Christs Sermon at Bountiful Part 4

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

This is a series of posts about the teachings of Jesus Christ to the Nephites after His resurrection at the temple in Bountiful. It is the western hemisphere version of the Sermon on the Mount in Jerusalem to the Jews. The commentary is from “The Desk of Denver Snuffer” blog and his book “Remembering the Covenant Vol 3”. I have not included all his commentary. To view that commentary in its entirety visit http://denversnuffer.com/blog/

It seems to me that even though so many profess the gospel of Jesus Christ, few seem to really understand or know what it really is. Here is a beginning of posts trying to establish a foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it was taught by Himself.

Part FourThe Beatitudes” (III Nephi 13:1 through 13:34)

(Scripture commentary from “Remembering the Covenant” Vol. 3)

III Nephi 13:1-4

“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.  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.  But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth;  That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.”

Giving should be done for it’s own sake, and not for a reward. Recognition for what a person has done is it’s own reward.

If this is a larger principle, and the reasoning underlying this applies throughout your service or good acts, then any recognition is your payment. In fact, the only way to reserve for yourself a blessing is to be either anonymous when you do it, or to be reviled, hated or persecuted for it.  Otherwise you have your reward.

Applying this to like things it might be said:

-When men name buildings after you for your achievements, you have your reward.

-When institutions heap awards upon you for your philanthropic acts, you have your reward.

-When they fill an auditorium up with people singing praises and paying tribute to you on your birthday, you have your reward.

-When honorary doctorate degrees are awarded to you for your life’s work, you have your reward.

-When the Boy Scouts of America gives you a plaque, a title, and a commendation for your long support of their cause, you have your reward.

-When you sit at the head of a congregation, exciting envy from others wishing to hold your position, and are honored with praise, acknowledged as presiding and accepting deference for your status as local, area or regional leader, you may very well have your reward.

-If you minister to the downtrodden, the ill and infirm, then recount endlessly to others these acts, do you not “sound a trumpet before you” to be seen of men, and thereby collect your reward? When Christ was called “good,” He rebuked the one rendering praise with the retort: “Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.” (See Luke 18: 18-19.) He would accept their persecution, derision and shame, but discouraged any praise. He accepted Peter’s confession of His status as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” but followed up that confession of faith with the admonition to not speak of it: “Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” (Matt. 16: 20.)

How can His servants exalt themselves to be more than He? How can the Servant’s own servants make themselves greater than He? When the Master came and lived the most common of lives, how can His disciples build monuments named for themselves, tolerate no criticism, accept honor, praise and adulation and expect to be counted as His?

How can any man redeem or rescue another? Are not all in need of rescuing by Him who alone can provide deliverance? Acclaim and praise in this life preclude recognition from the Lord in the afterlife. Therefore, only a fool would welcome praise, adulation and recognition for good things done in mortality. Indeed, such recognized deeds are often a veneer covering a malignant character. As a result, the Lord offers a test to prove sincerity: Do it in secret. Do it without notice or praise. Do it not to be seen of men. Do it as an act in private between you and the Lord alone, without any earthly party becoming aware of the deed. Then the beneficiary will indeed give glory to your Father which is in heaven, and not to another man. (See 3 Nephi 12: 16.)

This new standard challenges not merely the acts of a person, but also the underlying reasons and intent for any acts that are done. Your conduct is not the measure. It is your heart. For that, it is best if men do not understand you. It is best if they misjudge you, attribute foul motive when motive is pure, ascribe evil to you when you are on the Lord’s errand, and reject you though you are His. Only then can your heart remain true to Him and uncompromised by the praise of your fellow-man.

It is this teaching, if followed that will result in the anonymous acts and unrecognized deeds that exalt a person. It will make you private in your devotions and obscure to your fellow man.

III Nephi 13:5-6

“And when thou prayest thou shalt 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.  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.”

Like the previous verses, this verse is saying prayer ought to be private, not public. It should be between you and God. Others do not need to know of, see, or participate in your prayers. Most importantly, your prayers ought not be put on display for others to notice and admire.

