Be Ye Therefore Perfect, Even as Your Father Which is in Heaven is Perfect

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 Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants after His resurrection.

The passages below show the words from verses 43 and 48 of the King James version of Matthew and the comparable verses from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans do the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy; But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good. Therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law, in me are all fulfilled. Old things are done away, and all things have become new. Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Nephi 12:43-48)

Questions:

-How difficult is it to extend love to evil-doers in as indiscriminatory and consistent manner as God sends sunlight to all the the Earth?

-Is letting go of all anger and malice the same as being naïve about interacting with evil people in an unguarded fashion?

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)?

God Has All Power, All Wisdom, All Understanding, and Is a Merciful Being

Ammon teaches about God’s characteristics.

“…[God] has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.” (Alma 26:35)

Questions:

-Why is God merciful?

-Does mercy guide how God exercises His endless and perfect power?

-Can power be perfectly exercised without perfect wisdom, perfect understanding, and all-encompassing comprehension?

-Does God ever use His power to force people to do what is good and right?

-Does God allow us to choose between giving our individual wills to Him and withholding our wills from Him?

-Since God is merciful, in addition to all His other perfections, is there any difference between God’s will for us and what is best for us?

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

From Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“Some have sincere faith in the existence of a God but not necessarily in a revealing and omniscient God. Other sincere individuals question God’s omniscience, wondering, even though respectfully, whether even God can know the future. But an omniscient and revealing God can at any present moment disclose things future. This is possible because ‘in the presence of God, … all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord’ (D&C 130:7). Thus God ‘knoweth all things, for all things are present before [his] eyes’ (D&C 38:2). He told Moses, ‘There is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all’ (Moses 1:6).

“No qualifiers on the scope of God’s knowledge appear in holy writ. Instead, we read: ‘O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.’ (2 Nephi 9:20.)” (If Thou Endure It Well [1996], 46).

God Knows All the Thoughts and Intents of the Heart

Ammon, a Nephite missionary, teaches that God sees clearly and deeply into each person’s soul.

“…[God] looketh down upon all the children of men; and he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart; for by his hand were they all created from the beginning.” (Alma 18:32)

Questions:

-Is it comforting to know that God looks on the heart with perfect clarity?

-How often do mortals, who don’t have the ability to clearly see the thoughts and intents of the heart, misjudge others?