He That Will Not Believe My Words Will Not Believe Me – Ether 4:12

12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good; he that will not believe my words will not believe me—that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.
(Ether 4:12)

As the Savior explains to Moroni in the passage above, everything that is good comes from Him, including light, life, and truth. Everything that persuades us to do good is also from Him. Jesus Christ is actively involved in leading us to good things. So, good things come from God, good things lead us to God, and God leads us to good things. (See also Moroni 7:12, 16, James 1:17.)

Furthermore, as we grow closer to Jesus Christ, we grow closer to His Father. They are both perfectly good, and therefore, they are one—completely united. “He that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father,” he says in this passage. In other words, I wouldn’t do anything that He would disapprove of in the slightest. We are both perfect in character. Therefore, if you know one of us, you know both of us, and the way you treat one of us is a good indication of the way you would treat the other.

When Philip, one of the apostles, requested that Jesus show them the Father, He responded, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14:9).

Those ancient apostles knew the Savior personally, and were therefore able to connect their love for Him with their love for their Father in Heaven. For the rest of us, the Savior adds another dimension: The way you treat His words is a good indication of how you will treat Him: “He that will not believe my words will not believe me.”

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, a rich man in hell pleads with Abraham to send the beggar Lazarus back to earth to persuade his brothers to be good, so that they can avoid his fate. Abraham responds, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” In other words, they already have plenty of invitations to goodness. One more invitation won’t change anything. The rich man objects: his brothers have not heeded the invitation from the prophets to repent, but if Lazarus returned, they would listen. Abraham replies, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:19-31).

In 1832, the Lord taught Joseph Smith this same principle in Kirtland, Ohio:

He that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
(D&C 84:36-38)

If you like and accept one good thing, you will like and accept another. They are equivalent. The way you treat the words of the Savior, as delivered by his messengers, is the way you will treat Him and His Father.

Today, as I study and ponder the words of the prophets, I will remember that my attitude toward those words is indicative of my attitude toward the Savior. In fact, my attitude toward every good thing is indicative of my attitude toward Him, because every good thing comes from Him.

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Mormon’s Final Message – Mormon 7

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Setting

After describing the final battle between his people and their enemies, the Lamanites, Mormon wrote one final message to the descendants of the Lamanites. His people had been completely destroyed, except for a few who had deserted, a few who had escaped, and twenty four people who were with him. He was devastated, not only because of the tragedy which he had just experienced but because it had been avoidable: If his people had only repented, if they had not rejected their Savior, they could have escaped this outcome.

Purpose

Mormon’s purpose was to invite the descendants of his enemies to repent and be baptized, so that they could be prepared for the Final Judgment.

Outline

  1. Introduction: I’m writing to the descendants of the people who are still alive (Mormon 7:1).
  2. Four things you need to know (Mormon 7:2-7):
    1. You are of the house of Israel (Mormon 7:2).
    2. You must repent to be saved (Mormon 7:3).
    3. You must lay down your weapons of war (Mormon 7:4).
    4. You must learn what your ancestors knew, and you must believe in Jesus Christ’s power to overcome sin and death (Mormon 7:5-7).
  3. Final admonition: Repent and be baptized. Receive the gospel of Christ, as taught by both this book and the Bible. If you believe in Christ and are baptized with water and with the Holy Ghost, “it shall be well with you in the day of judgment” (Mormon 7:8-10).

My Takeaways

Mormon’s charity is remarkable to me. How could he have such compassion and concern for the descendants of the people who had just defeated him in battle and massacred his own people? How could he have had any hope for their redemption after seeing so many atrocities (Moroni 9:7-19)?

The answer is this: he had been filled with hope and with charity because of his faith in Jesus Christ (Moroni 7:40-42, 48). As a teenager, he had been “visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus” (Mormon 1:15). That knowledge carried him through these horrific events and helped him to remain anchored in the gospel of Christ.

Furthermore, he knew what was possible because he had studied the spiritual history of his people. He had become familiar with remarkable leaders like Nephi, King Benjamin, Alma, and Captain Moroni. He had seen the transformation experienced by the Lamanites when they were taught by Ammon and his brothers. Above all, he had learned about the peace and prosperity enjoyed by his people and the Lamanites after the visit of Jesus Christ to the American continent. All of this helped him to keep the current tragedy in perspective.

Mormon’s final message also reminds us how simple the gospel is. In the last three verses, he urges his readers to do four things: believe in Christ, repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. As Joseph Smith taught in the fourth Article of Faith, these are the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.

I will respond to Mormon’s message by exercising faith in Jesus Christ, which will enable me to have hope for the future and love for all people.

Blog Posts About Mormon’s Final Message

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Moroni’s First Message to His Modern Readers – Mormon 8-9

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Setting

After Mormon’s death, his son Moroni appended two chapters to his father’s book. He may have believed that these were the concluding chapters in the book. He didn’t know how much longer he would live, and there was not much space left on his father’s plates (Mormon 8:5).

