Sermoncitos, a family tradition
God and Man
I listen to the news about man’s inhumanity to man: violence against women and children, revenge and retaliation, missles and bombs; always trying to find a more effective way to destroy, a more sure way to prevent migration, a more secure prison. This is not unique to our day; when Jesus was on the earth, conditions were similar. He was especially impatient with those who would profess religion, but not live their religion. He often told his disciples that he would be betrayed and killed. This talk made them very sad, and they could not believe it, nor could they understand that is was necessary so that the Atonement for sins and the Resurrection of the dead could take place.
The people of that time recognized that Jesus was unique and had special powers. They wondered who he really was. “Some say that thou are John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14). It was so hard for them to imagine that in their own day there could be a prophet, let alone God on the earth. To them, prophets were something of the past. Their current suffering precluded them from imagining that one of the modern people could have authority from God like those of old.
Peter spoke for all the apostles when he said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). The expression of this testimony opened the door for a manifestation of God on the earth. Jesus told Peter that his testimony came by revelation from “my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). He announced that this rock of revelation would be the rock upon which the church would be established, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He explained how this church would be able to overcome evil and survive in a world filled with violence and greed: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven...” (Matthew 16:19).
Within six days the Apostles had received keys directly from Jesus, Moses, and Elias, and heard the witness of the Father: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5). The pattern of revelation and keys in the church was established. I testify that revelation and keys from God are in the church today.
Every person who is baptized receives the Gift of the Holy Ghost and is entitled to gifts of the Spirit, including personal revelation. Any gift must be developed by following the principles which govern it. You can enhance the gift of personal revelation by following Lehi’s example.
Listen, read, ponder, and pray. Lehi was not a Jew, but a Manassite traveling merchant living in Jerusalem during difficult political and economic times. Nebuchadnezzar had taken most of the Jewish leaders and craftsmen into Babylon and imposed a puppet government under the young, corrupt King Zedekiah. The king and “all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord... and the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers.. but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets...” (2 Chronicles 36:11-16). Lehi listened to the prophets, and during one of his journeys prayed unto the Lord. He saw and heard much in vision, returned to his house in Jerusalem, was overcome with the Spirit as he contemplated what he had seen, and was blessed with additional insights. “And it came to pass that after my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things...” he praised God, and shared what he learned with his family and friends.
Testify. Lehi had been very industrious in his business, traveling much in caravans to Egypt with his goods to sell. Now that he had been so touched by the Spirit, he risked his livelihood to share his insights with his family, and “he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard... and also the things which he had read in the book, manifesting plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world”. His sons who believed his testimony of Christ were those who desired to know for themselves, humbled themselves before God, and prayed for a personal confirmation.
Heed the warnings. Lehi was in danger for his life, just as the other prophets they had cast out, and stoned, and slain. The Lord spoke to him in a dream, blessing him for his faithfulness in testifying, and warning him of the danger, and giving him a solution: “take his family and depart into the wilderness. And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him”. Nephi notes that this is evidence that “the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty, even unto the power of deliverance”.
Read the scriptures. Lehi did not have a personal copy of the Old Testament at home. He risked the life of his sons to obtain “the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning... and now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophecy...” about the role of these records as they go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed”. Lehi and his family “obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children”. Lehi said and wrote much, but Nephi’s summation has a single intent to “persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved”. You are entitled to personal revelation and the tender mercies of God like Lehi.
You can receive personal revelation like Lehi did. Nephi (1Nephi 11) was well impressed with his father’s testimony and wanted to know and understand for himself. “...after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord...” The Lord appeared unto Nephi in the spirit and questioned him. Nephi confessed that he wanted to see what his father had seen, and confirmed that “I believe all the words of my father”. The Spirit replied by praising God and blessing Nephi for believing in the Son of the most high God. Nephi saw the Tree of Life, and asked about its meaning. The subsequent vision was all about the miraculous birth of Christ, His earthly ministry, and His sacrifice to atone for all mankind. Nephi came to know that this is “the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore it is the most desirable above all things”.
“And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God - and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come - I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men. For he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round” (1 Nephi 10:17-19).
Nephi’s vision (1 Nephi 11-13) showed the history of his people through the latter days and the coming forth of books “And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation. And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be. And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the eSavior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved” (1Nephi 13:36, 40).
Nephi learned well the lessons his father taught about how to receive personal revelation. He desired to know and believed that God could reveal knowledge to him; he listened to the testimonies of others, read, and pondered and obeyed; he had faith in Christ as his Savior and Redeemer. Every word he shares with us testifies of the Atonement of Christ, and calls us to repent and qualify for Salvation.
I challenge you to seek personal revelation by doing as Lehi and Nephi: desire, believe, ponder, obey, and have faith in the Living Christ.