Ether Chapter 12
Ether 12 The prophet Moroni on Faith, Hope, and Charity
Ether 12:6 The prophet Moroni taught that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
Ether 12:12 The prophet Moroni taught, If there be no faith among the children of men, God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.
Ether 12:27 I give unto men weakness that they may be humble. Then will make weak things become strong unto them.
Ether 12:34 I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity.
Ether 12:41 Moroni exhorts: I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever .
1 And it came to pass that the days of Ether were in the days of Coriantumr; and Coriantumr was king over all the land.
2 And Ether was a prophet of the Lord; wherefore Ether came forth in the days of Coriantumr, and began to prophesy unto the people, for he could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him.
3 For he did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled-
verse 3 "by faith all things are fulfilled" The motivating force for an individual to repent is initially an inclination to believe in God and in a hereafter-in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his atoning sacrifice. We may refer to this inclination as "faith unto repentance." Thus motivated to repent, the individual begins to obey the commandments-deliberately and with determination. This is the initial form of faith-deliberate faith. See Deliberate Faith and Revealed Faith in volume 1 chapter 10 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine. See particularly the section titled "Belief or Hope." The exercise of deliberate faith leads to revealed faith-spiritual growth-a process that tends to perpetuate itself. The individual thus sets in motion the lifelong process of more repentance, good works, justification, and sanctification which leads eventually to exaltation. For him "all things are fulfilled."
4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
verse 4 "which hope cometh of faith" Hope is not simply wishful thinking, but rather a gift of the Spirit received by an individual who has persisted in obedience. This gift is the growing assurance that your efforts to live the gospel are acceptable in the sight of God. See further discussion of this important gift in "Two Little-Appreciated Gifts of the Spirit" in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 10, Deliberate Faith and Revealed Faith and in "The Fruits of Faith" in volume 1, chapter 11, Other Notes on Faith. Still further discussion of this topic is found in "The Rest of the Lord-the Gift of Hope" in volume 1, chapter 17, Justification and Sanctification. Hope brings an inner peace, a confidence, and a secure expectation in one's eternal future. "Hope for a better world" is hope of eternal life. This spiritual gift, this revealed assurance becomes an anchor for the soul during the trials of mortal probation.
"being led to glorify God" We are reminded that the spiritual progress and exaltation of man somehow adds to the light or glory of God (see The Concept of Light in volume 1, chapter 15 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine). The Savior glorified the name of the Father, that is, added to the Father's light and glory by his atoning sacrifice and by allowing all men the possibility of exaltation (see verse 8).
5 And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not.
verse 5 "they saw them not" The implication of this phrase is that the faithless Jaredites would not believe in anything they could not perceive with their physical senses.
6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
verse 6 "ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith" Moroni teaches that a person receives no "witness" or confirmation of his faith until after a trial of that faith. The trial comes in the "experimenting upon [the] words" of God-the deliberate acting upon his words hoping to obtain the gifts of faith. The trial of the faith is in the "experimenting," especially when that experimenting at first seems to be unproductive. When the Spirit judges that sufficient effort-including diligently working, pondering, praying, and persisting-then the gifts of faith will be granted. Thus, Moroni's counsel, "dispute not because ye see not." In other words, "Don't dispute or doubt the Lord's word when your initial efforts at obedience do not seem to bear fruit." A person might say, "Before I pay my tithing, I must know for sure that it is a true principle." The Lord's way is just the opposite. His way is to first act in deliberate faith and pay your tithing. Then eventually-on the Lord's timetable not yours-your revealed faith in the law of tithing will be granted as a spiritual gift.
Elder Harold B. Lee reportedly said to Elder Boyd K. Packer when the latter was worried over committing himself to a mortgage loan, even after being advised to do so by Elder Lee: "My boy, you must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you" (The Holy Temple, 183-85).
verses 7-22 Moroni's message in these verses is that faith precedes miracles-that miracles are shown to men as a reward for their faith. He will provide several examples of faith and miracles from the lives of prophets that predated him. The greatest miracle is the expectation or hope of exaltation.
7 For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world.
verse 7 Moroni explains just how it was that the fortunate Nephites present at the temple in Bountiful during the Savior's personal visit qualified themselves to be blessed with that experience. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that they "were qualified by personal righteousness to see the face of their God" (Promised Messiah, 609).
8 But because of the faith of men he has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen.
verse 8 The "heavenly gift" is the expectation, indeed the "hope," of exaltation, made possible through the Savior's mercy and atoning sacrifice.
9 Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.
10 Behold it was by faith that they of old were called after the holy order of God.
verse 10 The prophets of old had been called to their positions because of their uncommon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
11 Wherefore, by faith was the law of Moses given. But in the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way; and it is by faith that it hath been fulfilled.
verse 11 The gospel of Jesus Christ is "a more excellent way," a higher law, than the law of Moses. The principle here is that a completely faithless people would not merit or tolerate the gospel in any form to be among them. Even the law of Moses required something of faith among the mostly recalcitrant Israelites.
