There is None That Knoweth These Things, Save it be the Penitent

Ammon, a Nephite missionary, teaches that the deepest spiritual truths can only be known after a person awakes to, and acts on, the absolute necessity of relying on Jesus Christ to cross over the abyss of spiritual death and obtain salvation.

“…In his great mercy [Christ] hath brought us over that everlasting gulf of death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls. And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent.” (Alma 26:21)

Questions:

-What brings a person face to face with the reality of spiritual death within him- or herself?

-How difficult is it to face the reality of spiritual death within oneself and then seek to reconcile oneself to God? How tenaciously does the “ego” within a person often fight this process?

The Grave Shall Have No Victory

Aaron, a Nephite missionary, teaches the Lamanite king about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“…Since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance…and…[Christ] breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…” (Alma 22:14)

Questions:

-What can be merited through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

-Can anything be merited without it?

-Is Christ’s Atonement an invitation to good works, since nothing can be merited without the Atonement, but much can be merited (your good works can be magnified by God) with it?

-Are you willing to accept the victory of the grave? Or, do you choose to believe in the testimony of Aaron that death isn’t the end, but has been conquered by Jesus Christ?

There Could Be No Redemption for Mankind Save it Were Through the Death and Suffering of Christ and the Atonement of His Blood

Aaron, a Nephite missionary, teaches that…

“…There could be no redemption for mankind save it were through the death and suffering of Christ, and the atonement of his blood.” (Alma 21:9)

Questions:

-Does God redeem His children (mankind) outside of the demands of justice?

-Was there any other way to satisfy the demands of justice, while still showing mercy, without God providing an atoning Savior?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. … He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so” (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 613).

If Thou Believest in the Redemption of Christ Thou Canst Be Healed

After realizing the extent of his guilt before God, (having helped incite violence against a prophet of God and other innocent people) a Nephite named Zeezrom is completely overwhelmed to the point where he becomes physically ill. As he lies sick in bed, wrestling with the horror of what he has done, he requests a visit from the prophet Alma. When Alma and his companion Amulek hear that Zeerom is in need, they come quickly…

“…and when [Zeezrom] saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him. And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation? And he answered and said: Yea I believe all the words that thou hast taught. And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed. And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ. And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk…” (Alma 15:5-11)

Questions:

-How many in the world need the kind of healing that Zeezrom received?

-Is it possible that Zeezrom could have found healing from Christ without Alma’s (or another of the Lord’s servant’s) guidance and help?

-How many, figuratively speaking, would leap out of their spiritual and mental doldrums if they were to believe in the redemption of Christ and receive His Holy Spirit?

-In what ways are physical and spiritual illness sometimes linked?

Christ Is Mighty to Save and to Cleanse from All Unrighteousness

Alma extends an invitation to repent and enter into the baptismal covenant. This, he declares, is the path that leads to eternal life (for those who stay on the covenant path).

“…Ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism. And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.” (Alma 7:14-16)

Questions:

-Are there habits or patterns of action in your life that you feel are binding you down to destruction?

-Is keeping the commandments different from following them perfectly?

-Since Christ is mighty to save, is there any question that keeping God’s commandments dear to your heart, and striving to do better in relationship to them day by day, will keep God’s Spirit and grace with you? What kind of person will you become with God’s help (in this life and in the eternities)?

Come unto Me and Bring Forth Works of Righteousness

The prophet Alma calls those who are not in good standing with God to change course.

“…Wo unto all ye workers of iniquity; repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it! Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you. Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely; Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire—for behold, the time is at hand that whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit, or whosoever doeth not the works of righteousness, the same have cause to wail and mourn.” (Alma 5:32-36)

Questions:

-Based on the passage above, how willing is God to receive those who are willing to repent?

-Has a person truly repented if they don’t bring about good works in the world?

-What are works of righteousness? Can good things be done for less than the best reasons?

-How important is it to come to Christ before seeking to do good? Does He have the power to greatly multiply the efficacy of our works in a manner similar to how He multiplied the disciple’s loaves and fish for the multitude as recorded in the New Testament? (Mark 6:35-44)

There Can No Man Be Saved Except His Garments Are Washed White

Alma compares the purification of the soul, necessary to meet God with a clear conscience, with the wearing of white clothes that have been washed perfectly clean. Only the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to stand before God without stain. Those who have not drawn on the cleansing power of Christ’s Atonement will stand before God with the spiritual equivalent of filthy clothes due to the stain of sin. Alma asks a series of questions showing, when answered honestly, that one’s current status before God can be assessed now. It is not necessary, or wise, to wait for the final assessment that will occur at the Last Judgment.

“Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?” (Alma 5:15-16)

“Or do you imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you? Or, otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with you souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?” (Alma 5:17-18)

“I say unto you, can you look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil? I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot  be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.” (Alma 5:19-21)

Questions:

-How do you feel about the eight or so questions Alma asks above?

-Is there any limit to Christ’s power to remove the stains of sin when a person is in the sincere habit of repenting immediately for mistakes and then striving to not repeat them?

-What is the difference between Christ saving people from their sins and Christ saving people in their sins? (see Alma 11:32-37)

Every Knee Shall Bow and Every Tongue Confess

Alma testifies that all will recognize Christ for who He is as our Lord and Redeemer.

“…Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye.” (Mosiah 27:31)

Questions:

-What does it mean to live without God?

-It is a choice whether you live with or without Him?

-What choices can you make to draw closer to God?

-Do those who sincerely and diligently seek God, find God?

-Will those who never drew closer to the light of God during this life shake, tremble, and quake (i.e. be overwhelmed spiritually) when His full glory is revealed to them at the Judgment Day?

As Often as My People Repent Will I Forgive Them

Alma, a Nephite prophet, was troubled by members of the Lord’s church who were committing sin and not repenting. He was hesitant to take action because he didn’t want to judge them wrongly in the Lord’s eyes, but felt action needed to be taken. As he prayed, the Lord revealed the principles discussed in the previous post (This Is My Church) as well as the following:

“…Whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive and I will forgive him also. Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.” (Mosiah 26:29-30)

Questions:

– Does the Lord forgive sin without repentance?

-What does it mean to truly repent?

-Is it possible to repent if a person doesn’t understand who Christ is and why God the Father sent him?

He is a Light That is Endless That Can Never be Darkened

The prophet Abinadi (speaking in about 148 B.C.) testifies of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

“And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption. And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection. But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless that there can be no more death.” (Mosiah 16:6-9)

 Questions:

-How does one draw close to the endless light and life offered by Jesus Christ?

-Can that light and life be nurtured in our hearts and minds so that it grows steadily within us?

-Who would consciously reject the potential of such a gift?