3 Nephi 11-15
When he came to them after the Resurrection, what did he teach them? At the end of Mark it says: beginning with Moses and the prophets he taught them all the things concerning himself. Then their eyes were opened, but we don’t have a word of that sermon [in the Bible]. Those were the secret teachings the Lord taught the apostles after the Resurrection. They all turn out to be the same, and we have them here. This is what we find in the Nag Hammadi Scrolls. These became distorted to form various gnostic doctrines, etc. But the Lord taught the apostles lots of things after the Resurrection. He appeared no [fewer] than twenty-seven times. I have some long articles on that particular subject. “The Gospel of the Forty Days” it was called. For forty days after the Resurrection he came and taught the apostles, and we don’t have one word in the Bible of what he told them after that. This is what sent them out on their missions—this is what they were going to teach. But this we have in the Book of Mormon. We have it included here, but first we must get filled in here.
We got to chapter 11, which was a tremendous climax with the great multitude gathered together, etc. You notice that Christ comes to every individual; it’s all on an individual basis. He takes them by the hand, he gives each one the signs and tokens, and he blesses them one by one. Then in the blessings and promises he gives them, he says, I and the Father will come to him, meaning “to him and to her,” using the common gender and always using the singular that way. He assures them that they are in the same program as the Father and the Son. I am teaching only what the Father tells me to, he says. I am simply doing his will. The Holy Ghost is in on it, and now you are in on the same thing. We are bringing you in on the very same thing [he says]. How do we take that tremendous leap? Well, this is done in the chapters that follow. (We have to go through these rapidly.) 3 Nephi 11:35: “And unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” This takes us up to the very highest level.
Then we come to 3 Nephi 12. We said this individual settlement is paid. We make our covenants and have our standing with the Lord, but we are not alone in this. We don’t just go our several ways after that if we have all had the same experience and we know heart-to-heart exactly what the other person has gone through. We have the greatest feeling of unity with the others—”that they may be one even as we are one,” as the Lord repeatedly says in John 14–17. So we don’t go our several ways. We must all live together in eternity; we are all going to be in this. We all have identical understanding with those who rule and reign forever. This is going to be something, and very interesting questions arise as to our individuality, etc. We are all going to be together for endless ages.
The next step here, the purpose of the twelfth chapter, is to get us together; you’ll see that. He called the Twelve, and notice what he does here. First of all he appoints the Twelve, but he doesn’t appoint them as superiors, but as servants. He doesn’t appoint them as a higher rank. Notice what he says here—there’s no rank. They don’t belong to a higher peer group; they are just part of your group. “He stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you [they are just your people; they are not from a higher rank, a higher order of beings, or a different peer group] to minister unto you, and to be your servants.” [They are] not to boss you around or to lay down the law for you. In other words, they are absolutely equal with you; there’s no difference whatever here. There’s no sense of rank. This makes it very clear. We are all starting out in the same thing together. How do we get along together? We don’t pull rank on each other at all. “. . . and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water.” I have given them power, but the power they have is only mine. They are just acting as proxy for me. Notice, at all times the ordinances of the temples are by proxy. The Book of Mormon gives us the formula here, “Being commissioned of Jesus Christ [he told me to do it; I’m just doing it for him], I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. . . .Wherefore, ye shall do all things in the name of the Son, and repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.” So it is the Son who is doing it all. Remember, we talked about that intense concentration on this one person, and it still goes on here. We are still all as equal as anything can be. They will baptize you for me [the Savior says]. As I said, all baptism is by proxy.
After that I will personally baptize you to a higher order of things, and that is with fire and the Holy Ghost. They don’t baptize you with that. That is bestowed on you. He says here in verse 1: “I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.” They have seen him now; [they need] to believe that he is the Savior, that he is what he says he is. These people are able to believe in him. Then he says, others will not have seen the way you have, but “more blessed are they who shall believe in your words [you are just handing it on] because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am.” John starts out with what we have seen with our eyes, heard with our ears, felt with our hands. That’s what we testify of, and the world doesn’t receive our testimony because they don’t think it’s spiritual enough. “Blessed are they who shall believe in your word.” They haven’t had the same privilege. You are just carrying it on. This is what the gospel is, handing it all around. “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39)—to see that everybody gets it. We all [the righteous] get into this same glorious continuation. It’s going to be a long haul ahead. It won’t be anything like this world, so it will be quite a wonderful thing.