12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.
13 Behold, it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth.
verse 13 See Alma 14:29.
14 Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
verse 14 See Helaman 5.
15 Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.
verse 15 See Alma 17-26.
16 Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after.
17 And it was by faith that the three disciples obtained a promise that they should not taste of death; and they obtained not the promise until after their faith.
verse 17 See 3 Nephi 28. The great blessing of becoming a translated being is likely extended to those who have been unusually faithful. It seems probable that those selected for this exciting calling are the very elect who have earned their stripes in mortality. It is probable that these are those who have been sealed up to eternal life or had their calling and election made sure. For a discussion of the concept of having one's calling and election made sure, see the commentary for Helaman 10:4-7 and also Calling and Election Made Sure in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2, chapter 16.
18 And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God.
19 And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.
verse 19 Here is a profound principle. The end result of the persistent exercise of faith is eventually having the opportunity to see with your eyes the object of your faith.
verses 12-19 You might have expected Moroni here to use examples of faith from among the Jaredite peoples since he is in the midst of translating their record. The sorry fact is that, except for the brother of Jared, there are no outstanding examples of faith among the Jaredites.
20 And behold, we have seen in this record that one of these was the brother of Jared; for so great was his faith in God, that when God put forth his finger he could not hide it from the sight of the brother of Jared, because of his word which he had spoken unto him, which word he had obtained by faith.
21 And after the brother of Jared had beheld the finger of the Lord, because of the promise which the brother of Jared had obtained by faith, the Lord could not withhold anything from his sight; wherefore he showed him all things, for he could no longer be kept without the veil.
22 And it is by faith that my fathers have obtained the promise that these things should come unto their brethren through the Gentiles; therefore the Lord hath commanded me, yea, even Jesus Christ.
verse 22 The faith of the Book of Mormon prophets is the root cause of the Lord's being willing to promise that the remnant of the Book of Mormon peoples should one day receive the Book of Mormon "through the Gentiles."
"the Lord hath commanded me" The Lord has commanded Moroni to contribute to the writings on the plates of Mormon.
23 And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;
verse 23 It is fascinating to learn that Moroni felt that his writing, and that of the other Book of Mormon prophets, was awkward and lacking and not up to the level of sophistication of the latter-day Gentiles-"this people"-who "could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them." Moroni was afraid that the Gentiles would ridicule his writing ability and that of his prophet-predecessors.
24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.
verse 24 Can you even imagine anything more exciting than having the opportunity to read the brother of Jared's account of his great vision?
25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.
verses 24-25 Moroni possessed no misgivings about his ability to preach the word of God, but felt that his writing was weak. He attributes this not only to he perceived lack of writing talent, but also to the difficulty of having to engrave his message onto the plates using the glyphic form of writing.
We sense here a bit of frustration from Moroni. He seems to be feeling slightly discouraged over his writing ability, and he expresses his fear that his writings will not be sufficient to accomplish the Lord's purposes-"I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words." We all can identify with this common human failing. We even note his human tendency to blame someone else for his perceived weakness-"thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands." He blames the Lord!
26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
verse 26 Those who mock will regret it, and the truly humble and receptive will not ridicule the writings of the Book of Mormon, rather will gratefully receive them.
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
verse 27 "I will show unto them their weakness" This simple statement is the Lord's promise to reveal to us the gift of divine indebtedness discussed in the introductory commentary for Mosiah 2:19. Please review that commentary if you have not done so recently. This is the gift of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Our responsibility, as we attempt to earn this important gift of the Spirit, is to seek out the ways in which we differ from the Savior (our "weakness") and earnestly strive to change them-to repent. We are rooting out the natural-man tendencies in us. The Lord may assist us in acquiring this gift by allowing us to encounter, or occasionally even by orchestrating that encounter, the trials and problems that are inevitable here on earth. The proper response to trials is to turn to the Lord in prayer and to make a conscious effort to submit our will to his. As we do so, we are "experimenting upon [the] words" of Christ and taking the necessary steps toward earning the gift of divine indebtedness. It is only through the acquisition of this gift do we become truly humble.
A man who is willing to change and repent because of the Savior's example is, by definition, humble. C. S. Lewis insightfully observed:
When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are not corrected), he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along-illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation-he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing he means to make of us (Mere Christianity, 174).
"my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me" This touching verse is most profound in its meaning. Don't try to understand without reviewing the concepts of "the law of justice," "the law of mercy," "the atonement," and "the grace of God" in the introductory commentary for Alma 5. Again, his grace is that incomprehensible love he has for us. Particularly it is that aspect of his love that inclines him to extend to us blessings we do not really deserve. The most significant such blessing is that of his atonement.
28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me-the fountain of all righteousness.
verse 28 "the fountain of all righteousness" This phrase is parenthetical to the word me. The light of Christ, of which we have the opportunity to partake, contains all of his characteristics. It is the source and the dispenser of all his spiritual gifts. As we partake of this light and acquire his gifts, including faith, hope, and charity, we are drawn to him.
