3 Ne 18:1-11 The importance of the Sacrament
Jeffrey R. Holland
"...every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, and surely that is why this particular ordinance with all its symbolism and imagery comes to us more readily and more repeatedly than any other in our life. It comes in what has been called 'the most sacred, the most holy, of all the meetings of the Church' (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:340).
"Perhaps we do not always attach that kind of meaning to our weekly sacramental service. How 'sacred' and how 'holy' is it? Do we see it as our passover, remembrance of our safety and deliverance and redemption?
"With so very much at stake, this ordinance commemorating our escape from the angel of darkness should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is. It should be a powerful, reverent, reflective moment. It should encourage spiritual feelings and impressions. As such it should not be rushed. It is not something to 'get over' so that the real purpose of a sacrament meeting can be pursued. This is the real purpose of the meeting. And everything that is said or sung or prayed in those services should be consistent with the grandeur of this sacred ordinance." (Conference Report, Oct. 1995, "This Do in Remembrance of Me")
Elder John H. Groberg
"(Elder Groberg tells of a sister Jones, whose disfellowshipment had restricted her from taking the sacrament. As she abstained from the sacrament, week after week, her appreciation for the ordinance steadily grew. He recounts the story of when she finally felt worthy to again partake of the sacrament) As one young deacon got closer and closer to her row, her heart began to pound harder and harder. Then the tray was coming down her very row. Now her husband was holding the tray in front of her! Tears streamed down her face. There was a barely audible sob of joy, 'Oh!' as she reached for the emblem of the Lord's love for her. The congregation did not hear the sob, but they did notice the tears in the bishop's eyes.
"Life and hope and forgiveness and spiritual strength had been given and received. No one could be more worthy. Sister Jones truly wanted to have his Spirit. She wanted to take his name upon her. With all her heart, she wanted to remember him and keep his commandments. She wanted to repent, to improve, and to follow the guidance of his Spirit.
"Think of it. Think of what could and should happen in your life, in your ward, in your stake, in the whole Church, in the whole world, if every Sunday individuals-hundreds, thousands, even millions-under the authority of the priesthood of God, took the sacrament worthily and thus repented and sincerely determined to better follow the guidance of the Lord's Spirit." (Conference Report, Apr. 1989, "The Beauty and Importance of the Sacrament")
3 Ne 18:7 if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you
One of the laws of heaven states that if we remember the Savior, we will be blessed with his Spirit. The importance of this promise cannot be overstated. The entire challenge of mortality, is that we live with a veil of forgetfulness, away from the presence of God. But as long as we enjoy his Spirit, we are redeemed from the Fall, for we are no longer cast out of his presence. We may bask in the peaceful assurance of redemption through his Spirit. Furthermore, we may be guided by this same Spirit as long as we retain the Lord in remembrance. Unfortunately, retaining him in remembrance can be a challenge because, spiritually speaking, our short-term memory is great, but our long-term memory suffers frequent lapses.
Neal A. Maxwell
"We partake 'in remembrance,' so that we may 'always remember' what Jesus has done for us (3 Nephi 18:11; Moroni 4, 5).
"If we fail to stir remembrance of blessings received, the human tendency is to say, in effect, whether to one's God or to one's fellows, 'What have you done for me lately?' Indeed, prophets of the Lord have asked directly whether their people had 'sufficiently retained in remembrance' His deliverances and blessings (Alma 5:6-7). It is best to cultivate our 'remembering' capacity now and to be guided accordingly, since at judgment day we will have 'perfect remembrance' (Alma 5:18)." (A Wonderful Flood of Light, p. 51)
3 Ne 18:8 wine of the cup
Some have assumed that neither Christ nor the Nephites really drank wine-that it was unfermented grape juice. If such was the case, Joseph Smith should have translated it "grape juice" instead of "wine." Clearly, the wine among the Nephites was an alcoholic beverage (Mosiah 11:15; 22:7-10; Alma 55:8-14). Christ also contrasted the wine he drank at the last supper with the grape juice which he will drink with the righteous in the kingdom of God, But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom (Matt 26:29, italics added). The new fruit of the vine is grape juice; the old fruit of the vine is wine. Other scriptures which speak of grape juice are as follows: Deut 32:14, Mark 14:25, Lu 22:18, DC 27:5, and DC 89:16.
