Every Seed Bringeth Forth unto Its Own Likeness

Alma continues to teach about the beginnings of faith and how to obtain spiritual knowledge.

“…If ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge. But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.” (Alma 32:28-31)

“Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it growth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away. And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word has swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doeth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doeth begin to expand.” (Alma 32:32-34)

“O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good. And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say; Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit. But if ye neglect the tree and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.” (Alma 32:35-38)

“And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life. But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white, yea, pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.” (Alma 32:40-43)

Questions:

-Will you conduct the experiment Alma describes in the verses above?

God is Merciful unto All Who Believe on His Name

Alma teaches that belief in God and His word, in the initial phases of faith, is a matter of choice. The truths of the gospel can never be meaningfully explored and tested without initial steps of hope and faith into the realm of belief.

“…Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word. And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.” (Alma 32:21-23)

Questions:

-Have you made the choice to believe in God?

-Is there any other way to start down the path of spiritual growth and knowledge?

-What is the hope that leads to redeeming spiritual knowledge (see Moro. 7:40–43)

If a Man Knoweth a Thing He Hath No Cause to Believe

Alma alludes to why God is sparing in showing signs to those who do not exercise faith in Him.

“…There are many that do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. And now, how much more cursed is he that knoweth the will of God and doeth it not, than he that only believeth, or only hath cause to believe, and falleth into transgression.” (Alma 32:17-19)

Questions:

-How many have developed spiritual character to the point where they would do the will of God no matter the difficulty involved in doing so?

Blessed are They Who Humble Themselves without Being Compelled to be Humble

Alma teaches that humility before God always brings blessings, but the blessings are greatest for those who humble themselves rather than being humbled by outside circumstances and events.

“…He that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble…Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word of God, or even compelled to known, before they will believe.” (Alma 32:15-16)

Questions:

-What does it mean to be compelled to be humble?

-If Christ’s Second Coming were to occur tomorrow, how many would be quickly compelled by outside circumstances to face their true standing with God?

-Is intentionally humbling oneself before God day in and day out (e.g. by keeping His commandments, serving others, having meaningful prayers, and studying His gospel) the only way not to be eventually compelled to be humble by circumstances and events?

The Lord Doth Counsel in Wisdom

Alma teaches that God gives a portion of His perfect knowledge to each nation and people of the Earth according to His perfect wisdom regarding what they should have.

“…The Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.” (Alma 29:8)

Questions:

-Can you start to better understand who God is when surveying the rich tapestry of the best and most refined aspects of all the different nations, languages, and cultures covering the Earth?

-Can you imagine bringing all that is good, wise, and praiseworthy among all the people of the Earth into your being?

  • Does the potential of doing this (and more) in the eternities begin to give insight to what Christ meant when he told His disciples that His Father’s house has many mansions? (John 14:2)
  • Is the wisdom and truth God has bestowed upon His creations limited to this Earth?  

God Granteth unto Men According to Their Desire

Alma proclaims the truth that God allows the expression of individual will to choose between good and evil. God also decrees the consequences of the choices made: Joy for those who choose good and remorse of conscience for those who choose evil.

“…[God] granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.” (Alma 29:4-5)

Questions:

-What is the source of conscience? (See Light of Christ)

-What are the results of ignoring one’s conscience?

-How is remorse of conscience related to spiritual death and evil?

-How does one choose the good and reject evil? -How is joy related to eternal life and goodness?

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

“The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether initially it be to your individual liking or not. When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered in His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience. If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you. [See 1 Nephi 3:7.]

“Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want. This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you. That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be. [See D&C 58:26–32.]” (Richard G. Scott, “Finding Joy in Life,” Ensign, May 1996, 25).

If Thou Believest in the Redemption of Christ Thou Canst Be Healed

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)

Questions:

-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?

This Life Is a Time to Prepare to Meet God

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)

Questions:

-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?

If Our Hearts Have Been Hardened Against the Word of God, Then Will Our State Be Awful

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)

Questions:

-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?