This is My Church

Alma, the Nephite prophet, was troubled by members of the Lord’s church who were committing sin and not repenting. He was hesitant to take action because he didn’t want to judge them wrongly in the Lord’s eyes, but felt that action needed to be taken. As he prayed, the Lord revealed the following to him:

“…He that will hear my voice shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church, and him will I also receive. For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive. For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand. For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.” (Mosiah 26:21-24)

“And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me. And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed. And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day.” (Mosiah 26:25-28)

Questions:

-Is the Book of Mormon the Lord’s voice?

-Is the Bible the Lord’s voice?

-Is it possible to heed some of the Lord’s words but ignore others?

-Does the phrase “never knew me” in the passage above suggest that only those who never listened to the Lord’s voice will “depart into everlasting fire?” How rare is it to find a person who never listened to the voice of the Lord?

-How important is it to strive to listen to all that the Lord speaks versus listening selectively?

I, the Lord God, Do Visit My People in Their Afflictions

The Nephites following the prophet Alma were required to endure captivity for a time, but the Lord helped them through their trials and declared the following to them:

“…Ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” (Mosiah 24:14)

Questions:

-Can a person come to know God more from the trials he or she passes through than from times of ease?

-Are greater blessings granted to those who are keeping the commandments and following the voice of the Spirit?

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 only 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?

The Priests Were Not to Depend upon the People for Their Support

Those who led the congregations of Christ’s people among the Nephites were not paid monetarily or with physical goods for their service. Rather, they supported themselves and their own families, and then also labored to serve the Lord and His people. This separation of financial incentive from spiritual service increased the grace and Spirit of God in their lives and they were able to teach with greater power and authority for the benefit of their followers.

“…The priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.” (Mosiah 18:26)

Questions:

-Can you see how mixing financial incentive and church (or synagogue) service could easily dilute the spiritual power of those who lead congregations?

-How many are willing (or able) to serve for the grace of God and forgo financial reimbursement for their service?

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).

When Ye Are in the Service of Your Fellow Beings Ye Are Only in the Service of Your God

While teaching the Nephite people, Benjamin, a prophet king, recounts the service-oriented nature of his reign and the relationship between serving others and serving God.

“I…have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and all of these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day. Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day.” (Mosiah 2:14-15)

“Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:16-17)

Questions:

-If God has perfect and abiding love for His children, what better way is there to show love to Him than to serve His children (our fellow beings here on the Earth)?

The Spirit Speaketh of Things as They Really Are, and of Things as They Really Will Be

The Spirit has always testified of Jesus Christ. Before His birth, the Spirit testified of Him as Jehovah and as the coming Messiah and Savior. After His birth the Spirit now testifies of Him as the Savior who has worked out the Atonement in all of mankind’s behalf. Those who earnestly sought and obtained God’s Spirit before Christ’s coming—including the Nephite prophet Jacob—received a clear witness and understanding of who He would be and what He would do.

Writing about Christ sometime around 500 B.C., Jacob recorded the following about the power of the Spirit:

“…Beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him…He that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.” (Jacob 4:12-13)

Questions:

-Do you believe that true prophets (and their followers) who lived centuries before Christ had a clear understanding of who He would be and what He would do?

-Do you believe that you can have a clear understanding of who Christ is and what He has done through the Spirit?

Whoredoms Are an Abomination Before Me

Jacob is given revelation from the Lord that the Nephites are beginning to rationalize sexual misconduct based on the actions of David and Solomon.

For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. (2 Jacob 2:23-24)

Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. For, if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (2 Jacob 2:27-30)

Questions:

-Is a society always cursed when the lure of unbounded sexuality is succumbed to and leads to a multiplicity of crass encounters that harm the souls of the participants?

-Were the men who are being called to repentance in the above verses letting their sexual desires overcome their basic decency toward many of the women around them? And, were they using the practice of plural marriage in their culture’s past as a cover for doing so?

-Are there others in the past, besides David and Solomon, who have practiced plural marriage without God’s sanction?

-When has God sanctioned plural marriage? What does the passage above suggest about why He would do so?

-Do you believe God sanctioned plural marriage as practiced by modern-day prophets such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young? Or, do you believe they were acting on their own motivations against God’s will? What do you have for reference in judging their motivations?

With One Glance of His Eye He Can Smite You to the Dust

When addressing the unrighteous pride and persecution of others that the Nephites were beginning to take part in, Jacob tries to help them understand their true position in relation to God. In so doing, Jacob declares the following.

“O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust! O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!” (Jacob 2:15).

Questions:

-How many believe in a Being this powerful—one that could (if He wasn’t as patient as He is) obliterate humanity with the glace of His eye?

-Do you believe God has eyes to glance with? Or, do you believe He is without body parts, passions, etc.