Verse 2: “Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized.” This is the way they will accept it, you see. This is not the same life as before when you’ve borne witness like this. Did you actually see that? Did that actually happen? Did the Lord really come down? [They will ask] all these things. That’s it—we’ve seen it. It’s all right if they believe in your words. Then comes the test; they have to humble themselves to believe that because they weren’t there. They have to accept it. They have to “believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility” and be willing to take a chance on it and be baptized. Then they shall be visited; I’ll take care of that [the Savior says]. Then they shall receive the higher order too. They will recognize their total ignorance, come down in the depths of humility. If they accept your baptism of water, which is my baptism—you are just baptizing for me—then I will confirm it with the other baptism, he says. You are confirmed with the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. I’ll take care of that. So we are all going to be one big happy family; we are all entering in it together. Notice what they must do here.
Now we come to the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are in Matthew 5. People always say, well, this is general philosophy; this is general rules of behavior; this is wisdom literature. Well, it’s specific instruction which is perfectly clear in Matthew 5. The apostles asked, who are qualified to be members of the church? Who will we accept? Remember, the church and kingdom are something very special. If they are willing to be baptized, that’s a test—if they are humble enough to be baptized and to come down in the depths of humility. So the Beatitudes are not wisdom literature. These are specific requirements to qualify one for membership. Notice, the Beatitudes begin in verse 3: “Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me.” Who are those who will be accepted? Those “who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The kingdom of heaven is wherever the commandments of God are being obeyed. They are willing to come into the kingdom, and they will receive the kingdom if they are poor in spirit. If they are humble and come to me, then they will blessed. They will be qualified to enter into this great covenant that we are going to be in here. As I said, this is not just wisdom literature. These things are all qualities which people should possess; nevertheless, it’s very specific here. Verses 3–9 are basic qualifications, you notice—they who mourn and they who are meek, and who hunger and thirst for righteousness. These are rare souls, you see. They shall be filled with the Holy Ghost. And the merciful are qualified. You will be judged as you judge, the Lord tells us. And blessed are they, above all, who are pure in heart. You are not going to see God if you are not. No unclean thing can stand in the presence of God. “And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Verse 9: “And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Well, God’s [kingdom] is the peaceable kingdom, of course. Notice, these are the qualifications that everyone should have, these Beatitudes in verses 3–9. Then in verse 10–12 [we find] what they can expect in this world. Remember, this is not your final reward here. This is all the testing, he says. “And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” They will revile you and persecute you and do all manner of evil against you. Well, of course, if you deserve it that’s something else. “. . . for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.” The apostles are in the same position as the ancient prophets, and so are all the members. That’s what he’s talking about. As I said, they are all on the same level. So verses 10–12 are what they can expect in this world. It won’t be very [pleasant], but they will be blessed and will be able to pull through.
Verses 13–16 are about the taking on of these obligations. If you take these obligations on, you have a responsibility. Now you are “the salt of the earth.” A little salt goes a long way. There are only a few of you, but you go a long way. You are expected to react and to do something. If you are not [doing something], you have lost your savor. There’s no point in giving this to you if you are not going to pass it on, because I’m passing it on to you. We’re passing it around, and there is no point to doing this [if members don’t share with others]. So you have to let your light shine; you have to be a light unto the people.
These things are all in logical order; you can see that. This is taking on the obligations that go with it. What about the former obligations? What about the law of Moses that the rabbis argue about endlessly? Well, that’s still in effect, he says; that hasn’t been done away with. It still holds. But what do we do? He says [verse 17]: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law of the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil.” It’s like the Word of Wisdom. Is the Word of Wisdom the law we live by? Do we discuss it endlessly and analyze it? No, we accept it as a matter of course, just like you accept the old law of Moses—the Ten Commandments, [for example]. The Lord says in the first two commandments they are taken care of. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy might, mind, and strength. . . . Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (D&C 59:5–6). Well, if you love the Lord thy God with all your might, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself, you are not going to steal and you are not going to lie. You wouldn’t even think of that. You don’t have to be given those commandments every day. When you go out of the house, Mama doesn’t tell you, “Now, don’t kill anyone today; don’t tell any lies today or anything like that.” No, you just don’t think of that. It’s written in your heart; the Prophet Moses said it must be.