3 Ne 18:9 they gave unto the multitude, and they did drink, and they were filled
The institution of the sacrament is one of the last things that Christ did on day #1 of his visit. The events of 3 Ne 11-18 likely consumed most of the day. Although they had been fed an unbelievable spiritual feast, the bread and wine given on this occasion were the only physical food eaten during Christ's visit. On four separate occasions, the record states that they 'were filled' (v. 4,5,9). We should not assume, because our sacrament comes in little cups with small pieces of bread, that their portions were just as small. The record says they were filled, and that is how we should understand it.
In fact, the symbolism is more beautiful if they were physically filled. As in so many other gospel symbols, the physical becomes a type for the spiritual. As physical hunger and thirst can only be satisfied with food and drink, so the soul that hungers and thirsts after righteousness can only be filled with the Holy Ghost (3 Ne 12:6). Therefore, the Nephites must have been filled both physically and spiritually.
Jeffrey R. Holland
"We no longer include a supper with this ordinance, but it is a feast nevertheless. We can be fortified by it for whatever life requires of us, and in so doing we will be more compassionate to others along the way." (Conference Report, Oct. 1995, "This Do in Remembrance of Me")
Melvin J. Ballard
"We must come, however, to the sacrament table hungry. If we should repair to a banquet where the finest of earth's providing may be had, without hunger, without appetite, the food would not be tempting, nor do us any good. If we repair to the sacrament table, we must come hungering and thirsting after righteousness, for spiritual growth." ("The Sacramental Covenant," Improvement Era, October 1919, pp. 1025)
3 Ne 18:11 this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized
The ordinance of the sacrament is designed for those who have been baptized. The sacrament renews baptismal covenants and renews baptismal sanctification. Therefore, the Lord instructs the sacrament to be given to those who repent and are baptized. Although little children don't need the sacrament for purposes of repentance and sanctification (see Moroni 8:8-13), they should not be restricted from this ordinance. Indeed, they are the most worthy to receive it! Neither should non-members be expressly prohibited. They may, however, be counseled about the meaning and purpose of the ordinance, and then be allowed to make their own judgment as to whether they should partake.
Spencer W. Kimball
"Long, long ago, there were some of the wards who refused to permit anyone other than a member of the Church to partake of the sacrament, with the thought that they were taking it unworthily. There are those who feel, as you have indicated, that little children should not partake of it. And, there are those who partake of it whenever it is passed regardless of how unworthy they may be but to save themselves embarrassment, I suppose....
"The sacrament is to serve us in somewhat the same manner as the sacrifice did from Adam to Christ.... Both the sacrifice in the old days and the sacrament in our day are to keep us reminded of our covenants, that we will remember the sacrifice, that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ, and that we will remember him and keep his commandments.
"The Lord, himself, said, '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... Therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.' (3 Nephi 18:28-29.) Apparently, he is not speaking of little children but of men who are accountable and responsible and who would defile themselves or the program and unworthily partake. Even in this case, he would not have the man cast out unless he was vicious....
"The sacrament is for the Saints, for those who have actually made covenants at the waters of baptism primarily, but there is no evidence that I find where the Lord would ever exclude the children who were rapidly moving toward baptism and who were learning and being taught to worship the Lord and be ready for the covenants as their age and development would permit....
"If a person, not a member of the Church, is in the congregation, we do not forbid him partaking of it, but would properly advise that the sacrament is for the renewing of covenants. And, since he has not made the true covenant of baptism or temple covenant, he is exempt. However, his partaking of the sacrament if he is clean and worthy and devout would not bring upon him any condemnation as it would for those who have made solemn covenants and then have ignored or defied them." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 226)
3 Ne 18:20 whatsoever ye shall ask...which is right...ye shall receive
There are a few promises in the Book of Mormon that are repeated over and over again. Apparently, we don't learn without repetition. This promise is a marvelous promise with grand and eternal implications too often taken for granted. It is taken for granted because the reader does not really believe what the Lord has promised. This is the famous tendency to believe in Christ but not to believe Christ, "The real question is 'Do we believe Christ?' It is one thing to believe in him and quite another to believe him (Robinson 8-12)." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 178).
