Sam, the brother of Nephi, is my hero. He was a faithful disciple, who the Lord had tremendous confidence in, but who got very little recognition. Nephi is also my hero, but whose hero list isn’t he on? This post is on witnesses, and especially the ones the Lord needs the most.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are familiar with the account of Abinadi in the Book of Mormon. He was a witness, called to preach repentance to a drifting society. He would be asked to seal his witness with his blood as he was put to death by a corrupt priesthood. He is an example of what I will call a Type I witness, the Martyr. The Savior is this type of witness, as was Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Peter, and Paul. Type I witnesses are rare, and generally are found at the beginning of a dispensation.
As we follow Abinadi’s story, we discover there was one who listened named Alma. Alma also displays a willingness to give his life as he pleads for Abinadi, but his witness will not require his blood. The Lord needs Alma to gather a people, and teach them the words of the Type I witness. Alma is an example of a Type II witness, the Leader. This type of witness often follows the first type, and picks up the mantle of leadership to gather a people unto the Lord. Joshua, Jacob, and Brigham Young serves as examples of this type. Even in our day we are led by this type of witness in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. This type of witness is more numerous then the first, but still generally small in numbers.
Finally in our story we come to the people who followed Alma as he followed Abinadi. These people covenant to stand as witnesses at all times “even until death.” Please note that their’s was “until” not “unto” death. Their witness is to be sealed by their lives, not their deaths. This type of witness covenants to mourn with and comfort those who suffer, to bear the burdens of others, and to administer to every need. This Type III witness is the faithful, rank and file of the kingdom. The Lord calls these the saints.
Which type of witness does the Lord need more of in terms of numbers? Obviously if all were Type I’s there would be no kingdom to build for all would’ve given their lives for it. All can’t belong to the Quorum of the Twelve because the Lord only needs twelve of them. The majority of the work of the kingdom is done by Type III witnesses. And the Lord needs us to be covenant keepers for life. Sometimes I fantasize about dying as a martyr, you know, going out in glory to be remembered forever. But then I think of my heroes, and how the Lord needs more Sams than He needs Nephis. My job is to put my shoulder to the wheel, to lift where I stand, and to sustain the work of the kingdom in my own personal ministery. There will be little recognition for this, except from those who really count, my family, my fellow laborers in my part of the vineyard, and my Lord.