It was just yesterday morning that I found myself contemplating what was the difference between the spirits of prophecy and revelation. Now I'm very familiar with these verses for their doctrines on testimony, and fasting and praying as a source of testimony. In reviewing it this morning, Alma clearly gives a distinction between the spirit of revelation and the spirit of prophecy.
For my own part, the spirit of revelation as referenced in verse 46 could then be defined as knowledge obtained by Holy Ghost (that Holy Spirit of God). Revelation is enhanced and clarified through fasting and prayer.
Then in verse 47, Alma points to the words of their fathers, testifying to their truthfulness according to the spirit of prophecy which was in him. If there is a distinction to be found between prophecy and revelation, it would appear to be this: prophecy has to do with the truth of events past, present, and future, while revelation has more to do with the attainment of eternal truth. Both are received by a manifestation of the Spirit of God.
Now in verse 48, Alma makes a very bold statement at the beginning: "I say unto you, that I know of myself that whatsoever I shall say unto you, concerning that which is to come, is true;" What in other circumstances might sound as an arrogant declaration of conceit, is in this particular circumstance a manifestation of righteous confidence and the refinement process required to obtain such.
This personal refinement that enables us to more clearly commune with God is explained in Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46. Personal purity and unceasing virtue are key elements of being able to commune with God.
Why would the enemy of all righteousness, the devil, satan, that old serpent, the father of lies -- why would he spend so much energy and effort, and literally trillions of dollars in media creation, to propagate messages that discount and destroy virtue -- why would he be trying so hard by bombarding our culture with distracting voices and influences, if there wasn't something better?
"Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God," (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45). Confidence before God is worth the sacrifice and social stigma of withdrawing from activities that would destroy virtue, much of which is presented to us via our media entertainments.
Why do we want virtue? Why do we need confidence in the presence of God? This answer is an easy one: it is impossible to do good without either.
Going back to verse 48 of Alma, after that bold statement of self-assurance, Alma then declares:
I know that Jesus Christ shall come, yea, the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name.So here is the very center piece of all that I believe. Jesus Christ, full of grace, mercy, and truth, has taken away the sins of every man who steadily believes on his name. What power I have experience over a lifetime of faith on his name, since my adolescence! It is the actual belief on His name that brings to pass the healing, cleansing miracle of redemption.
In the verses that follow this statement, Alma explains that this is the order by which he has been called: "to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again." (vs. 49) For without this individual process of personal reform and cleansing, there is no way to find entrance into the kingdom of heaven.