Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 30 – The Great Plan of Happiness

1. Alma teaches Corianton about death and resurrection.

Alma 40:1 I perceive that thy mind is worried

‘One of the sweet gifts of the Spirit is the “discerning of spirits” – the ability to discern the needs and feelings of others (see D&C 46:23). After having spoken very plainly to his son Corianton about the seriousness of Corianton’s moral transgressions, Alma discerned through the Spirit, precisely what Corianton was feeling and worried about. Three times, once at the start of each chapter in today’s lesson (Alma 40-42), Alma said, “I perceive that thy mind is worried concerning….” and then he gave some profound testimony and heartfelt counsel addressing the problem.

Think about the setting of Alma 40-42 for a moment. Here is a son who committed a grievous moral transgression in the mission field. Here was his father, whose own transgressions against the Church were stopped when an angel from God called him to repentance. God could have given up on Alma when he was younger and committing some serious mistakes, but He didn’t. Now, as Alma counsels with his own wayward son, we can feel the love and the longing of this noble father whose desire was to help his son repent and return to God.

The three concerns Alma discerned in his son’s heart were (1) Corianton was worried about the resurrection and probably wondering what kind of resurrection he could ever hope to attain in the eternities to come (see Alma 40:1); (2) he was worried about the restoration, no doubt wondering how he could ever become clean again after having committed such a serious sin (see Alma 41:1); and (3) he was worried about the justice of God, thinking that God was now angry with him and was going to send a severe judgment against him and consign him to a state of eternal misery (see Alma 42:1).

Alma’s sure testimony to his son is that God has a plan for our salvation. As he taught, Alma testified that this great and wonderful plan was revealed by God, and that God really does have a plan for our redemption which is designed to bring us the greatest happiness. In fact, there is no other plan, and there is no other way to re-enter God’s presence and enjoy all the blessings God has to offer. Alma called this plan the “plan of redemption” (Alma 39:18); “the plan of restoration” (41:2); “the great plan of salvation” (42:5); “the great plan of happiness” (42:8); and “the great plan of mercy” (42:15, 31).’ (Jeffrey Marsh, Meridian Magazine)

Alma 40:8 All is as one day with God

‘The Lord is not bound by the constraints of the dimension we call time. Yet for us, we feel much more comfortable if, during the few days of this mortal probation, we can hear the clock ticking. But time as we know it will not always exist. The scriptures (Rev 10:6, DC 84:100, DC 88:110) teach that when Satan is bound at the beginning of the Millenium, the angels will declare that “time is no longer.” Furthermore, in the celestial world, time will be understood as God understands it, they reside in the presence of God…where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord (DC 130:7).’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

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Alma 40:11-13 The state of the soul between death and the resurrection

‘There is a certain degree of judgment rendered upon every man and every woman as soon as they have passed the ordeals of this present probation. When they lay their bodies down their spirits return into the presence of God, when a decree of judgment and sentence is immediately passed. Hence we read in the Book of Mormon, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they depart from this mortal body, return home again to that God who gave them life, and then shall it come to pass that the spirits of the righteous shall enter into a state of rest, peace and happiness, called Paradise, where they shall rest from all their labors. And then shall it come to pass that the spirits of the wicked—for behold they have no part or portion of the spirit of the Lord—shall depart into outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing and gnashing of teeth; and in these two states or conditions the children of men shall be placed until the time of the resurrection.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)

2. Alma teaches that after we are resurrected, the righteous will be restored to happiness and the wicked will be restored to misery.

Alma 40:23 All things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame

“Many living witnesses can testify to the literal fulfillment of these scriptural assurances of the resurrection. Many, including some in my own extended family, have seen a departed loved one in vision or personal appearance and have witnessed their restoration in ‘proper and perfect frame’ in the prime of life. Whether these were manifestations of persons already resurrected or of righteous spirits awaiting an assured resurrection, the reality and nature of the resurrection of mortals is evident. What a comfort to know that all who have been disadvantaged in life from birth defects, from mortal injuries, from disease, or from the natural deterioration of old age will be resurrected in ‘proper and perfect frame.'” (Dallin H Oaks, Conference Report, Apr. 2000, May Ensign, p. 15)

Alma 41:1 Restoration

“When we hear the term restoration we typically think of the latter-day return of the Church and the revelation of the gospel in its fullness. Book of Mormon prophets, however, use this term in a rather different sense. They teach that every individual will receive a temporal as well as a spiritual restoration, good for good, evil for evil.” (Richard O. Cowan, Alma, TheTestimony of the Word, p. 184)

Alma 41:3 Desires of their hearts

“The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 2:8).

Alma 41:7 They are their own judges

“The great misery of departed spirits in the world of spirits, where they go after death, is to know that they come short of the glory that others enjoy and that they might have enjoyed themselves, and they are their own accusers.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 311)

Alma 41:10 Wickedness never was happiness

“The way of the Lord is the way of happiness. Wickedness never was happiness. Transgression never was happiness. Sin never was happiness. Disobedience never was happiness. The way of happiness is following the way of the Lord. I believe this with all my heart. If there is any message that runs through all of the Book of Mormon, it is this great transcendent message, that when the people lived in righteousness they were happy and they were prospered. And when they fell into wickedness they were miserable, they were at war, they were in poverty, they were in trouble. That theme goes all the way through the Book of Mormon. As it was true then, so it is true now. The way of happiness for the people of this Church lies in following the ways of the Lord.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Church News, 06/01/96)

Alma 41:14 Deal justly, judge righteously 

‘The law of Restoration requires that the Lord will reward mercy with mercy, and justice with justice. Therefore, if we want to be judged with fairness and mercy at the last day, then we must judge with fairness and mercy in mortality. On this subject, someone will usually quote, judge not that ye be not judged (Matt 7:1). This means that we should not be judgmental. However, in the world we live in, we are required to appropriately pass judgment all the time. The bishop passes judgment on ward members. All parents pass judgment on the behavior of their children and do it on a regular basis. Business and work decisions require judgment and fairness. This is why the Joseph Smith Translation alters this verse as follows, judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment

The Lord doesn’t expect us to live a life without ever passing judgment. He is the Great Judge and we are to emulate him in all things—including righteous judgment. This concept is encapsulated in the word of the Lord to the 12 disciples in the New World, know ye that ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am (3 Nephi 27:27). Therefore, the phrase, judge not that ye be not judged, is impractical. The more correct statement is that we should judge righteous judgment. Certainly, this must be done with the utmost care and wisdom. Otherwise we may find ourselves concerned with another’s mote at the expense of our own beam, For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (Matt 7:2).’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

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3. Alma teaches Corianton about justice and mercy.

Alma 42:1 The justice of God

‘It must have been rather amazing to Corianton to have his father virtually read his mind and then begin discussing subjects which were troubling him. Of course he would have no way of knowing that Alma was listening to the whisperings of the Spirit. Alma’s opening statement reveals that he knew his son was really mixed up concerning the justice of God.

