Chapters 12-14 are sometimes referred to as the “Sermon at the Temple,” and is similar to the “Sermon on the
Mount” given by Jesus in Matthew 5-7. Although there are some significant
differences here in 3 Nephi. The most striking and lengthy parallel
between the Book of Mormon and the New Testament – besides the Isaiah chapters
of 2 Nephi
– is the Savior’s sermon in Judea and this sermon in Bountiful. Not only is the subject matter in the same
sequence, but the phraseology is similar in numerous passages.
It is said that these chapters are considered to, be the
Celestial Constitution for the Kingdom of God.
Latter-day Saints might make a connection with the Sermon at the Temple
with the context of making covenants in their modern temples.
3 Nephi 12:1 From
the first two verses, we learn that this sermon is directed to baptized members
of the Church, or to those who soon will be. “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.”
Nephi and eleven other men called and given power were to
be the equivalent of the Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem. In fact, they weren’t just Disciples but as Joseph
History of the Church Vol. 4, pages 537-538 stated,
they were Apostles. “This book also tells us that our Savior made His appearance
upon this continent after His resurrection; that He planted the Gospel here in
all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had Apostles,
Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists; the same order, the same
priesthood, and the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessings, as were
enjoyed on the eastern continent.” That would make 24 Apostles that
were on the earth at one time.
Interesting this verse does not make, reference to the
“laying on of hands” to receive either the power and authority to baptize, or
to be baptized with “fire and with the Holy Ghost.”
There is no mention of “priesthood power” or
“ordination.” Just like in the New
Testament Jesus gave spoken authorization to his Apostles. There was no laying on of hands to ordain or
confer a priesthood power.
3 Nephi 12:2 Jesus reminds them this “Sermon at the Temple” is
given to members of the Church.
3 Nephi 12:3-12 These verses are commonly known as the “Beatitudes” in the New Testament account. It is important to note that when Joseph Smith worked on his “New Translation” of the Bible, he made changes to the Sermon on the Mount and some passages don’t match what Jesus taught here in the Sermon at the Temple.
3 Nephi 12:3 The word “blessed” means “happy” or, “fortunate.” “Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
3 Nephi 12:4 “And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
3 Nephi 12:5 “And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
3 Nephi 12:6 “And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” The words “with the Holy Ghost” are not in the Sermon on the Mount.
3 Nephi 12:7 “And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
3 Nephi 12:8 “And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
3 Nephi 12:9 “And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
3 Nephi 12:10 “And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The words “my name’s” are added in verse 10.
3 Nephi 12:11 “And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;”
3 Nephi 12:12 “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.” The words “For ye shall have great joy” are added and not in the “Sermon on the Mount”.
3 Nephi 12:13 “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.” Joseph Smith reworded this verse from the original Sermon on the Mount.
3 Nephi 12:14 “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.” He doesn’t mention the world. He wants them to be light to the Nephite-Lamanite people.
3 Nephi 12:15 “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.” More rewording.
3 Nephi 12:16 “Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
3 Nephi 12:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Meaning, I have come to keep the Law perfectly and to fulfill all prophesy about my mission.
3 Nephi 12:18 “For verily I say unto you, one jot nor tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.” More rewording.
3 Nephi 12:19 “And behold, 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.” This verse is much different than the Sermon on the Mount. During Jesus’ mortal ministry, He always proclaimed the need for righteousness, and He warned of the penalty for sin. However, Jesus always presented God as the standard of righteousness and Himself as the means of righteousness. Keep in mind, without Jesus righteousness is unattainable. The Beatitudes did not tell the people how to be righteous but were simply describing what righteousness looks like. Jesus fulfilled the moral law by keeping it perfectly.
In this Sermon, Jesus is going to accomplish two things: First, He is going to convict them of sin, and therefore the need for a savior, a Messiah. Secondly, he is going to teach them the level of righteousness a person needs to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The problem is nobody can attain such levels, which brings all who seriously consider His words to look to Him. Because perfection is not accessible to Man (and He is teaching perfection here) does not mean we give up living well. It just means we learn to thrive and grow and overcome through a different source than our own abilities – we learn to thrive and overcome the world through Him.
Jesus was to fulfill the Law by showing that obedience to it was not the complete application of it. He takes the Laws written in stone and AMPLIFIES them. He says, “It was said by them of ancient times” and then adds, “But I say…” That is powerful and it shows who Jesus is – God.
