plan of happiness
Week 31 is scheduled for study July 27-August 2, 2020. The great plan of happiness can easily slip right past us if we aren’t careful. We may only see trials and hardships, instead of opportunities for growth and spiritual experiences. This week take a look at the trials experienced in Alma’s family and the opportunities he turns them into for growth in his family.

Day 1

Alma 39 – Sexual sin is an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

As you study Alma 39-42, the Holy Ghost can give you insights about things that are happening in your life.

Here is a bit of trivia for you. To abominate comes from a latin saying “May the gods avert the evil.” It is sort of like saying “God save us” when referring to something horrible and frightening. An abomination is something that is hated, because it is disgusting, or repulsive. It is that which defiles, and is therefore something to be avoided at all costs. In Proverbs 15:8 it says, “The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord …”.

When we talk about chastity in the gospel context, we are talking about purity. We might be referring to doctrinal purity, physical purity, or moral purity. The point when discussing chastity is that the Lord considers any form of corruption of that which is pure to be abominable. He is pure, and He expects His children to always seek purity as well. It is only in purity that the Holy Ghost finds delight in our company. Corruption of any kind is offensive to God, and hence the Holy Ghost as well. That which is corrupt should be offensive or repugnant to us also.

Chastity in and out of marriage

The question of the day for me is, “Why is chastity in marriage so important to the Lord?” I believe the answer lies in the whole institution of marriage.

In the eternities who has the privilege of procreation? Only those who have earned the right to live with God, who become gods themselves are allowed to have children. Families, and all that goes with them is a celestial privilege. During mortality, those who honored their first estate and are privileged to come to earth and gain a body, are granted the ability to have a companion and begin families during their brief time on earth. This is a supreme honor that will be taken from all those who don’t prove themselves worthy of having this privilege in the eternities. They will live as single people forever. Only those who are worthy of celestial glory can have a companion and become gods together and someday produce offspring, just as God had us.

Since parenthood is a celestial privilege, doesn’t it make sense that He would have very strict rules about how we treat marriage and family during our time in mortality? In today’s reading Alma is trying to explain to Corianton how serious a sin it is to use one’s body as a toy for pleasure, without any consideration of how the Lord sees the use of our bodies. God wants us to keep our bodies pure and unsullied by the wickedness and pleasures of this world. If we want to be worthy of a celestial companion and have the right to have eternal families, there are very specific rules about how we treat our own body, and how we respect the relationship we set up with our companion in this life.

In our story today, Corianton ran off and abandoned his missionary calling in order to spend time with a harlot. Just spending time with the harlot was bad enough, but to set such a bad example for those he was supposed to be bringing to the Lord was damming as well, for he was leading more people away from God than he was leading people to God. Alma had been a vile sinner before his own conversion. He had spent a couple of days experiencing hell first hand. He knew what kind of punishment was associated with any behavior the Lord detested. He had been commanded by the angel to command his sons to repent, so in the fear of the Lord, Alma did just that.

Day 2

Alma 40-41 – I will be resurrected and stand before God to be judged.

As you study Alma 39-42, the Holy Ghost can give you insights about things that are happening in your life.

Here is another possible perspective change for you – when we left the presence of our Father in Heaven, it was a one way trip. We left as spirits never to return. When we see Him again it will never be as spirits, but as resurrected beings. This was the whole point of leaving His side and coming to earth. Coming to earth, for a child of God, is like a cocoon transformation for a butterfly. What goes into the experience is never what comes out the other side.

This transformational experience we go through to become resurrected is why Jesus was given charge of all of God’s children. It was his responsibility to guide us, shepherd us, teach us, and finally to judge us. But what this whole process is aimed at is our final transformation into resurrected beings. This is why the last step in the plan of salvation, the great plan of happiness, is to raise us up with eternal bodies, hopefully so we can again be presented to our Father in Heaven in our own glorified form. We cannot return to God as spirits. It was never part of the plan.

It is because we cannot return to God as we left Him that Christ always looks forward to what kind of people we are becoming. We must be transformed from carnally minded people into celestially minded people in order to be able to once again be ushered back into the presence of God. This is the aim and goal of every commandment, every trial, every sorrow we go through in our time on earth. The whole point of this life is to learn to conquer our bodies and our natures, and with the help of the Holy Ghost, transform ourselves into celestially worthy people.

