The Lord Seeth Fit to Chasten His People

After finding a new place to settle, a group of Nephites — who were keeping God’s commandments and living peaceably with one another – were taken captive by their enemies the Lamanites. The prophet Mormon (who abridged and made important observations within the text of the Book of Mormon) describes why the Lord allowed this to happen.

“…The Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.” (Mosiah 23:21-22)

Questions:

-Does anyone escape chastening by God? Or, is this life constructed by God to chasten?

-Are the people of God (those who have the true priesthood and are striving to love God and their neighbor as themselves) more likely to be chastened? Or, are they less likely to be chastened?

-Does trust in God, through trial, purify and sanctify the soul?

One Man Shall Not Think Himself Above Another

After the Nephite people request a king, the man who the majority want to be their king (Alma) refuses. He explains why based on a specific commandment received from the Lord.

“Thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another or one man shall not think himself above another.” (Mosiah 23:7)

Questions:

-What causes people to think they are better than others?

-How tempting is it for a person to seek confirmation that he or she is better than others?

-Does any good come from thoughts and actions based on a sense of superiority (or from establishing positions in social structure that signal superiority)?

-Since we are all saved by the grace of God through Christ’s loving Atonement, what position do we put ourselves in when we aren’t careful to extend the same kind of love to others (in our thoughts and actions) as Christ has extended to us?

Thus They Became the Children of God

After hearing the teachings of the prophet Abinadi, a man with priesthood authority named Alma, who had been one of the priests of the wicked King Noah, repents and reinstates the true gospel of Jesus Christ among a group of followers. Mormon, the Nephite historian-prophet who abridged these events onto the Gold Plates, is inspired to define for the reader how a group can become the children of God (i.e. God’s people on the earth).

“…[Alma] said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the  Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:8-10)

After making the above covenant through baptism by immersion (performed by one who held authority from God), Alma and his people lived in harmony and peace with one another:

“…He commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another. And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God.” (Mosiah 18:21-22)

Questions:

-Is there a group on the earth who strive to follow Christ’s example and whose priesthood holders have God’s authorization to baptize?

-Where can the children of God be found?

-How important is it to find and associate with the children of God during this lifetime? More to the point, how import is it to become a part of the kingdom of God (whose subjects are the children of God) where it has been established here on the earth?

 

The Son Reigneth and Hath Power over the Dead

Jesus Christ is our wholly benevolent and righteous King who has power even over death!

“…O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people; for were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished. But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead.” (Mosiah 15:18-20)

Questions:

-What does it mean to align one’s life to be in harmony with the Founder of Peace?

-Would many that chafe at the thought of having an earthly king be willing to receive their Heavenly King?

-Will anyone not receive their Heavenly King when a full consciousness of what He has done, and the love He extends, is obtained?

I the Lord Am a Jealous God

The Book of Mormon record reemphasizes the importance of the Ten Commandments given by God to the Israelite people. The Nephite prophets who taught their people and recorded scripture drew on a record called the Brass Plates (which were brought from Jerusalem) that contained most of writings of the prophets found in the Old Testament up to 600 B.C., including the book of Exodus containing the Ten Commandments.

Posts for the next several weeks will focus on a section of Mosiah chapter 13 that presents the Ten Commandments in wording very similar to the King James Translation (but with some interesting variations). Words and punctuation in italic show instances where the wording and punctuation is different from the King James version.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of things which are in heaven above, or which are in the earth beneath, or which are in the water under the earth. And again: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” (Mosiah 13:12-14 – Compare with Exodus 20:4-6)

Questions:

-Why does God care if the people who have covenanted to follow Him choose to follow other gods?

-What does the word — that the translators of the King James version of the Bible decided to translate as “jealous” – say about God’s concern and emotions towards those who have proclaimed themselves as His? Would a God without body, parts, or passions be capable of this kind of feeling?

-When the Lord speaks of those who hate Him in these verses, is He referring to those who have received His covenants and the Holy Spirit and then still rejected Him as their God. Or, is he referring to those who hate him merely as an idea or as someone else’s God?

Ye Will Not Have a Mind to Injure One Another, But to Live Peaceably

King Benjamin teaches how those who have the love of God in their hearts will treat one another.

“And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due. And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.” (Mosiah 4:13-16)

Questions:

-Is it possible to truly love God without the help of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to comprehend who God is without the witness of the Holy Spirit?

The Natural Man is an Enemy to God

King Benjamin teaches that the default path of least resistance in life (e.g. letting genetics and the weight of a materialistic worldview have full sway in one’s life) sets a soul in opposition to God. But, there is a remedy…

“…The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Jesus Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19)

Questions:

-How easy is it to yield to the enticement of the Holy Spirit and overcome the natural man?

-Does overcoming the natural man occur suddenly? Or, is it usually a gradual process?

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?

God Commandeth That There Shall Be No Priestcrafts

Nephi provides a key to distinguishing between those who are true servants in God’s kingdom and those who are not.

“He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.” (2 Nephi:26:29-30)

Questions:

-How powerful is the allure of self-aggrandizement and material security?

-Does the pure love of God (which Nephi refers to as charity in the passage above) need to be nurtured and sought after if one is to serve in a way that is pleasing to God?

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

“Let us beware of false prophets and false teachers, both men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church and who seek to spread their false gospel and attract followers by sponsoring symposia, books, and journals whose contents challenge fundamental doctrines of the Church. Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce. Like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of Mormon, they rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their views. They ‘set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion’ (2 Ne. 26:29)” (M. Russell Ballard, “Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 63).