Repentance, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, makes or breaks the soul of one who understands who Christ is and what He has done to prepare the way for each individual person spiritually and eternally.
“…Thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not.” (Helaman 13:11)
-Will everyone who ever lived have a chance to receive or reject Christ’s Atonement before the Last Judgment?
The raising of the brass serpent by Moses portended the raising of Christ upon the cross and His glorious resurrection. Having risen from the grave, He prepared the way for us all
“…As [Moses] lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, so shall [the Messiah] be lifted up who should come. And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.” (Helaman 8:15)
-Is it possible to “look” to Christ without faith and without a contrite spirit?
-Do different Christian faiths (and their individual congregations) influence their adherents, either negatively or positively, toward having a contrite spirit and having faith when looking to Christ?
The prophet Helaman teaches his sons about the one sure Foundation upon which a person can build.
“…Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” (Helaman 5:12)
-If one builds his or her foundation on anything or anyone besides Christ, are they sure to fall sooner or later?
-How can a person build his or her foundation on Christ?
-Are spiritual foundations the deepest foundations?
Alma teaches that Christ’s Atonement occurred because God desired to extend mercy to us while still upholding justice.
“…Thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence. And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.” (Alma 42:14-15)
Questions: -How many realize they are in the grasp of justice without Christ’s intervention (which He made for those who repent)?
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)
-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?
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)
-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?
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)
-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. , 613).
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)
-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?
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)
-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)?
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)
-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)