The prophet historian, Mormon, tells of a time in Nephite history where true followers of Christ drew closer to Him despite being mistreated by their fellow church members.
“…In the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction. Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling of their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” (Helaman 3:33-36)
-How can one be filled with joy even while passing through great difficulties in life?
-Would this group of people have obtained deep purification and sanctification of their hearts without the persecution they experienced?
-Are there worldly powers (including political forces) today that are tempting some in the Church to become prideful and despise others in the Church? -How vital is humility in ensuring one does not end up on the wrong side (i.e. prideful side) of inter-Church divisions?
Alma teaches his son about how a missionary for Christ should conduct him- or herself.
“…Now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things. See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength. Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness. Do not pray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen they pray to be heard of men, and to be praised for their wisdom. Do no say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren, but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times. And may the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace. Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be sober. My son, farewell.” (Alma 38:10-15)
-How does bridling one’s passions open the way for a person to be filled with love?
-What does it mean to be sober (in the more general sense of the word)?
Amulek provides vital keys to progressing spiritually.
-In what ways do people contend against the Holy Ghost?
-How can a person receive the Holy Ghost? Is it possible to fully do so without being baptized by one with authority?
After teaching about prayer as a means of drawing on God’s help (see previous post), Amulek emphasizes that we must be willing to help others.
“…After ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men.” (Alma 34:28-29)
-What attribute is God trying to foster in His children more than any other?
Amulek teaches about how prayer should be approached in quality, quantity, and intensity.
“…Humble yourselves and continue in prayer unto him. Cry unto him when ye are in your field, yea, over all your flocks. Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening. Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies. Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness. Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them. Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase. But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness. Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.” (Alma 34:19-27)
-How does one keep his or her heart drawn out to God at all times?
Amulek teaches that part of exercising faith unto repentance is to call upon God for mercy.
“…May God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you; Yea, cry unto him for mercy for he is mighty to save.” (Alma 34:17-18)
-What does it mean to call upon God for mercy?
-How many see themselves as being in need of God’s mercy?
Ammon teaches that the combination of…
…brings extraordinary spiritual blessings.
“…He that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance.” (Alma 26:22)
-How can one maintain a prayerful connection with God while still going about day-to-day activities?
-Is it always possible to maintain a repentant demeanor toward God?
-How meaningful would our works be without Christ’s Atonement? How meaningful are they through Christ’s Atonement (when one is moving forward with a repentant demeanor and a sincere prayer is always in one’s heart)?
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)
-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?
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)
-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?
In his old age, before giving the Gold Plates to King Benjamin, Almaleki used the plates to engrave precious keys to obtaining salvation. Joseph Smith translated the engravings as follows:
“…Come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.” (Omni 1:26)
-What does it mean to offer your whole soul to Christ?
-How important is our own effort is Christ’s eyes, given that the prophets testify of the importance of enduring to the end after partaking of Christ’s salvation?