Day 71: The Gospel of Jesus Christ

3 Nephi 16:12

While Jesus ministers to the Nephites and Lamanites in the Americas He makes several prophecies and clarifies doctrinal truths. In 3 Nephi 16 He speaks about His gospel and its importance to our mortal experience on earth. In fact, Jesus suggests that qualifications for righteousness turn on the axis of accepting and living the gospel.

What is “the gospel?” Thanks to the Restoration and the translation of the Book of Mormon, we have a really clear understanding today. The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches principles and provides ordinances necessary for mankind to become worthy to receive eternal life. Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance form two foundational principles of the Gospel. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, performed by someone with authority from God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost are two halves of the initial ordinance necessary for salvation. Lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ, obedience to His laws, participation in further ordinances, and keeping covenants are necessary to “endure to the end” of this mortal life and qualify for eternal life.

Day 70: Restored Truths and the Importance of The Book of Mormon

3 Nephi 15:16-24 and 1 Nephi 13:40-41

When Jesus appeared to the Nephites and Lamanites in the Americas, He established His identity, His importance to their lives, and His law, the law of Christ. One of the most critical truths for us to understand is that there is “one fold and one shepherd” (3 Nephi 15:21). Jesus personally declared His divinity, His role as Savior and Redeemer, and the primacy of His law. His words in 3 Nephi echo earlier prophetic writings in 1 Nephi that “there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth” (1 Nephi 13:41). This is Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon serves as a second witness of Jesus Christ. It stands alongside the Bible as a testimony of His divinity, it clarifies important points of doctrine such as the need for baptism by immersion by the proper authority, and teaches additional doctrines such as the Plan of Salvation in beautiful simplicity.

The role of Jesus Christ in our lives can be summed up in simple statements of truth. Just as there is one shepherd and one God over all the earth, so is there one plan and one law that apply to everyone on earth: “the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved” (1 Nephi 13:40). Our purpose on earth is to learn charity, selflessness, to become more like God, to repent when we fall short, to make promises to God, to keep His commandments, and to prepare for eternal life. Jesus Christ set the example and makes all this possible through His Atonement and Resurrection. By following Jesus Christ according to the pattern He set anciently and reestablished through His church today, we choose the path to eternal life.

Day 32: Conversion and Salvation

Mosiah 27:23-31

Alma the younger’s conversion provides one of the finest examples in the scriptures of the power and mercy of God. Alma the younger was on a collision course with eternal damnation but, through the faith and prayers of his father (as well as family and friends), Alma was given an opportunity to change directions. He went from “vilest sinner” (Mosiah 28:4)––intent on destroying the Church––to preacher, high priest, and missionary. God showed Alma great mercy in sending an angel to call Alma to repentance.

When Alma revives after being struck dumb as a result of the angel’s visit, he arises and testifies of his conversion, the mercy of God, and the Plan of Salvation, as in verses 25-26:

Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;

And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. (Mosiah 27:25-26)

I love the phrasing in verse 25, that the Plan of Salvation applies to “all mankind”; lest you think that excludes anyone, “yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people.” No one is excluded from God’s plan for the eternal happiness and salvation of His children. And furthermore, we are ALL His children! He loves each of us––regardless of where mortality has placed us, regardless of the differences of culture, language, color, or political affiliation that have become distinguished on earth––and He wants us to succeed in qualifying for the greatest blessing He has to offer.

Day 31: A Testimony of Christ

Mosiah 26

The Book of Mormon is replete with the words of Christ and testimonies of Him from His prophets, angels, missionaries, and disciples. I find the dialogue of Mosiah 26 especially beautiful. The premortal Christ responds personally to Alma the elder’s concerned pleading for help on how best to administer the Church in Zarahemla and deal with apostasy and persecution. I don’t feel the need to embellish this section with too many of my own words so allow me to highlight and make brief comments on the passages that really stand out to me:

  • God makes the all-important statement of existence: “I am the Lord their God” (v. 26)
  • God clarifies His role as the Creator: “it is I that hath created them” (v. 23)
  • He states one of His essential roles: “I am their Redeemer” (v. 26)
  • God testifies of Himself and His supernal role: “it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world” (v. 23)
  • God confirms His power and the qualifications for salvation and exaltation: “it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand” (v. 23)
  • God acknowledges the official organization over which Alma presides: “this is my church” (v. 22)
  • He declares His mercy: “as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me” (v. 30)

Jesus Christ created our earth and mankind under the direction of His Father. He took upon Himself the conditions of mortality in order to understand what we, His children, experience so that He can best help us. He suffered, bled, and died to make repentance viable, forgiveness possible, and gift Resurrection to everyone who has lived, lives, or will live on the Earth.