Verse 20: “Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments [you have to keep these commandments], which I have commanded you at this time.” This is bringing them up to date, as it tells us in chapter 23. This is the minimum now. The law of Moses was the minimum before. You kept the Ten Commandments—not to commit adultery, worship idols, and things like that. They aren’t really active laws for us. You keep them—of course, you do. He says, they are not done away with by any means, but they are fulfilled if they are written in your heart. You don’t even need to rehearse them; you’ll never do that kind of thing. But these things carry us further now; these are further obligations. He says, unless you live up to my commandments which I give you at this time, you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven. This is the next step that you’re going to have to take.
Then he goes through the Ten Commandments here and gives them another interpretation. You can see what it is—very obviously fulfilling the law. We have the Ten Commandments on how to treat each other in verses 21 and following. It is written that “thou shalt not kill,” but to despise a man is worse than to be angry with him. To be angry with him is to have murder in your heart. He tells you here not to think of a thing that you wouldn’t do. He talks about adultery. When you look upon a woman and lust after her, you shouldn’t do that because it’s as bad as the deed. The thought is parent to the deed, of course. You wouldn’t even think about a thing you are not going to do. Don’t think about things you’re not prepared to do—you’re wasting your time. Don’t curse or despise one another, because, as the Jews tell us, in another person you are looking upon the image of your Maker. To hold that in contempt is a terrible thing. Remember, the law of Moses is that you shall not beat anyone, no matter what his crime is, more than forty lashes “lest thy brother appear vile before thee.” You must not degrade another human being to the point of being vile before you. He may deserve it, but you cannot degrade the image of God to a vile and contemptible thing. Hold [no one] in contempt; that’s a terrible thing. “Thou shalt not kill” is one thing, but just to be angry with somebody, see in that person a lesser being, and say “raca” which means “curse you” [is to be] in danger of the council. You say he is a fool. To despise a man is worse than to be angry with him. Cool contempt is far more withering than rage. There are enemies who hate each other’s guts, but they respect each other. On the other hand, to hold a person in absolute contempt is worse, and that’s a thing we are guilty of a lot.
Verses 23–25: And no matter what, be reconciled to him. God will not receive you if you are indifferent and cool to these things and not willing to go all the way. If you have anything against your brother, be reconciled with your brother no matter what, because you’ve got to get along with him. “Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him.” Never burn your bridges behind you, because you are going to have to settle these things in the end, just as you have to end the war after all is said and done. Jack Welch loves to comment on this. These are very interesting rules of Jewish law he is talking about here [in verse 26]. You have to pay the judge’s fee or you won’t get out of prison. He’s giving that as an example. [Then we have the verses on adultery mentioned above.] Sin is a state of mind, after all. You may eat or drink something or do something, quite unaware of what you are doing. In another case, you can perform the same act and be very guilty, such as stealing or something like that. You might take something away and have no idea it belongs to somebody else, but if you know it belongs to somebody else, that’s different. It’s your state of mind that makes a sin what it is.
Incidentally, this about the lawyers and agreeing with [your enemy—verse 25]—any [good] lawyer will tell you that’s right and the best thing. Dallin Oaks used to be in my priesthood quorum; he was in my ward when he was the president here. He used to tell us in the priesthood quorum that any settlement out of court is better than any settlement in court. He said, the worst settlement out of court is better than the best settlement in court. Whatever you do stay out of court! That’s what the Lord is telling you here. When you put things on that basis, you don’t do that [go to court].
Then he talks about the lusts of the flesh. You have to deny yourselves these things. To refrain from doing them you refrain from even thinking about them. To refrain from these vices does take restraint. This really happens. When you yield to them, you are cast into hell because they are so futile here. It’s so pitiful—to be carnally minded is death, you’re not going anywhere, you’re sick, etc. Denying yourself is real here. Every moment we make choices to the exclusion of other things; you have to do that. Is it wrong to deprive yourself? Today we say, “Oh, never deprive yourself of anything.” Well, that’s absurd; you have to deprive yourself of everything except what you are doing this very moment. We make choices to the exclusion of all those nice other things we could be doing. “I want it all, and I want it now,” we say today. You have to have it now.
