This Is My Doctrine

Jesus Christ declares the core of His doctrine:

“…This is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.” (3 Nephi 11:32-36)

“And again, I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them. Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.” (3 Nephi 11:37-41)

Questions:

-What is the significance of Christ using the word “verily” twice to emphasize the truth of what He was teaching?

Whoso Repenteth and Cometh unto Me as a Little Child, Him Will I Receive

Christ continues to teach the descendants of Lehi (living in the Americas shortly after His death and Resurrection) about His purposes and redemptive power.

“Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin. Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth and be saved.” (3 Nephi 9:21-22)

Questions:

-What does it mean to come unto Christ as a little child?

-What prevents one from taking this all-import step in their lives?

At the Power of God’s Voice Do the Foundations Rock Even to the Very Center

Mormon teaches how nature gives way in obedience to God’s voice and that His voice will irrevocably remove the wicked from His presence.

“…At [God’s] voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake. And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley. Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake; Yea, by the power of his voice do the foundations rock, even to the very center. Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved. Yea, if he say unto the earth—Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours—it is done; And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun. And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the great deep—be thou dried up—it is done. Behold, if he say unto this mountain—Be thou raised up, and come over and fall upon that city, that it be buried up—behold it is done. And behold, if a man hide up a treasure in the earth, and the Lord shall say—Let it be accursed, because of the iniquity of him who hath hid it up—behold, it shall be accursed. And if the Lord shall say—Be thou accursed, that no man shall find thee from this time henceforth and forever—behold, no man getteth it henceforth and forever. (Helaman 12:9-19)

And behold, if the Lord shall say unto a man—Because of thine iniquities, thou shalt be accursed forever—it shall be done. And if the Lord shall say—Because of thine iniquities thou shalt be cut off from my presence—he will cause that it shall be so. And wo unto him to whom he shall say this, for it shall be unto him that will do iniquity, and he cannot be saved; therefore, for this cause, that men might be saved, hath repentance been declared. Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved. (Helaman 12:20-23)

Questions:

-How did God’s voice impact the formation of the DNA that exists in, and guides the form of, all living things?

-Did the foundations of biology rock to the very center at the sound of God’s voice?

Mercy Cannot Rob Justice

Alma teaches his son that true repentance prevents one’s evil deeds from coming full circle to condemn him or her at the Last Judgment. Through His Atonement, Christ took upon Himself our punishments on condition of repentance, but without sincere repentance such mercy has no claim and the punishments will be fully applied.

“…Justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. What, do you suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God. And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery. Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds. If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God.” (Alma 42:24-28)

Questions:

-How many chances does God give a person to repent?

-Will those who did not have a knowledge of Jesus Christ in mortality have an opportunity to repent once that knowledge is given to them in the spirit world?

The Work of Justice Could not be Destroyed. If so, God would Cease to be God

Alma teaches his son that God never deviates from upholding justice. The greatest example of this is the unimaginable suffering of Jesus Christ in working out the Atonement in our behalf. In so doing He satisfied the demands of justice—He did not circumvent those demands. Alma also teaches that sincere repentance is required, based on the demands of justice, for Christ’s Atonement to have saving power in our lives.

“…As the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death. Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state. And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord. And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience; Therefore, according to justice the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:9-13)

Questions:

-Why is the unwavering upholding of justice a characteristic of Godhood?

Wickedness Never Was Happiness

Alma teaches his son that all people will be restored (in the Resurrection) to what they have become based on their desires and actions in this life.  

“Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness…All men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in the carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.” (Alma 41:10-13)

Questions:

-Why will Christ save souls from their sins but will not save them in their sins (see previous post entitled Ye Cannot Be Saved in Your Sins)?

-How can one be helped by Christ to move away from his or her sins through repentance so that his or her nature changes toward what is good, righteous, and just?

This Is a Sin Which Is Unpardonable

Alma teaches his son about the most serious sins which can be committed.

“…If ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.” (Alma 39:6)   

Questions:

-Why is denying the Holy Ghost, after an undeniable witness therefrom, an unpardonable sin?

-Is this unpardonable sin very rare…only committed by a very few people?

Gratitude: I am grateful that Christ is mighty to save! Short of the gravest sins mentioned above, He will always apply his saving power whenever I (or anyone else) chooses to sincerely repent.

There Is No Other Way or Means Whereby Man Can Be Saved, Only in and through Christ

Alma teaches his son about the only way salvation can be obtained.

“…There is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.” (Alma 38:9)

Questions:

-How does one receive salvation through Jesus Christ?

-What role does baptism (by one who has authority) play in receiving Christ’s salvation?  

By Very Small Means the Lord Doth Confound the Wise

Alma teaches his son about the more subtle power God often chooses to employ as a means of bringing about great results, most specifically the salvation of souls.

“…By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6-7)

Questions:

-In discussions about God’s attributes, how often is perfect finesse mentioned?

-When life is a measure of our faith and true desires—and the cumulative use of one’s free agency is what will be put in the balance on the Day of Judgment—how much finesse is needed by a loving God who desires to bring all (who are willing) back to His presence for eternity?

-Would life be a meaningful proving ground for the eternities (and test of faith) if God frequently revealed Himself beyond small means?

-How often do people overlook what God is doing in their lives because they are looking for grandiose interventions?

-How off base are those among the intelligentsia/academicians who see the world as being firmly a matter of intention-less cause and effect separate from the powerful “undercurrents” of God’s interventions?