fall away
Week 27 lessons are scheduled for study June 29-July 5, 2020. This week we get to see just how hard the Lord works for the salvation of His children. And we get good examples of those who, once converted, “never did fall away.”

Day 1

Alma 23:1-5 – When God’s children accept the gospel, great blessings follow.

As you study Alma 23-29, what messages do you find for yourself and your family? What can you share in your Church classes?

This passage for today’s lesson is hopeful, optimistic, positive, and promising. What these verses don’t also tell us is that those who did not accept the gospel, and there were even more of them than did accept it – of those who did not accept it, they rose up in rebellion against their king and those who belonged to the Church, and there was civil war. In my recent newsletter I expressed this sentiment: Isn’t it interesting that what follows some of the greatest missionary stories in the Book of Mormon is not peace and prosperity, but war?

As I went to start writing today’s lesson I remembered what the Savior taught during his ministry. Here is Matthew 10:34-39.

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

The Savior makes two really strong points at the beginning of his first sentence. The first point is that he did not come to earth to bring peace to the nations. His peace is personal and must be obtained within each person’s own heart. Jesus does, in fact, offer peace, but each of us must seek it for ourselves then we can set about creating it in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities. He works on us from the inside out, not as the world works from the outside in.

The second point Jesus makes in this passage is that his message brings division (a sword). Remember that in the book of Abraham he told Abraham in vision that the purpose of this life was to be proven in all things whether we would do the will of the Lord. Satan does his level best to separate us, divide us, and pit us against each other using any method at his disposal. When people accept the gospel of Christ, they have accepted the only path to lasting peace, so Satan marshalls every resource he can to drive the new convert away from the truth.

In the case of the Lamanites who converted, the people of the wicked priests of king Noah, the Amalekites and Amulonites hated those who had converted to the Church that led to their downfall from power under King Noah. They stirred up the rest of the Lamanite nation to the point that they were willing to overthrow the king and start a civil war over this peace-loving church that had been established among them. Who knows (or cares) what arguments they used, but they got their way, and war against the current king was issued. This is a perfect example of the kind of “sword” Jesus was talking about when he said he came not to bring peace, but “a sword.” I can see the Lamanite headlines now – “He’s not my king.”

Great blessings follow

Is the title for today’s lesson correct? Did those who accepted the gospel find great blessings because of their conversion? Were they happier than they had ever been? Yes. Were their lives fundamentally changed for the better? Yes – they worked harder, were more educated, and more prosperous than they had ever been before. Their lives were filled with gratitude, and they were free from the burdens of their old sins they didn’t even realize they had been carrying.

I realize I have not followed the track the manual wants you to think about today. I just wanted to make a point about what happens in real life when people accept the gospel. Some of these events probably acted as obstructions to repentance for some of the Lamanites. There were probably those who saw the hatred pour out against those who converted, and they were afraid of having that same hatred directed at them, so they didn’t follow their conscience to associate themselves with the Church. The scriptures don’t specifically say that, but it sounds like a reasonable scenario to me. People are the same in every generation. We are afraid of the same kinds of things, and are drawn to the same things.

Day 2

Alma 23-25: 27 – My conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel changes my life.

As you study Alma 23-29, what messages do you find for yourself and your family? What can you share in your Church classes?

Seeing how this lesson today is all about conversion and how it changes our life in the gospel, let’s talk about the weapons of our rebellion. Please allow me to explain my thinking. One of the defining characteristics of the Lamanite people, as they are described in the scriptures, is their love of bloodshed. They were taught to war with one another, and especially to love to war with anyone who is was a Nephite. Killing was considered a virtue. Murder was a sign of bravery and a way to obtain something without having to work for it. They lived in a brutal society.

Interestingly enough, those who were converted to the Lord admitted that murder brought with it a sense of guilt they couldn’t explain. The problem with murdering people is that there can be a sort of thrill that comes with the act of killing that many have described as enjoyable. This makes their sense of need to bury their weapons so they wouldn’t be tempted to ever take them up again to use their weapons against another human being a reasonable response to the threat of being attacked by others. They were afraid that if they killed again the love of (if you will) “the hunt” would be too great a draw, and they would be sucked back into their old ways of wanting to seek out others to kill for the pleasure of killing.

