While recording the history of the Nephite people on the Gold Plates, Mormon pauses to describe the tragic tendency for people to take God for granted, forget Him, and discount His power at the very time of their greatest prosperity under his care.
“…We can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him. Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity. And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.” (Helaman 12:1-3)
-Why does prosperity tempt people to turn away from God?
-Is it possible to avoid this temptation? How does one do so?
-How important is it to remember God?
The historian-prophet, Mormon, teaches of the Lord’s readiness to eternally bless all who will believe in Him and lay hold of His word.
“…The Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name. Yea, thus we may see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and snares and wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.” (Helaman 3:28-30)
– How valuable is the strait and narrow course mapped out in God’s scriptures?
-Have the majority of Americans rebelled against this narrow course? Or, do most still have a strong connection with it?
-Is it possible to sincerely call upon the name of Lord without also laying hold upon His word?
Amulek provides vital keys to progressing spiritually.
-In what ways do people contend against the Holy Ghost?
-How can a person receive the Holy Ghost? Is it possible to fully do so without being baptized by one with authority?
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)
-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?
After warning of the consequences of rebelling against God and His Spirit (see previous post, Those Who Rebel Against God…), King Benjamin touches on the joy in store for those who whole-heartedly receive God’s commandments and Spirit.
“…I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression. And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:40-41)
-How easy is it to be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to one’s spiritual welfare?
-What does it take to “hold out faithful to the end” in keeping the commandments of God?
-Is a state of never-ending happiness possible without an element of progression?
King Benjamin gives a stark warning to those who have the light of the true gospel yet rebel against the Spirit of the Lord.
“…Our fathers…spake that which was commanded them of the Lord; therefore, they are just and true. And now I say unto you my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths, that ye may be blessed, prospered and preserved. I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.” (Mosiah 2:35-37)
“Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.” (Mosiah 2:38-39)
-Seeing that Benjamin is addressing those among his people who had been immersed in the gospel from a young age, is this stark warning less applicable to those who weren’t so immersed?
-Is the warning still applicable, to a lesser degree, to those who had lesser light and knowledge in their lifetime and rebelled against it?
-Why can those who rebel against God in mortality stay asleep to their guilt? Why is it impossible for them stay asleep to their guilt at the time of the Resurrection and Judgment?
King Benjamin teaches of our reliance on God for everything we have.
“…In the first place he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast? And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves: I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.” (Mosiah 2:23-25)
-How does God see our indebtedness to Him? As a perfect Being with perfect love for His children, would he ever use the indebtedness for anything other than a means for good?
-Is it possible to allow God to lift you to your full potential if you don’t recognize your indebtedness to Him?
Benjamin testifies that every promise God makes is kept, including his promise to bless those who keep His commandments.
“…All he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.” (Mosiah 2:22)
-Is the typical person’s awareness capable of perceiving all the ways that God blesses him or her?
-Is it typical to look for blessings in a narrow zone of reality and then assume blessings were not realized?
Jacob testifies of the merciful and persistent manner in which God works with the house of Israel.
“…How merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (Jacob 6:4)
-Does God only stretch forth his hands towards the “House of Israel all the day long”? Or, does He reach out continually to all His children on earth?
-If God blesses the earth through the house of Israel, does He reach out to them first and in the most direct manner?
-Why would He focus on specific groups of people in order to bless the inhabitants of the earth in general?
The prophet Jacob describes the power that comes to those who are pure in heart, look to God with firmness of mind, and pray with exceeding faith:
“…I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.” (Jacob 3:1)
-What does it mean to be pure in heart? How can one obtain purity of heart?
-Do some expect remarkable blessings without looking to God with firmness of mind and without praying with exceeding faith?
-Do some keep their head bowed stubbornly in sorrow rather than receiving the pleasing word of God and rejoicing in the power of His love?