Jesus Christ taught the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (who were of the house of Israel) many of the same gospel principles He taught to His Jewish disciples in the Old World. The teachings as recorded in the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament, known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants.
Below is the fifth of the Beatitudes, as recorded in the King James version of Matthew, and the comparable teaching as found in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
“And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (3 Nephi 12:7)
-Is it possible for a person to be both merciful and just in their actions? Or, does insisting on justice always downplay mercy and vice versa?
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?
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)
-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?
Alma teaches that transgressing God’s law, in the absence of repentance, demands punishment. But sincere repentance allows such sins to be forgiven through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“…Repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul. Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment? Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man. Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder? And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin. And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?” (Alma 42:16-21)
“But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored to his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.” (Alma 42:22-23)
-Is a person inevitably in the grasp of justice when he or she knows God’s law but does not humble himself or herself before God in sincere repentance on a regular basis?
Alma teaches that God’s mercy is extended to all who will repent.
“…Whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.” (Alma 32:13)
-Why do some yearn for mercy from God and others hardly give it thought?
All, who have reached an age of accountability and whose mental facilities haven’t been compromised, know good from evil. And all of us, at times, will choose evil. Doing so causes spiritual death and permanently so if one continues to choose evil leading up to the Last Judgment. Those who make a sincere effort to recognize the evil they have done and turn away from it in the name of Jesus Christ will have mercy extended to them, which will overcome the effects of spiritual death. This is God’s plan to save imperfect people.
“Wherefore, he gave commandments unto men, they having first transgressed the first commandments as to things which were temporal, and becoming as gods, knowing good from evil, placing themselves in a state to act, or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good—Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for on such the plan of redemption could have no power, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God.” (Alma 12:31-32)
But God did call on men in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy on you, through my Only Begotten Son. Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardenth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.” (Alma 12:33-34)
-How valuable to you is the ability to repent through Christ’s Atonement?
-How valuable is it to know about Christ’s Atonement now in terms of having a meaningful life and spiritual strength to help others?
Alma teaches of the Lord’s unwavering commitment to assist when sought after.
“…The Lord will be merciful unto all who call on his name.” (Alma 9:17)
-In how many ways can the Lord’s mercy be expressed in a life?
-Knowing all things from the beginning, is it possible He will express His mercy in unexpected ways? Or, in ways not requested?
-Does the truth expressed above help explain why missionary work is so important? Is it possible to call on the Lord for mercy if a person doesn’t know there is a loving God from whom help can be received?
King Mosiah refers back to a (then) recent event in Nephite history to help teach an essential principle about how God works with his children.
“Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage. And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now. But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him.” (Mosiah 29:18-20)
-Are you in bondage to a situation or an addiction?
-Do you believe the above verses describe the only way to obtain true freedom?
-What does it mean to repent? (click the “repentance” link above)
-What does it mean to humble oneself before the Lord? (click the “humble” link above)
-What does it mean to trust in God? (click the “trust” link above)
For a Free Copy of the Book of Mormon go to: https://www.comeuntochrist.org/beliefs/book-of-mormon-request
The Nephites following the prophet Alma were required to endure captivity for a time, but the Lord helped them through their trials and declared the following to them:
“…Ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” (Mosiah 24:14)
-Can a person come to know God more from the trials he or she passes through than from times of ease?
-Are greater blessings granted to those who are keeping the commandments and following the voice of the Spirit?
In teaching (and warning) King Noah and his priests, the prophet Abinadi reemphasizes what other prophets had taught before him: The Resurrection and the Judgment are closely tied and, together, define the eternal state of each soul.
“…This mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation—Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.” (Mosiah 16:10-12)
-Does God make sure that we are given every chance in mortality (and even in the spirit world) to turn to Him?
-By the time of the Resurrection will everyone’s true desires be expressed through the actions they took leading to that culminating event?