How Great the Inequality of Man

During a large war between the Nephites and Lamanites, many souls departed from mortal life. In the context of these events, Mormon (the prophet-historian who abridged the Nephite record that was translated as the Book of Mormon), teaches about the great spiritual variance that exists when souls pass through the veil into the eternities.

“…Many thousand are mourning for the loss of their kindred, because they have reason to fear, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are consigned to a state of endless wo. While many thousands of others truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness. And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men.” (Alma 28:11-13)

Questions:

-How important is it to repent and reconcile oneself with God (through the Atonement of Jesus Christ) before passing into the eternities?

-How heavily will the unalterable justice, which God upholds, weigh on those in the afterlife who chose not to be reconciled with God through Christ’s merciful intervention during mortality?

-What is Paradise?

-What is Spirit Prison?

-Will those who never had God’s law in mortality be led to Paradise if they choose to follow Christ in the afterlife?

The Grave Shall Have No Victory

Aaron, a Nephite missionary, teaches the Lamanite king about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“…Since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance…and…[Christ] breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…” (Alma 22:14)

Questions:

-What can be merited through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

-Can anything be merited without it?

-Is Christ’s Atonement an invitation to good works, since nothing can be merited without the Atonement, but much can be merited (your good works can be magnified by God) with it?

-Are you willing to accept the victory of the grave? Or, do you choose to believe in the testimony of Aaron that death isn’t the end, but has been conquered by Jesus Christ?

There Could Be No Redemption for Mankind Save it Were Through the Death and Suffering of Christ and the Atonement of His Blood

Aaron, a Nephite missionary, teaches that…

“…There could be no redemption for mankind save it were through the death and suffering of Christ, and the atonement of his blood.” (Alma 21:9)

Questions:

-Does God redeem His children (mankind) outside of the demands of justice?

-Was there any other way to satisfy the demands of justice, while still showing mercy, without God providing an atoning Savior?

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

“Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. … He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so” (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 613).

If Ye Will Repent and Harden Not Your Hearts, Then Will I Have Mercy on You, Through My Only Begotten Son

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)

Questions:

-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?

If Our First Parents Could Have Partaken of the Tree of Life (After Partaking of the Forbidden Fruit) They Would Have Been Forever Miserable

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)

Questions:

-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)

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?

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?

One Man Shall Not Think Himself Above Another

After the Nephite people request a king, the man who the majority want to be their king (Alma) refuses. He explains why based on a specific commandment received from the Lord.

“Thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another or one man shall not think himself above another.” (Mosiah 23:7)

Questions:

-What causes people to think they are better than others?

-How tempting is it for a person to seek confirmation that he or she is better than others?

-Does any good come from thoughts and actions based on a sense of superiority (or from establishing positions in social structure that signal superiority)?

-Since we are only saved by the grace of God through Christ’s loving Atonement, what position do we put ourselves in when we aren’t careful to extend the same kind of love to others (in our thoughts and actions) as Christ has extended to us?

Give Thanks to the Lord

The prophet Alma taught his people the importance of gratitude towards the Lord.

…He commanded them that…every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God.” (Mosiah 18:23)

Questions:

-Is it natural to give thanks when one understands what God has given in Jesus Christ and the Atonement he worked out in the behalf of all?

-Is it natural not to be grateful if this understanding isn’t in place?

-How important is it to understand our relationship to Christ and God the Father in order to maintain a connection with heaven through the Spirit?

-What does it look like, in a day-to-day life, to give thanks to the Lord?

The Son Reigneth and Hath Power over the Dead

Jesus Christ is our wholly benevolent and righteous King who has power even over death!

“…O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people; for were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished. But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead.” (Mosiah 15:18-20)

Questions:

-What does it mean to align one’s life to be in harmony with the Founder of Peace?

-Would many that chafe at the thought of having an earthly king be willing to receive their Heavenly King?

-Will anyone not receive their Heavenly King when a full consciousness of what He has done, and the love He extends, is obtained?