They Remain in This State…Until the Time of Their Resurrection

Alma teaches his son about the state of human spirits between the time of death and the time of the Resurrection.

“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil. Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.” (Alma 40:11-14)

Questions:

-Do the two drastically different experiences of the spirit world, as described in the above verses, represent two ends of a spectrum?

-Are there some who will experience something in between these two opposing spiritual states?

Gratitude: I am grateful to have greater knowledge of the spirit world through the teachings found in the Book of Mormon. I’m also grateful to know that I can look forward to peace and rest in the spirit world if I choose to live in harmony with God’s Spirit in this life.

All Mankind Must Be Born Again

Alma the Younger openly rebelled against Christ’s church and his father, Alma, who was the leader of the church. After seeing an angel of God, who called him to repentance, the younger Alma was tormented by the realization of the seriousness his sins to the point where he couldn’t speak or perform basic physical tasks for two days. After passing through this deep trial and regaining his strength, he testified to all present as follows:

“I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.”

And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off.” (Mosiah 27:24-27)

Questions:

-Is Alma the Younger’s experience of being born again typical or exceptional?

-Is sudden and dramatic change better than incremental change in God’s eyes?

-What kind of change is more likely to have lasting results?

The Knowledge of a Savior Shall Spread throughout Every Nation, Kindred, Tongue, and People

An angel (speaking to King Benjamin who then recounted the vision to his people as recorded in chapter three of Mosiah) prophesies that the time will come when all will be accountable to repent and exercise faith because of their knowledge of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

“…The time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:20-21)

Questions:

-How close is this prophecy to being fulfilled?

-With the advent of the internet, air travel, etc., how long will it be before this prophesy is fulfilled?

These Things are Done That a Righteous Judgment Might Come upon the Children of Men

In about 124 B.C., King Benjamin relates the words he received from an angel foretelling Christ’s life and mission.

“He shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary. And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him. And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.” (Mosiah 3:8-10)

Questions:

-Would it be possible for God the Father to oversee a righteous Judgment if he hadn’t sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to prepare the way for the Judgment to be performed perfectly?

-Do you believe that Christ now stands, with a resurrected body, perfectly prepared to mete a righteous judgment to all who have lived on the Earth?

-Could anyone else stand in perfect judgment of God’s children?

-How is Christ, the Son of God, also the Father of heaven and earth?

He Shall Suffer Temptations, Pain of Body, Hunger, Thirst and Fatigue, Even More Than Man Can Suffer, Except It Be unto Death

King Benjamin retells the words of an angel who visited him in the night in about 124 B.C. The angel foretells the most important life, and related events, that would ever take place on earth:

“…The time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.” (Mosiah 3:5)

“And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men. And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and abominations of his people.” (Mosiah 3:6-7)

Questions:

-Do you believe Jesus Christ worked miracles during His lifetime as the angel speaking to King Benjamin testified He would?

-Was there any event more worthy of clear foretelling (in prophetic vision and angelic visitation) than the life and Atonement of Jesus Christ?

-Do you believe Christ suffered more than any human being has, or ever will, suffer (in order to work at the Atonement in each individual’s behalf)?

The Sealed Portion of the Gold Plates Contain Another Book of Revelatory Scripture

The Book of Mormon was translated from the unsealed portion of the Gold Plates, but there was at least one other book contained within a sealed portion of the Gold Plates that was not translated. In the portion of the Plates that was translated (which is now known as the Book of Mormon), the prophet Nephi recorded a prophecy that the book in the sealed portion of the Plates would not be translated at the same time as the Book of Mormon because the world would not be ready for it (see 2 Nephi 27:8). Instead, the Lord has kept the sealed book in store for a time when the world is ready.

“…It shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book…but the words which are sealed he shall not deliver…and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept…until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof. And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.” (2 Nephi 27:6, 10-11)

Questions:

-Do you believe the Book of Mormon was brought forth by God’s power?

-Did you know that there was a large portion of the Gold Plates (that were delivered to Joseph Smith by an angel) which were not translated because the Lord knew the world wasn’t ready for it?

-Do you believe that those with the greatest wisdom and truth are living today?

