If the Gentiles Shall Harden Their Hearts Against Me, I Will Return Their Iniquities Upon Their Own Heads

The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and His early Jewish disciples set off a chain of events where (especially after the Reformation when many more souls were able to read the teachings in the Bible) the Holy Ghost influenced the Christian nations in such a way that they became the most powerful — politically and technologically — in the world. Without the impetus created by the Lord’s covenant people – starting with Abraham and culminating in the Lord Himself coming to His people in the flesh – none of these blessings and powers would have come to the Christian (i.e. Gentile) nations. The truths and teachings in the Bible were (and are) a blessing from the house of Israel and were a conduit for the Holy Spirit to influence the cultures and peoples who embraced them. See the following video, which touches on some of these themes: Because of Him—Easter Video – YouTube

As the nations that have previously been Christian turn away from the spiritual wellspring given to them by the house of Israel — firstly through the Bible and subsequently from the added testimony of Jesus Christ found in the Book of Mormon — they will no longer be strengthened and upheld by God. Their sin, instead of being forgiven through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, will be turned upon them.

Below is Jesus Christ speaking to a group of the descendants of the house of Israel in the Americas about A.D. 34.

“…Ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant—And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed—unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel. And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father.” (3 Nephi 20:25-28)

Questions:

-How many perceive — or believe in — the intervention of God in granting prosperity to countries influenced by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the testimony of the house of Israel (as found in the Bible)?

-How many believe that the Book of Mormon is a second witness of the truth of the Bible and was instrumental in restoring the fulness of Christ’s gospel?

Ye Shall Not Suffer Any One Knowingly to Partake of My Flesh and Blood Unworthily

Christ taught His priesthood leaders that partaking the Sacrament unworthily could bring condemnation to those they were charged to minister to. Accordingly, He taught them who should take part in the Sacrament and who should not as well as who should be numbered among His people and who should not. Through all disciplinary actions regarding the Sacrament and Church membership, the Savior commands his priesthood leaders to mercifully extend the opportunity to return.

“…Ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it; For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name, and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood. But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them. Therefore, keep these sayings which I have commanded you that ye come not under condemnation; for wo unto him whom the Father condemneth. (3 Nephi 18:28-33)

Questions:

-Why would partaking of the bread and water of the Sacrament unworthily be spiritually detrimental to the person who does so?

-Since we all sin to some degree week after week, what kind of sin(s) would cause a person to be unworthy to eat and drink the emblems of Christ’s flesh and blood?

-If the symbolic emblems of Christ’s body and blood are administered by one who does not have authority from Christ to do so, would partaking unworthily in that circumstance have a negative spiritual affect?

Come unto Me and Be Ye Saved

Christ (shortly after his crucifixion and resurrection) visited a group of Lehi’s descendants living in the Americas. Below He succinctly reviews what he had taught them up to that point.

“…I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled. Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (3 Nephi 12:19-20)

Questions:

-How does one make the choice to believe in Jesus Christ?

-Is it possible to truly repent of one’s sins without having a broken heart and a contrite spirit?

-How does one come unto Christ as commanded?

On This Wise Shall Ye Baptize

Christ called priesthood holders in the Americas (around 34 A.D.) and taught them the specific way in which baptisms should be performed:

“Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water. And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize.” (3 Nephi 11:23-28)

Questions:

-Why did Christ, while visiting a group of Lehi’s descendants, focus on teaching the correct manner of baptism?

-What does this say about how important the proper baptismal ordinance is to God?

I Have Glorified the Father in Taking upon Me the Sins of the World

After descending from heaven to visit a group of Lehi’s descendants gathered at one of their temples, Christ reminds them of who He is and the relationship He has with God the Father.

“…I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father has given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning…I am the God of Israel and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.” (3 Nephi 11:11,14)

Questions:

-How did Christ’s life and Atonement (won through incomprehensible and eternally meaningful suffering) glorify the Father?

-Was Christ’s unflinching loyalty to the Father closely tied to his similar loyalty to us (those for whom He worked out the Atonement)?

-What would it mean to you to strive to be as loyal to Christ as He has been to you and God our Father?

Whoso Repenteth and Cometh unto Me as a Little Child, Him Will I Receive

Christ continues to teach the descendants of Lehi (living in the Americas shortly after His death and Resurrection) about His purposes and redemptive power.

“Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin. Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth and be saved.” (3 Nephi 9:21-22)

Questions:

-What does it mean to come unto Christ as a little child?

-What prevents one from taking this all-import step in their lives?

The Resurrection of Christ Redeemeth Mankind from the Fall of Adam

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)

Questions:

-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?

If Ye Believe on His Name Ye Will Repent of All Your Sins

Samuel, a Lamanite prophet, teaches that true belief in Jesus Christ leads one to change his or her life comprehensively. All sins are unacceptable for the person who does not take for granted the escape Christ has prepared. Those who truly believe in the power of Christ’s Atonement do not take the opportunity to repent lightly.

“…Whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life…And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits.” (Helaman 14:8,13)

Questions:

-How does James 2:17 relate to the above verses?

Great Power and Authority to Preach Only Comes if Given by God

The brother missionaries, Nephi and Lehi, had miraculous results when preaching the word of God because they had authority from God to preach and then spoke the words that God gave them through the Holy Spirit.

…They did preach with great power, insomuch that they did confound many…dissenters…insomuch that [the dissenters] came forth and did confess their sins and were baptized unto repentance…And…Nephi and Lehi did preach…with such great power and authority, for they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak, and they also had what they should speak given unto them. (Helaman 5:17-18)

Questions:

-Who has a line of priesthood authority to preach that goes directly back to Jesus Christ?

-How does one rely on the Holy Spirit so that the words spoken, when preaching, are given by God?

The Spirit of the Lord Doth not Dwell in Unholy Temples

Wickedness and weakness are closely tied together. The Nephites became weak when they committed sin and no longer sought a connection (through revelation and prophecy) with God.

“Because of their iniquity the church had begun to dwindle and they began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation; and the judgments of God did stare them in the face. And they saw that they had become weak…and that the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them; yea, it had withdrawn from them because the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples…” (Helaman 4:23-24)

Questions:

-Are there some who believe God is still a God of miracles and, therefore, seek the spirit of revelation and prophecy in our times?

-Is seeking revelation and prophetic insight even a consideration for most?

-Without revelation and prophetic insight, is it possible to truly be in line with God’s will?