3 Nephi, Chapter 12 (Part 1)

How is this sermon similar to the Sermon on the Mount?

In this chapter, the Savior begins a sermon at the Nephite temple in Bountiful which is a lot like the Sermon on the Mount.  The verses that follow can be compared to Matthew, Chapter 5.

“And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, 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 to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, 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 (v. 1).  And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins (v. 2).”

The Savior was teaching the twelve Nephite disciples and other Nephites who had been more righteous and had followed the prophets.  He promises those who follow Him and listen to His servants, the gift of the Holy Ghost and that they will be blessed.  The Footnote found in Matthew 5:3 (a) for the word blessed says that when the Savior says “blessed”, other ways to say this are fortunate, or happy.  The promised blessing from the Savior to those who follow Him is happiness.

“Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (v. 3, see also Matthew 5:3).”  When I think of coming unto Christ, I think of allowing our lives to be ruled by his will for us.  In 3 Nephi 9:14 it reads, “Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.”  I read this and I can see that it definitely refers to the willingness of our hearts.  Giving up the natural man and our personal desires and to turn our hearts to the Lord.

Another footnote found in Matthew 5:3 for the phrase “poor in spirit” says “poor in pride, humble in spirit.”  In Ether 12:27 we read, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”  This tells me that as we come unto Him, we are also allowing the Lord to show us what we are doing wrong in our lives, so that we can become better.  Coming unto the Lord, means to willingly look to Him and allow his gospel to affect our lives for the better, humbling us so that we can truly learn and grow to be more like Him.

“And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted (v. 4, see also Matthew 5:4).”  To mourn is to be sad, sorrowful, or grieve for something.  When we follow Christ, the gift of the Holy Ghost acts as a comforter in our life.  When we suffer a loss of any kind, He will be there to lift our spirit.  We can also have the blessings that come with being part of the church, such as having our brothers and sisters in the gospel there to help us through difficult times.  If also, we are sad for the realization of things we have done to offend others or God, and we are truly following Christ and repent, we will be blessed with the comfort of forgiveness.

“And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (v. 5, see also Matthew 5:5).”  To be meek is to be “gentle, forgiving, or benevolent”.  President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Meekness implies a spirit of gratitude . . ., an acknowledgement of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments.”  With this understanding, meekness is a result of being truly grateful for all that God gives to us.  When we are grateful for our blessings, we are more forgiving towards others and their faults and we tend to be more gentle with them and with how we do things in life.

“And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost (v. 6, see also Matthew 5:6).”  When we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we are anxious to learn more of the Lord’s gospel.  I think to hunger and thirst is to truly search the scriptures with the intent to learn all that we can from them.  The same goes for how we listen to (or read) the words of modern-day prophets and other church leaders.  If we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, we will be hanging on to every word that comes from the mouth of the prophets.  We will be anxiously waiting for a greater understanding of how we should be living and have the true desire in our hearts to live it, once we have learned it.  The blessing promised to those who do this, is the Holy Ghost.  I have experienced this time and time again.  When I am anxiously engaged in following what I learn of the gospel, I am filled with inspiration, comfort, happiness, and so much more from the Holy Ghost filling my heart and mind.  This is a blessing that I would feel truly sad to loose the privilege of having in my life.

“And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (v. 7, see also Matthew 5:7).”  To show mercy is to show compassion and forgiveness.  The mercy obtained, when we are merciful, is the mercy of the Lord when it comes to our sins.  In D&C 64:9-10 we read, “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin (v. 9).  I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men (v. 10).”  We cannot be saved if we are not cleansed of our own sins.  The only way we can become cleansed is through the forgiveness that comes from the Savior’s atonement.  If we do not forgive all men, we are committing a higher sin than whatever they have done, and therefore are not allowing the atonement to work in our own lives.  When we show mercy, we are also forgiven of our own sins and can therefore be saved through the mercy of the Lord.

“And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God (v. 8, see also Matthew 5:8 ).  In D&C 93:1 we read, “VERILY, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;”  When we give up our sins, turn towards the Lord, pray to God, listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and keep the commandments, we have the promise of seeing God because our hearts are then pure.  If our every desire and intention is to follow the Lord, we are pure in our hearts.

