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 Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants.
Below is the fourth of the Beatitudes, as recorded in the King James version of Matthew, and the comparable teaching as found in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
“And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (3 Nephi 12:6)
-Is hungering and thirsting after “righteousness” as defined by one’s culture different from hungering and thirsting after God’s righteousness?
-Is it possible to find true righteousness, and to be truly spiritually filled, without the influence of the Holy Ghost?
The Lamanite prophet, Samuel, teaches the Nephites that seeking for happiness outside of the commandments of God is fruitless.
“…Ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.” (Helaman 13:38)
-Can temporary happiness be found separate from God’s will and influence?
-Will the happiness mentioned in the above question be inevitably interrupted?
-Will the happiness that comes from aligning oneself with God’s will and influence ever be interrupted?
Alma invites those who desire a Good Shepherd to forsake wickedness and become part of His people.
“…I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names my people. For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled.” (Alma 5:57-58)
-How does a person come out from among the wicked?
-How common are unclean things and unclean practices among the various cultures found throughout North America (for instance).
-Can unclean things and unclean practices be found regardless of where you live and what culture you are a part of?
-Are all those who have some involvement in unclean things necessarily wicked? Is true wickedness more likely to fester in unclean environments (even if it might be overbearing to say that everyone who touches that environment in any way is wicked)?
-How many touches does it take to be drawn into true wickedness?
-What does it take to move from wickedness to righteousness?
-What does it mean to be righteous?
-What does it mean to be granted an inheritance at God’s right hand?
The prophet Alma calls those who are not in good standing with God to change course.
“…Wo unto all ye workers of iniquity; repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it! Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you. Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely; Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire—for behold, the time is at hand that whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit, or whosoever doeth not the works of righteousness, the same have cause to wail and mourn.” (Alma 5:32-36)
-Based on the passage above, how willing is God to receive those who are willing to repent?
-Has a person truly repented if they don’t bring about good works in the world?
-What are works of righteousness? Can good things be done for less than the best reasons?
-How important is it to come to Christ before seeking to do good? Does He have the power to greatly multiply the efficacy of our works in a manner similar to how He multiplied the disciple’s loaves and fish for the multitude as recorded in the New Testament? (Mark 6:35-44)
Jacob realizes his teachings about…
…are going to be hard for some to hear.
This being the case, he pleads with those who hear these messages not to rebel against the truth but to reconcile themselves with God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“…Give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if you do ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken. O then my beloved [brothers and sisters] come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” (2 Nephi 9:40-41)
-How easy is it for most people to perceive and accept the greatness of God, and His righteous standards, in relation to their shortcomings and sins?
-Do many feel it is easier to avoid facing the unclean aspects of their lives in relation to God than it is to square up to the truth of the situation and ask God for help to become clean through His power?
-Are many of the ideas and philosophies of the world popular because they help people avoid facing God and the uncomfortable aspects of seeking forgiveness?
-Is being willing to face one’s uncleanness, and work with God to remedy the situation, one of the main aspects of what Jacob calls righteousness? Would a person who continually strives to recognize their weaknesses, and do this work of repentance, be prone to judge others harshly who have similar mortal frailties? Is it impossible to be righteous and self-righteous at the same time?
-Will anyone be able to hide from the reality of his or her relationship with God at the time of the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment?
Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, about the power of God’s law to create meaning through consequence and how all things witness there is a God.
“…If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” (2 Nephi 2:13)
-Do you believe sin is real?
–How meaningful would life be without consequences?
-Do the most lasting consequences occur in this life? Or, do they occur when each individual is brought back to God’s presence to be judged?
-How is righteousness tied to happiness?
Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:
“Happiness comes of righteousness. ‘Wickedness never was happiness.’ (Alma 41:10.) Sin never was happiness. Selfishness never was happiness. Greed never was happiness. Happiness lies in living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Gordon B. Hinckley, in “Fast-Paced Schedule for the Prophet: Meets with Young Adults, Youth in Three Meetings in Colorado,” Church News, Apr. 20, 1996, 3).