These Sayings Which Ye Shall Write Shall Be Kept and Shall Be Manifested unto the Gentiles

When speaking to a group of Lehi’s descendants in the Americas (shortly after his Resurrection), Jesus Christ taught that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon within the boundaries of the United States would mark a great gathering of those lost from the house of Israel. The prophet Joseph Smith and the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would have been considered Gentiles by those Christ was speaking to (around 34 A.D.) as these early members of the Latter-day Church of Christ (living in the 19th century) were not closely tied — culturally or genetically — to the people of Jerusalem and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Most of those who founded the United States, and those who have since lived within its boundaries would have also been considered Gentiles for the same reason.

Once the 19th-century Saints received the fullness of the Restored Gospel and were baptized and confirmed to receive the Holy Ghost by priesthood authority from Jesus Christ, they became part of the house of Israel. All living now who repent and become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — through the same covenant of baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost – also become part of the house of Israel in God’s eyes regardless of their genetic ties thereto.

In the passage below, Christ teaches how vital it will be for the Gentiles living in the United States to receive the Book of Mormon and the Restored Gospel.

…These sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of [the house of Israel’s] seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer. And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel. And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them. (3 Nephi 16:4-7)

But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles…At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them. And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.” (3 Nephi 16:8,10-12)

“But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel. And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father. But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that has lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel. Verily, verily, I say unto you, thus hath the Father commanded me—that I should give unto this people this land for their inheritance.” (3 Nephi 16:13-16)

Questions:

-Have the people of the United States, by and large, rejected the fulness of the gospel as contained in the Book of Mormon?

-How many realize, or believe, that acceptance of the Book of Mormon and the Restored Gospel is key to the survival of the United States as a viable and cohesive nation?

Because of the Pride of Their Hearts They Were Left in Their Own Strength and Were Afflicted and Smitten

The prophet Mormon defines the attitudes and actions that lead a people to destruction. The list below pulls directly from some of Mormon’s words and translates others, describing the kind of wickedness that leads to destruction, into more contemporary terms.

“…This great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God. And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression of the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions…And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten and driven before the Lamanites…” (Helaman 4:11-13)

Questions:

-How many of the above items are engaged in, on a wide scale, in the United States (and in other countries)?  

-How many who profess to belong to the church of God engage in these wicked actions and attitudes?

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?

This Is a Sin Which Is Unpardonable

Alma teaches his son about the most serious sins which can be committed.

“…If ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.” (Alma 39:6)   

Questions:

-Why is denying the Holy Ghost, after an undeniable witness therefrom, an unpardonable sin?

-Is this unpardonable sin very rare…only committed by a very few people?

Gratitude: I am grateful that Christ is mighty to save! Short of the gravest sins mentioned above, He will always apply his saving power whenever I (or anyone else) chooses to sincerely repent.

Sexual Sin is an Abomination in the Sight of the Lord

The prophet Alma’s son, Corianton, forsook his missionary responsibilities and took part in sexual sin with a prostitute. Alma reminds his son of how serious his misdeed was in the eyes of God.

“Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost.” (Alma 39:5)

Questions:

-Why are murder and denying the Holy Ghost the only sins more evil in the sight of God than sexual sin?

-What does this say about how spiritually destructive sexual sin is?

Gratitude: I am grateful God cares deeply about my (and all people’s) spiritual welfare and provides guidance (for all who will hear) regarding how to stay spiritually strong.

They Should Do None of These Things…For Whoso Doeth Them Shall Perish

Seeing the American Gentiles, and their weaknesses in the last days, Nephi provides a warning about certain unrighteous behaviors that will bring spiritual and physical ruin.

“…The Lord hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.” (2 Nephi 26:32)

Questions:

-What does it mean to take the name of the Lord in vain?

-Are you surprised that Nephi lists the casual or mocking use of the name of God among such things as murder and stealing?

