3 Ne 27:1 the disciples...were united in mighty prayer and fasting
James teaches us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). The only thing more powerful than the fervent prayer of a righteous man is the fervent prayer of a group of righteous men or women. Their cumulative faith brings cumulative blessings that cannot be obtained individually. Joseph Smith said, "The greatest temporal and spiritual blessings...always come from faithfulness and concerted effort, [not from] individual exertion or enterprise." (Teachings, p. 183)
Furthermore, the whole reason that the Lord referred to the city of Enoch as Zion was because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness (Moses 7:18). This is why Zion was never established in Missouri, for the saints were not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principle of the law of the celestial kingdom (DC 105:4-5). The prophet tried to foster this principle with his counsel, "unity is strength. 'How pleasing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!' (Ps 133:1) Let the Saints of the Most High ever cultivate this principle, and the most glorious blessings must result, not only to them individually, but to the whole Church." (Teachings, p. 174) So what was the great blessing which attended the mighty, united prayer of the Nephite disciples? It was another visitation from the Lord.
Bruce R. McConkie
"I was present when the Lord revealed to President Spencer W. Kimball that the time had come, in His eternal providences, to offer the fulness of the gospel and the blessings of the holy priesthood to all men.
"I was present, with my brethren of the Twelve and the counselors in the First Presidency, when all of us heard the same voice and received the same message from on high.
"It was on a glorious June day in 1978. All of us were together in an upper room in the Salt Lake Temple. We were engaged in fervent prayer, pleading with the Lord to manifest his mind and will concerning those who are entitled to receive his holy priesthood. President Kimball himself was mouth, offering the desires of his heart and of our hearts to that God whose servants we are...It was one of those rare and seldom-experienced times when the disciples of the Lord are perfectly united, when every heart beats as one, and when the same Spirit burns in every bosom.
"I have thought since that our united prayer must have been like that of the Nephite disciples-the Lord's Twelve in that day and for that people-who 'were gathered together and were united in mighty prayer and fasting' to learn the name that the Lord had given to his Church (3 Ne. 27:1-3). In their day the Lord came personally to answer their petition; in our day he sent his Spirit to deliver the message.
"And as it was with our Nephite brethren of old, so it was with us. We too had come together in the spirit of true worship and with unity of desire. We were all fasting and...There was a marvelous outpouring of unity, oneness, and agreement in council. This session continued for somewhat more than two hours. Then President Kimball suggested that we unite in formal prayer and said, modestly, that if it was agreeable with the rest of us he would act as voice.
"It was during that prayer that the revelation came. The Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon us all; we felt something akin to what happened on the day of Pentecost and at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. From the midst of eternity, the voice of God, conveyed by the power of the Spirit, spoke to his prophet. The message was that the time had now come..." (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, pp. 159-161)
3 Ne 27:3-9 The name of the church
The Savior provides his own commentary on why the church among the Nephites should be called after his name. This interaction reminds us why "Mormon" is not the preferred name for our church, For if a church be called in [Mormon's] name then it be [Mormon's] church. Most likely, others would not wonder whether or not we are a Christian church if they knew us by our real name. Hence, as far as names go, "Mormon Church" is no better than "LDS Church," "Church of Moses," "Church of Abraham," "Church of Luther," or "Church of Calvin."
However, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" was not always the official name of the church. For the first 8 years, the church was known by other names, including: "The Church of Christ," "The Church of Jesus Christ," and "The Church of the Latter-day Saints." The revelation giving the full name came in 1838, in Far West (see DC 115:4). The specification, "of Latter-day Saints," is added to distinguish the church from previous dispensations.
