When President Russell M. Nelson taught us that we needed to use the true name of the Church going forward, he was teaching us something deeper than we might have understood at the time. Something, in fact that can open up whole new realms of gospel understanding. Let’s explore that today. This is test text…
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Maurine and Scot Proctor have taught Book of Mormon for many years in Institute and have spent extensive time in the Arabian peninsula, following Lehi’s trail. They are the creators of a foundation that has sponsored a multi-year archaeological study of the best candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful in Oman. They have written a book on the Book of Mormon, as well as immersed themselves in the culture, history, and geography. of the scripture.
When President Russell M. Nelson taught us that we needed to use the true name of the Church going forward, he was teaching us something deeper than we might have understood at the time. Something, in fact that can open up whole new realms of gospel understanding. Let’s explore that today.
Hello, we are Scot and Maurine Proctor and this is Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. Today we will look at 3 Nephi 27-4 Nephi and the lesson is called “There Couldn’t have been a Happier People. I hope you’ve had a chance to look at our new Come Follow Me calendar for 2021. We think it is stunning and when we show people, we often hear, “Can I order 10?” Once they have seen it, they want to give it to all their children and neighbors and the people to whom they minister. This calendar features beautiful pictures of sacred places in church history, the Come Follow Me reading assignments for each week, the dates the Doctrine and Covenants section were received and other important dates in church history. You can go see it at latterdaysaintmag.com/2021 and buy it for an introductory price of $15. That’s at latterdaysaintmag.com/2021. Supplies are going very fast, so if you want it, act now.
Certainly when President Nelson instructed us to use the true name of the church going forward, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he had in mind 3 Nephi 27, as well as many other scriptures as well as revelation from the Lord.
In 3 Nephi, the people had been disputing about what the name of the church should be, and the Lord gave them an answer, more profound than we often understand. He said, Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name?…Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake” (3 Nephi 27; 5,7)
The Lord has spoken: His church shall be called in His name. There are reasons why this matters so much.
President Nelson understands this and thus he was very clear with us when he said we would no longer be referred to as “Mormons.” He said, “As you would expect, responses to this statement and to the revised style guide have been mixed. Many members immediately corrected the name of the Church on their blogs and social media pages. Others wondered why, with all that’s going on in the world, it was necessary to emphasize something so ‘inconsequential.’ And some said it couldn’t be done, so why even try? 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,” he said,” it is a correction. It is the command of the Lord. Joseph Smith did not name the Church restored through him; neither did Mormon. 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.”
Even earlier, in AD 34, our resurrected Lord gave similar instruction to members of His Church when He visited them in the Americas. At that time He said:
“Ye shall call the church in my name. …
“And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church.”
“Thus, 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. And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He is offended.
“What’s in a name or, in this case, a nickname? When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the ‘LDS Church,’ the ‘Mormon Church,’ or the ‘Church of the Latter-day Saints,’ the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name. 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.
I don’t think most us understood how Important this was at the time. Many thought it was just massively inconvenient. How could something as well-branded as The Mormon Tabernacle Choir be renamed? In this digital age when placement on a google search meant so much, how could websites lose their place? Although the name of our magazine is Meridian, for almost 20 years the Internet address has been ldsmag.com. it was easier and faster than typing out Meridian. We changed the url to latterdaysaintmag.com because we wanted to follow the prophet exactingly and, to our surprise, parts of the backend of the magazine started not working. It took us several weeks to get it all working again, but it was worth it to us. Many of us had to change our shorthand identity from “I am a Mormon” that we had carried in our minds for years, to “I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ.” This is a more secure and true identity.
We belong to The Church of Jesus Christ, of course, and must think of it that way, because we have made covenants in the name of Jesus Christ. Those covenants that mean everything to us are done in His name and through His name, and by the authority of His name. How could we be called by any other name when we are protected, blessed, and empowered only by His name?
Let’s give two analogies that drive this idea home. My father was a geologist who worked with Ph.D. students. One day in class he has a list of topics on the board like the San Andreas fault, the ring of fire, and the moon, and he told his students that they could choose a topic that would be their semester project. One brilliant student from Egypt named Farouk al Baz chose the moon and my Dad took him to his office and pulled out a large black and white photo of the moon and said, “This is all we have.”
This was long before the moon launch, and Farouk took that interest in the moon and became one of the lead scientists on the moon project. He later discovered the large aquifers under the Sahara Desert, becoming such a well-known and prominent scholar that he became Minister of Science under Andwar Sadat in Egypt.
