Blessed Are All the Pure in Heart, For They Shall See God

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 Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants.

Below is the sixth of the Beatitudes, as recorded in the King James version of Matthew, and the comparable teaching as found in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (3 Nephi 12:8)

Questions:

-What is the relationship between having a pure heart and seeing God?

-Does this apply to one’s heavenly destination as well as to one’s ability to see God’s beauty in this mortal life?

Let the Affections of Thy Heart Be Placed upon the Lord Forever

Alma teaches his son about the type of relationship one should have with God.

…Keep the commandments of God. Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and withersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 37:35-37)

Questions:

-How does a person reach a state where all they do, think, and feel is directed to the Lord?

-Is it possible to reach such a state without God’s help?

-Is it possible to always have God’s Holy Spirit with you?

Such Shall Find Rest to Their Souls

Alma teaches key principles, which Priesthood leaders should preach, to bring rest to souls.

“Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.” (Alma 37:33-34)

Questions:

-How does ego inevitably torment those who let it have a prominent place in their lives?

-How many understand that having a humble heart and faith in God brings the only true and lasting peace?

The Lord Dwelleth Not in Unholy Temples but in the Hearts of the Righteous Doeth He Dwell

Amulek teaches that the Spirit of God withdraws from those who do not repent. To be prepared to dwell with God in the eternities, a person needs to reconcile himself or herself to God through Christ’s Atonement and allow God to dwell in (and purify) his or her heart through His Spirit.

“…If ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doeth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb. And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God…” (Alma 34:35-37)

Questions:

-Is it possible to be at rest spiritually? Do the powerful forces of God’s love, and Satan’s rebellion against God, allow anyone stay in place spiritually speaking?

The Same Spirit Which Doth Possess Your Body at the Time Ye Go Out of This Life Will Have Power to Possess Your Body in the Eternal World

Amulek explains why “death bed” repentance, while better than no repentance, isn’t a good idea. The health of one’s spirit is the result of cumulative choices. Decisions that are made — day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year — form the essence of one’s spirit and that essence will largely hold sway once a person passes through the veil of death into the eternities (and receives a resurrected body).  

“…I would that, after ye have received so many witnesses, seeing that the holy scriptures testify of these things, ye come forth and bring fruit unto repentance. Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you. For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” (Alma 34:30-32)

“…I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance, until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for the same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” (Alma 34:33-34)

Questions:

-How quickly does one’s spirit start to heal and be enlightened after he or she repents and softens his or her heart toward God?

Every Seed Bringeth Forth unto Its Own Likeness

Alma continues to teach about the beginnings of faith and how to obtain spiritual knowledge.

“…If ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge. But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.” (Alma 32:28-31)

“Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it growth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away. And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word has swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doeth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doeth begin to expand.” (Alma 32:32-34)

“O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good. And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say; Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit. But if ye neglect the tree and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.” (Alma 32:35-38)

“And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life. But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white, yea, pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.” (Alma 32:40-43)

Questions:

-Will you conduct the experiment Alma describes in the verses above?

God Knows All the Thoughts and Intents of the Heart

Ammon, a Nephite missionary, teaches that God sees clearly and deeply into each person’s soul.

“…[God] looketh down upon all the children of men; and he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart; for by his hand were they all created from the beginning.” (Alma 18:32)

Questions:

-Is it comforting to know that God looks on the heart with perfect clarity?

-How often do mortals, who don’t have the ability to clearly see the thoughts and intents of the heart, misjudge others?

Humble Yourselves before the Lord

How one approaches his or her relationship with God matters if one desires to enter His rest.

“…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.” (Alma 13:28-29)

Questions:

-How is humility towards God tied to overcoming temptation?

-How does the Holy Spirit lead a person to become humble, meek, submissive to God, patient, full of love, and long-suffering?

If Our Hearts Have Been Hardened Against the Word of God, Then Will Our State Be Awful

Alma provides a grave warning about the consequences of hardening one’s heart towards God’s word and Spirit.

“…If our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for we shall be condemned. For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence. But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.” (Alma 12:13-15)

“And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die as to things pertaining unto righteousness. This is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will. Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.” (Alma 12:16-18)

Questions:

-Do you believe life is a proving ground and what we sow we will reap in perfect clarity before God at the Last Judgment?

-How does God’s word help one to sow in righteousness?

He That Will Not Harden His Heart, to Him is Given the Greater Portion of the Word

Alma teaches about the potential for spiritual growth versus the consequences of spiritual atrophy.

“It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.” (Alma 12:9-11)

Questions:

-Based on the above verses, how important is it soften one’s heart in relation to God and His Spirit?

-Why do some harden their hearts against God and reject His word and His Spirit?