arise
Week 38 is scheduled for study Sept. 14-20, 2020. Christ invites us to arise, get up, wake up, and come to him. While we are asleep in sin he cannot save us. We must become alert and watchful, listening to the protective teachings of him who is powerful and able to save us from the dangers that surround us.

Day 1

3 Nephi 8-11 – Jesus Christ is the Light of the World.

In 3 Nephi 8-11, the people heard the voice of God speaking to them. As you read these chapters, pay attention to what His voice says to you.

For the purposes of this week’s lessons, the theme subject of light and dark is discussed as it shows up in the scriptures for our lessons. But, in truth, the theme of light versus dark is found throughout the scriptures. References come in all shapes and descriptions. We might be told to “awake and arise” or be given a talk about seeing versus being blind. The references might talk about candles on a hill or the sun at noon day. Even references to mists of darkness are made.

The light Christ offers us is the type of light that broadens our understanding. It makes us aware of things we were ignorant of before. We see, or understand, in new ways, just as the change of the position of the sun in the sky can show us a new perspective on a landscape or in the features of a face. We simply see things differently than we saw them before; there is new comprehension.

Someone much wiser than me pointed out once that there is profound significance that when Jesus physically entered the world as a baby there was a massive infusion of physical light. The people on the western hemisphere experienced a day, a night, and a day without any darkness at all. It was as though the sun was high in the sky the whole time, even though the sun had gone down at its appointed hour. And when Christ left this world his leaving created a void of light. There was darkness for three days that was so complete that no light could be generated on the western hemisphere in any form, neither fire nor natural light.

These examples of light and dark that are associated with Christ, his coming and going, are instructive. As you read the scriptures, any scriptures, look for any reference to enlightenment, seeing, perceiving, comprehending, knowing, or awakening. Also look for the opposites of these, ignorance, failing to perceive, hiding, darkness, sleep, etc. All of these describe what happens when we either include more of Christ in our lives or less of him in our lives.

The result of sin is to experience a form of spiritual anesthesia; we become deadened or numb to anything of a spiritual nature. It happens gradually so that we often don’t recognize it is happening, like falling asleep while we read at night. But when we wake up from such slumbers, it is often with a jolt or a start of recognition that we have been asleep to the truth about something. There is a sudden awareness that enlivens us and enlightens our mind. This infusion of light brings with it joy, peace, gratitude, awareness, or a host of other good feelings. Being infused with the Spirit of truth really is like having a light suddenly turned on in our life. We see things we didn’t before. We comprehend in new ways. We feel more alive than ever before. We become, in many ways, invigorated.

There are so many ways to describe and compare the light Christ brings to us and the darkness and ignorance that his absence also brings to us, is it any wonder that the prophets teach us that all things testify of Christ? The prophets are consistently using natural events and historical events to point us to the realities of Christ’s effects on our lives, and that of our ancestors.

There is only one caveat we need to remember about finding joy in our knowledge or light that comes from Christ. It is governed by our willingness to believe in Him and act on that belief. In other words, our willingness to exercise faith in Christ. The more we are willing to trust in him, the more knowledge, light, and understanding he is willing, and able, to give us. It is a choice we each have to make on a regular basis. Christ cannot force knowledge of himself upon us. We must seek him out and accept him for the knowledge of him to change and enlighten our soul. This is why we cannot be saved in ignorance. Salvation only comes through knowledge, awareness, and a constant infusion of light that comes from God. It is this light that enables us to comprehend the things of God.

Day 2

3 Nephi 8-10 – If I repent, the Savior will gather, protect, and heal me.

In 3 Nephi 8-11, the people heard the voice of God speaking to them. As you read these chapters, pay attention to what His voice says to you.

I am astounded by the character of Christ. If someone abused one of my children, murdered my spouse, cheated me out of a promotion or caused me to lose my employment, how forgiving am I of those who have slighted, belittled, shamed, and spurned me? Yet look at who the Savior turns away. Can you name any person or class of people he will not encircle in his loving and forgiving arms? Would he turn away Hitler who murdered millions of people? What about Chairman Mao, or any other mass murderer who ever lived?

