By Very Small Means the Lord Doth Confound the Wise

Alma teaches his son about the more subtle power God often chooses to employ as a means of bringing about great results, most specifically the salvation of souls.

“…By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6-7)

Questions:

-In discussions about God’s attributes, how often is perfect finesse mentioned?

-When life is a measure of our faith and true desires—and the cumulative use of one’s free agency is what will be put in the balance on the Day of Judgment—how much finesse is needed by a loving God who desires to bring all (who are willing) back to His presence for eternity?

-Would life be a meaningful proving ground for the eternities (and test of faith) if God frequently revealed Himself beyond small means?

-How often do people overlook what God is doing in their lives because they are looking for grandiose interventions?

-How off base are those among the intelligentsia/academicians who see the world as being firmly a matter of intention-less cause and effect separate from the powerful “undercurrents” of God’s interventions?

They Must Stand before God to Be Judged of Their Works

As he answers his brothers’ questions about their father’s dream, Nephi emphasizes a bright fire-like light — representing the justice of God — that divided the wicked and the righteous in the dream. Nephi teaches his brothers that they, like all who have lived on the earth, will account for their lives at the day of judgement.

“I said unto them that our father also saw that the justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous; and the brightness thereof was like unto the brightness of a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God forever and ever and hath no end…For the day should come that they must be judged of their works…and if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God; if so, the kingdom of God must be filthy also. But…the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God; wherefore there must needs be a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy. And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken.” (1 Nephi 15:30,32-35)

Questions:

-If the justice of God is unalterable and eternal, as Nephi describes it above, what place does mercy have in God’s plan?

-What does the sum of one’s actions during a lifetime say about his or her true desires? Can a season of wickedness in one’s life be followed by a season of righteousness without any eternal ramifications based on the time when unrighteous choices were made?

-How can anyone be saved in the kingdom of God when everyone makes mistakes and sins?

-Is a sense of God’s justice a concept that has gained ground or lost ground in Western culture in the last century?

-Is it possible to sense the true need for Jesus Christ as our Savior without also opening oneself up to the reality and unwavering clarity of God’s justice?

No Unclean Thing Can Dwell with God

After describing God’s perfect and caring consistency in his relationship to mankind (and every individual who ever was and is a part of it), Nephi concludes his message on a cautionary note.

“…For all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment. Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.” (1 Nephi 10:20-21)

Questions:

-What does it mean to seek after wickedness? Why does participating in wickedness make a person unclean?

-Why is it that nothing unclean (including an unclean soul) can stay in the presence of God?

-What is the difference between being clean and being perfect? Does this passage say that a soul needs to be perfect to enter God’s kingdom?

-Since all of us have been tainted — to some degree or another — by the wickedness of this world, how can we be made clean again and return to live with God? (See: Rely on This Redeemer; Repentance; Atonement)

-Why does Nephi refer to mortality as a time of probation?

-Is there a point where all who are unclean will remain so forever?

-If you believe there will be a day of judgment, how does it affect the way you live your life day to day? If a day of judgment is in the future, how important is it to know this and to be prepared?

-Would a perfect God provide anything less than a perfect judgment? Would a God who loves perfectly offer everything He possibly could in terms of eternal blessings?

They Must Stand before God to Be Judged of Their Works

As he answers his brothers’ questions about their father’s dream, Nephi emphasizes a bright fire-like light — representing the justice of God — that divided the wicked and the righteous in the dream. Nephi teaches his brothers that they, like all who have lived on the earth, will account for their lives at the day of judgement.

“I said unto them that our father also saw that the justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous; and the brightness thereof was like unto the brightness of a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God forever and ever and hath no end…For the day should come that they must be judged of their works…and if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God; if so, the kingdom of God must be filthy also. But…the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God; wherefore there must needs be a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy. And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken.” (1 Nephi 15:30,32-35)

Questions:

-If the justice of God is unalterable and eternal, as Nephi describes it above, what place does mercy have in God’s plan?

-What does the sum of one’s actions during a lifetime say about his or her true desires? Can a season of wickedness in one’s life be followed by a season of righteousness without any eternal ramifications based on the time when unrighteous choices were made?

-How can anyone be saved in the kingdom of God when everyone makes mistakes and sins?

-Is a sense of God’s justice a concept that has gained ground or lost ground in Western culture in the last century?

-Is it possible to sense the true need for Jesus Christ as our Savior without also opening oneself up to the reality and unwavering clarity of God’s justice?

No Unclean Thing Can Dwell with God

After describing God’s perfect and caring consistency in his relationship to mankind (and every individual who ever was and is a part of it), Nephi concludes his message on a cautionary note.

“…For all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment. Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.” (1 Nephi 10:20-21)

Questions:

-What does it mean to seek after wickedness? Why does participating in wickedness make a person unclean?

-Why is it that nothing unclean (including an unclean soul) can stay in the presence of God?

-What is the difference between being clean and being perfect? Does this passage say that a soul needs to be perfect to enter God’s kingdom?

-Since all of us have been tainted — to some degree or another — by the wickedness of this world, how can we be made clean again and return to live with God? (See: Rely on This Redeemer; Repentance; Atonement)

-Why does Nephi refer to mortality as a time of probation?

-Is there a point where all who are unclean will remain so forever?

-If you believe there will be a day of judgment, how does it affect the way you live your life day to day? If a day of judgment is in the future, how important is it know this and to be prepared?

-Would a perfect God provide anything less than a perfect judgment? Would a God who loves perfectly offer everything He possibly could in terms of eternal blessings?