The historian-prophet, Mormon, teaches of the Lord’s readiness to eternally bless all who will believe in Him and lay hold of His word.
“…The Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name. Yea, thus we may see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and snares and wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.” (Helaman 3:28-30)
– How valuable is the strait and narrow course mapped out in God’s scriptures?
-Have the majority of Americans rebelled against this narrow course? Or, do most still have a strong connection with it?
-Is it possible to sincerely call upon the name of Lord without also laying hold upon His word?
In about 62 B.C., the chief governor of the Nephites wrote the following truth…
“…The Spirit of God…is also the spirit of freedom…” (Alma 61:15)
-How is being a disciple of Jesus Christ a pathway to true freedom?
-If truth sets one free, is God the freest of all beings?
-How deeply does God desire to share the freedom He has obtained with His children?
Captain Moroni explains the order in which God works with individuals and groups of people.
“…God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also.” (Alma 60:23)
-How does this truth relate to Christ’s teaching that one should first remove the beam from his or her eye before trying to remove the mote that is in another’s eye? (Matthew 7:3-5)
Moroni, a Nephite captain, teaches that the Lord allows the righteous to be killed by the wicked in certain circumstances, but that these faithful souls immediately enter the Lord’s rest in the spirit world.
“For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God.” (Alma 60:13)
-Is a potential source of comfort lost when one realizes that the righteous, in some circumstances, are allowed by God to be killed?
-Can this loss of comfort, at least to some degree, be softened by the thought that a righteous person will never be called home to God before his or her time? And, that a righteous person will immediately enter into God’s rest?
Those who wield earthly power will answer to God for how they conduct themselves in relation to those they have power over. Below is a portion of a letter written by the Nephite military leader, Moroni, to governmental leaders he believed were abusing their power by neglecting the needs of their people and their armies.
“…My beloved brethren—for ye ought to be beloved; yea, and ye ought to have stirred yourselves more diligently for the welfare and the freedom of this people; but behold, ye have neglected them insomuch that the blood of thousands shall come upon your heads for vengeance; yea, for known unto God were all their cries, and all their sufferings—Behold could ye suppose that ye could sit upon your thrones, and because of the exceeding goodness of God ye could do nothing and he would deliver you? Behold, if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain. Do you suppose that, because so many of your brethren have been killed it is because of their wickedness? I say unto you, if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain; for I say unto you, there are many who have fallen by the sword; and behold it is to your condemnation. (Alma 60:10-12)
-Would fewer desire power over others if they had a clear understanding of how much responsibility (and potential condemnation) comes with that power?
-When societal leaders seek power for their own benefit (and the benefit of their family and friends), at the expense of those they have power over, how likely are they to be in good standing in God’s eyes?
Helaman, a prophet and military leader, recounts a miracle that occurred in the field of battle. A group of new recruits (two-thousand and sixty young men from a region of the Nephite nation where the gospel was strong and their families had taught them to have firm faith in God) were strengthened and protected by God:
“…My little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did administer death unto all those who opposed them. And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted…And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had fled, I immediately gave orders that my men who had been wounded should be taken from among the dead, and caused that their wounds should be dressed. And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds. And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.” (Alma 57:19-20, 24-26)
-What is the significance of the Lord allowing these young men to be injured but not allowing them to be killed?
-Can a person expect to go unscathed through life even when living faithfully?
Spiritual decay does not come slowly or with much resistance. It is actually, and unfortunately, the path of least resistance.
“…How quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one.” (Alma 46:8)
-Does the truth of the above passage explain why Satan is sometimes referred to as the ruler (or prince) of this world?
-How can a person learn not to forget God in their day to day life?
Alma teaches that the Americas (or at least the portion of the Americas that the Nephites once inhabited) is cursed by God towards any nation or societal group who chooses wickedness. Wholesale destruction will ensue when that wickedness reaches a maturation point that is intolerable to God.
“Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” (Alma 45:16)
-Are there signs that North America (or certain nations/regions within it) is maturing toward destruction because of wickedness? Does the same apply to South America? Or certain places there?
-How many are left who are willing to repent in the name of Jesus Christ? Or, who understand how important it is to do so?
The Lord does not expect His followers to be pacifists. In cases where patience and repeatedly “turning the other cheek” are not sufficient to secure a people’s physical safety and freedom, defensive bloodshed is justified. The passage below describes why the Nephites went to war with the Lamanites (a group who was intent on destroying the Nephites)
“…The Nephites…were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church. And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.” (Alma 43:46-47)
-Is it easy to identify the situations where bloodshed is justified by God?
-Based on the passage above, is there any question that such action should be a last resort?
Alma teaches that one should view his or her sins as God sees them—with no degree of excuse or allowance. Only then is one brought to the level of deep humility that makes sincere repentance possible.
“…Let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance…Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his longsuffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.” (Alma 42:29-30)
-In how many ways do people avoid looking their sins directly in the face?
-How does doing so cripple one spiritually and block the saving grace of Christ’s Atonement (the power of which He predicated upon repentance)?