3 Nephi 9:15-18 — LeGrand Baker — ‘believe on my name’
Verse 15, which we discussed last week, is a necessary introduction to verses 16-18.
15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.
16 I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.
17 And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.
18 I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
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16 I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled. …
17…and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.
The scriptures are “fulfilled” in the same way the Law of Moses is “fulfilled.” That is, the terms of a covenant or contract are completed and satisfied. Quite simply it means that up until that time, the Savior had finished all that the covenant required that he should do.
17 And as many as have received me,
“Receive” is an active verb and certainly does not have a passive or casual meaning here. To receive presupposes that a gift has been offered, and requires that the recipient affirms his acceptance of that gift. In gospel terms, that affirmation always requires both an ordinance and a covenant.
to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name,
It is significant that in this and the following examples, Jesus does not say “believe in me.” Rather he says “believe on my name.”
There is always a new name with each new covenant (ss in baptism and the sacrament when we take upon ourselves the name of the Savior). Anciently, exchanging new covenant names was an evidence of the validity of the covenant. For example, when Peter was given the sealing power the Savior said:
18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
Sometimes during the covenant making process names are exchanged. There are several places in the D&C that seem to be the same sort of thing, but the covenant name is not always different from the given name. For example, the Lord said to Joseph:
9 Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall (D&C 3:9).
Here are two examples where both covenant names are given:
20 Behold, thou art Oliver….
21 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God…. (D&C 6:20-21).
23 Behold thou art Hyrum, my son; …
28 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the life and the light of the world….
30 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. Amen (D&C 11:23-30).
Another example that uses even more explicit language is in a revelation given through Joseph Smith to Orson Pratt in 1830 — well before Orson was chosen to be an Apostle. It reads:
1 My son Orson, hearken and hear and behold what I, the Lord God, shall say unto you, even Jesus Christ your Redeemer;….
3 Who so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might become the sons of God. Wherefore you are my son…. (D&C 34:1-3)
That sounds very much like the Lord’s covenant with Moses:
3 And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; …
4 And, behold, thou art my son;….(Moses 1:3-4)
King Benjamin explained the significance of using the Savior’s name as a covenant name. He said:
7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters (Mosiah 5:7).
The Savior said essentially the same thing to the brother of Jared:
14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters (Ether 3:14).
The Savior expressed the same principle in the Beatitudes:
9 And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called [named] the children of God (3 Nephi 12:9).
It is apparent that the phrase “believe on my/his name” is about believing in and acting on priesthood covenants and the ordinances associated with them. The Bible quotes John as writing:
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).
But the Prophet’s Inspired version is even more explicit:
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; only to them who believe on his name (JS John 1:12).
Here are a few examples where the word “name” can be replaced by the word “covenant” to clarify without changing the meaning of the scripture:
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 surely 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 (Moroni 7:26).
30 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. Amen (D&C 11:28-30)
2 I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even one in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one (D&C 35:2).
Perhaps the most striking example is D&C 45:8. It reads:
8…unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life.
The context of that statement is the Savior’s own explanation of the Atonement. Here it is in that context:
1 Hearken, O ye people of my church, to whom the kingdom has been given; hearken ye and give ear to him who laid the foundation of the earth, who made the heavens and all the hosts thereof, and by whom all things were made which live, and move, and have a being.
2 And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.
3 Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
6 Hearken, O ye people of my church, and ye elders listen together, and hear my voice while it is called today, and harden not your hearts;
7 For verily I say unto you that I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the light and the life of the world—a light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
8 I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not; but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life.
9 And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me (D&C 45:1-9).