Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Name Whereby We Shall Call This Church, Part III

Let us simply look at Jesus’ complete response to the disciples’ request about the name whereby to call the church to see what we can find. From 3 Nephi 12 [RE]:

Verily, verily I say unto you, Why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing? Have they not read the scriptures which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day. And whoso taketh upon him my name and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day. Therefore whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name. Therefore ye shall call the church in my name, and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake. And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses' name, then it be Moses' church; or if it be called in the name of a man, then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name, then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. Verily, I say unto you that ye are built upon my gospel. Therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call in my name. Therefore if ye call upon the Father for the church, if it be in my name, the Father will hear you.

That last sentence is interesting. Even though Jesus previously said that the disciples were indeed built upon His gospel, the conditional in that last sentence (“if it be in my name”) indicates that that they might not always ask for something in His name. There was always the chance of deviating from the fullness of what Jesus taught them and asking amiss. You might say that the three disciples took Jesus’ counsel - the counsel to call upon the Father for the church in the name of the Lord - very seriously. What Jesus asked the three later was “What will ye that I should do unto you when I am gone unto the Father?” Jesus was going to the Father to relay their desires to Him. So the three’s desire to “bring the souls of men unto [Christ] while the world shall stand” was quite literally them calling upon the Father for the church in Jesus’ name. They understood the fullness of what Jesus was teaching them. They did not ask amiss. And, of course, the Father heard them, just as Jesus said would happen. Jesus continues His answer:

And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel, then will the Father shew forth his own works in it.

Later in the record we find that that was true. The Father did show forth His own works in the church because of what the three desired. Before we continue on with Jesus’ response to His disciples, let’s look at this summary in 3 Nephi 13 [RE] of the marvelous work that happened after the three made their request and received according to their desires:

They did go forth upon the face of the land and did minister unto all the people, uniting as many to the church as would believe in their preaching, baptizing them, and as many as were baptized did receive the Holy Ghost. And they were cast into prison by them who did not belong to the church, and the prisons could not hold them for they were rent in twain, and they were cast down into the earth. But they did smite the earth with the word of God insomuch that by his power they were delivered out of the depths of the earth, and therefore they could not dig pits sufficient to hold them. And thrice they were cast into a furnace and received no harm. And twice were they cast into a den of wild beasts, and behold, they did play with the beasts as a child with a suckling lamb and received no harm. And it came to pass that thus they did go forth among all the people of Nephi, and did preach the gospel of Christ unto all people upon the face of the land. And they were converted unto the Lord and were united unto the church of Christ.

The three were given power to preach to and convert literally all the people on the face of the land. Everyone was baptized and truly received the Holy Ghost. There was intense resistance but all of it was overcome through God’s grace. I don’t see why we can’t do the same thing in our day that the three did in their day (especially since the three will continue their work at some point). Let’s continue on with Jesus’ response in 3 Nephi 12 [RE]:

But if it be not built upon my gospel and is built upon the works of men or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you, They have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return for their works do follow them. For it is because of their works that they are hewn down, therefore remember the things that I have told you.

We looked at that portion of Jesus’ answer in part 2. Moving on:

Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you: that I came into the world to do the will of my Father because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross, and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross I might draw all men unto me. That as I have been lifted up by men, even so should men be lifted up by the Father to stand before me to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil, and for this cause have I been lifted up. Therefore according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me that they may be judged according to their works. And it shall come to pass that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled, and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire from whence they can no more return because of the justice of the Father, and this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words, and no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom. Therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood because of their faith and the repentance of all their sins and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment: Repent all ye ends of the earth and come unto me and be baptized in my name that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, verily I say unto you, This is my gospel and ye know the things that ye must do in my church. For the works which ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do, for that which ye have seen me do, even that shall ye do. Therefore if ye do these things, blessed are ye for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

That is obviously a great summary of the Gospel. That is what drives (or what should drive) His disciples in any age of the world. That is what they need to be built upon. Everything they do (i.e. call) needs to be done (i.e. called) in the name of Jesus, or in other words, everything they do to invite, exhort, or urge people forward, needs to be done in remembrance of what Jesus’ life and mission means to accomplish (see part 1). His disciples need to want to accomplish the same thing that He wants to accomplish. This gospel is foundational, meaning that it’s not just an application of principles that He is advocating for. This gospel is getting at the heart of the Lord’s own “governing principles” that He lives by.

