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?

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?

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?

The Lord is Merciful unto All Who Will, in the Sincerity of Their Hearts, Call upon His Holy Name

The historian-prophet, Mormon, teaches of the Lord’s readiness to eternally bless all who will believe in Him and lay hold of His word.

“…The Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name. Yea, thus we may see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and snares and wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.” (Helaman 3:28-30)

Questions:

– How valuable is the strait and narrow course mapped out in God’s scriptures?

-Have the majority of Americans rebelled against this narrow course? Or, do most still have a strong connection with it?

-Is it possible to sincerely call upon the name of Lord without also laying hold upon His word?

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?

The Work of Justice Could not be Destroyed. If so, God would Cease to be God

Alma teaches his son that God never deviates from upholding justice. The greatest example of this is the unimaginable suffering of Jesus Christ in working out the Atonement in our behalf. In so doing He satisfied the demands of justice—He did not circumvent those demands. Alma also teaches that sincere repentance is required, based on the demands of justice, for Christ’s Atonement to have saving power in our lives.

“…As the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death. Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state. And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord. And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience; Therefore, according to justice the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:9-13)

Questions:

-Why is the unwavering upholding of justice a characteristic of Godhood?