Have you ever wondered how you ended up in the country you live in? Born to a certain race in a specific place on this earth? Elder Howard W. Hunter teaches us there’s no coincidences or guess work in where you were born, or the timing. He answers these questions and teaches us in his sermon “All are alike unto God.” In summary he said:
Not only did God determine the times when they should go, but also the “bounds of their habitation.” or, in other words, the countries where they should dwell so that their posterity might carry out the Lord’s divine purposes.
The Lord, “inviteth all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Ne. 26:33)
From this statement it is clear that all men are invited to come unto him and all are alike unto him.
Race makes no difference; color makes no difference; nationality makes no difference.
The brotherhood of man is literal. We are all of one blood and the literal spirit offspring of our eternal Heavenly Father. Before we came to earth we belonged to his eternal family. We associated and knew each other there. Our common paternity makes us not only literal sons and daughters of eternal parentage, but literal brothers and sisters as well. This is a fundamental teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
How were our nationalities determined?
First, from Paul’s address on Mars’ Hill to the intellectuals in the market place at Athens. Because of their worship of an unknown god, Paul was directing his remarks to an explanation of the true God. He said:
“And [God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26).
The words “hath made of one blood all nations of men” refer to Adam, the mortal father of the nations of men. The whole human race is the offspring of one man. Paul said that by divine plan the offspring has been scattered over the earth at the “times before appointed”–that is, the period fixed by God for the several families to go into the countries where he decreed they should dwell. Not only did God determine the times when they should go, but also the “bounds of their habitation.” or, in other words, the countries where they should dwell so that their posterity might carry out the Lord’s divine purposes.
The writer of the Book of Deuteronomy uses these words:
“When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel” (Deut. 32:8).
This would indicate that the Lord separated the offspring of Adam into nations and at the same time provided an inheritance for the children of Jacob.
The other passage is this statement made by Peter to Cornelius and his friends:
“Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34–35).
Peter had been of the opinion that only Jews were in the favor of the Lord and that Gentiles were not as acceptable. Before he had even met Cornelius, though, a vision was shown him, and he saw plainly that God was not partial. No nation or people or individual could expect to be favored above another.
From those passages of scripture we learn these basic principles:
- First: All men on earth are of one blood–we stem from common ancestors, Adam and Eve.
- Second: God, our Father, in his omniscient wisdom, determined premortally the nation in which we were to live.
- Third: Nationalities are apparently circumscribed in relation to the House of Israel.
- Fourth: Our Father does not favor one people over another, but accepts all those of every nation who fear him and work righteousness.
The Church, being the kingdom of God on earth, has a mission to all nations. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20). These words from the lips of the Master know no national boundaries; they are not limited to any race or culture. One nation is not favored above another. The admonition is clear–“teach all nations.”
A present prophet has renewed this great challenge to the leaders of the Church. In addressing the Regional Representatives, he said: “The scriptures are replete with commands and promises and calls and rewards for teaching the gospel. I use the word command deliberately for it seems to be an insistent directive from which we, singly and collectively, cannot escape. “These were his last words on earth before he went to his heavenly home.
“I ask you, what did he mean when the Lord took his Twelve Apostles to the top of the Mount of Olives and said:
“‘And ye shall be witnesses into me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8.)
What is the significance of the phrase ‘uttermost part of the earth’?
He had already covered the area known to the apostles. Was it the people in Judea? Or those in Samaria? Or the few millions in the Near East? Where were the ‘uttermost part[s] of the earth’? Did he mean the millions in what is now America? Did he include the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, in Greece, Italy, and around the Mediterranean, the inhabitants of Central Europe? What did he mean? Or did he mean all the living people of all the world and those spirits assigned to this world to come in centuries ahead? Have we underestimated his language or its meaning? How can we be satisfied with 100,000 converts out of four billion people (1979) in the world who need the gospel?” “After his crucifixion the eleven apostles assembled on a mountain in Galilee and the Savior came to them and said:
- “‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. “‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:’ “(He said ‘all nations.’) “‘Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’ (Matt. 28:18–20.)
- “Again as Mark records the events after the resurrection, he upbraided those who had some doubts about his resurrection, then commanded them: “‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’ (Mark 16:15.)
- “And Luke records the event–“‘That repentance and remission of sins should be preached … among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’ (Luke 24:47.)
- “Again, his last command. Surely there is significance in these words! There was a universal need and there must be universal coverage. “As I remember the world as Moses saw it–it was a big world. “‘And Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created.’ (Moses 1:8.)
- “I am constrained to believe that at that time the Lord knew the bounds of the habitations of man and the areas that would be settled and already knew his people who would possess this world.” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” 1974)
Several significant developments have taken place recently which have materially assist in accomplishing the commission to teach all nations. There has been revealed the timely need for building up the First Quorum of the Seventy. Continue reading to learn of the revelations received for the affairs of the kingdom to help bring it about.
Excerpts from an address delivered at a fourteen-stake fireside, Marriott Center, Brigham Young University, 4 February 1979
“All Are Alike unto God,” Elder Howard W. Hunter