3 Nephi 21: 21-22

3 Nephi 21: 21-22:  

“And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.  But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;” 

Again the warning and the promise. Vengeance and fury are terrible words. It will be the responsibility of Christ to inflict it, and Christ says it will be His. “I will execute vengeance and fury” not “the Father.” This is Christ’s assignment – His cup.

His fury will be executed upon disbelieving gentiles, as well as the offending and violent heathen. When the spirit withdraws and they are left to themselves, it is only the limits of their cruel imagination that will compass the torture and evil they will visit upon one another. He will allow it by withdrawing the light of Christ, or His spirit. Without conscience, without remorse, without affection, filled with anger and hatred, it will be vengeance and fury.

This is juxtaposed with the reminder that “if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts” He will be with them. If they will follow His path, His light and spirit will not forsake them. They will not descend into the same violent vengeance and fury. They will remain at peace. They will have hope in Him.

For those who will “repent,” and “hearken unto His words,” He will establish “my church” among them.  Does this mean The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the church of the Firstborn?

When His church is joined it is through “the covenant.” What “covenant” is that? Merely baptism, or something more?

When the “covenant” is given them, they become “numbered among this remnant of Jacob.” Who is that remnant? When they become “numbered” among them, what significance does that hold? Does it imply a covenantal link which, like being sealed to someone, makes you part of that eternal family line (as discussed earlier)? 

Why is it necessary to become first in the covenant and numbered with the remnant before they receive the blessings of being “given this land for their inheritance?” What does the promise of land have to do with entering into a covenant? Can it ever be the same as the covenant made with Abraham if it does not involve an inheritance of land? If, therefore, the covenant of land is part of that new and everlasting covenant which was begun through Joseph, is this a promise of reuniting the recipients with the “fullness of the Gospel” as opposed to receiving “much of the Gospel” discussed in earlier posts?

What is the Lord setting out in this declaration and prophecy?  How do we become part of those promises? Is this something which an institution can do for you? Must you repent and come to Christ in order to become a part of it? If so, why not repent?

26 thoughts on “3 Nephi 21: 21-22

  1. Hi Stephanie,

    I just got back on here to read the second post for today (3 Nephi 21: 23) to a friend of mine, and you’ve taken it off!! It was so good and important. Did you take it off because you accidentally put it up before this afternoon? You can email me your answer, or whatever. THANKS FOR EVERYTHING. You can even email me the post!!! :)

    love, Kisi kwatki2@gmail.com

  2. That was a mistake caused by my ineptitude in working on the blog myself. Normally Steph does everything technical on the blog. I just write stuff, she puts it all up and puts in the links, etc.

    That post will come up in order, and she has scheduled it to be up while she’s out of town. So you’ll see it again, but in order and on her schedule.

  3. I am finding this post on ‘covenants’ interesting. I have had several friends tell me recently that “as long as we are keeping our covenants, the Lord will take care of us.” I don’t think we as a people even understand what it truely means to keep our covenants, yet I hear it often.

  4. CS I agree, what does it mean to keep our covenants anyway?

    By some definitions of the full extent of the covenants, most if not all people have to SOME degree broken all of them. I can see some truth to that. However it does not stop me from seeking light and righteousness. I now just tend to seek “His” righteousness instead of my own.

    After reading this blog, certain phrases like -time, talents, and all the lords current or future blessings being consecrated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints- starts to sound odd to me. If asked I’d be willing, but as of late, and due to thoughts prompted from reading recently, I wonder just what it means to keep that, and other covenants.

    CS what do you think?

  5. I agree that there is much we don’t understand. I am going through a “paradigm shift” as of late. I can see why the Lord does not bombard us with information all at once, but gives it to us a little at a time.

    I am starting to understand the true role of the church in our lives. I feel as if I have been searching for answers(without knowing even knowing the right questions) for years and am finally finding them.

