The Book of Mormon was recorded on metal plates and translated by the power of God as a message to scattered Israel in the latter days before the return of Jesus Christ. The record that would become the Book of Mormon was written according to God’s will when the prophet Moroni hid the plates in the ground about 421 A.D., and it was translated, faithfully, according to His will by an unsophisticated young man (Joseph Smith) who was called and prepared by the Lord for this purpose in the early 1800’s. To stand as a second witness of Jesus Christ, avoiding the intellectually and spiritually corrupted systems of the world, God saw fit that the Book of Mormon would come forth in this miraculous manner. The Book of Mormon is an invitation to “more fully believe” the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“…These things are written unto the remnant of the house of Jacob; and they are written after this manner, because it is known of God that wickedness will not bring them forth unto them; and they are to be hid up unto the Lord that they may come forth in his own due time. And this is the commandment which I have received; and behold, they shall come forth according to the commandment of the Lord, when he shall see fit, in his wisdom. And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go—that they be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, the great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant. And also that [the descendants of Lehi] may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles…” (Mormon 5:12-15)
-How sure are God’s promises to His covenant people, including the Jews and all the descendants of Israel?
-Are His promises any less sure for those who are not descendants of Jacob but have taken upon themselves the covenants of the Restored Gospel and, thereby, joined themselves with Israel?
Samuel, a Lamanite prophet, teaches important truths about Christ’s Resurrection:
- Christ’s death was a necessary part of His working out salvation for mankind.
- The salvation Christ extends is not only spiritual. It also overcomes the death that came into the world through Adam and Eve’s fall providing physical salvation as well (preparing the way for the Resurrection of all who ever lived).
- The Resurrection ensured that no person will be held responsible for the “original sin” of Adam and Eve and, thereby, laid the groundwork for repentance to be meaningful—each individual only being responsible for his or her own sins that are not repented of.
- There is an important link between physical resurrection and being brought back into the presence of the Lord for the Final Judgment.
“…[Christ] surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord. Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death—that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual. But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord. Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire; and there cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness.” (Helaman 14:15-18)
-How did Christ’s Resurrection overcome the first death or “original sin” for all?
-Why will all be physically resurrected before they are brought to the Last Judgment?
Samuel, a Lamanite prophet, teaches that true belief in Jesus Christ leads one to change his or her life comprehensively. All sins are unacceptable for the person who does not take for granted the escape Christ has prepared. Those who truly believe in the power of Christ’s Atonement do not take the opportunity to repent lightly.
“…Whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life…And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits.” (Helaman 14:8,13)
-How does James 2:17 relate to the above verses?
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?
Helaman, a prophet and military leader, recounts a miracle that occurred in the field of battle. A group of new recruits (two-thousand and sixty young men from a region of the Nephite nation where the gospel was strong and their families had taught them to have firm faith in God) were strengthened and protected by God:
“…My little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did administer death unto all those who opposed them. And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted…And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had fled, I immediately gave orders that my men who had been wounded should be taken from among the dead, and caused that their wounds should be dressed. And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds. And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.” (Alma 57:19-20, 24-26)
-What is the significance of the Lord allowing these young men to be injured but not allowing them to be killed?
-Can a person expect to go unscathed through life even when living faithfully?
The prophet Alma’s son, Corianton, forsook his missionary responsibilities and took part in sexual sin with a prostitute. Alma reminds his son of how serious his misdeed was in the eyes of God.
“Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost.” (Alma 39:5)
-Why are murder and denying the Holy Ghost the only sins more evil in the sight of God than sexual sin?
-What does this say about how spiritually destructive sexual sin is?
Gratitude: I am grateful God cares deeply about my (and all people’s) spiritual welfare and provides guidance (for all who will hear) regarding how to stay spiritually strong.
After realizing the extent of his guilt before God, (having helped incite violence against a prophet of God and other innocent people) a Nephite named Zeezrom is completely overwhelmed to the point where he becomes physically ill. As he lies sick in bed, wrestling with the horror of what he has done, he requests a visit from the prophet Alma. When Alma and his companion Amulek hear that Zeerom is in need, they come quickly…
“…and when [Zeezrom] saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him. And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation? And he answered and said: Yea I believe all the words that thou hast taught. And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed. And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ. And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk…” (Alma 15:5-11)
-How many in the world need the kind of healing that Zeezrom received?
-Is it possible that Zeezrom could have found healing from Christ without Alma’s (or another of the Lord’s servant’s) guidance and help?
-How many, figuratively speaking, would leap out of their spiritual and mental doldrums if they were to believe in the redemption of Christ and receive His Holy Spirit?
-In what ways are physical and spiritual illness sometimes linked?
The prophet Alma calls those who are not in good standing with God to change course.
“…Wo unto all ye workers of iniquity; repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it! Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you. Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely; Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire—for behold, the time is at hand that whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit, or whosoever doeth not the works of righteousness, the same have cause to wail and mourn.” (Alma 5:32-36)
-Based on the passage above, how willing is God to receive those who are willing to repent?
-Has a person truly repented if they don’t bring about good works in the world?
-What are works of righteousness? Can good things be done for less than the best reasons?
-How important is it to come to Christ before seeking to do good? Does He have the power to greatly multiply the efficacy of our works in a manner similar to how He multiplied the disciple’s loaves and fish for the multitude as recorded in the New Testament? (Mark 6:35-44)
After the prophet Abinadi calls King Noah to repentance, the king is angered and has Abinadi executed by fire. In his death throes, Abinadi utters one last prophecy based on the truth that God does not allow his true followers to be harmed without repercussions.
“And when the flames began to scorch him, [Abinadi] cried unto them, saying: Behold, even as ye have done unto me, so shall it come to pass that thy seed shall cause that many shall suffer the pains that I do suffer, even the pains of death by fire; and this because they believe in the salvation of the Lord their God. And it will come to pass that ye shall be afflicted with all manner of diseases because of your iniquities. Yea, and ye shall be smitten on every hand, and shall be driven and scattered to and fro, even as a wild flock is driven by wild and ferocious beasts. And in that day ye shall be hunted, and ye shall be taken by the hand of your enemies, and then ye shall suffer, as I suffer, the pains of death by fire. Thus God executeth vengeance upon those that destroy his people.” (Mosiah 17:13-19)
-How naïve is it to compare the shortsighted vengeance of man with the omniscient vengeance of God, as if they were the same thing?
-Can anyone practice righteous vengeance other than God?
The prophet Abinadi (speaking in about 148 B.C.) testifies of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.
“And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption. And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection. But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless that there can be no more death.” (Mosiah 16:6-9)
-How does one draw close to the endless light and life offered by Jesus Christ?
-Can that light and life be nurtured in our hearts and minds so that it grows steadily within us?
-Who would consciously reject the potential of such a gift?