God’s level of righteousness and distain for evil is extremely high. We cannot use law to do it – We are to die to the Law written in stone. We need to die to ourselves and live in Christ, buried with Christ and rise to new life in Him, become a new creature in Christ, born again, and spiritually regenerated.
3 Nephi 12:20 This verse is again, reworded from the Sermon on the Mount. “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.” The “kingdom of heaven” to a Latter-day Saint means celestial glory. No amount of our good works will gain us entrance into heaven. The Pharisees tried and failed. Jesus said it wasn’t a religious system that saves. Only He can save us.
Just a note regarding the Law of Moses. When it was given to the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt, the Law of Moses was a very, high law for them with expected commands and severe punishments. Indeed, the Law of Moses is a very, high law for most of the world even today. So, it was a high standard spelled out in great detail to be kept in outward compliance. What Jesus is sharing with the Nephites and Lamanites at this time is a “higher law” which requires deep inner convictions.
3 Nephi 12:21 Speaking about first degree murder, “Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shall not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God;” The words “and it is also written before you” are added and are referring to their Nephite records, including the Brass Plates.
3 Nephi 12:22 “But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” To call someone a “fool” in this context means, mocking, ridiculing, or belittling someone for mistakes you yourself have made.
3 Nephi 12:23 “Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee – “ The wording is changed in the Sermon on the Mount.
3 Nephi 12:24 “Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and they come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.” Again, more rewording.
3 Nephi 12:25 “Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time he shall get thee, and thou shalt be cast into prison.”
3 Nephi 12:26 “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence until thou hast paid the uttermost senine. And while ye are in prison can ye pay even one senine? Verily, verily, I say unto you, Nay.” Jesus here is replacing a New Testament monetary coin, a “farthing” with the Nephite coin a, “senine.”
3 Nephi 12:27 “Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery;” “Written” instead of “heard” as in the Sermon on the Mount.
3 Nephi 12:28 “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart.”
3 Nephi 12:29 These verses are not in the Sermon on the Mount. “Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart;”
3 Nephi 12:30 “For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.”
3 Nephi 12:31 “It hath been written, that whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.”
3 Nephi 12:32 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whoso shall marry her who is divorced committeth adultery.” In New Testament times, divorce had become very, easy as far as the law was concerned. All a man had to do, was to call a witness, and then say to his wife, “I divorce you.” Divorce is not desirable, but this verse is not an absolute mandate not to marry a divorced person.
3 Nephi 12:33 “And again it is written, thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths;”
3 Nephi 12:34 In Biblical society, people had come to the point of putting all kinds of conditions in contracts, which allowed them to easily go back on their word. If they felt it was to their advantage. Thus, this warning. “But verily, verily, I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;”
3 Nephi 12:35 “Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;” This verse omits “neither by Jerusalem.” In the 1830 edition page 481 the word “is” is omitted but added in later editions.
3 Nephi 12:36 “Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair black or white.”
3 Nephi 12:37 “But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever cometh of more than these is evil.”
3 Nephi 12:38 “And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;”
3 Nephi 12:39 “But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosover shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also;”
3 Nephi 12:40 “And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also;”
3 Nephi 12:41 “And whosever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”
3 Nephi 12:42 “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.”
3 Nephi 12:43 “And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy;”
3 Nephi 12:44 “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;”
3 Nephi 12:45 “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.” This verse omits the phrase “and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
3 Nephi 12:46 “Therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law, in me are all fulfilled.” This verse is not in the Sermon on the Mount.
3 Nephi 12:47 “Old things are done away, and all things have become new.” Again, this verse is not in the Sermon on the Mount.
3 Nephi 12:48 “Therefore, I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” In this verse, Jesus includes Himself along with the Father, as being perfect. He is now resurrected and has a glorified body. In this sense, He was not yet completely perfected, when He gave the Sermon on the Mount to the people in the Holy Land. Another important message from this verse, is that those Book of Mormon people were commanded to become perfect. Does that mean it was possible? Well, that is the expectation of all Latter-day Saints. The ultimate goal for them is to become a perfected exalted God in the Celestial kingdom. They are to try and work towards that perfection while here on earth. But that is not the true message of Jesus Christ, at least in the Sermon on the Mount.