That means hell hereafter. Hell is knowing what you are missing; look at all the things you missed because of that. Remember, the essence of hell is Tantalus who was always trying to eat the food and it was snatched away from him; or Sisyphus who is always rolling the rock up the hill, and it always slips down again; or the things that are always and forever out of your grasp. Satan says it’s because of what I’ve lost. “Farewell, happy fields where joy forever dwells; hail, horrors, hail.” These great joys could have been, and he has missed out on all of this, which is really hell. It wouldn’t be hell unless you could see a happier state, unless you knew that you were qualified for much better things than that, and here you have stuck yourself into this. But here you must deny yourself all sorts of things. Admittedly, these things are a temptation. There is legitimate pleasure to be found in some things. But do you engage in them without license? All appetites, desires, and passions must be kept within the bounds the Lord has set. We have appetites, desires, and passions. We wouldn’t enjoy eating if we didn’t. If we didn’t enjoy eating, we would starve to death. We don’t eat because we will die if we don’t; we don’t drink because we will die of dehydration if we don’t drink; we don’t go to sleep because we would drop dead if we didn’t get some sleep. It’s because we like to do those things. Nature has us enjoy it while we are here. There are things you can enjoy, and things you don’t have to enjoy.
The hero of Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain is Pete Peppercorn, a fabulously wealthy Dutchman. He looked for all the delights you can find in this life, and he finally came out with the idea that the simple, majestic gifts of life [are best]. He could go into ecstasy about a glass of water. He could afford the costliest wines in the world, but the good water was better than the wine. He decided on the simple gifts of life after he could have everything else. You all know Nabokov, the Russian novelist who wrote Lolita—a vastly gifted man, but, you might say, very much inclined not to cross himself in these things. He was a gourmet and looked for everything he could eat. He finally came to the conclusion that the perfect food on which no improvement could be made at all, the utter delight, the culinary perfection, was a boiled egg. You can have the simple things, but you have to do without a lot of things. I have never eaten baked Alaska, but I’m not suffering for that. I don’t know what I’m missing, I suppose.
Here [in verses 31–32] it is talking about these things—easy divorce and easy virtue that can’t be engaged in, impatience of restraint by covenant and promise. We make covenants and promises and from then on they restrain us. You have to remain within the laws of chastity; you are bound by them. You may resent other people having gone into that. I know it often happens. One of the main reasons for finding fault with the Church and trying to turn it to derision is that people are not free to indulge their lusts while they are in it because they have made covenants. Lots of people have given it up because of that. It would be easier to misbehave if they didn’t feel these obligations. But [there’s this feeling] I want it here and I want it now, no matter what went before and no matter what comes after. The moment is everything. That’s what verses 31–33 are talking about. Far from looking to eternal life, we can’t keep consistent just for a few months.
Verse 33: “And again it is written, thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.” This next verse is about perjury. Unsteady and uncertain creatures that we are, we should not make definitive commitments and promises and threats because we can’t keep them. Time and again in the Book of Mormon they swear solemn oaths that they will do something. Some people swore that they wouldn’t eat until they had killed the Prophet Joseph and things like that. Well, you have no control over those things at all. I can swear by your head, but you can’t make one hair black or white. You can’t add a cubit to your stature, he says, so don’t swear by things that you can’t carry out. What can you carry out? Very little, even things that you think would be very easy to carry out. If you say, I’ll never do this again, or I’ll do this at a certain time, you don’t know what the conditions will be. It will be totally beyond your control at a later time, so never make oaths and commitments of that sort. Notice, he says, you don’t swear by the heaven or the earth. How can you? You can’t make an engagement that you can’t keep. (We are going too fast here.)