Now let’s look at today’s topic. The manual wants us to look our own lives to see how the gospel of Christ changes our life for the better. But to do that each of us must be willing to bury our own weapons of rebellion, just as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were willing to bury their physical weapons. What are your weapons of rebellion? It can literally be anything that draws you away from enjoying the blessings of the gospel. It can be laziness, either physical or spiritual. It can be a vice, like drugs, pornography, gambling, stealing, fraud, or any number of other choices. Your rebellion against God may be something more subtle, like a refusal to pay tithing, or an honest tithing, a habit of being stingy with others. You may be abusive or less than kind to others. It doesn’t really matter what the sin is, whether it be a sin of commission or of omission. What matters is whether we are willing to get rid of it to improve our lives and our standing with God.

How can you “bury” your weapon of rebellion? In other words, can you think of a way to put a barrier between you and your sin? The Anti-Nephi-Lehies put a deep mound of earth between them and the weapons they had loved to use. They literally put their weapons of rebellion out of sight so they would also be out of mind. And beyond that measure, they declared and lived a proclamation that they would rather die by being murdered themselves than to ever commit that act again themselves. And thousands of them died backing up that promise to God. And the prophet states clearly that they were saved because of their willingness to put obedience to God ahead of their personal safety and even their lives.

As you read the scriptural references listed in the manual, think about the extent to which the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were willing to go to maintain their conversion. How far are you willing to go? What you, personally, need to do to maintain your conversion may be like a recovering addict, something extreme. But if it keeps you safe and saves your soul, isn’t it worth it?

Day 3

Alma 24:7-19; 26:17-22 – God is merciful.

As you study Alma 23-29, what messages do you find for yourself and your family? What can you share in your Church classes?

How does God show us mercy? He wants to, but as the lawgiver He must uphold in the strictest of ways, the requirements of the law. His mercy must be shown through demonstrations of someone in His behalf. This is why we have a Savior. The role of the Savior is to show us in every detail the extent of the mercy and love of our Heavenly Father. This is why Jesus constantly emphasized that he was only doing the will of his Father, and that all that he did was at the command of his Father.

Let’s look at some of the demonstrations of God’s mercy as listed in these verses.

Alma 24:7-19

  • The “goodness [of God] sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers.”
  • “… he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts, that we have opened a correspondence with these brethren, the Nephites.” Through this correspondence they not only learned to read and write, but obtained great economic benefit through trade with the Nephites.
  • “… by opening this correspondence we have been convinced of our sins, and of the many murders which we have committed.” By associating with the Nephites they came to see that they really had been taught lies by their Lamanite society. The Nephites really weren’t the despicable people they had been taught they were.
  • “… he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.” Because of God’s mercy in sending the Nephites to preach to them they were able to rejoice in the remission of their sins through the merits of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
  • “… God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright”. Their swords represent the instrument or sins of their spiritual rebellion. This is the same statement that can be said of each of us when we give up our own sins and instruments of our own spiritual rebellion or willfulness before God. Our “swords” can also become bright, no more stained by the behavior that condemns us before God. How grateful ought we to be for such an opportunity?
  • “And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations.” God loves not only us, but our children as well. He sends messengers to teach us of His plan of redemption that we might be able to return home to Him. This is a demonstration that He loves all His children equally, and desires that all of us have the opportunity to come home to Him.

All of these things are demonstrations of God’s mercy and love to His children. Try doing this exercise with the next set of verses in Alma 26:17-22. It is important to remember that the Father and the Son have the same agenda, the same desire, and are united in how we are to be saved. We can’t separate them out and say that this quality of mercy or justice belongs to God and this part over here to Christ. Christ’s role requires him to be the embodiment of our Father’s mercy. They are one and the same.

On a personal note, I have noticed in the process of doing this exercise that God’s mercies are relative. If I don’t appreciate that He has done such and such for me then I don’t recognize it as a mercy. It is only when I am more humble and acknowledge the opportunity for happiness He has extended to me that I recognize His great mercies in my life. When I start looking for His mercies I begin to see evidences of them everywhere.

Day 4

Alma 26; 29 – Serving the Lord brings joy.

As you study Alma 23-29, what messages do you find for yourself and your family? What can you share in your Church classes?

Have you ever wondered how serving the Lord brings joy? Can’t we find joy without having to serve, repent, and change our lives? Fortunately for us, the answer is no, we can’t find joy without having to change and repent. And there is good reason for that.