Indeed, we should remember the words of Enos, that God could not lie (Enos 1:6). When the Lord promises to give us whatever we want, which is right, as long as we ask in faith believing in his name, he means what he says. We have no reason to doubt, no reason to waver-else we become like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:6).
David E. Sorensen
"Christ taught the Nephites that prayer is more than just a means to receive our Father in Heaven's generosity; rather, prayer itself is an act of faith as well as an act of righteousness...This is because the act of prayer itself can change and purify us, both individually and as a group. As our Bible Dictionary states, 'The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them' (p. 753). In other words, prayers bring our desires and the desires of our Father into harmony, thus bringing us both the blessing we are seeking and also the blessing of greater unity with the Father...The greatest blessing and benefit is not the physical or spiritual blessings that may come as answers to our prayers but in the changes to our soul that come as we learn to be dependent on our Heavenly Father for strength...The very act of praying will improve us. (Ensign, May 1993, pp. 30-1 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 437)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Granted, finite minds do not fully understand the infinite mind of God. We are not fully comprehending when our agency brushes against His divinity. Yet we should trust Him as our provincial petitions meet His universal omniscience.
"...It is necessary for us thus to place our desires and needs genuinely and unselfishly before God in prayer. It is in this process of placing our desires before Him, to a greater extent than we usually do, that we can listen and learn concerning His will. Such could not be done if we were ritualistically submissive or only partially involved.
"Of course, after we place our petitions before Him we are to be submissive: 'Thy will be done.' But this is the last part of the process of petition, not the first.
"Learning to pray is, therefore, the work of a lifetime. If we keep on praying, we will keep on discovering." (That Ye May Believe, p. 179)
Neal A. Maxwell
"We may at times, if we are not careful, try to pray away pain or what seems like an impending tragedy, but which is, in reality, an opportunity. We must do as Jesus did in that respect-also preface our prayers by saying, 'If it be possible,' let the trial pass from us-by saying, 'Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,' and bowing in a sense of serenity to our Father in Heaven's wisdom, because at times God will not be able to let us pass by a trial or a challenge. If we were allowed to bypass certain trials, everything that had gone on up to that moment in our lives would be wiped out. It is because he loves us that at times he will not intercede as we may wish him to. That, too, we learn from Gethsemane and from Calvary. (But for a Small Moment, p. 445)
Neal A. Maxwell
"By praying, we begin to experience what it is like when we see the interplay of man's moral agency and God's directing hand. These are things to be learned only by experience. We learn how important our intentions are, since we are instructed to pray for that 'which is right' (3 Nephi 18:20). Our prayers will be better if they are in fact inspired prayers.
"Thus worshipping, serving, studying, praying, each in its own way squeezes selfishness out of us; it pushes aside our preoccupations with the things of the world." (Men and Women of Christ, p. 98)
3 Ne 18:21 Pray in your families unto the Father...that your wives and your children may be blessed
Thomas S. Monson
"As a people, aren't we grateful that family prayer is not an out-of-date practice with us? There is no more beautiful sight in all this world than to see a family praying together. The oft-repeated phrase is ever true, 'The family that prays together stays together.'
"The Lord directed that we have family prayer when he said, 'Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.' (3 Nephi 18:21.)
"Will you join me as we look in on a typical Latter-day Saint family offering prayers unto the Lord? Father, mother and each of the children kneel, bow their heads and close their eyes. A sweet spirit of love, unity, peace fills the home. As father hears his tiny son pray unto God that his dad will do the right things and be obedient to the Lord's bidding, do you think that such a father would find it difficult to honor the prayer of this precious son? As a teenaged daughter hears her sweet mother plead unto the Lord that her daughter will be inspired in the selection of her companions, that she will prepare herself for temple marriage don't you believe that such a daughter will seek to honor this humble, pleading petition of her mother whom she so dearly loves? When father, mother, and each of the children earnestly pray that these fine sons in the family will live worthy that they may, in due time, receive a call to serve as ambassadors of the Lord in the mission fields of the Church, don't we begin to see how such sons grow to young manhood with an overwhelming desire to serve as missionaries?" (Conference Report, Apr. 1964, p. 130)
"Do you have prayers in your family?...And when you do, do you go through the operation like the [grinding] of a piece of machinery, or do you bow in meekness and with...sincere desire to seek the blessing of God upon you and your household? That is the way...we ought to do, and cultivate a spirit of devotion and trust in God, dedicating ourselves to him, and seeking his blessings." (Journal of Discourses, 21:118 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 437)
L. Tom Perry
"Never let a day go by without holding family prayer and family scripture study. Put this, the Lord's program, to the test; and see if it does not bless your home with greater peace, hope, love, and faith. I promise you that daily family prayer and scripture study will build within the walls of your home a security and bonding that will enrich your lives and prepare your families to meet the challenges of today and the eternities to come." (Ensign, May 1993, p. 92 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 228)
3 Ne 18:22 ye shall meet together oft
If there is one commandment which the latter-day saints keep, it is the command to meet together oft. If ever there is a problem, we will meet about it. We have committee meetings, presidency meetings, planning meetings, correlation meetings, welfare meetings, and inservice meetings. At times, we meet just to schedule other meetings. Meetings can even take on a life all their own.