Do you see that the resurrection is not just a cog in the plan of salvation wheel? Resurrection is the point of the whole plan. It is the end product and result of everything else that went into the creation of the universe and the earth itself. Resurrection is the Why behind everything having to do with earth life. We should be looking forward to that day. We should be planning on it, preparing for it, and rejoicing in its approach. On that day we receive our final reward and will be set on the path to our eternal destination. Resurrection day is our graduation ceremony from the school that was mortal life and  will be the introduction to our true life to be experienced for the rest of eternity. No wonder the prophets all look forward to the resurrection with such anticipation.

Day 3

Alma 40 – I can seek answers to my gospel questions in faith.

As you study Alma 39-42, the Holy Ghost can give you insights about things that are happening in your life.

Too often members of the Church are shunned into silence when they ask innocent or well-meaning questions in their efforts to understand a gospel principle or topic. This is nothing short of a tragedy. We ought to make a flag for all members with questions to wave that has “Alma 40” emblazoned on it. In this chapter we see that Alma’s understanding of the plan of happiness came only because he had questions, wrestled in the spirit to receive answers to those questions, and was still good with not knowing everything, but was happy to work with what had already been revealed to him.

In verse twenty Alma says that it is his “opinion” that the time of the first resurrection begins with the resurrection of Christ. He was correct in his opinion as seen by what happened when Christ was resurrected. But that is not the point. The point is he was okay with the whole concept of not knowing everything before being willing to do something good with his life. He lived what he knew was true while he searched for further light and understanding of the things he didn’t know. What a great example for us!

Why was Alma able to receive answers about things that weren’t currently spelled out in his scriptures? It was because he was willing to live what he already knew, and struggle in the spirit, and ask in faith to learn more. This is how all of our truly great transformational experiences come, it is because we are willing to live by whatever the Lord gives us, and we are putting in the work to try to piece together the answers we seek the best we can from what we have. When there is truly a blank space in our understanding the Lord will reveal to us what we need to know and give us a new starting point to struggle for more answers. The point is that He is always willing to answer our questions when the time is right, and the circumstances warrant it. But we must first act in faith, studying, seeking to understand, searching for answers from what sources we already have, and then waiting patiently on the Lord for His timing to dictate when the answers come. The lack of an answer shouldn’t deter us from our pursuit of living righteous lives. The answers will always come in the Lord’s due time, even if that is in the next life. The key is our willingness to live what we know until the Lord decides to give us more.

Sadly, I have a nephew who has left the Church, because he says he searched for the answers he wanted, but never received them, so instead of waiting on the Lord, he turned to outside anti sources. Now he not only doesn’t believe the Church is true, but he no longer believes in God at all. He sought for answers, but he did not continue to live in faith that his answers would come in the Lord’s own time. How we choose to live while we seek for answers makes all the difference.

Day 4

Alma 42 – The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes the plan of redemption possible.

As you study Alma 39-42, the Holy Ghost can give you insights about things that are happening in your life.

I refer you to an article I wrote several years ago about this very chapter and subject.

Improving Our Teaching

Focus on principles that will bless your family.

There are too many situations and dynamics going on in everybody’s lives to cover in any manual or lesson. This is why it becomes our responsibility, as people expected to receive our own revelation, to learn to see basic principles then take our individual situation to the Lord and ask for guidance in our own situation. For example, let’s take five fictitious families. Each of them, but one, have children of varying ages. One family may need help with disciplining their children because the children are very stubborn and willful. Another family has a mixture of willful (precocious) children and obedient children. How do they fairly handle all their children when they seem to cover the spectrum of behavior? Still another family who has no children may read the scriptures and only have themselves to apply them to. What an adult needs spiritually is often very different from what a child needs. Still other families may have angel children, but these parents haven’t had the experience yet of having their children’s personalities “snatched” away suddenly when they acquire hormones. And those who have teenagers who weren’t thoroughly taught in their youth may need more remedial help than those who were born into and were raised with great and consistent gospel teaching in the home.

The point in all these examples is that it is up to each of us, as parents, to seek the Lord’s guidance in our special situation. And all of us have special situations. None of us are exempt from having special needs to deal with in life. But recognizing those special needs and learning how to ask for help to resolve them takes practice and observance on our part. It can be very easy to get so caught up in life on an hourly basis that we miss the opportunities for learning and growth that are presented to us. We need to be actively looking for such opportunities.

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

BoM Week 31

(Alma 39-42)