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"Believest thou that there is a God?," Alma 22:1-14

Alma 22:1-14

The start of this chapter takes pains again (see previous chapter) to explain that the Spirit of the Lord did lead Aaron and his brethren to the house of the king over all the land of Nephi, except that part which the king had recently separated and given to his son, Lamoni. The geo-political details are not nearly as important here as the fact that it was the Spirit of the Lord that led them there. They didn't go because they were directed to go by Ammon, though Ammon was the one who relayed the referral. They didn't go because there was nothing else for them to do, and they felt like shooting for the stars. They went because the Spirit of the Lord led them there. (see vs. 1)

They may not even have known that this was where they were headed, like Nephi trying to get the brass plates, taking one step at a time. On the other hand, maybe they did fully know exactly where they were going and in what context they were coming. Because after all, Ammon had just rescued them because of his interactions with the king. Either way, it requires courage to follow a prompting of the Spirit that would cause you walk straight into the palace of the king over all the lands of the Lamanites, and request audience with the king, but that's exactly what Aaron did. (see vs. 2)

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At the initial contact with the king, Aaron and his brethren attempt the same approach (as did Ammon) to offer their services as servants to the king. However, the king would not permit them to be his servants. He had questions to be answered. The generosity of Ammon and "the greatness of his words" had left the king troubled in mind. There was no need to dig up the soil of the soul here, for the king had already been primed for learning.

The king had also inquired as to why Ammon didn't come with them. In a matter of fact declaration, Aaron states: "Behold, the Spirit of the Lord has called him another way;" and then explains that he had returned to the land of Ismael with Lamoni. (see vs. 5) These direct statements of doctrinal truth, because they were unfamiliar to the king, became the catalyst for his inquiry.

The king also inquires of them as to what Ammon meant when he said, "If ye will repent ye shall be saved, and if ye will not repent, ye shall be cast off at the last day." (vs. 6) This is possibly what the king was referring to when he said earlier that he was troubled because of the greatness of the words of Ammon.(see vs. 3)

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With the foundation of inquiry laid before them (what is the Spirit of the Lord and what is repentance?), Aaron's approach at this point is very similar to Ammon's. And he starts by asking a question. In fact, Aaron asks the same question that Ammon had asked the king's son: "Believest thou that there is a God?" (vs. 7Alma 18:24)

Aaron's approach, like Ammon's, builds on common ground. The king himself doesn't believe in a "God," but he did acknowledge that some of his subjects did, and he was sympathetic to their requests to build synagogues.(vs. 7) In a spirit of edification, Aaron doesn't attempt to debunk the Amalekites' false form of worship towards God. He is focused on establishing a common foundation.

As Aaron reassures the king of the reality of a God, the king then begins to explore this idea. He asks: "Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem?" Again, not being negative or focusing on the false parts of the king's concept of God as a Great Spirit, Aaron confirms the king's connection that God guided their forefathers to the promised land. He used what the king was familiar with to build on the common ground that was already there.

Doing so, Aaron is then able to establish God as a creator. The king acknowledges the same, and then asks Aaron to give him more detail about these things. It is curious that Aaron never explained the details of the two specific questions that were on the king's mind. Rather, Aaron first established the reality of God's existence, then "[beginning] from the creation of Adam," he laid out the plan of redemption -- that beautiful, glorious plan that gives life purpose and meaning.

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There is one final thought that impresses me as I contemplate the plan of redemption described in the verses at the end of this part of the chapter. Verse 13 states that the plan was "prepared from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on his name." Or in other words, Christ the Lord is to be directly credited for the preparations of the plan of redemption, which preparations where made on behalf of any and all who would believe on His name, the name of Christ Jesus.

Then next verse goes further to detail Christ's intimate, unique, and absolute role in the plan, and man's utter dependence upon Christ. Because of his fallen state, man of himself could merit nothing. The verse goes on to explain that the sufferings and death of Christ atones for the sins of man. The same verse also goes on to explain how Christ broke the bands of death so that the grave could have no victory and that the sting of death would be completely consumed (or swallowed up) through the hope of glory.

Given the enormity of the Savior's part in the execution of the plan, all that man can do in reply is to have faith and repent and so forth. It seems like such a small and disproportionate requirement that God asks of us for our total participation in His plan.

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