God is Merciful unto All Who Believe on His Name

Alma teaches that belief in God and His word, in the initial phases of faith, is a matter of choice. The truths of the gospel can never be meaningfully explored and tested without initial steps of hope and faith into the realm of belief.

“…Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word. And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.” (Alma 32:21-23)

Questions:

-Have you made the choice to believe in God?

-Is there any other way to start down the path of spiritual growth and knowledge?

-What is the hope that leads to redeeming spiritual knowledge (see Moro. 7:40–43)

If a Man Knoweth a Thing He Hath No Cause to Believe

Alma alludes to why God is sparing in showing signs to those who do not exercise faith in Him.

“…There are many that do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. And now, how much more cursed is he that knoweth the will of God and doeth it not, than he that only believeth, or only hath cause to believe, and falleth into transgression.” (Alma 32:17-19)

Questions:

-How many have developed spiritual character to the point where they would do the will of God no matter the difficulty involved in doing so?

Blessed are They Who Humble Themselves without Being Compelled to be Humble

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)

Questions:

-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?

The Lord Doth Counsel in Wisdom

Alma teaches that God gives a portion of His perfect knowledge to each nation and people of the Earth according to His perfect wisdom regarding what they should have.

“…The Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.” (Alma 29:8)

Questions:

-Can you start to better understand who God is when surveying the rich tapestry of the best and most refined aspects of all the different nations, languages, and cultures covering the Earth?

-Can you imagine bringing all that is good, wise, and praiseworthy among all the people of the Earth into your being?

  • Does the potential of doing this (and more) in the eternities begin to give insight to what Christ meant when he told His disciples that His Father’s house has many mansions? (John 14:2)
  • Is the wisdom and truth God has bestowed upon His creations limited to this Earth?  

God Granteth unto Men According to Their Desire

Alma proclaims the truth that God allows the expression of individual will to choose between good and evil. God also decrees the consequences of the choices made: Joy for those who choose good and remorse of conscience for those who choose evil.

“…[God] granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.” (Alma 29:4-5)

Questions:

-What is the source of conscience? (See Light of Christ)

-What are the results of ignoring one’s conscience?

-How is remorse of conscience related to spiritual death and evil?

-How does one choose the good and reject evil? -How is joy related to eternal life and goodness?

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

“The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether initially it be to your individual liking or not. When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered in His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience. If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you. [See 1 Nephi 3:7.]

“Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want. This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you. That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be. [See D&C 58:26–32.]” (Richard G. Scott, “Finding Joy in Life,” Ensign, May 1996, 25).

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?

God Has All Power, All Wisdom, All Understanding, and Is a Merciful Being

Ammon teaches about God’s characteristics.

“…[God] has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.” (Alma 26:35)

Questions:

-Why is God merciful?

-Does mercy guide how God exercises His endless and perfect power?

-Can power be perfectly exercised without perfect wisdom, perfect understanding, and all-encompassing comprehension?

-Does God ever use His power to force people to do what is good and right?

-Does God allow us to choose between giving our individual wills to Him and withholding our wills from Him?

-Since God is merciful, in addition to all His other perfections, is there any difference between God’s will for us and what is best for us?

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

From Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“Some have sincere faith in the existence of a God but not necessarily in a revealing and omniscient God. Other sincere individuals question God’s omniscience, wondering, even though respectfully, whether even God can know the future. But an omniscient and revealing God can at any present moment disclose things future. This is possible because ‘in the presence of God, … all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord’ (D&C 130:7). Thus God ‘knoweth all things, for all things are present before [his] eyes’ (D&C 38:2). He told Moses, ‘There is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all’ (Moses 1:6).

“No qualifiers on the scope of God’s knowledge appear in holy writ. Instead, we read: ‘O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.’ (2 Nephi 9:20.)” (If Thou Endure It Well [1996], 46).

Unto Such Is Given to Know the Mysteries of God

Ammon teaches that the combination of…

…brings extraordinary spiritual blessings.

“…He that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance.” (Alma 26:22)

Questions:

-How can one maintain a prayerful connection with God while still going about day-to-day activities?

-Is it always possible to maintain a repentant demeanor toward God?

-How meaningful would our works be without Christ’s Atonement? How meaningful are they through Christ’s Atonement (when one is moving forward with a repentant demeanor and a sincere prayer is always in one’s heart)?

There is None That Knoweth These Things, Save it be the Penitent

Ammon, a Nephite missionary, teaches that the deepest spiritual truths can only be known after a person awakes to, and acts on, the absolute necessity of relying on Jesus Christ to cross over the abyss of spiritual death and obtain salvation.

“…In his great mercy [Christ] hath brought us over that everlasting gulf of death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls. And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent.” (Alma 26:21)

Questions:

-What brings a person face to face with the reality of spiritual death within him- or herself?

-How difficult is it to face the reality of spiritual death within oneself and then seek to reconcile oneself to God? How tenaciously does the “ego” within a person often fight this process?

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)?