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"The Light of Christ unto Life," Alma 28

Alma 28

Not all missionary experiences end with happy endings.

Earlier I had mentioned how Alma 26 was the unspoken homecoming address that seemed to mark the end of the missionary labors. However chapters 27 and 28 are the "rest of the story" that frequently gets overlooked. In fact, I have read this story many times and had completely disassociated the connection between the large-scale conversion of so many Lamanites and the war that resulted from this major social shift.

The impact that this has had upon me this time has been jarring. So much good had been accomplished. So many Lamanites had been brought to the knowledge of the truth! Why was there such a large scale ramification?

This causes me also to consider the Lord's preferred method of gathering in the last days: "one of a city, and two of a family," (Jeremiah 3:14). Drop by precious drop, little by little Isreal is gathered. Oh how I ought to be more invested, more concerned with the gathering of Zi…

"A Zealous and Beloved People, a Highly Favored People of the Lord," Alma 27:27-30

Alma 27:27-30

This description of the Ammonites or the people of Ammon at the end of this chapter causes me to consider a couple of awesome facts:

First, that when repentance and the Atonement of Christ has full sway on an individual or community, their final state is more pure, more refined, and more improved than had they never sinned at all. Don't get me wrong in thinking that I'm excusing sin of any degree in the least by making this statement, but the reality is that, we all need to be cleansed and improved upon in this life, sinners and saints alike.

But as I read this description of discipleship in these verses, I cannot help but think that this people sound to be among the most choice of God's people to have ever walked the earth.

Second, even though His name appears three times in these four verses, I some how am still glossing over the reality that this is the effect that Jesus Christ and faith in His name can have upon me. Perhaps it alludes me because of this c…

"That we may protect our brethren," Alma 27:20-26

Alma 27:20-26

Here is the account of the people of Ammon and their fleeing the persecution of the Lamanites and of their joining to the people of Nephi.  How timely this account is to our current world challenges with refugee resettlement!

There are actually two accounts of good Samaritan type actions here: one on a micro level (that almost goes unnoticed by me) and the other on a macro scale. First, upon receiving these missionaries back from their labors, the account here says that Alma received Ammon and his brethren "even into his own house." (vs. 20) The later action was the coordination and admission of the people of Ammon to live among the Nephites.

I am impressed by the chief judge's approach to this significant social issue. When the issue of the acceptance of the people of Ammon was brought before the judgment seat, the chief judge deferred from making a decision on the matter himself. Instead, "the chief judge sent a proclamation throughout all the land,…

"Behold, this was a joyful meeting," Alma 27:15-19

Alma 27:15-19

Without drawing attention away from the experience here when Ammon and his brethren were reunited with Alma, an interesting side thought caught my attention today. It was the timing of the reunion. Here is Ammon with the hosts of their converts in journey to the land of Zarahemla. It had been 14 years since they had had any contact (to our knowledge) with the Nephite civilization, and here they are returning now to Zarahemla with quite a challenge ahead of them -- find a land for their converts to be safely relocated.

Was the timing of the meeting with Alma by chance? Understanding more so now that nothing happens by chance in this period of probation, this is especially becomes clearer the closer and more conscientious one is about their proximity to God. Therefore, in consideration of the enormously important assignment that Ammon and his brethren had on their hands, the timing of the reunion with Alma, who's position as prophet-leader of the church among the Nephi…

"Yea, if the Lord saith unto us go, we will go," Alma 27:1-14

Alma 27:1-14

When I am struggling to find meaning in a particular passage of scripture, I will look for what that set of scriptures are teaching me about God. Here, when a critical decision needed to be made regarding the safety and welfare of the Ammonite converts, the king asks of Ammon to inquire of the Lord.