“And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God (v. 9, see also Matthew 5:9).”  The gospel of Christ is a gospel of peace.  When we strive to live the gospel as Christ taught, and then teach others of His peace, we are truly living the gospel and truly a member of God’s family.  Sometimes it can be particularly hard to be a peacemaker in our lives.  Growing up, I was often called the peacemaker in my parents home.  The thing that led me to this the most, was the patience that I was able to have.  I hope to be able to regain that patience, because I understand the importance of bringing peace to my home and teaching others to be peacemakers as well.  If we can master becoming a peacemaker in our homes, it will reflect into the rest of our lives.

“And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (v. 10, see also Matthew 5:10).  And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake (v. 11, see also Matthew 5:11);  For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you (v. 12, see also Matthew 5:12).”  The world is easily influenced by the powers of Satan.  When something or someone is trying to live righteously, it is much easier to mock them then to try to live righteously themselves.  I think of the spacious building in Lehi’s vision, when I picture those who persecute and say awful things about those who are trying to follow Christ.  In verse 44, the Savior teaches, “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;”  If we are to forgive all men, as discussed before, then this is exactly what we must do.  When we are mocked and persecuted for doing what is right, then we need to be kind, serve them, love them and pray for them, so that they can see the light of Christ and want to follow it as well.

Baptism

These teachings are known as the Beatitudes.  This sermon given by the Savior is an exact pattern of how He lived and how we should live in order to return to live with Him again.  This pattern starts with baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Then we turn our hearts to the Lord by making His will our will, and become humble through focusing on our weaknesses and trying to live better.  We depend on the Lord to lift us up when we are burdened with sadness or sin, through the atonement and His forgiveness.  Then we show gratitude for the Lord as we realize that He gives us everything we have by constantly blessing our lives.  We search the scriptures and truly strive to live the gospel that is in them, following the prophets of old as well as our modern prophets and other church leaders.  We show a greater compassion towards others by forgiving them and realizing that we are all Children of God.  We purify our hearts by truly committing every aspect of our lives to following Christ.  Then we strive to bring peace to the world around us, as we live and share the gospel with others.  And when we are persecuted, which we will be at one time or another, we respond the way Christ would have us respond; with love and kindness, serving others and praying that the spirit will touch their lives as well.

The blessing we can receive from living like this are so great.  The Savior promises us that we will be blessed with the Holy Ghost and a testimony of the Savior.  We will be blessed with a remission of our sins and happiness in our lives.  We will be able to return to the kingdom of Heaven, because of the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy towards us and our sins.  We will be blessed in this life with the comfort that the Holy Ghost brings.  We will have the inspiration of the spirit filling our hearts.  And we will eventually be able to see God again and rejoin our Heavenly family as His child in His kingdom.  These are the greatest blessings that we can hope for in this life and we have the perfect example in Christ for how to gain them.

What does it mean to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men (v. 13, see also Matthew 5:13).”  The salt of the earth gives the earth it’s flavor and preservation.  When the Savior gave this sermon, salt was used often to preserve food.  It was also used in all of the sacrifices the people of God had made to Him, as a commandment from God.  “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt (Lev. 2:13).”

In D&C 101:39-40 we read, “When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men (v. 39); They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men (v. 40).”  We can become the salt of the earth by making covenants with God.  We continue to be the salt of the earth, by keeping those covenants.  If we do not keep our covenants with God, we are as good to the earth and mankind as salt that has lost its savor.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid (v. 14, see also Matthew 5:14).  Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house (v. 15, see also Matthew 5:15); Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven (v. 16, see also Matthew 5:16).”  In addition to being the salt of the earth, the Savior expects us to be a light to the world.  When the world is in darkness, a single light will draw people in.  We can be a light to those around us with the gospel of Christ in our lives.  We can draw people to Christ by living as an example to them.  We need to live as an example of Christ to others, just as He lived as an example for us.

(Part 2 – to come)

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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