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?

Their Speech Shall Whisper out of the Dust

Nephi prophesies that—after his father’s descendants have been displaced by settlers (Gentiles) from the Old World—the voices of the Nephite and Lamanite prophets would whisper out of the ground to their descendants and to the entire world.

“…I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men…The prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten. For those who have been destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit…and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.” (2 Nephi 26:14-16)

Questions:

-Does the Book of Mormon have a familiar spirit to many of those with Native American heritage?

-Does it have a familiar spirit to many others around the world who also have ancestry linked to the house of Israel?

-On the broadest scale, does the Spirit whisper to the heart of every earnest truth seeker that the Book of Mormon is God’s word to the entire world?

The Spirit of the Lord Will Not Always Strive with Man

Nephi sees (through a prophetic vision given to him from the Lord) 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). After being visited by Christ in person, three generations would pass away in peace and righteousness before wickedness and destruction would again afflict his people. Nephi identifies the loss of the Spirit as the reason for his people’s fall.

“…The Son of Righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him, until three generations shall have passed away, and many of the fourth generation shall have passed away in righteousness. And when these things have passed away a speedy destruction cometh unto my people; for, notwithstanding the pains of my soul, I have seen it; wherefore, I know that it shall come to pass; and they sell themselves for naught; for, for the reward of their pride and their foolishness they shall reap destruction; for because they yield unto the devil and choose works of darkness rather than light, therefore they must go down to hell. For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction…” (2 Nephi 26:9-11)

Questions:

-Why do individuals choose darkness rather than light? Why do whole societies, such as the Nephites did, fall into a general pattern of prideful behavior and sin?

-How and when do things get to the point where the Spirit completely withdraws from a distinct group of people?

-Is it possible for a group or society that hasn’t received the fullness of God’s law to reach such a state where they reap destruction based on their rejection of God’s Spirit?

-Is it ever too late to turn back to God as an individual (even within a society that is headed the opposite direction)?