Purpose

His father had given him guidance about what to write (Mormon 8:1). Moroni’s main goal appears to have been to refute false ideas which would prevent people from accepting the message of the Book of Mormon.

Outline

  1. Introduction (Moroni 8:1-11)
    1. My father is dead. “I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people” (Mormon 8:1-5).
    2. The Lamanites have destroyed my people. Now they are at war with one another “and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:6-9).
    3. The only disciples of Christ who are left are the three Nephites. My father and I have seen them, but no one knows where they are today (Mormon 8:10-11).
  2. Prophesies regarding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (Mormon 8:12-41)
    1. Don’t condemn this record because of its imperfections. It will be brought to you by the power of God. If you judge rashly, you will be judged rashly (Mormon 8:12-21).
    2. God will fulfill all of His promises, including the promise that these words will come forth (Mormon 8:22-26).
    3. These words will come to you in a time of turmoil: faithlessness, secret combinations, corrupt churches, and violence (Mormon 8:26-32).
    4. Jesus Christ has shown you to me. Most of you are proud and unresponsive to the poor and the needy among you. Therefore “the sword of vengeance hangeth over you.” (Mormon 8:33-41).
  3. Warnings to two groups of unbelievers (Mormon 9:1-25)
    1. To those who don’t believe in Christ: think about how you will be judged (Mormon 9:1-6).
    2. To those who believe in Christ but don’t believe in miracles: God doesn’t change. If He performed miracles in the past, He will perform miracles today and in the future, including the miracle of our redemption. If you are not experiencing miracles, it is because of your unbelief  (Mormon 9:7-25).
  4. Words of counsel
    1. “Doubt not, but be believing.” “Be wise.” “Strip yourselves of all uncleanness.” “Do all things in worthiness.” (Mormon 9:26-29).
    2. Don’t condemn me or my father because of our imperfection. (Mormon 9:30-34).
  5. Conclusion: Our desire is for our brethren to be restored to the knowledge of Christ and to receive blessings through their faith in Him (Mormon 9:35-37).

My Takeaways

There are many patterns of thought that can prevent us from recognizing and acting on the truth. Moroni had seen his modern readers in a vision and knew some of the attitudes and misperceptions which would make it hard for some people to accept his father’s words (Mormon 8:35). In the last two chapters of his father’s book, he tried to help us identify and overcome some of those obstacles, including:

  1. Condemning a message because the messenger is imperfect
  2. Pride
  3. Refusing to believe

I will respond to Moroni’s message by avoiding rash judgements, by humbling myself and recognizing my limitations, and by choosing to believe that God can and will perform miracles on my behalf.

Blog Posts About Moroni’s First Message to His Modern Readers

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The Redemption of Man – Mormon 9:12-14

12 Behold, he created Adam, and by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man.
13 And because of the redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ, they are brought back into the presence of the Lord; yea, this is wherein all men are redeemed, because the death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection, which bringeth to pass a redemption from an endless sleep, from which sleep all men shall be awakened by the power of God when the trump shall sound; and they shall come forth, both small and great, and all shall stand before his bar, being redeemed and loosed from this eternal band of death, which death is a temporal death.
14 And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.
(Mormon 9:12-14)

What does it mean to be redeemed by Jesus Christ, and who will be redeemed?

  1. The resurrection is one part of our redemption. As Moroni teaches in the passage above, the Savior’s death and resurrection brought about a “redemption from an endless sleep.” Because of Jesus Christ, we won’t die permanently. Our spirits will be reunited with our bodies, never again to be divided. Everyone will receive this redemption.
  2. We will be brought back into the presence of God. The fall of Adam and Eve not only introduced physical death into the world but also separated us from God. This separation is called spiritual death (Helaman 14:16-17). As Moroni teaches in the passage above, the Savior has also overcome spiritual death. Because of His Atonement, we will all be brought back into the presence of God, where we will be judged.

That second point is actually a really big deal. I can’t get an appointment with the CEO of my company. (Granted, I work for a very large company.) Even if I had a topic that would merit his attention, the amount of effort required would be substantial. I would have to convince a number of other people that my topic was worth his time and couldn’t be addressed in some other way. Yet, the Savior has set an appointment for each of us with the Creator of the Universe, and we don’t have to do anything to prove that the meeting is necessary or that it will be a good use of His time.

So we will all be redeemed from physical death (permanently), and we will all be redeemed from spiritual death, at least temporarily as we are brought into God’s presence to be judged. What happens next depends upon whether we are prepared for that meeting.

As humans, we have a tendency to make decisions which do not make us happy. Left to our own devices, we would all be miserable (2 Nephi 2:5, Alma 12:26). As Moroni teaches earlier in this chapter, returning to God’s presence wouldn’t solve that problem. In fact, we would be more miserable living near Him in a sinful state than to be far from Him (Mormon 9:4). But if we will allow Him to do so, the Savior will change our natures, converting us from our current selves into spiritual beings who are capable of living “after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). If we have participated in that process, then our reunion with God will be a joyful one, and His final judgment will simply confirm the change that has already taken place in us.