    Everthing hinges on our coming to the Lord, and having Him come to us in return. How can we truely keep our covenants otherwise? It is so sad to really see how we as a people (LDS) put a lid on what we will receive from the Lord. We truely do limit ourselves. It is like dark glasses have been lifted from my eyes as I begin to truely see the state we are in.

  6. Anon:
    We’ve heard that we should give our talents etc. to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth and for the establishment of Zion. Until recently, I’ve looked at that as an all-in-one phrase. But what if it were showing us steps of progression? We start with the church, then move towards doing the work of the Gentiles (finding the remnant and sharing the covenant of the B of M), then ultimately establish Zion (literally), assisting those who have been called to raise it up.

    I can’t imagine that the “stakes of Zion” that we have within the Church are what we are commanded to establish, although it’s easy to consider that the case if we don’t think too deeply about it.

    Doug

  7. CS and Anonymous,

    I believe that once we are fully keeping all of our covenants (which also requires continual repentance, since I seem to continually sin and since only with the Lord’s grace can I fully keep them) we will receive the 2nd Comforter. I find that the more I think about the covenants I have made, the more I am led to a better understanding of what they mean and what I must do to more fully keep them.

    Denver is right when he says that the Lord will tell us what we need to work on to come closer to Him. I receive the answer almost before I can utter the question. How long has He been waiting for me to ask Him?

  8. Ic, I agree with you. I also believe that the more we keep our covenants, especially our marriage covenants, the faster we will gain the second comforter.

    Studying just what we covenanted to our spouse to do for them is very vital to knowing how to keep it.

    I find one of the saddest things is that many in the Church believe that if their spouse has broken their covenants then they should break theirs too. They feel that there is no use in keeping their vows anymore because they believe their spouse won’t make it now.

    But Heavenly Father knew that in most marriages, at least one spouse would break their covenants & so he hoped the other would be strong enough to hold the marriage together & not break their covenants too.

    Two wrongs never make a right. And it just takes one faithful spouse to make the marriage eternal. For eventually the other will repent & follow suit.

    Keeping our covenants is so powerful that it will not only save us, but our spouse & children too.

  9. To Everyone, had a conversation with a good friend that proved beyond doubt that what LC and anonymous propose is a lie. The covenants will never merit the Second Comforter. They are the blessings we receive and wish to maintain because they simply are good and taste good. Go on with your “covenant keeping to merit something” nonsense and you will lift up your eyes in hell, being in torment.

  10. I have come to believe that the idea of “enough, more, better, stronger, faster!” is a damning mentality. It’s as if we think every “good deed” we do is a brick, and if we stack enough bricks over the course of a life time, we may have enough to climb up to the top and reach heaven. But when the time comes when we think we are “close,” we become confounded and frustrated as to why we don’t seem any closer than we were before.

    The results of this mentality are prevalent in the Church. It produces an atmosphere of competition and comparing.

    If I say, “My tower is much smaller than my neighbor’s or a General Authority’s,” then I start to believe that I am not “enough,” and lose hope. I have doubts in my ability to come unto Christ, especially in this life time, because I can surely not stack enough bricks to do it!

    If I say, “My tower is taller than my neighbor’s,” then I start to believe that I am a source of light. “Come to me and I’ll tell you how to create a better brick, in half the time. All for only a buck.” Or I feel like I can “rest” comfortably, because “all is well in Zion, and I have more bricks than most around me, so odds are that in the next life I’ll be just fine.”

    We can take this analogy all over the place, but the bottom line, in my mind, is that the Savior has been standing behind us this whole time. We just need to stop and re-turn to Him. I believe “how” that is done is as individual as we are.

    Doug

  11. Amen, Doug. Our prevalent mentality is because of a warped interpretation of “saved by grace, after all we can do”. we are spurred on because we know the Protestants have it wrong with their one prayer for grace idea, and think our view of Nephi is better, when don’t even understand Nephi. The point of “saved by grace, after all we can do” is a sad lament that we will not receive grace until we’ve finally given up on the “all we can do” part and realize, like King Benjamin pointed out, that all we can do amounts to nothing, and we must rely WHOLLY upon the merits of Christ. Christ allows for a prepartory Priesthood of carnal commandments for carnal, sensual, and devilish people to practice until they realize it’s all in vain, and finally rely on faith, even if they still have to perform the carnal commandments until Christ commands they be stopped.