However, when the Lord commanded that we meet together oft, he was clearly speaking of sacrament meetings, in which the members would have the opportunity to take advantage of the healing powers of the atonement. We must never let these other meetings take precedence. We should never lose sight of the tree of life because there are so many other trees in the forest. At times, we may even find it necessary to chop down a few unneeded trees so they don't block our vision.
3 Ne 18:22 suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not
"The Savior's commandment to the Nephites to 'not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together' has special application to us in the Church today. While we may not verbally 'forbid' others-members and nonmembers alike-from our fellowship in the Church, they may feel 'forbidden' by reason of our attitudes and our actions. Elder M. Russell Ballard observed: 'I believe we members do not have the option to extend the hand of fellowship only to relatives, close friends, certain Church members and those selected nonmembers who express an interest its the Church. Limiting or withholding our fellowship seems to me to be contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.... We might ask ourselves how the newcomers in our wards would be treated if we were the only ones they ever met. Every member of the Church should foster the attributes of warmth, sincerity, and love for the newcomers....
"'Brothers and sisters, we members must help with the conversion process by making our wards and branches friendly places, with no exclusivity, where all people feel welcome and comfortable. . . . My message is urgent because we need to retain in full fellowship many more of the new converts and return to activity many more of the less active. I urge you to increase the spirit of friendship and pure Christian fellowship in your neighborhoods. A new convert or recently activated member should feel the warmth of being wanted and being welcomed into full fellowship of the Church. Members and leaders of the Church should nurture and love them as Jesus would.' ("The Hand of Fellowship," Ensign, November 1988, pp. 28-29.)" (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 127)
3 Ne 18:24 hold up your light that it may shine unto the world
Neal A. Maxwell
"Faith permits us to 'hold up [our] light that it may shine unto the world,' while remembering that Jesus said, 'I am the light which ye shall hold up' (3 Nephi 18:24). As we both testify of Him and strive to replicate His way of life in our own, we are reverently and respectfully holding Him up to proper human view." (Lord, Increase Our Faith, p. 20)
3 Ne 18:25 that ye might feel and see
Jeffrey R. Holland
"Just as all of the Nephites were invited at the start of the day to see and feel the Savior's wounds, all in this vast congregation were invited to experience the sacrament and the unity of prayer that they might 'feel and see' in a spiritual way those same emblems of the Atonement, those reminders that Christ lived and died-and prayed-for others. The pleading of his lips and the very wounds in his flesh were in behalf of the children of God. Christ in prayer, Christ in sacrifice, Christ in supplication and suffering, the pure and humble Christ who always calls upon the Father and has sought the Father's will from the beginning-this is the light we are to hold up and, to the extent we can, the light we are to be. Our lives and our church meetings are to enable others to 'feel and see' the atonement and merciful pleading of Christ in their behalf." (Christ And The New Covenant, p. 274)
3 Ne 18:28 ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily
James E. Talmage
"The divine instructions concerning the sacredness of this ordinance are explicit; and the consequent need of scrupulous care being exercised lest it be engaged in unworthily is apparent. In addressing the Corinthian saints Paul gave solemn warnings against hasty or unworthy action in partaking of the sacrament, and declares that the penalties of sickness and even death are visited upon those who violate the sacred requirements: 'For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.' (1 Cor 11:26-30)
"When instructing the Nephites, Jesus laid great stress upon the fitness of those who partook of the sacrament; and moreover He placed responsibility upon the officers of the Church whose duty it was to administer it, that they should permit none whom they knew to be unworthy to participate in the ordinance." (The Articles of Faith, p. 173)
David O. McKay
"To partake of the sacrament unworthily is to take a step toward spiritual death. No man can be dishonest within himself without deadening the susceptibility of his spirit. Sin can stun the conscience as a blow on the head can stun the physical senses. He who promises one thing and deliberately fails to keep his. word, adds sin to sin. On natural principles such a man 'eats and drinks condemnation to his soul.'" (Conference Report, October 1929, pp. 14-15.)