This counsel, and the counsel immediately before, show just how solitary a journey it is back to the Lord’s presence. It is not a group event. It is done in the privacy of your own heart, your own intent, and your own private conduct. It is your personal devotions which show the Lord who and what you are. By keeping these things secret between you and Him, you gain a power of familiarity with Him which will permit Him to comfort you.

When Zion finally comes, I doubt there will be many notable people there. It will be the man from Tennessee who is handy with mechanical repairs, whose calloused hands show dedication to labor for others  It will be the patient Temple worker-couple who, despite the regimentation seen all around them, have pursued the Lord’s will and found Him. It will be the patient and obscure people whose private devotion to the Lord is known to Him, acknowledged by His voice. The invitation to gather will come to them directly from Him.

You can as readily gratify your vain ambition by praying to be noticed as you can by aspiring and receiving a church position or rank. It is all vanity. There really is none who are good, except God alone.

III Nephi 13:7-8

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.” 

Here is wisdom indeed. There is no magic formula for communicating with God. No list of what is to be said or repeated. No vain –meaning ineffective– repetitions. He “gets it” even before you speak. So the act of prayer is a formal way of showing:

-Respect (by doing what He has asked)

-Devotion (by showing submission to Him)

-Obedience (by keeping a commandment to pray always)

-and Companionship (by taking the time alone with Him).

He knows what you need before you ask. Indeed, sometimes the needs we think we have are not what He knows we need even before we pray.

We think we need to get a solution to interior lighting for 8 barges. We come to Him in prayer expecting to receive help for that. He knows what we really need is redemption from the Fall, instruction in the history of mankind, and knowledge of Him. He solves the lighting problem with a touch of His finger, but then goes on to reveal all things.

We think we need to know what church to join. So Joseph comes asking that one question in sincerity. He knows, however, the world needs a prophet to re-establish the long absent Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

We think we need to understand how to baptize. So Joseph and Oliver ask. He knows, however, the Aaronic Priesthood must be restored, and sends an angel to return it to the earth.

We think we need to know what our standing is before God. So Joseph asks, fully expecting to learn if his life has been acceptable. God knows, however, the time has come to send an angel having the everlasting Gospel to declare. So Mororni comes to declare the restoration of the book.

You take thought about what your cares are, but they are not what the Lord knows you need. Your cares are merely the tiniest of obstacles given you to remind you to pray. The Father operates on a much grander scale, dealing with the salvation of souls. He will use the man or woman of prayer as the means of accomplishing a great deal more then they imagined.

Pray. Ask simply. It is not necessary to be elaborate or long winded. State clearly what you believe you need.  Accept what then comes in His answer. Trust He knows more than you. Trust He can give you what you need, even if you hadn’t even thought about it as a need.

III Nephi 13:9-13

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”

Simple. Direct. Plain.

Christ assures us that He is “Our Father” and not just His. We are all united in sharing that status with Christ. We are a family.

First He identifies the Father as “ours” and then, least we should presume too great a familiarity, He adds “hallowed be thy name.” A name is important for many reasons. In the case of Deity, it was an ancient presumption that if you knew the name of an angel, demon, or god you could summon such a being by using that name. Here, however, Christ is applying sacred status to the Father’s name. It is His Fatherhood that is emphasized, not His hallowed name.

The Father’s will is not done on earth. Here, there is rebellion, rejection, chaos and despair. Here, order is imposed by the strong upon the weak. Men exploit, abuse and misrule. In heaven, however, the Father’s rule establishes order, kindness and equity. Anyone who is aware of the fallen conditions here will ask for the Father’s will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

That petition can also be read to mean: “Let me live on earth as if I were in heaven.” Or, “let the Father’s will come to earth by the life I live here.” Or, “let me prove myself worthy of heaven’s companionship, though I live here on earth.”

This prayer is an acknowledgement that we are not trying to control God, but instead are willing to be subject to Him. He is the sovereign, we are the subjects.

We ask, He decides. If He determines to do a work we defer to Him. The greater the recognition of His kingdom, power and glory, the greater the confidence we have in His decisions. The less we are inclined to argue with Him or to substitute our desires for His.