Now he lives in the United States, where he teaches, and a couple of years ago, we called him as we were headed for Egypt. He said to us, “Should you need anything or should you need any help, while you are in Egypt, feel free to use my name.” That was such a kind offer and it was clear what it meant. Anyone in Egypt would be willing to help us, not based on our own virtue or reputation, but based on his.
We didn’t need help on that trip, but we did ask a couple of friends in Egypt if they knew of Farouk al Baz, and they spoke of him with great enthusiasm. What a gift he had given us in being able to use his name and therefore his reputation. We were dependent on his virtue to smooth our way.
That analogy might give us a small sense of taking upon us Christ’s name. It is His name and His virtue that blesses us. Listen to what more He tells His disciples in 3 Nephi 27.
“And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:6). Taking His name is critical to our being saved. Only those who have taken upon themselves His name will be saved.
The Church is blessed because it carries his name. He said to His disciples: “Ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake ‘ (3 Nephi 27:7). Two points here. The Church is blessed when we call upon the Father in the name of Christ. It is that name that brings the blessings and makes our prayers efficacious. We also understand that our own personal prayers likewise are answered because we call upon the Father using this holy name of Christ. We are relying on His virtue and power for the Church to be blessed as well as for ourselves to be blessed.
“Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you;
“And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it” (3 Nephi 27: 9,10).
Think of that. The Father will hear you because of the name of Jesus Christ, and He will show forth His works because of the name of Jesus Christ. How could it be more important that our Church and therefore our people are called by the name of Christ?
What is called by His name is blessed for His sake. I just want to say that one more time. What is called by His name is blessed for His sake. It is a name of power and authority, because it is His power and authority based on His spotless life and His majestic atoning sacrifice. Those who can take upon themselves the name of Christ are those who have made covenants in His name. It is something that we can in no way take for granted or be casual about.
When I pray, I pray in His name. When I receive priesthood blessings, it is in His name. It is because it is in His name that prayers and blessings have power in our lives and are registered in the heavens.
We read this about Enoch which causes me to ponder:
“And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him” (Moses 7:13).
If the language which the Lord gave Enoch was so powerful it made mountains flee and rivers turn out of their course, how powerful is the name of the Lord itself, if we truly understand it and wholly take this name upon ourselves? What an enormous privilege the Lord grants in His Church and in His covenant that we have not even begun to explore.
I love this scripture:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were aarmed with brighteousness and with the cpower of God in great glory. 1 Nephi 14
That describes a covenant power that comes to a people who truly have taken upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ.
Obviously, the name of the Lord is extremely sacred. The Hebrew name of God is transliterated into four letters as YHWH or JHVH and articulated as Yahweh or Jehovah.
All modern denominations of Judaism teach that the four letter name of God, YHWH, is forbidden to be uttered except by the High Priest, in the Temple. Since the Temple in Jerusalem no longer exists, this name is never said in religious rituals by Jews. Orthodox and Conservative Jews never pronounce it for any reason.
As Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:
“The Lord’s Prayer begins with the words, ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.’ (Matt. 6:9.) From Sinai came the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.’ (Ex. 20:7, Deut. 5:11.) Latter-day revelation equates this with using the name of God without authority. ‘Let all men beware how they take my name in their lips,’ the Lord declares in a modern revelation, for ‘many there be who … use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority.’ (D&C 63:61–62.)
“Consistent with these references, many scriptures that refer to ‘the name of Jesus Christ’ are obviously references to the authority of the Savior. This was surely the meaning conveyed when the seventy reported to Jesus that ‘even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.’ (Luke 10:17.) The Doctrine and Covenants employs this same meaning when it describes the Twelve Apostles of this dispensation as ‘they who shall desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart’ (D&C 18:27)
When I think of honoring the name of the Lord with full purpose of heart, I remember the integrity of President Kimball.
“In the 1970’s, President Spencer Kimball had to undergo surgery. While President Kimball was under surgical anesthetic, he was being wheeled down the hall in the hospital by a young orderly. As the orderly pushed the bed carrying the prophet through the door, he accidentally smashed his finger between the metal door frame and the metal frame of the bed. Angry and in pain, the orderly took the name of Jesus Christ in vain. Still drugged and only half-conscious, the prophet opened his eyes and managed to gently rebuke the orderly by saying, ‘Young man, please don’t say that. He’s my best friend. I love Him more than anything in this world.’ After the orderly composed himself, he answered softly, ‘I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry.’
It is grievous to see how lightly our world takes the name of God. Our society desecrates things that are sacred, but nothing more so than the name of God. Don’t we all wince and grieve when we hear the Lord’s name cruelly or callously used? But it is also important to know that there are other ways to take the Lord’s name in vain. Using His name when you don’t have the authority. Being casual in your own use of the name.
