Moroni Chapter 7
Moroni 7 Mormon's teachings on faith, hope, and charity
Moroni 7:11-14 The prophet Mormon comments on the inward motivation of man: A man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.
Moroni 7:16-17 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.
Moroni 7:27-29 The prophet Mormon asks the question, "Have miracles ceased?" He then describes the miracle of all miracles, the atonement of Jesus Christ with its consequent miracle of forgiveness.
Moroni 7:33 If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
Moroni 7:40-42 The prophet Mormon teaches of the relationship between faith and hope: I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope? And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
Moroni 7:44-48 Mormon's discourse on charity which uses terminology similar to that of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. Mormon said, For if [a man] have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity. And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail-But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.
This chapter is Moroni's relating of a powerful sermon delivered by his father Mormon. We are not told the age of Mormon when he first delivered or wrote this sermon.
1 And now I, Moroni, write a few of the words of my father Mormon, which he spake concerning faith, hope, and charity; for after this manner did he speak unto the people, as he taught them in the synagogue which they had built for the place of worship.
2 And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time.
3 Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.
verse 3 "ye can enter into the rest of the Lord" Note that in this verse Mormon uses the concept of the "rest of the Lord" in two ways. We have previously discussed these separate meanings (see the commentary for 2 Nephi 21:10).
Mormon clearly indicates that those with the gift of hope will enter into a state of rest here on earth.
4 And now my brethren, I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men.
verse 4 "your peaceable walk with the children of men" In modern revelation, the Lord, in speaking of those who have already been baptized but are awaiting the opportunity to partake of the sacrament and be confirmed a member of the Church said, "And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures-walking in holiness before the Lord" (D&C 20:69). When a man manifests a "godly walk and conversation" or a "peaceable walk," what he does and says is consistently in harmony with gospel standards. If he is without pretense, his behavior and conversation is underpinned with an often felt companionship with the Spirit of God which brings to him a comfortable and peaceful sense of security and spiritual self-assuredness. Through the ministrations of the Spirit, he forms a real and tangible companionship with the Savior.
5 For I remember the word of God, which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.
verse 5 What a man really is in his heart will inevitably make itself manifest in his actions and speech (his works).
6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
verse 6 "a man being evil cannot do that which is good" Some have interpreted this phrase as serving as a warning that and man is incapable of earning his own salvation by a specified number of good deeds. He is not capable of becoming "justified by the law." It would seem that in this verse's context, however, it more likely to mean that an evil man is incapable of doing the right things for the right reasons. Initially he may do the right things for the wrong reasons, but eventually his heart will betray him and he will invariable do the wrong things.
"except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing" If a man offers a "gift" or a "prayer," it is of no use to him lest he do so with proper motivation. In other words, he must do the right thing for the right reason. The phrase "real intent" may be interpreted to mean according to that which is truly in his heart.
7 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
verses 6-7 The law of Moses required outward obedience-doing the right thing regardless of one's motivation. The law of the gospel, the "new covenant" requires more than just doing the right thing. It requires doing the right things for the right reasons. For example, giving to the poor has always been an obligation placed upon the Lord's covenant people, and apparently there is a certain almost "magical" spiritual benefit in doing so in secret, without regard to being seen of men or obtaining any outward recognition. The Lord, in his appearance to the Nephites at the temple in Bountiful said: "Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly" (3 Nephi 13 1-4).
Righteous deeds need not necessarily be performed anonymously, but they should always be done without pretense; and perhaps even more for a secret, sacred reason. Giving without seeking or accepting any praise or recognition is certainly the highest form of giving.
These verses raise a most interesting question. Is it better to do the right thing for the wrong reason? Or, if one is not properly motivated, is it better to do nothing at all? Let us consider two separate examples of doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Let us say that a man makes a generous donation to a charity, but is careful to make his donation known publicly. Deep in his heart he desires the public recognition. It is his "need" for widespread acknowledgment that compels him to give. He cares less for those who will benefit from his gift. Now, let us consider another example. A person may say, "Given the way I feel about going to church today [or doing my home teaching, or serving at Welfare Square], it would be better to just stay home!"