Today, I will be grateful for the blessings I have received through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I will be grateful that He has redeemed me from physical death. I will be grateful that He has redeemed me from spiritual death, so that I will be brought back into the presence of my Heavenly Father. I will also be grateful that He can help me prepare for that reunion, so that it will be a joyful one.

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From Whence Their Blessings Come – Mormon 5:10

10 And now behold, this I speak unto their seed, and also to the Gentiles who have care for the house of Israel, that realize and know from whence their blessings come.
(Mormon 5:10)

Gratitude leads to charity. When we understand the source of our blessings, particularly the sacrifices made by other people to provide those blessings, we feel love toward those people.

In the passage above, Mormon speaks to the descendants of his enemies. He knows that they will care about the tragic battles between his people and their ancestors and the terrible toll those battles took on everyone involved.

And he also knows that his words will be of interest to other people: Gentiles who accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because his people were part of the house of Israel, and because these Gentiles have received such great blessings from Israel’s posterity, Mormon knows that these people will also feel a connection to his people and will feel sorrow for their suffering.

When we know where our blessings come from, we appreciate those blessings more. When we know where our blessings come from, we take an interest in the people who made those blessings possible, caring about their welfare and happiness. When we know where our blessings come from, we are more likely to safeguard those blessings and avoid damaging or losing them.

Today, I will take a few moments to list some of the blessings I have received. Then, I will write down where each of those blessings came from, with a particular focus on the people who played a role in providing those blessings to me.

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Without Sail or Anchor – Mormon 5:17-18

17 They were once a delightsome people, and they had Christ for their shepherd; yea, they were led even by God the Father.
18 But now, behold, they are led about by Satan, even as chaff is driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without sail or anchor, or without anything wherewith to steer her; and even as she is, so are they.
(Mormon 5:17-18)

Without a sail, it’s impossible to navigate to your desired destination. With a sail, the wind can be leveraged to help you achieve your goals.

Without an anchor, it’s impossible to avoid drifting. With an anchor, the influence of waves and currents can be neutralized, and you can remain stationary when needed.

In the passage above, Mormon describes the state of his people after rejecting God’s leadership and falling under the influence of Satan. They were like a ship with no anchor and with no sails, adrift on the water, at the mercy of the winds and the waves.

We all experience adversity, temptation, and other negative influences. Those influences would buffet us and ultimately destroy us if we surrendered to them. But if we anchor ourselves firmly to true principles and navigate persistently toward worthwhile destinations, we can overcome their negative influences.

Today, I will be grateful that the gospel of Jesus Christ helps me overcome negative influences in my life. I will be grateful that it provides true principles and guidelines which can serve as an anchor for my daily decisions. I will also be grateful that it provides meaningful objectives for me to pursue, as well as tools to help me achieve those goals.

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Rolled Together as a Scroll – Mormon 5:23

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23 Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll?
(Mormon 5:23)

Mormon had the misfortune to lead a group of people who were unwilling to acknowledge their dependence on God. When they experienced success on the battlefield, they would “boast in their own strength” because “they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them” (Mormon 3:3, 9). When catastrophic failure struck, instead of humbling themselves and turning to God, “they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless,” Mormon tells us, “they would struggle with the sword for their lives” (Mormon 2:14). They were delusional—unable or unwilling to recognize their own frailties and limitations.

In the passage above, borrowing a metaphor from Isaiah 34:4, Mormon urges his readers to remember the immense power of God. We are in His hands. The very ground we walk on is like a scroll which God can roll as He sees fit.

A scroll is a very long piece of parchment or paper wrapped around a stick. When in use, it is wrapped around two sticks, with a single page visible to the reader. To read the next page, the reader spins both sticks, rolling the current page out of view and exposing a new page.

Catastrophic events, such as hurricanes, financial crises, and terror attacks temporarily remind us of our vulnerability. But most of the time, most of us operate as though we had far more control over our circumstances than we actually do. We take for granted the relative stability in our lives, and as a result, we take too much credit for our successes, and we look for someone to blame when we fail. Because the scroll of our lives remains open to a single page for so long, we forget that most of our circumstances are temporary and that the page will eventually turn.

But what if we were able to overcome that natural human tendency? What if, even in periods of relative stability, we were able to humble ourselves, to thank God for favorable circumstances, and to plead for His help in unfavorable ones, consistently recognizing our dependence on Him? Would we not then be more prepared for moments of crisis and less likely to be overwhelmed by them? Would we not be more realistic in the way we navigate even the stable periods of our lives? Would we not spend less time and energy worrying about circumstances beyond our control and therefore use our time and other resources more productively?

Today, I will remember the metaphor of the scroll. I will acknowledge that my circumstances are in God’s hands. I will recognize my dependence on Him and will trust Him to guide me through both the stable periods of my life and through the periods of crisis.

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