life. The only thing that can approach perfection, however, is our intent. We can mean to follow God at all times. Even if the dilemmas of life make it impossible to actually do so, we can still intend to follow Him. We may not even know if what we are doing pleases Him, or how to resolve conflicting interests or commandments. We may even be making a mistake, but if our intent is right, our hearts may be pure.
This is also one of the reasons we cannot judge another. They may be weak, foolish and error prone, but if they intend to be doing the right then God alone can measure their heart and decide whether they are approved. It would take a God to know if the person’s life, training, understanding and intent are pure before Him. I suspect there are those we look upon as deluded and even evil but the Lord views them with compassion and understanding. He may find their hearts to be perfect even before the heart of the proud who claim they have and follow the truth. Though a person may misunderstand a great deal, still if they have love for their fellow man, relieve suffering where they can, give patience to the foolish and water to the thirsty, they may be perfect before God. (Luke 18: 9-14.)
There are so many illusions here. Some who are regarded as high and lifted up by God, temperate in their conduct, studying how they are seen by others before acting; are in fact wretched, miserable, poor and naked. (Rev. 3: 14-17.) I say with authority that there are some regarded as the very chiefest of the righteous among the Latter-day Saints who are before God wretched, miserable, poor and naked. They cannot survive even a glance from His all seeing eye. Yet they pretend they share in His vision, when they do not.

How few hearts are pure before God. How rare a thing it is to contemplate such a person. How few we produce in this restoration of the Gospel. We remain as a people too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending to be called of God. No wonder we stumble and fall backward and many are taken in snares. (Isa. 8: 11-17.)

3 Nephi 12: 7

3 Nephi 12: 7:

“And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

The standard applied to us is the standard we apply to others. This is repeatedly set out in scripture:

Alma teaching his son Corianton recorded: “Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.  For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all.” (Alma 41: 14-15.)

 
Moroni’s final discussion about the Gospel included these words: “And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.”  (Moroni 7: 18.) 
 
Peter asked a practical question about the extent of forgiving others. He wanted a mathematical limit to be set. The Lord, however, raised the limit beyond an ability to reasonably count: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18: 21-22.)

There are others. I’d commend the chapter on the Atonement in Come, Let Us Adore Him for a more complete explanation of this doctrine.
 
If you want mercy from the Lord, you must give it to your fellow man. If you do not show mercy to your fellow man, the Lord cannot provide it to you. There is a law which binds the Lord to the same standard you set for yourself. It is an irrevocable law. Therefore, the Lord teaches us to show mercy so that we might merit mercy. We are the final beneficiaries of all the mercy we show to others.
 
It really is true that “what you send out shall return unto you again,” to quote Alma. This is called “karma” in another faith. It is a true principle. Perhaps it operates within an larger time frame than just this life, but it operates, nonetheless. Alma knew the truth and was teaching it to his son.
 
It was Laban’s judgment of Nephi and his brothers that got him killed. I’ve discussed this in The Second Comforter. It was his decision that a robber was worthy of death (1 Nephi 3: 13) which sealed his fate. For when he became a robber (1 Nephi 3: 25), then the Lord was free to show him the same judgment he had rendered (1 Nephi 4: 11). Sometimes what you send out returns to you again in this life

3 Nephi 12: 6

“And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

This is not about hunger or poverty. This is about fasting and seeking after righteousness.

You qualify for this blessing by hungering “after righteousness.” You qualify by thirsting “after righteousness.” In other words, you receive the Holy Ghost in proportion to the hunger and thirst you display to receiving it.

Fasting is a promised means for increasing the Holy Ghost in your life. We read this about Alma when he served as High Priest over the church: “And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?  Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.  And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God.” (Alma 5: 45-47.)

Fasting and praying opens the Spirit. It allows you to know a matter through the power of the Holy Ghost. Again, we read this about the Sons of Mosiah who were completing their service as missionaries: “…Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.  But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” (Alma 17: 2-3) They not only searched the scriptures, but they also spent time praying and fasting, that they might show God their earnest commitment to know the truth. The result was the “spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation.” Or, in other words, they were filled with the Holy Ghost.

The Lord speaks in simple formulas. They work; when tried in sincerity, acting no hypocrisy, with real intent, they work. Half-hearted efforts are not so effective. But when a soul, any soul, hungers and thirsts after righteousness, they are filled with the Holy  Ghost.

This sometimes presents a problem for those who have medical conditions which prevent them from fasting. In The Second Comforter, I’ve suggested there are other ways to subordinate the desires of the flesh as a way to “hunger and thirst” while keeping medical needs satisfied. Reducing calories, or doing without some other thing as a form of “fasting” can be substituted. The decision would be between you and the Lord, but there are always ways provided for meeting what the Lord asks, including fasting by those who are medically unable. (1 Nephi 3: 7.)

This sermon is a blue-print of the Lord’s new charter for mankind. It is the new, higher way of living. It is intended to result in a new spiritual life for those willing to live it. Therefore you should not dismiss “hunger and thirst for righteousness” as something trivial. If you are among those who does not believe the Lord speaks with them, take these invitations from the Lord seriously. They are designed to reconnect you with God. They have the power to accomplish it.
Also, in the case of the Sons of Mosiah, there was actual “power” which came through this means. These missionaries could teach “with power and authority of God” because of their fasting, prayer and study of scripture.