steadfast
Week 22 is scheduled for study May 25-31, 2020. If we want to be steadfast and immovable, like the title says, certain things need to be in place. First we need to know the doctrine God has given us then we need to be doing our part to keep our covenants. That is how we begin.

Day 1

Mosiah 29:11–27; Alma 2:1–7 – I can be a positive influence in my community.

Reading the scriptures invites revelation. Be open to the messages the Lord wants to give you.

This time of change in the Nephite society has always been a source of great fascination to me. Where else in all of history do we have a record of a king telling his own people that kings are bad, and to change to a representative form of government? I can’t recall ever reading of such a king, except for this one instance in the Book of Mormon.

The following article suggestion is a side note to our study for today’s lesson, but I think you might find it to be of great interest.

The main point of Mosiah’s declaration of governmental change is that each person should take responsibility for their own course in life, and this is done by being responsible for their own choices, including who will rule over them, and how. One of the key verses, which is not included in today’s specifically mentioned verses, is Mosiah 29:38.

38 Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.

Moving up

Moving from having a king to having responsibility for their own choices in life was a great rise in personal responsibility. Note that in Mosiah’s whole discourse on this subject, it was the wicked king who was largely responsible for the sins of the people, for wicked kings “cause” their people to commit much wickedness. Therefore, they are responsible for the spiritual state or condition of the people. That is why he goes on to say to them that if it were possible to always have righteous kings then the Lord would prefer they have kings. But since that cannot be guaranteed, each person should take responsibility for their own sins by having a government that allows the people to have a say in how it is run.

Later in Alma, (and I can never find the verse when I need it most) we are told that the Lord blessed the people of Mosiah with a representative form of government because of their much righteousness. They had become spiritually mature enough, through listening to the words of their living prophets, that they were ready for self governance.

Our influence

This brings us to today. We each live in a country that has varying degrees of personal freedom. But even in totalitarian systems of government, personal examples and personal goodness make a huge difference in a single person’s influence for good in their home, community, and country. As Latter-day Saints we are each called upon to support our current leaders, to be active in our local politics, and to do good wherever we see the opportunity to do so. If you live in a place where liberties are not abundant, and corruption is rampant, and there are many such places in this world, it is your personal responsibility to keep your baptismal covenant and represent Christ at all times, and in all places you may be in, that his influence might be felt by those around you through your example. This is a universal responsibility for every member of Christ’s church, no matter which government system we live under.

Day 2

Alma 1 – I can recognize and reject false doctrine.

Reading the scriptures invites revelation. Be open to the messages the Lord wants to give you.

The problem with priestcrafts, like that which Nehor introduced to the Nephites, is that they are teachings that are comfortable and easy on the soul. They don’t require accountability for our own actions, or require stretching emotionally to achieve greater growth. They promote paying someone to teach that which is easy for us to digest and swallow, requiring nothing strenuous of us spiritually. These same teachings were decried in the New Testament by the Apostles of old.

Yesterday’s lesson looked at why the change in government was made – it was made to make each person responsible for their own righteousness. The teachings of people like Nehor act spiritually like having a wicked king acts physically. When we adopt the teachings of people like Nehor, we pay them money to teach us easy doctrine that is not at all difficult to live, promising us all eternal life and forgiveness for basically doing nothing to improve ourselves.

Satan just took all the wickedness that having a wicked king would impose on his people and enticed the people into that same set of wicked practices, but this time they were willing to pay to have someone teach them to voluntarily submit to those wicked practices. If Satan can’t force us into it, he will lure us into asking for it ourselves.

The difficulty with the teachings of Nehor and those who practice priestcrafts, is that only those who have taken the time and made the effort to learn the doctrines of Christ even recognize why these teachings are so deadly to their souls. Those who just take what they are taught and don’t think about those teachings and how they will change their lives before God, are more easily sucked into false doctrines. This is why it is so important to ask questions. Don’t ever just assume that everything you are told is true. We need to think about what we are taught and seek to learn for ourselves the usefulness of the doctrines that others are teaching us. Only then can the Spirit lead us, and teach us, and confirm the truth to our soul.

The manual suggests we look at what Nehor was teaching. I suggest you pick apart those verses and see where you see those same types of teachings in today’s society. I believe you will find that they are pretty universally accepted today as the truth. But the truth really is that the gospel is hard to live, in that it is rarely convenient, and almost always challenges us to make ourselves better so we can be more like Christ. If someone preaches “easy” doctrines, that should be your first red flag that something might be wrong. For the teachings that fall in the category of priestcrafts relieve the individual of spiritual responsibility, and place it on the shoulders of the one who they are paying to teach them. How is that any different, in principle, from having a wicked king?

Day 3

Alma 1:27–31; 4:6-15 – True disciples of Jesus christ do not set their hearts upon riches.

Reading the scriptures invites revelation. Be open to the messages the Lord wants to give you.

I could see that what I had to say about this was going to be too long to write here, so I wrote a separate article. I direct your attention to the following:

Day 4

Alma 4 – The “word of God” and “pure testimony” can change hearts.

Reading the scriptures invites revelation. Be open to the messages the Lord wants to give you.

This will be short and to the point. Remember that the world works from the outside in. If the world wants you to act a certain way, it makes laws and regulations that require you do what it wants. The Lord works from the inside out. His Spirit and His words change our hearts, changing our desires for the better. We do good because we want to do good – doing good brings us joy – not because the law requires it of us.

This principle of changing people from the inside out is why Alma left government service to become a fulltime servant of the people. He understood that preaching the gospel does more to improve society and offer salvation to a people than any amount of legislation or education can accomplish.

Scripture Study and Family Home Evening

Alma 1:19–25 – How do we respond to persecution?

How many have seen what we call Bible bashing? It is to contend, and often not on friendly terms, with those of other Christian faiths over points of doctrine. There are many who are not of our faith who delight in getting us riled up and excited because they cast doubts on our beliefs and cast aspersions on our church leaders, either current or from the past. They delight in causing distress among the members of the Lord’s church.

Unfortunately, there are those in the Lord’s church who are willing to answer such treatment with like treatment, and contention is the result. In Alma 1 these contentions came to blows. It has always been the case that fighting evil with evil never promoted good. Only love can overcome evil. Those who were lowering themselves to persecuting those who persecuted the church only led to them becoming hardened in their hearts and eventually being removed from the records of the church.

“What would Jesus do?” is a good question to ask ourselves when we are faced with those who only want to tear us down or hurt our testimony. How would Jesus show them love? How would he help them understand? What would he do to demonstrate pure love, no matter how rotten someone else might be acting? This is not easy, and sometimes it is painfully the case that we have to be kind to someone who is treating us terribly. But this is what Christ would do.

If you are using this for your family study or in your study group, it might help to come up with some concrete examples of how you might have behaved better in a situation where someone was wanting to taunt you or was attacking your religion directly. What could you have done differently to either diffuse the situation or to demonstrate that you were more concerned about them than you were about their accusations?

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

BoM Week 22

(Mosiah 29-Alma 4)