Book of Mormon
“Behold, My Joy Is Full”
Jesus commands the Nephites to ponder and pray about what He has taught. He
heals the sick, blesses the children, and prays for the people.
Jesus institutes the sacrament among the Nephites.
The disciples teach and minister to the people. The Savior returns
to teach the people and pray for them.
A study of this lesson will help us feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and
develop a greater desire to exercise faith in Him and bear testimony of Him.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 39 Handout (PDF)
Ignorance regarding the nature of God.
- Many of the false teachings about the nature of God go back to the early
days of Christianity.
In about A.D. 180 Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, wrote: "The
Father of all is at a vast distance from those affections and passions
which operate among men. He is a simple, uncompounded Being, without
diverse members, and altogether like, and equal to Himself, since He is
wholly intelligence, and wholly reason, and wholly hearing, and wholly
seeing, and wholly light, and the whole source of all that is good."
In about A.D. 230 Origen, a church scholar, wrote describing the Father
and the Son: "Setting aside all thought of a material
body, we say that [Christ] was begotten of the invisible and incorporeal
God apart from any bodily feeling, like an act of will proceeding from
the mind." (quoted in Studies In Scripture, 8:172)
These chapters in 3 Nephi prove the fallacy of these apostate ideas.
- Chapters 17 to 19, more than any others, show the person and personality of
a loving Christ.
3 Nephi 17
3 NEPHI 17:1-3.
WHAT DID JESUS ASK THE NEPHITES TO DO SO THEY COULD UNDERSTAND HIS WORDS?
"...go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the
things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name." (v3)
As we "liken" the scriptures unto ourselves, we often find ourselves like
these ancient Nephites. There are times when we "cannot understand"
the words of the Lord as found in the scriptures or as delivered through
the Lord's servants. The Savior has given us a vital key to unlocking eternal
Go into our homes - a place of refuge from the world.
Ponder that which we have read.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PONDER?
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: "Pondering, which
means to weigh mentally, to deliberate, to meditate, can achieve the opening
of the spiritual eyes of one's understanding. Also, the Spirit of
the Lord may rest upon the ponderer." (Ensign, May 1982, p23)
Consider the following familiar story from the life of Joseph Smith. As you
recall, young Joseph had been visiting the various churches in his neighborhood
because of his curiosity about religion and his desire to learn the truth.
"While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties
caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day
reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. Never did any passage
of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at
this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling
of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person
needed wisdom from God, I did" (Joseph Smith History 1:11-12).
WHAT DID THE PROPHET DO?
He reflected on these words "again and again." This reflection, or
pondering, on the words of James moved him to deep and serious prayer. The result: A witness of the truth that eventually led to the Restoration.
Joseph Smith: "The things of God are of
deep import; and...careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find
them." (TPJS, p137)
Consider the words of Joseph F. Smith: "On
the third of October, in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, I sat
in my room pondering over the scriptures....
"As I pondered over these
things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and
the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead,
both small and great." (D&C 138:1, 11)
President David O. McKay: "Meditation is
one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the
presence of the Lord." (CR, Apr 1946)
The act of pondering requires discipline. J. Golden Kimball once said: "There
are men and women so mentally lazy that they hardly think for themselves. To think calls for effort, which makes some men tired and wearies their
souls." (CR, Apr 1904)
- Another time
Elder Kimball said, "Think of God. How many of
us think of God thirty minutes out of twenty-four hours? There is not one
out of five hundred that actually thinks of God and his Son Jesus Christ
thirty minutes a day. I do; but the first thing I know, my mind wanders
off on something else." (CR, Apr 1926)
We live in a day and time when it is easy to be distracted. As Elder
Kimball indicates, we start off with good intentions, but our minds "wander
off on something else."
WHAT CAN WE DO TO FACILITATE THIS PROCESS OF PONDERING? OF SOLEMN
AND THOUGHTFUL SCRIPTURE STUDY?
As you read the scriptures, pause and visualize the characters and events. Paint mental pictures. Place yourself in the picture. The chapters for this lesson (3 Nephi 17-19) contain sacred and touching events.