When the Lord decides to bring again Zion, it will be because the Father has decided it is time to do so. It will not be because a group has volunteered to accomplish it. When He decides, and He is the author of it, no power under heaven will stand against it. When men have ambition to create what is in His power alone to do, then they will not just fail but will be swept away.

This petition to the Father instructs us in patience and faith.

III Nephi 13:14-15

“For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.“

This is an absolute condition. It is mandatory.

If you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespass.

You can’t be forgiven by the Father if you do not forgive others.

It can’t be done.

That grudge you harbor prevents the Father from forgiving you.

Those resentments you think are justified are keeping you from being forgiven by the Father.

Those injustices imposed upon you by others who are unthinking or cruel must be surrendered.

The early Saints were victimized by mobs in Missouri and Illinois. They wanted revenge. Brigham Young implemented a covenant to seek vengeance upon the murderers of Joseph Smith until the third and fourth generation. They did not build Zion.

The opposite of this is forgiveness. If you forgive, your Heavenly Father WILL forgive you. Offenses are opportunities for you to gain forgiveness. All you need to do is forgive them.

It is a simple, direct cause and effect. It was ordained before the world was founded, and applies universally in all ages and among all people.

The world is in Satan’s grip largely because the world seeks vengeance and refuses to forgive.

Zion, on the other hand, will be filled with those who forgive. Of course that puts an absolute limit on those who can dwell there.  …Very few indeed.

III Nephi 13:16-18

“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.  But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”

Again our devotion is to be entirely private. Your inner struggle to come into God’s presence should be yours. Private. Personal. Individual. Secret.

The time may come after you have found Him that He will bring you into contact with others. The journey back to Him will be individual, and private.

After you find Him, you will be His. He can do with you as He chooses. When He appears to you in the flesh, He will give you commandments. (2 Nephi 32: 6.) He will teach you doctrine. He will direct what you should do. But that is later. Until then, the journey is private. There is nothing to announce. There should be no notice of your fasting, tithe paying, or praying. There are no notable deeds to be seen of men.

Men should see your washed face and never detect the fasting you are performing for Him alone.

Men should see your comfortable behavior and never appreciate what great things you have put on the altar in sacrifice to Him.

Men should never notice the mighty wrestle you are having with God.

When the wrestle has produced a covenant between you and God, even then the particulars of what you learn, what has been promised, what has been committed into your hands, and the things the Lord and you share should be kept between you and Him.

As I have said in The Second Comforter , some great things can be learned but not taught. Also, the Lord will never entrust truly sacred things to a person who is incapable of keeping them confidential.

The private devotions of a sincere Saint are more worthy, more ennobling, more developing than any public display has ever been, or will ever be. Small gatherings when He directs may be of aid from time to time. But almost all the sacred events involving Him will take place between you and Him alone. When a few have approached Him by themselves – alone, then at some point it may possible for Him to gather with them in small numbers. (Matt. 18: 20.)

Would you like to see Zion return? Then approach Him in private, keep your journey from the notice of others, gather to Him in secret. Then, when He has a few who can gather in His name, He will gather them. Ultimately there will need to be occupants for a city before a city will be founded by Him. But it all starts with these teachings we are presently reading.

This Sermon is first a description of Him.

It is also a description of His disciples.

It is a formula for returning to His presence.

It is the basis for the coming Zion.

III Nephi 13:19-21

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Things here are in constant change. There are two great forces always at work. Entropy and decay are affect everything. All things grow distant, cold and less organized. The opposite is the force that creates and brings anew. Between decay and recreation, we find ourselves in a world where our hold will eventually slip away, and we will no longer be found among the living.

What will endure?

The monuments men build to themselves and their causes break down, decay, rust, erode and fade. They all pass away. The most enduring things are not what we build with our hands, but the truth that we teach. Truth will endure for eternity. It may be lost, fought or suppressed, but it will return. Truth will triumph.