Corianton’s belief that it was unjust for God to punish sinners certainly indicates a spoiled, twisted, self-indulgent personality. The discovery of such irrational and confused thinking in Corianton may have come as a shock to Alma since he had spent nearly all of his time during the growing up years of Corianton trying to manage the affairs of the Church and going on frequent missionary assignments to suppress the elements of apostasy which kept springing up continuously among the branches of the Church. Apparently Alma recognized that this son had very little comprehension of the gospel and he therefore set out to give Corianton a basic course in the gospel plan.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Alma 42:6 Fallen man

“Adam brought the fallen condition, mortality, through partaking of the forbidden fruit.  All men and women are subject to this condition.  All.  Jehovah spoke to Adam:  ‘Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good’ (Moses 6:55).  Robert L. Millet has written:  ‘No, of course we do not believe, with Calvin, in the moral depravity of men and women.  No, we do not believe, with Luther, that man, because of his carnality and depravity, does not, even have the power to choose good over evil.  And we do not believe that children are born in sin, that they inherit the so-called sin of Adam either through sexual union or by birth.  Rather, children are conceived in sin: meaning first, that they are conceived into a world of sin, and second, that conception is the vehicle by which the effects of the Fall (not the original transgression, which God has forgiven) are transmitted to Adam’s posterity.  To say that we are not punished for the transgression is not to say that we are not subject to and affected by it. . . . Adam’s fallen nature is passed on to his children and thereby from generation to generation.  Thus sin is implanted in man’s nature at conception, just as death is implanted at the same time.  Both of these- death and sin- are present only in seed form at conception, and therefore a child is neither dead nor sinful when born.  Death and sin do, however, come to pass as a result of man’s nature as he grows up.  Sin comes naturally, just as does death.’ (Life in Christ, pp. 24-25.)

“This is what we call the fall of man.  Adam, and thus all of us as his children, were freed from whatever ‘original guilt’ might once have been as a result of Adam’s transgression (see Moses 6:53-54).  But what of our own fall?  Gerald N. Lund has written:  ‘If we know good from evil and then sin (which, according to Paul, all men do), then we must talk about a second fall.  This is not the fall of Adam.  This is one’s own personal fall.  This fall, which our own, not Adam’s, transgression brings about, requires redemption as surely as mankind needed redemption from the consequences of Adam’s fall.  We’ll term this the ‘fall of me.’ . . . Now, since we have no one to blame for this except ourselves, our redemption becomes conditional upon our actions.  This is what Lehi meant [2 Nephi 2:7] when he said that the sacrifice that the Messiah offered to satisfy the ends of the law is viable only for those with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ (Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation, p. 95.)” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 314)

Alma 42:14 Justice

“This loving, charitable, and merciful generosity of the Savior raises the inevitable question of the place of justice in his working out of the Atonement. The balance between seemingly contradictory principles is examined in the Book of Mormon most skillfully and—because it is a father speaking to his own transgressing son—most sensitively by Alma the Younger when instructing his son Corianton.

“Obviously the demands of justice require that penalties must be paid for violation of the law. Adam transgressed and so have all of us; thus the judgment of death (physically) and the consequences of hell (spiritually) is pronounced as a just reward. Furthermore, once guilty, none of us could personally do anything to overcome that fate. We do not have in us the seeds of immortality allowing us to conquer death physically, and we have not been perfect in our behavior, thus forfeiting the purity that would let us return to the presence of God spiritually. Furthermore, God cannot simply turn a blind eye to the breaking of divine law, because in so doing he would dishonor justice and would ’cease to be God,’ which thing he would never do. The sorry truth for mortal men and women was, then, that ’there was no means to reclaim [them] from this fallen state which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience.’ (Alma 42:12)

“’Thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence.’ (Alma 42:14)” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 226)

Alma 42:15 Mercy

“Mercy is thus for the repentant, the faithful, the obedient, those who love and serve God. All other fail to escape the clutches of justice. ‘Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.’ (Matt. 5:7.) ‘Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.’ (Luke 6:36.) Salvation is the reward of those who conform to the plan of mercy. ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.’ (Ps. 23:6.)

“So infinite in scope is the plan of mercy that it applies to the living and the dead. Those who did not have the opportunity to subject themselves by repentance to the plan of mercy while in this life, but who would have done so had the opportunity been afforded them, will have their chance in the spirit world; they shall then be saved from the grasp of justice and, reaping the full blessings of mercy, shall go on to celestial reward.

“‘There is never a time when the spirit is too old to approach God,’ the Prophet said. ‘All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, which hath no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. There is a way to release the spirits of the dead; that is by the power and authority of the priesthood — by binding and loosing on earth. This doctrine appears glorious, inasmuch as it exhibits the greatness of divine compassion and benevolence in the extent of the plan of human salvation.’ (Teachings, pp. 191-192.)” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 486)

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Alma 42:23 Mercy claimeth the penitent

“Mercy is thus rehabilitative, not retributive or arbitrary. The Lord asks repentance from a transgressor, not to compensate the Savior for paying the debt of justice, but to induce the transgressor to undertake a meaningful process of personal development toward a Christlike nature.

“At the same time, mercy depends ultimately on the Lord’s extension of unmerited grace. Even though conditioned on repentance for personal sins, mercy is never fully ‘earned’ by its recipients. Repentance is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition of salvation and exaltation. ‘For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Ne. 25:23). The unearned nature of mercy is demonstrated by the Atonement’s having unconditionally compensated for the disabilities imposed on mankind by the Fall of Adam. Adam and Eve and their posterity were utterly powerless to overcome the physical and spiritual deaths that were introduced by the Fall. Moreover, transgressors do not ‘pay’ fully for their sins through the process of repentance. Even though repentance requires restitution to the extent of one’s ability, most forms of restitution are beyond any person’s ability to achieve. No matter how complete our repentance, it would all be to no avail without a mediator willing and able to pay our debt to justice, on condition of our repentance. Thus, even with sincere and complete repentance, all are utterly dependent on Jesus Christ.” (Bruce C Hafen, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 776)

 

 

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Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 29 – Give Ear to My Words

1. Alma shares his testimony and gives the records to his son Helaman.

Alma 36:1 Give ear to my words

‘Nearly eighteen years earlier, in 82 B.C., when Alma was a rambunctious and apostate son of the president of the Church, he and the four apostate sons of king Mosiah had been visited by an angel. This angel came roaring out of heaven with the wrath of God in his voice. It caused the earth to shake and knocked the five young men flat on the ground. We read all about this event in the 27th chapter of Mosiah, but now, as Alma comes to the end of his ministry, he wants to tell about this fantastic experience in his own words so that his eldest son, Helaman, can testify that he heard this account from the lips of his own father.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

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Alma 36:6-9 Seeking to destroy the church of God

‘In these verses, Alma recounts some of his own history as a former persecutor of the church who then became one of its most ardent and devoted converts. The phrase “seeking to destroy the church” (verse 6) is mirrored by Alma’s reflection in verse 24 that since his conversion he has “labored without ceasing, that [he] might bring souls to repentance.” Whereas once he tried to tear down the church, his life since he encountered Christ (who is the crux of this chiasm; see verses 17–18) has been about building up the church and bringing God’s children into the fold.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections annotated and explained)

Alma 36:26 Seen eye to eye as I have seen

“After a person has faith in Christ…then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted….when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 149-50, italics added)

Alma 37:1 The records

“We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon but also the brass plates, the plates of the Book of Ether, the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the people of the world down to the time of their being engraved, and many other plates … there appeared as it were, a table with many records or plates upon it, besides the plates of the Book of Mormon, also the Sword of Laban, the Directors i.e., the ball which Lehi had-and the Interpreters [Urim and Thummim].  I saw them just as plain as I see this bed (striking the bed beside him with his hand), and I heard the voice of the Lord, as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God.” (1878 interview between Orson Pratt and David Whitmer, recorded in Book of Mormon Compendium, pp. 55-56)

Alma 37:6-7 By small and simple things

“We observe vast, sweeping world events; however, we must remember that the purposes of the Lord in our personal lives generally are fulfilled through the small and simple things and not the momentous and spectacular. …

“Great and marvelous events seem to motivate us, but small things often do not hold our attention. Noting that the Liahona worked by faith, Alma stated, ‘Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means … [the people of Lehi] were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey’ (Alma 37:41).

