Repentance, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, makes or breaks the soul of one who understands who Christ is and what He has done to prepare the way for each individual person spiritually and eternally.
“…Thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not.” (Helaman 13:11)
-Will everyone who ever lived have a chance to receive or reject Christ’s Atonement before the Last Judgment?
Alma teaches his son that true repentance prevents one’s evil deeds from coming full circle to condemn him or her at the Last Judgment. Through His Atonement, Christ took upon Himself our punishments on condition of repentance, but without sincere repentance such mercy has no claim and the punishments will be fully applied.
“…Justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. What, do you suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God. And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery. Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds. If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God.” (Alma 42:24-28)
-How many chances does God give a person to repent?
-Will those who did not have a knowledge of Jesus Christ in mortality have an opportunity to repent once that knowledge is given to them in the spirit world?
“…It is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—The one raised to happiness according to his desires for happiness, or good according to his desires of good, and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh. And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness. These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.” (Alma 41:3-7)
-Will the influence of Christ’s glory and pure intelligence at the Last Judgment, without Him having to speak a word, allow one to judge himself or herself?
Mormon, the prophet who compiled and abridged the record of the Nephites (which was translated as the Book of Mormon), pauses to teach an important truth about Satan.
“…The devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.” (Alma 30:60)
-Is it possible to gain power and gratify the lusts of the flesh in this life by being a child of the devil (e.g. rejecting God’s commandments and applying selfish, calloused, and ungodly means to obtain one’s desires)?
*Does Satan goad souls to take this route because he enjoys seeing the selfish pleasure they obtain for a season?
*Or, does he do so because he relishes the awful depths of eternal remorse and pain that they will sink into when, after being brought into God’s presence for judgment, they come to a full and agonizing realization of the consequences of what they have done.
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)
-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?
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)
-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?
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)
-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?
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)
-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?
Alma testifies that the Lord is always prepared to clear away wickedness from the Earth.
“…The Spirit saith: Behold the ax is laid at the root of the tree; therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire, yea a fire which cannot be consumed, even an unquenchable fire. Behold, and remember, the Holy One hath spoken it.” (Alma 5:52)
“…All ye that will persist in your wickedness, I say unto you that these are they who shall be hewn down and cast into the fire except they speedily repent.” (Alma 5:56)
-Will the death of each individual, who has not brought forth good fruit, be the equivalent the tree being cut down and cast into the fire?
-Is the orchard analogy also a reference to groups of people (nations, cultures, etc.)?
-Could the purifying fire (influence) that emanates from God be anything but unquenchable? Could it ever be consumed?
-How intensely will that fire burn if it was never lit in the heart of a person prior to the Final Judgment?
-How is repentance tied to allowing God to purify our hearts now, during this time of probation, prior to the Last Judgment?
Alma declares the absolute necessity of removing pride from one’s soul in preparation to meet God.
“…Are you stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.” (Alma 5:28)
-What is pride? (click “pride” link above)
-Why is pride so detrimental to our relationship with God (and our standing at the Day of Judgment)?
-How can pride be stripped from one’s heart?