One of the things I learned in this most recent reading of the Book of Mormon was how much God loves all of His children in every nation.– Dallin H. Oaks, “All Men Everywhere,” General Conference, April 2006
During the Savior’s ministry on the American continent, He spoke a lot about Gentiles. After delivering the Sermon on the Mount and explaining that His listeners were the “other sheep” He had spoken of in Jerusalem, He began to describe to them the role the Gentiles would play in fulfilling the covenants God had made with the house of Israel (3 Nephi 16). When He saw that His listeners had a hard time understanding what He was teaching, He invited them to ponder His words and return the following day to hear more (3 Nephi 17:1-3). The following day, to a much larger audience, He continued His message, explaining the essential role of the Gentiles in bringing about the gathering of scattered Israel (3 Nephi 20-23).
Who are the Gentiles? They are people who are not Jews—not of the house of Israel. Jesus wanted His listeners to think about the global nature of God’s work. God loves all of His children, and He is not only willing to bless all of His children but to allow them to participate in His work if they are willing to believe in Him.
“Blessed are the Gentiles,” He said, “because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father” (3 Nephi 16:6). Clearly not all of the Gentiles believe in God, but the Savior wanted His listeners to know that some people who were not descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would open their minds to messages from God and would be blessed. “Because of their belief in me…in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles” (3 Nephi 16:7). And “if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel” (3 Nephi 16:13).
In “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emphasized this truth. The proclamation begins with these words:
We solemnly proclaim that God loves His children in every nation of the world.
And the proclamation says this about the Book of Mormon:
As a companion scripture to the Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies that all human beings are sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven, that He has a divine plan for our lives, and that His Son, Jesus Christ, speaks today as well as in days of old.
Today, I will remember that God loves and wants to bless all people, that He has a plan for each of us, and that He will allow each of us to contribute to His work if we are willing to believe in Him.