“Is our journey sometimes impeded when we forget the importance of small things? (see Alma 37:46). Do we realize that small events and choices determine the direction of our lives just as small helms determine the direction of great ships? (see James 3:4; D&C 123:16). …

“… We need to have family and personal prayers; study the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon; hold family home evenings; follow the admonition of the Savior to love one another; and be thoughtful, kind, and gentle within the family. Through these and other similar small and simple things, we have the promise that our lives will be filled with peace and joy” (M Russell Ballard in Conference Report, Apr. 1990).

Alma 37:8 Enlarged the memory of this people

‘While faith is not a perfect knowledge, it brings a deep trust in God, whose knowledge is perfect! Otherwise, one’s small data base of personal experience permits so few useful generalizations! But by searching the holy scriptures, we access a vast, divine data bank, a reservoir of remembrance. In this way, the scriptures can, as the Book of Mormon says, enlarge the memory. ‘ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, April 1991)

Alma 37:34 Never be weary of good works

“Paradoxical as it sounds, more diligence actually brings more relief. Any selfishness, on the other hand, magnifies our weariness. Selfishness not only shrinks the quantity of service we render but also provides none of the needed renewal, no ‘rest to [our] souls.'” (Neal A Maxwell, If Thou Endure It Well, p. 113)

Alma 37:35 Learn wisdom in thy youth

“As I look at you youth, I think not only of what you are, but of what you may become. I also remember who you are, and I plead with you to do likewise. You are the sons and daughters of Almighty God. Each of you has a destiny to fulfill, a life to live, a contribution to make, a goal to achieve. The future of the kingdom of God upon the earth will, in part, be determined by your devotion.

“When this perspective is firmly in mind, you can appreciate the absolute necessity of diligence in this, your period of preparation. Neglect to prepare and you mortgage your future.

“…these challenging times will require your finest efforts. A half-hearted effort will not suffice. You must labor with your might.

“This is your world. Whether you like it or not, you are engaged in the race of your life. At stake is eternal life—yours. What shall be the outcome? Will you be a leader of men and a servant of God? Or will you be a servant of sin and a follower of Satan? Decisions determine destiny. In the quiet of your study, surrounded by books written by the finest minds of men, listen for and hearken to the Master’s invitation: ’…learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ (Matthew 11:29–30.) Such learning transcends the classroom, it endures beyond graduation, it meets the test of experience.’ (Thomas S Monson, Pathways To Perfection, p. 252-3)

Alma 37:36-37 Cry unto God

“We would say to the brethren, seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and everything that you engage in. Be virtuous and pure; be men of integrity and truth; keep the commandments of God; and then you will be able more perfectly to understand the difference between right and wrong-between the things of God and the things of men; and your path will be like that of the just, which shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:31)

Alma 37:43 These things are not without a shadow

‘One imagines that Helaman is wondering by this time why his father is rehearsing all this ancient history about their ancestors and the Liahona. Alma gets to the heart of it in verse 43, when he suggests that the Liahona story is a “shadow” of an important additional compass. He doesn’t want his son to ever become “slothful” in attending to the will of God. As Grant Hardy points out, it’s no coincidence that this conversation occurs in the context of the transference of the sacred records from father to son. The scriptures are to be another Liahona, or compass, to guide people to truth.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Alma 37:46 Let us not be slothful

“Muttering and murmuring are often the expressions of our conscience gone grumpy; it is precisely because we know we need to respond affirmatively (and have some inkling about what’s coming) that we let off steam—we start puffing in advance of the climb. These are reactions genuinely to be avoided, since they can precede the keeping of a commandment or the fulfilling of a task with a slothful heart, which is more serious. Mostly, to avoid muttering, we need to trust more. So many of the things muttered about before turn out to be marvelous experiences later, and we are inwardly, and deservedly, ashamed for having grumbled.” (Neal A Maxwell, Deposition of a Disciple, p. 31)

2. Alma praises and encourages his son Shiblon.

Alma 38:5 Trust in God

“There is not a man upon the earth that has put his trust in God, I do not care what part of the world he has been in, but what can say that he delivered him. I know that has been the case with me, emphatically so. I have been satisfied, when in foreign lands and in strange countries, where I had no access but to the Almighty, that he was on my side, and I know that he has answered my prayers. (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 8:96, June 17, 1860)

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Alma 38:10 Temperate in all things

“The temperance spoken of here is that of restraint and moderation, particularly in that which we say and teach.  For example, it is unwise to use stories, quotations, or information that we cannot verify.  Temperance is especially important if the story is of a sensational nature or involves someone of high standing in the Church.  Wise teachers will confine themselves to that which they understand, or that for which they are reliable witnesses.  Exaggerations, stretching of the truth, and embellished stories and quotations bring no dignity to the gospel or to the teacher. indeed, such practices are offensive to the Spirit.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 286)

Alma 38:11 See that ye are not lifted up unto pride

‘So far, Alma’s advice to his son Shiblon has been similar to his advice to Helaman. He told both of the promise that those who keep the commandments will prosper in the land. He told both of his conversion story. He encouraged both to learn wisdom. But Shiblon was different than Helaman. Of all Alma’s sons, Shiblon was apparently the most faithful. Yet, Alma is concerned about one thing—pride.

According to the theme of the Book of Mormon, it is among the most righteous that pride becomes a snare. When Shiblon was righteous, his father warned him of pride. When Oliver Cowdery was righteous, the Lord warned him of pride (DC 23:1). Whenever the saints have been righteous, the prophets have warned them of pride. Unfortunately, there is something about righteousness which inevitably draws us toward self-righteousness.’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

Alma 38:12 Bridle all your passions

‘A bridle is used to guide, to direct, to restrain. Our passion is to be controlled. When lawfully used, the power of procreation will bless and will sanctify.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, April 2015)

3. Alma admonishes his son Corianton to repent.

Alma 39:2 Boasting in thy strength

“Boasting in the arm of flesh, one of the commonest of all sins among worldly people, is a gross evil; it is a sin born of pride, a sin that creates a frame of mind which keeps men from turning to the Lord and accepting his saving grace. When a man engages in self exultation because of his riches, his political power, his worldly learning, his physical prowess, his business acumen, or even his works of righteousness, he is not in tune with the Spirit of the Lord. Salvation itself comes by the grace of God, ‘Not of works,’ that is not of the performances and outward display of the law, ‘lest any man should boast.’ (Eph. 2:4-22; Rom. 3:27.) As King Benjamin asked, after explaining the goodness of God and the comparative nothingness of men, ‘Of what have ye to boast?’ (Mosiah 2: 17-26.)” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 93)

Alma 39:4 Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry

‘There are at least three dangers that threaten the Church within… They are flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas, and sexual impurity. But the third subject mentioned – personal purity, is perhaps of greater importance than either of the other two. We believe in one standard of morality for men and women. If purity of life is neglected, all other dangers set in upon us like the rivers of waters when the flood gates are opened.’ ( F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 313.)

