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?

The Grave Shall Have No Victory

Aaron, a Nephite missionary, teaches the Lamanite king about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“…Since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance…and…[Christ] breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…” (Alma 22:14)

Questions:

-What can be merited through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

-Can anything be merited without it?

-Is Christ’s Atonement an invitation to good works, since nothing can be merited without the Atonement, but much can be merited (your good works can be magnified by God) with it?

-Are you willing to accept the victory of the grave? Or, do you choose to believe in the testimony of Aaron that death isn’t the end, but has been conquered by Jesus Christ?

If Ye Will Repent and Harden Not Your Hearts, Then Will I Have Mercy on You, Through My Only Begotten Son

All, who have reached an age of accountability and whose mental facilities haven’t been compromised, know good from evil. And all of us, at times, will choose evil. Doing so causes spiritual death and permanently so if one continues to choose evil leading up to the Last Judgment. Those who make a sincere effort to recognize the evil they have done and turn away from it in the name of Jesus Christ will have mercy extended to them, which will overcome the effects of spiritual death. This is God’s plan to save imperfect people.

“Wherefore, he gave commandments unto men, they having first transgressed the first commandments as to things which were temporal, and becoming as gods, knowing good from evil, placing themselves in a state to act, or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good—Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for on such the plan of redemption could have no power, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God.” (Alma 12:31-32)

But God did call on men in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy on you, through my Only Begotten Son. Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardenth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.” (Alma 12:33-34)

Questions:

-How valuable to you is the ability to repent through Christ’s Atonement?

-How valuable is it to know about Christ’s Atonement now in terms of having a meaningful life and spiritual strength to help others?

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 Life Is a Time to Prepare to Meet God

Alma teaches that our mortal lives are a time of preparation for the eternities.

“And we see that death comes upon mankind…which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.” (Alma 12:24)

Questions:

-Do you do believe your spirit will continue to live after your physical body dies? And, other than no longer having a physical body, that you will still be you?

-Do you believe that your spirit will be reunited with your (reconstituted and perfected) physical body through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

-How important is it to come to grips with the truth about whether you will exist throughout the eternities or not?

-Is it ever wise to stay in the agnostic camp any longer than is necessary to decide what you believe?

-Do you think a person will live his or her life substantially differently based on whether they believe in the eternities or not?

-Can you see how, whether a person subscribes to the religion of atheism or another religion that believes mortal life is only part of the existential picture, religion is an inevitability for human beings?

-Which consequences have the potential to bear greater weight? Those that come from believing in your existence in the eternities and investing in mortal choices accordingly when existence in the eternities is a reality? Or, those that come from deciding there is no existence after death and making choices accordingly when there is no existence after death?

The Spirit and the Body Shall be Reunited Again in Its Perfect Form

Amulek teaches about the meaning and reality of the Resurrection made possible through Jesus Christ.

Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death. The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt. Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil….[T]his mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption. (Alma 11:42-45)

Questions:

-Do you believe that, because of Christ’s Resurrection, He has cleared the way for all of us to be resurrected as described in these verses?

-Will those who have repented and sought shelter in Christ’s power have any sense of guilt at the time of the Judgment?

Ye Cannot Be Saved in Your Sins

Amulek teaches that reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ is the only way to obtain the kingdom of heaven. Such reconciliation requires true repentance away from sin.

“…No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.” (Alma 11:37)

“[Christ] shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death, for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.” (Alma 11:40-41)

Questions:

-How does Christ draw a person from being in sin and save him or her from sin? Will He ever violate the principle of free agency to do so?

-If to be in sin means being complacent about wrongdoing, is it clear why Christ won’t save a person in his or her sin?

All Men Shall Reap a Reward of Their Works

Alma teaches the principle that we reap what we sow with our actions.

“…All men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil.” (Alma 9:28)

Questions:

-If works can increase grace and grace can increase works. Does it make sense to denigrate the role of one or the other? Does it make more sense to emphasize their mutually reinforcing and “symbiotic” relationship?

-Since Christ has made works meaningful through His Atonement (opening up the way for the Father to treasure up all the good a person does and magnify it through all eternity), how vital is it to show appreciation for this unrivaled opportunity and move forward with good works?

He is Full of Grace, Equity, and Truth

Alma describes the nature of the glory that fills and radiates from God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

“…The Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers.” (Alma 9:26)

Questions:

-Have you ever thought of God’s glory in terms of the intensity of His love and goodness towards His creations?

-Would God’s power be glorious (from the human perspective) if it was unaligned with His perfectly pure and generous intentions for our welfare?

His Course is One Eternal Round

Alma testifies that God is eternally steady and true in His course. Those who do not reconcile themselves to His perfect course before the Last Judgment will be eternally separated from He who never turns from “that which is right to that which is wrong.”

“[God] cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round. And he doth not dwell in unholy temples; neither can filthiness or anything which is unclean be received into the kingdom of God; therefore I say unto you the time shall come, yea, and it shall be at the last day, that he who is filthy shall remain in his filthiness.” (Alma 7:20-21)

Questions:

-Why is God’s course described as a round rather than, say, as a straight line?

-Who is the only One who can provide reconciliation with God?