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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 Zion!

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The conclusions found in verses 11 - 14 are not easily understood to me this morning, because I feel that there is more than what I am reading on the surface about good and bad, wicked verses the righteous. Superficially, it's easy to just read these verses and close the book and say "Yep, that's how it is; I'm glad I'm going to be saved!" (The fact that I even have the tendency to think this way is my first indicator that I'm missing something important here. So let's begin digging. )

In verses 11 and 12, a phrase is used repeatedly, "according to the promises of the Lord." In verse 11, we learn that many mourned because of these promises for those that died prematurely because " they are consigned to a state of endless wo." In verse 12, those same promises are the source of hope and knowledge for others who had lost family members ("kindred") "that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness."

The author's conclusion then in the next two verses is a call to action. Verse 13 unveils the opposition.
And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men. (emphasis added)
And then verse 14 is the invitation: "And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord;"

But the verse doesn't end there, and this final statement has really left me searching for answers as to what this means.
...  and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life.
The death and destruction part is easy enough to understand. But then the conclusion that there is great reason of rejoicing because of the light of Christ unto life? What does this mean? I just find it so interesting that as a concluding final thought that the author points to "the light of Christ unto life" as the reason for joy. I don't understand why he would do that.

Fortunately, there is a footnote. Consider these verses from the Book of John:
  • "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:9
  • " And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
    For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
    But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."(John 3:19-21)
It strikes me as I consider these verse, that those, who through their actions reject that light of Christ, are in opposition to their own nature. We are beings of light. When we oppose the light, we are in opposition to ourselves. And our bodies don't always play well when they are not nurtured with light. All sorts of medical ailments can result. The body can also be healed when brought into the subjection of light. (This is reminding me of talk by Elder Oaks.)

Here is one final quote from Elder Jeffery R. Holland, April 2012, that I was reminded of yesterday, as I have wrestled with this concept of "joy because of the light of Christ unto life." 
I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.
 Indeed, that infinite hope that is inherent in light of Christ's love and Atonement (it's all found in the light of Christ) is cause for joy!

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