CLICK HERE to read 3 Nephi 20.
The Savior told the people to finish their prayers, but never stop praying in their hearts (verse 1). He invited them to stand, and again they shared the sacrament meal (verses 2-7). He said (verse 8):
And he said unto them: He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.
Following the sacrament, as they had demonstrated both faith and obedience and also had been forgiven of their sins, the Holy Spirit did come upon the people (verse 9). The Savior had completed His work with this people (verse 10). He told them to study Isaiah (verse 11), and reminded them that when those words were fulfilled then so also had the Father fulfilled His covenant to the people (verse 12) – including the gathering of all the people, who “shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them” (verse 13).
The Savior told the people that the Father had commanded Him to give them the land (verse 14), and He says that those who do not repent will scatter (verse 15) and be destroyed (verse 16). This is the penalty for not keeping our covenants (verses 17, 20), just as being gathered into His house is the blessing for doing so (verse 18). Keeping our covenants is what consecrates us as His people, the People of Holiness (verses 19, 21-22).
The Savior then teaches them that Moses (verse 23) and all the prophets have testified of Him (verse 24). He then says that we are “the children of the prophets”, of the covenant, of the People of Holiness (verse 25). We are separated from the presence of our Father, who has covenanted to bring us home again if we choose to return (verse 27). But the only way back is through Christ (verse 26), and we are brought to Him by the prophets.
We can choose to reject this covenant by not being willing to be obedient. But if we reject the terms of the covenant, then we also reject the blessings of the covenant. We can reject our birthright, and sell ourselves for what we want to do instead of what He wants us to do (verse 38). If we do not do our part to follow Him, then He does not have to do His part to gather us (verse 28).
Except He will, and we will be glad of it.
He will keep His promise, which was to “gather them together in mine own due time” (verse 29).
Because He is our Father.
The time will come when the gospel shall be shared (verse 30), and the people will believe “that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name” (verse 31). The prophets will testify of Him (verse 32), and by the prophets the Father will gather the people (verse 33).
Christ bridges the gap for us, making it possible for us to approach our Father. He is what stands between us and our Father, separating us just enough that the Father can see His terms are met (we acknowledge who He says we are) and that we can acknowledge those terms (we acknowledge who we have really only been). Thus the problem is acknowledge, for there is a discrepancy between who He says we are and who we have really been. It is the Son who bridges the gap of this discrepancy, so that we can be embraced by our Father only after applying the atonement.
But it is the prophet who presents us to the Father.
Alma taught us this back in Alma 42, where he reviewed the story of the fall and how the flaming sword (prophets) guards the way (see verses 2-5). We cannot be as we were, and we cannot remain as we are. We must claim the atonement to become something more, to become who He says we are to be. It is the prophets who gather the people (3 Nephi 20:3) by calling for repentance (Alma 42:4) so that the atonement can be claimed. It is the prophet who presents us, through Christ, to be embraced by our Father.
Then shall they break forth into joy… for the Father hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Father hath made bare his holy arm… and the Father and I are one (verses 34-35).
The prophets present us to the Father, through Christ, so that we can acknowledge who He says we are and who we have really been. We claim the atonement, through the Son, so that the Father can bare his holy arm, reaching out to us for the prodigal embrace that makes us one.
Awake, awake again, and put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments… loose thyself… O captive daughter of Zion (verses 36-37).
This is how we become the People of Holiness!
As His people, we will know His name, and that it is Him who speaks to us, who whispers in the “still small voice”, bearing his holy arm to embrace us (verse 39).
This is the good news! This is the peace! (verse 40).
He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high (verse 43).
It is astonishing (verse 44)!
Let the people understand what they have never seen before and what they have never before considered (verse 45).
This is our covenant: that He will gather us, and we will be His people (verse 46).