The Lord’s servants preach against specific actions that tear at the fabric of society and corrupt the soul.
“…Those priests who did go forth among the people did preach against all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and malice, and revilings, and stealing, robbing, plundering, murdering, committing adultery, and all manner of lasciviousness, crying that these things ought not so to be…” (Alma 16:18)
-How many of the above things does popular culture in the United States take lightly?
-How much damage has been done to our society and culture because some of these things have been treated as though they aren’t the spiritual and societal poison they are?
-Do some businesses, corporations, and media outlets have systems set up that profit from a degree of deception and disingenuousness?
-Do some politicians and practitioners of law benefit from the creation of strife, malice, reviling and envying?
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?
How one approaches his or her relationship with God matters if one desires to enter His rest.
“…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.” (Alma 13:28-29)
-How is humility towards God tied to overcoming temptation?
-How does the Holy Spirit lead a person to become humble, meek, submissive to God, patient, full of love, and long-suffering?
True Priesthood leadership comes from those who are called by God and do not harden their hearts against the truth and power of Christ’s Atonement.
“…They have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the blindness of their minds…” (Alma 13:4)
“…Thus this holy calling [was] prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared.” (Alma 13:5)
-How much intelligence, truth, and grace can flow into a heart that is open to God’s Spirit and the power of Christ’s Atonement?
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?
God doesn’t make mistakes or run into issues accidentally. We are here in mortality because He planned it to be so. But when we came to this Earth we lost our memory of God’s plan and the eternal realms where we came from. Angels have been sent from the beginning to remind humankind of God’s plan of redemption.
“…[God] saw that it was expedient that man should know concerning the things whereof he had appointed unto them. Therefore he sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory. And they began from that time forth to call on his name; therefore God conversed with men, and made known unto them the plan of redemption, which had been prepared from the foundation of the world; and this he made known unto them according to their faith and repentance and their holy works.” (Alma 12:28-30)
-Is conversing with one of God’s messengers akin to conversing with God?
-Why does God usually send messengers instead of conversing with mortals directly?
-Are the angels that are sent to us always beings from the heavenly realms? Or, are they sometimes fellow mortals who are doing God’s work?
The Book of Mormon prophets affirm that Adam and Eve were real people. Their fall brought death (physical and spiritual) into the world, but God knew this would happen. His plan utilized the mortal life that occurred because of the Fall to give His spiritual children (all of us on Earth) experience we could have gained no other way. He then provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, to overcome physical death for all and provide an escape from spiritual death for those who choose to follow Christ.
The verses below teach that immortality is a curse without the healing power of Christ’s Atonement.
“Adam did fall by the partaking of the forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and thus we see, that by his fall, all mankind became a lost and fallen people. And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word of God would have been void…” (Alma 12:22-23)
“And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of salvation would have been frustrated…but behold it was not so; but it was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment…” (Alma 12:26-27)
-Are some still seeking the “tree of life” in our time?
-How likely is it that God would allow His children to obtain immortality if it would be a curse to them?
-Are cherubim with a flaming sword, figuratively speaking, still guarding the tree of life (if the tree of life represents immortality separate from that provided through Christ’s Atonement)? (see Genesis 3:24)
Alma teaches that our mortal lives are a time of preparation for the eternities.
“And we see that death comes upon mankind…which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.” (Alma 12:24)
-Do you do believe your spirit will continue to live after your physical body dies? And, other than no longer having a physical body, that you will still be you?
-Do you believe that your spirit will be reunited with your (reconstituted and perfected) physical body through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
-How important is it to come to grips with the truth about whether you will exist throughout the eternities or not?
-Is it ever wise to stay in the agnostic camp any longer than is necessary to decide what you believe?
-Do you think a person will live his or her life substantially differently based on whether they believe in the eternities or not?
-Can you see how, whether a person subscribes to the religion of atheism or another religion that believes mortal life is only part of the existential picture, religion is an inevitability for human beings?
-Which consequences have the potential to bear greater weight? Those that come from believing in your existence in the eternities and investing in mortal choices accordingly when existence in the eternities is a reality? Or, those that come from deciding there is no existence after death and making choices accordingly when there is no existence after death?
Alma provides a grave warning about the consequences of hardening one’s heart towards God’s word and Spirit.
“…If our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for we shall be condemned. For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence. But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.” (Alma 12:13-15)
“And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die as to things pertaining unto righteousness. This is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will. Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.” (Alma 12:16-18)
-Do you believe life is a proving ground and what we sow we will reap in perfect clarity before God at the Last Judgment?
-How does God’s word help one to sow in righteousness?
Alma teaches about the potential for spiritual growth versus the consequences of spiritual atrophy.
“It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.” (Alma 12:9-11)
-Based on the above verses, how important is it soften one’s heart in relation to God and His Spirit?
-Why do some harden their hearts against God and reject His word and His Spirit?