Realize that Christ sets up an unattainable standard, which sums up what the law itself demands. There is no room for error. James 2:10 says “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” If we managed to keep 99% of the whole law but failed in 1%, we failed 100%. Though the standard is impossible to meet, God could not lower it without compromising His own perfection. He who is perfect could not set an imperfect standard of righteousness. The marvelous truth of the gospel is that Christ has met His standard on our behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus summarizes the Law of God with two commandments: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and love thy neighbor as yourself.” If we are honest with, ourselves we have never achieved this level of spirituality. The truth of the matter is that, on our own and by our own efforts, we can’t possibly be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Isaiah 64:6 says, “all our righteousness are as filthy rags.” We simply will never be good enough no matter how hard we try. That’s why Jesus lived a perfect life in full obedience to the law of God and died for our sins on the cross. Through our faith in Christ, the righteousness of God is given to us. This is called “imputed” righteousness. It means we exchange our sins for his righteousness. By having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, we can be as sinless, as Jesus is sinless. It is not, therefore, our perfection, but His that will be accounted to us.
Of course, Latter-day Saints know they are not perfect. That is why they read a “future perfection” into 3 Nephi 12:48 and Matthew 5:48. Though they are not perfect now, they are progressively moving forward toward perfection and eventually attaining godhood. The problem is that these verses are in the present tense – “Be ye perfect” – that is “Be that now”, not after we die.
3 Nephi 13 This chapter can be compared to Matthew 6, in the Bible. To the Latter-day Saint reading this, Jesus continues teaching and explaining personal attributes needed for entrance into celestial glory.
3 Nephi 13:1 Here we are reminded that when providing help for the poor our motives should be pure, rather than making ourselves look good to others. “VERILY, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.” “Alms” are money or food given to the poor.
3 Nephi 13:2 “Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.”
3 Nephi 13:3 “But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what they right hand doeth;” Keeping it low key. It is really, difficult to not tell somebody when you do a good deed. It’s hard to keep it a complete secret. Our pride seeks some acknowledgement. Instead, all recognition and praise for the opportunity to serve someone else should go to God.
3 Nephi 13:4 “That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.” The blessings you receive will be very obvious to you.
3 Nephi 13:5 “And when thou prayest thou shall not do as the hypocrites, for they love to pray, standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” Which is to have others think they are righteous and holy.
3 Nephi 13:6 “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Don’t misinterpret this to mean you can’t pray in public. Jesus prayed in public many times in the Gospel accounts. The context of this verse is that of personal motives or reasons for praying. God loves it when you pray while driving your car, or during playtime with your child, or while at your computer.
3 Nephi 13:7 He gives counsel regarding the content of our prayers. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the brethren, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” God is not offended by repetition, so long as the words are spoken from a sincere heart. Something “vain” is when it is empty and meaningless.
3 Nephi 13:8 “Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.” There is still a need or purpose of our asking.
3 Nephi 13:9 Next, Jesus gives an example or pattern of prayer. Obviously, it is not the only way to pray. This is known as the Lord’s Prayer in the Sermon on the Mount. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
3 Nephi 13:10 “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In the first part of verse 10 “Thy kingdom come” in the Sermon on the Mount was dropped because Jesus’ kingdom had already come.
3 Nephi 13:11 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
3 Nephi 13:12 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
3 Nephi 13:13 “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
3 Nephi 13:14 “For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you.;”
3 Nephi 13:15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
3 Nephi 13:16 “Moreover, when ye fast be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” Others notice they are fasting, which is what they want.
3 Nephi 13:17 “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;” In other words, try not to look like you’re fasting.
3 Nephi 13:18 “That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”
3 Nephi 13:19 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal.” Don’t make worldly possessions your top priority.
3 Nephi 13:20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” In other words, make things of eternal value your top priority. Because those things cannot be taken away from you.
3 Nephi 13:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
3 Nephi 13:22 “The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, they whole body shall be full of light.” What you focus on effects your whole life.
3 Nephi 13:23 “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” Referring here to spiritual darkness.
3 Nephi 13:24 It seems that many people like to spend their time and efforts trying to find a balance between being religious and enjoying worldly things. “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.” “Mammon” is an Aramaic word for riches or money.
3 Nephi 13:25 “And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words 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 for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” These same verses in the Sermon on the Mount were addressed to the Twelve Apostles, who were to go to all the world teaching. These instructions are also being applied to the Twelve Apostles in America.
