At night, my husband or I will “put the house to bed.” This is a true mark of adulthood that includes turning off lights, checking that doors are locked, adjusting the thermostat, and making sure all of the kids are asleep in their beds. I love it best when my children are all under the same roof and safely accounted for. Such nights, however, are infrequent since we have one son away at university and we live on different continents. Despite many pandemic complications and intercountry travel restrictions, he was able to come home for two months this summer and I treasured every minute of it. There is something so comforting about being gathered together under one roof as a complete family where “none…are lost” (3 Ne. 27:30). It’s a feeling I hold onto, cherish, and seek.
There is much we can learn this week as we wrap up the Savior’s visit to the Americas. We have witnessed the destruction that accompanied His death and His mighty ministry afterwards. He organized His church and called Apostles to lead it, blessed the children, healed the afflicted, prayed words so powerful they could not be written, and taught many precious truths. We now hear His final teachings and watch the impact of His visit on the people after He departs. He gathered His people together “and none of them are lost; and in them I have fulness of joy” (3 Ne. 27:31). Jesus was and is a Gatherer.
It is never easy to end something good and face whatever’s next, but the Savior teaches us to “ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (3 Ne. 27:29). Good times await the faithful.
The Church of Jesus Christ is called in His name
3 Nephi 27:1–12
Any parent can attest that naming a child is no small thing. It takes a lot of thinking, planning, research, (and agreeing!) in order to legally determine what a new baby shall be called for the rest of his/her life. It’s a big responsibility. We have four children and each name is meaningful to us and has become their identity, their story.
When Jesus’ disciples were “gathered together” and “were united in mighty prayer and fasting” Jesus “came and stood in the midst of them, and said unto them: What will ye that I shall give unto you?” (3 Ne. 27:1-2). They wanted to know what they should call the church. The Savior taught the Nephites to “call the church in my name” and asked, “how be it my church save it be called in my name?” (3 Ne. 27:7-8). Ultimately, the Savior taught them not just what to call the church but what to call themselves: “ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name” (3 Ne. 27:5). There is much power in the Savior’s name.
We have seen renewed emphasis in recent years about using the proper name of the Lord’s church, and we have been encouraged to better understand why this is so important. In Oct. 2018 General Conference, Pres. Nelson explained, “Let me explain why we care so deeply about this issue. But first let me state what this effort is not: It is not a name change. It is not rebranding. It is not cosmetic. It is not a whim. And it is not inconsequential. Instead, it is a correction. It is the command of the Lord….It was the Savior Himself who said, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’” (The Correct Name of the Church).
Pres. Nelson explained:
- To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement.
- The name of the Church is not negotiable. When the Savior clearly states what the name of His Church should be and even precedes His declaration with, “Thus shall my church be called,” He is serious.
- Every Sunday as we worthily partake of the sacrament, we make anew our sacred promise to our Heavenly Father that we are willing to take upon us the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. We promise to follow Him, repent, keep His commandments, and always remember Him.
- When we omit His name from His Church, we are inadvertently removing Him as the central focus of our lives.
The he promises:
- If we as a people and as individuals are to have access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ—to cleanse and heal us, to strengthen and magnify us, and ultimately to exalt us—we must clearly acknowledge Him as the source of that power. We can begin by calling His Church by the name He decreed.
- I promise you that if we will do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church, He whose Church this is will pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen. We will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord.
- So, what’s in a name? When it comes to the name of the Lord’s Church, the answer is “Everything!” Jesus Christ directed us to call the Church by His name because it is His Church, filled with His power.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
Review a few points above or others from Pres. Nelson’s talk The Correct Name of the Church. How have you felt the past few years as you’ve made an effort to use the full name of the church? Has it been challenging? How has it helped strengthen your testimony of Jesus Christ?
- Look up the meanings of the names of each person in your family. Play a matching game or other guessing game to see how well everyone knows what his/her name means. Use this tool or one like it.
- Talk about how you chose each name and what it means to you. Express your love for your children and what makes them unique. Share your testimony of Jesus Christ and what His name means to you.
- Write each word in the name of the church on a separate slip of paper. Arrange them in the correct order. Talk about each word and why it is important. I made this template to help.
As I purify my desires, I become a more faithful disciple
3 Nephi 28:1–11
What do you want most in your life right now?