29 And I, Moroni, having heard these words, was comforted, and said: O Lord, thy righteous will be done, for I know that thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith;
verse 29 "I, Moroni . . . was comforted" It is touching to sense Moroni's real concern, not only for his latter-day descendants, but also for the latter-day "Gentiles."
"thy righteous will be done" Thy righteousness or thy righteous desires and commands be done.
"thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith" Here is succinctly stated the absolute essential role of faith. Unless mankind is willing to obey, God's purposes for them come to naught. Well did Paul state, "Without faith it is impossible to please him" (Hebrews 11:6).
30 For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove-and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith.
verse 30 This is the first we have heard of what sounds like a remarkable miracle performed by the brother of Jared. Oh, that the Lord would hasten the day when we might have available more of the brother of Jared's writings!
31 For thus didst thou manifest thyself unto thy disciples; for after they had faith, and did speak in thy name, thou didst show thyself unto them in great power.
verse 31 Moroni refers to Christ's twelve Nephite disciples.
32 And I also remember that thou hast said that thou hast prepared a house for man, yea, even among the mansions of thy Father, in which man might have a more excellent hope; wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared.
verse 32 "I also remember that thou hast said that thou hast prepared a house for man, yea, even among the mansions of thy Father" Perhaps Moroni recalls reading the closing statement of the prophet Enos: " And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father" (Enos 1:27).
"wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared" Here is a profound principle. No one will be exalted without first receiving the gift of hope. Indeed, the Lord has said in our dispensation that no man will be exalted without first receiving that quiet assurance that he is sealed up to eternal life-"It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance" (D&C 131:5-6).
33 And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men.
34 And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.
verses 32-34 The natural progression of things is for a man to pass through an obligatory sequence of gifts including faith, hope, and charity on his way to his exaltation. There is no other route to eternal life.
"except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father" The ultimate spiritual acquisition man can and must achieve is charity. It is the supreme gift of the Spirit without which all other gifts pale. For a discussion of this fascinating gospel concept, see Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine volume 2, chapters 6 and 7: Charity as Empathy and Charity as a Revealed Sense of Others.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland wrote: "The greater definition of 'the pure love of Christ' . . . is not what we as Christians try but largely fail to demonstrate toward others but rather what Christ totally succeeded in demonstrating toward us. True charity has been known only once. It is shown perfectly and purely in Christ's unfailing, ultimate, and atoning love for us" (Christ and the New Covenant. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997], 336).
35 Wherefore, I know by this thing which thou hast said, that if the Gentiles have not charity, because of our weakness, that thou wilt prove them, and take away their talent, yea, even that which they have received, and give unto them who shall have more abundantly.
verse 35 Moroni seems troubled by the idea that the Gentiles will not develop the spiritual gifts they need for their exaltation, particularly the gift of charity, because of the Book of Mormon prophets' "weakness in writing" (verse 23). Moroni seems to be comforted by the idea that if the Gentiles don't learn what they need to learn from the writings of the Book of Mormon prophets, that the Lord himself will prove them and fairly and mercifully judge them.
36 And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity.
verse 36 Moroni's concern for and his praying for the spiritual welfare of the Gentiles is obvious evidence of his own charity.
37 And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.
verse 37 Moroni is reassured by the Lord that his efforts in writing his record (and by extension, the efforts of all of the Book of Mormon prophets) are sufficient. Moroni is also apparently sealed up to eternal life. His calling and election is made sure.
verses 38 In the following verse, Moroni bids farewell to the Gentiles and to his brethren for the fourth time (see also Mormon 9:5; Mormon 9:13; Mormon 9:37). He will yet bid farewell a final time in Moroni 10:34. All these farewells certainly attest to his insecurity over how long he would survive, given the hostility of the Lamanites who would surely have killed him had they found him (see Moroni 1:1-3).
38 And now I, Moroni, bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood.
verse 38 Moroni knows that his "garments are not spotted" with the blood of the Gentiles or his descendants, because the Lord has reassured him that he has adequately warned them as he has been commanded of the Lord (see Jacob 1:19). We all have an obligation as believers to warn the world and to invite all to come unto Christ (see D&C 63:58; D&C 88:81).
39 And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things;
verse 39 Like his father before him (Mormon 1:15), Moroni was privileged to receive the Second Comforter. He likely recounts this visit from the Lord, not to boast of his own righteousness, but rather give authority to his words.
The phrase "plain humility" is interesting. This is the only use of the phrase in the entire Book of Mormon. Moroni seems to be suggesting that the Lord spoke to him in the simplicity and coarseness of Moroni's own language.
40 And only a few have I written, because of my weakness in writing.
verse 40 "only a few have I written" This phrase refers to "these things" in the previous verse. "These things" consist of the tellings of the Lord to Moroni.
41 And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.
verse 41 "of whom the prophets and apostles have written" It is natural to think of the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles at this point, but Moroni knew nothing of the New Testament biblical apostles and was referring to Old World and New World prophets and Book of Mormon apostles ("disciples").