On This Wise Shall Ye Baptize

Christ called priesthood holders in the Americas (around 34 A.D.) and taught them the specific way in which baptisms should be performed:

“Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water. And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize.” (3 Nephi 11:23-28)

Questions:

-Why did Christ, while visiting a group of Lehi’s descendants, focus on teaching the correct manner of baptism?

-What does this say about how important the proper baptismal ordinance is to God?

Whoso Repenteth and Cometh unto Me as a Little Child, Him Will I Receive

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)

Questions:

-What does it mean to come unto Christ as a little child?

-What prevents one from taking this all-import step in their lives?

I Am the Light and the Life of the World

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)

Questions:

-How does a person receive Christ?

God Hath Given unto You a Knowledge and He Hath Made You Free

Samuel, a Lamanite prophet, teaches those who can understand his words that they will be held accountable for their actions. Freedom of action is a reality granted by God and one’s actions will have eternal consequences.

“…Remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.” (Helaman 14:30-31).

Questions:

-Can psychopaths and sociopaths understand the above verses?

-Could a very young child understand the above verses?

At the Power of God’s Voice Do the Foundations Rock Even to the Very Center

Mormon teaches how nature gives way in obedience to God’s voice and that His voice will irrevocably remove the wicked from His presence.

“…At [God’s] voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake. And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley. Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake; Yea, by the power of his voice do the foundations rock, even to the very center. Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved. Yea, if he say unto the earth—Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours—it is done; And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun. And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the great deep—be thou dried up—it is done. Behold, if he say unto this mountain—Be thou raised up, and come over and fall upon that city, that it be buried up—behold it is done. And behold, if a man hide up a treasure in the earth, and the Lord shall say—Let it be accursed, because of the iniquity of him who hath hid it up—behold, it shall be accursed. And if the Lord shall say—Be thou accursed, that no man shall find thee from this time henceforth and forever—behold, no man getteth it henceforth and forever. (Helaman 12:9-19)

And behold, if the Lord shall say unto a man—Because of thine iniquities, thou shalt be accursed forever—it shall be done. And if the Lord shall say—Because of thine iniquities thou shalt be cut off from my presence—he will cause that it shall be so. And wo unto him to whom he shall say this, for it shall be unto him that will do iniquity, and he cannot be saved; therefore, for this cause, that men might be saved, hath repentance been declared. Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved. (Helaman 12:20-23)

Questions:

-How did God’s voice impact the formation of the DNA that exists in, and guides the form of, all living things?

-Did the foundations of biology rock to the very center at the sound of God’s voice?

They Will Not That the Lord Should Be Their Guide

While abridging Nephite history, and giving yet another account of the Nephites falling into a state of wickedness, Mormon pauses to lament the general spiritual fecklessness of the Nephites (and humanity more broadly).   

“O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world! Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!” (Helaman 12:4-5)

“Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide. O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.” (Helaman 12:6-8)

Questions:

-Do you ever feel spiritually unstable? Are you ever taken aback by dark corners in your soul that have somehow formed and festered?

-Why is it often difficult to let God guide (rather than letting evil influences creep in and take control)?

-Are repentance, obedience to God’s commandments, and gratitude powerful spiritual stabilizers?

At the Very Time When God Doth Prosper His People They Do Harden Their Hearts and Do Forget Him

While recording the history of the Nephite people on the Gold Plates, Mormon pauses to describe the tragic tendency for people to take God for granted, forget Him, and discount His power at the very time of their greatest prosperity under his care.

“…We can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him. Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity. And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.” (Helaman 12:1-3)

Questions:

-Why does prosperity tempt people to turn away from God?

-Is it possible to avoid this temptation? How does one do so?

-How important is it to remember God?

Laws Become Corrupted When Those Who Choose Evil Are More Numerous Than Those Who Choose Good

When governments designed to reflect the will of the people are established, laws reflect the spiritual condition of the nation that creates the laws. When the majority of the people choose evil over good the laws become corrupted and (without God’s protection) the nation will begin to destroy itself or will be deconstructed by outside powers.

“…Their laws and their government were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.” (Helaman 5:2)

Questions:

-Using the United States as an example of a country that is supposed to operate by the voice of the people: Are most of the people still choosing what is good?

-Have the laws (and the process by which laws are created) been corrupted to the point where many of those who are supposed to represent and serve the people are instead serving themselves?

-As you think about your answers to the above questions, do you believe the United States is in the process of being destroyed?

The Spirit of the Lord Doth not Dwell in Unholy Temples

Wickedness and weakness are closely tied together. The Nephites became weak when they committed sin and no longer sought a connection (through revelation and prophecy) with God.

“Because of their iniquity the church had begun to dwindle and they began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation; and the judgments of God did stare them in the face. And they saw that they had become weak…and that the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them; yea, it had withdrawn from them because the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples…” (Helaman 4:23-24)

Questions:

-Are there some who believe God is still a God of miracles and, therefore, seek the spirit of revelation and prophecy in our times?

-Is seeking revelation and prophetic insight even a consideration for most?

-Without revelation and prophetic insight, is it possible to truly be in line with God’s will?

Sanctification Comes from Yielding One’s Heart to God

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)

Questions:

-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?