If a Man Bringeth Forth Good Works He Hearkeneth unto the Voice of the Good Shepherd

Alma teaches that there are two primary voices calling out to the human soul.

“…I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh of God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil. Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him; but whosoever bringeth forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the devil, for he hearkenth unto his voice, and doth follow him. And whosoever doeth this must receive his wages of him; therefore, for his wages he receiveth death, as to things pertaining to righteousness, being dead unto all good works.” (Alma 5:40-42)

Questions:

-Does someone have to be “saved” in order to do good works? Does Christ only reach out to those who call themselves Christian with His voice? Or, does He call out to all men and women?

-Can a person follow the light and spirit of Christ without even knowing His name?

-How many Christians, who consider themselves saved or claim to be saved, are actually earning the wages of death as described in the verses above?

-How many non-Christians are making the most of the light they have and are truly bringing forth good works?

If Ye Are Not the Sheep of the Good Shepherd, the Devil Is Your Shepherd

Alma teaches that hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord is the only way not to be led astray by Satan.

“O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice! Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd. And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil.” (Alma 5:37-39)

Questions:

-Is there anyone on the earth that Christ is not calling out to?

-How many in the world are hearing and obeying the voice of Jesus Christ? How many in the world are being led by the devil?

-How many profess to know the voice of Christ and profess to follow it but are, in fact, being led by Satan? -Will God hold those accountable who don’t know where to look to escape the vicious cycles and systems of the world (that the devil has stirred into existence) but are doing their best to do good based on the level of light and knowledge they have?

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)

He Who Makes a Mock of His Brother Is Not Prepared to Meet God

Alma declares that the mocker and persecutor is not suited for heaven.

“…Is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions? Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!” (Alma 5:30-31)

Questions:

-Is there ever a point where the time isn’t “at hand” for each mortal soul?

-How precious is the opportunity to have life — moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour – and show God who we are during this time of mortality?

-Why is now always the best time to repent?

He Who Envies Is Not Found Guiltless

Alma identifies envy as an attribute that undermines one’s preparedness to meet God.

“…Is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? I say unto you that such an one is not prepared; and I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand, and he knoweth not when the time shall come; for such as one is not found guiltless.” (Alma 5:29)

Questions:

-What is envy? (Click the “envy” link above for a definition)

-Why does being an envious person assign guilt in God’s eyes?

-In what sense is the hour of judgment close at hand for every living soul? Does anyone know exactly when this or her life will end?

If Ye Are Not Stripped of Pride Ye Are Not Prepared to Meet God

Alma declares the absolute necessity of removing pride from one’s soul in preparation to meet God.

“…Are you stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.” (Alma 5:28)

Questions:

-What is pride? (click “pride” link above)

-Why is pride so detrimental to our relationship with God (and our standing at the Day of Judgment)?

-How can pride be stripped from one’s heart?

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 Man Receiveth Wages of Him Whom He Listeth to Obey

The prophet-historian, Mormon, reflecting on a period of war and death among the Nephites, teaches of spiritual cause and effect and how death is a defining moment for individuals passing into the eternities.

“…In one year were thousands and tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one. For every man receiveth wages of him whom he listeth to obey…” (Alma 3:26-27)

Questions:

-How many carefully account for the spiritual wages they are earning based on the spirit they are obeying? Is it possible to take account of one’s spiritual status?

-Why would a person choose to obey a bad spirit? Is the temptation to sacrifice long-term happiness for short-term pleasure part of the equation?

-Can Satan and his spiritual servants make evil look good and good look evil?

-How much of what passes as good in our time and culture is actually evil and vice versa?

For a free copy of the Book of Mormon please go to https://www.ComeUntoChrist.org/site/book-of-mormon

Every Man That is Cursed Brings upon Himself His Own Condemnation

After a group of people rebelled against the Nephites and separated from them (and the Lord’s church that was central to the Nephite’s culture) the estranged group began marking their foreheads with red. The mark they placed on their heads fulfilled an earlier prophecy that God would curse and mark all who separated themselves from the Nephites who were striving to follow the Lord and live righteously. Interestingly, the rebellious group marked themselves instead of God directly marking them.

“…They had come out in open rebellion against God; therefore it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them. Now I would that ye should see that they brought upon themselves the curse; and even so doeth every man that is cursed bring upon himself his own condemnation.” (Alma 3:18-19)

Questions:

-Are those who are coming out in open rebellion against God, in our time, marking themselves?

-Is it inevitable that these markers manifest themselves every time a group fights against God and His people?

-Do people generally like to mark their territory, figuratively speaking, when it comes to their beliefs and values? Is there something satisfying about expressing one’s position in a physical or visual manner?

-Do those who are true followers of the Lord have markers? Are those markers visual or behavioral? (see John 13:35 and Doctrine and Covenants 50:24)

If the Voice of the People Doth Choose Iniquity, Then Is the Time That the Judgments of God Will Come upon You

When King Mosiah is enacting measures to transition the Nephite government from a monarchy to a more democratic form, he adds an important point of warning.

“…If the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.” (Mosiah 29:27)

Questions:

-Is the voice of the people choosing iniquity in the United States? Is the voice of the people choosing iniquity in other democratic nations?

-Is the land that has hitherto been visited with great destruction all the Americas? Or is it a specific region within the Americas?