Week 28 is scheduled for study July 6-12, 2020. I think we don’t talk about the virtue of the word of God often enough. It is more powerful as a weapon for peace and prosperity than anything else known to mankind.
Alma 30:6, 12 – What is an anti-Christ?
For today’s lesson I challenge you to think deeply about what it means to be anti-Christ. The Book of Mormon names a few men specifically as anti-Christ, because they came out in open opposition to God’s revealed plan for our salvation. They taught their beliefs publicly in opposition to God’s prophets. But notice the differences in the plans they presented. Nehor altered God’s plan by teaching that God would save His children, but stated that He would save all of us in the end, regardless of how we live our lives (hence no accountability for our actions). Korihor was completely different in that he taught that there was no God at all, and that whatever we do in this life is fine, for there is no such thing as sin.
The point I am trying to make by comparing these two men is that there is more than one kind of anti-Christ. Being anti-Christ can be demonstrated in many, many ways. For a moment I would ask that you think about Satan and his attitude toward Christ and we who went against Satan in the premortal world. Do you think or believe that it is even possible for him to do anything to us or for us that would demonstrate in any way whatsoever love, concern, tenderness, or compassion? Remember, Satan is the spiritual polar opposite of Christ. If we ascribe charitable motives to Satan we must also be willing to ascribe the possibility of uncharitable motives to Christ and God, Himself. The plan of salvation is based on this polar opposite model.
If you accept that Satan hates us with the same level of perfection of feeling with which Christ loves us, your ability to see those who are anti-Christ will vastly increase in this life. To be anti-Christ is to preach anything that is in opposition to Christ’s revealed doctrine. It is to teach and espouse philosophies that lead us away from Christ, to elevate man over God, or to deny God and His existence, or His ability to save us. All of these things are inspired by Satan, and promoted by Satan to lead us away from our Father in Heaven. Here is the definition from the Bible Dictionary, as quoted in the manual on page 107.
… one who would assume the guise of Christ but in reality would be opposed to Christ (1 John 2:18–22; 4:3-6; 2 John 1:7). In a broader sense it is anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel or plan of salvation and that openly or secretly is set up in opposition to Christ.
People like Nehor and Korihor are good examples of people who set themselves up to take the place of Christ. But institutions and philosophies taught by the world are just as deadly when they don’t lead us back to Christ. In many cases they can be more deadly than a person, because what they promote is an attitude that is often difficult to trace to a specific person or cause, but its teachings are just as dangerous as those taught by people like Korihor. I’ll give examples in a moment.
Just today I ran across this quote from Joseph Fielding Smith.
Satan has control now. No matter where you look, he is in control, even in our own land. He is guiding the governments as far as the Lord will permit him. That is why there is so much strife, turmoil, and confusion all over the earth. One master mind is governing the nations. It is not the President of the United States; it is not Hitler; it is not Mussolini; it is not the King or government of England or any other land; it is Satan himself. (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, page 315)
Think about how the whole world is governed, the philosophies used to make decisions from the lowest levels of government and courts to the highest levels of both. Are any of them seeking to bring us to Christ? Are they promoting God’s agenda for strengthening the family or trying to help us return to God? As I understand life at this time, the world is increasingly dismissing God as a fantasy of the deranged mind, the same philosophy taught by Korihor. Those who believe in God, let alone Christ, are not to be trusted as being mentally stable. More and more, governments are taking over the control of our families and our homes, dictating how we will raise our children and deciding what our children should be taught. And nothing they are taught leads them to Christ.
As an example of how the world is leading us steadily away from Christ, think about all the ways in which Christ is being erased in the minds of the people. We are discouraged or forbidden to put up Christmas decorations in public places that used to be common and actually promoted to do so. We are not supposed to say “Merry Christmas” because it has become politically stigmatized. We are no longer allowed to pray in schools. There are those who want to remove the term “In God We Trust” from the US coins. The list grows longer every year. These are all ways in which Christ is being erased from the minds of the people.
My point here is not to paint a doomsday scenario, though that is where we are headed. My point is that we need to be aware that we live in a generation of time in which being anti-Christ is not only fashionable, but is demanded of us by those who are already ungodly. In the Church, we teach each other to look to God and His Son for salvation. This is unique in all the world, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church on earth that has a correct concept of who and what God is, and about Christ’s role in God’s plan for our salvation. This knowledge is precious. It is the only knowledge that can save God’s children and bring them back into His presence. We need to cherish it and teach it to our family and loved ones. We also need to recognize that we are surrounded and steeped in the doctrines of anti-Christ thinking and philosophies. Only by persistent and consistent work will we pass along to our children the truth about Christ. We just need to be aware that this is the condition of our modern world.