Consider this verse: "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." (3 Nephi 17:5)
Place yourself in this picture. You might
have been sitting on a rock listening to the words of the resurrected Lord. You have been touched by his great sermon. The spirit is strong and
you look upon the Master with tears in your eyes, hoping that this great
conference will not end. You are hungering to hear his words which
reach deep into your soul.
When we do this, we might be carried back to sacred
moments in our lives when we were taught not only by word, but by spirit. When I was on my mission, the missionaries in our zone had the privilege of spending
an entire afternoon with Elder Sterling W. Sill. I do not remember
the seats being hard. I do not remember looking at my watch hoping
the meeting would end. What I remember was a sacred afternoon, being
taught by one of the Lord's servants. I remember that this was an
afternoon I did not wish to end. Many of the lessons I learned that
day I remember decades later. I suspect that the afternoon with
Elder Sill was just a glimpse of the powerful and marvelous teaching that
occurred in 3 Nephi.
Ask questions. What did the Savior mean when he said to "let your
light so shine"? How do I measure up to the Lord's counsel to "Lay
not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, but to "lay up for yourselves
treasures in heaven"? Such questions become catalysts for meditating and
pondering. They may lead to important meanings and applications in
Ponder and study by writing. Doing so provides focus and direction. I have found over the years that this process keeps my mind from wandering
Find a time and place where you will not be distracted. Phones, family,
media, and doorbells interrupt these important moments. We may need to study early in the morning or late at night. There
may be times when we need to get away to the seashore, the woods, or the
back of a library. Recall that Enos was out hunting alone in the
forest when the words of his father "sunk deep" into his heart.
To be successful, our efforts in scripture study and meditation need to
include solemn prayer. As the Master taught the Nephites, we need
to "ask the Father" in the name of Christ, that we may "understand."
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED AS YOU HAVE PONDERED THE SCRIPTURES?
A few years ago, I drove alone up into the heavily wooded mountain country
near Mt. Rainier and spent the day. I took with me my scriptures
and the latest Ensign. I did some hiking. I also relaxed and
did some reading. As a gentle breeze blew through the cedar and fir
trees, I read the latest message from the First Presidency. This
particular message was written by President Monson. He quoted from
D&C 88:119 which speaks of the establishment of the temple. He
applied this to the building of homes and families. In those quiet
moments I pondered President Monson's message and how I might apply it
to our family. The things which I read and pondered touched my heart
and this message became a theme for my role as a father over the next
Pondering and meditating the words of the Lord are essential for us
to continue our eternal progress. We need to do as the Savior counseled
the ancient Americans and go into our homes or other quiet places and "ponder
upon the things" of the Lord.
A scene of love.
"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. And he said unto them:
Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. 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. For I perceive that ye
desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren
at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal
you." (3 Nephi 17:5-8)
The multitude go forth with their sick and afflicted.
He then had them bring their children to him.
He then kneeled in prayer.
3 Nephi 18
The Savior's next act was to institute the Sacrament.
"And when the disciples
had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed
it; and he gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat. And when they had eaten
and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude."
(3 Nephi 18:3-4)
The Savior then gave instructions regarding the Sacrament.
"Behold there shall one be ordained among you,
and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and
give it unto the people." (v5)
As with all sacred ordinances, only those who have been given appropriate
priesthood authority may administer the Sacrament.
Elder John A. Widtsoe: "The authority to
administer the Sacrament is possessed by all holders of the Melchizedek
Priesthood and also by priests of the lesser Priesthood." (Evidences
and Reconciliations, p81)
The Sacrament shall be given "unto the people
of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name"
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "A nonmember of
the church might properly attend a sacrament meeting without partaking
of the sacrament. The saints were commanded to pray for such a person,
'and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name,' Jesus said,
'then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and
blood.' (3 Nephi 18:5, 11, 30.) In our day the scriptural word attests:
'The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things'
unto new converts 'previous to their partaking of the sacrament so that
all things may be done in order.' (D&C 20:68.)" (A
New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p297)
Bruce R. McConkie: "If a nonmember with
no ill intent partakes of the sacrament, it is in his case as though he
had simply eaten bread and drunk wine or water. He will be judged according
to the intent of his heart." (A New Witness for the Articles
of Faith, p298)
The Sacrament should be administered to those who are worthy, "those
who repent and are baptized in my name." (v11)
"And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body,
which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father
that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall
have my Spirit to be with you." (v7)
We have been commanded in our day to "meet together
often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus"
- WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT THAT WE DO THIS ON A REGULAR BASIS?
