Christ (shortly after his crucifixion and resurrection) visited a group of Lehi’s descendants living in the Americas. Below He succinctly reviews what he had taught them up to that point.
“…I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled. Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (3 Nephi 12:19-20)
-How does one make the choice to believe in Jesus Christ?
-Is it possible to truly repent of one’s sins without having a broken heart and a contrite spirit?
-How does one come unto Christ as commanded?
Christ, speaking to a group of Lehi’s descendants in the Americas around 34 B.C., teaches that anger and contention are tools of the devil.
“…And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” (3 Nephi 11:28-30)
-Is it possible to contend with one’s enemies (which is sometimes necessary as taught in Alma 43:46-47) without involving anger?
-How focused are these teachings on the social environment that should exist in Christ’s church as opposed to a more general application.
Christ continues to teach the descendants of Lehi (living in the Americas shortly after His death and Resurrection) about His purposes and redemptive power.
“Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin. Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth and be saved.” (3 Nephi 9:21-22)
-What does it mean to come unto Christ as a little child?
-What prevents one from taking this all-import step in their lives?
Christ teaches the descendants of Lehi (who were living in the Americas shortly after His death and Resurrection) that He has fulfilled the Law of Moses and that physical blood sacrifices were to be replaced with a new kind of sacrifice.
“…Ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost…” (3 Nephi 9:19-20)
– How does one offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit to God?
After a massively destructive natural upheaval, Christ speaks to the surviving descendants of Lehi living in the Americas about who He is and what He has done::
“Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and in me hath the Father glorified his name. I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled. And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled. I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” (3 Nephi 9:14-18)
-How does a person receive Christ?
Samuel, a Lamanite prophet, teaches important truths about Christ’s Resurrection:
- Christ’s death was a necessary part of His working out salvation for mankind.
- The salvation Christ extends is not only spiritual. It also overcomes the death that came into the world through Adam and Eve’s fall providing physical salvation as well (preparing the way for the Resurrection of all who ever lived).
- The Resurrection ensured that no person will be held responsible for the “original sin” of Adam and Eve and, thereby, laid the groundwork for repentance to be meaningful—each individual only being responsible for his or her own sins that are not repented of.
- There is an important link between physical resurrection and being brought back into the presence of the Lord for the Final Judgment.
“…[Christ] surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord. Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death—that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual. But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord. Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire; and there cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness.” (Helaman 14:15-18)
-How did Christ’s Resurrection overcome the first death or “original sin” for all?
-Why will all be physically resurrected before they are brought to the Last Judgment?
The raising of the brass serpent by Moses portended the raising of Christ upon the cross and His glorious resurrection. Having risen from the grave, He prepared the way for us all
“…As [Moses] lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, so shall [the Messiah] be lifted up who should come. And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.” (Helaman 8:15)
-Is it possible to “look” to Christ without faith and without a contrite spirit?
-Do different Christian faiths (and their individual congregations) influence their adherents, either negatively or positively, toward having a contrite spirit and having faith when looking to Christ?
The prophet Helaman teaches his sons about the one sure Foundation upon which a person can build.
“…Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” (Helaman 5:12)
-If one builds his or her foundation on anything or anyone besides Christ, are they sure to fall sooner or later?
-How can a person build his or her foundation on Christ?
-Are spiritual foundations the deepest foundations?
The prophet historian, Mormon, tells of a time in Nephite history where true followers of Christ drew closer to Him despite being mistreated by their fellow church members.
“…In the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction. Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling of their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” (Helaman 3:33-36)
-How can one be filled with joy even while passing through great difficulties in life?
-Would this group of people have obtained deep purification and sanctification of their hearts without the persecution they experienced?
-Are there worldly powers (including political forces) today that are tempting some in the Church to become prideful and despise others in the Church? -How vital is humility in ensuring one does not end up on the wrong side (i.e. prideful side) of inter-Church divisions?
Alma teaches his son that true repentance prevents one’s evil deeds from coming full circle to condemn him or her at the Last Judgment. Through His Atonement, Christ took upon Himself our punishments on condition of repentance, but without sincere repentance such mercy has no claim and the punishments will be fully applied.
“…Justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. What, do you suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God. And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery. Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds. If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God.” (Alma 42:24-28)
-How many chances does God give a person to repent?
-Will those who did not have a knowledge of Jesus Christ in mortality have an opportunity to repent once that knowledge is given to them in the spirit world?