The Arms of Mercy Were Extended Towards Them and They Would Not

In teaching (and warning) King Noah and his priests, the prophet Abinadi reemphasizes what other prophets had taught before him: The Resurrection and the Judgment are closely tied and, together, define the eternal state of each soul.

“…This mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation—Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.” (Mosiah 16:10-12)

Questions:

-Does God make sure that we are given every chance in mortality (and even in the spirit world) to turn to Him?

-By the time of the Resurrection will everyone’s true desires be expressed through the actions they took leading to that culminating event?

He is a Light That is Endless That Can Never be Darkened

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)

 Questions:

-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?

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?

These Things are Done That a Righteous Judgment Might Come upon the Children of Men

In about 124 B.C., King Benjamin relates the words he received from an angel foretelling Christ’s life and mission.

“He shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary. And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him. And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.” (Mosiah 3:8-10)

Questions:

-Would it be possible for God the Father to oversee a righteous Judgment if he hadn’t sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to prepare the way for the Judgment to be performed perfectly?

-Do you believe that Christ now stands, with a resurrected body, perfectly prepared to mete a righteous judgment to all who have lived on the Earth?

-Could anyone else stand in perfect judgment of God’s children?

-How is Christ, the Son of God, also the Father of heaven and earth?

Those Who Openly Rebel Against God Will Endure a Never-Ending Torment

King Benjamin gives a stark warning to those who have the light of the true gospel yet rebel against the Spirit of the Lord.

“…Our fathers…spake that which was commanded them of the Lord; therefore, they are just and true. And now I say unto you my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths, that ye may be blessed, prospered and preserved. I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.” (Mosiah 2:35-37)

“Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.” (Mosiah 2:38-39)

Questions:

-Seeing that Benjamin is addressing those among his people who had been immersed in the gospel from a young age, is this stark warning less applicable to those who weren’t so immersed?

-Is the warning still applicable, to a lesser degree, to those who had lesser light and knowledge in their lifetime and rebelled against it?

-Why can those who rebel against God in mortality stay asleep to their guilt? Why is it impossible for them stay asleep to their guilt at the time of the Resurrection and Judgment?

O Be Wise: What More Can I Say?

Jacob teaches what it means to be spiritually wise.

“Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you? Know you not that if you will do these things, that the power the redemption and the resurrection, which is in Christ, will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God? And according to the power of justice, for justice cannot be denied, ye must go away into that lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever, which lake of fire and brimstone is endless torment. O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life. O be wise: what can I say more?” (Jacob 6:8-12)
Questions:

-Do you believe the Spirit testifies of the reality of Christ’s redemptive power to every person’s heart that hears of Him and His Father’s plan of salvation?

-How serious are the consequences when the testimony of the Spirit is quenched?

-Was Jacob speaking to a group of people who were saturated in opportunities to receive the Spirit (a social environment where the testimony of Christ was a constant presence)?

-Would someone who had far less exposure to the testimony of the Spirit be open to the same depth of consequence as those to whom Jacob was speaking?

-As you read the scriptural message above, what thought processes lead you to quench the Spirit? What thoughts lead you to receive the Spirit? Can you feel the ebb and flow of the Spirit in proportion to your openness to the message versus the thoughts that close your heart to the message?

-Did Jacob believe in a literal lake of fire and brimstone? Or, is he using a metaphor for representing eternal spiritual loss?

Seek Not to Counsel the Lord, But to Take Counsel from His Hand

After teaching about God’s perfect power and knowledge, Jacob emphasizes a point that should be obvious but is easily missed by those of us living in the fallen world.

“…Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold…he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works. Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God.” (Jacob 4:10-11)

Questions:

-How often does God reach out to individuals to guide them in the right direction through His Spirit? How often do those individuals respond and follow the Spirit?

-What causes a person to reject or ignore the direction of God’s Spirit?

-Where can one find the counsel the Lord has given to those on earth in written form?

-Did you just read a portion of His counsel in bold above?

-Why not start drawing on His great wisdom, justice, and mercy today by listening to the Spirit and reading His written word with an open heart?

-Is there any counsel from God more important than that which He has given to be reconciled to Him through His Son’s Atonement?

-How joyful is the consequence of being reconciled to God through Christ’s Atonement? What does it mean to be part of the First Resurrection?

Thy Ways Are Just

Nephi saw in a prophetic vision that, that after falling into deep wickedness, many of his people in the Americas would be destroyed at the time of Christ’s death and resurrection (around A.D. 33-34). Though it is a great burden on his soul to have this knowledge, Nephi resolutely testifies that God is just in all that He does.

“…After the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them.” (2 Nephi 26:3)

“And they shall be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions, for the fire of the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against them, and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (2 Nephi 26:6)

“O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto God: Thy ways are just.” (2 Nephi 26:7)

Questions:

-Do you believe, as Nephi, that God’s ways are just?

-When God allows the physical destruction of those of his children who have fallen into wickedness as described in the verses above, is He still acting out of concern for their eternal welfare?

-Can only God feel righteous anger and still be justified? Or, is righteous anger possible for mortals as well?

Wo unto Them That Fight Against God and the People of His Church

Nephi, after prophesying about the destruction to befall those at Jerusalem who would reject Christ and the people of His Church, extends a general cautionary principle.

“…Behold it shall come to pass that after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold, Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for wo unto them that fight against God and the people of his church.” (2 Nephi 25:14)

Questions:

-Do you believe Christ is the God of this earth and came to His people (in and around Jerusalem) as the promised Messiah?

-Who were the people of His Church at the time of His Resurrection?

-Who are the people of His Church today?

-Who is fighting against God and the people of His Church today?

-What does Nephi prophesy about the fate of those who fight against God and His Church in the last days?

The Righteous Love the Truth and Are Not Shaken

Jacob realizes his teachings about…

…are going to be hard for some to hear.

This being the case, he pleads with those who hear these messages not to rebel against the truth but to reconcile themselves with God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“…Give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if you do ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken. O then my beloved [brothers and sisters] come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” (2 Nephi 9:40-41)

Questions:

-How easy is it for most people to perceive and accept the greatness of God, and His righteous standards, in relation to their shortcomings and sins?

-Do many feel it is easier to avoid facing the unclean aspects of their lives in relation to God than it is to square up to the truth of the situation and ask God for help to become clean through His power?

-Are many of the ideas and philosophies of the world popular because they help people avoid facing God and the uncomfortable aspects of seeking forgiveness?

-Is being willing to face one’s uncleanness, and work with God to remedy the situation, one of the main aspects of what Jacob calls righteousness? Would a person who continually strives to recognize their weaknesses, and do this work of repentance, be prone to judge others harshly who have similar mortal frailties? Is it impossible to be righteous and self-righteous at the same time?

-Will anyone be able to hide from the reality of his or her relationship with God at the time of the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment?