This Life Is a Time to Prepare to Meet God

Alma teaches that our mortal lives are a time of preparation for the eternities.

“And we see that death comes upon mankind…which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.” (Alma 12:24)

Questions:

-Do you do believe your spirit will continue to live after your physical body dies? And, other than no longer having a physical body, that you will still be you?

-Do you believe that your spirit will be reunited with your (reconstituted and perfected) physical body through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

-How important is it to come to grips with the truth about whether you will exist throughout the eternities or not?

-Is it ever wise to stay in the agnostic camp any longer than is necessary to decide what you believe?

-Do you think a person will live his or her life substantially differently based on whether they believe in the eternities or not?

-Can you see how, whether a person subscribes to the religion of atheism or another religion that believes mortal life is only part of the existential picture, religion is an inevitability for human beings?

-Which consequences have the potential to bear greater weight? Those that come from believing in your existence in the eternities and investing in mortal choices accordingly when existence in the eternities is a reality? Or, those that come from deciding there is no existence after death and making choices accordingly when there is no existence after death?

The Spirit and the Body Shall be Reunited Again in Its Perfect Form

Amulek teaches about the meaning and reality of the Resurrection made possible through Jesus Christ.

Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death. The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt. Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil….[T]his mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption. (Alma 11:42-45)

Questions:

-Do you believe that, because of Christ’s Resurrection, He has cleared the way for all of us to be resurrected as described in these verses?

-Will those who have repented and sought shelter in Christ’s power have any sense of guilt at the time of the Judgment?

Christ Is Mighty to Save and to Cleanse from All Unrighteousness

Alma extends an invitation to repent and enter into the baptismal covenant. This, he declares, is the path that leads to eternal life (for those who stay on the covenant path).

“…Ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism. And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.” (Alma 7:14-16)

Questions:

-Are there habits or patterns of action in your life that you feel are binding you down to destruction?

-Is keeping the commandments different from following them perfectly?

-Since Christ is mighty to save, is there any question that keeping God’s commandments dear to your heart, and striving to do better in relationship to them day by day, will keep God’s Spirit and grace with you? What kind of person will you become with God’s help (in this life and in the eternities)?

All Mankind Must Be Born Again

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)

Questions:

-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?

I, the Lord God, Do Visit My People in Their Afflictions

The Nephites following the prophet Alma were required to endure captivity for a time, but the Lord helped them through their trials and declared the following to them:

“…Ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” (Mosiah 24:14)

Questions:

-Can a person come to know God more from the trials he or she passes through than from times of ease?

-Are greater blessings granted to those who are keeping the commandments and following the voice of the Spirit?

The Priests Were Not to Depend upon the People for Their Support

Those who led the congregations of Christ’s people among the Nephites were not paid monetarily or with physical goods for their service. Rather, they supported themselves and their own families, and then also labored to serve the Lord and His people. This separation of financial incentive from spiritual service increased the grace and Spirit of God in their lives and they were able to teach with greater power and authority for the benefit of their followers.

“…The priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.” (Mosiah 18:26)

Questions:

-Can you see how mixing financial incentive and church (or synagogue) service could easily dilute the spiritual power of those who lead congregations?

-How many are willing (or able) to serve for the grace of God and forgo financial reimbursement for their service?

Thus They Became the Children of God

After hearing the teachings of the prophet Abinadi, a man with priesthood authority named Alma, who had been one of the priests of the wicked King Noah, repents and reinstates the true gospel of Jesus Christ among a group of followers. Mormon, the Nephite historian-prophet who abridged these events onto the Gold Plates, is inspired to define for the reader how a group can become the children of God (i.e. God’s people on the earth).

“…[Alma] said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the  Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:8-10)

After making the above covenant through baptism by immersion (performed by one who held authority from God), Alma and his people lived in harmony and peace with one another:

“…He commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another. And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God.” (Mosiah 18:21-22)

Questions:

-Is there a group on the earth who strive to follow Christ’s example and whose priesthood holders have God’s authorization to baptize?

-Where can the children of God be found?

-How important is it to find and associate with the children of God during this lifetime? More to the point, how import is it to become a part of the kingdom of God (whose subjects are the children of God) where it has been established here on the earth?

 

The Spirit Speaketh of Things as They Really Are, and of Things as They Really Will Be

The Spirit has always testified of Jesus Christ. Before His birth, the Spirit testified of Him as Jehovah and as the coming Messiah and Savior. After His birth the Spirit now testifies of Him as the Savior who has worked out the Atonement in all of mankind’s behalf. Those who earnestly sought and obtained God’s Spirit before Christ’s coming—including the Nephite prophet Jacob—received a clear witness and understanding of who He would be and what He would do.

Writing about Christ sometime around 500 B.C., Jacob recorded the following about the power of the Spirit:

“…Beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him…He that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.” (Jacob 4:12-13)

Questions:

-Do you believe that true prophets (and their followers) who lived centuries before Christ had a clear understanding of who He would be and what He would do?

-Do you believe that you can have a clear understanding of who Christ is and what He has done through the Spirit?

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?

Wo unto Him That Rejecteth the Word of God

Nephi prophesies about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the last days.

“…The Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as it were from the dead. Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!” (2 Nephi 27:13-14)

Questions:

-How many witnesses are there of the Book of Mormon?

-Is it important for you to be able to witness, one way or the other, as to whether the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired or not? How can you know? (Moroni 10:3-5)

-What are the consequences of rejecting the word of God? Are the consequences the same if one rejects it after superficial exposure to it versus after a prayerfully fair and lengthy reading?

-Would some reject the word of God even after receiving a witness from the Spirit that it is true? If so, what would lead them to do so?