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 fourth 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 they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
“And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (3 Nephi 12:6)
-Is hungering and thirsting after “righteousness” as defined by one’s culture different from hungering and thirsting after God’s righteousness?
-Is it possible to find true righteousness, and to be truly spiritually filled, without the influence of the Holy Ghost?
Samuel, a Lamanite prophet, teaches important truths about Christ’s Resurrection:
- Christ’s death was a necessary part of His working out salvation for mankind.
- The salvation Christ extends is not only spiritual. It also overcomes the death that came into the world through Adam and Eve’s fall providing physical salvation as well (preparing the way for the Resurrection of all who ever lived).
- The Resurrection ensured that no person will be held responsible for the “original sin” of Adam and Eve and, thereby, laid the groundwork for repentance to be meaningful—each individual only being responsible for his or her own sins that are not repented of.
- There is an important link between physical resurrection and being brought back into the presence of the Lord for the Final Judgment.
“…[Christ] surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord. Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death—that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual. But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord. Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire; and there cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness.” (Helaman 14:15-18)
-How did Christ’s Resurrection overcome the first death or “original sin” for all?
-Why will all be physically resurrected before they are brought to the Last Judgment?
The Lamanite prophet, Samuel, teaches the Nephites that seeking for happiness outside of the commandments of God is fruitless.
“…Ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.” (Helaman 13:38)
-Can temporary happiness be found separate from God’s will and influence?
-Will the happiness mentioned in the above question be inevitably interrupted?
-Will the happiness that comes from aligning oneself with God’s will and influence ever be interrupted?
Treasures secured for any other reason than to serve God are cursed (and a curse upon those who secure the treasure without deference to God).
“…I will, saith the Lord, that they hide up their treasures unto me; and cursed be they who hide not their treasures unto me; for none hideth up their treasures unto me save it be the righteous; and he that hideth not up his treasures unto me, cursed is he, and also the treasure…” (Helaman 13:19)
-Is the following statement true? Part of the reason why those who, outside the intent to serve God, amass great wealth are cursed is because their tainted wealth also affects others negatively (often on a large scale due to the wide-ranging influence of their ungodly power and riches).
-Do the sophisticated, atheistic, and agnostic wealthy (i.e. those who have no deference to God) tend to see themselves as filling in for a God that they see as missing or non-existent?
-Is playing God with the lives of others, where the will of a few overrides the will and agency of the many, ever end up being a good thing?
-What does it look like when a righteous person amasses wealth to serve God?
-How likely is the above-mentioned righteous person to be a well-known influence peddler and high-profile benefactor rather than an anonymous or low-profile benefactor?
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)
-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?
Alma teaches his son that no good action will go unrewarded by God.
“…See that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again. For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored…” (Alma 41:14-15)
-What are the implications of the above principle for those who intentionally and maliciously hurt others?
-How much joy does it bring our Savior when we act in a way that accepts His example and His Atonement, which magnifies the good we do into the eternities?
Alma teaches his son that all people will be restored (in the Resurrection) to what they have become based on their desires and actions in this life.
“Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness…All men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in the carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.” (Alma 41:10-13)
-Why will Christ save souls from their sins but will not save them in their sins (see previous post entitled Ye Cannot Be Saved in Your Sins)?
-How can one be helped by Christ to move away from his or her sins through repentance so that his or her nature changes toward what is good, righteous, and just?
“…It is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—The one raised to happiness according to his desires for happiness, or good according to his desires of good, and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh. And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness. These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.” (Alma 41:3-7)
-Will the influence of Christ’s glory and pure intelligence at the Last Judgment, without Him having to speak a word, allow one to judge himself or herself?
Alma teaches his son about the only way salvation can be obtained.
“…There is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.” (Alma 38:9)
-How does one receive salvation through Jesus Christ?
-What role does baptism (by one who has authority) play in receiving Christ’s salvation?
Amulek teaches that the Spirit of God withdraws from those who do not repent. To be prepared to dwell with God in the eternities, a person needs to reconcile himself or herself to God through Christ’s Atonement and allow God to dwell in (and purify) his or her heart through His Spirit.
“…If ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doeth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb. And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God…” (Alma 34:35-37)
-Is it possible to be at rest spiritually? Do the powerful forces of God’s love, and Satan’s rebellion against God, allow anyone stay in place spiritually speaking?