In the first instance, the man is selfishly motivated. Giving his gift was certainly the right thing to do, but the worldly recognition he receives is likely his only reward-"he has his reward" (Mathew 6:1-4). He might as well have not bothered to give the gift if we judge from the standpoint of the man's spiritual progress. He not only lacked for "real" intent, but he was compelled by false and selfish intent. In the second case, there was no particular ulterior motive. Rather the man simply lacked for the proper motive, the "real" intent. In this case it is important not to stay home. He should go to church or do his home teaching, or serve at Welfare Square. As he does so, he is "experimenting upon [the] words" of Christ, and his purposeful doing the right thing even if he lacked the proper motivation might some day culminate in his acquiring the proper motivation, the "real intent." Now, it should be noted that real examples are not as "black and white" as these two, and certainly we should be slow to judge others in their doing of good works.
8 For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
verse 8 "he doeth it grudgingly" Again, as discussed in the previous verse we must a bit cautious in interpreting this verse. Let us assume a man is presented with an opportunity to do a good deed ("give a gift") for another. Yet, he has misgivings. Perhaps he doesn't feel he has the time, or sufficient money, or the proper love for the other person. Should he then best decide not to give the gift, or should give anyway, even though he has misgivings-should he go ahead and "doeth it [give the gift] grudgingly"? In this situation it is obvious that he should give the gift in spite of his misgivings. This fits into the category of "denying his natural self," and his deliberate giving in spite of his misgivings is a manifestation of deliberate faith. He should not be considered "evil." Rather, he is to be commended. His misgivings in this situation are not to be counted against him and are not to be considered evil. He is not to be considered evil. He is simply growing in the way most all of us have to grow. Initially, it is necessary to deliberately deny our natural-man impulses, and that is often difficult. But once we have denied them, it is simpler the next time.
9 And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.
verse 9 Vain prayers that lack sincerity are of no value to him who offers them.
10 Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
verse 10 See the commentary for verse 8. The gift is not a good gift only if his motivation behind giving the gift is self aggrandizement.
11 For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.
verses 10-11 Mormon speaks here of the individual who is improperly motivated in doing his ostensibly "good works." The honest feelings and intentions of a man's heart are all-important. While we might imagine that a man's motivations, in the real world, might be complex and contain something of both selfless and self-serving motivation-something of the world and something of the Spirit-Mormon suggests that there is a tendency to be one way or the other-"a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil." This is the same sentiment as expressed by the Lord in his sermon on the mount: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).
12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
verse 12 Mormon's meaning here is clear, but perhaps the verse is a bit overly simplistic. Some have speculated that perhaps we give the devil "too much credit." The ingredient that is left out here is the "natural self" tendency within each person. This "natural" inclination was not created by the devil, nor was it created by God. It has likely always existed as an integral part of each individual intelligence. Each of us has within us a tendency to act in ways that are immediately self-serving. We are naturally attracted to things of the world and immediate gratification, physical pleasure, materialism, a hunger for recognition, popularity, and power are all familiar to each of us. None of us is a stranger to the pulls of the world. Also within each of us is the inclination to seek for things of an eternal nature, an innate responsiveness to promptings of the Spirit of God. This innate goodness has also likely always been a part of us. While Satan did not create the "natural man," he certainly applauds and encourages the exercise, to excess, of this "natural" tendency by each of us. Similarly, the Holy Ghost did not create our inclination to respond to his ministrations, but his purpose is to encourage and affirm us in that responsiveness.
