When Christ comes to America, the events surrounding the intercessory prayer is significant to ponder. After Christ prayed His intercessory prayer among the Nephites, they witnessed unutterable things. The grandness of the intercessory prayer was further added unto, to fill the Nephites with light, by an ordinance that we often overlook, the Sacrament! To take it even further, once they were filled with the Spirit, then they prayed in Unison. Finally, Christ could deliver His message from the Father. Perhaps there is a pattern here for us to follow.
Unutterable Things: The intercessory prayer produced such a grand experience for the Nephites, that they heard, saw and understood things that were unutterable (3 Nephi 19:35-36). Has our generation looked past the necessity to obtain the unutterable? Have we justified new definitions of miracles and angels, such that we no longer seek a literal connection between earth and heaven, through ministering angels, as was expected by all ancient prophets?
The purpose of unutterable visitations and miracles were intended to sanctify (to make holy, or to make sacred). Laman and Lemuel refused to be made holy or sacred when they were visited by an angel, or had miracles performed on their behalf. Thus their experience only hardened them. However, Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah were visited by an angel, and that had a significantly sanctifying effect. Alma was eventually buried by the hand of the Lord (translated), and the sons of Mosiah was instrumental in the conversion of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi (parents of the 2,000 stripling warriors). Do our struggles produce a hardening of our hearts, or are they sanctifying? Are they sanctifying enough to produce greater and greater sanctification through the grace of Christ?
Sanctification was always purposed to prepare the people to receive the greatest of God’s gifts, returning into His presence, in the flesh. Moses was instructed to to sanctify the children of Israel in preparation for bringing them into the presence of God, in the flesh. But the children of Israel rejected the invitation to be continually sanctified, and were cursed to wander in the wilderness, and not to enter into His presence, in the flesh. Perhaps our casualness in seeking after unutterable things (that produce sanctification), has created in us complacency concerning our entering into the presence of Christ in the flesh. Perhaps that is what the Lord awaits a people who will return unto Him, before He returns unto us:
3 Nephi 24:6-7
“6. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed [sanctified].
7. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts…”
Sacrament: Why is it that after such a unutterable experience with Christ’s intercessory prayer, the first thing Christ does is to miraculously produce the sacrament? No one brought the bread and wine, but they did eat bread and drank wine, and were filled with the Spirit. (3 Nephi 20:6). When the Nephites partook of this Sacrament, this time they were promised that they would never hunger and thirst again, and they were filled with the Spirit. Is there more to the sacrament that we are missing when we do it the way we do it today? Is there hidden potential that goes untapped because we don’t look further into the subject? How foolish will we feel to discover that the Sacrament offered to completely fill us with light, and dispel all darkness, but we didn’t seek further into the subject, while we were in the flesh, …when the treasure was just below the surface?
Praying in Unison: After the Nephites were filled with the Spirit, they praised Christ in unison. What’s the value of praising the Lord in unison? Is that accidental (jinx, …jinx again)? …Or is that symbolic of a people who, because of these grand experiences, …recognized the value of Christ’s words and were becoming of one heart and one mind? Many in our church have claimed that since the restoration of Joseph Smith, we have been building Zion. Our missionary efforts are supposed to indicate the rolling forth of the stone cut without hands to fill the earth. But, do we have this unison? …Or are we trying to convince ourselves that, “great minds think alike,” because we have convinced others to “look like us,” …or to “do as I’m doing, follow, follow me?” (Where did that primary song come from anyway?).
Perhaps we are not unified as were the Nephites, because we have not sought out unutterable things to be sanctified, …and we have been filled with unbelief, like those in Jerusalem had been, …so we, like them, aren’t able to have those experiences:
3 Nephi 19:35-36
“35. And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying he came again to the disciples, and said unto them: So great faith have I never seen among all the Jews; wherefore I could not show unto them so great miracles, because of their unbelief.
36. Verily I say unto you, there are none of them that have seen so great things as ye have seen; neither have they heard so great things as ye have heard.”
Perhaps, when people justify their sins, as did the Jews who crucified their Lord, …they also justify their definitions of miracles and angels, to make it seem as if angels and miracles have never ceased to appear. This way we can ignore the necessity to have greater faith, …since miracles have never ceased to occur, and angels have never ceased to appear.
But, if we haven’t had unutterable experiences, if the Sacrament has little change on us, if we are not able to speak in unison, and we are not yet one, …then is it the Lord who is withholding those things? Or is it because of our unbelief and our lack of faith?
“37. Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief and all is vain.”
What does unbelief have to do with it? What does it mean that all is vain? Does that mean that if the unutterable things aren’t happening (the angels and the miracles), then it’s our fault for putting on unbelief?
When Moroni states that “all is vain,” does that mean ALL is vain?
“38. For no man can be saved, according the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if theses things have ceased [angels and miracles], then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.“
Is it possible that our lack of faith can cancel out the redemption made by the atonement of Christ? If not, someone better tell Moroni, because he is out in left-field on that one. He says that it is as though no redemption was made. If that is possible, and we have not had such unutterable experiences, then we have some work to do sifting out unbelief, and developing real faith! That is how the hearts of the children turn to the covenants made to the Fathers. We begin to follow the example of Father Abraham, by:
- seeking for the blessings of the fathers
- to administer the same
- desiring to be one who possessed great knowledge
- to be a greater follower of righteousness
- to possess a greater knowledge
- to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace
- desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments
Abraham was just as we are. Abraham 1:2 clearly teaches what we must seek to become if we are to be unified. The Nephites were able to accomplish this task of being unified. Thus, Christ was able to deliver his message.
The Message: The message he shares is more a message for you than it was for them. Those who are sanctified, partake and are filled with the light through the sacrament, and are unified, …those are the lions amongst the beasts of the forest, who will tread down and tear to pieces, and none can deliver them. That is the message.
If we can see a pattern in this process of sanctification, being filled with light, rejoicing in unison, and obtaining Christ’s message, …perhaps the message Christ has for us will be customized to our circumstances, as it was to those in 3 Nephi. Each of us has something to do, that is unique to us. All are offered to accomplish their mission, here on earth. Those who seek will find.
Conclusion: The message of hope is far more powerful than our economic and political struggles. There is no need for trusting in the arm of flesh for those who understand what is being offered, and who obtain it. Let us seek out sanctification through miracles and angels. As we trust in the process, we will find ourselves under the protection of our Savior.
Initially, we can expect problems. Don’t forget that some problems are positioned specifically for sanctification. Seek to endure all problems by accumulating more and more of the words of Christ. Soon, like Nephi, you will have dreams, angelic visitations, and can become personal witnesses of Christ’s condescension (2 Nephi 4:25). Feast upon the words of Christ. Let it tell you all things what you should do.