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"...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 their love.

This spiritual proof has me both evaluating my own personal conversion as well as those with whom I have served. Not that I would condemn those that I have served, but rather that I might evaluate how I have taught them, and whether they have received truth enough to be empowered to act so that they may receive the blessings available to them. Are their subsequent actions based in and inspired by this love that emanates from Christ? I'm also asking the same thing of myself. 

"He Is a Merciful Being"

This second point is the focus of Ammon's concluding remarks. Verse 35 starts with this profound perspective of gratitude: "Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began;" The same verse goes on to list key characteristic of God.
  • he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding
  • he comprehendeth all things
  • he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name. 
At the start of verse 36, I get a sense that Ammon connects his own salvation and joy to their success of their labors here. I ought to be cautious in saying this so as to not equate success with salvation, but rather I think it is safe to say that because of his labors, regardless the outcome, Ammon was a changed man forever. "This is MY life... and MY redemption from everlasting wo." (emphasis added)

As this verse continues, Ammon addresses their local circumstances and how even so, in their isolated and remote location from the House of Israel, God was mindful of them. Verse 37 then takes a global view of His almighty reach and power. It matters not where we live in this wide world, "we see that God is mindful of every people... yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth." (emphasis added)

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A new day, coming at this again with fresh eyes, in verse 34, Ammon concludes that those converted Lamanites who had been slain in the laying down of their lives had been taken up to God. On what was this conclusion predicated? Two points: their love and their hatred of sin. The coupling of these two principles as qualification to enter into God's presence is significant, even if it is very simple.

Love - the chief characteristic that defines the nature and being of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is significant that the Lamanites were judged as being possessors of love, suggesting that their own personal discipleship was focused on cultivating the gift of love.

Hatred of Sin - this recognizes one fact that Satan tries so hard to cover up: that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. This also points to Christ, as the one perfect and holy individual to walk the earth, who also despised sin, but never the sinner.

Again, one of the great gospel paradoxes is illustrated here: hate the sin, love the sinner.

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Finally, at the end of this chapter, which marks something of an ending point for their missionary labors, these are Ammon's concluding words: "Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen." (vs. 37) There is so much of truth in this final statement, from Ammon's focus on gratitude, to the reminders of my own appreciation for missionary labors performed. This is a very personal declaration for Ammon to make, and it resonates deeply within myself. God blesses those who recognize His hand in all things, especially when they are engaged in His work and His service. 

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