When the resurrected Savior visited the Nephites, the instructions He gave to His disciples in the New World were similar to His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes, that He gave His followers in Judea.
In Studies in Scripture: Alma 30 to Moroni, S. Brent Farley analyzed the Savior's teachings to the Nephites:- Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (3 Ne. 12:3.) "In one sense, to be `poor in Spirit' is to realize that we are nothing in mortality without a Savior," Brother Farley noted. "Without an atoning sacrifice, none could leave mortality to return to the presence of God. In fact, all would die only to become angels to the devil, to remain in misery forever. (2 Ne. 9:8-9.) How destitute and poor indeed!"
- Blessed are all they that mourn. (3 Ne. 12:4.) "Who would not mourn at the hopeless prospect of our fallen state? But they shall be comforted. Our lost and fallen state may be overcome. A Savior was provided whereby all will be resurrected and all may be saved in the kingdom of God. What great comfort! A Savior atoned for the sins of all who would accept Him. Thus all may become blessed and happy if they so choose."
- And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (3 Ne. 12:5.) "To be meek is to be mild and gentle. It does not imply weakness, for the prime example of meekness calmed the angry waves, cast out devils, and performed mighty miracles. To be meek is to be humble. It is a characteristic of strength."
- And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (3 Ne. 12:7.) "The merciful are those who are `compassionate; tender; unwilling to give pain; not cruel.' (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, October 1973 general conference.) Such shall receive the blessing of mercy, which `tempers justice, and induces . . . [forgiveness ofT trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace.' " (Young's Analytical Concordance on the Bible, Robert Young.)
- And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (3 Ne. 12:8.) "To be pure is to be free from the taint of unrepented sins. This, of course, is only possible through the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . Those who are striving to the best of their abilities qualify for the ongoing and renewable quality of purity of heart. Such may obtain closeness to God and see Him. This may be symbolic in the sense of recognizing the hand of God in all things and feeling His influence in life, but its apex is literal. . . . It is not a requirement that we see God in this life in order to be saved; it is a possible blessing. However, it is a guaranteed right of all who are pure in heart to see God, whether in this life or the next, or in both."
'Happiness must be earned day to day'
In an address delivered in Paris, France, in August 1960, President Ezra Taft Benson, then of the Council of the Twelve, said:
"We have no cause to really worry. Live the gospel, keep the commandments. Attend to your prayers night and morning in your home. Maintain the standards of the Church. Try and live calmly and cheerfully. The Lord has said: `Ask and ye shall receive,' but He has never said you will receive without asking.
"You cannot reach the celestial kingdom on the record of your progenitors. We must each work out our salvation individually. The Lord has also said, `Seek and ye shall find.' (3 Ne. 14:7.) It is not easy to be a good Latter-day Saint. Happiness must be earned from day to day. But it is worth the effort. . . .
"Now, we don't seek office in the Church and we don't resist release when it comes, and neither do we resign from office in the Church. I sometimes wonder what would happen to this Church if we ran for office. We do not seek office, we do not resist calls to service, we accept releases willingly when they come, and we serve until we are honorably released.' "
12 disciples had divine authority
After Jesus called Nephi and 11 others as His disciples in the Western Hemisphere, He told the multitude: "Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants. . . ." (3 Ne. 12:1.)
In A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, Daniel H. Ludlow wrote:
"Although the words disciple (one who follows) and apostle (one who is sent) have distinct and separate meanings, the two terms are used . . . interchangeably in the New Testament.
"The Book of Mormon tends to use the word disciple except when referring to the apostles who were called by Jesus when He lived on the earth on the eastern continent. In fact, apostle is used in only 16 verses in the entire Book of Mormon. . . .
"It is doubtful that the word apostle is ever used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the chosen twelve of the Nephites. However, Joseph Fielding Smith indicated that they were apostles in the sense that they were special witnesses of the Savior. His statement follows:
" `While in every instance the Nephite twelve are spoken of as disciples, the fact remains that they had been endowed with divine authority to be special witnesses for Christ among their own people. . . .
" `According to the definition prevailing in the world an apostle is a witness for Christ, or one who evangelizes for a certain nation or people. . . .
" `Therefore the Nephite twelve became apostles, as special witnesses, just as did Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. . . ."