Journey through the Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 22 (With Great Mercies)

7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.
8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

Imagine the poingiant resonance these words must have taken for those listening to the savior’s declaration. They had experienced the wrath of the Lord. And yet, here he was before them with great mercy. He had gathered them together and blessed them abundantly beyond measure. For the Nephites, these words therefore had immediate and personal relevance. In addition, the promise that their nation would be gathered even after having been scattered to the ends of the earth would have had deep resonance. 

For us, these words can also have special relevance. Here is the savior personal vouchsafing for the promises of Isaiah. We can therefore be sure that all of the promises of the restoration that Isaiah identified will come to pass. The Saivor’s promise is sure. He will never forsake or abandon us.

Journey through the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 21 (Shall be Cut Off)

11 Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.
The savior makes his message even more clear here. He emphasizes that in the day of the restoration when the Book of Mormon will come forth, there will be a prophet who will speak the words of Christ. Our willingness to head the words of that prophet will determine if we remain numbered among the people of Christ or are cut off. Our spiritual survival is at stake when we we treat lightly upon the teachings of the Prophet and Apostles. 

Journey through the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 20 (I am He)

23 Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
Christ’s appeal to Isaiah as well as prophecies from the Torah imply that the Nephites remained a highly biblically literate and scripturallt literate people. They still had a deep concern for the prophecies of old. 

Christ’s declaration that he is the spoken of prophet is significant. All those who do not heed Christ and his word are cut off. Christ is not speaking about his printed word but his living word. He is not speaking in a past tense but in a present tense. We must listen to his living and ever present word and not just his past words that were written down in scriptures. If we cut ourselves off from the living vine then we will cease to live and grow.

Journey through the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 19 (Nothing Varying)

8 And when they had ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken–nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken–behold, they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus.9 And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.

I admire the diligence of these disciples in ministering precisely the words of a Christ and neither more no less. I think these two verses are closely connected. It is precisely because they taught the words of Christ that they could with faith pray to have the Holy Ghost. If we deviate from Christ’s word, then we can in no way expect to have the Holy Ghost with us when we teach or testify.

Journey through the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 18 (Forbid Not)

In 3 Nephi 18, the Savior teaches two principles that in the modern conscience are in tension with each other. First, we have an obligation to welcome all to our church meetings so that we can reflect the light of Christ to others. But second, we must prevent indiviudals from partaking in the ordinances of Christ unworthily.

Compare

“22 And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;

23 But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.

24 Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up–that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.”
With

“28 And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;

29 For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.

30 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.”

These two seemingly conflicting principles underly the controversial policy issues last year with regard to baptism of children raised by gay and lesbian parents. There is an obligation to welcome, invite, nurture, and love. But there is also a need to protect, and ensure that those who partake of ordinances understand the sacred covenants they are making. We are not perfect at balancing those concerns, but we are making our best efforts at striking the proper balance.

Journey through the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 17 (Filled with Compassion)

5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.

I love this story. The people were not prepared to learn, but they had great desire. They therefore were blessed with an unparalleled outpouring. The savior saw their hearts. He saw that they desired to be blessed. And therefore, he stayed with the people. 

Even if we are not ready or fully prepared, God will see into our heart and will bless us. He will have compassion upon our weaknesses. 

Journey through the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 16 (They Do Not Ask)

4 And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.
This verse is quite sobering. Jesus is saying that the people in Jerusalem could have had knowledge of the Nephites and the Lamanites as well as other scattered disciples of Christ, but they chose not to learn about them because they were unwilling to ask. They could not look beyond their vision of Israel and inquire more deeply into the words of the Lord.

What knowledge and insight are we missing because we are not willing to ask?

We don’t have the full story here due to the limited amount of early Christian records. It is very possible that the Apostles did ask and knew more than we can see in our scriptures today. If John the Revelatory saw the restoration and spoke of the Angel Moroni as we believe, then it is possible that he and others knew of the Nephites
I am also comforted by the fact that the Lord will always provide a way for vital knowledge to come forth in due time – even if that knowledge has to come from out of the dust. He will not leave us guideless or comfortless.