Cortney is sharing the wealth and I am quite humbled to have been asked to guest-write a post on this section of scripture. This is the culmination of hundreds of years of conflict and prophesy within the Book of Mormon. Missionaries throughout the world use this story to teach people about Christ's visit to the Americas and the true simplicity of the gospel. My brother returned from serving a mission in Osorno, Chile last Friday, so I asked him for a few thoughts on this section. He said:
From all the Book of Mormon these few chapters are some of my favorites. It gives us a perfect picture view of the character of Christ and his infinite love that He has for his children, it gives us a short glimpse of the purpose and the passion that the Lord has in bringing the plan of the Lord to past. As you read these sections put yourself in the very scenes that happened. Imagine what it would be like, and feel the gratitude that comes as you realize how big were the things that happened in these chapters.
It's difficult to capture even a portion what I feel given everything that occurs in these chapters. I can't cover adequately everything, so I picked one of my favorites. It's located in 3 Nephi 11:33-40 and occurs while Christ is teaching the people of Nephi around the temple in the land Bountiful. Paraphrasing, Christ teaches;
33 - And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved...
35 - ...and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
37 - And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
I love the simplicity of this message. The core and foundation of the gospel is just as we learn in the fourth Article of Faith.
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second,Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Now, with just that, some might say that once we do these 4 things we're done, but Christ continues on and teaches us the following in verses 39-11 of the same chapter:
39 - Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 - And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
Faith, repentance, baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost together form a foundation that we must establish and build our lives and testimonies upon. It's important to note in verse 40 that the consequences of having a weak or improperly laid foundation are not always immediately apparent. When life is good and all appears well, a poor foundation can be easily overlooked and disregarded. When the floods and storms arrive, though, the disrepair and procrastination of yesterday are soon brought to light. For those foundations carefully constructed and cared for through both good times and bad, the floods and storms still occur, but the damage is minimal.
There are many analogies that can be made between building a house and building a testimony, but one thing is certain, both take a lot of work and effort. Luckily, we have been given the blueprints (scriptures) and instructors (prophets) to help us along the way. I am surrounded by people who are constantly showing me the way and helping me as I strive to strengthen my own foundation.
Hopefully I may be as the wise man who built his house upon the rock in 3 Nephi 14:25.
25 - And the rain descended , and the floods came, and winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.