Earlier this year I watched an event where Wendy Ulrich began her address by asking that very question: “What do you want most in your life right now?” (listen from 17:18 to 20:09). It’s such a simple question but one that is often difficult to answer. She continued, “He’s not just waiting for us to figure out what He wants and then be puppets in His grand play where He has all the lines already written. He wants us to figure out what we want and our agency matters, not just in this moment but in the rest of eternity.” This is a powerful idea.
Throughout the scriptures and in the temple, the Lord asks us what we want. The Savior asked His disciples, one by one, “What is it that ye desire of me?” (3 Ne. 28:1) He cared about their desires just as He does ours.
This means we better know what we want. This isn’t always easy, especially for indecisive people like me. It takes intentional effort and reflection. If the Savior appeared today and asked me that question, would I have a ready answer?
Nine of Jesus’ disciples expressed their desires, saying, “We desire that after we have lived unto the age of man, that our ministry, wherein thou has called us, may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom” (3 Ne. 28:2). This desire isn’t hard to relate to, especially when life feels hard and overwhelming, and it’s not an unrighteous desire. Jesus responds, “Blessed are ye because ye desired this thing of me…and with me ye shall find rest” (3 Ne. 28:3).
The other three had a different desire, one they didn’t dare voice, and yet Jesus read their thoughts. They requested to never taste of death and “live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men” (3 Ne. 28:7). They were promised a fulness of joy because they desired to bring the souls of men unto Him (3 Ne. 28:9).
Our desires do matter. The goal isn’t just to choose the right but to want to choose the right. We need to really want the Savior to be part of our lives.
President Nelson said, “When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do” (Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives, April 2017).
DISCUSS and PONDER:
Answer out loud or on paper the question: What do you want most in your life right now? What do your desires reveal about your relationship with Jesus Christ?
Brainstorm righteous desires your family has. They don’t need to be deeply personal for this activity. List as many as you can. Condense each desire down to one word. Then make a word cloud and display it somewhere you can see throughout the week. This is a free word cloud generator I like and here’s a more kid-friendly version. Here’s ours:
Conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel leads to unity and happiness.
4 Nephi 1:1–18
As I learned again when sending my son off recently, goodbyes are hard. We don’t have the details of exactly how Jesus said goodbye and left the people following His ministry among the Nephites but I imagine it involved some tears and heart-tugs. What we do know is the impact Jesus’ visit had on the people for the next nearly 200 years and across several generations. Sometimes it’s hard retaining the momentum following an uplifting weekend of General Conference, but these people carried it for generations.
4 Nephi is only one chapter and it’s a bittersweet one. It starts out so optimistic and strong and by its end we see a sad decline. It’s a little painful to read.
Jesus’ disciples established the church and people “did truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost” (4 Ne. 1:1). They truly repented and “were all converted unto the Lord” (4 Ne. 1:2). What does this type of conversion look like over many years?
- no contentions and disputations among them (4 Ne. 1:2,13)
- they did deal justly one with another (4 Ne. 1:2)
- had all things common among them (4 Ne. 1:3)
- peace in the land (4 Ne. 1:4)
- wrought great and marvelous works and all manner of miracles in the name of Jesus (4 Ne. 1:5, 13)
- did prosper in the land (4 Ne. 1:7)
- rebuilt, restored, renewed what had been destroyed (4 Ne. 1:8-10)
- waxed strong, were married and multiplied exceedingly fast, and became a fair and delightsome people (4 Ne. 1:10-11)
- blessed according to the promises the Lord had made unto them (4 Ne. 1:11)
- walked after the commandments, continuing in fasting and prayer and in meeting together often to pray and hear the word of the Lord (4 Ne. 1:12)
- love of God dwelled in the hearts of the people (4 Ne. 1:15)
- no envyings, strifes, tumults, etc. (4 Ne. 1:16)
- there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God (4 Ne. 1:16)
The impact of Jesus’ visit and personal ministry among the Nephites, this “crowning event” of the Book of Mormon (Book of Mormon title page), was powerful. Converted hearts blessed generations and brought unity and peace.
We have attended church in many countries around the world – some we’ve lived in and some while visiting. There is such beauty in unity even in very diverse congregations. Our current ward in a large European city, is filled with families and individuals from many different countries and with a variety of backgrounds. All bring a wonderful spirit and we all benefit from each other’s experiences.