Milton R. Hunter
"The early Christians in the Mediterranean world took upon themselves the name of Christ. As you all recall, they were known generally as Christians. But as their numbers began to spread and become rather numerous in the Mediterranean world, and as the seeds of apostasy began to grow, about 185 A.D. the leaders decided to change the name to Catholic, meaning universal. Thus by choosing to call themselves 'Universal' they lost the name, or set aside the name, that God had decreed would be the only name given under heaven whereby mankind may be saved." (Conference Report, Oct. 1952, p. 38)
"The matter of the name his Church should bear was of great importance to the Savior...Thus the name of the Church was not obtained through study or research, but by revelation direct from the Lord. Does it not seem incredible that of all the churches in the world, there was not one that bore his name when the Lord restored his Church in this dispensation?" (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 135-6 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 459)
3 Ne 27:11 if it be not built upon my gospel...they have joy in their works for a season
"A church that is not built upon the Lord's true gospel may have temporary success, produce some good works, and possess some spiritual fruits, given through the grace of God to bless his children and to lead them to the truths and salvation that are available only through his true church and kingdom. Ultimately, however, those churches and organizations that are not built upon Christ's gospel and are without his authorization and approval-that however well intentioned are in doctrinal error-overthrown by the power of God. There is but one way to the Father, and that is through Christ and his gospel. The works of the wicked and the labors of man are not acceptable to God outside of the parameters of the gospel because 'a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God ... and not with real intent of heart ... it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such' (Moroni 7:6, 9)." (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 177)
Neal A. Maxwell
"The temporal causes which we champion may fail-after all we can do. But God's work of which we are part will finally triumph! He is remarkably able to do His own work, just as He has so directly stated (see 2 Nephi 27:20-21). Indeed, we are at the very center of His work. In the hassling competition of the work of the world we may lose out. But we always win when we lose ourselves in God's service.
"In the worthy work of the world, mortals will have 'joy in [their] works for a season' (3 Nephi 27:11). But everlasting and full joy comes only with God's gift of eternal life. Granted, when we are in the service of our fellowmen we are in the service of God (Mosiah 2:17). But the more we do of spiritual significance, the greater the significance of service.
"Events may turn against us, but if we are turning ever more toward God, we are on course. This is the only turning that really matters." (Men and Women of Christ, p. 130)
3 Ne 27:13-15 Behold...this is the gospel which I have given unto you
Marion G. Romney
"In this short statement (3 Ne 27:13-15) the Master named four eternal verities upon which all else in his gospel is founded: First, the relationship between himself and his father; second the fact of his atonement; third the universal resurrection; and fourth, the judgment...All men who believe in Jesus and want to be his followers will have to accept those four verities." (Conference Report, Apr. 1955, pp. 13-14as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 460)
Neal A. Maxwell
"There is in the Book of Mormon a statement in which the Lord says, 'Behold this is the gospel, which I have given unto you,' and then he describes his gospel. (See 3 Nephi 27:13-18.) It is a simple story of a world to which a Savior has been sent whom men may accept or reject, but who is, nevertheless, the Messiah.
"That simple story is the very thing, of course, the world cannot accept, and it is so simple that some may even be offended inwardly at times by the so-called simplicity of the gospel. Jacob, writing in the Book of Mormon, says of the Jewish people who preceded us and who rejected Jesus, that they 'sought for things that they could not understand,' and that they were forever 'looking beyond the mark.' (See Jacob 4:14.)
"The Jewish people, prior to the time of Christ and at the time of Christ, rejected the gospel, in part because it lacked adequate intellectual embroidery. The message was not sufficiently complicated or politically pretentious. Neither was Jesus when he lived among them. There is a kind of theological blindness to which Paul refers in terms of the message of Jesus when he says that to the Jews, Christ was a 'stumblingblock,' to the Gentiles he was 'foolishness.'
"In many ways, this is how we are situated today. There are those who may share some of our beliefs and values, but for whom the restoration of the gospel is a stumblingblock they cannot get over the top of. But to most of mankind, what we proclaim is 'foolishness.'" (For the Power is in Them, p. 47-8)
Neal A. Maxwell
"How much difference it would make if those in the world who, at best, regard Jesus merely as a great moral teacher could accept these and other simple, plain, and yet profound scriptural declarations from Him and about Him and His gospel. His rescue mission to mortals is set forth so plainly." (Plain and Precious Things, p. 34)
3 Ne 27:14 I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me
The Savior teaches us about the symbolism of the cross on which he was crucified. Outstretched arms are an invitation for a loving embrace. Christ's arms, outstretched and nailed into position, are an invitation for just such a loving embrace. They symbolize his desire to draw all men unto himself. Elder Bruce C. Hafen stated, "Our embracing of Christ's gospel can lead us eventually to embrace him, in a relationship of unity that fulfills everlastingly our longing to belong." (Belonging heart, p. 17)
Now let's consider the symbolism of Christ's statement, "as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father." Little did the Roman centurions realize what they were doing when they raised Jesus on the cross.
Without the fall of man, there is no condescension of God. Without the condescension of God, there is no ascension of man.