  12. Keeping our covenants, especially our marriage covenants, is the only way to becoming Christ-like.

    And Christ only accepts & visits those who are like him.

    Those who don’t honor & believe in the power of covenants are usually those who aren’t willing to keep them.

  13. Carnal commandments are a diversion from carnal sins, mercifully allowing a carnal people time to realize they need repentance. Carnal commandments are a curse, just like the earth was cursed for Adam’s sake (so he could realize he needed repentance). Carnal commandments never have the power to save, though. Think about how violent the children of Israel were coming out of Egypt (especially the sons of Levi, who were descended from Levi who murdered the people of Shechem), and how the slaying of beasts kept their beastly hunger for blood at bay, in an approved, authorized ordinance. But remember, how did God feel about the rivers of blood of goats and sheep and bullocks? Says He, “I will have obedience, and not sacrifice”

  14. …but obeying the Father, keeping the commandments of the Lord…well, these injunctions by Deity have caused many to assume that doing all we can do the way we’ve understood it in the past is the way to accomplish these divine mandates…have we ever asked Deity how they want us to accomplish obedience and keeping the commandments? King Benjamin says it is impossible for mortals to merit this achievement. What do we do? It appears we are lost, fallen, and damned–cut off from things pertaining to righteousness. The answer is the great mystery of godliness found in D&C 93, and can’t be illuminated in full here. But rest assured, none of our efforts will ever work. Never, no never. This should really break your hearts and produce a willing mind…a willing mind for something…

    Instead of kicking against the pricks, why not try experimenting and letting this awful reality sink in until it hurts and rips apart your emotions until the heart is pulverized into mush and tender (that may take a few days, or more)? Why not find out what you would then be willing for after such a descent into the depths of humility?

    The people in darkness [will] see a great light.

  15. Zang

    I understand your point and I agree that we can do nothing of ourselves – we are all aware that ever breath with take is a gift. Certainly, however, there is much effort we, personally, need to make. Certainly, we need works that go along with our faith. Without “fasting and praying oft,” for example, how do we become stronger in our humility and firmer in our faith of Christ? Also, Christ will not force us to “come” unto him, to be “steadfast,” to “do good continually” etc. I am working on “coming unto Christ” to be “perfected in Him.” I am striving to “deny (myself) of all ungodliness” that “by his grace (I) may be perfect in Christ.”

    I have asked the Lord for direction. He has given it to me. I know I have much to do and learn. I am confident He will continue to teach me.

  16. Also to Doug,

    You are right about the “more and better brick” mentality. As we have been taught, it is about “becoming.”

  17. Hi lc, I would say, if you understand the point “that we can do nothing of ourselves – we are all aware that ever breath we take is a gift”, then live it, no “however” attached. Any effort will then be Christ’s and not yours. If you are making the effort, then you are not fasting or praying yet in truth. If you can NOT get Christ to do things for you and through you yet (and that is the case for many of us, be patient), then keep practicing vain works, they may deter you from sin at least, but know they will not save you. That’s not intended to be condescending. Let it sink in and see if it is a good seed by experimenting on it. What have we to boast of if Christ does it all? You will feel a difference between you doing something and Christ doing it through you. Never do anything yourself, as the scripture says, pray before everything that it may be consecrated to your salvation. Your efforts will never save you one degree. Salvation is free, as Lehi said. He meant it. No effort on your part. Receiving is not an effort. It is the process of letting go of your own efforts. That takes longer for some of us, myself included. These things are true, but only received by the Spirit. Don’t risk watering it down. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Let it sink in and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Only when you stop your own efforts will you ever receive any covenant to begin with. Read about the expression that King Benjamin’s people had after his address. They gave up all to gain all. You must as well. The burden truly is easy, but it is also light. When you wake up to the darkness we are in, you will see the light.