Elder Quentin L. Cook just spoke powerfully about such unity and it’s a talk I hope is studied and applied. He said, “In this dispensation, although we live in a special time, the world has not been blessed with the righteousness and unity described in 4 Nephi. Indeed, we live in a moment of particularly strong divisions. However, the millions who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ have committed themselves to achieving both righteousness and unity. We are all aware that we can do better, and that is our challenge in this day. We can be a force to lift and bless society as a whole. At this 200-year hinge point in our Church history, let us commit ourselves as members of the Lord’s Church to live righteously and be united as never before” (Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity, October 2020).
DISCUSS and PONDER:
How can we tell if we’ve been converted? Look over the characteristics listed above from the Nephites and measure your heart. Is there an area you need to improve on? How can your family seek after and welcome more unity in diversity?
Wickedness leads to division and sorrow.
4 Nephi 1:19–49
There’s no need to explain the sorrow and contention that comes in division. We continue to see this unfold in a variety of stories all over the world with civic unrest, political division, and racial injustice. It is heavy and hard.
The unity and happiness of the Nephites and Lamanites began to unravel. A small part of the people revolted (4 Ne. 1:20) and others were “lifted up in pride” (4 Ne. 1:24). They stopped having their substances common among them, divided up into classes, built churches to get gain, and “[denied] the true church of Christ” (4 Ne. 1:25-26). They “professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel” (4 Ne. 1:27). Satan began to get hold upon their hearts and they persecuted and despised the humble followers of the church of Christ (4 Ne. 1:28-29). Despite all the miracles they had seen, they hardened their hearts and dwindled in unbelief and wickedness (4 Ne. 1:31,34). About thirty years later, there was a “great division among the people” (4 Ne. 1:35).
Division. It’s a word we hear and see and feel all around us even today. It breaks apart nations, communities, and families. The division of the Nephites and Lamanites caused a willful rebellion against the gospel of Jesus Christ. Children were taught in their early years by their fathers to hate the children of God (4 Ne. 1:38-39). The disciples and true followers of Christ “began to sorrow for the sins of the world” (4 Ne. 1:44).
There is sorrow in division and joy in unity. I believe Mormon knew just what to include in his abridgement that would help us meet our own battles today.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
Read together and discuss these two quotes:
- “Cannot boundary lines exist without becoming battle lines? Could not people unite in waging war against the evils that beset mankind instead of waging war on each other? Sadly, answers to these questions are often no. Through the years, discrimination based on ethnic or religious identity has led to senseless slaughter, vicious pogroms, and countless acts of cruelty. The face of history is pocked by the ugly scars of intolerance….We call upon all people everywhere to recommit themselves to the time-honored ideals of tolerance and mutual respect. We sincerely believe that as we acknowledge one another with consideration and compassion we will discover that we can all peacefully coexist despite our deepest differences” (President Russell M. Nelson, Teach Us Tolerance and Love, April 1994).
- “With our all-inclusive doctrine, we can be an oasis of unity and celebrate diversity. Unity and diversity are not opposites. We can achieve greater unity as we foster an atmosphere of inclusion and respect for diversity” (Elder Quentin L. Cook, Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity, October 2020).
What are some things your family could do to emphasize tolerance and respect for those that believe differently? What examples have you seen in the news or on social media — good and bad — of how people respond to division and differences? How can we exercise more love and understanding for both “sides” of an issue? How can we foster more unity and cherish diversity?
- With youth or children, highlight a few thoughts from this article on how to build unity. What is a specific action you could take this week to build more unity in your home, school, or community?
- This article also has some specific ideas to foster unity.
- Make a family sign, quote, or poster to remind you to seek joy in unity rather than sorrow in division.
- This topic has articles, coloring pages, and stories about unity for children
It is possible to feel joy even in difficult circumstances. The Nephites witnessed many “marvelous works of Christ” (3 Ne. 28:33) during His ministry to them. Christ invited them to “come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people” (3 Ne. 30:2). Generations afterwards were blessed as peace prevailed in the land (4 Ne. 1:4). He seeks to gather us unto Him, just as I love having my family gathered safely together under one roof. We can find joy in living the gospel and in unity rather than division.
Pres Nelson has reminded us, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation…and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy” (Joy and Spiritual Survival, Oct. 2016).