18 May 2015

"A Probationary State; A Time to Prepare to Meet God;" Alma 12:20-24

Alma 12:20-24

The statement found in verse 24, which the prior verses lead up to, is a pivotal, defining doctrine of the purpose of life. "What is this that thou hast said, that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an immortal state, that the soul can never die... there was no possible chance that they should live forever?" (vs. 20-21)

One of the rulers of the people of Ammonihah referenced "that God placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the garden of Eden, lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever." He was without a correct understanding of the events that took place in the garden of Eden, a serious defect that kept them from understanding the plan of redemption.

Alma in the following verses goes on to explain how this action had to be taken to prevent Adam from partaking of the tree of life. He had already partaken of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (the "forbidden" fruit as it is traditionally referred to). But now, to prevent Adam from partaking of immortality prematurely, he had to be kept from the tree of life by angelic guard so that he would in fact be able to die, as God said he would. (See vs. 23)

And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, 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. (vs. 24)
The significance of this statement become more apparent when we begin to search for supporting verses throughout the scriptures. In reality, there only a few key references that point to this pivotal doctrine, most of which are found in the Book of Mormon or in the Doctrine and Covenants. 

06 May 2015

"As Though There Had Been No Redemption Made," Alma 12:8-19

Alma 12:8-19

Alma speaks with such clear authority on the topic of the post mortal condition, spiritual death, and judgement that it causes me to step back and consider how he obtained his knowledge. We know from elsewhere in the scriptures that such knowledge is obtained through the spirit of prophecy and revelation, through prayer and fasting. The thought that comes to my mind is that it is needful to be possessor of such knowledge as Alma has on this topic of things that are to come that pertain to our salvation.  


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I've had to spend a little time reconditioning spiritual muscles to be able to drink deeper from these passages of scripture. I'm still working on it. Reviewing this video has been one of the best reconditioning exercises that I know of spiritually speaking. It forces me to re-look at things and reminds me of spiritual priorities.

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Verse 14 talks of how our words, thoughts, and action will condemn us before God if we are unrepentant. Taken out of context, this verse sounds extremely harsh. It is however preceded with an explanation of the state the individual who has hardened his heart against God. Only those who have utterly and entirely rejected the words of God will stand in such an awful state of condemnation (see verse 13). But it definitely illustrates the extreme, and I can understand, taken in context, how nothing that we could do or say at that point would save us from the justice of God.

Jumping back to verses 9 - 11, there is a discussion on the mysteries of God and how they are obtained. There is a footnote to 3 Nephi 26:6-11 that discusses another segment of Book of Mormon history being withheld to test our faith, but with a promise, "if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them." (vs 9)

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I have now been more than a month in study of this particular set of verses. Yes, I have come and gone from it to study other topics as well, but every time I come back to it, I find some new insight, some deeper perspective. The footnotes in this particular passage are far to rich and meaningful to even attempt to index what I have discovered. I must move on, but I now feel and understand, even if it only be still in part, why chapter 12 of Alma is considered to be such a a rich source of light and truth.

09 April 2015

"A Plan of Thine Adversary," Alma 12:1-7

Alma 12:1-7

Verses 3 to 6 offer important insight into the devil's tactics and motives. While first directing his comments to just Zeezrom, Alma makes clear that all the community around Zeezrom was also being taken advantage of through the devil's efforts.

What's more, these verses explain that the adversary actually had a plan for their destruction. His efforts were crafted to be subtle and imperceivable so that he may gain control of the community and the individual.

This is a reality that the adversary has power to exercise control over us. That is the only power that he has, but that is the whole thrust of his campaign of evil: so that he can bind us during this season of mortality to prevent us from experiencing the peace and happiness of a good life and ultimately, to obtain salvation.

At the end of verse 7, the writer makes this insightful observation: "for power was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy." This gift of the spirit of prophecy is required to be able to do the Lord's work. Later in Alma 17, it is observed that those missionaries that went among the Lamanites prayed and fasted much, and consequently they had the spirit of prophecy and the spirit of revelation.

On the topic of spirit of prophecy, I've taken a moment to review a talk given by Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Seventy entitled "The Spirit of Prophecy."

When, with heavenly power, [the witness of the Spirit] comes to a person, he or she will soon understand that personal sacrifice is its constant companion. The spiritual witness of these sacred things and the demands of sacrifice inevitably walk the road together. In time, one comes to understand the necessity of this and is filled with gratitude that it is so.

I thought to move on after having come this far in this study yesterday, but today I am reviewing notes made and passages read from both Alma 12 and the talk referenced above and have also read the First Presidency message on courage. All this together is helping me to understand both the priority of instruction received by revelation, the spirit of prophecy. In times passed, I had mistaken this power of the spirit of prophecy with keys of the priesthood. What I'm coming to realize though is that anyone, who is worthy, can be receptive to the spirit of prophecy. 