-If, as the scriptures attest, the Holy Ghost testifies of God, what happens when a person makes a mockery of God’s name? Will the testimony of the Spirit withdraw from that person?

-What happens to a person spiritually if God’s Spirit withdraws from them? Will that person be more prone to feel malice and envy?

-How often does a terrible thing such as murder occur in the absence of such things as lies, malice, envy, and sexual promiscuity?

He Doeth Not Anything Save It Be for the Benefit of the World

After describing the sin and secret combinations that would exist among the Gentiles in the last days (see previous post), Nephi teaches that Satan has promoted such things from the beginning to bring souls down into captivity. In contrast, Nephi gives insight into how and why the Lord does His work.

“The devil…is…the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he blindeth them with his strong cords forever. (2 Nephi 26:22)

For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. (2 Nephi 26:23)

Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. Behold hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold I say unto you, Nay. Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation: Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.” (2 Nephi 26:24-28)

Questions:

-Does the devil have anything good to offer? Is there any limit to his hatred and ill-will towards every living soul on the earth?

-Is it even possible to comprehend the extent of the goodness God has to offer? Is there any limit to His love and generosity toward every living soul on the earth? Are we doing God’s will if we don’t strive to extend the same kind of love towards others?

-How many in the world see repentance as a way to embrace the goodness that God has to offer and reject the destructive aims of Satan?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home. …

“It seems only right and proper that we extend to others that which we so earnestly desire for ourselves.

“I am not suggesting that we accept sin or overlook evil, in our personal life or in the world. Nevertheless, in our zeal, we sometimes confuse sin with sinner, and we condemn too quickly and with too little compassion. …

“… Let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Are My Hands,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 68–69).

 

Wo unto All Those Who Die in Their Sins

Jacob describes some of the spiritual darkness that can enter the lives of men and women and separate their souls from God for eternity.

“…Wo unto the deaf that will not hear; for they shall perish. Wo unto the blind that will not see; for they shall perish also. Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day. Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell. Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for he shall die. Wo unto them who commit whoredoms, for they shall be thrust down to hell. Yea, wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them. And, in fine, wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins.” (2 Nephi 9:31-38)

Questions:

-What causes spiritual deafness and spiritual blindness?

-How many people care about their relationship with God? How many believe in God to begin with? Have many been convinced, in our times, that searching for God is a fruitless endeavor? What is the cost of trying to hear God’s voice compared to the cost of having less joy throughout the eternities because the attempt to know and understand God was never made?

-Can you see the messages of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other inspired scripture as a call to hear God’s voice?

-How can a person know that his or her heart is right before God?

-What is the difference between a person who lies and then repents of the sin and a person who makes lying a regular part of his or her character and does not repent? Which person do you think Jacob is talking about in the passage above?

-What would be the greater punishment for a person who deliberately commits murder? Being executed physically or the pain of dying spiritually. Will the murderer or the person that was murdered end up experiencing greater pain in the end?

-What are whoredoms? Why does God care deeply about the way each person handles his or her sexuality? How powerful is sexuality spiritually (for good or for evil)?

-Why does the devil delight in idol worship? What kind of idols do most people worship in our times?

They Should Do None of These Things…For Whoso Doeth Them Shall Perish

Seeing the American Gentiles, and their weaknesses in the last days, Nephi provides a warning about certain unrighteous behaviors that will bring spiritual and physical ruin.

“…The Lord hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.” (2 Nephi 26:32)

Questions:

-What does it mean to take the name of the Lord in vain?

-Are you surprised that Nephi lists the casual or mocking use of the name of God among such things as murder and stealing?

-If, as the scriptures attest, the Holy Ghost testifies of God, what happens when a person makes a mockery of God’s name? Will the testimony of the Spirit withdraw from that person?

-What happens to a person spiritually if God’s Spirit withdraws from them? Will that person be more prone to feel malice and envy?

-How often does a terrible thing such as murder occur in the absence of such things as lies, malice, envy, and sexual promiscuity?