He addresses specifically His Apostles, telling them how they will be taken care of by the Father during their ministries. Some people have misapplied these verses, thinking it was meant for everyone. For instance, they quit their jobs and trusted that the Lord will take care of them. The Lord was telling His Apostles that they will have enough daily troubles in preaching the gospel, without the distraction of worrying about their physical needs. They had a special call on their lives and were about to learn first, hand what it would mean to TOTALLY trust and rely upon the Lord.
3 Nephi 13:26 “Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”
3 Nephi 13:27 “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit into his stature?” One cubit is about 18 inches.
3 Nephi 13:28 “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;” Spin thread to make fabric for clothes.
3 Nephi 13:29 “And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.”
3 Nephi 13:30 “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.” Meaning, if you have sufficient faith.
3 Nephi 13:31 “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”
3 Nephi 13:32 “For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”
3 Nephi 13:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
3 Nephi 13:34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.” Meaning, you will face plenty of trouble and evil along the way.
3 Nephi 14 This is the concluding chapter of the Sermon at the Temple in Bountiful.
3 Nephi 14:1 “AND now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
3 Nephi 14:2 “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
3 Nephi 14:3 “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Comparing a tiny sliver to a large piece of timber.
3 Nephi 14:4 “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye – and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”
3 Nephi 14:5 “Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” First, take care of your own imperfections before trying to improve others.
3 Nephi 14:6 “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.” Some things are sacred and should not be shared with people who will not respect them.
3 Nephi 14:7 “Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
3 Nephi 14:8 “For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”
3 Nephi 14:9 “Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?”
3 Nephi 14:10 “Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?”
3 Nephi 14:11 “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
3 Nephi 14:12 “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.”
3 Nephi 14:13 “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat;” In the 1830 edition page 484 the word “straight” was incorrectly used in Verses 13 and 14. It was changed in later editions to “strait” which means “narrow.”
3 Nephi 14:14 “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Mormonism teaches that “the gate” is baptism into the LDS Church. The phrase “narrow is the way” is referred to as the covenant life a Mormon must live, and “which leadeth unto life” meaning eternal life or exaltation.
3 Nephi 14:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” They look and sound harmless but are deceptively vicious.
He is saying – they may seem harmless but are very, dangerous to your spiritual well-being. A true prophet is one who was regarded as a religious teacher. A false prophet is a teacher of incorrect doctrine, or one who falsely lays claim to Divine inspiration. Notice how Jesus describes them – “who come to you in sheep’s clothing.” Sheep are an emblem of innocence, sincerity, and harmlessness. To come in sheep’s clothing then is to assume the appearance of sanctity and innocence, when the heart is actually evil. Jesus is referring to false teachers who appear acceptable but are inwardly full of ravenous doctrine. Ready to destroy a person’s life with their falsehoods.
3 Nephi 14:16 “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” In other words, we cannot know the value of a tree by the color or texture of its leaves, or bark, or the size of its trunk. Neither can we look at the flowers in bloom or its buds. The purpose and value of a tree is primarily its fruit. So, it is with prophets or teachers of the Word of God. Forget how they sound and appear – listen and look. Taste the fruit they produce and compare it to the standard by which all truth is tested – the Word of God. The fruit of the tree is the chief reason for its existence and the chief benefit to Man. So, in the parallel, Jesus teaches that it is by the fruit which a person judges a fruit tree and, so also by the teachings do we determine the value of a prophet or teacher. All the pretensions of religion mean nothing if the teachings are false.
“Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” In other words, every tree produces the kind of fruit it was created to produce. An apple tree will not produce a bunch of grapes. A peach tree will not produce a bunch of bananas. Fruit trees produce the fruit they were intended to produce. And both good prophets and bad prophets produce exactly the type of fruits that lie within them.
3 Nephi 14:17 “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”
3 Nephi 14:18 “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”
Now this is really, important when talking about prophets – false and true. Likening them to trees, Jesus says a good tree cannot produce both good and bad fruits. A good apple tree will always produce good apples. A false prophet CANNOT produce good teachings. And a true prophet CANNOT produce bad teachings – or he would cease to be a prophet.
What Jesus is saying is that even if a false prophet produces fruit which appears to be good, it cannot be deemed good, because in the end, it will lead to bad. A good prophet cannot produce bad teachings and a false prophet cannot produce good teachings any more than a good tree can produce bad fruit or a bad tree can produce good fruit. Look at the end-product. Judge the fruit for it is by this end product that you will know them.