Too often, we hear prayers said, and instead of understanding that we have just had a reverent conversation with Deity, and close solemnly in the name of Jesus Christ, it trips off too many tongues quickly, lightly as an afterthought. We all can think more deeply about what it means to us to reverence the name of the Lord and take it upon ourselves.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks explored what it means to take upon ourselves the name of Christ and it is deeply involved with having made covenants:
“Following the scriptural pattern, persons who are baptized witness before the Church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.” (D&C 20:37; see also 2 Ne. 31:13; Moro. 6:3.)
“We also know that when we partake of the sacrament each week, we witness unto God the Eternal Father, as stated on the prayer on the bread that we are ‘willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.’ (D&C 20:77; Moro. 4:3.)”
It is significant that when we partake of the sacrament we do not witness that we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We witness that we are willing to do so. (See D&C 20:77.) The fact that we only witness to our willingness suggests that something else must happen before we actually take that sacred name upon us in the most important sense.
Elder Oaks said, “We…take upon us the name of Jesus Christ whenever we publicly proclaim our belief in him. Each of us has many opportunities to proclaim our belief to friends and neighbors, fellow workers, and casual acquaintances. As the Apostle Peter taught the Saints of his day, we should ‘sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us].’ (1 Pet. 3:15.) In this, we keep the modern commandment: ‘Take upon you the name of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness.’ (D&C 18:21.)”
Another “meaning appeals to the understanding of those mature enough to know that a follower of Christ is obligated to serve him. Many scriptural references to the name of the Lord seem to be references to the work of his kingdom. Thus, when Peter and the other Apostles were beaten, they rejoiced ‘that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.’ (Acts 5:41.) Paul wrote certain members who had ministered to the Saints that the Lord would not forget the labor of love they had ‘shewed toward his name.’ (Heb. 6:10.) According to this meaning, by witnessing our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, we signify our willingness to do the work of his kingdom.
So, to witness of Him and take upon ourselves the work of the kingdom is to take His name upon us. Mormon declared, “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (3 Nephi 5:13). I rejoice to say the same thing. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. He is the center of my heart and my life. I want to witness that He has been my friend and my comfort and assurance in the hardest hours and that His atonement is my only hope for growth and joy.
The apostles, of course are special witnesses of Christ, which brings to mind a story from President Henry B. Eyring.
He said, “I was once invited to speak at graduation services at a university. The university president had wanted President Gordon B. Hinckley to be invited but found that he was unavailable. So by default I got the invitation. I was then a junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“The person who invited me to speak became anxious as she learned more about my obligations as an Apostle. She called me on the phone and said that she now understood that my duty was to be a witness of Jesus Christ.
“In very firm tones she told me that I could not do that when I spoke there. She explained that the university respected people of all religious beliefs, including those who denied the existence of a God. She repeated, ‘You cannot fulfill your duty here.’”
President Eyring continued, “I hung up the phone with serious questions in my mind. Should I tell the university that I would not keep my agreement to speak? It was only two weeks before the event. My appearance there had been announced. What effect would my failing to keep my agreement have on the good name of the Church?
“I prayed to know what God would have me do. The answer came in a surprising way to me. I realized that the examples of Nephi, Abinadi, Alma, Amulek, and the sons of Mosiah applied to what I was. They were bold witnesses of Jesus Christ in the face of deadly peril.
“So the only choice to be made was how to prepare. I dug into everything I could learn about the university. As the day of the talk grew closer, my anxiety rose and my prayers intensified.
“In a miracle like the Red Sea parting, I found a news article. That university had been honored for doing what the Church has learned to do in our humanitarian efforts across the world. And so in my talk I described what we and they had done to lift people in great need. I said that I knew that Jesus Christ was the source of the blessings that had come into the lives of those we and they had served.
“After the meeting the audience rose to applaud, which seemed a little unusual to me. I was amazed but still a little anxious. I remembered what happened to Abinadi. Only Alma had accepted his witness. But that night, at a large formal dinner, I heard the university president say that in my talk he heard the words of God.”
As an apostle and special witness of Jesus Christ, President Eyring went to great lengths and prayerful effort to bear his witness of Christ, but it demonstrates to us that we can also pray and seek opportunities to bear witness of Christ. We such powerful witnessing of Him in the Book of Mormon even when a testifier is putting his life on the line.
It is Abinadi before the court of King Noah even though he stands ready to be burned. It is Alma in Ammonihah and Samuel on the wall. All of them witnesses even under great duress. And it is the every day believer too. How about all those believers who were burned for their testimonies before Alma and Amulek’s eyes?
