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"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 never-before-seen miraculous conversion of thousands of Lamanites to the gospel of Jesus Christ, his brother Aaron senses that perhaps his brother is becoming perhaps a bit too proud.

I appreciate this exchange for at least two reasons: 1) we know nothing of the setting of Ammon's declaration, but that Aaron was able to interject the way in which he did gives credence to the council-format of teaching the gospel of Christ, and 2) the honesty and candor of Aaron, wrought out of love for his brother, that permitted him to express his concern.

What's more fascinating here is that the reason Aaron reprimands Ammon is because he perceives that Ammon is being boastful. Consider these statements: 
  • "For if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla" (vs. 9)
  • " yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land" (vs. 12)
 Yes, there is a tendency here to think that Ammon is taking credit in part for what had transpired among the Lamanites. But there is a different way of looking at this. In full context, consider rather the need for these missionaries to take action in order to assist the Lord in His Work.

Blessed be the name of our God... for he doth work righteousness forever.... For if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla... these... would still have been racked with hatred against us, yea, and they would also have been strangers to God. (vs. 8 - 9)

Before acknowledging their part in the work, Ammon clearly signals that this is God's work that is being accomplished here. Later we also can see this:

Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; (vs. 12 - 13)
This point cannot be emphasized enough. For whatever reason, in the equity of the Lord's Plan of Salvation, in order for salvation to be claimed by those who do not already have it, it seems that it is requisite that those who do have the gospel take action to share it with those around them. We are dependent upon each other for our salvation.

I believe what Ammon is illustrating here is the need to take action when we engage in the Lord's work. I suspect Ammon is far beyond even thinking of taking credit for the miracles that had transpired in the land, and so with confidence he points to the comparatively small actions that they had to take in order that the Lord could perform His mighty miracles among them.

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As Ammon's remarks continue from verses 13 - 16, the shear volume of those who were converted unto the Lord through the work of only a few is notable. It also becomes apparent here that Ammon understands better than most how much the Lord has done to bring about the terms of salvation.

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