people of God
Week 21 is scheduled for study May 18-24, 2020. What makes us the people of God? Is it solely the act of baptism? Might there be some expected behaviors in there that would more clearly set us apart as His people?

Day 1

Mosiah 26:1–6 – I am responsible for my own faith and testimony.

After “the voice of the Lord came to [Alma],” he wrote down the things the Lord told him “that he might have them” (Mosiah 26:14, 33). How will you follow Alma’s example?

We all know we need to be converted to the Lord, eventually. Sooner is better than later, but either will result in lasting happiness. The problem with this passage of scripture, and the upcoming verses that describe Alma the Younger’s conversion, is that they lead us to think that conversion has to be a once in a lifetime affair, and it has to happen all at once. But get real. How many people can you count among all those you have ever met who have actually had this soul-changing experience that happened virtually in an instant, or even the long version that took overnight. I thought so. The vast majority of us will only experience this needed conversion a little at a time. We need time to let go of our earthly or worldly priorities and give ourselves wholeheartedly to God. The article below was written for the past Book of Mormon lesson (4 years ago) on King Benjamin and his speech to his people. I hope you find it useful in your studies.

How can we pass it along?

The manual brings up a puzzling question. How can we help the rising generation find their own conversion to Christ? The majority of those who were persecuting the members of the Church were the small children at the time of King Benjamin’s sermon to his people. They neither understood his words then, nor when they were older, since they had hardened their hearts and refused to be baptized.

We all have friends and relatives who are either not members of our Church or they have wandered away from it to pursue other interests. I believe the way we share the gospel with both groups is essentially the same.

What can you do to touch someone’s heart so they believe you to be the best of friends?

How quickly can good friends be made?

Is the path to believing the gospel the same for everyone?

If not, how can we account for these differences and make the needed adjustments to our ministering to our loved ones?

Day 2

Mosiah 26:6–39 – God’s faithful servants seek to do His will.

After “the voice of the Lord came to [Alma],” he wrote down the things the Lord told him “that he might have them” (Mosiah 26:14, 33). How will you follow Alma’s example?

The title of today’s lesson has two very important parts to it. The first part centers on the word faithful. To be faithful to God means to be consistent and persistent in our obedience to His commandments. In other words, we are true servants, we don’t betray Him or let Him down. We don’t behave sometimes and not others. We are consistently obedient and trustworthy to His words and intents.

The second part of the title sentence focuses on the use of the idea that God’s faithful servants don’t just do what they are told, they seek ways to do His will. This seeking means that those servants are actively looking for ways to perform and accomplish the designs and plans of God. That doesn’t mean they will do it perfectly or without mistakes. It just means they are intentional in their worship and service to God.

In today’s passage, Alma was surprised by a behavior he had never witnessed before. He neither knew these people, nor why they were so insistent on destroying the Church. He found himself in the position of judge over them, and his sole desire was to do God’s will in the matter. There was no knee jerk reaction of feeling offended for the sake of the Church or its standing in the community. His only desire was to do right by God and by these people who had been lost to the truth. He rose above petty involvement to seek for justice and mercy from both sides of the problem.

What Alma learned by taking this problem to the Lord to seek wisdom in how to handle it with equity and love, far exceeded his own personal expectations. He was given the answers he sought on how to use kindness and wisdom in judging the people. He was also given personal promises of his own salvation that anyone would feel blessed to receive in this lifetime.

This discussion of Alma with the Lord shows us that the Lord sometimes just answers our questions. But sometimes the Lord has other things that need to be said. So when we go to the Lord in prayer, we really shouldn’t be surprised if, now that we have opened the channel of communication, the Lord has other instructions to give us that will bless our lives if we follow His counsel. And that counsel is not always convenient or pleasant to follow. But our happiness, and the salvation of others, is always the goal of God’s counsel. Therefore, it is of utmost import that we give strict heed to what we are told.

Day 3

Mosiah 27:8–37 – All men and women must be born again.

After “the voice of the Lord came to [Alma],” he wrote down the things the Lord told him “that he might have them” (Mosiah 26:14, 33). How will you follow Alma’s example?

The need to be born again (the baptism of fire), like the need to be baptized of water is universal. Our first baptism represents our burial of the natural man, the sin bound soul, and its resurrection, or coming forth in a newness of life that is filled with spiritual power. This is only the first half of the process. The second half involves the receipt of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Through the gift of the Holy Ghost we can experience a baptism of fire, a purging of our earthly desires (the natural man) and having them replaced with righteous desires. This is the change of heart we read about in the account of King Benjamin’s people and in the story of the conversion of Alma the Younger.