Alma 39:8  Ye cannot hide your crimes from God

“Do not take comfort in the fact that your transgressions are not known by others. That is like an ostrich with his head buried in the sand. He sees only darkness and feels comfortably hidden. In reality he is ridiculously conspicuous. Likewise our every act is seen by our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son. They know everything about us…I invite each one of you to thoughtfully review your life…Is there a dark corner that needs to be cleaned out?… When it is quiet and you can think clearly, does your conscience tell you to repent?” (Richard G Scott, Ensign, May 1995)

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Alma 39:9 Go no more after the lusts of your eyes

“The girl you marry can expect you to come to the marriage altar absolutely clean. She can expect you to be a young man of virtue in thought and word and deed. I plead with you boys tonight to keep yourselves free from the stains of the world…You must not fool around with the Internet to find pornographic material…You must not rent videos with pornography of any kind…Stay away from pornography as you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive. It can become habitual, and those who indulge in it get so they cannot leave it alone. It is addictive…it seduces and destroys its victims…I plead with you young men not to get involved in its use. You simply cannot afford to. The girl you marry is worthy of a husband whose life has not been tainted by this ugly and corrosive material.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, May 1998, p. 49)

Alma 39:10 Give heed to their counsel

Alma’s counsel to Corianton to seek advice from his seasoned older brothers indicates that he, himself, does not expect to be around much longer. In fact, he departs early in the next year (the nineteenth of the judges), and is never seen again (‘Alma 45:18). Thus, Alma is giving his sons his final instructions and blessing; and in Alma’s absence, Corianton’s older brothers will be the source to whom he must turn for spiritual guidance.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 39:17-19 The Plan of Salvation

“The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence … ; the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal ‘now;’ He knew of the fall of Adam, the iniquities of the antediluvians, of the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family … ; He comprehended the fall of man, and his redemption; He knew the plan of salvation and pointed it out; He was acquainted with the situation of all nations and with their destiny; … He knows the situation of both the living and the dead, and has made ample provision for their redemption” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:597).

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 28 – The Word of Christ is unto Salvation

1. Alma teaches the humble Zoramites to exercise faith and give place in their hearts for the word of God.

‘Alma 32 contains one of the most significant discourses on the doctrine of faith found anywhere in the scriptures. The Zoramites had been living in a state of apostasy and had been taught false doctrine; therefore, Alma taught those spiritually immature listeners the first steps in developing faith. Despite the simplicity of its presentation, the concepts taught in this discourse are profound.’ (Book of Mormon Seminary Manual)

Alma 32:2 Began to have success among the poor class of people

“Typically, when the gospel message goes to a nation or city the first willing to hear and accept it are those of the lower social classes.  Humility of circumstances and humility of spirit are often found in company together.  Writing to the Corinthian Saints, the Apostle Paul observed:  ‘Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:  that no flesh should glory in his presence’ (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

“Celsus, the second-century philosopher, is often quoted in descriptions of the infant Christian church.  The basic material of his description–the general social level of the converts–is much like Paul’s, but the spirit is sharply different.  Christians, he held,

“do not even want to give or to receive a reason for what they believe, and use such expressions as ‘Do not ask questions; just believe’ and ‘Thy faith will save thee.’…  Their injunctions are like this:  ‘Let no one educated, no one wise, no one sensible draw near.  For anyone stupid, anyone uneducated, anyone who is a child, let him come boldly.’  By the fact that they themselves admit that these people are worthy of their God, they show that they want and are able to convince only the foolish, dishonourable, and stupid, and only slaves, women, and little children….  In private houses also we see wool-workers, cobblers, laundry workers, and the most bucolic and illiterate yokels, who would not dare lo say anything at all in front of their elders and more intelligent masters.”(Origen, in Contra Celsum 1:9; 3:44.)

“These descriptions given by Paul and Celsus aptly profile the typical Christian convert as seen by believer and unbeliever respectively in the period associated with the New Testament.  The most striking thing about such expressions is that they are remarkably similar to the kind of thing we have so often read about the early converts to Mormonism.  Nor does the similarity stop there, for it has been echoed by thousands of missionaries who have been the first to open various cities and regions to the teaching of the gospel; in so doing, they have found that the well-to-do, those resting comfortably in their own self-sufficiency, have little or no interest in their message, while those whose conditions are appreciably more humble are often more willing to listen.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 223)

Alma 32:12-13  It is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues

‘Alma now explains his surprising assertion that it was a blessing to be cast out of the synagogue. Their humility combined with their desire motivates them to seek change, or repentance. That change will bring Yahweh’s mercy and the blessings of the gospel.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 32:14-16 Humility

‘It is better to humble ourselves because we desire to believe and to be obedient than to be compelled to be humble. The word of God can lead us to humble ourselves if we seek the Spirit and acknowledge our dependence on God.’ (Neumanninstitute.org)

Alma 32:17 A sign from heaven 

‘Certainly we should not be interested in signs. Signs are available and anyone, I believe, can have signs who wants them. I believe if one wants revelations enough to crave them beyond the rightness of it, that eventually he will get his revelations-but they may not come from God. I am sure that there can be many spectacular things performed, because the devil is very responsive. He is listening and he is eager to do it. And so he gives strange experiences.’

“…Manifestly, the performance of miracles and the appearance of signs and wonders are not evidences that those who do these things are servants of God or teachers of truth. In our day, God does not use miracles or signs as a way of teaching or convincing the unbeliever. As a result, we should not ask for signs for this purpose, and we should be deeply suspicious of the so-called spiritual evidences of those who do.” (Spencer W Kimball, The Lord’s Way, p. 86)

Alma 32:21 Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge

‘It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, October 2013)

Alma 32:22 Ye should believe, yea, even on his word

‘Alma had begun his discourse by defining “not-faith” (knowledge), then defining faith as related to knowledge. Now he encourages these humble people to have faith by comforting them about their relationship to Yahweh. They believed that they were cut off from Yahweh because they were cut off from Yahweh’s earthly location. Alma tells them that they may approach Yahweh personally through faith. He assures them that Yahweh wants them to have faith, and that’s why Yahweh provided the information about faith in Alma’s preaching to provide that opportunity for belief.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 32:27 Awake and arouse your faculties

“Far more of us need to awake and arouse our faculties to an awareness of the great everlasting truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing. We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past, and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities.

We have work to do, you and I, so very much of it. Let us roll up our sleeves and get at it, with a new commitment, putting our trust in the Lord.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Church News, 04/08/95)

2. Alma teaches the people to nourish the word of God in their hearts.

Alma 32:28 We will compare the word unto a seed

‘This is often how a testimony begins: with sacred, enlightening, assuring feelings that demonstrate to us that the word of God is true. However, as wonderful as these feelings are, they are only the beginning. Your work to grow your testimony is not done—any more than the work of growing a redwood tree is done when the first tiny sprout pokes out of the ground. If we ignore or neglect these early spiritual promptings, if we do not nurture them by continuing to study the scriptures and pray and by seeking more experiences with the Spirit, our feelings will fade and our testimonies will diminish.’ (Craig C Christenses, General Conference, October 2013)

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Alma 32:29 Nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge

‘Alma warns, however, that we should not mistake these early signs as sufficient. Just as the first shoot is no proof of the mature plant, so, too, the beginnings of our faith are far from being an eventual mature faith. We are in a process and must realize that we must continue to act rather than be satisfied with the results of our first small attempts.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 32:34 Your knowledge is perfect in that thing

“Subsequently, by our nurturing the seed carefully and by experiencing for ourselves, belief grows into confirmed faith, and faith grows into knowledge. Personal verification thereby occurs ‘in that thing’-meaning, in the principle which is specifically being obeyed and applied. Other principles or doctrines await the same process of personal verification.” (Neal A Maxwell, Gaining Spiritual Knowledge, p. 102)

Alma 32:37 Nourish it with great care

‘If your faith is proven and mature, choose to nurture it “with great care” . As strong as our faith is, with all the mixed messages attacking it, it can also become very fragile. It needs constant nourishment through continued scripture study, prayer, and the application of His word.’ (Richard C Edgley, General Conference, October 2010)

Alma 32:39 It is because your ground is barren

“Just as soil needs preparation for a seed, so does a human heart for the word of God to take root. Before he told the people to plant the seed, Alma told them that their hearts were prepared. They had been persecuted and cast out of their churches. Alma with his love and the circumstances of their lives, which led them to be humble, had prepared them. They were then ready to hear the word of God. If they chose to plant it in their hearts, the growth in their souls would surely follow, and that would increase their faith.” (Henry B Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, p. 186)

Alma 32:41 It shall take root

“…a faculty…may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 51)

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3. Alma cites prophets’ testimonies of Jesus Christ and exhorts the people to plant the word of God in their hearts.