18 February 2015

"All Shall Rise from the Dead," Alma 11:41-46

Alma 11:41-46

These verse contain, in all of scripture, one of the most comprehensive declarations on the Resurrection, its purpose and  nature.

Purpose of the Resurrection

"for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works." (vs. 41)

"and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt." (vs. 43)

"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." (vs. 44)

Nature of the Resurrection

"Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death;"  (vs. 41)

"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;" (vs. 42-43)

"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," (vs.44)

"Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this 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." (vs.45)

The Effect of Pure Testimony

In the final verse of the chapter, we read how the people were astonished at Amulek's words and Zeezrom began to tremble. By the end of this robust declaration of the Resurrection, it becomes apparent that Amulek understands quite well the things of which he is being questioned.

Additional Witnesses


What other testimonies exist in the scriptures of the resurrection?

2 Nephi 9:11-16 - Jacob (brother of Nephi) explains the great plan of God, of which the resurrection occupies an important component.

Alma 40:15-24 - Clarification on the term "first resurrection."

1 Corinthians 15 - A comprehensive explanation of the resurrection, and how without it, the rest of our faith is vain. Reading this causes me to consider the type of "seed" or life I am preparing to plant for the resurrection.


11 February 2015

"As Though There Had Been no Redemption Made," Alma 11:40-11

Alma 11:40-41

After explaining the truly prominent and omnipotent position that Christ possesses in the grand plan of life, Amulek goes on to explain how Christ's mission is to "redeem his people and... take upon him the transgressions of those who believe upon his name." (vs 40)

There is a chilling declaration in vs. 41, "Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made." A footnote on the verse asks this question:
For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:33)
One cannot appreciate the Atonement of Christ until one has received of its power and tasted of its influence, and been healed. But oh what joy and peace that gift does bring! 

08 February 2015

"Yea, He Is the Very Eternal Father," Alma 11:38-39

Alma 11:38-39

In verse 38, Zeezrom attempts to snare Amulek with one final question: "Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?" It feels as if Zeezrom is backpedaling at this point, having gained no advantage over Amulek because of his words. Then the answer that Amulek gives in reply is both astonishing and remarkably detailed and compellingly convincing.

This title of Christ as the "Eternal Father" is one that, because of Amulek's response, I have taken more time to study and understand it. Zeezrom's question comes of the fact that superficially the title of Eternal Father seems to contradict the title of Son of God. Other scriptures explain the relationship between the titles (Mosiah 15:2-4, Mosiah 5:7). Yet, Amulek's simple explanation also suffices in creating an understanding of why Christ is called the Eternal Father. Christ, the Son of God, is the Creator. His work is the heavens and the earth, "and all things which in them are." (vs. 39) Amulek goes on to explain that His existence is everlasting or eternal, from the beginning to the end of time, the first and the last. Hence, a proper and appropriate title is Eternal Father. 

Prayer has for me personally validated this particular study on the topic, and also given me an even deeper appreciates for both Jesus Christ (the Eternal Father) and His Father, our Heavenly Father.

23 January 2015

"Ye Cannont Be Saved in Your Sins," Alma 11:21-37

Alma 11:21-37

The premise for this very decisive debate between Amulek and Zeezrom, the lawyer, is found in the statement "I shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord" in verse 22. In same verse, Zeezrom, the lawyer, states that he will pay Amulek six ontis of silver (see previous post) if he denies the existence of God.

Immediately in verse 23 and 24, Amulek makes a very bold set of accusations against the accusing lawyer. Perhaps, I shouldn't be looking at Amulek's statements as defensive accusations though. Rather, remembering that he is speaking by the power of the Spirit, these are statements of truth. (This isn't a name-calling competition.) So when Amulek declares Zeezrom to be "a child of hell" perhaps this is statement of realization, even on the part of Amulek. Maybe, the Spirit of the Lord is giving Amulek the words to say in the very moment that he is saying them, offering both instruction and perspective to Amulek as to why a lawyer would have just offer him so much money to deny God.

So the question becomes an issue of not how could Amulek have become so bold to have made such strong accusations. Rather, I think I am benefited as I read these verses to realize that Amulek was in fact guided by the Spirit of the Lord as he goes on to explain the nature of God, the consequences of sin, and the reality of the Resurrection.

There are a couple of key points of doctrine that are clarified in these verses by Amulek. Notable is the discussion on being saved in sin verses being saved from sin. Zeezrom tries to make it appear that Amulek has power to control God by manipulating his words. Amulek is quick to clarify that it is the word of God that states "no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven," and hence, if one cannot be saved except they inherit the kingdom of heaven, then "ye cannot be saved in your sins." (vs. 37)