God Has All Power, All Wisdom, All Understanding, and Is a Merciful Being

Ammon teaches about God’s characteristics.

“…[God] has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.” (Alma 26:35)

Questions:

-Why is God merciful?

-Does mercy guide how God exercises His endless and perfect power?

-Can power be perfectly exercised without perfect wisdom, perfect understanding, and all-encompassing comprehension?

-Does God ever use His power to force people to do what is good and right?

-Does God allow us to choose between giving our individual wills to Him and withholding our wills from Him?

-Since God is merciful, in addition to all His other perfections, is there any difference between God’s will for us and what is best for us?

Teachings of Latter-Day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

From Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“Some have sincere faith in the existence of a God but not necessarily in a revealing and omniscient God. Other sincere individuals question God’s omniscience, wondering, even though respectfully, whether even God can know the future. But an omniscient and revealing God can at any present moment disclose things future. This is possible because ‘in the presence of God, … all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord’ (D&C 130:7). Thus God ‘knoweth all things, for all things are present before [his] eyes’ (D&C 38:2). He told Moses, ‘There is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all’ (Moses 1:6).

“No qualifiers on the scope of God’s knowledge appear in holy writ. Instead, we read: ‘O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.’ (2 Nephi 9:20.)” (If Thou Endure It Well [1996], 46).

There is None That Knoweth These Things, Save it be the Penitent

Ammon, a Nephite missionary, teaches that the deepest spiritual truths can only be known after a person awakes to, and acts on, the absolute necessity of relying on Jesus Christ to cross over the abyss of spiritual death and obtain salvation.

“…In his great mercy [Christ] hath brought us over that everlasting gulf of death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls. And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent.” (Alma 26:21)

Questions:

-What brings a person face to face with the reality of spiritual death within him- or herself?

-How difficult is it to face the reality of spiritual death within oneself and then seek to reconcile oneself to God? How tenaciously does the “ego” within a person often fight this process?

If Thou Believest in the Redemption of Christ Thou Canst Be Healed

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)

Questions:

-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?

Ye Cannot Be Saved in Your Sins

Amulek teaches that reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ is the only way to obtain the kingdom of heaven. Such reconciliation requires true repentance away from sin.

“…No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.” (Alma 11:37)

“[Christ] shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death, for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.” (Alma 11:40-41)

Questions:

-How does Christ draw a person from being in sin and save him or her from sin? Will He ever violate the principle of free agency to do so?

-If to be in sin means being complacent about wrongdoing, is it clear why Christ won’t save a person in his or her sin?

All Men Shall Reap a Reward of Their Works

Alma teaches the principle that we reap what we sow with our actions.

“…All men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil.” (Alma 9:28)

Questions:

-If works can increase grace and grace can increase works. Does it make sense to denigrate the role of one or the other? Does it make more sense to emphasize their mutually reinforcing and “symbiotic” relationship?

-Since Christ has made works meaningful through His Atonement (opening up the way for the Father to treasure up all the good a person does and magnify it through all eternity), how vital is it to show appreciation for this unrivaled opportunity and move forward with good works?

He Who Makes a Mock of His Brother Is Not Prepared to Meet God

Alma declares that the mocker and persecutor is not suited for heaven.

“…Is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions? Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!” (Alma 5:30-31)

Questions:

-Is there ever a point where the time isn’t “at hand” for each mortal soul?

-How precious is the opportunity to have life — moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour – and show God who we are during this time of mortality?

-Why is now always the best time to repent?

There Can No Man Be Saved Except His Garments Are Washed White

Alma compares the purification of the soul, necessary to meet God with a clear conscience, with the wearing of white clothes that have been washed perfectly clean. Only the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to stand before God without stain. Those who have not drawn on the cleansing power of Christ’s Atonement will stand before God with the spiritual equivalent of filthy clothes due to the stain of sin. Alma asks a series of questions showing, when answered honestly, that one’s current status before God can be assessed now. It is not necessary, or wise, to wait for the final assessment that will occur at the Last Judgment.

“Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?” (Alma 5:15-16)

“Or do you imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you? Or, otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with you souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?” (Alma 5:17-18)

“I say unto you, can you look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil? I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot  be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.” (Alma 5:19-21)

Questions:

-How do you feel about the eight or so questions Alma asks above?

-Is there any limit to Christ’s power to remove the stains of sin when a person is in the sincere habit of repenting immediately for mistakes and then striving to not repeat them?

-What is the difference between Christ saving people from their sins and Christ saving people in their sins? (see Alma 11:32-37)

He That Persists in His Own Carnal Nature Remaineth in His Fallen State

Salvation comes to individuals who choose God rather than their carnal nature.

“…All mankind were lost and behold they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state. But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God and also is the devil an enemy to God.” (Mosiah 16:4-5)

Questions:

-Is there anyone that doesn’t need to overcome their carnal nature?

-How many in our times celebrate their carnal nature rather than seeking to overcome it?

-Under whose power do those who persist in their carnal fall under?

They Would Not Hearken to the Voice of the Lord

The prophet Abinadi warns King Noah – an unrighteous leader who knew the truths of the gospel but did not live according to them – that a day will come when all the wicked will reap what they have sown.

“…The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just. And then shall the wicked be cast out, and they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth; and this because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord; therefore the Lord redeemeth them not. For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them…[They] knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil.” (Mosiah 16:1-3)

Questions:

-Is seeing salvation the same as actually receiving it?

-Will the wicked be somewhat naive about their eternal status until they see what they had previously refused to see about the consequences of their actions (thus the deep anguish of the wicked described in the above verses when they realize what they have lost)?

-How important is it to understand the need for spiritual salvation now rather than becoming awake to it at the time when the wicked are cast out of God’s presence?

The Lord Redeemeth None That Rebel Against Him and Die in Their Sins

God always adheres to justice when Christ’s mercy cannot be applied based on the choices individuals make.

“…The Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have willfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them….For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.” (Mosiah 15:26-27)

Questions:

-Do you believe it is right that God holds each person responsible for what he or she knows and how he or she acts in relation to that knowledge?

-What causes people to willfully rebel against the gospel knowledge they have?