The prophet-historian Mormon, who abridged the Nephite records into what would be translated as the Book of Mormon, pauses during his historical narrative to teach an important truth about the fate of those who know the truth and then reject it.
He describes how former Nephites, who once had the gospel but then rejected it and joined the Lamanites (the Nephite’s enemies), were more murderous than the Lamanites who had never had the truth of the gospel. This was demonstrated when the Lamanite army came upon a group of unarmed, non-resisting people and the former Nephites among the Lamanite army killed many more non-combatants compared with those in the army who had always been Lamanites. (Alma 24:20-30)
“…After a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things.” (Alma 24:30)
-Why would those who once had the Spirit of God, and then reject that Spirit, fall into deeper levels of sin than they would have if they had never known the truth of God?
-Who in the world today has had an abundance of God’s Spirit? Do they have the potential to become more hardened against God than others who haven’t had that abundance (depending on their choices)?
Aaron, a Nephite missionary, teaches the Lamanite king about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“…Since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance…and…[Christ] breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…” (Alma 22:14)
-What can be merited through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
-Can anything be merited without it?
-Is Christ’s Atonement an invitation to good works, since nothing can be merited without the Atonement, but much can be merited (your good works can be magnified by God) with it?
-Are you willing to accept the victory of the grave? Or, do you choose to believe in the testimony of Aaron that death isn’t the end, but has been conquered by Jesus Christ?
Alma provides a grave warning about the consequences of hardening one’s heart towards God’s word and Spirit.
“…If our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for we shall be condemned. For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence. But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.” (Alma 12:13-15)
“And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die as to things pertaining unto righteousness. This is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will. Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.” (Alma 12:16-18)
-Do you believe life is a proving ground and what we sow we will reap in perfect clarity before God at the Last Judgment?
-How does God’s word help one to sow in righteousness?
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)
-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?
Alma teaches those who have entered the baptismal covenant that they should be submissive to God and kind to their fellow mortals. He also instructs them to ask for God’s help when in need and that the key to abounding in good works is faith, hope, and charity.
“…Be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.” (Alma 7:23-24)
-Is it possible to be humble, submissive, gentle, easy to be entreated, temperate, and full of patience and long-suffering if the sin of pride has not been eradicated from one’s soul?
-Why will someone who has faith (in Christ), hope (in Christ) and charity (like Christ) abound in good works?
After passing through a terrible spiritual ordeal because of his sins (see Alma 38:7-8), and then finding redemption through Christ, Alma the Younger (referring to Christ) declares the following:
“…He remembereth every creature of his creating.” (Mosiah 27:30)
-Do you believe that God is aware of you personally?
-Do you believe that He yearns for your eternal welfare?
-How precious is a human soul to God? -How grateful was Alma that Christ remembered him (see Mosiah 27:27-30)?
Alma the Younger openly rebelled against Christ’s church and his father, Alma, who was the leader of the church. After seeing an angel of God, who called him to repentance, the younger Alma was tormented by the realization of the seriousness his sins to the point where he couldn’t speak or perform basic physical tasks for two days. After passing through this deep trial and regaining his strength, he testified to all present as follows:
“I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.”
And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off.” (Mosiah 27:24-27)
-Is Alma the Younger’s experience of being born again typical or exceptional?
-Is sudden and dramatic change better than incremental change in God’s eyes?
-What kind of change is more likely to have lasting results?
Alma, a 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 action needed to be taken. As he prayed, the Lord revealed the principles discussed in the previous post (This Is My Church) as well as the following:
“…Whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive and I will forgive him also. Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.” (Mosiah 26:29-30)
– Does the Lord forgive sin without repentance?
-What does it mean to truly repent?
-Is it possible to repent if a person doesn’t understand who Christ is and why God the Father sent him?
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?
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)
-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?