Mercy Cannot Rob Justice

Alma teaches his son that true repentance prevents one’s evil deeds from coming full circle to condemn him or her at the Last Judgment. Through His Atonement, Christ took upon Himself our punishments on condition of repentance, but without sincere repentance such mercy has no claim and the punishments will be fully applied.

“…Justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. What, do you suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God. And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery. Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds. If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God.” (Alma 42:24-28)

Questions:

-How many chances does God give a person to repent?

-Will those who did not have a knowledge of Jesus Christ in mortality have an opportunity to repent once that knowledge is given to them in the spirit world?

The Work of Justice Could not be Destroyed. If so, God would Cease to be God

Alma teaches his son that God never deviates from upholding justice. The greatest example of this is the unimaginable suffering of Jesus Christ in working out the Atonement in our behalf. In so doing He satisfied the demands of justice—He did not circumvent those demands. Alma also teaches that sincere repentance is required, based on the demands of justice, for Christ’s Atonement to have saving power in our lives.

“…As the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death. Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state. And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord. And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience; Therefore, according to justice the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:9-13)

Questions:

-Why is the unwavering upholding of justice a characteristic of Godhood?

It Is Requisite That All Things Should Be Restored to Their Proper Order

Alma teaches his son that the restoration of the body to the spirit (Resurrection) is required as part of God’s perfect execution of justice in line with Christ’s Atonement.

“…The plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.” (Alma 41:2)

Questions:

-How does the Resurrection stem from God’s justice?

Gratitude: I am grateful to know our Heavenly Father will always uphold what is just and right. Everything, sooner or later, will come full circle in the light of truth and justice because of His wisdom and power (including the restoration of the body).

The Judgments of God are Always Just

King Mosiah addresses the reality that while God always judges justly, we mortal men and women do not.  

“…It is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.” (Mosiah 29:12)

Questions:

-When do the better judgments occur?

-Are the judgments of God active before the Last Judgment?

-Why will the Last Judgment be so final for each individual when compared to the other judgments of God that occur prior to the Last Judgment?

-Do those who have been judged harshly by mortals (whether deserved or not) often have a greater appreciation and yearning for God’s perfect judgment?

The Lord Redeemeth None That Rebel Against Him and Die in Their Sins

God always adheres to justice when Christ’s mercy cannot be applied based on the choices individuals make.

“…The Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have willfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them….For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.” (Mosiah 15:26-27)

Questions:

-Do you believe it is right that God holds each person responsible for what he or she knows and how he or she acts in relation to that knowledge?

-What causes people to willfully rebel against the gospel knowledge they have?

God Breaketh the Bands of Death

The prophet Abinadi foretold (in about 148 B.C.) how Jesus Christ, during His mortal life on earth, would unfailingly do His Father’s will—even as doing so would lead to Christ’s suffering and death which He would endure in our behalf. Christ now stands, with great compassion and mercy, between all mankind and justice.

“…He shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men—Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.” (Mosiah 15:7-9)

Questions:

-Will justice still be applied to those who rejected Christ in this life (after coming to a full knowledge of His gospel) and who will reject Him at the time of the Final Judgement? Will He apply His merciful power against anyone’s will?

All Are Alike unto God

The prophet Nephi provides additional insight into God’s perfect and just way of working with His children.

“…The Lord…doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (2 Nephi 26:33)

Questions:

-Do you believe a just God would ever show favoritism toward any of his children on earth?

-What is the difference between His showing favoritism, and the favor He shows those who repent and seek to follow the portion of His commandments they have?

-Would He judge those who do not have His law (those who Nephi refers to as the heathens) by His law?

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

“The Book of Mormon promises that all who receive and act upon the Lord’s invitation to ‘repent and believe in his Son’ become ‘the covenant people of the Lord’ (2 Nephi 30:2). This is a potent reminder that neither riches nor lineage nor any other privileges of birth should cause us to believe that we are ‘better one than another’ (Alma 5:54; see also Jacob 3:9). Indeed, the Book of Mormon commands, ‘Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another’ (Mosiah 23:7)” (Dallin H. Oaks, “All Men Everywhere,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 79).

“All men and women have not only a physical lineage leading back to Adam and Eve, their first earthly parents, but also a spiritual heritage leading back to God the Eternal Father. Thus, all persons on earth are literally brothers and sisters in the family of God.

“It is in understanding and accepting this universal fatherhood of God that all human beings can best appreciate God’s concern for them and their relationship to each other. This is a message of life and love that strikes squarely against all stifling traditions based on race, language, economic or political standing, educational rank, or cultural background, for we are all of the same spiritual descent” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter [2015], 123–24).

Thy Ways Are Just

Nephi saw in a prophetic vision that, that after falling into deep wickedness, many of his people in the Americas would be destroyed at the time of Christ’s death and resurrection (around A.D. 33-34). Though it is a great burden on his soul to have this knowledge, Nephi resolutely testifies that God is just in all that He does.

“…After the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them.” (2 Nephi 26:3)

“And they shall be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions, for the fire of the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against them, and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (2 Nephi 26:6)

“O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto God: Thy ways are just.” (2 Nephi 26:7)

Questions:

-Do you believe, as Nephi, that God’s ways are just?

-When God allows the physical destruction of those of his children who have fallen into wickedness as described in the verses above, is He still acting out of concern for their eternal welfare?

-Can only God feel righteous anger and still be justified? Or, is righteous anger possible for mortals as well?

All Are Alike unto God

The prophet Nephi provides additional insight into God’s perfect and just way of working with His children.

“…The Lord…doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (2 Nephi 26:33)

Questions:

-Do you believe a just God would ever show favoritism toward any of his children on earth?

-What is the difference between His showing favoritism, and the favor He shows those who repent and seek to follow the portion of His commandments they have?

-Would He judge those who do not have His law (those who Nephi refers to as the heathens) by His law?

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

“The Book of Mormon promises that all who receive and act upon the Lord’s invitation to ‘repent and believe in his Son’ become ‘the covenant people of the Lord’ (2 Nephi 30:2). This is a potent reminder that neither riches nor lineage nor any other privileges of birth should cause us to believe that we are ‘better one than another’ (Alma 5:54; see also Jacob 3:9). Indeed, the Book of Mormon commands, ‘Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another’ (Mosiah 23:7)” (Dallin H. Oaks, “All Men Everywhere,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 79).

“All men and women have not only a physical lineage leading back to Adam and Eve, their first earthly parents, but also a spiritual heritage leading back to God the Eternal Father. Thus, all persons on earth are literally brothers and sisters in the family of God.

“It is in understanding and accepting this universal fatherhood of God that all human beings can best appreciate God’s concern for them and their relationship to each other. This is a message of life and love that strikes squarely against all stifling traditions based on race, language, economic or political standing, educational rank, or cultural background, for we are all of the same spiritual descent” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter [2015], 123–24).

Thy Ways Are Just

Nephi saw in a prophetic vision that, that after falling into deep wickedness, many of his people in the Americas would be destroyed at the time of Christ’s death and resurrection (around A.D. 33-34). Though it is a great burden on his soul to have this knowledge, Nephi resolutely testifies that God is just in all that He does.

“…After the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them.” (2 Nephi 26:3)

“And they shall be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions, for the fire of the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against them, and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (2 Nephi 26:6)

“O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto God: Thy ways are just.” (2 Nephi 26:7)

Questions:

-Do you believe, as Nephi, that God’s ways are just?

-When God allows the physical destruction of those of his children who have fallen into wickedness as described in the verses above, is He still acting out of concern for their eternal welfare?

-Can only God feel righteous anger and still be justified? Or, is righteous anger possible for mortals as well?