Christ had to descend below all things so that we could ascend above all things. Paul declared, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal 3:13). He who was righteous was cursed according to the law so that we who are cursed for breaking the law can be made righteous:
“That as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father”
Jesus Christ suffered this great injustice so that we might be spared the consequences of justice (D&C 19:16). He who was sinless was raised up by men so that we who are sinners could be raised up by God.
3 Ne 27:19 nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood
Who would ever wash their clothes in blood? What stains are removed with blood? Unfortunately, the stains of sin cannot be cleaned with water. The only solution capable of removing the stain of sin is blood-but not just any blood, it must be the blood spilt by the Only-Begotten. Though our sins are as crimson, we can still put on white robes, if we have washed them, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:14).
Interestingly, it is us who must do the washing. We must be willing to remove our stained garments, soak them in Christ's blood, and then scrub out the stains, one by one. Christ can't do it for us. He has provided the amazing cleaning solution, but his sanctifying soap must be used in order for us to cleanse ourselves and enter into his rest. The scripture tells us that we use his soap when we exhibit faith, repentance, and faithfulness unto the end.
"We cannot cleanse our sin-stained lives by mere washing in the strong detergent of self-discipline. It requires a celestial cleanser, one which we cannot purchase for ourselves but is purchased for us by the grace of God--the blood of Christ." (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 180)
3 Ne 27:23 Write the things which ye have seen and heard
Elder Andrew Jenson
"The Savior, as we have seen, spoke very plainly to [the Nephites], commanding them to record those things which He had spoken unto them and also that which had been predicted by one of His servants, many years before.
"So it is with the Latter-day Saints. We are here in the midst of a dispensation that is of greater importance than any former dispensation the Lord has ever opened upon the face of the earth, and the Lord has commanded us to write down the things that transpire in our day, that we also may make a book or books of remembrance, a Bible or a testament, to be handed down to future generations, to be read by our posterity in all ages to come.
"As the Lord commanded His people in former dispensations, He has also told us to make records; for he 'commands all men' to write His words." (Collected Discourses, Vol.5, January 20th, 1895)
3 Ne 27:27 ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you
The Lord taught that the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son (Jn 5:22). Nevertheless, the Savior will delegate a portion his responsibility to his servants, and he will instruct them as to how they should judge. The Twelve Apostles were told that they would judge the House of Israel, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28). John the Revelator, saw in vision, the thrones spoken of, I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them (Rev 20:4). Nephi was told that the twelve Nephite disciples would judge his people, these twelve ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed (1 Ne 12:10).
The above passages make us wonder who will judge us. According to the pattern set by the Lord, we are likely to be judged by the Lord's latter-day apostles. Today's twelve apostles know the challenges of our day. They know what records have been available to us. And they know what we have been taught. By what will we be judged? By the standard works. As President Joseph Fielding Smith declared, "No member of this Church can stand approved in the presence of God who has not seriously and carefully read the Book of Mormon." (Conference Report, Oct. 1961, p. 18) The same could be said of the other standard works. That is why they are called "standard" works, for they become the "standard" by which we are judged.
Joseph F. Smith
"Out of the things which have been written in the books, this people shall be judged, according to their works. The Lord shall make a record also, and out of that shall the whole world be judged. And you men of the holy Priesthood--you Apostles, Presidents, Bishops and High Priests in Zion--will be called upon to be the judges of the people. Therefore, it is expected that you shall set the standard for them to attain to, and see that they shall live according to the spirit of the Gospel, do their duty, and keep the commandments of the Lord. You shall make a record of their acts. You shall record when they are baptized, when they are confirmed, and when they receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. You shall record, when they come to Zion, their membership in the Church. You shall record whether they attend to their duties as Priests, Teachers, or Deacons, as Elders, Seventies, or High Priests. You shall write their works, as the Lord says here. You shall record their tithings, and...we shall judge the people, first requiring them to do their duty. In order to do that, those who stand at the head must set the example." (Conference Report, Apr. 1901, p. 72)
3 Ne 27:27 what manner of men ought ye to be?
In particular, those who are to sit as judges of their fellowmen must be so righteous that their judgment would be the same as if Christ himself had passed the judgment. But the counsel, to be even as Christ is, is not just given to the Lord's judges, but to all, be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect (3 Ne 12:48).