-If (as the Book of Mormon testifies) there is a book which – when read by the power of Christ – reveals all things from the beginning to the end, would that suggest that some who lived long ago had greater wisdom and a grasp of the truth than we have today?

-Is it exciting to hear that God has much more scriptural knowledge in store for us? Or, do you believe God has already told us everything we need to know?

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

“Many more scriptural writings will yet come to us, including those of Enoch (see D&C 107:57), all of the writings of the Apostle John (see Ether 4:16), the records of the lost tribes of Israel (see 2 Nephi 29:13), and the approximately two-thirds of the Book of Mormon plates that were sealed: ‘And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth’ (2 Nephi 27:11)” (Neal A. Maxwell, A Wonderful Flood of Light [1990], 18).

“Lost books are among the treasures yet to come forth. Over twenty of these are mentioned in the existing scriptures. Perhaps most startling and voluminous will be the records of the lost tribes of Israel (see 2 Nephi 29:13). We would not even know of the impending third witness for Christ except through the precious Book of Mormon, the second witness for Christ! This third set of sacred records will thus complete a triad of truth. Then, just as the Perfect Shepherd has said, ‘My word also shall be gathered in one’ (v. 14). There will be ‘one fold and one shepherd’ (1 Nephi 22:25) in a welding together of all the Christian dispensations of human history (see D&C 128:18)” (Neal A. Maxwell, “God Will Yet Reveal,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 52).


The records, part of which the Book of Mormon was translated from, “were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, and much skill in the art of engraving.” (Joseph Smith, Jr., The Wentworth Letter)

By the Power of His Almighty Word He Can Cause the Earth that It Shall Pass Away

Nephi’s older brothers (Laman and Lemuel) frequently rebelled against their father’s divinely mandated mission to settle in a new land. They doubted, complained, and even considered killing Lehi and Nephi to gain control of the traveling family’s destiny. In calling his older brothers to repentance, Nephi compares their actions to those of the children of Israel during the Exodus. He reminds them that they, like the Israelites during the Exodus, had experienced great manifestations of God’s power and His willingness to intervene to guide them. Yet, despite these manifestations, the older brothers – like the Israelites – rebelled time and again. Nephi also reminds his brothers of God’s power over the earth and then asks them why they did not let Him have sway in their hearts:

“…He did straiten [the Israelites] in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity…[T]hey did revile against Moses, and also against God; nevertheless ye know that they were led forth by his matchless power into the land of promise.” (1 Nephi 17:41-42)

“Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder. And ye also know that by the power of his almighty word he can cause the earth that it shall pass away; yea, and ye know that by his word he can make the rough places to be made smooth, and the smooth places shall be broken up. O, then, why is it, that ye can be so hard in your hearts?” (1 Nephi 17:45-46)

Questions:

-Would some in today’s world act like Laman and Lemuel if God were to speak to them with an audible voice? Would a voice like thunder, or the still small voice that Nephi speaks of, have greater power to break up hard hearts?

-Is there anyone to which God does not speak with a still small voice? Is it possible to always have that Guide with you?

-Would you rather experience God’s power manifest in the outside world or in your heart? Which type of manifestation is more important? What are the keys to letting God into your heart?

-Is the miracle experienced by those who have let God into their hearts any less powerful to them than the miracle of seeing God’s mighty power manifest in the outside world?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

“We hear the words of the Lord most often by a feeling. If we are humble and sensitive, the Lord will prompt us through our feelings” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Seek the Spirit of the Lord,” Ensign, Apr. 1988, 4).

“So it is with divine communication. … We often put ourselves in spiritual dead spots—places and situations that block out divine messages. Some of these dead spots include anger, pornography, transgression, selfishness, and other situations that offend the Spirit” (James E. Faust, “Did You Get the Right Message?” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 67).


“A … requirement for frequent companionship and direction from the Holy Ghost is to be clean. The Spirit must withdraw from those who are not clean. …

“… If you have difficulty in feeling the Holy Ghost, you might wisely ponder whether there is anything for which you need to repent and receive forgiveness.

