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MY (J. Neil Birch's) TALK (Given January 1, 2012 In the Murray Third Ward of the Murray, Utah (U.S.A.) Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sacrament Meeting.)
A book written by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
I had already written the material I used in this Sacrament Meeting talk before reading any of Elder Holland's well written book which I obtained from our County Library System. I prefer his writing style to mine and felt he had shown special apostolic insight in that which he wrote that I do not possess and felt my blog readers would appreciate and benefit from that.
However, that was not to be so I have done my best in handling this so very special subject in that sacrament meeting talk and then subsequently, right now, in this blog post of mine:
I will now compare that which was spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ in Palestine before his Atonement, Crucifixion and Resurrection in that same basic discourse which he, the Savior of this World, after His resurrection, delivered to His Nephite Followers in the Western Hemisphere as recorded in the Book of 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
My hoped for objective for my Sacrament meeting talk was that each of those who would hear it would become even more appreciative of the Key Role the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, plays in helping each of us to understand and more fully appreciate that which He, Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, had become after His experiencing His Atonement, Crucifixion, Resurrection and His Reunion with His and Our Father in Heaven.
It was only then, it appears to me, that He, Our Savior, Jesus Christ had become fully equal with, His and our Father in Heaven, as expressed in John 10:30 "I and my Father are one."
The comparative explanations I'll make each time I quote a set of two scriptures, one from the Book of Matthew from the New Testament and the other from Third Nephi from the Book of Mormon, will hopefully help each of us increase our appreciation of each of these marvelous scriptures and perhaps most importantly develop new insights regarding these scriptural truths.I suggest you now prepare yourselves to focus, to the best of your individual abilities, on the sets of sacred passages of scripture I will soon begin to present.
However, I must mention before beginning to make those comparisons, that there have been many critics of the Book of Mormon who stubbornly insist that the passages of scripture from the Book of Third Nephi, which I only have a few moments to compare, are just an example of plagiarism, or, using a different word, thievery on the part of Joseph Smith from words found in the New Testament, specifically in New Testament Accounts of the Sermon on the Mount.
Of course those critics, follow the pattern of most critics of the Book of Mormon inasmuch as they usually have never really read the The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ and therefore, do not realize that Joseph Smith was the inspired translator of ancient Nephite records instead of being one who wrote the Book of Mormon on his own.
Jesus' own words spoken to them as a resurrected human being were recorded by His Nephite apostles in Ancient America and were finally engraved on plates of gold (so as to preserve them for many centuries) by the Prophet Mormon who was born about three centuries after the Resurrected Jesus Christ's appearance to the Nephites in 34 A.D.
It would be the Prophet Mormon's own son, Moroni who as a resurrected human being appeared to Joseph Smith not long before his eighteenth birthday, informing him for the first time about the plates of gold upon which were engraved important teachings our Heavenly Father wanted to make available to each of us through the means of the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
The Angel Moroni Appears to Joseph Smith -by Tom Lovell
As some of you already know, in Chapters Twelve through Fourteen of Third Nephi in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, is recorded a sermon given by the Resurrected Jesus Christ to the Nephites of Ancient Central America who were the remaining citizens of the Nephite Nation who were much more righteous than those who had been destroyed by a great disaster brought about personally by our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
A much larger and much more wicked portion of that people was destroyed leaving only the righteous alive whom he was to teach and to abundently bless.
That sermon given by our Savior Jesus Christ to the Nephites is very similar to the one recorded in the New Testament, Matthew, Chapters Five through Seven, which is commonly referred to as The Sermon on the Mount. Of course those two discourses are very similar inasmuch as each of them were given on the same basic subject by our Savior, Jesus Christ.
We should expect that which Our Savior would be teaching, in each of his two sermons, the one in Palestine during his mortality and the one in the Americas after having become immortal, would provide readers of those two sets of scriptures basic principles of his unchanging gospel and would be very similar.
I will only compare just parts of Chapter Twelve of 3 Nephi to Chapter Five of Matthew. There appears to me to be, besides many key similarities, a few insignificant differences between the two sermons. and also some very significant differences! There is a good reason that is so, and you'll soon understand why if you don't already know.
I will begin by quoting just a portion of our Lord's Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew, Chapter 5 allowing us to compare that which was said by Him in those passages there in Palestine with that which He taught near the temple in the Land Bountiful (in Ancient America)
Jesus Christ Visits the Americas -by John Scott
The first two verses of Chapter 5 of Matthew and Chapter 12 of Third Nephi are basically introductory and therefore I won't compare them. Please note also that I skip over verses four and five in both Third Nephi Chapter 12 and in Matthew 5 because they are word for word identical!
Now please focus on these two following scriptures and try to recognize the reasons for there being key differences between them.
Please Note: It appears that Jesus in his mortal ministry did not yet use the words, "who come unto me," because he had not yet experienced His Atonement, Death, and Resurrection, which brought on his glorified state, which is surely the reason that would cause mortals to seek to come unto him, He who had fully become their God!)
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
3 Nephi 12: 3 Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (emphasis added)
Matthew 5: 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
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.
Please Note: Jesus did not include in this comparable New Testament scripture the words, "they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost," which were used in Third Nephi 12:6, because His apostles in Palestine had not yet received the Gift of the Holy Ghost at the time of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.They received that sacred gift, The Holy Ghost, only after His Resurrection. That is described in Acts 2 of the New Testament.
