All Men Shall Reap a Reward of Their Works

Alma teaches the principle that we reap what we sow with our actions.

“…All men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil.” (Alma 9:28)

Questions:

-If works can increase grace and grace can increase works. Does it make sense to denigrate the role of one or the other? Does it make more sense to emphasize their mutually reinforcing and “symbiotic” relationship?

-Since Christ has made works meaningful through His Atonement (opening up the way for the Father to treasure up all the good a person does and magnify it through all eternity), how vital is it to show appreciation for this unrivaled opportunity and move forward with good works?

He is Full of Grace, Equity, and Truth

Alma describes the nature of the glory that fills and radiates from God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

“…The Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers.” (Alma 9:26)

Questions:

-Have you ever thought of God’s glory in terms of the intensity of His love and goodness towards His creations?

-Would God’s power be glorious (from the human perspective) if it was unaligned with His perfectly pure and generous intentions for our welfare?

The Lord Will Be Merciful unto All Who Call on His Name

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)

Questions:

-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?

See That Ye Have Faith, Hope, and Charity, and Then Ye Shall Always Abound in Good Works

Alma teaches those who have entered the baptismal covenant that they should be submissive to God and kind to their fellow mortals. He also instructs them to ask for God’s help when in need and that the key to abounding in good works is faith, hope, and charity.

“…Be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.” (Alma 7:23-24)

Questions:

-Is it possible to be humble, submissive, gentle, easy to be entreated, temperate, and full of patience and long-suffering if the sin of pride has not been eradicated from one’s soul?

-Why will someone who has faith (in Christ), hope (in Christ) and charity (like Christ) abound in good works?

His Course is One Eternal Round

Alma testifies that God is eternally steady and true in His course. Those who do not reconcile themselves to His perfect course before the Last Judgment will be eternally separated from He who never turns from “that which is right to that which is wrong.”

“[God] cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round. And he doth not dwell in unholy temples; neither can filthiness or anything which is unclean be received into the kingdom of God; therefore I say unto you the time shall come, yea, and it shall be at the last day, that he who is filthy shall remain in his filthiness.” (Alma 7:20-21)

Questions:

-Why is God’s course described as a round rather than, say, as a straight line?

-Who is the only One who can provide reconciliation with God?

Christ Is Mighty to Save and to Cleanse from All Unrighteousness

Alma extends an invitation to repent and enter into the baptismal covenant. This, he declares, is the path that leads to eternal life (for those who stay on the covenant path).

“…Ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism. And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.” (Alma 7:14-16)

Questions:

-Are there habits or patterns of action in your life that you feel are binding you down to destruction?

-Is keeping the commandments different from following them perfectly?

-Since Christ is mighty to save, is there any question that keeping God’s commandments dear to your heart, and striving to do better in relationship to them day by day, will keep God’s Spirit and grace with you? What kind of person will you become with God’s help (in this life and in the eternities)?

The Good Shepherd Doth Call After You

Alma teaches that Christ is calling out to every human soul.

“…The good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.” (Alma 5:60)

Questions:

-What does it mean to hearken to the Good Shepherd’s voice?

-What does it mean to be brought into Christ’s fold?

-Is the fold of Christ meant to bring in all comers regardless of their intentions?

-How can a ravenous wolf be detected?

The Names of the Righteous Shall be Written in the Book of Life

Alma invites those who desire a Good Shepherd to forsake wickedness and become part of His people.

“…I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names my people. For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled.” (Alma 5:57-58)

Questions:

-How does a person come out from among the wicked?

-How common are unclean things and unclean practices among the various cultures found throughout North America (for instance).

-Can unclean things and unclean practices be found regardless of where you live and what culture you are a part of?

-Are all those who have some involvement in unclean things necessarily wicked? Is true wickedness more likely to fester in unclean environments (even if it might be overbearing to say that everyone who touches that environment in any way is wicked)?

-How many touches does it take to be drawn into true wickedness?

-What does it take to move from wickedness to righteousness?

-What does it mean to be righteous?

-What does it mean to be granted an inheritance at God’s right hand?

The Ax Is Laid at the Root of the Tree

Alma testifies that the Lord is always prepared to clear away wickedness from the Earth.

“…The Spirit saith: Behold the ax is laid at the root of the tree; therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire, yea a fire which cannot be consumed, even an unquenchable fire. Behold, and remember, the Holy One hath spoken it.” (Alma 5:52)

“…All ye that will persist in your wickedness, I say unto you that these are they who shall be hewn down and cast into the fire except they speedily repent.” (Alma 5:56)

Questions:

-Will the death of each individual, who has not brought forth good fruit, be the equivalent the tree being cut down and cast into the fire?

-Is the orchard analogy also a reference to groups of people (nations, cultures, etc.)?

-Could the purifying fire (influence) that emanates from God be anything but unquenchable? Could it ever be consumed?

-How intensely will that fire burn if it was never lit in the heart of a person prior to the Final Judgment?

-How is repentance tied to allowing God to purify our hearts now, during this time of probation, prior to the Last Judgment?

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?