The statement here, "that which is evil cometh of the devil" might be more accurately stated, "that which is evil cometh of the natural self." It is true that Satan conspires against well doing, and he affirms the sinner who unsuccessfully attempts to resist his natural-self impulses.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
verse 13 While it is stated rather broadly, this verse seems to be a good litmus test for influences here on earth. If they invite an individual to do good works, to seek the things of God, to grow toward godhood, then they are of God.
verses 14-19 Mormon addresses the power of discernment and the power of righteous judgment, characteristics available to us mortals. Obviously great care must be exercised in setting about to judge another. There exists only one individual fully qualified to judge all men. There is only one who truly and perfectly understands the heart of each man to the point where he truly perceives the motives, mitigating circumstances, and intentions behind a man's thoughts and behaviors. And he, in order to become our judge and Savior, had to undergo an ordeal so awful that no other mortal could even survive it.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
verse 16 "the Spirit of Christ is given to every man" For a discussion of the expressions "Spirit of Christ" and "light of Christ" (see verses 18-19) see "The Spirit or Light of Christ" in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2, chapter 5, The Holy Ghost.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
verse 17 "whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil . . . is of the devil" Again, we see again evidence of the well known tendency of the Prophet Mormon to give Satan credit for all evil. Here, he seems to ignore the well established "evil" effects of the natural self of all men.
18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.
verse 19 "search diligently in the light of Christ" Seek to become responsive the light which emanates from Christ, so that you may learn the truth of all things.
"lay hold upon every good thing" Seek to obtain and accept every aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"child of Christ" We become a child of Christ when we are "born again" by the purifying and sanctifying influence of the Spirit, and we overcome the influences of the world. We may be said to be "totally converted," "justified," "reconciled to God," "born of the Spirit," "born of God," "quickened in the inner man," "new creatures," and "perfect in Christ."
verses 20-26 Here Mormon counsels us on how we may obtain "every good thing." Just what "good things" are being spoken of here? It seems reasonable to suppose that "every good thing" is each and every incremental gift of the Spirit we must earn as we progress spiritually toward godhood. The process of earning and receiving these gifts involved justification and sanctification (see Justification and Sanctification in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 17), and we are motivated to participate in these processes of as we acquire faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his ability to forgive and purify (sanctify) us. The incremental gifts, or characteristics of God himself, are given to us as we strive to be obedient and submissive to his will, and as we repent. We are then allowed to partake of the light of Christ, and we begin to acquire some of that light, a ray at a time, from him. He is the source of all "good things"-of all spiritual gifts (Moroni 10:18).
20 And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing?
21 And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing.
22 For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.
23 And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.
24 And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.
verse 24 Without any gifts of the Spirit, man would be left to his carnal nature and subject to all of the carnal influences in the world.
25 Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.
verse 25 "and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing" This statement is simple and has a clear and unambiguous meaning. An individual exercises faith by deliberately denying his natural self and obeying the Lord's commandments. When the Spirit ("the Holy Spirit of Promise") judges the individual's efforts and success in obeying as being adequate, then he will reveal to the individual an increment of an attribute of Christ-a gift of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are "every good thing" and are the basis of spiritual growth.
26 And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as sure as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
verse 26 "And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name" Mormon's meaning is, Before he came to earth in mortality (see prior verse), men were saved by faith in his name. And after he came, men were still saved in the same way.
"Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good . . . it shall be done unto you" The key phrase here is "which is good." If we do not ask "amiss," our desires shall be granted. See also the commentary for 3 Nephi 14:7-11.
verses 27-39 These verses teach the principle of the "ministering of angels." Essentially, the concept is that if the kingdom of God is on the earth and the people exercise sufficient faith, then angels will minister unto them. Bruce R. McConkie taught: "So unvarying is this principle that it stands forth as the conclusive test of the divinity of any organization on earth. If angels minister to a people, they are the Lord's people, and his kingdom is with them. If angels do not minister unto them, they are not the Lord's people, and his kingdom is not with them" (Mormon Doctrine, 503).
27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?
verse 27 "to claim of the Father his rights of mercy" This is an interesting way of expressing the principle: Because of his atoning sacrifice, Jesus has the "right" to exercise the principle of mercy for the salvation of mankind. And he can claim this right before the Father and before those that enforce the demands of justice.
This miraculous extension of mercy has not ceased just because the resurrected Christ has ascended into heaven.
28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.
verse 28 In the previous verse, Mormon asks, "Have miracles ceased?" In this verse he mentions the greatest miracle of all, the atonement, with its consequent miracle of forgiveness.
29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.
verse 30 Angels do not appear to the unrighteous and unstable. Just as miracles are given as rewards to the faithful, so do angels minister only "unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness."