Matthew: 5:18 for verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.Please take note: As you may have already determined, in the Matthew version of this verse it is written in the future tense. However, in the Third Nephi version you will have noted it is written in the past tense because by then, Jesus personally had fulfilled the Law (of Moses) by His Atonement, Death and Resurrection! Let's go on to comparing additional scriptures:
3 Nephi 12:18 For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled. (emphasis added)
Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.Our Savior, Jesus Christ did in actual fact completely fulfill the law of Moses as he told the Nephites as recorded in 3 Nephi 12:18! (please review that scripture as it is given several paragraphs above.)
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 (of Moses) is fulfilled. (emphasis and clarification added)
I humbly suggest that only then, after his atonement, crucifixion and resurrection, was Jesus actually able to fully know personally the true and ultimately full meaning of: a broken heart and a contrite spirit, because of what He had personally experienced in bringing about the atonement which so fully affects each one of us!
At this point in this blog post I desire that each of you have the opportunity of experiencing a Mormon Messages video portraying our Savior experiencing the atonement which was brought about by him for each of us! His betrayal that led up to his crucifixion is also portrayed. Be prepared to experience some overwhelming feelings about that which our Savior did for us.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have experienced quoting from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants that during his atonement,
our Savior, Jesus Christ bled at every pore of his body.
D. and C. 19:18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—You will notice in the video you will be viewing, that after our Savior had gone through such great suffering coupled with exceedingly effusive bleeding, the actor portraying our Savior is shown washing his face and arms and hands in a stream before going back to where his apostles were sleeping.
The dreadful suffering which went way beyond our ability to comprehend in paying for all of our sins, brought about the great changes in him that should cause each of us to willingly and gratefully worship him!
I believe this most sacred experience was portrayed so sensitively and accurately by the "Mormon Messages" very capable and very believing staff and particularly by the actor portraying our Savior and those who may have personally tutored him!
The Savior Suffers in Gethsemane
The Resurrected Savior of Mankind, just before descending from the heavens to be with the Nephites near His Temple in the Land Bountiful emphasized a certain phrase:
"a broken heart and a contrite spirit"Again, those words had been spoken by the Resurrected Jesus Christ from the sky in the darkness that covered those particular Nephites and probably other Nephites and Lamanites who had survived the terrible mass destruction which the Resurrected Lord himself had put into action. While repeating that sacred and instructive phrase of His, our Resurrected Savior continued:
3 Nephi 9:20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit, And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, (an experience told about in the Book of Helaman, the just previous book in the Book of Mormon to Third Nephi); were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. (emphasis and clarification added by Neil Birch)
(3 Nephi 9: 12) And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people, because of their wickedness and their abominations.Now I will return to comparing the words the Savior spoke in Palestine to those he spoke in the city, Bountiful (possibly located in Ancient Baja California -(please see my just previous blog post, "44l) after his Resurrection.
Matthew 5: 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
3 Nephi 12:20 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. (emphasis added)In that scripture the Resurrected and Glorified Savior of Mankind doesn't refer to just righteousness as was the case in Matthew 5:20, but to "my commandments," in speaking to the Nephites after His resurrection. That is one excellent example of the significant differences between the two versions of his basic sermon.
Once again I will present a scriptural verse that comes from the time when the resurrected Redeemer of the World, Jesus Christ spoke from the Heavens in the darkness caused by the aftermath of the great destruction which He had caused to take place just before descending from the sky above to speak with the Nephites: (we again go back to Chapter 9 of Third Nephi:)
Please Note: One difference between those last two verses I compared is that while in Third Nephi 12:20 the Savior says, "come unto me and be ye saved," he also mentions keeping His commandments. He doesn't say that in Matthew 5:20. (He perhaps could have chosen to refer at that earlier time in Palestine to "keeping My Father's Commandments."
3 Nephi 9:18 I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
19 And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.
20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.Then too, the very last verse of the chapter we are considering from each book of scripture should be compared:
Matthew 5: 48: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."Significantly our resurrected Savior referred not only to "your Father who is in heaven is perfect", but also to himself being perfect!
3Nephi 12: 48 Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect. (emphasis added)
Now wait a second!, after meditating a little bit on all of that last very important verse, just for a quick second, stop and realize what our Savior said in that last verse about each of us (I now repeat that statement:)
"Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." (emphasis added)
Wow! What a wish regarding each of us! He opened the way for great Eternal blessings for each of us! What a marvelous goal for us to work toward with Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ's assistance. We thank thee our Dear Lord and Savior!
He surely knew He had much to accomplish, i.e. the atonement, crucifixion and resurrection, before becoming the equal to His and our Father in Heaven! We each have been so specially blessed in this post by being privileged to view that so very well done video reenactment of our Savior's sacred atonement!
In ending this blog post I must quote here Our Savior's words revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith (From the Pearl of Great Price) in Moses 1:39 because they too apply directly to each of us, to you and to me. I dearly love and treasure these words of our Savior and I hope that each of you treasure them too:
|Jesus the Christ -by Del Parson|
Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (That includes you and me! - clarification added by Neil Birch.)____________
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