The next thing is how to avoid contention with all this going on. You just bear your testimony and respect the testimony of others. That’s all you can do; you can’t twist a person’s arm. I can’t have a testimony for you. I had a dream about you; therefore, you [should do this]. No, you don’t do that. Verse 37: “But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay [you make your statement and that’s it, yes or no] for whatsoever cometh of more than these is evil.” Then you are getting into your fine print, into your legalistic arguments, and all sorts of things. I can only testify for myself, and you can only testify for yourself, he says. Let there be no contention—testimony alone. We are not supposed to have a disputation. The first commandment he gave them was that there should be no more disputations [3 Nephi 11:28]. He was talking about the Father and the Son being one, etc. He said, no, you won’t argue about that anymore. There have been contentions all the time. My first commandment is that there shall be no more contention. All contention is of the devil; it is not of me [the Savior said]. I can bear my testimony, but I can’t force it on you. You can bear yours, but you can’t force it on me. That’s as far as we can go. If the Holy Ghost is going to bear witness to you, that will happen. But I can’t force the Holy Ghost to do it. Anything more than that is evil.
Verse 38: “And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Our entire obsession today is with revenge; this is the theme. John Wayne or his loved ones suffer violent wrongs from a very villainous person, and the rest of the movie is taken up with his elaborate revenge. We just love every bit of it, the way the guy is “going to get it.” Revenge is the name of the game today; it’s the great human interest in all our crime shows. That’s why we have to have happy endings all the time, because they amount to revenge, which is our obsession. “But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil.” What can you do in that case? You turn the other cheek also. Well, that’s absurd. Are you crazy? This isn’t the real world [we might say].
Well, what do you do? How do you resist evil? By doing good; that’s the only thing. You can’t fight it if a person is going to be that way. You can’t control the other person’s conscience; you can’t make him righteous by shooting him. It’s possible that he might repent. Time and again there are many stories about the angels wanting to come down and reap, or the story of Capernaum with the Lord talking to the apostles. Why doesn’t God smite these people with lightning seeing how terribly wicked they are? Why does he allow this to go on? [they ask]. He says, because they might repent sometime. That’s what we’re here for—their probation as well as your probation. You have chances to repent too, and they might repent. This has happened; we’ve seen this happen here with the Lamanites. And these vicious Gadiantons become not only good citizens but excellent missionaries. We get wonderful people who were very bad before, and the other way around. As [Ezekiel 33:18–19] tells us, though a person has done righteously all his life, as long as he is on earth he may completely turn the tables. When he turns to wickedness, all his former righteousness will be forgotten. And if a person has done evil all his life, if he should repent and turn away from that, all his former evil will be forgotten. It’s the life he is living now that counts here. As long as you are here you can still repent, so don’t take it upon yourself to punish the wicked. This is a great lesson in the Book of Mormon from now on. After the Nephites fall, the whole theme is revenge, and we find a great deal said about that. “But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked,” Mormon says, “and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished” (Mormon 4:5). Don’t worry about the justice of God. He will overtake the wicked, but if you try to punish them you are wicked too. So we say, yea, yea, and nay, nay. We don’t argue about things, and we don’t resist evil—you turn the other cheek. Of course, this we all know from the Bible. You cannot eliminate it. What do you do? Well, you do good. That alone will defuse it if you do that.
This is where Brother Oaks used to make it strong. Verse 40: “And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” But whatever you do, don’t go to court. If he wants you to go a mile, go two miles with him. “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.” This is an important thing too; lend without interest. Of course, this is the reversal of today’s whole fiscal structure—the stock market, banking, and everything else—that you lend with interest. You give as little as you can, and you take as much as you can. That’s the secret of success. That makes our whole life this hollow thing. Remember what the fool tells King Lear?
That sir which serves and seeks for gain, And follows but for form, Will pack when it begins to rain, And leave thee in the storm.
Shakespeare, King Lear, act II, scene 4
This is the way you do in business all the time. Here’s a man with whom we have sung company hymns every morning for thirty year. Suddenly he takes a golden parachute and leaves everybody else out in the cold. He has saved himself because everybody was “that sir which serves and seeks for gain [that was the motive]. And follows but for form.” We all sang the hymns and were loyal to the company. But then all of sudden there was a hostile takeover, and the whole thing collapsed. But he packs when it begins to rain and “leaves thee in the storm.” He descends in his golden parachute and leaves you holding the bag. There’s some beautiful imagery for you. I’m really rushing along at a feverish pace this morning. We ought to cover the whole Book of Mormon today, you know.
