Whoso Receiveth Not the Words of Jesus and the Words of Those Whom He Hath Sent Receiveth Not Him

Mormon, the Nephite prophet, offers a stark warning about rejecting Christ by rejecting His words.

“…Wo be unto him that will not hearken unto the words of Jesus, and also to them whom he hath chosen and sent among them; for whoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom he hath sent receiveth not him; and therefore he will not receive them at the last day; And it would be better for them if they had not been born. For do you suppose that ye can get rid of the justice of an offended God, who hath been trampled under feet of men that thereby salvation might come?” (3 Nephi 28:34-35)

-How many opportunities does Christ provide a soul to hearken to His words?

-Does the phrase “better for them if they had not been born” only apply to those who do not receive Christ’s words even up to and after the Last Judgment (i.e. does it only apply to those who reject His Atonement even after receiving an undeniable witness of His role as the Savior and His perfect justice and mercy)?

Ye May Stand Spotless Before Me at the Last Day

Christ teaches that no unclean thing can persist in the kingdom of God, but all who repent, are baptized, and remain faithful to Christ to the end will be sanctified by the Holy Ghost and will stand clean in His presence at the Last Judgment (ready to enter into God’s kingdom).

“…No unclean thing can enter into [the Father’s] kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” (3 Nephi 27:19-20)

Questions:

-Are the words of Christ designed to work within us to keep us spiritually alert and focused?

-Do His teachings in these verses lead one to be complacent about God’s saving power? Or, do the qualifications of baptism and faithfulness to the end, through continual repentance, challenge a soul to actively gather greater spiritual intelligence through the application of free will in line with God’s commandments?

-If God loves us and can magnify the spiritual intelligence we obtain in this life throughout eternity, how import would it be for Him to encourage His children to gain as much light as possible during their mortal probation?   

Not Everyone Who Saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, Shall Enter into the Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus Christ taught the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (who were of the house of Israel) many of the same gospel principles He taught to His Jewish disciples in the Old World. The teachings as recorded in the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament, known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 and 7) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants after His resurrection.

The passage below shows the words from verse 21 through 23 of the King James version of Matthew 7 and the comparable verse from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

“Not everyone who saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. 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.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

“Not everyone who 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. 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 I will profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (3 Nephi 14:21-23)

Questions:

-How does one truly do the will of Heavenly Father? If you think you are doing God’s will is it still worthwhile to re-evaluate often given the message of the verses above?

-Will those who plead with the Savior (at the Last Judgment as described in these verses) truly believe that they have acted righteously? Or, will they know that what they are saying is not true even as they are saying it?

They Are Their Own Judges

“…It is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—The one raised to happiness according to his desires for happiness, or good according to his desires of good, and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh. And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness. These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.” (Alma 41:3-7)

Questions:

-Will the influence of Christ’s glory and pure intelligence at the Last Judgment, without Him having to speak a word, allow one to judge himself or herself?   

The Ax Is Laid at the Root of the Tree

Alma testifies that the Lord is always prepared to clear away wickedness from the Earth.

“…The Spirit saith: Behold the ax is laid at the root of the tree; therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire, yea a fire which cannot be consumed, even an unquenchable fire. Behold, and remember, the Holy One hath spoken it.” (Alma 5:52)

“…All ye that will persist in your wickedness, I say unto you that these are they who shall be hewn down and cast into the fire except they speedily repent.” (Alma 5:56)

Questions:

-Will the death of each individual, who has not brought forth good fruit, be the equivalent the tree being cut down and cast into the fire?

-Is the orchard analogy also a reference to groups of people (nations, cultures, etc.)?

-Could the purifying fire (influence) that emanates from God be anything but unquenchable? Could it ever be consumed?

-How intensely will that fire burn if it was never lit in the heart of a person prior to the Final Judgment?

-How is repentance tied to allowing God to purify our hearts now, during this time of probation, prior to the Last Judgment?

The Judgments of God are Always Just

King Mosiah addresses the reality that while God always judges justly, we mortal men and women do not.  

“…It is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.” (Mosiah 29:12)

Questions:

-When do the better judgments occur?

-Are the judgments of God active before the Last Judgment?

-Why will the Last Judgment be so final for each individual when compared to the other judgments of God that occur prior to the Last Judgment?

-Do those who have been judged harshly by mortals (whether deserved or not) often have a greater appreciation and yearning for God’s perfect judgment?

The Arms of Mercy Were Extended Towards Them and They Would Not

In teaching (and warning) King Noah and his priests, the prophet Abinadi reemphasizes what other prophets had taught before him: The Resurrection and the Judgment are closely tied and, together, define the eternal state of each soul.

“…This mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation—Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.” (Mosiah 16:10-12)

Questions:

-Does God make sure that we are given every chance in mortality (and even in the spirit world) to turn to Him?

-By the time of the Resurrection will everyone’s true desires be expressed through the actions they took leading to that culminating event?

These Things are Done That a Righteous Judgment Might Come upon the Children of Men

In about 124 B.C., King Benjamin relates the words he received from an angel foretelling Christ’s life and mission.

“He shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary. And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him. And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.” (Mosiah 3:8-10)

Questions:

-Would it be possible for God the Father to oversee a righteous Judgment if he hadn’t sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to prepare the way for the Judgment to be performed perfectly?

-Do you believe that Christ now stands, with a resurrected body, perfectly prepared to mete a righteous judgment to all who have lived on the Earth?

-Could anyone else stand in perfect judgment of God’s children?

-How is Christ, the Son of God, also the Father of heaven and earth?

Come unto That God Who Is the Rock of Your Salvation

Knowing his people had a clear knowledge of God’s law, Jacob pleads with them to not be entangled in sin but to turn with a repentant heart toward the true God.

“…Turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation. Prepare your souls for that glorious day when justice shall be administered unto the righteous, even the day of judgment, that ye may not shrink with awful fear; that ye may not remember your awful guilt in perfectness, and be constrained to exclaim: Holy, holy are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty–but I know my guilt; I have transgressed thy law, and my transgressions are mine; and the devil hath obtained me, that I am prey to his awful misery.” (2 Nephi 9:45-46)

Questions:

-Are you actively preparing your soul for the Day of Judgment?

-Who must you rely on to be prepared?

-To prevent being bound by the chains of sin, does a reliance on Christ need to be a constant daily endeavor? Is participating in this daily endeavor the difference between being spiritually-minded and being carnally-minded?

-Why will any remaining guilt be remembered with perfectness at the Day of Judgment?

-How can all guilt be washed away before the Day of Judgment?

He Suffereth the Pains of All Men, Women, and Children

Jacob testifies that Christ descended below all in His suffering and death so He could then lift all toward Him through the Resurrection and be a perfect judge at the Day of Judgment.

“O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things and there is not anything save he knows it. And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.” (2 Nephi 9:20-22)

Questions:

-How do you feel about this testimony from Jacob that Christ knows your pain and has actually felt your pain?

-What does it say about the depth of God’s love that He was willing to suffer so deeply to bring about the Resurrection for all mankind and be as merciful a judge as possible.

-How can a person hearken to the voice of God? Is God’s voice found in the scriptures? Is God’s voice found in the promptings of the Holy Ghost? Can God’s voice be heard from the mouths of those who have received authority to speak in His name?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. … He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so” (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 613).

“By His Atonement and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has overcome all aspects of the Fall. Physical death will be temporary, and even spiritual death has an end, in that all come back into the presence of God, at least temporarily, to be judged” (D. Todd Christofferson, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 112).