3 Nephi 14:19 Speaking of false prophets, Jesus continues saying, “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”
3 Nephi 14:20 “Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.”
3 Nephi 14:21 Continuing in the context of false prophets in sheep’s clothing, Jesus says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (T2M episodes 77 and 78 “I Never Knew You”)
Here Jesus teaches us that not everyone who is using His name will be admitted to heaven but only those who do the will of the Father which is in heaven. This teaching almost makes it sound like we have, to earn our place in order to enter heaven. The question is, How does a person do the will of the Father? Is it by becoming perfect in our flesh? We will answer this in a minute.
3 Nephi 14:22 “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?”
3 Nephi 14:23 “And then will I profess unto them; I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
In other words, there will be people who will justify their place in heaven by claiming to have done all sorts of apparently good and noble things in the name of the Lord. He chose these specific things as examples: “have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” He could have used anything as examples, but He used these three. They have actually done all those things. And Jesus will say to them “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
In this response we find, in part, what the will of the Father is for all – to know His Son. In John 17:3 Jesus says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” So, if and when a person knows Him – He too, will know them. In other words, He knows us, and will confess us to the Father just as we know Him. Doing works in His name without knowing Him – even if successful in carrying them out – does not mean the person doing the works knows Him or that God knows them. Even if a church does MANY, MANY wonderful works but does not teach biblical truth, their works will amount to Jesus saying to them “I never knew you. Depart from me you that WORK iniquity.”
What does “but he that doeth the will of my Father” mean? We might automatically think it means to do, to work, or to earn. In John 6:28-29 the disciples asked, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God. Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him who he hath sent.” The first premise of work for the true Christian is believing on Him, whom God has sent. As a result, believing on Jesus Christ, we begin to manifest and produce fruits of love for Him and others.
3 Nephi 14:24 Jesus closes the Sermon with a short parable in which they are counseled to build upon a rock. “Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock-“ That “rock” used throughout the Bible usually refers to the “Rock,” namely, Christ. The word “house” is often referred to as one’s life. So, in this parable the “wise man” built his life upon Christ.
3 Nephi 14:25 “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.” The rain, floods, and winds represent trials and temptations etc., which are a part of our mortal lives.
3 Nephi 14:26 “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand – “
3 Nephi 14:27 “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Here Jesus ends the Sermon at the Bountiful Temple – omitting the last two verses from the Sermon on the Mount.
3 Nephi 15:1 “AND now it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and said unto them: Behold, ye have heard the things which I taught before I ascended to my Father; therefore, whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, he will I raise up at the last day.” The phrase “when Jesus had ended these sayings” is from Matthew 7:28 and “up at the last day” is in John 6:40.”
3 Nephi 15:2 The Nephites and Lamanites wondered what He wanted them to do regarding the Law of Moses now that He has come. The words “they understood not the saying” are in Luke 2:50.
3 Nephi 15:3-4 He told them the law is now fulfilled.
3 Nephi 15:5 “Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfill the law; therefore it hath an end.” The phrase “Behold, I am he” is from Acts 10:21.
3 Nephi 15:6 “Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled.”
3 Nephi 15:7-8 The covenant He made with the Israelites (see 3 Nephi 5:23-26), is not completely fulfilled.
3 Nephi 15:9 “Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” This is the gospel of Mormonism taught here. To endure, means to keep all the commandments, laws, and ordinances perfectly for the rest of your life – and then, He will give you eternal life, which means exaltation in celestial glory. It ties in with 2 Nephi 25:23 “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” ^The words “that endureth to the end” are in Matthew 10:22 and “give eternal life” are in John 17:2.
3 Nephi 15:10 “Behold, I have given unto you the commandments; therefore keep my commandments. And this is the law and the prophets, for they truly testified of me.” He wants them to distance themselves from the rituals and requirements of the Law of Moses, and to begin living the higher laws which He gave them in His Sermon here at the Temple. The words “this is the law and the prophets” are in Matthew 7:12.
3 Nephi 15:11 Jesus now addresses the Twelve men He selected.
3 Nephi 15:12 “Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people, who are a remnant of the house of Joseph.” Referring to descendants of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. The phrase “Ye are my disciples” is in John 13:35.
3 Nephi 15:13 That would make them of Jewish heritage, which we come to find out in modern times – there was no DNA proof that Native American people come from the Middle East, but are from Asian origins. That would make a liar out of what Jesus is teaching here in this verse. The words “the Father hath given” are in John 5:36.
3 Nephi 15:14-15 Jesus tells these Twelve that the knowledge about the people of Nephi and the Ten Lost tribes has largely been kept from the people at Jerusalem.