31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
verse 31 Angels "call men unto repentance." They preach the gospel and help to gather Israel. They also "do the work of the covenants of the Father" which means to make available the gospel covenants and ordinances done by proper authority. An example of this type of work is the restoring of keys of the priesthood once they have been lost from the earth during times of apostasy. Examples include John the Baptist (keys of the Aaronic priesthood); Peter, James, and John (keys of the Melchizedek priesthood); Moses (keys of the gathering of Israel); Elias (keys of the Abrahamic covenant); and Elijah (keys of the sealing power).
In addition, angels teach and testify "unto the chosen vessels of the Lord" so that these may in turn bear testimony of Christ to the world. For a discussion on the scriptural word chosen, see the commentary for 1 Nephi 1:19-20. This pattern of angels' teaching chosen vessels who in turn bear testimony and teach others is followed repeatedly in the Book of Mormon. For example, Nephi (1 Nephi 11-15), king Benjamin (Mosiah 3), Alma (Mosiah 27), and the brothers Nephi and Lehi (Helaman 5) all conversed with heavenly messengers. Mormon and Moroni were taught by the three translated Nephite disciples. The ministry of angels, however, is not limited to the righteous. An angel visited Laman and Lemuel, the rebellious Alma, and the four sons of Mosiah.
32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.
verse 32 The use of the word "residue" is interesting here. The word "residue" means the part that remains after part has been removed. In the prior verse, Mormon explains that it is the work of ministering angels to "call men unto repentance" and help to gather Israel. Not all will repent and only the "residue of men [those that do repent] may have faith in Christ."
33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
verse 33 Faith is a principle of power-power to do any "good" thing, anything that "is expedient in me." For a discussion of this aspect of faith, see "Faith as Power-the Third Type of Faith" in Other Notes on Faith, volume 1, chapter 11 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine.
34 And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.
verse 34 "have faith in me" Remember that to have faith in Christ is to obey his commandments.
35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
verse 35 "And now, my beloved brethren" Mormon is addressing the latter-day remnant of the Book of Mormon people. He seems to be asking an implied question, "Will not the latter days also be a day of miracles?"
36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
verse 37 "for it is by faith that miracles are wrought" See Miracles in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 3 chapter 20.
"all is vain" All is empty, hollow, and meaningless. Miracles will cease only when there is universal unbelief.
38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.
verse 38 If there were a complete absence of faith-a complete lack of obedience to the Lord's commandments-then there might as well have never been an atonement made. All mankind would be lost and assigned to outer darkness.
39 But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness; for if ye have not faith in him then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church.
verses 40-48 Mormon now discourses on faith, hope, and charity. Before studying these verses, please review "The Fruits of Faith" in Other Notes on Faith in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 11.
40 And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?
41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
verses 40-42 It is clear that hope is a gift of the spirit that follows faith. It grows out of faith. Yet these verses might cause some confusion regarding the sequence in which these two gifts are granted. In verse 40 there is a suggestion that hope is necessary before one can develop faith: "And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?" A cursory reading of this passage might lead us to think that in order to have faith you have to have hope. This suggests that hope comes first. Yet in verse 42 we read: "for without faith there cannot be any hope." I submit that the intended meaning of this passage is that if one exercises faith, then hope will follow. As one is obedient to the commandments, which obedience requires the deliberate exercise of faith (deliberate faith), the inevitable byproducts include the gift of the Spirit associated with the particular commandment obeyed (D&C 130:20-21); a greater inclination to obey due to a softening of the pulls of the natural self; a revealed increment in one's relationship with the Savior which adds to one's faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; a contribution to one's gift hope-that whispered assurance that one is celestial bound; and usually a contribution to one's gift of charity. Why the gift of charity? Because the great majority of the Lord's commandments to us are aspects of the general commandment for us to love our neighbor, or to be charitable.
Then how do we explain verse 40? We know that something does precede faith. What is it? Alma called it a "desire to believe" (Alma 32:27). This desire to believe may be though of as an earthly type of the principle of belief or hope. We are willing to experiment upon the words of Christ because we believe and hope that our obedience will bear spiritual fruit. This is not, however, the saving hope, the spiritual gift of hope. Saving hope follows faith.
