21 June 2015

"The Prince of Peace... the King of Salem," Alma 13:14-19

Alma 13:14-19

I don't know, or I don't believe that we have anywhere in modern, available scripture a more accurate or accessible account of Melchizedek, who lived during the time of Abraham. I find it curious that the people of his land, the land of Salem, "had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination... full of all manner of wickedness." (vs. 17) The form and manner in which he choose to address this great difficulty was to become ordained to the priesthood and then preach repentance unto his people. To which his people responded by repenting. (see vs. 18)

I find in this hope that at any time, one can decide where he stands before God, and take action to change the course of his own life, and literally the direction of the community where he lives.

19 June 2015

"A Holy Calling... Without Beginning or End," Alma 13:1-13

Alma 13:1-13

Immediately following a discussion on the Plan of Redemption and a call to repentance at the end of chapter 12, Alma then begins to discuss the priesthood and the calling of high priests. Perhaps it's a little clearer in my mind this time as I read it, but the two topics are more closely related than I had previously supposed.

The difference between those called to the high priesthood and those who are not is distinguished solely by the individual's ability to exercise faith and perform good works. Alma explains that in all other regards men are equal (see vs. 4-5). The great divide among men is on whether men will repent of their sins and exercise faith in Christ, or not.

The purposes of this high priesthood is to point men to Christ (see vs. 9), even the residue of men, that they might see how it is that they can return to God by following the path that those who have been ordained high priests have had to follow in order to qualify for that ordination.

03 June 2015

"A Plan... Prepared from the Foundation of the World," Alma 12:25-37

Alma 12:25-37

In the corruption of Christianity through the means of the great Apostasy, one of the greatest cover-ups that Satan has tried to execute is the reality of a plan: a plan of redemption. No where in scripture is the reality of the plan of redemption (also called the plan of happiness, the plan of salvation, etc. -- it's all the same plan) more clearly explained. Repeatedly, Alma asserts that this plan was prepared from the foundation of the world, and that everything that has transpired since then has been according to plan. (There are 7 specific references to the "plan of redemption" in the end of this chapter.)

As discussed previously, there was a plan laid so that when Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit that they would still be allowed a period of probation, in order that they may prepare to return to God's presence. The verses then that follow explain how without the plan, there would have been no resurrection, no probationary state, and the word of God would have been made void.

I've always felt that planning was a good thing. Yet, what these scriptures are saying is that without a plan, eternal absolutes such as the resurrection, mortality (a period of preparation), and the holy scriptures (the word of God) would not exist. Planning now is a bit more essential than I has previously supposed.

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Another term that is frequently repeated in these same verses that makes reference to this planning of our redemption is "appointed." In verse 27, "but it was appointed unto men that they must die... " Or in other words, it was planned that death must be come unto man. The verse continues, "... and after death, they must come to judgment, even that same judgment of which we have spoken, which is the end."

Then replacing the word "appointed" with the word "planned" verse 28 reads like this:
And after God had [planned] that these things should come unto man, behold, then he saw that it was expedient that man should know concerning the things whereof he had [planned for] them;
I'm not suggesting that "planned" is a better term here. It is just helping me to understand how thoroughly prepared and orchestrated this probationary state really is. "Appointed" is defined as "decided on beforehand; designated." 

Verse 29 reads "Therefore he sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory." What was his glory? If verse 28 is telling us that God saw that men should know about the plan that was prepared for them, then verse 29 says that in response he sent angels to cause them to behold of his glory, is not this saying that in this plan of redemption is that glory of God. (I don't even hardly understand this, only that the Spirit confirms that it is true!)

What am I to understand about the divine purposes associated with planning, and how to accomplish the greater good through strategic organization? I keep thinking of how satan's greatest deceptions are those that are well planned and organized. Yet, also there is that prevalent philosophy of chance -- that all this just happened by chance. Satan in some ways understands the power of planning, but in the beginning there was no opposing plan at all, simply an idea to try and rise above the glory of God.

On the contrary, God is an organizer of light. The planning, the preparation, the appointments, the organization exists in such exquisite fashion as to accomplish his divinely appointed objective to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.



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.