redeem
Week 24 is scheduled for study June 8-14, 2020. Christ came to redeem us. Alma refers to God’s plan for the redemption of His children as the plan of redemption, or the plan of salvation, or the plan of happiness. How does this redemption take place, and what is required of us to be redeemed?

Day 1

Alma 8 – My efforts to share the gospel may require persistence and patience.

Studying the scriptures invites revelation. So as you read Alma 8-12, record the impressions of the Spirit as He teaches you from the messages of Alma and Amulek.

It is easy to fall into the faulty thinking that because we are doing something that should please the Lord, that “the way” before us should just magically open up and be smooth sailing. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. It is sort of like saying that because I am doing good, my life should be easy.

The eternal principle involved with progress, and our efforts to do good, is one that says that ease and comfort breeds stagnation, while stress and discomfort creates accomplishment and progression. This applies to all areas of our short mortal lives.

When Alma went to preach to the people in Ammonihah, he had just come from a great missionary experience in Melek. Ammonihah was about as far in the other spiritual direction as you could get from Melek. They had wholly given themselves to wickedness, and were even plotting the overthrow of the government Alma had just been leading only weeks earlier as their chief judge. The people of Ammonihah recognized that he no longer had any power or authority over them, so posed zero threat to their choices in life. They treated him with great derision and contempt. Eventually they tired of listening to him try to convert them to his church and threw him bodily out of the city.

You may have experienced a version of what happened to Alma in your own life. You tried to share the gospel with a friend or loved one and they shot you down in a blaze of rejection. Or perhaps you were sent to go and accomplish something in your calling in the Church and everything went south, leaving you feeling like you failed miserably. I think all of our Church leaders have experienced this when trying to get their people to read their scriptures, do their ministering to their assigned families/people, or tried to instill a spirit of reverential respect in the chapel proper before and after Sacrament meetings. I know many leaders who felt they were monumental failures in making any headway in the Lord’s work for one reason or another.

Here is a quote from Gordon B. Hinckley about this topic.

The Lord never said that there would not be troubles. Our people have known afflictions of every sort as those who have opposed this work have come upon them. But faith has shown through all their sorrows. This work has consistently moved forward and has never taken a backward step since its inception. …

… This is the work of the Almighty. Whether we as individuals go forward will depend on us. But the Church will never fail to move forward. …

Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I needed to read this a few times to see how I really felt about it. There was a sense of disconnect between what I have been doing and the progress of the whole Church. Eventually, I realized that my personal progress helps to contribute to the progress of the whole Church, but it will in no way hinder that progress.

We feel like we fail all the time. That experience is as common as waking up in the morning. But the Lord never fails. Anything that comes out of His mouth comes to pass. When the Lord decrees something it is more sure to happen than our belief that the sun will rise tomorrow morning, whether or not we actually see it come up. This means that when the Lord, through His prophet gives us directives to do missionary work, to go to the temple, do family history work, to hold FHE and family prayer in our homes, etc., etc., ANY effort we make to do as we are commanded is treated by the Lord as a movement forward.

Since we operate in mortality in a very restricted boundary of time, we tend to only see what happens in a few short years, and that is what we adopt as our frame of reference for what happened and what did not. The Lord is not bound by those same restrictions. He gave Joseph Smith the commandment to take the gospel to all the world, and that commandment is still being carried out today, 200 years later. I am sure there were those in Joseph’s day who saw how small the Church was and wondered how it would be possible for the Lord’s commandment to be fulfilled. We tend to see our current lack of notable progress in much the same way.

My favorite verse in chapter 8 is verse 15. Look at the difference in attitude between verses 14 and 15 of Alma 8:14–15.

14 And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying:

15 Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you.

In verse 14 Alma was “weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah.” As he was leaving Ammonihah to travel to the city of Aaron to preach to them, an angel appeared to him. The first thing the angel said to Alma was about how blessed Alma was, and that he had great cause to rejoice. Why? Because Alma had personally been faithful in keeping the commandments of God. That statement holds the key.

God doesn’t worry about whether or not we are able to get others to do what we want them to do. He is mostly concerned with our own personal choices. Alma had built himself a solid foundation of trust with the Lord. The Lord could trust him, and Alma could trust the Lord. The most important thing for Alma to worry about was his own salvation. Part of that process depended on his efforts to save the people around him, like those in Ammonihah. But it was his personal obedience to the Lord’s commandments that gave him reason to lift up his head and rejoice in God.

Does this mean the Lord was not sorry about the people of Ammonihah? Of course not. He was losing all of those children to Satan’s enticements. They were choosing poorly, and He was going to have to destroy them and bring them home from their mortal experience in a state of utter failure. But Alma didn’t need to shoulder the responsibility for their souls, beyond his need to do all in his power to reach them in any way he could. He was personally on good standing with the Lord, and for that reason he had just cause to rejoice. The Lord would be the judge of the people of Ammonihah. Alma was shown that each person’s relationship with God is deeply personal. We cannot, nor will be held responsible for the choices another person chooses to make. We will be held accountable for our efforts to help them make good choices.

So in this way, it doesn’t really make any difference if our efforts to find that one ancestor ever pans out, or if our loved one ever actually accepts the gospel message we are trying to share with them. What matters most is that we are doing everything in our personal power to aid the Lord is doing His work. What may, to us, look like failure, may just be a delay of the inevitable to the Lord. That record we were looking for to move the family history work forward will eventually be found, for there are records in heaven we don’t yet have here on earth. Their work will be done, either now or later, but it will be done. That family member you have worked so long and hard to convince of the truth will eventually see the truth and have to choose for themself. But you have done what you were asked to do, and that makes your efforts account for goodness in the eyes of the Lord.