We know this, of course. This is a line from Antigone. In the play by that name she says to her brother, “I am one who has been taught to love with those who love and hate with those who hate.” To be loyal to your society was to love whom they love and hate whom they hate. This is the same thing [in verse 43]: “And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy [it says it was written, and that was the code]; But behold I say unto you, love your enemies.” As Brother Kimball said, they will cease being your enemies in that case; that’s the only way they will ever cease being your enemies. Unless you kill them—there’s the answer, of course. As we learn a little later on, “God will not that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it since the beginning of man” (Ether 8:19). That’s not the solution. What you do is “pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.” Well, you’ll heap coals of fire on their heads by doing that.
How do you confront evil? By doing good. If your enemy knows you are praying for him, this is something your enemy can’t prevent you from doing, no matter how strong he is. He can’t prevent you from exercising this powerful prerogative of prayer on his behalf, if necessary. You have him in your power, so to speak. You have an influence on him. If you pray for them who despitefully use you, you have the ascendant position. You are in the dominant position if you can pray for them, knowing that the Lord will answer your prayers. This is the only way you can be the children of your Father who is in heaven. No children of God will hate God’s other children, no matter who they are, because God puts up with them too. There are some very wicked ones, and God loves all his children equally. In some who do his will he delights. But why would he feel so sorry and mourn and be wrathful against those who are wicked? Because he loves them. If he didn’t care [he wouldn’t do that]—like the parents today who don’t care. “If my parents would only get mad at me, if they would say something to me, if they would only pay attention to me,” [young people say]. We have so much of that today.
Our Father cares immensely for us, far more than we care about ourselves. So when we do evil he goes through all this trouble, etc. He seethes with emotions on our part. Remember he weeps in the book Enoch. God has created worlds without number; how can he weep? Enoch said he weeps and will not be comforted. The Lord said, “Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made . . . and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren” (Moses 7:36). Yet these were to be kept in prison until the Day of Judgment; then they are to be rehabilitated, we are told. They were to have the gospel preached to them in prison. They were those who were disobedient at the time of Noah, as Peter tells us. And these were the ones that Enoch preached to, warning of the flood. He was the great preacher before the flood. When they were disobedient they were kept in prison, and these were the ones that the Lord himself went down and preached to—the spirits in prison. He put himself out in their behalf, and they were the lowest and the wickedest of all. Of all the worlds he created, they were the worst, and yet he went down to save them. It’s a marvelous thing; it [the atonement] covers everything.
Verse 45: “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.” They are fulfilled. He has been filling them [in] up to now. After this he is going to tell you what comes hereafter. Then there’s this line we like so much and take so easily: “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” You ask, must we be that perfect? Well, the perfect circle is an example here. To be perfect is to be perfectus, to do all you can at your level—to carry out everything you can carry out. Perficio means to carry everything through that you can. You can’t do all the things that God does, but you do what you can. You do not fail what you can do, and you will be perfect. How big does a circle have to be in order to be a perfect circle? A word that was used a great deal by both the Arabs and the Jews is tamim, which means “the perfect circle.” It’s a perfect closed circle. It doesn’t make any difference how big or small it is, it is the circle if it is perfect. The form makes it perfect. Its size is very secondary; it doesn’t count at all. You’re perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, but not on anything like the same scale. But you must live up to every capacity and possibility. If there is anything that you haven’t done that you could have done, [you are not perfect.] Remember, in this life we can’t do a great deal because we are so limited. But if there is anything you deliberately left out, then you are not perfect. Then you are responsible because you could have done it; it was within your scope. You say, “Well, that’s impossible.” If it’s impossible you won’t be responsible for that.
Now we go to the next chapter, which changes the subject to something else. Notice that this is progressive. He is teaching them more and more. 3 Nephi 13 entirely reverses the order of things which people normally do. It completely rejects the economy we practice—”who serves and seeks for gain [that’s your motive] and follows but for form.” These things are expected of us—dress for success, etc. That’s following but for form. But when it begins to rain, he will pack and leave you in the storm. He’ll take off. This reverses that order and completely rejects the economy which we practice. Here the Lord comes after the Resurrection preaching to people. Why should he talk so much about the economy? That’s what this chapter talks about. Why? Because that is our obsession, and he is ordering us to break away from it here. When you give alms, you have your choice—you can be rewarded now or later. You have your reward in being recognized now, but you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. If you accept your reward here, you won’t get it hereafter. You lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth. He doesn’t say in both places. Do not lay up treasures on earth. He says here [in verse 24]: “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” No, if you serve one you will hate the other, just as sure as anything. He makes this very clear. There’s no objection to having your reward here if you enjoy that [sort of] thing—that’s fine, and they are welcome to it. Verse 2: “Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” Those who do sound the trumpet, etc., and make themselves important. Let your alms be in secret so it will be between you and your Heavenly Father.