Alma 33:1 How they should plant the seed

‘The brilliance of Alma’s discourse on comparing faith to a seed is that he takes an abstract, intangible concept and makes it understandable and practical. Yet, the Zoramites still wonder what they should do to begin. The answer is that they should pray (v. 3-11) and they should begin to believe in the Son of God (v. 22). The promise is that it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son (v. 22).’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

Alma 33:4 For Thou hast heard my prayer

“Be prayerful. You can’t do it alone. You know that. You cannot make it alone and do your best. You need the help of the Lord . . . and the marvelous thing is that you have the opportunity to pray, with the expectation that your prayers will be heard and answered. . . . The marvelous thing about prayer is that it is personal, it’s individual, it’s something that no one else gets into, in terms of your speaking with your Father in Heaven in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Be prayerful. Ask the Lord to forgive your sins. Ask the Lord for help. Ask the Lord to bless you. Ask the Lord to help you realize your righteous ambitions. . . . Ask the Lord for all of the important things that mean so much to you in your lives. He stands ready to help. Don’t ever forget it.” (Colorado Springs Young Adult Meeting, April 14, 1996 as taken from The Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley)

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Alma 33:16 They will not understand thy mercies

‘Our Father in Heaven is saddened when we limit the power of His Son’s atoning sacrifice. As you exercise faith in Jesus Christ, you can have your guilt “swept away.” If guilt remains after sincere repentance, believe your priesthood leaders when they declare you to be worthy.’  (Anthony D Perkins, General Conference, October 2006)

Alma 33:19 Whosever would look upon it might live

‘”‘How silly,’ some must have said. ‘How can such a thing cure me? I’ll not show my stupidity by paying any attention,’ and some would not look….

“And today many say, ‘How silly! How could accepting Christ save me?’ They will not turn their heads to look nor incline their ears to hear. They ignore the great witness that comes from these conferences. We ought to, indeed we must, heed the counsel of these men, for the Lord said, ‘What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.’ (DC 1:38)”‘ (Boyd K Packer, Conference Report, Oct. 1968, p. 76)

Alma 33:22 Cast about your eyes

‘Any person who is to be saved from sin must cast his eye upon the saving power of Jesus Christ. Just as the children of Israel needed to look upon the brazen serpent that Moses fashioned and raised upon a rod in order to be saved from the serpent’s deadly bite, we need to look to the Savior to be saved from the deadly effects of sin (seeNumbers 21). The person who opens his eyes and looks upon the Lord will find it easy to recognize him as the divine source from which relief from sin comes.’ (Seminary Book of Mormon Manual)

4. Amulek testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He commands the people to pray and exercise faith unto repentance.

Alma 34:5 The great question which is in your minds

“My friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters all, the most important question in human history is one which will not go away. It echoes down the corridors of time. And “Jesus asked them…What think ye of Christ?” (Matt 22:42) Sooner or later, this is the vital question for all mortals, including you, my friends. And a failure to answer this question is an answer.” (Neal A Maxwell, Investigator Fireside, Jan. 5, 1984)

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Alma 34:6-8 I will testify unto you

‘Amulek is establishing a ring of testimony around the Messiah’s coming. He begins by confirming, but not repeating, what they have just heard Alma say. His focus is on the scriptural evidence Alma quoted, specifically naming Zenos, Zenock, and Moses, as Alma had done. Apparently, he is making sure that he is the second witness to Alma’s testimony. He next offers himself as a witness: “I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true.” He becomes the second living witness, reinforcing the three ancient testators of this doctrine. Thus, they provide two sets of at least two witnesses. If not explicit, it appears that implicitly the Nephite society accepts the Deuteronomic law of witnesses (Deut. 19:15, see commentary accompanying Alma 9:6). If the farmers do take this law of witnesses seriously, Alma and Amulek have presented what they understand to be an iron-clad witness of the coming of the Messiah.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 34:9 It is expedient that an atonement should be made

‘If you have made no mistakes, then you do not need the Atonement. If you have made mistakes, and all of us have, whether minor or serious, then you have an enormous need to find out how they can be erased so that you are no longer in darkness.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, October 2012)

Alma 34:10 Not a human sacrifice

‘Because Jesus is the Son of God, his sacrifice is beyond what a human could do, it is therefore not a human sacrifice.’ (JohnBytheway.com)

Alma 34:16 Mercy can satisfy the demands of justice

“Life, like a computer, has default settings, conditions that will automatically apply unless we take positive action to avoid them. Thus, if we refuse to make Christ our Lord by taking positive steps to enter into his covenant, then Satan becomes our lord by default. Christ by choice or Satan by default-there are no other options.

“Christ ‘shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety.’ (Alma 34:15-16.) The choice before us is mercy or justice. Either choice can be accommodated, and either choice is compatible with the nature and plan of God, but, as in the choice between the Lord and Satan, there are no third alternatives. Again, life has default settings, and they are set for justice. We can choose the mercy that is offered through the gospel covenant, but if we refuse that mercy, we will receive justice.

“Now here is an odd thing about the nature of mercy: by definition, mercy can only be mercy if we don’t deserve it. For if we deserve something, then it becomes a matter of justice that we receive it. So it ceases to be a matter of mercy. Thus, in this sense at least, to give or to receive mercy is always somewhat unfair. But one of the great beauties of the gospel, some of the best news of all, is that Jesus Christ does not mind this unfairness. He is willing to suffer unfairly and compensate justice himself out of his own person in order to extend mercy to weaker beings like us. This willingness on his part to pay more than his fair share and to carry more than his fair load in order to grant mercy to others constitutes the grace of Christ.” (Stephen R. Robinson, Believing Christ, p. 60)

Alma 34:17-27 Prayer

“As there is no limitation as to when we should pray, so there seems to be no limitation as to where we should pray or what we should pray about.” (Marion G Romney, Conference Report, Oct. 1944, pp. 55)

Alma 34:31-32 Immediately

‘Amulek uses an interesting adverb, promising that repentance can bring “immediate” results!   This life is the time to prepare to meet God.   We spend the rest of our lives showing that we have repented or turned from our old ways, but the plan is put into effect “immediately” upon repentance.’ (JohnBytheway.com)

Alma 34:33 Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance

“Because men are prone to postpone action and ignore directions, the Lord has repeatedly given strict injunctions and issued solemn warnings. Again and again in different phraseology and throughout the centuries the Lord has reminded man so that he could never have excuse. And the burden of the prophetic warning has been that the time to act is now, in this mortal life. One cannot with impunity delay his compliance with God’s commandments.” (Spencer W Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 9)

Posted in Inspirational, LDS Doctrine, Leadership, Symbolism

Magnify your calling

In a recent Priesthood class we discussed what it meant to magnify your calling or priesthood.  I have been thinking about this and about the symbolism in the verb ‘to magnify’. The word ‘magnify’ literally means ‘to make big’ hence a magnifying glass makes what we are looking at appear to be big. So, perhaps we are to understand that we regard our calling as a ‘big thing’.

