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"Having the Image of God Engraven upon Your Countenances," Alma 5:15-19

Alma 5:15-19

Picking up where we left off yesterday, Alma goes through another set of probing questions designed to till the ground, turn over the dirt that had grown hard to allow for increased growth among the people. Of course, I speak figuratively, drawing a parallel to gardening.

The reality that Alma is illustrating in the minds of the people is the eventual judgment before the tribunal of God. He reminds the people of their resurrected and perfected state in which they will have a perfect knowledge of all their guilt. But he doesn't start into this group of questions that way.

In verses 15 and 16, the questions that Alma poses are actually optimistic and upbeat. Yet that almost has the effect of being more condemning and of greater cause for self-interrogation. Consider these questions:
  • "Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you?"
  • "Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?"
  • "Can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?"
I actually appreciate having these separated out and labelled as positive or optimistic questions. It has the same effect upon me as considering some of the words of the Savior, which often times I have tended to think as being mean-spirited in nature, when in reality they are loving, warm invitations to consider our course of action. 

Alma then switches to more probing and difficult questions. Yet with the previous consideration in mind, I tend to feel that a strong spirit of love must have been compelling him to dig so deeply. We ought to give some attention to these questions:
  • Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day... and that he will save you?
  • Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?
This later question has me to consider some interesting facts. Commandments of God are not these cold rules by which some removed supreme governor remotely observes and laughs at our inability to comply with impossible requirements. Rather, a loving Eternal Father has outlined the course, or the directions to follow (Doctrine and Covenants 82:9),  for our safe return home to His presence. It is the rejection of that loving invitation to come back to Him that constitutes wickedness. Knowing the love and the joy that emanates from that Supreme Source of light, why would we want to remain in the darkness?

In verse 19, Alma steps back to a more optimistic tone and actually comes back to the subject of having the image of God upon our countenances.  In this verse, there is a footnote on "image" which equates this idea of taking the image of God upon us with 1 John 3:1-3. The manner in which John explains this, it has to do with love and purity: love which is bestowed from the Father, after such a manner as is uncommon to the world, and purity which is given to everyman that lives according to the commandments of God and has the hope of seeing God, who is pure. So in other words, to receive the image of God upon our countenances is nothing less than our becoming like Christ, full of love and who is pure and holy.

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