Hypocrites who pray to be seen of men have their reward; [this is] your outward religion. [If you pray in secret] he will reward these openly. Then the vain repetitions, which is multiplying words. We use that a lot. But this is the way you pray—then he gives them the Lord’s prayer, which is so much concerned with our economics. Verse 9: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Thy kingdom come [which he says later] means “thy will be done on earth.” When his will is done that’s where his kingdom is. [We pray] thy kingdom come to earth here so that his will is done on earth just as it is there. This will be Zion then. Notice he says, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” It’s usually rendered, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” But actually the oldest texts of the New Testament all have the word debts; they use the economic word. Forgive our debts as we forgive those who owe us debts—only to that extent. If we forgive others the Lord will forgive us. The Lord has a great deal to say about that, you notice—about the cruel master of the house, who the Lord leaves in charge. We are to be judged by the way we treat others.
“And lead us not into temptation.” Will God lead us into temptation? Yes. Remember, this is a time of probation. We don’t want the Lord to let us get more than we can take, you see. Don’t tempt us more than we can stand. [Cain] said the same thing, “My suffering is greater than I can bear.” So it was alleviated. “. . . but deliver us from evil.” Why should he do that? Because that is our purpose in being here. We are bound to go too far because of the Fall. Whatever we do, we are bound to overstep. The game is set up so that we would sin, so that Adam would fall, and we would be led into temptation. We don’t want to be carried in too far, but we are in it up to our necks anyway. “Deliver us from evil”—we are not going all the way. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory . . .” This is left out, they say, in some of the New Testament texts, but Joachim Jeremias, who lives in Palestine and has been working for many years on this, has shown that this is part of the Lord’s original prayer. He would have to end this way; it’s a formal ending to the prayer. This is not a late addition.
Verse 14: “For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” The way you can serve him is to serve them. If you want to give him something, you give something to his children. He doesn’t need it. What can you give me? he says. The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. You can’t give me anything. But you can help my children. That’s what you are being tested in, to do that. I want you to behave as I would behave in every circumstance [he says]. So if you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will forgive you. But the hypocrites just appear to be doing these things; they appear to be fasting. When you fast do it in secret because it is between you and the Father.
Verse 19: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth.” No treasures on earth, please. Moth and rust doth corrupt here. Do not lay up treasures, but lay them up in heaven. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” You can’t divide it that way. The light of your body has to be single. The next verse follows very logically. Your heart will be where your treasure is; it will be concentrated on that. You can’t divide it between the two. Your eye must be single, and your body will be full of light. “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.”
“The motions of his spirit are dull as night,” as Shakespeare says, when he thinks of only those things. Speaking of being divided, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” The modern and ancient Hebrew word for banking and trade is mammon. These commandments are on economics, because this is what people’s hearts are engaged in. This is where the real temptation will be. It’s the hardest temptation of all to take. I really believe this last move that was made this week in the Church has taken a big step in its economic arrangement. It’s a form of the law of consecration. The ward consecrates just one big fund which all goes to Salt Lake City. Then [the General Authorities] give it back as we need it, which is exactly what the Law of Consecration is. You give it all to the bishop and get back just what you need. You don’t need more, and that’s what you get. But you turn it all over to him and trust that you’ll get what you need. That’s exactly what they’ve decided to do now. Everything the ward has goes in to the Twelve. We decide what we need, and we can get it back. You get back what you need, but not more. That’s the Law of Consecration being operated at the highest level in the Church, a very, very interesting development, I think.