We previously discussed the importance of taking time to ponder and
meditate. Each week we have the privilege of partaking of the sacrament. During this sacred moment, we are called upon to remember Christ and the
eternal sacrifice he made in our behalf. This should be a sacred
moment of meditation. It is a unique time when we can recall our
baptismal covenant and recommit to those promises we have made.
3 NEPHI 18:28-32.
WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PRIESTHOOD LEADERS TOWARDS INDIVIDUALS WHO
HAVE BEEN EXCOMMUNICATED OR DISFELLOWSHIPPED?
HOW CAN WE BETTER EXTEND A HAND OF FELLOWSHIP TO THOSE WHO HAVE TRANSGRESSED?
"And I give unto you a commandment
that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed
are ye, for ye are built upon my rock." (v12)
If we, as individuals and as a church, follow the instructions given by
the Lord, our faith will be built upon a strong foundation and we will
be "blessed" (see v14).
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch
and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive
by him" (v15).
In this verse the Lord has given us a key to aid us in avoiding the snares of Satan. He restated it again, this time to the multitude (see
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WATCH...ALWAYS?
I think it means to be constantly alert. We never know when or how
Satan will launch his next attack. Combined with prayer, we have
an early warning system that will enable us to avoid being "led away captive."
When we are driving in a car, we should be alert
to the road and traffic around us. Though we may be driving safely,
we never know when a car may ignore a stop sign or swerve into our lane. We have been instructed and encouraged to drive defensively. We should "watch...always"
when driving, and we should "watch and pray always" as we continue our
journey through mortality.
The Lord gives us important instructions regarding prayer (see
3 Nephi 18:19-21).
Always pray to the Father (v19).
Do it in the name of Christ (v19).
Ask for that which is right (v20).
Believe that you shall receive.
You shall be given that blessing.
Commanded to pray in our families (v21).
3 Nephi 19 - The Second Day
At the end of the day Jesus ascended into heaven.
The people returned to their homes.
Throughout the night, the news of the Lord's visit was spread throughout
"An exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly
all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus
should show himself unto the multitude" (v3).
On this day after Jesus appeared to the people, the multitude divided into
twelve bodies, each being led by one of the disciples.
The multitude prayed twice.
The multitude then went down to the water's edge.
Nephi went into the water and was baptized.
He then baptized each of the twelve.
At that point the Holy Ghost "did fall upon them,
and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (v13).
Angels came down and ministered to the twelve.
During this time Jesus appeared to them.
Jesus had all kneel and then commanded the Twelve that they should pray.
Jesus then went apart from the rest and began to pray.
He prayed that all who believe would receive the Holy Ghost.
He returned to the Twelve who continued to pray.
He then went apart from the crowd once again and bowed himself in prayer
and prayed for the believers.
He returned to the Twelve and found them continuing in prayer.
Jesus returned to prayer a third time and spoke great words.
"And tongue cannot speak the
words which he prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he
prayed. And the multitude did
hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand
in their hearts the words which he prayed. Nevertheless, so great
and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written,
neither can they be uttered by man." (3 Nephi 19:32-34)
In summary, Sister Catherine Thomas wrote: "Through
Christ, we learn that God is a man, that he has a tangible body; we see
that he is deeply sensitive, patient, loving and responsive to the pure
desires of his children. He teaches us to study him and be as he
is. We observe that coming to the sacrament table hungry in spirit
will prepare us to receive the Holy Ghost and the mind of Christ. We begin to understand how intimate a relationship he offers us.
We learn that he stands ready to share his fullness as fast as we can put
aside the veil of fear and sin. We sense that a stronger envisioning
of the spiritual realities around us might draw us closer to a face-to-face
view." (Studies In Scripture, 8:182)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the Lord's encounter with the Nephites. What
principles from this lesson can you implement in your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A New Witness for the Articles of Faith by Bruce R. McConkie.
Against Heresies by Irenaeus of Lyons.
Conference Reports (CR).
Evidences and Reconciliations by John A. Widtsoe.
Studies In Scripture, Volume 8, edited by Kent P. Jackson.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
22 August 2016