My point is this, that if Christ will forgive all who can be forgiven (and even murder can be forgiven) then how much more so is he willing to relieve us of our individual burdens of sin? None of us have ever committed any sin so terrible as to cause even the Son of Man to turn away in horror. He welcomes us all with the knowledge that we have all sinned. We are all incomplete and still burdened with the cares and sins of this world. His whole purpose is to help relieve us of those burdens and cares.

Christ is the great healer, the bringer of peace, and the comforter. Mortality can be brutal at times. We are all injured by others to one extent or another. Jesus offers us solace, peace, and safety. My mother told me once that sooner or later every mortal will let you down or disappoint you in some way. That is because they are mortal. The three members of the Godhead are the only ones we can always count on to never disappoint us.

The Nephites who lived the day the Savior came to them had lived in a very wicked and perverse society. The Gadiantons ran rampant, people killed for gain, the wicked were let go from the grasp of the law because of their money, while the righteous poor were punished that the wicked could prosper. They understood why the Lord destroyed their cities and burned the wicked. When the Savior spoke to them and offered them healing from their sorrows and mortal trials, is it any wonder they wept? It is this consistent ability and characteristic of Christ to accept us warts and all that makes repenting and turning to him so inviting. There is no judgment, retribution, or rejection because we have sinned, only the offer to have those sins forgiven.

Day 3

3 Nephi 11:1–8 – I can learn to hear and understand God’s voice.

In 3 Nephi 8-11, the people heard the voice of God speaking to them. As you read these chapters, pay attention to what His voice says to you.

There are aspects of personal revelation that can be tough. When the Father spoke to the people, He did it in His usual soft, quiet voice that requires attention to hear. When the people first heard the voice, they weren’t sure what it was they had heard, though there was a physical reaction to whatever it was they were hearing. A second time the voice came, and this time they still could not understand what was being said, though I am sure the feelings that came with the voice were no less intense.

It was the third time they heard the voice that made the difference. This time they looked towards the sound, which was coming from above them in the sky. And instead of just listening, it says they “looked steadfastly towards heaven”, which means they searched the sky with consistent intensity to try to make out what was being said. This is when the eyes of their understanding were opened and they discerned what the Father was telling them.

We learn a few things from this experience.

  • Sometimes the answers we seek cannot be discerned or learned simply by the asking. Sometimes it takes effort, physical, emotional, or spiritual effort to figure out what needs to be done or to learn the lesson we need to learn. The people were made to seek for the voice.
  • It took no real effort on the part of the people to hear the Savior’s words to them earlier, but now they had to focus and struggle to comprehend what was being given to them. This effort was special, for it allowed each of them to hear the witness of the Father, Himself about the christ who was about to appear to them. Remember that no one glorifies themself. Each person must be glorified by someone else. Christ could not witness of himself alone. Each time he comes to a people, at some point the Father witnesses of him and glorifies His Son. This is the law of two or more witnesses. This law was instituted by the Father in the premortal life, and it always is obeyed in all things spiritual, even by the members of the Godhead.
  • The third time they heard the voice they were finally able to open their ears. That is such an interesting expression. I take it to mean that they finally had an earnest enough desire to know what was being said that the Lord’s words were able to enter their hearts so they could comprehend what He said. Sometimes we can’t hear what the Spirit wants us to know until we are able to calm the inner turmoil of our soul. I think this is why the Brethren tell us to have paper and pencil next to the bed each night. There are times when the Spirit has to wait until we are relaxed enough and receptive enough to get through to us before He can talk to us. Several of the prophets have mentioned in talks that they are awakened in the middle of the night with instructions they must write down immediately so they don’t lose them. If they don’t write them down when they come then they are usually gone by morning. I have experienced this to a lesser degree with many of the articles I have written over the years. I come up out of bed in the middle of the night with the article already written in my head. All I have to do is get to the computer as fast as I can so I can empty my head of what I have written. As soon as it is saved online I am able to relax and go back to sleep. By morning, when I read the article again, it is familiar, but is as though it was written by someone else.