  18. lc, judging by the last bit of your comment, you have been receiving Christ, but may simply be having a definition problem due to our culture’s fixation on self-sufficiency. If you let what I wrote sink in, it may bring some relief of mind concerning what I said. That’s my hope, at least. Having the wrong definitions and doctrine is not as bad as having the wrong practice (so you’re on better standing than most, based on what you said you’re trying to let happen to you with grace and godliness), but wrong ideas can lead to wrong practice and might be cause for confusion during trials and temptations. Is this helping? This really isn’t much the right place to go too deep into this. Ask the Lord about it. Bottom line, if you are feeling compelled to increase your own efforts with something, it is not from the Lord.

  19. Brian Z,

    Even with the understanding that quantity and “effort” are stumbling blocks, I still struggle with what the true answer is. It can be so contradictory:

    * We need to stop making an “effort” to do things, but does it require an effort to stop making an effort?

    * If obedience isn’t following the carnal commandments, what is it? Just following the Spirit, whatever I feel like it is for the day? Or is that why it’s so important to KNOW the Savior, so we can know His will/His plan for me and do it (or be it)? But then the wheel has circled again on itself because I’m back to “How do I get to know the Savior?”

    If sin isn’t just breaking a carnal commandment, what IS it? Not doing the Father’s will? Then I’m back to how do I know God’s will?

    Is this what King Lamoni’s father meant by saying, “O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee..,”

    Am I “sinning” by doing MY will? Is this what I need to give up, completely?

    Doug

  20. Denver’s article that he emailed everyone I think is the source for some interesting comments about this. Before we were born, we had trouble believing we existed. Now being shut out from God’s presence, we are sure we exist, but have trouble believing God exists. The struggle and contradictions this imposes on our system and feelings sends us in circles until resolution (redemption) occurs. Your head spinning is not out of the ordinary. When it is all said and done, do you not feel to exclaim, truly man is nothing and I am a fool? The answers will come as sure as grass grows. When we make our own efforts, we stunt the growth of the grass. It is a matter of who implemented the effort, not about no effort at all. If everything we do is initiated by Christ, do you see how easy it is to always remember Him? We make the effort after He initiates it, but it is not ours. On the flip side, it may take some time to realize “Oh, that’s me” starting something versus the peace that He gives in a way that no others give it. When Christ initiates a good work, the pain and effort may remain, but the peace is there saying it is His work and not yours. The command is to have that happen always. That is why it is easy, but still a burden. We reject it so often because we expect it to annihilate effort all together. If the effort originates with us, then yes, it is sin. That realization of absolute weakness is what breaks the heart. Solomon finally learned this wisdom after his fall and proclaimed, “Vanity of vanities! All is vain under the sun!” and elsewhere it is said, “the imagination of man’s heart is evil continually!” How can it be anything otherwise when we are blinded by a veil? Who else but Christ can remove that veil? Therefore any works done in the light are His. The children of light come to the light that it may be manifest whose works they really do. The children of darkness come not to the light, and refuse to comprehend the light, because THEIR works are evil, and THEIRS always will be.

    Therefore, show me thy faith by thy works. Why? Because if you show good works, James can tell if they are Christ’s works and not yours, then he will know you have real faith, because James knows what works are Christ’s and what works are not. You’ll have to get past the angels who stand as sentinals and can figure these things out. Is anyone comfortable offering up efforts produced by their own imaginations? Frightful thought.

  21. P.S. – Sin is breaking a carnal commandment when that carnal commandment is in force. But sin is also being content with carnal commandments and thinking they are a blessing when they are really a curse. There are many vain things required of us at Church. I try to do them knowing they are vain and have no saving power for me or for the individuals involved. I try to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s – the vain things of this world, then I also try to give unto God what is God’s, like Denver said about his other obligations to God in a more recent post. Not all things in Church end up being vain. But it is good to support the vain ones if required by God: 1. for ourselves when we need them and 2. for others, because they help divert us from overt sin. The vain practices become sinful when we do not let our hearts be weened from them when the time comes for us to be weened from them, in my opinion. I can not tell you all the ways we can sin, there are too many ;-)

    Do you remember in the Book of Mormon when people were enlightened as to the uselessness of the Law of Moses and began to teach others to stop doing it? They were corrected and told they must continue, even if they knew it to be vain, until all was fulfilled by Christ. Look into that some, maybe. It is a type for the time immediately preceding the Second Coming of Christ as well. Can you see it?