President Monson seemed to have in mind the image of a magnifying glass when he said:

“What does it mean to magnify a calling? It means to build it up in dignity and importance, to make it honorable and commendable in the eyes of all men, to enlarge and strengthen it, to let the light of heaven shine through it to the view of other men.’ (The call of duty, General Conference, April 1986)

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We also use a magnifying glass to study things closely, in detail and, similarly, we should study the duties associated with our calling. The Encyclopaedia of Mormonism warns however, ‘magnifying one’s calling does not mean to enlarge it beyond one’s stewardship or to make it appear great in the eyes of others, although there is a need to give one’s own calling appropriate personal importance.’

The 1829 Websters Deictionary includes amongst its definitions of ‘magnify’  ‘To extol; to exalt; to elevate; to raise in estimation.’ Jeremiah 48:42 has a salutary warning that We should seek to magnify, or raise in estimation, the Lord not ourselves : “And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the Lord.”

 

In 1989 Gordon B Hinckley taught us that our attitudes and the way in which we act can either magnify or diminish our priesthood:

‘All of you, of course, are familiar with binoculars. When you put the lenses to your eyes and focus them, you magnify and in effect bring closer all within your field of vision. But if you turn them around and look through the other end, you diminish and make more distant that which you see.

So it is with our actions as holders of the priesthood. When we live up to our high and holy calling, when we show love for God through service to fellowmen, when we use our strength and talents to build faith and spread truth, we magnify our priesthood. When, on the other hand, we live lives of selfishness, when we indulge in sin, when we set our sights only on the things of the world rather than on the things of God, we diminish our priesthood.’ (Magnify your calling, General Conference, April 1989)

Henry B Eyring observed that as we magnify our calling the Lord will use our calling to magnify us:

‘Just as God called you and will guide you, He will magnify you. You will need that magnification. Your calling will surely bring opposition. You are in the Master’s service. You are His representative. Eternal lives depend on you. He faced opposition, and He said that facing opposition would be the lot of those He called. The forces arrayed against you will try not only to frustrate your work but to bring you down. The Apostle Paul described it this way: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.”1

There will be times when you will feel overwhelmed. One of the ways you will be attacked is with the feeling that you are inadequate. Well, you are inadequate to answer a call to represent God with only your own powers. But you have access to more than your natural capacities, and you do not work alone.

The Lord will magnify what you say and what you do in the eyes of the people you serve. He will send the Holy Ghost to manifest to them that what you spoke was true. What you say and do will carry hope and give direction to people far beyond your natural abilities and your own understanding. That miracle has been a mark of the Lord’s Church in every dispensation. It is so much a part of your call that you may begin to take it for granted.’ (Rise to your call, General Conference, October 2002)

A Church News article from 1997 gave some very practical guidance on how to magnify your calling:

– Accept callings willingly. By accepting Church callings, we keep our covenants, build the Kingdom of God, grow spiritually and learn practical skills. Recognizing these blessings of service helps us develop an eagerness to serve and avoid the prevalent “someone else can do it” attitude.- Catch a vision of the calling. Understanding how a calling helps accomplish the mission of the Church increases our commitment to it. Looking beyond the meetings, reports, lessons and activities (the programs), to the people who are ultimately blessed by our efforts elevates our perspective. We then see the calling as the Savior sees it.

– Take more responsibility for training/transition. In the scriptures we are counseled to “learn [our] duty and act in the office in which [we are] appointed in all diligence.” (D&C 107:99.) Taking a more active role during the transition into a calling – learning the duties, gathering material, meeting with leaders, meeting with the person who previously held the calling, etc. – gets us started on a positive and productive note.

– Follow the brethren. Inspired Church leaders have produced numerous manuals, handbooks, guides, bulletins and videos to assist Church members in official Church callings. Utilizing these resources and correlating with local priesthood leaders maximizes our effectiveness.

– Be reliable. Following through on assignments and performing all the duties associated with a calling make us successful and help us avoid placing additional burdens on other members. If a change in circumstances hinders our ability to perform a calling, we should counsel with our Church leaders, who will help us find an appropriate solution.

President Monson put it succinctly: ‘And how does one magnify a calling? Simply by performing the service that pertains to it.’ (The call of duty, General Conference, April 1986)

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 27 – All Things Denote There Is A God

 1. Korihor leads away the hearts of many in Zarahemla.

Alma 30:6 Anti-Christ

“Here we find an interesting definition of an anti-Christ:  one who defies and denies the prophecies concerning the coming of Christ.  This definition would, of course, pertain primarily to those who lived before the meridian of time.  In our day we would speak of an anti-Christ as one who denies the divine birth of Jesus; who downplays the significance of his teachings; who claims that Jesus’ sufferings, death, and resurrection have no significance for mankind.  Many in this dispensation have been seduced into the damnable heresy that Jesus was merely a good man, a brilliant speaker, and a loving and tender example of mercy and forgiveness–these things alone.  The restored gospel–especially as made known through the Book of Mormon–testifies that Jesus Christ was and is divine, that he is God.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 201)

‘The single greatest problem antichrists face is truth. At some point, either sooner or later, every antichrist theory runs into the brick wall of reality, because there really is a God in heaven, who really did send His Son to redeem us. Even the phrase “anti-christ” is an oxymoron – a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.’ (Jeffrey Marsh, Meridian Magazine)

Alma 30:12 Korihor

We learn that the name of this anti-Christ was Korihor and he went forth among the Nephites to destroy their testimonies of the gospel and urged them to feel free to indulge themselves. He got away with this subversive activity by simply saying he was preaching his personal beliefs. However, he was actually pouring out propaganda to attack the whole foundation of the gospel. (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

“We did not borrow the Book of Mormon from the ancients; they wrote it to us. We are the audience Mormon and Moroni addressed as they chose what was to be included in this scriptural record. They told us the story of Korihor because they knew that we would have our Korihors. The Korihor of the Book of Mormon story is but the prototype of our modern anti-Christs. As the modern man of faith is in the image and likeness of his ancient counterpart, believing and testifying of those truths of which the ancients believed and testified, so the modern anti-Christ but echoes the arguments and sophistry used to beguile the souls of men anciently. Invariably, Korihors are articulate and carry with them an air of sophistication. They thrive on controversy, debate, and contention, yet inevitably their popularity rests in their appeal to the carnal nature of man.” (Millet & McConkie, Sustaining and Defending the Faith, p. 96)

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Alma 30:13 Why do ye yoke yourselves?

“One of Satan’s frequently used deceptions is the notion that the commandments of God are meant to restrict freedom and limit happiness. Young people especially sometimes feel that the standards of the Lord are like fences and chains, blocking them from those activities that seem most enjoyable in life. But exactly the opposite is true. The gospel plan is the plan by which men are brought to a fullness of joy. The gospel principles are the steps and guidelines which will help us find true happiness and joy.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 357 )

Alma 30:16 The effect of a frenzied mind

“Now many of my friends think like this, that Mormons must be deranged. We have a professor from Hebrew University who is here (at BYU) now. He thinks that anybody must be crazy who can believe in an angel. That’s just impossible; there’s something wrong there. He just can’t get it through his head, although there it is. That’s why he is so interested in being here with people who actually believe it. ‘But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind'” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 54, p. 423)

Alma 30:17 The management of the creature

“When you talk about ‘the management of the creature,’ that’s a perfect expression. It’s the manipulation of people as if they were items or products. You can manipulate everything with the psychology of salesmanship. It is the manipulation, the management of the creature.” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 54, p. 424)

Alma 30:18 Leading away the hearts of many

‘The amazing thing about this tirade of lies and propaganda was the fact that he began making many converts, even among the congregations which Alma had worked so diligently to build up. Korihor’s teachings, like those of Nehor, tore down the moral and religious restrictions among the people so that they went back to indulging in the abominations which Alma and the Church leaders had tried to eliminate.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