Day 2

Alma 9:18–25; 10:16-23 – God judges His children according to the light and knowledge they have.

Studying the scriptures invites revelation. So as you read Alma 8-12, record the impressions of the Spirit as He teaches you from the messages of Alma and Amulek.

The concept for today’s lesson is relatively easy to grasp. Putting it into practical use may be a little more difficult.

In 2 Nephi 9:25 Jacob explains the relationship of punishment and the laws God gives us.

25 Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him.

When you read that whole verse it might be easy to begin to think that if you can claim a little ignorance of the law that you will get off lightly come judgment day. Unfortunately, there is also a verse that says that we cannot be saved in ignorance. And that verse means deliberate ignorance, i.e. when we choose to be blind to the truth in an effort to evade the punishments of the laws of God.

Most of us in this life are completely accountable for our own actions. The Lord expects us to seek Him out and learn of His ways. If we keep ourselves ignorant of that knowledge that would save our souls then it is really no different than the person who says to the Lord, “I’m not interested in what You have to offer me.”

God is fair

If I have only a little bit of the knowledge of God then I will only be held accountable for what I know. If I am taught that I should seek out more knowledge, but refuse to do so, that will be held against me, for I knew better than to disobey. I am not so concerned about those who know only very limited amounts of truth, for God will deal with them in love and mercy based on their knowledge and the intents of their hearts.

My main concern is for people like me, who have the fulness of the gospel of Christ, but languish in spiritual laziness and sloppy living. The people of Ammonihah had been taught the truth. They had prophets to guide them and scriptures to teach them, yet they turned their backs on what they knew to be true. Alma spent a good deal of his sermon to them reminding them of all that God had done for them.

The principle of remembering and of gratitude that Alma tried to get across to the people of Ammonihah is the same thing we need to take into our own hearts. Do we remember what the Lord has done for us in the past? Can we recite His goodness to us in our darkest times? Do we acknowledge all the opportunities – spiritual opportunities, if not physical ones – He has presented to us that at one point in time brought us such joy?

When we can no longer list God’s blessing in our lives, and especially when we hit an extended rough patch in life, it is easy to feel like the spiritual landscape has become bleak and gray. It is only when we remind ourselves about all the times the Lord rescued us, blessed us, taught us, and brought us joy, that the color comes back into our spiritual canvas.

Day 3

Alma 11-12 – God’s plan is a plan of redemption.

Studying the scriptures invites revelation. So as you read Alma 8-12, record the impressions of the Spirit as He teaches you from the messages of Alma and Amulek.

As I went to write on this day’s lesson, I realized I had already written an article about the different aspects of the plan of salvation this lesson discusses. I refer you to the article I wrote.

Day 4

Alma 12:8–18 – If I will not harden my heart, I can receive more of the word of God.

Studying the scriptures invites revelation. So as you read Alma 8-12, record the impressions of the Spirit as He teaches you from the messages of Alma and Amulek.

Remember in day 2 of this week we talked about how where there is no law there is no punishment? Today’s lesson piggybacks on that concept. God’s law also says that we cannot receive spiritual knowledge that will condemn us if we don’t specifically seek it out. There are examples in the scriptures that appear to contradict this statement, but those examples can be explained using other laws and explanations. So for now, for most of us, this principle holds true.

The lesson makes the following statement. “Some people may wonder why Heavenly Father doesn’t make everything known to us.” Have you ever considered why that is? Why are all things spiritual referred to as a mystery until each piece of information is revealed to you by the Spirit? For years I have stated the the currency of heaven is knowledge. All spiritual knowledge is hidden from us in mortality unless we specifically seek to learn it. And in some cases the Lord sees we are ready for it or need it, so He gives us just what we need at that time. But whatever we receive we immediately become accountable before God for knowing it. It will be brought up in our final judgment.

It is to avoid having to condemn us for knowledge for which we are not currently ready that the Lord withholds that knowledge from us. The more we seek Him out, try to understand His ways, and practice thinking and behaving like Him, the more He will reveal to us. It is then that He teaches us one principle at a time about how He sees the universe, life, and our relationships with each other. The Spirit is the channel through which the Lord reveals Himself to His children. The Spirit teaches us each principle we need to learn then lets us practice living it so we become comfortable with it before sharing something else.

This whole process falls under the spiritual injunction given to us from Alma as he taught the members of the Church (Mosiah 4:27).

27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

This is the same spiritual principle the Lord uses in teaching us of His ways. It is we, like impatient children, who demand to know what is not wise for us to know. We want it before we are ready for it. But the Spirit does all things in wisdom and “in order.” Trust in the Spirit. Eventually, if what we have received is honored and respected, more will come until we know His mysteries in full.

Scripture Study and Family Home Evening

Alma 11:34–37 – What is the difference between being saved in our sins and from our sins?

For some, this difference between in vs. from might be considered like the difference between words like further and farther. We get frustrated and start to accuse the speaker of just trying to confuse us with semantics. But there really is a difference in meaning here.

If the Savior came to save us IN our sins then we could sin all we wanted, because his atoning sacrifice would redeem each of us DESPITE our sins. But when we say the Savior came to save us FROM our sins, it means he opened a way for us to escape the consequences of the sins we have committed. That way, of course, is through repentance. This is how he saves us FROM our own sins.

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

BoM Week 24

(Alma 8-12)