The closest thing we have to eternal living is found in the great ideas and great revelations of the prophets and poets, philosophers and sages. The things made in our minds are what change humanity and elevate us to be more godlike. It is not the structures where men craving immortality engrave their names. It is not the statues in bronze and marble where because of vanity they enshrine their images. They will all pass away.

But an idea, a truth, a testimony from heaven – those will endure despite all hell raging. Send the moths, the rust and thieves against truth, and the truth will prevail despite this fallen world’s conspiracy against it.

Where is your heart? What do you meditate on day and night? Do you dream of wealth and power, of fame and recognition? Do you ponder how you might acquire more and receive more? Do you meditate on the lusts of the body? What occupies the spare moments of your life?

Do you let virtue garnish your thoughts so that your confidence may be strong in the presence of the Lord? (D&C 121: 45.) Do you meditate constantly on the things God has shown to you? (2 Nephi 4: 16.)

Have you prayed and pondered so you may understand a great mystery? (D&C 138: 11.) Have you prayed and fasted so as to be filled with the spirit of revelation? (Alma 17: 3.)

Where your heart is, there is your treasure. Where your treasure is, there is your heart. They are linked. You can tell what is treasured and where the heart is by what things you meditate upon night and day with idle moments.

III Nephi 13:22-23

“The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.  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!”

The “eye” is better put “your mind’s eye.” It is what you meditate on, what fills you. You choose what you fill yourself with by what you give attention. What you notice is what you care to notice.

Christ’s admonition is troubling because the cares of this world distract us all. They impose upon us all.  But Christ advises us to search endlessly for light. The difference between filling yourself with light and filling yourself with darkness is what thoughts you entertain.

Everything begins in the mind. Words and works flow from thoughts. (Alma 12: 14.) While all three will be judged, it is in the mind where all else begins.

It is not enough to attempt to avoid evil by memorizing hymns. You can spend as many wasted hours humming hymns as singing rock songs.  Neither one will particularly elevate you. Meditating on doctrine, pressing understanding, pondering deeply and engaging the mysteries of God are what will fill the mind with light.

There is so much in our faith that distracts and substitutes for light and truth. Think about these verses and filling your mind with light and truth:  “And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that lightgroweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;” (D&C 50: 23-25.)

The Psalms were quoted by Christ more than any other scripture. They are filled with truths worth meditation.

Having darkness within you does not require an effort to be deliberately vile. The cares of this world, and coping with Babylon is all that is needed to keep you from acquiring light. Finding light requires a deliberate effort to notice it and take it in.

When we are filled with light the heavens notice. In fact, it is the light within us that heaven notices even from afar.

III Nephi 13:24

“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.”

This is Christ’s great division. We all have but one Master. Choose carefully.

This is another way to describe the “jealous God” of the Old Covenant.  (Ex. 34: 14.) Since He requires everything of you, any holding back is infidelity to Him.

Christ is reaffirming God’s primacy. Your affection for Him cannot be shared. It simply can’t be done. When attempted, it shows you “hate” or “despise” Him, because when you share your fidelity, you reject His direction.

It is this principle that justified the earlier prophets in likening Israel to a “harlot” or a “whore” when she worshiped other gods. (See, eg. Jeremiah 3: 6; Hosea 9: 1; Judges 8: 33.) It is not possible to be converted to the Lord and not be devoted to Him.

All of what is “Mammon” is subordinate to God. The Lord’s ways require the things you have in this life to be used for His purposes and according to His desire. His commandments cover all things, and you cannot divorce your temporal concerns from His teachings. (D&C 29: 35.)

Devotion to Him requires that what you do, say, and think be aligned with Him. Conversion is a progressive process where you develop to be more like Him throughout life. You can’t just “get a testimony” and then not be completely converted to Him. He expects to completely remake you. This sermon is the blueprint for the new creation you are to become.

This statement deals in absolutes because the Lord’s way is the way of absolutes. He can accept nothing less than all. The adversary knows this and is content with getting even a little from you. The adversary knows that a little compromise is everything when compromising your faithfulness to the Lord.