3 Nephi 15:15 ^The words “Neither at any time” are in 1 Thessalonians 2:5 and “whom the Father hath” are in John 10:36.
3 Nephi 15:16 “This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them:”
3 Nephi 15:17 “That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” In John 10:16 Jesus was speaking specifically of the Jews or Nation of Israel as “this fold” and the “other sheep” were those non-Jews or gentiles – whom Jesus did NOT come for initially. So, the “other sheep” told about in the Book of Mormon would be impossible, since the Nephites themselves, were supposed to be descendants of Hebrew Jews – not gentiles.
3 Nephi 15:18 It was because of the wickedness and unbelief of the Jews that the Father commanded Jesus not to talk about this subject anymore.
3 Nephi 15:19-20 It was because of their iniquity that God separated the other tribes and Lehi’s people from those in Judea.
3 Nephi 15:20 In the 1830 edition page 486 it did not capitalize the divine title “father.” It was capitalized in later editions.
3 Nephi 15:21 “And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” Telling the American Israelites that they were the other sheep.
3 Nephi 15:22 Speaking of the people in Jerusalem, “And they understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching.” Gentiles – referring to non-Jews or non-Israelites. ^The words “understood not that” are in John 8:27.
3 Nephi 15:23 “And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice – that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.” ^The words “that the Gentiles should” are in Ephesians 3:6 and “not manifest” are in Hebrews 4:13.
3 Nephi 15:24 “But behold, ye have both heard my voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me.” In Christianity, the Holy Spirit is God’s Voice.
3 Nephi 16 Jesus is still speaking to the Twelve Nephite Disciples.
3 Nephi 16:1 “AND verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister.” He is referring to the Lost Ten Tribes (see 3 Nephi 17:4).
3 Nephi 16:2 “For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them.”
3 Nephi 16:3 “But I have received a commandment of the Father, that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.” He wants to make them all one herd of sheep.
3 Nephi 16:4 Now, Jesus tells the Twelve Disciples to make a record of what He is telling them, after He leaves. “And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifest unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me their Redeemer.” Here, when speaking of “through the fulness of the Gentiles,” it means the fulness of the gospel, restored through Joseph Smith. The words “I command you that ye” are in John 15:17 and “ask the Father in my name” are from John 16:23 and “the fulness of the Gentiles” from Romans 11:25 and “because of their unbelief” are in Mark 6:6.
3 Nephi 16:5 Speaking of the Jews, as well as the spiritual gathering of Israel (members of the LDS Church), “And then will I fulfill the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel.”
3 Nephi 16:6 Again, speaking of the faithful members of the LDS Church, “And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father.” ^The phrase “and of the Holy Ghost” is in Acts 6:5.
3 Nephi 16:7 “Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of those things shall be made known unto them.” Through the restored gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
3 Nephi 16:8 Next, Jesus prophesies about the Gentiles who come to the Americas and scatter the Lamanites, or Native Americans. “But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles – for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;”
3 Nephi 16:9 “And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them – “ ^The phrase “verily, verily, I say unto you” is in John 16:23.
3 Nephi 16:10 Speaking of the last days, when wickedness sweeps the earth, and with specific reference to the United States, “And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day, when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”
3 Nephi 16:11 Later when the gentiles reject the gospel, and it is taken from them and given back to the house of Israel. “And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them.” The words “my gospel” are in 2 Timothy 2:8.
3 Nephi 16:12 “And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.” ^The phrase “come unto the knowledge of the” is in 1 Timothy 2:4.
3 Nephi 16:13 “But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.” ^The words “if the Gentiles” are in Romans 15:27.
3 Nephi 16:14-15 Should the gentiles continue to reject the covenant, they will be trodden down and cast out from the promised blessings.
3 Nephi 16:15 The phrase “is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of” is taken from Matthew 5:13.
3 Nephi 16:16 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, thus hath the Father commanded me – that I should give unto this people this land for their inheritance.” Speaking of the Nephites and the Lamanites, the descendants of the Joseph who was sold into Egypt.
3 Nephi 16:17 “And then the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled, which say:” ^The words “shall be fulfilled” are in Revelation 17:17.
3 Nephi 16:18 “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” Faithful Israel will live in peace and harmony in the gospel.
3 Nephi 16:19 “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.”
3 Nephi 16:20 “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God.”
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Until till next time, God Bless!