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)

16 January 2015

"Behold, Here Are Six Onties of Silver," Alma 11:1-22

Alma 11:1-22

I finally arrive at chapter 11 of Alma. We have at the beginning of the chapter an explanation of the currency of the day among the Nephites. It is laid out as such:

Nephite Coinage Chart
Gold Silver Value
limnah onti (vs.22) Equal to a senine, a seon, and a shum of gold combined, or equal to a senum, an amnor, and a ezrom of silver combined. (7 senines, 7 senums, or 7 days of work) (vs. 10, 13)
shum ezrom 2 seons (4 senines) or 2 amnors (4 senums) (vs. 9, 12)
seon amnor 2 senines or 2 senums (vs. 8, 11)
antion 3 shiblons, which means it should be 1½ senine (vs. 19)
senine senum This is the base measurement from which all other coins are valued. A day's wages for a judge. Also, the worth of a measure of barley and every other kind of grain.(vs. 3, 7)
shiblon half a senum, half a measure of barley (vs. 15)
shiblum half a shiblon (4 shiblums = a senum) (vs. 16)
leah half a shiblum (8 leahs = a senum) (vs. 17)


In verse 20, we learn that the motivation for the lawyers to come out in open opposition to the servants of God is for financial gain. "...Because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness... that they might get money "

What I learn in this exchange that follows and other accounts of the Savior is that money is of no consequence or real value in the kingdom of God. Money has it purpose and significance as a instrument of measurement as to the value of physical work. Money doesn't affect the quantity or the quality of the administrations of the Kingdom of God. It is needed to manage basic needs. But it is of little value beyond that. Yet it cannot be used to replace the work that will heal humanity. Only love and service, which cannot be measured with financial instruments, can do that.

So much of wickedness is justified in this world on the premise of financial gain. "If it makes me money to sustain life, then it must be okay." It seems to be a hardline to cross between the need for financial gain, and the obligation of moral decency. How many of life's ills though, would be resolved, if our hearts and minds weren't so set on needing the next paycheck for survival?

06 January 2015

"The Prayers of the Righteous," Alma 10:13-32

Alma 10:13-32

Immediately upon hearing the testimony of Amulek, some of those that were present saw an opportunity to profit financially from the situation. These were lawyers. The scriptures here detail the motives of those that sought to oppose Alma and Amulek.

Despite being able to manipulate public perception of the Lord's chosen servants according to their training and craft, what these lawyers did not know and what they did not expect was that Amulek was able to discern their thoughts and reveal their wicked intentions.(see vs. 17)

It is then recorded Amulek's response to his discernment of the lawyers' cunning devices and wickedness. What the people don't get yet is that Amulek's response is motivated by discernment. Rather they assume that he is bent on reviling against their written law.

What I find intriguing is that Amulek doesn't start out giving irrefutable evidence of his ability to perceive their thoughts. This doesn't come until much later. He starts out by explaining in more general terms the dangers of their chosen path.
Ye are laying plans to pervert the ways of the righteous, and to bring down the wrath of God upon your heads, even to the utter destruction of this people. (vs. 18)
 In verse 23, Amulek explains that the prayers of the righteous had preserved the people from utter destruction. I know that this is not the only place in the scripture that talks about this particular concept, but the truth of it is well spelt out: "if ye will cast out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand." Destruction comes when God has no covenants to keep with His wayward children.

In verse 27, as if he couldn't be any plainer, Amulek says that their destruction is being laid by the paid profession of their lawyers. In other words, what they were paying for was for men to work unrighteousness amongst their people. I find that there is much of commerce and things that we pay for in this life that is unhealthy for us, and some which is plain bad. It is ironic that we pay for our destruction.