Day 23: Reflections on Charity, Part I

Words of Mormon 1:8

Reflecting on the prophets of the past, themes emerge in the details of their ministries. If the prophet Mormon (ancient prophet-historian, compiler of the Book of Mormon) has a theme, I would make the argument for charity. He writes,

And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren, that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ….

In a few more weeks, when I make it to Moroni, I will treat this topic again. But I want to introduce it here since we see its traces throughout the Book of Mormon. We have seen it in Enos already (praying for the Lamanites’ salvation) and we will see it again soon with Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah. Charity describes a special kind of love, the pure love of Christ, that leads people to desire the salvation of others. It is the type of love that led Christ to voluntarily suffer and die for us: “Greater love hath no man than this” (John 15:13, NT). And here, in Words of Mormon 1:8, Mormon expresses his charity, praying for the souls of his brethren that they will eventually qualify for salvation.

More to come on this topic!

Day 21: A Personal Relationship with God

Enos 1

The Book of Enos has so much to offer, even in its brevity it is chock full of Gospel insights, not to mention the implicit example of Enos living the Gospel. This time around, I really honed in on Enos’ personal relationship with God, which provides a striking example of the relationship we could each individually foster.

The first part of the Book of Enos records his conversion and calling as a prophet. In this experience Enos prays for his own salvation, the salvation of his people the Nephites, and the salvation of his enemies the Lamanites. It is in the process of seeking for a confirmation from God that He will do everything possible to redeem the Lamanites that we see a pattern for our own relationships with God.

In verse 15 Enos states that he has an initial knowledge on which to act, born of faith in God. He knows that, “Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive it in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.” He knows this because the Lord told him directly: “for he had said unto me…” (emphasis added). Enos did NOT write “the Lord said” or “he had said,” but rather “he had said unto me.” And because Enos had this direct knowledge from the Lord––that if he exercised faith in Jesus Christ and believed that he could receive from God what he asked for, then he would get it––he acted on this knowledge to ask for something specific: “I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records” (v. 16). Enos fostered his relationship with God by praying “continually,” he acted on the knowledge he had already received, and he communed with God directly: “and he covenanted with me that he would bring them [the records] forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time” (v. 16).

Enos had developed his knowledge of and relationship with God so thoroughly that his “faith began to be unshaken in the Lord” (v. 11). So much so that by verse 17 Enos KNOWS beyond a shadow of a doubt that God does everything He says He will. “And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant with he had made….” What a powerful testimony from Enos that we can trust in the Lord because He will fulfill all His words and promises. In a way, Enos’ pattern of faith, knowledge, ask for more was a way of “proving” the Lord, or creating the opportunity for Him to demonstrate His existence, power, and integrity.

Following Enos’ example, we, too, can develop unshaken faith in God and have a personal relationship with Him. Like Enos, we can use our faith and knowledge to partner with God in serving His children and helping them gain salvation.

Day 18: The bondage of mortality

2 Nephi 24:3

The promise for “rest” in the next life from specific conditions of mortality intrigues me, especially the conditions listed as hallmarks of the mortal experience. As I read this verse I wondered, “what is the “hard bondage” of mortality that we have been “made to serve?” Not everyone on earth has lived or will live in formal servitude but somehow mortality is defined by a type of bondage that all humans serve.

The word “made” could be interpreted literally as “God created us.” We were created to take on mortality and experience life in a physical body. In a way it’s a bondage of the spirit in a physical body, something divine and immortal tied to something mortal and dying. But other conditions of mortality create other scenarios of bondage. What about the human predilection for addiction or vices such as lying that ensnare our mortal bodies, compromise our agency and limit our freedom?

When we become attuned to the ways in which our spirits suffer from addiction, sin, interpersonal conflict, and more, God’s promise of rest in the next life becomes so much more poignant.