Continuing with Jesus’ response in 3 Nephi 13 [RE]:

Write the things which ye have seen and heard, save it be those which are forbidden. Write the works of this people which shall be even as hath been written of that which hath been. For behold, out of the books which have been written and which shall be written shall this people be judged, for by them shall their works be known unto men. And behold, all things are written by the Father, therefore out of the books which shall be written shall the world be judged. And know ye that ye shall be judges of this people according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore what manner of men had ye ought to be? Verily I say unto you, Even as I am.

In my view, there are at least three ways to be called in the Lord’s name. You can be a “Christian” who does Christian things. Get baptized, go to church, pray, etc. That’s one way to be called in His name. Another way is to be adopted by Christ. Be part of His family and take His family name upon you. Get promises about your eternal future. If you’re in His family, you’re called by His name. The last way I can think of to be called in the Lord’s name is to do what He does. When deciding what manner of men to be, be even as He is. Do His works. In this manner you are called in the Lord’s name because you are driven by the same purpose that drives Him. I think the three disciples understood that idea and put it into practice.

And now I go unto the Father. And verily I say unto you, Whatsoever things ye shall ask the Father in my name, it shall be given unto you, therefore ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth, and unto him that knocketh it shall be opened.

We are on the cusp of removing the condemnation that has plagued us and our ancestors. I believe that means the Father will be ready to hear and grant what we ask Him in the name of Jesus. How seriously are we going to take such an opportunity? What will we decide upon as our “governing principles” that drive us and move us forward? What will we establish as our purpose? Whose works will we desire to do? What manner of men will we choose to be? Will we seek our own lives and choose to get promises for ourselves about a future in a glorious kingdom? Or will we choose to bring others to Christ while the world shall stand? We must choose carefully because our desires will be given to us.

And now behold, my joy is great, even unto fulness, because of you and also this generation, yea, and even the Father rejoiceth and also all the holy angels because of you and this generation, for none of them are lost. Behold, I would that ye should understand, for I mean them who are now alive of this generation, and none of them are lost and in them I have fulness of joy.

Do we understand the relevance of this part of Jesus’ response? Here’s a question: Why can’t we help this current generation to such a degree that literally none of them are lost, just as it was with that entire generation of people in Nephite times? Is God more limited than He was two millennia ago? Obviously not. So I find no reason the same miracle cannot occur in our day.

But behold, it sorroweth me because of the fourth generation from this generation, for they are led away captive by him, even as was the son of perdition, for they will sell me for silver, and for gold, and for that which moth doth corrupt, and which thieves can break through and steal. And in that day will I visit them, even in turning their works upon their own heads.

This is the part of the history of the Nephites that we must avoid repeating if we are to establish a millennium of peace. Only three or four generations of peace will not cut it. So how will we do better? Let’s use some math to figure it out. In the Old World, one disciple - John - desired to build upon the surest foundation of charity and thus true Christianity lasted for several decades. In the New World, three disciples desired to build upon the surest foundation of charity and thus that era of peace lasted for a few centuries. If my math is correct, in order to have an entire millennium of peace, we just need to have at least 15 disciples who are built upon the surest foundation of charity. The more people who decide to be built upon the Lord’s gospel, driven by the Lord’s own “governing principles”, and who desire to do His works; the better!

And it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings, he saith unto his disciples, Enter ye in at the straight gate. For straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it, but wide is the gate and broad the way which leads to death and many there be who travel therein until the night cometh, wherein no man can work.

To go through the straight gate and the narrow way, there is simply no room to bring all the rules, regulations, and specific applications of truth with us as our foundational and governing principles. There is only room for the Lord’s own principles which never fail. There is no time to worry about all the contention concerning exactly how we are all to conduct ourselves as a great Gentile church. There is no time to do any of that because we need to spend a great deal of time and energy practicing charity and pleading with the Lord so that He can change our hearts to match His. Only then will we truly know the name whereby to call this church.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Dan....Yes, yes, yes! My own similar take on this topic coming soon.