Verse 25: “He looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought of your life.” Give it up! This isn’t a career for you; you are not going to take any thought of your life at all, what you shall eat or what you shall wear. Verse 30: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field . . . even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith [it all has to be by faith; this is the important thing]. . . . Take no thought, saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” But those are important. They are basic, aren’t they? Yes, of course they are, as verse 32 says. “For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Of course, you do. You can’t use that argument of necessity: I’m going to work all day long just for what I’ll eat and drink and wherewith I’ll be clothed—that’s the purpose of life. No, that’s not it at all. Your heavenly Father knows, so he will provide it. You do his work and he will take care of you. You do the work and the lunch is free, so to speak.
Verse 33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” These are the things that will be added to what you need. You don’t [work for] them; they are added. The word it uses for added means they will be added over and above all these other things. You seek first to do all your work. These things are not part of your work. They are added to you, given to you as a bonus. This is free. A bonus is what is added after. All these things you need, your heavenly Father knows you need them, and they will be provided.
What is he talking about in chapter 14? There will always be bad ones. How do you handle them? That’s what this chapter is dealing with. He turned again unto the multitude and said, in the first place you don’t judge them because you are a bad one yourself. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. . . . With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Don’t talk about how wicked the other person is when you are more wicked yourself. The mote is in your brother’s eye. He has a little speck in his eye, and you have a big beam. The word for mote that’s used in the New Testament is a “speck of dust,” and the beam is a husk from grain. It’s a bigger piece of dust. You have a much bigger one in your own eye, and you are trying to get the dust out of [your brother’s] eye. This is normal procedure. It’s a vicious and obsessive practice of hypocrites—let me pull the mote out of your eye [they say].
Then who are the dogs and swine [in verse 6]? “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” What about these people who won’t accept the gospel? This is not running down dogs or swine. The word he uses is conariun, which means “pet doggy.” You don’t give all the food on the table to your pet dog. For one thing it would make the little puppy sick. It’s not his food. They are not ready to receive it, and they wouldn’t appreciate it. They would just turn again and trample you; they wouldn’t know what they were getting at all. This isn’t holding them in contempt, but things should be distributed where they can be appreciated and used. The dog will bite you, and the swine will just tread on the pearls. They don’t mean anything to him. That’s why things must be done appropriately, of course. This also has to do with the secrecy that was taught to the apostles.
Then you must make the first move. What are you waiting for? It’s all spread out before you, like a feast. Verse 8: “For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” But you must make the first move. “Thy servant hath sought thee diligently; now he hath found thee,” said Abraham, but he had to seek him first. And you are able to do it, the Lord tells them here. He’ll give you the very best, and you ask for that. Here’s the rule of our one-to-one relationship: God says, if you want to please me do as I do. Verse 12 is the golden rule, of course: “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets.” This is a feeling of charity, warmth, and empathy. That’s what you’d call empathy, isn’t it? What would I like? Well, that’s exactly what he would like, you see. In other words, put yourself in their place. You have to do that to carry this out, and many of us can’t do that because we’ve been taught to be out for Number One—I’ll get what I can.
Then here are the two ways. The false prophets in sheep’s clothing are “ravening wolves.” They insisted on judging by appearances, but you can’t judge by appearances. You have false prophets in sheep’s clothing, as Samuel the Lamanite tells them. Then you know them by their fruits. And there are plenty of unworthy people who will say, “Lord, Lord . . .” They won’t enter into my kingdom unless they do the will of my Father. “Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?” The name can be used for those purposes. We hear the name of Christ used all the time. Evangelists, priests, and everybody else use it all the time, but when they say that, they profess they had the power of the name. He will say, “I never knew you.” They acted without authority at all. Because of what they were doing, by their fruits ye shall know them.
The next chapter is to prepare you for what is ahead in the hereafter. The law of Moses is still being carried out, it tells us in verse 2 and following. This will be your share in the whole thing, from verse 11 on. Verse 13: “And behold, this is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you.” He tells the Nephites that this is to be their land of inheritance. It’s a funny thing. We scoff at the Indians today because almost all the tribes regard the land that is given to them as holy. We think of that as paganism. Yet we don’t hesitate to call Palestine “the Holy Land.” We think it is holy because it was given to Israel. The Book of Mormon tells us this is the promised land, and here he tells them, this is the land I’m giving to you. “This is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you. And not at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell it unto your brethren at Jerusalem.” This is your holy land, so we should not hold the Indians in contempt for regarding it as such.