All, who have reached an age of accountability and whose mental facilities haven’t been compromised, know good from evil. And all of us, at times, will choose evil. Doing so causes spiritual death and permanently so if one continues to choose evil leading up to the Last Judgment. Those who make a sincere effort to recognize the evil they have done and turn away from it in the name of Jesus Christ will have mercy extended to them, which will overcome the effects of spiritual death. This is God’s plan to save imperfect people.
“Wherefore, he gave commandments unto men, they having first transgressed the first commandments as to things which were temporal, and becoming as gods, knowing good from evil, placing themselves in a state to act, or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good—Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for on such the plan of redemption could have no power, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God.” (Alma 12:31-32)
But God did call on men in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy on you, through my Only Begotten Son. Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardenth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.” (Alma 12:33-34)
-How valuable to you is the ability to repent through Christ’s Atonement?
-How valuable is it to know about Christ’s Atonement now in terms of having a meaningful life and spiritual strength to help others?
God doesn’t make mistakes or run into issues accidentally. We are here in mortality because He planned it to be so. But when we came to this Earth we lost our memory of God’s plan and the eternal realms where we came from. Angels have been sent from the beginning to remind humankind of God’s plan of redemption.
“…[God] saw that it was expedient that man should know concerning the things whereof he had appointed unto them. Therefore he sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory. And they began from that time forth to call on his name; therefore God conversed with men, and made known unto them the plan of redemption, which had been prepared from the foundation of the world; and this he made known unto them according to their faith and repentance and their holy works.” (Alma 12:28-30)
-Is conversing with one of God’s messengers akin to conversing with God?
-Why does God usually send messengers instead of conversing with mortals directly?
-Are the angels that are sent to us always beings from the heavenly realms? Or, are they sometimes fellow mortals who are doing God’s work?
The Book of Mormon prophets affirm that Adam and Eve were real people. Their fall brought death (physical and spiritual) into the world, but God knew this would happen. His plan utilized the mortal life that occurred because of the Fall to give His spiritual children (all of us on Earth) experience we could have gained no other way. He then provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, to overcome physical death for all and provide an escape from spiritual death for those who choose to follow Christ.
The verses below teach that immortality is a curse without the healing power of Christ’s Atonement.
“Adam did fall by the partaking of the forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and thus we see, that by his fall, all mankind became a lost and fallen people. And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word of God would have been void…” (Alma 12:22-23)
“And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of salvation would have been frustrated…but behold it was not so; but it was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment…” (Alma 12:26-27)
-Are some still seeking the “tree of life” in our time?
-How likely is it that God would allow His children to obtain immortality if it would be a curse to them?
-Are cherubim with a flaming sword, figuratively speaking, still guarding the tree of life (if the tree of life represents immortality separate from that provided through Christ’s Atonement)? (see Genesis 3:24)
Alma teaches that our mortal lives are a time of preparation for the eternities.
“And we see that death comes upon mankind…which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.” (Alma 12:24)
-Do you do believe your spirit will continue to live after your physical body dies? And, other than no longer having a physical body, that you will still be you?
-Do you believe that your spirit will be reunited with your (reconstituted and perfected) physical body through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
-How important is it to come to grips with the truth about whether you will exist throughout the eternities or not?
-Is it ever wise to stay in the agnostic camp any longer than is necessary to decide what you believe?
-Do you think a person will live his or her life substantially differently based on whether they believe in the eternities or not?
-Can you see how, whether a person subscribes to the religion of atheism or another religion that believes mortal life is only part of the existential picture, religion is an inevitability for human beings?
-Which consequences have the potential to bear greater weight? Those that come from believing in your existence in the eternities and investing in mortal choices accordingly when existence in the eternities is a reality? Or, those that come from deciding there is no existence after death and making choices accordingly when there is no existence after death?
Alma provides a grave warning about the consequences of hardening one’s heart towards God’s word and Spirit.
“…If our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for we shall be condemned. For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence. But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.” (Alma 12:13-15)
“And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die as to things pertaining unto righteousness. This is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will. Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.” (Alma 12:16-18)
-Do you believe life is a proving ground and what we sow we will reap in perfect clarity before God at the Last Judgment?
-How does God’s word help one to sow in righteousness?
Alma teaches about the potential for spiritual growth versus the consequences of spiritual atrophy.
“It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.” (Alma 12:9-11)
-Based on the above verses, how important is it soften one’s heart in relation to God and His Spirit?
-Why do some harden their hearts against God and reject His word and His Spirit?
Amulek teaches about the meaning and reality of the Resurrection made possible through Jesus Christ.
Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death. The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt. Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ and Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil….[T]his mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption. (Alma 11:42-45)
-Do you believe that, because of Christ’s Resurrection, He has cleared the way for all of us to be resurrected as described in these verses?
-Will those who have repented and sought shelter in Christ’s power have any sense of guilt at the time of the Judgment?
Amulek teaches that reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ is the only way to obtain the kingdom of heaven. Such reconciliation requires true repentance away from sin.
“…No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.” (Alma 11:37)
“[Christ] shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death, for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.” (Alma 11:40-41)
-How does Christ draw a person from being in sin and save him or her from sin? Will He ever violate the principle of free agency to do so?
-If to be in sin means being complacent about wrongdoing, is it clear why Christ won’t save a person in his or her sin?
Teaching his fellow Nephites in the city of Ammonihah, Amulek testifies that the prayers of the righteous are all that is keeping God’s judgments from coming upon the people in the generally wicked city.
“…If it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction; yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword. But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared; now therefore, if ye will cast out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand; but in his fierce anger he will come out against you; then ye shall be smitten by famine, and by pestilence, and by the sword; and the time is soon at hand except ye repent.” (Alma 10:22-23)
-Are the righteous being cast out from any large groups or societies in our time? If so, will those who are removing the righteous from among them inevitably face famine, pestilence, and war?
Alma teaches the principle that we reap what we sow with our actions.
“…All men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil.” (Alma 9:28)
-If works can increase grace and grace can increase works. Does it make sense to denigrate the role of one or the other? Does it make more sense to emphasize their mutually reinforcing and “symbiotic” relationship?
-Since Christ has made works meaningful through His Atonement (opening up the way for the Father to treasure up all the good a person does and magnify it through all eternity), how vital is it to show appreciation for this unrivaled opportunity and move forward with good works?