Here is an interesting thing, because the will of the Lord was essentially the same as Ammon's desire for the people. However, the word of the Lord that came to Ammon allowed for greater depth and understanding. It wasn't just, "yeah, he said yes." Rather, the word of the Lord to Ammon gave explanation and reason for their needed departure plus some behind-the-scenes perspective on what was happening in spiritual terms:
Get this people out of this land, that they perish not; for Satan has great hold on the hearts of the Amalekites, who do stir up the Lamanites to anger against their brethren to slay them; therefore get thee out of this land; and blessed a…

"...Yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever," Alma 26:31-37

Alma 26:31-37

Fresh from a joyous reminder of the Easter season, these final verses of rejoicing are powerful in their own form this morning. In other words, such clarity and conviction are the results of Ammon's missionary efforts that he can confidently boast in his God, and I feel that conviction by witness of the Holy Spirit as I review his words this morning.

There are two points that are impressed upon me in these verses: first, the love of their converts (verses 31-34), and second, the merciful nature of an all powerful God (verses 35-37).
"Because of Their Love"  Ammon, after having just stated that his only hope as a missionary was "that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul," (vs. 30) he then looks at the fruit of their labors, this great harvest of souls and states "yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us." The proof of their conversion was in the evidence of …

"All this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul," Alma 26:23-30

Alma 26:23-30

This particular set of verses I have come to at a time when I am struggling with a particular challenging child. While the philosophies of the world shout in my ears to punish and harshly discipline in the face of such behaviors, I look at all that these missionaries suffered with the hopes of saving some soul. The parallel of such is not lost upon me.

There are two verses that give me a particular hope in my current situation from this passage. First, in verse 27, Ammon says "behold, the Lord comforted us." Despite the poor decisions that my children make, I am not denied the privilege of the Lord's peace in my own life when I seek it. Second, in verse 29, as Ammon goes on to describe all the varied exertions and hardships that they faced in their work, this brings a degree of assurance that perhaps in all these afflictions, we may eventually be the means of saving some soul.

This wording is also noteworthy. Twice in this passage Ammon states that "we…

"He that repenteth and exerciseth faith," Alma 26:17-22

Alma 26:17-22

Verses 17-20 are excellent study in mercy! Ammon recalls here conditions from which God "snatched" them out of their "awful, sinful, and polluted state." The wonder and amazement that accompanies such mercy, when judgment appears to be the proper and prescribed form of action, is illustrated here as well. "...Why did he not let the sword of his justice fall upon us, and doom us to eternal despair?" (vs. 19) Finally in verse 20, the affirmation or knowledge that Ammon had obtained of the reality of God's mercy: "Behold... in his great mercy hath brought us over that everlasting gulf of death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls."

Then in verse 21, Ammon poses a sobering question: "What natural man is there that knoweth these things?" His answer is both surprising and reassuring to me: "there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent." Not the humble, not the pure, not the grateful -- …

"If we had not," Alma 26:8-16

Alma 26:8-16

Verse 9 is a statement that stands opposite to the "if-only" sentiment. And it starts with this phrase: "if we had not". It is a phrase and a statement that is encased in gratitude and recognizes the inherent value of hard work. But the thought that is engendered here is a sober one: 
For if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla, these our dearly beloved brethren, who have so dearly beloved us, would still have been racked with hatred against us, yea, and they would also have been strangers to God. (vs. 9, emphasis added)What is so miraculous about this particular account was that thousands of Lamanites were brought to the light. Without such unprecedented faith in God, this would have never been realized. They sought to do something that had never been done before, and succeeded.

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The Book of Mormon is an exceptional text for illustrating the challenges that arise from success or prosperity. In verse 10, as Ammon is making note of this nev…

"To behold the marvelous light of God!" Alma 26:1-7

Alma 26:1-7

This chapter represents the end of 14 years of missionary labors for Ammon and his brethren, though it doesn't expressly say so at the beginning of the chapter. Rather, this chapter starts immediately with the remarks of Ammon as he is reflecting back upon their labors.

