Matthew 18 and Luke 10. What is the Kingdom of God?

“And who is my neighbor?” This is the great question of the Good Samaritan story, a story that we have all listened to carefully many times, studying the different characters, the plot line and ultimately the loving compassion and mercy that one human shared with another.  When we view this timeless question from the perspective of it its surrounding context, the richness of Christ’s message is enhanced.  The stories and passages neighboring the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10 are focused on building the Kingdom of God through preaching the Gospel and gathering souls.  In this context, the Good Samaritan story is more than just a parable about being neighborly or showing loving compassion.  It is a parable about the Kingdom of God, or at least the type of individual who is invited into the Kingdom of God.  Similarly, Matthew 18 is a chapter that focuses on the conditions that mark the Kingdom of God and the characteristics of those who comprise that kingdom. Continue reading

Matthew 11 and Luke 7, 11-13. Coming Unto Christ and Learning of Him

“He descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth” (D&C 88:6)

Christ came to save us from our sins.  He came to show us by word and deed how we might live lives of joy and happiness, despite the afflictions we all experience, so that we might taste the bitter and know to prize the sweet.  His invitation is simple yet profound. Continue reading

Luke 4-6 and Matthew 10. Faithfully Responding to God’s Call

Introduction

Early chapters of the Gospels share various aspects of Jesus Christ’s divine mission: Messianic prophecies, glorious birth, precocious youth, exemplary baptism and the spread of gospel truths.  Christ was not to be alone in his mission, however, except in his suffering.  So we turn to the events surrounding Christ’s public proclamation of his mission, the call of the Twelve Apostles, and the preparation they received to follow in his footsteps.  What we will see in these chapters is that Christ taught his apostles by example how to be true disciples engaged in the work of righteousness. Continue reading

Matthew 1 and Luke 1. Testimonies of Jesus

As we approach our study of the scriptures may we be like the inquisitive Theophilus of Luke searching for the certain witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.  To satisfy such spiritual desires, faithful early Christians such as Luke composed lengthy expositions called “Gospels” filled with narratives, homilies, hymnodies, miracles, parables, sayings, doings, doctrines, and, most importantly, the sure witness of Jesus as the promised Christ.  We have four such Gospels in our canonical New Testament that share this testimony of Christ.  But just as four master painters use various styles to represent the same landscape, so too the four Gospel writers have unique approaches to sharing their certain witness that Jesus is indeed the Christ.  Additionally, each of our Gospel witnesses includes unique perspectives and valuable information as they describe life models of worthy and God-fearing individuals who populate the stage of Christ’s life such as Mary, Joseph and John the Baptist.  Continue reading

“Thou Shalt…Offer Up Thy Sacraments upon My Holy Day” D&C 87-92

From June 3 to June 6, 18311 the fourth conference of the Church was held in a log school house on the property of Isaac Morely in Kirtland, Ohio.  Right after this conference Joseph Smith received a revelation2 to send forth missionaries throughout the Western States (what was then the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri) preaching the gospel and building up congregations unto the Lord.  The elders were assigned to labor in pairs as they journeyed to “the borders of the Lamanites” on the western end of Missouri.3 By revelation, the Lord indicated that the elders were to hold a conference once they arrived in the land of Missouri.  Continue reading


  1. This conference had been convened based on revelation given to Joseph Smith in February 1831 and is now found in Section 44 of the Doctrine & Covenants. 

  2. This revelation is found in Section 52 of the Doctrine & Covenants. 

  3. The land of Missouri marked the furthest western border of the United States at that time.  What lay beyond was the Indian territory which had been the site of the first organized mission of the Church during the winter of 1831.  Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer were the four missionaries so designated by revelation (D&C 30 & 32) to preach the gospel among the Lamanites.  For a fascinating account of their journey and success see The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Revised and Enhanced Edition, edited by Scot Facer Proctor & Maurine Jensen Proctor (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), chapters 6-8.