Their State Becomes Worse Than if They Had Never Known the Spirit of God and Righteousness

The prophet-historian Mormon, who abridged the Nephite records into what would be translated as the Book of Mormon, pauses during his historical narrative to teach an important truth about the fate of those who know the truth and then reject it.

He describes how former Nephites, who once had the gospel but then rejected it and joined the Lamanites (the Nephite’s enemies), were more murderous than the Lamanites who had never had the truth of the gospel. This was demonstrated when the Lamanite army came upon a group of unarmed, non-resisting people and the former Nephites among the Lamanite army killed many more non-combatants compared with those in the army who had always been Lamanites. (Alma 24:20-30)

“…After a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things.” (Alma 24:30)

Questions:

-Why would those who once had the Spirit of God, and then reject that Spirit, fall into deeper levels of sin than they would have if they had never known the truth of God?

-Who in the world today has had an abundance of God’s Spirit? Do they have the potential to become more hardened against God than others who haven’t had that abundance (depending on their choices)?

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 is My Church

Alma, the Nephite prophet, was troubled by members of the Lord’s church who were committing sin and not repenting. He was hesitant to take action because he didn’t want to judge them wrongly in the Lord’s eyes, but felt that action needed to be taken. As he prayed, the Lord revealed the following to him:

“…He that will hear my voice shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church, and him will I also receive. For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive. For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand. For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.” (Mosiah 26:21-24)

“And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me. And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed. And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day.” (Mosiah 26:25-28)

Questions:

-Is the Book of Mormon the Lord’s voice?

-Is the Bible the Lord’s voice?

-Is it possible to heed some of the Lord’s words but ignore others?

-Does the phrase “never knew me” in the passage above suggest that only those who never listened to the Lord’s voice will “depart into everlasting fire?” How rare is it to find a person who never listened to the voice of the Lord?

-How important is it to strive to listen to all that the Lord speaks versus listening selectively?

The Lord Seeth Fit to Chasten His People

After finding a new place to settle, a group of Nephites — who were keeping God’s commandments and living peaceably with one another – were taken captive by their enemies the Lamanites. The prophet Mormon (who abridged and made important observations within the text of the Book of Mormon) describes why the Lord allowed this to happen.

“…The Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.” (Mosiah 23:21-22)

Questions:

-Does anyone escape chastening by God? Or, is this life constructed by God to chasten?

-Are the people of God (those who have the true priesthood and are striving to love God and their neighbor as themselves) more likely to be chastened? Or, are they less likely to be chastened?

-Does trust in God, through trial, purify and sanctify the soul?

Thou Shalt Not Covet

The Book of Mormon record reemphasizes the importance of the Ten Commandments given by God to the Israelite people. The Nephite prophets who taught their people and recorded scripture drew on a record called the Brass Plates (which were brought from Jerusalem) that contained most of writings of the prophets found in the Old Testament up to 600 B.C., including the book of Exodus containing the Ten Commandments.

The tenth of the Ten Commandments warns against the sin of always wanting more than one has (and envying those who seem to have more).

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s. (Mosiah 13:24 – Compare Exodus 20:17)

Questions:

-Is runaway materialism more or less inevitable when this commandment is not kept?

-What does the Ten Commandments being repeated in the Book of Mormon say about God’s view of their importance (and their timeless application for His children as a baseline for righteous living)?

I the Lord Am a Jealous God

The Book of Mormon record reemphasizes the importance of the Ten Commandments given by God to the Israelite people. The Nephite prophets who taught their people and recorded scripture drew on a record called the Brass Plates (which were brought from Jerusalem) that contained most of writings of the prophets found in the Old Testament up to 600 B.C., including the book of Exodus containing the Ten Commandments.

Posts for the next several weeks will focus on a section of Mosiah chapter 13 that presents the Ten Commandments in wording very similar to the King James Translation (but with some interesting variations). Words and punctuation in italic show instances where the wording and punctuation is different from the King James version.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of things which are in heaven above, or which are in the earth beneath, or which are in the water under the earth. And again: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” (Mosiah 13:12-14 – Compare with Exodus 20:4-6)

Questions:

-Why does God care if the people who have covenanted to follow Him choose to follow other gods?

-What does the word — that the translators of the King James version of the Bible decided to translate as “jealous” – say about God’s concern and emotions towards those who have proclaimed themselves as His? Would a God without body, parts, or passions be capable of this kind of feeling?

-When the Lord speaks of those who hate Him in these verses, is He referring to those who have received His covenants and the Holy Spirit and then still rejected Him as their God. Or, is he referring to those who hate him merely as an idea or as someone else’s God?

They Will Not Seek Wisdom

After his people had gone through a long period of suffering, King Limhi reflects on the effects of straying from God’s counsel.

“O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them! Yea, they are as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd, and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured by the beasts of the forest.” (Mosiah 8:20-21)

Questions:

-How much suffering could be avoided if the people of the earth earnestly sought, and lived by, the counsel of the living God of peace?

-Where can God’s counsel be found? Do you believe that the Book of Mormon is part of God’s counsel to mankind?

There is Nothing Which is Good Save it Comes from the Lord

Amaleki (a Book of Mormon prophet writing around 130 B.C.) invites all to come to the God of Israel and believe in the gifts He bestows upon the faithful. Amaleki testifies all that is good comes from God.

“…Come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are good; for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh of the devil.” (Omni 1:25)

Questions:

-How does one come to the Holy One of Israel? Is it possible to do so without believing in the miracles He performs among the faithful?

-Why do some blame God for evil instead of recognizing that only the good comes from God?

-Do you feel closer to God when you are thinking about all that is good in your life? Or, when you are dwelling on all that is wrong in your life?

Earth Was Created by the Power of God’s Word

The Book of Mormon testifies (through the teachings of the prophet Jacob) that God created the earth and the life upon it by the power of His word.

“…By the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word.” (Jacob 4:9)

Questions:

-How many see the earth and the life on it as a creation of God?

-Does the fact that it is a fallen creation (including the people of the earth) cause some to feel that God is distant or doesn’t exist?

I Speak unto You as the Voice of One Crying from the Dust

As the prophet Nephi records his final words he testifies in no uncertain terms that he has been commanded by God to write all that he has written.

“And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come. And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day. For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.” (2 Nephi 33:13-15)

Questions:

-What does it mean to partake of the goodness of God?

-What would prevent a person from partaking of the goodness of God?

-What does it mean to respect the words of the Jews, Nephi’s words, and the words of the Lamb of God?

-How many in the world have had a prolonged enough exposure to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other scripture to make a meaningful decision about the respect they have for them?

-Is the condemnation Nephi refers to reserved for those who have a witness from the Holy Ghost that these scriptures are of God and then still reject them?