Probably the simplest explanation of verse 40 is that its intended meaning is "How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall [as a consequence] have hope?" This meanng is true to the faith-leads-to-hope sequence.
43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.
verse 43 Revealed faith, which is the sum total of an individual's gifts of the Spirit or the spiritual progress of man, can come only to him who is humble and submissive to the will of God. A byproduct of a person's gifts of the spirit is a revealed change of heart-a revealed meekness and lowliness of heart.
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.
verse 44 "If so" This phrase in this context means, if a man has a type of "faith" but is not "meek, and lowly of heart. . . ."
"none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart" The "meek" are the poor in spirit, the humble, the submissive, the teachable. The "meek" are not the timid, the spiritless, the fearful. In fact the most forceful dynamic personality who ever lived described himself as being "meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29). Meekness and humility are the opposite of pride. True humility is a gift of the Spirit which, like all gifts of the Spirit, must be earned. The individual blessed with the gift of humility sees himself and his relationship to God in a proper eternal perspective. While he may honestly acknowledge his own efforts-his accomplishments and knowledge-he feels keenly his frailties and weaknesses. He is loath to elevate himself above others.
Mormon then introduces the highest of all the gifts, charity. Your author urges you to study Charity as Empathy and Charity as a Revealed Sense of Others (chapters 6 and 7 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2) if you have not already done so.
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
verse 45 It is interesting to compare this verse with the writings of the apostle Paul: "Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). How could it be that this verse written by the prophet Mormon is so unmistakably similar to the verses written by Paul to the saints in Corinth? Mormon could have had no access to the writings of Paul. How do we explain this similarity? The best answer is that both Paul and Mormon were quoting an unknown Old Testament prophet. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: "Both Paul and Mormon expounded with great inspiration about faith, hope, and charity, in many verses using the same words and phrases. If there is any difference between them it is that Mormon expounds the doctrines more perfectly and persuasively than does Paul. It does not take much insight to know that Mormon and Paul both had before them the writings of some Old Testament prophet on the same subjects" ("The Doctrinal Restoration," in The Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things, 18).
In this verse are enumerated the characteristics of a charitable person:
1. "suffereth long" "beareth all things" This individual has the gift of a God-like perspective for people and circumstances, a divine patience.
2. "kind" "envieth not" This person has the gift of charity and no inclination to compete with or envy or resent another person. He yearns for the success of others as much or more than he desires success for himself.
3. "not puffed up" Devoid of pride
4. "seeketh not her own" This individual is self-effacing and turned outward toward others giving little thought to themselves. He seeks to turn attention away from himself, consistently giving credit to others.
5. "is not easily provoked" Not easily angered
6. "thinketh no evil" "Virtue garnishe[s] [their] thoughts unceasingly" (D&C 121:45).
7. "rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth" Repulsed by sin but basks in the spirit of true and wholesome things
8. "believeth all things" Readily accepts the truth as prompted by the Spirit.
9. "hopeth all things" Has the gift of hope
10. "endureth all things" Not deterred by any type of adversity
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail-
verse 46 "if ye have not charity, ye are nothing" No one has stated better the importance of the gift of charity than the apostle Paul: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
"which is the greatest of all" Charity is obviously the loftiest, the highest, the most advanced spiritual gift of them all-the "granddaddy" of them all.
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
verse 47 "charity is the pure love of Christ" Again, an appropriate definition of charity: When you come to yearn for the exaltation of another individual as much as you yearn for your own exaltation, then you possess the gift of charity. The Father and the Son so yearn for each of us.
verses 46-47 All things of the world are temporary. They will all eventually fail. Among all the precious gifts of God, charity is one that will endure throughout all eternity. Therefore "charity never faileth."
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
verse 48 Probably the gift of charity renders the possessor of that gift more God-like than any other gift.
Certainly prayer is a vital prerequisite for our earning the gift of charity, but the Lord is likely to answer that prayer by providing us situations in our lives where we may have an opportunity to serve others.