The world will accept anything half-hearted. The world knows you love it, if you will just give in a little to its persuasion. Contamination is contamination and will eventually poison you. So any degree of unrighteousness is enough to please the world. For the Lord, however, it is all or nothing. It is complete fidelity to Him which alone will satisfy.  Keeping one foot in the world, while giving lip service to Him will never meet the requirements for loving Him. (D&C 1: 31.)

Those who think the Lord is announcing a new, easier system to replace the earlier, more demanding Law of Moses do not understand His teachings. This is far more exact and moves the battleground into your heart. He is asking you to transform the soul. He is asking you to become like Him. This is not outward observances. However troubling and wearisome those may have been, they were at least something that could be done without battling in your heart with motive, intent and desires. Here Christ wants you to conform everything, even your desires, to be instruments of your salvation.

This is a call to a much higher way of life. It is a much deeper and more meaningful way to approach God. It is inside you.

III 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?”

The preceding teachings were given to all who were there Christ changes the audience at this point, and addresses the twelve whom He had given power to baptize . To them He addresses the admonition: “Remember the words which I have spoken.” These are two things: First, a Divine admonition to follow. Second, an empowerment to make it possible to do as He asks. Without both, they would have been unable to preserve the record of the teachings. As will become apparent from the text, they will later meet following His ascension and reduce the words taught to a transcript that all twelve will be able to present to the audience that assembles the next day.

The reason these same twelve who had power to baptize were given power to “remember the words [Christ] had spoken” was because they were “chosen to minister unto this people.” When Christ chooses a minister to speak for Him, He enables them to accomplish the mission or ministry assigned to them. (See, e.g., D&C 132: 59.) They receive His support. That makes them more than equal to the assignment given them.

It is the chosen twelve, and not the the multitude, who are told to “take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what he shall drink.” It is those who are to minister who are freed from the earthly cares of providing for their needs. Their lives are to be given over to ministering to others, and not to work for their support. The Lord intends to provide for them.

This is a very narrow group to whom this promise is made. It does not include others in the audience.  For the rest, we are required to provide for our families.  If we fail to provide for them by laboring for their support, we have denied the faith. (1 Tim. 5: 8.)  Wives are to be supported by their husband’s labor.  (D&C 83: 2.) Children are to be supported by their parents. (D&C 83: 4.) This requires all to labor. (D&C 42: 42.) But as to these twelve, their labor is the ministry and their support will come from the Lord.

It is a small thing for the Lord to provide for His ministers. To Him property is nothing. (D&C 117: 4.) He can provide for His ministers even if there is no apparent means to accomplish it. (See, e.g., 1 Kings 17: 8-16.)

Why would the Lord give this commandment to the twelve? Why would He do it publicly? What responsibility does that impose upon the twelve?  What responsibility does it impose upon the audience? If the twelve today were to be supported by only food given them by believers, clothes provided by followers, material given through donations from those to whom they ministered, would it be different than the system we have in place today? Would that be different from tithing money used for salaries paid them today? Would the supplemental income from book sales, service on boards of directors (which has been greatly reduced and was planned to be entirely eliminated) fit into the system Christ describes here?

III Nephi 13:26-32

“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?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;  And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.  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.  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” -Fowls of the air, provided for by God.

-Lilies of the field, whose glorious appearance comes from God.

-Grass of the field, which are adorned by natural beauty from God.

Inherent in these analogies is the message that so long as fowls shall fly, this principle ought to be followed. So long as lilies remain on the earth growing wild, this manner of supporting His disciples ought to be followed. So long as grass shall be here, this principle should be followed. The hopelessness of man’s presumed independence from God is stressed in His statement that by taking thought none of us “can add one cubit unto his stature.” Our lives are not ours. They belong to Him. We have no independence from Him. We are NOT self-existent beings. We borrow all we are and have from Him. Even, as it turns out, the dust from which we are made belongs to Him. (Mosiah 2: 20-25.)

If God gives us air to breathe, power to exist, the capacity to move, and sustains all of us from moment to moment, then how little faith is required to rely on Him to provide His disciples with food and raiment?