Elder John H. Groberg
"This invitation of the Savior to come unto him is issued regularly and is universal. Everyone is included-men, women, and children. Old and young alike participate. None are barred except by themselves.
"The Lord said, 'And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me.' (3 Ne. 18:25.)
"But the Lord, who knows the terrible consequences of hypocrisy, also warned:
'Ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, ...
For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul.' (3 Ne. 18:28-29.)
"What does it mean to partake of the sacrament worthily? Or how do we know if we are unworthy?
"If we desire to improve (which is to repent) and are not under priesthood restriction, then, in my opinion, we are worthy. If, however, we have no desire to improve, if we have no intention of following the guidance of the Spirit, we must ask: Are we worthy to partake, or are we making a mockery of the very purpose of the sacrament, which is to act as a catalyst for personal repentance and improvement? If we remember the Savior and all he has done and will do for us, we will improve our actions and thus come closer to him, which keeps us on the road to eternal life.
"If, however, we refuse to repent and improve, if we do not remember him and keep his commandments, then we have stopped our growth, and that is damnation to our souls.
"The sacrament is an intensely personal experience, and we are the ones who knowingly are worthy or otherwise." (Conference Report, Apr. 1989, "The Beauty and Importance of the Sacrament")
3 Ne 18:31 if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people
Dallin H. Oaks
"The shepherd has a responsibility to protect the flock against all of these threats. That responsibility may require him to deny a predator the fellowship of the Saints or even to sever his membership in the flock. As Jesus taught: 'If he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.'" (The Lord's Way, p. 227)
3 Ne 18:32 unto such shall ye continue to minister
Ezra Taft Benson
"The principles to activate souls do not change. The lost or less-active must be found and contacted. Loving concern must be demonstrated. They must feel of our love. They must be taught the gospel. They must feel the power of the Holy Ghost through the teachers. They must be included in our fellowship. They must have meaningful Church responsibilities. In the words of the Book of Mormon, we are to 'continue to minister' (3 Nephi 18:32). We are particularly concerned that new converts be integrated into full fellowship in the Church. They must be welcomed with open arms." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 234)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Whatever the individual case, our task is to 'continue to minister' without cynically computing the odds, 'for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them' (3 Nephi 18:32).
"Of course, the determined offenders may ignore even our best efforts. Being 'free to choose' for themselves, they may crash through all reproof and restraint. Nevertheless, in our sometimes collective failure to try at all, we all fail. Then we gather solemnly at the foot of the cliff, hoping to salvage something from the smoking, twisted human wreckage. Instead we might have been loving, restraining sentries atop the cliff, or workers called upon to oversee, repair, and replace the guardrails.
"You will be blessed to know how to proceed. Your love may not be reciprocated, but it will not be wasted. Don't fret over possible clumsiness on your part. Real love is felt even when it is poorly expressed. Furthermore, if we '[show] forth afterward an increase of love' (D&C 121:43) we will more likely be seen as a true friend and not an enemy.
Never forget Jesus' encouragement and direction: 'Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother' (Matthew 18:15). No one is finally lost until we give up!
"May you 'gain' back your friend. Mind the moment, and eternity will take care of itself." (That Ye May Believe, p. 162-3)
3 Ne 18:36 he touched with his hand the disciples...and spake unto them as he touched them
Moroni, apparently reviewing older records, recorded the words Christ said as he gave the disciples this priesthood power, And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles. Now Christ spake these words unto them at the time of his first appearing; and the multitude heard it not, but the disciples heard it; and on as many as the laid their hands, fell the Holy Ghost (Moroni 2:2-3).
Interestingly, 3 Nephi 18 is likely the text to which Moroni referred before writing Moroni chapters 2-6. These chapters deal with many of the same topics, and reading them together is recommended.