One of the reason’s this second experience is so difficult is that it requires that we each come to recognize just how filled with sin/disobedience our life really is. Our eyes need to be fully opened to our carnal and polluted state. Most of us are rather resistant to that realization, so it has to happen a little at a time. There are some who are fortunate to have this experience all in one go. Their life changes for the better, and they are able to keep their vision and recognition of their dependency on God’s mercy for the rest of their lives. Again, most of us are much slower at being able to grasp and handle this recognition and to hold onto the need to be repentant.

My personal opinion is that this is why these particular stories are in the Book of Mormon. We need to see the shortened process of conversion experienced by Alma and Benjamin’s people. Ours may take much longer, but we can look at their example and see where they started from and where they ended up. We just need to not fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with them and thinking we are sorely lacking. This only leads to believing that we are too stupid or incompetent to be able to do what is necessary to become converted to the Lord’s way of living. Nothing is further from the truth than the belief that we cannot do this. We can. We all have the capacity to become converted.

The trick to becoming converted is the realization that it requires intentional pursuit. We won’t ever just stumble across the timing and circumstances that happen to lead to our complete change of heart. No, a change of heart has to be something we seek for, pray for, fast for, and practice living to achieve. The Lord will guide us through the Holy Spirit, but we must seek it out.

Day 4

Mosiah 27:14, 19–24 – God hears my prayers and will answer them according to His will.

After “the voice of the Lord came to [Alma],” he wrote down the things the Lord told him “that he might have them” (Mosiah 26:14, 33). How will you follow Alma’s example?

I recently watched a video of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speaking in the round to a group of adults in a studio. I tried my best to find the Church’s copy of that video, but was not able to find it, so you get my version of what he said. He asked a question of the group and a woman answered, expressing through tears how heart broken she and her husband were that they were doing everything in their power to be good and do good, yet despite all their efforts the Lord had still not blessed them with a child. She questioned the Lord’s love for her, wanting to know what she might have missed in her efforts to have her supplication granted.

Elder Holland then gave a masterful discourse on the nature of suffering and the love of God. He reminded the group that almost every single prophet in the scriptures suffers. Does that mean God did not love them? He finally ended up his comparison by pointing out that no one suffered as much as God’s only perfect and obedient son. His ending points were these: in his opinion, there is something exalting and perfecting in the act of suffering well, and that God needs us to learn to suffer in order to become the exalted beings that can live like Him.

This concept that we need to learn how to suffer, and to suffer well, is difficult for most people to comprehend or accept. Suffering is suffering precisely because it isn’t relief or joy. It hurts. That is in the definition of the experience. But there is something that lifts our souls and causes us to become better people when we are able to continue to exercise faith in God even in the darkest of our hours on earth. This is what Christ did, and he showed us the way in all things.

The Lord has both a time table and perfect wisdom. He knows when it is best to reveal something to us. He knows what is best to reveal to us. He know how best to reveal things to us, and He does it all the way He does it because He loves us perfectly. We who cannot understand perfect love, perfect understanding, and perfect wisdom, tend to chafe at His timing, His delivery, and His answers. For too often what we hoped we would hear and feel is not what we need to hear or feel.

Alma didn’t see the conversion of his son, Alma, until the year before his own death at the age of 82. Lehi never did see the conversion of half of his children before he left mortality. Almost every prophet we know about from the scriptures where we have any information about their children, have wayward children that sometimes amount to many of their family members. Yet these good men continued to put their faith in God that He would bless their descendents and bring them back to Him. If He couldn’t save the next generation, perhaps their children 5 or 8 generations down the line would return to God. This theme is sounded loud and clear all throughout the Book of Mormon. God promised to answer their prayers, but His answers definitely weren’t what the prophets would have chosen for themselves if they had written down exactly what they had asked the Lord. No one wants to see whole generations slip through the cracks. But the Lord is both all powerful and all knowing. He knows what it will take to answer our prayers and in the best way possible for not only our joy and benefit, but for the joy and benefit of those for whom we are praying. It is in this that we are putting our faith and trust.

Scripture Study and Family Home Evening

Mosiah 25:16– What do we need to remember?

Would it help us in our prayers and contemplations to remember that God wants what is best for us, even when we strongly want something other than what is best for us?

Do we remember when we approach the Lord that we are on our knees in supplication, and not the other way around?

Might we find greater joy in our lives if we adopt the phrase to ask like it all depends on Him, but work like it all depends on us?

We might find greater happiness in our prayers if we remember who answered the last 30 prayers we prayed.

Gratitude is based on remembering past blessings. Entitlement is based on the expectation of future gifts, without any acknowledgement of what has already been given.

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

BoM Week 21

(Mosiah 25-28)