The analogy to Solomon is also telling. “Solomon, in all his glory” is a useful way to think of the greatest man can hope for himself. The glory of Solomon was legendary. The Queen of Sheba came and marveled at what she saw in his court. (1 Kings 10: 1-13.) This was splendor, wealth and power indeed! However, Christ reminds us that these man-made marvels are nothing compared with the beauty He can supply those who are “not of little faith.” He can cover a man in glory indeed. Not as the world defines glory, but the real glory. (See D&C 93: 28, 36.) The purpose of putting a man in such a dependent state before God is not to find out whether God can take care of him. God already knows what a man needs before he should even ask. But the man will, by becoming so dependent upon God, acquire a broken heart and a contrite spirit, always quick to ask, quick to listen, quick to do. Vulnerability makes a man strong in spirit. Security and wealth make a man incorrectly believe in his independence from God.

He wants His disciples to be dependent upon Him. He wants them praying, and then grateful to Him for what He provides. He wants them, in a word, to become holy. Such a system would be impractical in a post-industrial society like ours, wouldn’t it?

III Nephi 13:33

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

What comes first? Why?

How can “all these things” then “be added unto you?” What are “these things?” Is it the food, raiment, etc.?

Why would the Lord want the disciples to first seek the kingdom of God before promising that the things would be “added unto” them?

If they don’t first seek the kingdom, then will things not be added to them?

What is “the kingdom of God?” Is there a difference between: -The Church of Jesus Christ -The Kingdom of God -Zion?

What is the “kingdom of God” if it is not the church? When is the “kingdom” to be found? What is necessary for it to exist? Joseph Smith taught: “What constitutes the Kingdom of God? an administrator who has the power of calling down the oracles of God, and subjects to receive those oracles no matter if there is but 3, 4, or 6 there is the kingdom of God.” (William Clayton Journal entry January 22, 1843, capitalization as in original.) If we accept Joseph’s definition, why would the disciples be encouraged to “seek the kingdom of God?”

What does the clarification that the “kingdom of God” should be sought first tell us about everything else?

Has the “kingdom of God” been here before now? Is it here now? What does it mean to call down the oracles of God?

Does man control this or does God?

What is man’s role in establishing the “kingdom of God?” Is man’s role confined to “seeking first” for it to come? How would man seek it?

If you want to “seek the kingdom of God” how would you go about doing so?

What does your “seeking” have to do with the return of the “kingdom of God?”

The Lord will not bring again Zion without there being a people who are prepared to receive what He intends to bring. How can you do that?

III 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.”

This is the child’s view of life. A child is perpetually in the “now” and does not regret yesterdays or plan tomorrows. It is all about what happens to you at the moment. Each day’s challenge is the end goal. In addition to severing the disciples from regular income, regular work for support, dependence on those to whom they minister for bread, drink, shelter and clothing, the Lord adds to their burden the heavy responsibility to “take no thought for the morrow.” For them their ministry is to be moment to moment. No planning and rehearsals. No staging and frantic preparation. No three-year budgets. Only now. Forever only now.

It is an interesting position Christ wants to put His chief disciples into. It forces us to carefully consider why He would do so?
Is it to keep them humble?

Is it to prevent pride and arrogance?

Is it to require they remain in constant direct touch with at least some of those over whom they minister?

Is it to keep them keenly aware of the necessity of relying on Him?

If they cannot plan for more than the day’s events, how can they plan a busy travel schedule to take them all over the world? Is that somehow built in already to the “sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof?”

When the Book of Mormon was restored, this sermon was restored to us. When restored, it clarified how this portion of the sermon was addressed to the presiding twelve disciples. Was there a Divine purpose or message behind it? Should it be considered as meaningful to us today? Christ lived an interesting life. He more or less followed this counsel, though in truth He understood and fulfilled the prophecies concerning Himself. Yet, throughout it all, He also seemed to surrender control to the Father in everything. (See, e.g., Mark 13: 32.) He commented on how spontaneous a life He lived, and how unpredictable things were when following the Spirit. (John 3: 6-8.)

 

End Part Four

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