The principle at play here is that all things spiritual must be revealed, for they cannot be comprehended by the mortal mind unless enlightened by the Spirit. The purpose of requiring us to repent and change our behavior, through prayer and humility, is that these things invite the Holy Spirit into our lives. His purpose is to testify of truth, and truth brings joy and rejoicing. What truths is it the Spirit teaches us? He testifies of the love of God and Christ, the reality of their existence, and the infinite atonement for our sins Christ made for us. He also reveals all things. Wow, that is a big category. That includes inventions of every description, ways to behave that heal relationships and improve our ability to get along with others. He teaches us godly behavior, such as being willing to be tolerant of others, to forgive others, and to desire to include and uplift others that their lives might be better and more filled with joy.

In short, the role of the Holy Ghost is to teach us to behave, and think, and feel like God feels. All of those things embody personal joy and rejoicing. Have you ever noticed that those who are filled with anger and resentment also do not feel any happiness and contentment? They dwell on thoughts of violence and revenge, instead of reconciliation and cooperation. This is the difference, the stark difference between those who follow Satan’s ways and those who seek out the Lord to follow His ways. It really is just that simple.

The commandments embody the laws that enable us to experience joy and happiness, even in times of great sorrow and trial. They teach us, through the practice of them, how to develop internal peace with the laws of God, for by keeping the commandments we become justified. To be justified is to no longer be in a state of condemnation by God’s laws. When we are justified, we are able to move about freely and to act freely without guilt, for we are living in accordance with the commandments of the ruler of the universe. Those who are justified are the only ones who have the opportunity to learn how to live in holiness, or righteousness. These are they whose souls are washed clean through the blood or sacrifice of Christ, for they are not stained by persistent sins and willful behavior. This is why they are happy. It is a plain and simple truth that sin and willfulness creates guilt and shame. There is no way around that fact. If we want to be rid of these unpleasant things, we must seek the only remedy available, and that is to come into compliance with God’s laws. Compliance with His laws is the only way to bring peace and joy to our souls.

Scripture Study and Family Home Evening

Alma 24:20-27 – The Lord works “in many ways to the salvation of his people.”

The works of the Lord are deep, and are often hid from our sight. But not being able to see all His workings among the children of men doesn’t mean He isn’t busy working for their salvation. In the case of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, God sent them missionaries to teach them the gospel. If you look carefully at the story you will see that He was also preparing people’s hearts to receive the teachings they were about to have presented to them.

Take for example the father of Lamoni. He was filled with anger and hatred when he saw his son with their mortal enemy. His heart was hard as a rock against Ammon. But when Ammon bested him in battle and he suddenly saw that his life was in danger, his heart was softened. He begged Ammon to spare his life, and for that favor he would give him up to half of his kingdom. Yet instead of doing what he assumed he would do, Ammon only demanded that Lamoni be given the ability to govern his own people in a manner of his own choosing. Ammon wanted Lamoni to be free to follow his heart. This shocked Lamoni’s father, and it served to soften his heart towards these Nephites even more.

When Ammon talked about life after death the topic got Lamoni’s father thinking, and he began to consider things he hadn’t before. By the time Aaron, Ammon’s brother came to court, Lamoni’s father was ready to listen to his message. His heart had been softened. Do you think all of this was just a coincidence? With God there is no such thing as a coincidence. He was working through His missionaries, through the circumstances of the moment to prepare the heart and mind of Lamoni’s father to hear the gospel message. The Lord is doing this all over the world in every language, culture, and nation for the benefit of His children.

When the Lamanites came in upon the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and began to slaughter them, they met with zero resistance. The Lamanites were mainly there because the Amulonites and Amalekites had talked them into it. They had riled them up and filled their heads and hearts with a supposed need for revenge or justice. But this senseless slaughter awoke them to the reality of their own shame, and more of them threw down their weapons of war that day and joined their brethren than had actually been killed by them. Actually, most of the killing had been done by the Nephites who had defected over to the Lamanites. These were the priests of Noah and their descendents. They actually delighted in the slaughter of their brethren, the Nephites.

We might call some of the Lord’s tactics unorthodox. But the Lord will do whatever it takes to give us every chance He can to repent and come to Him. Praise God for His unending and boundless love, His willingness to do whatever it takes to save our souls!

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

BoM Week 27

(Alma 23-29)