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).

If You Do This Ye Shall Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins

King Benjamin teaches that humbly remembering the perfect goodness of God, calling on His name in prayer, and exercising steady faith are closely tied to being filled with the love of God and retaining a forgiveness of sin.

“…As ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith…And…I say unto you that if you do this ye shall always rejoice and be filled with the love of God and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge that which is just and true.” (Mosiah 4:11-12)

Questions:

-How does one come to a knowledge of the glory of God?

-Is it possible to do so without the influence of the Holy Ghost?

-How important is it to remember the impressions received from the Holy Ghost about who God really is?

-How is humility, prayer, and faithful action tied to retaining forgiveness of sins.

-Can a person shut out the purifying influence of the Holy Ghost by his or her thoughts or actions? Is it possible to retain a forgiveness of sins without the purifying influence of the Holy Ghost?

The Lord God Hath Sent His Holy Prophets among All the Children of Men

King Benjamin teaches that God, prior to Christ’s birth, sent prophets among all peoples to declare the meaning of what Christ would accomplish.

“…The Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them.” (Mosiah 3:13)

Questions:

-How many cultures had the ability to record the words of these prophets that were sent among them in the B.C. years?

-What is the probability that the words of these prophets would have been written down?

-What is the probability that those words, which were written down, would survive to our time?

They May Dwell with God in a State of Never-Ending Happiness

After warning of the consequences of rebelling against God and His Spirit (see previous post, Those Who Rebel Against God…), King Benjamin touches on the joy in store for those who whole-heartedly receive God’s commandments and Spirit.

“…I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression. And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:40-41)

Questions:

-How easy is it to be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to one’s spiritual welfare?

-What does it take to “hold out faithful to the end” in keeping the commandments of God?

-Is a state of never-ending happiness possible without an element of progression?

Ye Are Eternally Indebted to Your Heavenly Father to Render Him All That You Have and Are

A second time, during his sermon to the Nephite people, King Benjamin teaches about each individual’s true standing with God.

“…Ye are eternally indebted to your heavenly Father, to render to him all that you have and are.” (Mosiah 2:34)

Questions:

-Is it easy for you to wrap your mind around what Benjamin is teaching about each individual’s debt to God? Or, is indebtedness to God a foreign concept for you?

-Is it demeaning to be in a position in indebtedness in relation to Deity? Has God given all He has to us grudgingly? Or, is His giving inspired by perfect and eternal love?

-If joy is tied to connecting with the truth, does Benjamin’s teaching give you insight into why those who are grateful find greater joy in life?

-What does it mean to give all that you have and all that you are to God?

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

“How can we ever repay the debt we owe to the Savior? He paid a debt He did not owe to free us from a debt we can never pay. Because of Him, we will live forever. Because of His infinite Atonement, our sins can be swept away, allowing us to experience the greatest of all the gifts of God: eternal life.

“Can such a gift have a price? Can we ever make compensation for such a gift?” (“Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 43).

This Is the Last Time I Shall Nourish My Vineyard

Jacob quotes the words of the prophet Zenos (who is not found in the Old Testament but likely had writings in the Brass Plates) regarding the last days before Christ’s Second Coming.

“And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few. And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.” (Jacob 5:70-71)

Questions:

-How many in the world are laboring in God’s vineyard with their might?

-What is the significance of the servants being few?

-Do you believe that Christ’s Second Coming will occur soon?

-Would many reprioritize their life focus is they believed a labor was available to them that would yield eternal fruit?

The One Being Is as Precious in His Sight as the Other

Jacob teaches that those who have treated others poorly—due to a misguided mindset where wealth and achievement are evidence of being superior to others—are acting sinfully in God’s sight. He then provides the reason why this is so.

“…The one being is as precious in his sight as the other. And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandments and glorify him forever.” (Jacob 2:21)

Questions:

-How many treat others in a way that is consistent with the truth that every person is equally precious in God’s sight?

-What kind of spiritual power comes into a person’s life when they consistently repent to the standard of thought and conduct provided by this verse?

-Do you believe that the highest path in life (and the greatest source of joy and peace) is to glorify God?

Let Your Hearts Rejoice

Jacob provides keys to true joy.

“…Remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice.” (2 Nephi 9:52)

-Can prayer establish a connection with God and, thereby, help a person live in the joy and peace of His Spirit?

-Does the joy and peace that comes from the Spirit testify of God’s power to lift and save one’s soul?

-Does having that testimony from the Spirit help one to exercise faith in Jesus Christ day by day?

-In light of the above questions, how are prayer and gratitude related to both joy in this life and salvation in the eternities?

-What is keeping your heart from rejoicing?

-Is it freeing to know that according to God’s word we should let our hearts rejoice in the beautiful hope and truth of which the Spirit testifies?

Feast upon That Which Perisheth Not

Continuing with the theme of how important it is to turn to the true and living God, Jacob quotes Isaiah chapter 55 verse 1 before stating the following:

“…Remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.” (2 Nephi 9:51)

-Are the most important things eternal or temporal?

-How important is it to decide what you are going to “invest” in with your time and efforts during mortality? Will laying up treasure in heaven or pursuing worldly attainments be the priority for you?

-Where will the deepest joy come from (even in mortality)?

-Do you believe Jacob’s message that making the eternal and spiritual the priority is the best investment?

-Is remembering Jesus Christ’s perfect love and His saving power a primary source of spiritual strength and delight?

Their Joy Shall Be Full Forever

After teaching about the power of Christ’s Atonement to bring about the Resurrection and a Last Judgment that will be both merciful and just (see They Must be Judged According to the Holy Judgment of God, O How Great the Plan of Our God!, and It Must Needs Be an Infinite Atonement), Jacob describes those who will inherit the kingdom of God.

“But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.” (2 Nephi 9:18)

Questions:

-Who is the Holy One of Israel? (see Jesus Christ)

-What does it mean to be a saint of the Holy One of Israel?

-How is belief in the Holy One of Israel expressed in everyday life?

-What does it mean to endure the crosses of the world and despise the shame of the world?

-What does it mean to inherit the kingdom of God?