  22. Doug,

    Let’s consider Moroni 7.

    Verse 5: “For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them”.

    [It is interesting to note that all of the standard works teach that we will each individually be judged according to our works. Here is a sample from each of the standard works: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, D&C, and The Pearl of Great Price.]

    When Brian Z. said “if you are feeling compelled to increase your own efforts with something, it is not from the Lord.” [emphasis added] I agree, since I don’t believe the Lord ever compels us. The Lord respects our agency. Rather, he entices us as verse 13 says. I think Satan can attempt to tempt us to do right for the wrong reason just as much as he can tempt us to do the wrong thing for no good reason. The net result is effectively the same from his perspective.

    Doing the right thing for the wrong reason gets us nowhere. (See verses 6-11.) These verses explain why we can’t “earn” our way into heaven, since if we keep the commandments with the mindset that we’re earning it then we have the wrong motivation and, ergo, “it is not counted unto [us] for righteousness.”

    We can never merit salvation on our own. What we can do, however, is choose to align our desires to those of the Father. We are free to choose. We have agency. We can choose to follow Him.

    Let me quote a snippet from my PB since I like how the patriarch phrased it:

    Strive to train your desires so that you can always desire the things that are best. Study each day to understand the gospel. Pray with all your heart that you may understand the will of God. Then, strive to make the desires of Father in Heaven become your desires. Let His will be your will, and then you will be free to work and to bless as He does.” (He then goes on to talk about sacrifice and service.)

    I also quite like the sentiment Denver expresses towards the end of the last chapter in The Second Comforter:

    “- The things of God really are of deep import. Only time, experience, and careful, ponderous and solemn thoughts can find them out, provided, of course, there is a real desire to know the things of God accompanied by obedience to His commandments. If you don’t desire them, you won’t ask and won’t receive. And if you do desire them, you will ask and you will obey. It is self-regulated, in that sense. Everyone decides for themselves just how much of an advantage in the world to come they are willing to acquire here.

    “- Freedom or agency really means accountability. That is its chief, if not only, meaning. Unfortunately, because of political debate, it has assumed a much less rigorous meaning. We are free, therefore we are accountable before God for all our acts. The Atonement alone affords us relief from that accountability. Taking advantage of the Atonement for that purpose, however, does require us to obey Christ’s conditions.” (2nd Ed., pages 416-417, emphasis added to match what I’ve previously highlighted in my copy).

  23. Micheal and Z,

    Thanks for some clarification. The scripture in Moroni 7 is especially helpful. Basically, I need to look, every day, for when I’m being invited to do good. In whatever form it may come: a thought, someone crossing my path, even searching for an answer to a doctrinal or other question. As I listen for these invitations (otherwise known as commandments), and obey them, my light increases and I comprehend the nature of God even further. Until the day arrives when I know Him so well that the veil cannot be withheld.

    So prayer could be considered much more than “I thank thee, I ask thee…” It becomes a means of reporting back as to how His will was accomplished, and asking for clarification or understanding on following and receiving upcoming invitations or commandments.

    Am I way off here?

    Doug

  24. Clarification from before: When I said, “There are many vain things required of us at Church,” it is used to help make the point I was making. Vain things can be done with good intentions, making them not vain at all, but useful and uplifting. There should be more emphasis on what is not vain, and good appreciation for what is offered that is not vain, which includes a lot (the gift of the Holy Ghost is a monumental achievement, for instance). I am not a pessimist, but realize setting out a point and trying to help gain perspective when focusing on one aspect can skew the larger picture and make it look pessimistic.

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