The Book of Mormon was recorded on metal plates and translated by the power of God as a message to scattered Israel in the latter days before the return of Jesus Christ. The record that would become the Book of Mormon was written according to God’s will when the prophet Moroni hid the plates in the ground about 421 A.D., and it was translated, faithfully, according to His will by an unsophisticated young man (Joseph Smith) who was called and prepared by the Lord for this purpose in the early 1800’s. To stand as a second witness of Jesus Christ, avoiding the intellectually and spiritually corrupted systems of the world, God saw fit that the Book of Mormon would come forth in this miraculous manner. The Book of Mormon is an invitation to “more fully believe” the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“…These things are written unto the remnant of the house of Jacob; and they are written after this manner, because it is known of God that wickedness will not bring them forth unto them; and they are to be hid up unto the Lord that they may come forth in his own due time. And this is the commandment which I have received; and behold, they shall come forth according to the commandment of the Lord, when he shall see fit, in his wisdom. And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go—that they be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, the great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant. And also that [the descendants of Lehi] may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles…” (Mormon 5:12-15)
-How sure are God’s promises to His covenant people, including the Jews and all the descendants of Israel?
-Are His promises any less sure for those who are not descendants of Jacob but have taken upon themselves the covenants of the Restored Gospel and, thereby, joined themselves with Israel?
Treasures secured for any other reason than to serve God are cursed (and a curse upon those who secure the treasure without deference to God).
“…I will, saith the Lord, that they hide up their treasures unto me; and cursed be they who hide not their treasures unto me; for none hideth up their treasures unto me save it be the righteous; and he that hideth not up his treasures unto me, cursed is he, and also the treasure…” (Helaman 13:19)
-Is the following statement true? Part of the reason why those who, outside the intent to serve God, amass great wealth are cursed is because their tainted wealth also affects others negatively (often on a large scale due to the wide-ranging influence of their ungodly power and riches).
-Do the sophisticated, atheistic, and agnostic wealthy (i.e. those who have no deference to God) tend to see themselves as filling in for a God that they see as missing or non-existent?
-Is playing God with the lives of others, where the will of a few overrides the will and agency of the many, ever end up being a good thing?
-What does it look like when a righteous person amasses wealth to serve God?
-How likely is the above-mentioned righteous person to be a well-known influence peddler and high-profile benefactor rather than an anonymous or low-profile benefactor?
While recording the history of the Nephite people on the Gold Plates, Mormon pauses to describe the tragic tendency for people to take God for granted, forget Him, and discount His power at the very time of their greatest prosperity under his care.
“…We can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him. Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity. And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.” (Helaman 12:1-3)
-Why does prosperity tempt people to turn away from God?
-Is it possible to avoid this temptation? How does one do so?
-How important is it to remember God?
The wicked succeed or fail based on their own strength. The repentant, on the other hand, can draw on God’s strength.
“I will not show unto the wicked of my strength, to one more than the other, save it be unto those who repent of their sins, and hearken unto my words…” (Helaman 7:23)
-How can one move from living and acting apart from God to living and acting with the help of God’s strength?
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?
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)
Alma teaches that a person must walk according to God’s decrees in order to be saved.
“…The decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.” (Alma 41:8)
-What are the decrees of God?
-How important is the necessity of repentance through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (as one of God’s decrees)?
Alma testifies of the surety of God’s promises.
“…God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words. For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you…” (Alma 37:16-17)
-What promises has God made to you?
-Do you live your life in confidence that those promises will be fulfilled?
Alma teaches his son about the more subtle power God often chooses to employ as a means of bringing about great results, most specifically the salvation of souls.
“…By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6-7)
-In discussions about God’s attributes, how often is perfect finesse mentioned?
-When life is a measure of our faith and true desires—and the cumulative use of one’s free agency is what will be put in the balance on the Day of Judgment—how much finesse is needed by a loving God who desires to bring all (who are willing) back to His presence for eternity?
-Would life be a meaningful proving ground for the eternities (and test of faith) if God frequently revealed Himself beyond small means?
-How often do people overlook what God is doing in their lives because they are looking for grandiose interventions?
-How off base are those among the intelligentsia/academicians who see the world as being firmly a matter of intention-less cause and effect separate from the powerful “undercurrents” of God’s interventions?
Alma testifies that God is eternally steady and true in His course. Those who do not reconcile themselves to His perfect course before the Last Judgment will be eternally separated from He who never turns from “that which is right to that which is wrong.”
“[God] cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round. And he doth not dwell in unholy temples; neither can filthiness or anything which is unclean be received into the kingdom of God; therefore I say unto you the time shall come, yea, and it shall be at the last day, that he who is filthy shall remain in his filthiness.” (Alma 7:20-21)
-Why is God’s course described as a round rather than, say, as a straight line?
-Who is the only One who can provide reconciliation with God?