Remember That My Spirit Will Not Always Strive with Man

The Lord teaches the brother of Jared that it is a sin (and a spiritual hazard) to forgo praying to God as consistent action in one’s life.

“The Lord…chastened [The brother of Jared] because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord. And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And these are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for your inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands.” (Ether 2:14-15)

Questions:

-Is prayer a form of seeking the Lord’s presence in your life?

-Is there any hope of drawing closer to the Lord without regular, diligent, and sincere prayer?

If the Gentiles Shall Harden Their Hearts Against Me, I Will Return Their Iniquities Upon Their Own Heads

The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and His early Jewish disciples set off a chain of events where (especially after the Reformation when many more souls were able to read the teachings in the Bible) the Holy Ghost influenced the Christian nations in such a way that they became the most powerful — politically and technologically — in the world. Without the impetus created by the Lord’s covenant people – starting with Abraham and culminating in the Lord Himself coming to His people in the flesh – none of these blessings and powers would have come to the Christian (i.e. Gentile) nations. The truths and teachings in the Bible were (and are) a blessing from the house of Israel and were a conduit for the Holy Spirit to influence the cultures and peoples who embraced them. See the following video, which touches on some of these themes: Because of Him—Easter Video – YouTube

As the nations that have previously been Christian turn away from the spiritual wellspring given to them by the house of Israel — firstly through the Bible and subsequently from the added testimony of Jesus Christ found in the Book of Mormon — they will no longer be strengthened and upheld by God. Their sin, instead of being forgiven through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, will be turned upon them.

Below is Jesus Christ speaking to a group of the descendants of the house of Israel in the Americas about A.D. 34.

“…Ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant—And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed—unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel. And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father.” (3 Nephi 20:25-28)

Questions:

-How many perceive — or believe in — the intervention of God in granting prosperity to countries influenced by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the testimony of the house of Israel (as found in the Bible)?

-How many believe that the Book of Mormon is a second witness of the truth of the Bible and was instrumental in restoring the fulness of Christ’s gospel?

If Ye Forgive Not Men Their Trespasses, Neither Will Your Father Forgive Your Trespasses

Jesus Christ taught the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (who were of the house of Israel) many of the same gospel principles He taught to His Jewish disciples in the Old World. The teachings as recorded in the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament, known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 and 6) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants after His resurrection.

The passages below show the words from verses 14 through 15 of the King James version of Matthew 6 and the comparable verses from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

“…If you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

“…If you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (3 Nephi 13:14-15)

Questions:

– Would it be consistent to earnestly seek God’s forgiveness and then turn around and withhold forgiveness from another who has offended or harmed you in some way?

After This Manner Therefore Pray Ye

Jesus Christ taught the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (who were of the house of Israel) many of the same gospel principles He taught to His Jewish disciples in the Old World. The teachings as recorded in the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament, known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 and 6) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants after His resurrection.

The passages below show the words from verses 9 through 13 of the King James version of Matthew 6 and the comparable verses from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (3 Nephi 13:9-13)

Questions:

-Do the above verses provide guidelines for a meaningful prayer? For instance:

  • feeling and expressing deep respect towards God with whom you are communicating
  • seeking for God’s will to be done through your life and in the world in general
  • seeking strength to be a forgiver so you can meaningfully find forgiveness from God
  • asking God to prepare the way before you so temptation loses its power
  • recognizing the truth that God is the source of all good and the Righteous King over all

–  Is it nearly as meaningful to simply repeat the words that Christ taught rather than using them as a guideline for how you approach your Heavenly Father in prayer—using your own words and drawing on your own feelings and thoughts?   

Mercy Claimeth the Penitent

Alma teaches that transgressing God’s law, in the absence of repentance, demands punishment. But sincere repentance allows such sins to be forgiven through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“…Repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul. Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment? Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man. Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder? And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin. And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?” (Alma 42:16-21)

“But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored to his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.” (Alma 42:22-23)

Questions:

-Is a person inevitably in the grasp of justice when he or she knows God’s law but does not humble himself or herself before God in sincere repentance on a regular basis?

This Is a Sin Which Is Unpardonable

Alma teaches his son about the most serious sins which can be committed.

“…If ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.” (Alma 39:6)   

Questions:

-Why is denying the Holy Ghost, after an undeniable witness therefrom, an unpardonable sin?

-Is this unpardonable sin very rare…only committed by a very few people?

Gratitude: I am grateful that Christ is mighty to save! Short of the gravest sins mentioned above, He will always apply his saving power whenever I (or anyone else) chooses to sincerely repent.

There Can Be Nothing Short of An Infinite Atonement Which Will Suffice for the Sins of the World

Amulek (in about 74 B.C.) teaches that only Jesus Christ (a God filled with infinite and eternal power) could make the sacrifice necessary to offer salvation to the inhabitants of the Earth.  

“…It is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice…there can be nothing short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world…and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.” (Alma 34:10-14)

Questions:
-Do you believe God forgives sin without reference to the demands of justice?

-Does Christ’s willingness to meet those terrible demands help you understand how deeply He loves all who have ever lived?

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?

Believe That Man Doth not Comprehend All Things Which the Lord Can Comprehend

King Benjamin instructs his people to believe in God (and act according to that belief) as a means towards salvation.

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all things which the Lord can comprehend. And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.” (Mosiah 4:9-10)

Questions:

-Is it possible to intentionally believe in God? Or, can true belief in God only follow a certain degree, or amount, of evidence.

-When a person chooses to believe in a perfect God (the Author of all that is good) can the Holy Spirit witness to his or her soul that the belief is truth?

-Is there any greater evidence than that provided by the power of the Holy Ghost to testify of truth?