2. Korihor is taken before Alma, who testifies of Christ’s coming.

Alma 30:23 Foolish ordinances and performances

‘The idea that the Nephites continued to observe the ritual ordinances and ceremonial performances of the law of Moses down to the coming of Christ is supported by one of Korihor’s allegations. Alma 30 tells how Korihor accused the Nephite church of teaching (and presumably observing) what he considered to be “foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them” (Alma 30:23). Korihor’s derision is evidence that the Nephites observed the full range of ancient ordinances taught from the time of Adam to Moses, along with the priestly sacrificial portions of the law of Moses, which Korihor would have considered to be among the most “foolish” parts of Alma’s ancient traditions. Korihor’s words were probably critical of the higher mysteries taught by Alma according to the holy order of the Son of God (see Alma 12:9; 13:1-13), as well as of the sacrificial laws of the Pentateuch.’ [John W. Welch, “The Temple in the Book of Mormon,” in Temples of the Ancient World, p. 305]

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Alma 30:27 Ye keep them down

‘Korihor was arguing, as men and women have falsely argued from the beginning of time, that to take counsel from the servants of God is to surrender God-given rights of independence. But the argument is false because it misrepresents reality. When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose.

Another fallacy is to believe that the choice to accept or not accept the counsel of prophets is no more than deciding whether to accept good advice and gain its benefits or to stay where we are. But the choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. It becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.

Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path which was prepared with loving care, sometimes prepared long before.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, April 1997)

Alma 30:42 Possessed with a lying spirit

‘From other scriptures, we learn that lies and deception came into the world as a result of Satan’s rebellion against God: “He became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice” (Moses 4:4). A person who lies, moreover, is called a “child of the devil” (Alma 5:39).

Those who lie fall in the category of telestial persons, whose destiny is to be “thrust down to hell” (2 Nephi 9:34; D&C 76:103). An antichrist, however, takes lying to the next level. He repudiates Christ and denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22). Like Satan’s, his intent is to use lies as a means of “destroying the children of God.”

Just as God’s children love the truth and follow the example of Jesus Christ, so those who “love and make a lie” follow the example of Satan. Hence, Christ and Satan function at opposite ends of the spectrum as exemplars of righteousness and wickedness, respectively. “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth; And no man receiveth a fulness of truth unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things” (D&C 93:24–28).

This formula for growing in the truth—by keeping the commandments of God—additionally tells us that those who love and believe lies reach that point by breaking the commandments of God. Their alienated state comes especially from speaking evil about others, putting them down while justifying themselves, as did Korihor (Alma 30:14–16, 23–28, 31). The psychology of liars is invariably grounded in unrepented sins and attempts to make others the scapegoats of their guilt. If they can get people to believe their lies, they soon begin believing them themselves.

In the end, Korihor confessed, “I always knew that there was a God. But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I have taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true” (Alma 30:52–53).

Because Korihor is a type of our time as well as a historical figure, there is a lesson we can learn from his example. Jesus predicted of the last days, “There shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Of course, Jesus’ statement implies that the elect cannot be deceived, or they would not be the elect. By their very nature, God’s elect have learned good from evil and truth from falsehood to such a degree that they see through Satan’s deceptions. Those who are deceived are not celestial but terrestrial and telestial persons (D&C 76:75, 103).

Paul speaks of a great Antichrist of the last days: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…

“And then shall that Wicked [One] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume by the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4, 8–12).

Even today, “there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world. And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you. Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church that profess my name. But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life. But wo unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment. Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power… Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me” (D&C 50:2–9).

John Taylor, in a First Presidency Message, taught an important lesson on what happens to people who lie: “Many stories go from mouth to mouth concerning the truth of which those who repeat them know nothing… We testify that those who give way to this influence… who gossip about and aid in the dissemination of these things to the injury of their fellows, will, unless they speedily repent, lose the Spirit of God and the power to discern between truth and falsehood, and between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. Their own minds will become so darkened by the spirit of falsehood that the Spirit of God will cease to have power with them and will flee from them.” (Epistle to the Saints in Semi-Annual Conference, October 6, 1886.)

Just as one doesn’t have to be perfect in order to have the spirit of truth, so one doesn’t have to be a Korihor to have a lying spirit. As with God’s elect, the key to avoiding deception and self-deception is keeping the commandments of God (cf. D&C 76:52; 84:33–34).’ (Avram Gileadi, Studies in the Book of Mormon)

Alma 30:44 All things denote there is a God

“Can any man who has walked beneath the stars at night, can anyone who has seen the touch of spring upon the land doubt the hand of divinity in creation? So observing the beauties of the earth, one is wont to speak as did the Psalmist: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.’ (Ps. 19:1-2)

“All of beauty in the earth bears the fingerprint of the Master Creator.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Conference Report, Apr. 1978, p. 90)

Alma 30:45 Show me a sign

“I recollect a Campbellite preacher who came to Joseph Smith … and said that he had come a considerable distance to be convinced of the truth.  ‘Why,’ said he, ‘Mr. Smith, I want to know the truth, and when I am convinced, I will spend all my talents and time defending and spreading the doctrines of your religion, and I will give you to understand that to convince me is equivalent to convincing all my society, amounting to several hundreds.’  Well, Joseph commenced laying before him the coming forth of the work, and the first principles of the Gospel, when [the minister] exclaimed, ‘O this is not the evidence I want, the evidence that I wish to have is a notable miracle; I want to see some powerful manifestation of the power of God, I want to see a notable miracle performed; and if you perform such a one, then I will believe with all my heart and soul, and will exert all my power and all my extensive influence to convince others; and if you will not perform a miracle of this kind, then I am your worst and bitterest enemy.’  ‘Well,’ said Joseph, ‘what will you have done?  Will you be struck blind, or dumb?  Will you be paralyzed, or will you have one hand withered?  Take your choice, choose which you please, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ it shall be done.’ ‘That is not the kind of miracle I want,’ said the preacher.  ‘Then, sir,’ replied Joseph, ‘I can perform none, I am not going to bring any trouble upon any body else, sir, to convince you.'” (George A Smith, Journal of Discourses, 1855, vol. 2, p. 326).

Alma 30:53 The devil hath deceived me

‘Many people who believe at least tentatively in the reality of God have a much harder time believing in the reality of the devil. Some even soft-pedal the subject and go along with the popular idea that the devil is a purely mythological creature.

Some people roar with laughter as a television comic remarks, “The devil made me do it.” Well, maybe he did! He will always try.

To deny the existence of Satan and the reality of his evil power and influence is as foolish as ignoring the existence of electricity. We know electricity is real; we see and feel its power. We also know about war, hatred, backbiting, false witnesses, cheating, and the broken hearts and broken homes caused by the moral sins of modern Babylon. Do members of this church feel a lack of evidence in the reality of Satan and his power?