Moroni writes that he will pay the ultimate cost for his witness:
“Now I, Moroni, after having made an end of abridging the account of the people of Jared, I had supposed anot to have written more, but I have not as yet perished; and I make not myself known to the Lamanites lest they should destroy me.
“And I, Moroni, will not adeny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life” (Moroni 1:1-3).
What cost are we willing to pay for our witness and to take upon ourselves the name of Christ?
We live in a world where we are proud of our affiliations. We sing school songs and wear school colors. We root with great noise for our team. We tell everyone that we belong to this group or that. Can we be more open about our deepest affiliation, our very identity, which is Christ?
We belong to The Church of Jesus Christ. We take upon ourselves His name because we have made covenants through the power and authority of His name.
Elder Oaks said, “The Old Testament contains scores of references to the name of the Lord in a context where it clearly means the authority of the Lord. Most of these references have to do with the temple.
When the children of Israel were still on the other side of the Jordan, the Lord told them that when they entered the promised land there should be a place where the Lord their God would ‘cause his name to dwell.’ (Deut. 12:11; see also Deut. 14:23–24; Deut. 16:6.) Time after time in succeeding revelations, the Lord and his servants referred to the future temple as a house for ‘the name’ of the Lord God of Israel. (See 1 Kgs. 3:2; 1 Kgs. 5:5; 1 Kgs. 8:16–20, 29, 44, 48; 1 Chr. 22:8–10, 19; 1 Chr. 29:16; 2 Chr. 2:4; 2 Chr. 6:5–10, 20, 34, 38).
Elder Oaks said, “Similarly, in modern revelations the Lord refers to temples as houses built ‘unto my holy name.’ (D&C 124:39; D&C 105:33; D&C 109:2–5.) In the inspired dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith asked the Lord for a blessing upon ‘thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house.’ (D&C 109:26.)
“All of these references to ancient and modern temples as houses for ‘the name’ of the Lord obviously involve something far more significant than a mere inscription of his sacred name on the structure. The scriptures speak of the Lord’s putting his name in a temple because he gives authority for his name to be used in the sacred ordinances of that house. That is the meaning of the Prophet’s reference to the Lord’s putting his name upon his people in that holy house. (See D&C 109:26.)
King Benjamin invites his people because of the mighty change of their hearts, “that they had no more disposition to do evil” to make a covenant. They said, “We are willing to enter into a acovenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days [and]Benjamin…said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant.
“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the achildren of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are bchanged through faith on his name; therefore, ye are cborn of him and have become his dsons and his daughters.”
Clearly, taking upon ourselves His name means you have become part of His family.
“And under this head ye are made afree, and there is bno other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other cname given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should dtake upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.
“And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ” (Mosiah 5:6-9)
So every good thing, including being found at the right hand of God, has to do with understanding the meaning of and taking upon ourselves the name of Christ.
President Nelson was so inspired to correct our course in naming the Church. Now we turn to 4th Nephi where we the people have been able to establish a Zion society. After all the wickedness and war we have seen described in the Book of Mormon, we almost take a breath of fresh air when we get to 4th Nephi. We read, “Surely there could not be a ehappier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God,”4th Nephi 16).
We learn the characteristics of this happy world.
“There were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.” (4th Nephi 2).
“And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did aheal the sick, and braise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of cmiracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus” (4th Nephi 5).
“And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land; yea, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned” (4th Nephi 7).
“And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the apromises which the Lord had made unto them.
“And they did not walk any more after the aperformances and bordinances of the claw of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in dfasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord” (4th Nephi 11,12).”
Like all Zion societies, they were of one heart and one mind.
“And there were no aenvyings, nor bstrifes, nor ctumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of dlasciviousness; and surely there could not be a ehappier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God” (4th Nephi 15,16).
These are some of the things we know about this society, but I have also always been struck by what we don’t know. Two hundred years pass by and we only have a few verses and we are left in silence. Perhaps we aren’t worthy to know more or we couldn’t fully comprehend it right now.
But this perfect society that we call Zion is our hope and our goal, yet it hardly seems possible when we live in a world that is so divided and angry. Contention and unhappiness reign. How do we get from here to there?
I think the answer lies in what we have been talking about today. These people had truly taken upon themselves the name of Christ. Loving Him was at their center. They walked in light and truth. They were one with each other because they were one with the Lord. That is something we can all begin working for now.
That’s all for today. Next week we will be studying Mormon 1-6, “I Would that I Could Persuade…All to Repent”. Remember to order your calendars at latterdaysaintmag.com/2021. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the beautiful music and to our producer Michaela Proctor Hutchins.