"Whosoever Will Come, Him Will I Receive"
Lesson 37 - 3 Nephi 8-11
Introduction 3 Nephi 11 is often the first chapter that people are invited to read when they receive a copy of the Book of Mormon from the missionaries. This chapter contains the account of the resurrected Savior visiting the Nephites. Think about why 3 Nephi 11 would be an effective way to introduce the Book of Mormon to someone. What feelings or experiences have you had as you have read this chapter? The chapters describing the Saviorís visit to the Nephites are some of the most powerful passages in the Book of Mormon. This lesson discusses the calamities that occurred in the Americas when Jesus was crucified. It includes the account of the beginning of His ministry among the Nephites.
Great destruction occurred in the Americas at the time of Jesusí death.
Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied of terrible destructions that would take place when Jesus was crucified (Helaman 14:20-27. About 33 years after the sign of Jesusí birth, the people "began to look with great earnestness" for the fulfillment of Samuelís words (3 Nephi 8:3).
Helaman 14:21, 23
3 Nephi 8:5-7, 17-18; 3 Nephi 9:8
3 Nephi 8:8-10, 14
Helaman 14:20, 27
3 Nephi 8:20-21
3 Nephi 8:19-23 When the destruction ceased, the earth was covered with thick darkness. 3 Nephi 9:18; see also John 8:12; D&C 11:28 Total darkness is an appropriate sign for the death of the Savior because he is the true light of the world. Consider carefully the ways in which the Savior has brought light to your life. 3 Nephi 8:23-25 This scripture records the reaction of those who survived the destruction--howling, weeping, groaning, crying, and mourning. Reading about their experience helps us prepare for the Second Coming if we learn from their regrets about their failure to repent.
Survivors heard the voice of the Lord inviting them to return to Him.
3 Nephi 9:1-12 After the destruction, the surviving Nephites heard the voice of Christ describing how different cities--Zarahemla, Moroni, Moronihah, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, etc.--were destroyed. 3 Nephi 9:12 The Lord gave his reason for the destruction--because of their wickedness and abominations. Look closely at how often He repeated this reason in verses 2-12. 3 Nephi 9:13-14 "Come unto me" is the invitation He extended to those who had survived. The word come appears three times in verse 14. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: " ĎCome,í [Christ] says lovingly. ĎCome, follow me.í Wherever you are going, first come and see what I do, see where and how I spend my time. Learn of me, walk with me, talk with me, believe. Listen to me pray. In turn you will find answers to your own prayers. God will bring rest to your souls. Come, follow me" (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 65). Ponder what we need to do today to accept this invitation. 3 Nephi 9:17, 19-20 Jesus declared that the law of Moses was fulfilled in Him and that He would no longer accept burnt offerings and sacrifices. He taught in verse 20 that He required a new sacrifice of us.
What does it mean to offer a "broken heart and a contrite spirit"? That was answered when President J. Reuben Clark Jr., who was a member of the First Presidency, said: "Under the new covenant that came in with Christ, the sinner must offer the sacrifice out of his own life, not by offering the blood of some other creature; he must give up his sins, he must repent, he himself must make the sacrifice" (Behold the Lamb of God , 107). 3 Nephi 9:20 The Savior promised the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost to those who make this offering. 3 Nephi 9:22 Jesus said He had given His life for those who would come unto Him like a child. Mosiah 3:19 Childlike qualities we need in order to come unto the Savior include submissiveness, meekness, humility, patience, a fulness of love, and a willingness to submit to all things the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon us.
After Jesus announced the extent of the destruction and promised redemption to those who would believe, many hours of silence passed. When Jesus spoke again, He used an analogy in 3 Nephi 10:4-6 of a hen gathering her chicks to describe His yearning to gather His people. Jesus used this analogy three times but changed it slightly in each verse.
Why does He want to gather us? The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: "What was the object of gathering... the people of God in any age of the world? ...The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation. ...It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 307-8). D&C 4:1-7 teaches how we can assist in this gathering. 3 Nephi 10:9-10 After calling the people to repent and come unto Him, Christ ceased speaking to the people. Three days of mourning passed. Then the darkness dispersed, the noise and destruction stopped, and the peopleís sadness turned into joy. 3 Nephi 10:12-13 The people who had been spared were the "more righteous part" of the people; those who had received the prophets and not persecuted the saints. 3 Nephi 10:18-19 Blessings received by these people included a manifestation of Christ unto them. 3 Nephi 10:14 Mormonís counsel to us, the readers of this account, is that we search the scriptures and confirm for ourselves that these events were fulfillment of prophecy.
Jesus Christ descended from heaven and taught the people.
The people had gathered around the temple in the land Bountiful, marveling about the changes that had occurred and "conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death" (3 Nephi 11:1-2). 3 Nephi 11:3 While the people were conversing about what had happened, they heard the voice of God the Father. What was the voice like? It was not harsh or loud, but small and piercing. 3 Nephi 11:4-6 The people had to hear the voice for the third time before they understood it. 3 Nephi 11:5 The people were finally able to understand the voice when they "did open their ears to hear it". Ponder what you can do to better hear and understand Godís words to you. 3 Nephi 11:7 God the Father introduced the Savior by saying that His name had been glorified by the Son and that He was well pleased with His Son. 3 Nephi 11:8-11 The Savior introduced Himself by declaring that He was that Jesus Christ whom the prophets had testified would come into the world; that He is the light and life of the world; and that He had taken upon himself the sins of the world. 3 Nephi 11:13-15 Jesus extended an invitation to all the people in the multitude to arise and come forth to feel His hands and side to know that He had indeed died for their sins. 3 Nephi 17:25 records that there were 2,500 people in the multitude. Think about what you can learn from this example of the Saviorís love. 3 Nephi 11:21-27 The Savior taught the Nephites about baptism, instructing them that priesthood power was necessary to perform baptisms, baptism must be requested by a repentant person, that both parties must stand in the water, that the baptism must be performed in the name of Christ, that the exact wording must be repeated, and that the person receiving baptism is to be fully immersed and then shall be brought forth again out of the water.
Consider why it is important to be baptized in the correct manner and by someone who has the authority to baptize. 3 Nephi 11:22, 28 Jesus taught that there should be "no disputations" among the people concerning baptism or any other points of His doctrine. 3 Nephi 11:29; D&C 10:62-63 Contention about gospel doctrines is dangerous because it stirs up anger and causes the angry parties to serve the devil.
We can be unified in true doctrine by studying the scriptures and obeying the counsel of our priesthood leaders. 3 Nephi 11:30-38 The Savior taught as His doctrine: believing in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, repenting and becoming as a child, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Ghost. 3 Nephi 11:39 He promised that those who build their lives on His doctrine can be assured that the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. 3 Nephi 11:41 We can more fully obey the Saviorís instructions to declare these words "unto the ends of the earth" if we pray for missionary opportunities and follow the Spirit when prompted to speak to someone about the gospel.
Read 3 Nephi 10:14, and remember the importance of understanding and searching the scriptures. Although persecution will increase as the separation between the righteous and the wicked grows, we will be strengthened as we study the scriptures and follow the prophets.