His remarks begin with a series of questions:
"...Could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?" (vs. 1)"...What great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?" (vs. 2)  Ammon proceeds to answer for himself with this statement first:
...Our brethren, the Lamanites, were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God!  (vs. 3) And then he points to the blessing:
And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work. (also vs. 3) Ammon'…

"According to Their Prayers," Alma 25:13-17

Alma 25:13-17

One final group of Lamanites is recorded here as having been converted to the Lord after their warring. After the fight had all gone out of them, they too decided to join themselves to the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, bury their weapons of war, and to walk in the ways of the Lord. (see vs. 13-14)

Verses 15 and 16 go on to explain their relationship to the law of Moses in connection with their faith in Christ. As the author, Mormon, explains it here (as it has been in other parts of the Book of Mormon as well -- Jacob 4:5, Jarom 1:11, Mosiah 3:14-15, and Mosiah 16:14 among others), the law of Moses served to point them to faith in Christ. I cannot help but draw a connection between modern-day standards for the youth that the Church has established through our living prophets.


Verse 16 might very easily read as follows in talking about our days:
Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the [standards of the Church; e.g., "For the Strength of Youth"]; but the [st…

"Now This Is What He Meant," Alma 25:1-12

Alma 25:1-12

The Lamanites that had yet to be converted by verse 6 came to believe in the Lord and that He had given great power unto the Nephites. Does my faith in Christ enable me to the point that I am given great power?

Verses 9 - 12 focus on the words of Abinadi as a prophet. It's not as black and white, "you're all going to die if you don't obey," as we tend to think of prophetic admonitions. It's that human-nature tendency within myself to take only at face value the words of prophets. Perhaps this is because this is the natural tendency to do so with all communication -- get to the point quickly, what do I need to learn, then let's move on. But this particular explanation of Abinadi's prophecy is worth a deeper understanding.

First, what was it that Abinadi actually said?

In Alma 25:10, Mormon records, "What ye shall do unto me shall be a type of things to come."  There is a footnote in the quote that goes back to the original statement …

"Once Enlightened... and Then Fallen... Their State Becomes Worse," Alma 24:28-30

Alma 24:28-30

The greatest opposition to the work of the Lord is not the unrepentant heathen. No, rather it is those who were once blessed with light and then turned away from their enlightenment. Which unfortunately for members of Christ's church, that means the greatest opposition is among us.

Taking this a step further, my greatest opposition to progress is not external, its internal. It is myself and that tendency to think that because I have already been enlightened once, I am well enough alone.
But "great faith has a short shelf life," (see "Spiritual Preparedness:Start Early and Be Steady"). 




"The Lord Worketh By Many Ways to the Salvation of His People," Alma 24:20-27

Alma 24:20-27

The first line of verse 20 has caught me attention this morning. There are deliberate preparations by their brethren to destroy the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. I think the Spirit is trying to tell me this morning that there are deliberate preparations in our day to destroy the righteous and righteousness. I feel it is more calculated and bent on destruction than any would realize. But if these had been converted to the Gospel of Christ, as brethren, they would not have been the opposition.

Now what happens here is a difficult story to think about and consider, but it is the account of selfless sacrifice even to the point of death, or laying down of one's own life, and the resultant conversion of more than a thousand of their brethren who openly opposed them on the battlefield.

The conclusion to this section is found in verse 27: "thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people."

After prayer, I am caused to consider the repercussion…

"Since God Hath Taken Away Our Stains... Then Let Us Stain Our Swords No More," Alma 24:5-19

Alma 24:5-19

Verse 5 - I need to remind myself that within a context of charity, this is a vexing issue for these missionaries to see their brethren being threatened with war as a result of their conversion to Christ. Compelled by this deep sense of duty and love for their brethren, they gather together in a council that they might determine the will of the Lord in this matter.  Councils as a tool are well documented elsewhere as to their effectiveness in group settings. Oh what good gets accomplished in councils when motivated by genuine concern and love!

I'm also impressed that this council happened as they had become aware of the Lamanites' preparations for war. It wasn't an afterthought as a result of a battle already fought. Though past experience and whatever counter-intelligence that they had access to as leaders, they saw beforehand the struggles that lay ahead of them, and so they counseled collectively on how to avoid such.

Gratitude is a predecessor here in the dis…