13 February 2014

"To Establish the Order of the Church," Alma 6

Alma 6

After Alma's pivotal discourse at Zarahemla, the record states that "he ordained priests and elders, by laying on his hands according to the order of God, to preside and watch over the church."(vs.1) Those who would repent became a part of the Church of God; those who would not repent and already belonged to the Church of God, had their names "blotted out, that their names were not numbered among those of the righteous." (vs.3)

Thus is the work of the kingdom, to organize according to covenants, the righteous from the wicked, that the righteous might have a support structure in which to strengthen their faith and to perform greater works than they would otherwise be able to do for themselves.

In the fifth verse of this chapter, after explaining this sorting of church members between the wicked and the righteous on conditions of their repentance, the author explains that everyone was permitted to come to church, regardless of their willingness to repent or not.
Now I would that ye should understand that the word of God was liberal unto all, that none were deprived of the privilege of assembling themselves together to hear the word of God.
This naturally makes sense in terms of progress and charity, and in the very next verse we learn that those that had joined to the Church fasted and prayed on behalf of those that had not. Or in other words, the membership of the Church were "joined in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God." (vs. 6)

Having set the affairs of the church in order and having preached the word of God to the people at Zarahemla, Alma moved on to the land of Gideon.

Gideon, the man, has always stood as one of my heros in the Book of Mormon. He never held the office of a prophet, he was never the king, but rather through his righteousness, he was able to bless many as a servant to a king, and as a teacher of righteousness. I think what stands out to me here is that there is now a land where the righteous had gathered to live, and they chose to name the land after Gideon, the teacher, and, by this time, a martyr for the cause of righteousness. 

Finally in verse 8, the author explains that Alma began preaching among the people "according to the revelation of the truth of the word which had been spoken by his fathers, and according to the spirit of prophecy which was in him, according to the testimony of Jesus Christ." This is one of several references in scripture that talks about the spirit of prophecy being synonymous to the testimony of Christ. Revelation 19:10 is another place wherein that similarity is observed.

It strikes me that without prophecy, without revelation from God, man cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.

06 February 2014

"That Ye Also May Be Partakers of the Fruit of the Tree of Life," Alma 5:50-62

Alma 5:50-62

In the first three verses of this grouping, Alma testifies of things which he has heard of the Holy Spirit.

All of these verses suggest that there is a literal division between the righteous and the wicked. The Kingdom of God is coming quickly, wherein the righteous will dwell. Therefore, one ought to repent of his sins and bring forth works of righteousness if he desires to be a part of this kingdom.



How will the righteous be distinguished from the wicked? Or in other words, what type of person will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Also I ask myself, amongst what type of people do I want to enjoy of their friendship and company?


In the kingdom of heaven, there are the penitent. They are they who desire to follow the voice of the Good Shepherd. (vs. 57) They are they whose names are written in the book of life. (vs. 58) And it will be God who will separate the wicked from among the righteous. (vs. 59)

I am impressed by this thought: that in the kingdom of God, there will not be those mock or laugh at others. There will not be those that wear costly apparel (expensive clothing). There are not those that trample under their feet the Holy One of Israel. There will not be those that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts. There will not be those that deny the poor or the needy. Nothing impure can dwell in the presence of God, and "The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people;" (vs. 57).



And those that won't repent, they are bound and thrown into a fire. Alma also explains that this fire is eternal, or unquenchable. (vs. 52) There is not much emphasis on this point, but it is taught as an eternal truth, nonetheless.



Now, I feel that I better understand the teaching of the Savior concerning the sheep and the wolves. I feel that I better relate with the idea that the wolves are the tendencies within myself that I ought to remove because they will destroy the sheep, or the good works that could exist within me. That this is given by way of commandment simply means that if I allow wolves amongst the flock, then surely one sheep or more will die. It is not a probability. It is not a good suggestion. Something, somewhere will die, when there are wolves lurking about. That is why, for those who do not want to die, the prophets give commandments for their safety and well-being. (see vs.60-61)