I end today with another quote from President Joseph Fielding Smith, also from the Doctrines of Salvation, just a couple of paragraphs down from the first quote.
Well, Satan certainly has dominion over his own, for his is the power of confusion, strife, bitterness, and class distinction. His is the power of delusion and not one of peace and righteousness. Where can righteousness be found in the world? In Europe, in Asia, in the United States? I say unto you, you are not going to have peace in the United States or anywhere in the world until the Prince of Peace comes to bring it.
Men have taken the law in their own hands, have defied law and order. When strikes are settled in one place, they will break out in another. Why? Because Satan has power over his own dominions, and even among our legislators and the men sworn to preserve the Constitution, we find those who encourage this lawlessness and lend to it their support. This condition does not come out of the kingdom of God. These things will increase until the prophecies will all be fulfilled, and eventually the earth will be cleansed, and Christ will come as King of kings.
Alma 30:6–60 – The Book of Mormon can help me resist the influence of those who try to deceive me.
There is power in words. People like Korihor, Zeezrom, Nehor, and many others who tried to lead people astray in the Book of Mormon were successful primarily because they had a great command of their language. They knew how to turn a phrase, to couch terms so that their doctrine was pleasing and convincing to the ear and heart. They knew what would appeal to the masses. Their methods have not changed, and are still in use today. I recommend you read the following article. It was written as a result of reading Alma 30. It might help you see how the spirit of those like Korihor are still alive and well today.
Alma 31 – God’s word has the power to lead people to righteousness.
For today’s lesson I would like to make just a quick point. Have you ever heard of or seen anyone legislate or mandate righteous behavior? Why doesn’t something like that work? Sure, governments of all sorts try to get their people to behave in certain ways – some more successfully than others. But what is the difference between a power structure demanding we behave in certain ways, and what happens to us when we have the word of God preached to us?
The answer to the above question is, I believe, that God puts the importance of His word into our hearts. Once there our behavior changes to accommodate what we now know. We want to change our behavior; it becomes voluntary instead of mandatory. This is why there is so much power in the word of God. When we choose to accept His words, our world view changes, our attitudes change, our desires change, and all for the better. There simply isn’t anything more powerful that can change a society for the better than preaching the word of God.
This concept that we need the word of God for better societies explains why our societies around the world are degrading and deteriorating. We have allowed people to push God out of public and private life. Without the commandments to live peacefully one with another we are left with turmoil, anarchy, selfishness, and lawlessness. People cannot be governed by law without God’s commandments to obey them. This has been proven over and over again throughout the Book of Mormon. At the end of the Nephite civilization we are told that the people could no longer be governed by the law, except to their own condemnation. They had become a lawless and ferocious people. The commandments bring peace because they create peace within each individual, who then, in turn, bring peace to homes then communities then countries.
Scripture Study/Family Home Evening
Alma 31:20–38 – Alma’s prayer vs. the Zoramite’s prayers
Basically, the difference between the two prayers boils down to their focus.
The Zoramites were focused on self. They wanted to be seen in public. That would explain why their Rameumptom only held one person at a time. All focus had to be on that individual while they were up there above their peers. Their prayers were meant to be seen and heard of men, not God. The Zoramite religion was one of social exclusivity – only the wealthy need apply. The poor and indigent were thrown out, even though they had been the ones to build the sanctuaries where the wealthy worshipped. Their prayers were rote, meaning they always said the same thing. There was nothing personal in their worship – it was a prescribed form of worship.
One reads Alma’s prayer about the people of Zoram and immediately you see a simplicity in his approach to talking to the Lord. And make no mistake about it, he is talking to the Lord. God is absolutely real to Alma, a friend, a confidante, and a source of solace in times of affliction. He addresses the Lord in all honesty and humility. He pours out the sorrows of his heart. He acknowledges his weaknesses, and he pleads for the strength to do what he has been commanded to do.
We don’t have to say what Alma said to pray like Alma. If we just adopt his attitudes about communicating with the Lord, the bulk of the work will be done already. Connecting with our Maker is as simple as believing that He IS our Maker, our Father, and our God. He is our support and source of strength and comfort in all things. Prayers can be very effective, but must be honest in their content and intent. They must be open and heartfelt. When we seek to hide things from God we cut ourselves off from His help. We must be willing to lay everything on the table.
This brings us to the final difference between the Zoramite’s prayers and Alma’s prayers. Prayers can’t be scripted. They must be open and honest in their content. This means it doesn’t matter if we can barely speak or if we graduated from six universities, with honors. God listens to the thoughts and intents of our heart, not the eloquence of our words. We can all be just as confident in our communications with the Lord, because He can understand everything we think and feel, no matter how clumsy the words come out. His love for us makes up for all of our shortcomings.
Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.