The Lord speaks to each of us in a way that we can hear it and grow from listening to His voice. It is slightly or vastly different for each person. It always take effort on our part. And we always have to turn ourselves towards the Savior (spiritually) in order to hear what is being said to us. Some of us will feel things more than anything else. Others will have dreams, visions, impressions, or hear voices. Still others will have occasional or frequent visitors. I know of no one who has experienced all of these things, except perhaps the prophets, who have all the gifts of the Spirit. But each of us has at least one way to communicate with the Lord, and He is anxious and willing to speak to us, to teach us, and give us joy.

Day 4

3 Nephi 11:8–17 – Jesus Christ invites me to gain a personal testimony of Him.

In 3 Nephi 8-11, the people heard the voice of God speaking to them. As you read these chapters, pay attention to what His voice says to you.

Today’s lesson is an important one for us to understand. The works of the Savior, though they served the needs of all of God’s children, are only applied to each of us as individuals. I think the only thing Jesus ever did that was not specifically for individuals was the resurrection, for the gift of the resurrection is designed to be enjoyed by every child of God who comes to earth, despite our spiritual standing before Him.

Every aspect of the atoning sacrifice, though available to all, must be accessed and used as an individual. No one can use the atonement of Christ on behalf of someone else. We must each seek for it on our own, and as we do our sins are forgiven – not someone else’s sins, but our own. The atonement is an individual contract or offer of love between Christ and me, or Christ and you. It is very personal and intimate.

When we seek forgiveness, or make covenants, these are individual agreements we make with our Redeemer. Our forgiveness involves no one but our Savior. This is why it is so important that we each have our own witness of who and what Jesus is. Salvation comes to us each as something offered one on one between the individual and their Redeemer. So when Jesus introduced himself to the multitude of 2,500 people, he took the time for each person to approach him and see for themself the prints of the nails and the wound in his side.

This need for an individual witness is no different for us today. We need to each seek the Spirit’s help in gaining a witness of Christ’s divinity, his love for us, and the knowledge that he not only died for us, but why he died for us – for it was not just any kind of death, it was a death that provided us with the opportunity for eternal life.

FHE/Scripture Study

3 Nephi 10:1–6 – Being gathered

For those of you who may not have had the blessing of being raised around farm animals, I would like to take a stab at explaining the importance of the scriptural references we read about of a hen gathering her chicks.

A hen is very protective of her chicks. When they are out learning how to forage for food and danger draws near, the hen will crouch down and spread her wings out while she calls to her children. When they come running to her for protection she covers them with her wings so the predator can only see the hen, not the chicks. She literally acts as a physical shield to protect her little ones from danger. She will die protecting her young.

I would like to share an experience our family had with a chicken while we lived in Hawaii. We lived in a more rural part of O’ahu. There were many wild chickens living in the brush near our house. One hen kept making nests in our yard. Any place the plants could shield her from the view of stray cats, she made a nest and laid eggs. She even made a nest in the beams of our carport. Every now and again we would go out to the car and an egg would have escaped from her care, rolled off the edge of the board and splattered on the cement below.

One day we discovered that she had made a nest on the side of the house among the ferns and orchids. It seemed a safe enough place that we wouldn’t be putting her in any danger with lawn mowers or any other tools, so we left her alone. Many weeks later my wife came and got me so I could see what she had found. The chicken had been discovered by a predator. There the body lay, completely disemboweled, merely a dried husk of its former self. But what was so amazing was that even while it was being eaten alive, it clutched it’s last surviving egg in its claws. Here was this empty shell of a hen, still clutching the last of her children in her grasp. This powerful visual gave me a greater sense of appreciation for what the Savior meant when he said he would have gathered his people under his wings to protect them, if only they would have come when he called. And he didn’t call just once, but often, and time and time again the people refused to come to him for safety.

Christ’s offer to protect us, to shield us, and to put himself, personally between us and the dangers that threaten us are still in force today. His love is no less powerful for us than it was for the ancient Israelites or the ancient Nephites, for Christ’s love for all of God’s children is eternal and never changes.

 

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BoM Week 38

(3 Nephi 8-11)