Thanks for waiting. Time to share my favorite scripture. Before I do, let me point out that even having a favorite scripture is an odd thing for me. Lives change, people change, needs change – and what may have been a little-regarded verse can suddenly become the most important thing you have ever read – and vice-versa.
That said, I do have a scripture passage that spoke to me many years ago, and it still holds a place in my heart. There is no story or experience that precipitated it. I wish there were! It would be cool for this passage to have played a life-altering role, or saved me from some sort of despair – but it didn’t. Yet, for a long time now, it has been my favorite:
Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.
Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.
Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—
And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.
There you go! It’s funny that in over 7 years of blogging I have never mentioned it. Or maybe it’s not.
Still here? If you are curious and want to do a deep dive and analyze this passage with me, I am more than happy to dig in. Specifically, there are six thoughts that might help you understand why I see this passage as wonderfully enlightening.
1. “Thus we see.” Anytime you read these three words in the Book of Mormon, you know that Mormon has jumped in as the narrator and is going to teach us the “moral of the story,” (which I love.) In this case. Mormon is showing us the message distilled from the preceding eight verses, which encompassed the 47-49th years of the rein of the judges.
During that time, Helaman was in charge, and the Nephites began to live more righteous lives. As a result, they began to prosper and have fewer wars, reaching an almost “continual peace.” A simple reinforcement of one of the core Book of Mormon themes: If you live righteously, “ye shall prosper in the land.” (2 Nephi 4:4)
Since they weren’t spending all their time fighting, the church progressed and the people were so blessed that even the High Priests and teachers were “astonished.” Even better, a lot of people were baptized and joined the church – even “tens of thousands.”
2. “All.” It is with that wonderful success that Mormon points out that all are welcome, and that God is no respecter of persons. (D&C 38:16) He makes the point twice.
“Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name. Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.”
3.“Will.” The word will appears in three of the four verses: 27.28.29.
27 Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will,in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.
28 Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who willbelieve on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.
29 Yea, we see that whosoever willmay lay hold upon the word of God,
It is all about agency. “We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God” (Elder David Bednar)
Basically, Mormon is telling us that all the things mentioned in this passage are on the table – waiting for us to just reach out and take them! That idea is important to me: God’s mercy, my eternal destiny, and divine assistance are all there for the taking if I WILL just do what is asked of me. In this case, that is to call on God’s holy name, believe on Jesus Christ, and lay hold on the word of God. All three require action on my part, and a reminder is always a good thing.
4. “Jesus Christ.” The Savior factors into this passage as the conduit to God’s mercy, and God’s presence. That belief is the core of Christianity and LDS doctrine. It could hardly be a favorite of mine if Christ were not at the center.
5. “The Word of God.” Although Mormon doesn’t mention it directly in this instance, the “word of God” is represented throughout the Book of Mormon by the Iron Rod. It started with Lehi’s dream, and is alluded to about a thousand times.
“And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.” (1 Nephi 8:24)
Nephi made the connection after getting a peak of the vision himself, “And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God.” (1 Nephi 11:25)Iron Rod=Word of God=Scriptues=Words of the Prophets. Pretty basic stuff.
However, as I read Lehi’s dream, the Iron Rod seems like a static fixture that we cling to as we work our way down the misty, straight and narrow path, leading to the Tree of Life.
As I read Mormon’s words in verse 29, the Iron Rod is no longer just a handrail, but a defensive weapon. A spiritual bo staff of sorts. It is to be used in the fight against the adversary. With that in mind, read it again:
“Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—”
Quick, powerful, diving asunder the wiles of the devil? These are action words. Exciting stuff, to be sure. Employing the Word of God in defense of our lives and souls is not a passive act, rather a bold use of a weapon God has provided us. (I am very visual, and this verse paints a very dramatic image.) We are at war, and God has given us His words to fight back with as we head down the path. Cool.
6.“Our Holy Fathers.” The reward for using our agency correctly is that we can end up in the presence of God, with all the Holy Fathers. I imagine it would be cool to meet Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and chat with them, but what really drives me is the idea of sitting down with my dad, and my mom, my EC, my kids and the rest of my family – to go no more out.
There you go – a thousand words to talk about four verses. I imagine that we could dig in to most any passage and find pearls, but for me, this one is special. Now you know – thanks for humoring me.