O Ye Gentiles, How Can Ye Stand Before the Power of God?

Lamenting the apostasy and subsequent societal destruction that occurred among his people (about 385 A.D.), Mormon looks forward to prophesy about the covenant-based strength they will receive from God as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ approaches (i.e., during the days in which we now live).

“…The Lord hath reserved their [Lehi’s descendants’] blessings, which they might have received in the land, for the Gentiles who shall possess the land. But behold, it shall come to pass that they shall be driven and scattered by the Gentiles; and after they have been driven and scattered by the Gentiles, behold, then will the Lord remember the covenant which he made unto Abraham and unto all the house of Israel. And also the Lord will remember the prayers of the righteous, which have been put up unto him for them. And then, O ye Gentiles, how can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways? Know ye not ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll? Therefore, repent ye, and humble yourselves before him, lest he shall come out in justice against you—lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among you as a lion, and tear you in pieces, and there is none to deliver.” (Mormon 5:19-24)

Questions:

-Are the Gentiles of the Americas (in general) in a repentant posture towards their Savior, Jesus Christ?

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)?

This Is My Gospel

Christ describes His gospel to His disciples in the Americas (about A.D. 34). The culmination of His atoning sacrifice —having suffered for all the sins of mankind and having felt all the pains of mankind before dying on the cross outside of Jerusalem — established His unalterable place as the Judge of all mankind. Accordingly, God the Father has given his Son, Jesus Christ, the power to draw every human soul into His presence to be judged at the time of the Resurrection.  

“…This is my gospel…that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works. And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.” (3 Nephi 27:13-17)

Questions:

-What does it mean to endure to the end (after repenting and being baptized in Christ’s name)?

-Is the opportunity to be held guiltless before God (the ultimate Authority) something that your soul yearns for?

All People Will Be Judged According to the Mercy, Justice, and Holiness Which Is in Christ

When visiting a group of Lehi’s descendants in the Americas (soon after His resurrection in about 34 A.D.), Jesus Christ taught them about all things from the beginning of Earth’s existence until it’s end.

“…[Christ] did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory—yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together as scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away; And even unto the great and last day, when all people, and all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—If they be good, to the resurrection of everlasting life; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of damnation; being on a parallel, the one on the one hand and the other on the other hand, according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ, who was before the world began.” (3 Nephi 26:3-5)

Questions:

-What would it have been like to be taught about the whole existence of the Earth by Christ Himself?

Blessed Are the Merciful, For They Shall Obtain Mercy

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 fifth 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 the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (3 Nephi 12:7)

Questions:

-Is it possible for a person to be both merciful and just in their actions? Or, does insisting on justice always downplay mercy and vice versa?

The Lord Suffereth the Righteous to Be Slain That His Justice and Judgment May Come upon the Wicked

Moroni, a Nephite captain, teaches that the Lord allows the righteous to be killed by the wicked in certain circumstances, but that these faithful souls immediately enter the Lord’s rest in the spirit world.

“For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God.” (Alma 60:13)

Questions:

-Is a potential source of comfort lost when one realizes that the righteous, in some circumstances, are allowed by God to be killed?

-Can this loss of comfort, at least to some degree, be softened by the thought that a righteous person will never be called home to God before his or her time? And, that a righteous person will immediately enter into God’s rest?

Let Your Sins Trouble You with That Trouble Which Shall Bring You Down unto Repentance

Alma teaches that one should view his or her sins as God sees them—with no degree of excuse or allowance. Only then is one brought to the level of deep humility that makes sincere repentance possible.

“…Let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance…Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his longsuffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.” (Alma 42:29-30)

Questions:

-In how many ways do people avoid looking their sins directly in the face?

-How does doing so cripple one spiritually and block the saving grace of Christ’s Atonement (the power of which He predicated upon repentance)?

Mercy Cannot Rob Justice

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)

Questions:

-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?

Mercy Claimeth the Penitent

Alma teaches that transgressing God’s law, in the absence of repentance, demands punishment. But sincere repentance allows such sins to be forgiven through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“…Repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul. Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment? Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man. Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder? And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin. And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?” (Alma 42:16-21)

“But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored to his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.” (Alma 42:22-23)

Questions:

-Is a person inevitably in the grasp of justice when he or she knows God’s law but does not humble himself or herself before God in sincere repentance on a regular basis?

God Himself Atoneth for the Sins of the World

Alma teaches that Christ’s Atonement occurred because God desired to extend mercy to us while still upholding justice.

“…Thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence. And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.” (Alma 42:14-15)

Questions: -How many realize they are in the grasp of justice without Christ’s intervention (which He made for those who repent)?