Spencer W. Kimball
"Hard to do? Of course. The Lord never promised an easy road, nor a simple gospel nor low standards, nor a low norm. The price is high, but the goods attained are worth all they cost. The Lord himself turned the other cheek; he suffered himself to be buffeted and beaten without remonstrance; he suffered every indignity and yet spoke no word of condemnation. And his question to all of us is: 'Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be' And his answer to us is: 'Even as I am.'" (Conference Report, Oct. 1977, p. 71 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 462)
Ezra Taft Benson
"My beloved brethren, I have entitled my remarks 'What Manner of Men Ought We to Be?' You will recognize this title as a variation of the question Jesus posed to the Nephites (see 3 Nephi 27:27). It is a timely question for each member of the priesthood of God to consider.
"...As priesthood holders, we are to emulate the character of the Savior.
And what is His character?
"He has identified the cardinal virtues of His divine character in a revelation to all priesthood holders who serve in His ministry. You are familiar with this verse in section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which was given a year before the Church was organized: 'Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence' (D&C4:6).
'These are the virtues we are to emulate. This is the Christlike character...He expects us to be like Him. He expects us to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, which are 'love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance' (Galatians 5:22-23).
"These Christlike traits should characterize each priesthood holder and should permeate every Latter-day Saint home. It can be done and must be done if we are to honorably bear His name. Never in the history of mankind has there been a greater need for men to be united in their determination and actions to be Christlike in character." (Morality, pp. 1,2,6)
3 Ne 27:29 ask, and ye shall receive
Boyd K. Packer
"It is clear that the Lord wants us to come unto Him and ask Him for whatever we need. The simple invitation to 'ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you' was repeated by the Lord on many occasions. He gave this message to the people He taught while He lived on earth. He repeated it twice to the people of the New World at the time of His visit to them following His resurrection, including His last words He gave them before returning to His Father in heaven. Interestingly, the Lord repeated the same invitation seven times in the Doctrine and Covenants. In varying ways throughout the scriptures, He has invited us to ask Him for whatever we need in righteousness, that He might give it unto us.
"The initiative, then, is ours. We must ask and pray and seek, and then we will find." (Teach Ye Diligently, p. 18)
3 Ne 27:30 the Father rejoiceth...because of you and this generation; for none of them are lost
Franklin D. Richards
"It is nowhere found in the scriptures of the New Testament or the Old that the Lord mingled with any people in the land of Palestine and told them that they of that generation were accepted of Him fully and utterly and that none of them should be lost...It seemed that the mission of Jesus in Palestine was one of toil and of humiliation. But upon this land there was a people of whom he said that that generation was accepted of him.
"It occurred to me: What a glorious thing it would be if we could hear that heavenly voice saying to us in this house that with us the Lord is well pleased and satisfied and that not a soul would be lost." (Collected Discourses, Vol.3, Franklin D. Richards, January 29th, 1893)
Bruce R. McConkie
"When else was it ever thus? In Zion of Enoch, be it answered, for the saints of that day were translated and taken up into heaven; but there has been no other time of which we have knowledge when righteousness has prevailed among so many people to the degree here manifest. And what joy is found in heaven when the righteous so live as to merit eternal life." (The Mortal Messiah, book 4, p. 386)
3 Ne 27:31 the fourth generation...are led away captive by him even as was the son of perdition
Joseph Fielding Smith
"It is possible for people to get so far in the dark through rebellion and wickedness that the spirit of repentance leaves them. It is a gift of God, and they get beyond the power of repentance. How well Mormon speaks of that, in reference to the people who turned away with their eyes open, who turned against the truth some 200 years following the coming of Christ. The people rebelled; Mormon speaks about them and their condition beyond the power of redemption because of their wickedness and the hardness of their hearts, which the Spirit of the Lord could not penetrate.
"They sinned wilfully, and therefore salvation cannot come to them. It was offered to them, and they would not have it. They rejected it. They fought it and preferred to take the course of rebellion; and the Lord on one occasion said to Mormon, 'You shall not preach to these people; they have turned against me and you shall not preach to them.' He had a right to say that. Now why did he say that? Because they had every opportunity and would not receive the truth. They mocked at it, and so the Lord said, 'You don't have to talk to them; there is no need to cry repentance to them any longer.' And after a while Mormon still pleaded with the Lord to let him try again. It was useless." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:195)