“If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life. For that reason and many others, you would do well to put yourself in places and in tasks that invite the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost works both ways: the Holy Ghost only dwells in a clean temple, and the reception of the Holy Ghost cleanses us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You can pray with faith to know what to do to be cleansed and thus qualified for the companionship of the Holy Ghost and the service of the Lord. And with that companionship you will be strengthened against temptation and empowered to detect deception” (Henry B. Eyring, “Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times,” Ensign, June 2007, 23).

The Apostle John Shall Write Concerning the End of the World

As Nephi’s vision — and the corresponding instruction from the Lord’s angel — concludes, Nephi is shown that one of Christ’s twelve apostles, called by the Lord during His earthy ministry, would write of many of the same things that Nephi had seen concerning events before Christ’s second coming.

“And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Behold, he shall see and write…many things which have been and shall also write concerning the end of the world. Wherefore the things which he shall write are just and true…And behold, the things which this apostle shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see. But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them. And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel. And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel.” (1 Nephi 14:20-27)

-Have you read John’s prophecies in the New Testament?

-Why would the Lord ordain John to write about certain events and ask other prophets (such as Nephi) not to write about the same events?

-Why, in the Lord’s wisdom, are some writings currently being held back from being available to those living on the earth?

-If the Book of Mormon — as its writers state — is the word of God, how receptive have the inhabitants of earth been to it in general? Will the Lord provide more scripture before the additional scriptures He has already provided (including the Bible and Book of Mormon) are respected and understood?

-Do prejudice and bias against the Book of Mormon create a “seal” by which Satan keeps individuals and large groups of people from receiving the light and knowledge God wants them to receive? If this seal is broken down will it help prepare the way for the other sacred writings mentioned in these verses to be unsealed by God?

There Are Two Churches Only

In teaching Nephi about the events of the last days, and the great division that will occur between those who serve the Lamb of God and those who reject Him (See The Lamb of God Will Work a Great and Marvelous Work), the angel of the Lord explains to Nephi that ultimately there are only two churches.

“And [the angel] said unto me: Behold there are two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” (1 Nephi 14:10)

-If God has set Himself to test the hearts of all people in our time (as discussed in the post previous to this one—see The Lamb of God Will Work a Great and Marvelous Work), will the division between the church of the Lamb of God and the church of the devil become more distinct and recognizable than ever? In this scenario of clarification, how powerful would the draw of the work of the Lamb of God be to all good and sincere people (of all faiths and denominations) as the distinction unfolds and the true destructiveness and evil of the church of the devil is revealed?

Video from Book of Mormon Central:

That Great Pit Which Has Been Dug for the Destruction of Men Shall Be Filled by Those Who Dug It

Nephi continues to be taught, by an angel of the Lord, about events leading up to Christ’s second coming. He learns that the Gentiles in the Americas, and throughout the entire world, who receive Christ’s latter-day revelations and directions will inherit the covenant blessings of the house of Israel along with those who are tied to the house of Israel by ancestry (see A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God).

On the other hand, Nephi also learns that those who fight against Christ’s words and actions in the last days — when He is gathering the house of Israel according to the covenants made with them — will shut themselves outside the covenant blessings and, thus, will be vulnerable to the destructive pitfalls laid by Satan to capture souls in our time. The snares laid to fight against Christ and His followers will turn to the detriment and destruction of those who laid the snares.

“…That great pit, which hath been digged…by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which has been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God…For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him.” (1 Nephi 14:3-4)

Questions:

-When a person or group has ill will toward another person or group, who does it usually hurt the most in the long run? Is it the person or group with the malice or the person or group toward which the malice is directed? How long will a group or society focused on fault finding and entrapment of others function before turning on its own members?

-What is the nature of the figurative pit mentioned in this prophecy? How will it be dug by those who wish to trap others within it?

-How difficult will it be to escape the pit? As Christ manifests Himself in word, power, and deed to restore the fulness of His gospel and gather the house of Israel (see 1 Nephi 14:2 and A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God) will it be possible to stay neutral? Or, will “sitting on the fence” be more difficult than ever as a clear separation develops between those who recognize Christ’s work as real and those who deny it and fight against its progress? (See Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:25-30.)