We are told that some of the “very elect” will be enticed and deceived. Couldn’t this “very elect” include your sons and daughters, even though through baptism they have already accepted Christ as their Savior? Wouldn’t the evil one concentrate on them if he found a weakness or an opportunity?’ (David B Haight, General Conference, April 1973)

Alma 30:55 Thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people

‘It is interesting the proud arrogant Korihor had a fickle character and the Spirit whispered to Alma that if the curse was lifted from Korihor he would not be able to resist the temptation to teach Satan’s lies again.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Alma 30:60 The devil will not support his children at the last day

“The conclusion to our story holds no surprises, for there is a consistency in such things. To those who lift up their heel against the Lord’s anointed in our day, he has said: ‘Those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death-Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house. Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them.’ (DC 121:18-20)” (Millet & McConkie, Sustaining and Defending the Faith, pp. 92-3)

3. Alma leads a mission to reclaim the apostate Zoramites.

Alma 31:5 Try the virtue of the word of God

‘True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, April 2004)

Alma 31:9 According to the law of Moses

‘This is a serious problem for the Nephite people because it indicates a greater degree of apostasy than they have seen in most of the groups that have departed from the standard Nephite religion. The Nehors apparently retained much of the Law of Moses, but rejected Christ. This is the basic form of apostasy that was seen among the people of Noah, and more recently in Ammonihah. The Zoramites have gone further, however, and rejected the law of Moses. Not only did they abandon the law of Moses, but they abandoned other performances that blended the law of Moses into the law of Christ. [Brant Gardner, Book of Mormon Commentary]

Alma 31:11 They did pervert the ways of the Lord

“So here we have a competition between two religions as well as a fusion…They boasted a superior religion, and the Zoramite priesthood claimed to be eminently rational and spiritual, accusing the Nephites of ‘childish’ beliefs and practices–Alma lays great stress upon their boasting, in the manner of all barbarians. In short, ‘they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances’ (Alma 31:11), but not in all. Did they still think of themselves as Israelites? They certainly thought of the Nephites as apostates. In particular, they rejected the redemption by the Messiah as naive and unnecessary (Alma 31:16-18, 29), for they considered themselves very advanced, very superior as they strutted amidst the almost comically exaggerated splendor of their Mesoamerican dress and architecture (Alma 31:25-27).” (Hugh Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 544)

Alma 31:12 Astonishment

‘Alma and his brethren were shocked with what they saw and heard. Here was an apostate church quite different from the ones that either Nehor or Korihor had developed. Nevertheless, these people had all heard the gospel preached to them in the past and had been members of the Church. Now they had developed a substitute religion with a political potential that could be extremely dangerous to the Nephites.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from teh Book of Mormon)

Alma 31:16 Thou hast elected us

“Although the Zoramites used the terminology of election, what they really fostered was the idea of elitism, which almost always has at its heart a disdain for others.  True election promotes a genuine concern for the welfare of others.  Elitism seems to cause people to forget God six out of seven days because it turns them selfishly inward.  But the true doctrine of election promotes a daily desire for communion with deity and a search for the divine within us.” (Book of Mormon Symposium Series,“Helaman Through 3 Nephi 8” edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 118)

Alma 31:22 The selfsame prayer

‘This description of Zoramite society tells us that they differ from Nephite norms. Mormon repeats the detail that everyone offers the “selfsame” prayer but only when “they had assembled themselves together.” This prayer had a communal, not an individual, function. Nephite religion had no counterpart to this public statement of unity, since the missionaries find it astonishing. Zoramite worship therefore maintained distinct political and communal overtones, but Nephite worship did not use public prayer in this manner.

The second criticism is that worship is confined to a specific day and that the Zoramites did not otherwise speak of Yahweh. Their worship was communal, not individual. Like many similar religions, its focus was logically on events that occurred at community gatherings. Nephite worship, while having communal elements, was essentially practiced by individuals.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

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Alma 31:28 Costly apparel

“Our society may well be as guilty as the wealthy Zoramites of using fashion as ‘the science of appearances, inspiring us with the desire to seem rather than to be’ (Edwin Hubbell Chapin). In our day the costly apparel syndrome may be identified as one aspect of the modern-day term ‘conspicuous consumption.’ The word conspicuous alludes to the visual side of vanity-the need to be seen, to be recognized. Consumption refers to that which we take in or that which we consume. Conspicuous consumption may be defined as that which we take to ourselves in order to be recognized and approved by others. By its very definition, the person trapped in conspicuous consumption, especially as it applies to ‘costly apparel,’ must be focused on the opinions of others, because what is ‘in’ today may be ‘out’ tomorrow. Vanity then becomes its own punishment, because there is never time to be satisfied-the eyes and opinions of others can turn so quickly to embrace someone else. For us, the disease that afflicted the Zoramites encompasses more than clothing. It can include cars, houses, boats, diplomas, and anything else that has a foundation where the need for the approval of man carries more weight than the need to be accepted by God.” (K. Douglas Bassett, Doctrines of the Book of Mormon, 1991 Sperry Symposium, pp. 18-19)

Alma 31:30 For I am infirm

‘Alma was a sick man. He was severely wounded in the war with the Lamanites and then he went through starvation and torture at the hands of the demons who were the rulers of Ammonihah. He enjoyed nearly two years of peace, but Korihor had created a certain amount of havoc among the members of the Church in Zarahemla, which had been a great trial to Alma. Now he feels compelled to challenge the Zoramites. It was almost more than he could bear and so he cried out to the Lord.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Alma 31:31 Afflictions

“I suppose I am talking to some who have had worry and trouble and heart burnings and persecution, and have at times been caused to think that they never expected to endure quite so much. But for everything you have suffered, for everything that has occurred to you which you thought an evil at that time, you will receive fourfold, and that suffering will have had a tendency to make you better and stronger and to feel that you have been blessed. When you look back over your experiences you will then see that you have advanced far ahead and have gone up several rounds of the ladder toward exaltation and glory. …

“Take it individually or take it collectively, we have suffered and we shall have to suffer again; and why? Because the Lord requires it at our hands for our sanctification” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams [1984], 117–18).

Alma 31:32 Comfort my soul

‘In his own prayer, Alma asks for comfort for him and his friends in enduring their trials and also for success in their labors. He does not ask that the labors be easy. He fully expects that this mission will be difficult.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 31:35 Their souls are precious

“In a modern revelation the Lord explained that ‘the worth of souls is great in the sight of God’ (D&C 18:10).  Latter-day Saints are fond of quoting this verse and then skipping down the scriptural page to those verses that speak further of the joy that comes from bringing the blessings of the gospel into the lives of many.  The question might be asked:  Why is the worth of souls great? … We might respond that as children of the Man of Holiness we have marvelous possibilities.  As sons and daughters of God, we are possessed (although now in rudimentary form) of the attributes of godliness.  The Lord provides an additional answer from scripture:  ‘For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.  And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.  And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!  Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.’ (D&C 18:11-14.)  Simply stated, the soul is of infinite worth.  We are not our own.  We have been bought with an infinite price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), even with ‘the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Peter 1:19).”  (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God, pp. 34-35)

Alma 31:38 Afflictions… swallowed up in the joy of Christ

“I humbly come to this pulpit today to speak about a sure cure for heartache, disappointment, torment, anguish, and despair. The psalmist stated, ‘He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.’ (Ps 147:3) The healing is a divine miracle; the wounds are a common lot of all mankind. Shakespeare has said, ‘He jests at scars that never felt a wound.’ (Romeo and Juliet, II.ii.1.) It seems that no one escapes the troubles, challenges, and disappointments of this world.

“…Someway, somehow, we must find the healing influence that brings solace to the soul. Where is this balm? Where is the compensating relief so desperately needed to help us survive in the world’s pressures? The onsetting comfort in large measure can come through increased communion with the Spirit of God. This can bring spiritual healing.

“…We find solace in Christ through the agency of the Comforter, and he extends this invitation to us: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ (Matt. 11:28.) The Apostle Peter speaks of ‘casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.’ (1 Pet. 5:7.) As we do this, healing takes place, just as the Lord promised through the prophet Jeremiah when he said, ‘I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. … I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.’ (Jer. 31:13, 25.)

“In the celestial glory, we are told, ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.’ (Rev. 21:4.) Then faith and hope will replace heartache, disappointment, torment, anguish, and despair, and the Lord will give us strength, as Alma says, that we ‘should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.’ (Alma 31:38.) Of this I have a testimony, and I so declare it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (James E Faust, Conference Report, May 1992, p. 6)