Tag Archives: Atonement

#BOMTC Alma 40-42: “True Doctrine, Understood, Changes Attitudes and Behavior”

President Boyd K. Packer taught:

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior” (“Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986)

Is that a true statement? To me the key word that makes that statement true is the inclusion of the word “understood”. I think that as we understand a doctrine then we will begin to feel the need to change. The discussion that Alma has with his son Corianton seems to be a great illustration of this.

As Alma warned his son Corianton about the consequences of sin (Alma 39), he also taught about the doctrine of life after death (Alma 40). He explained that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (doctrine), all mankind will be resurrected (doctrine). He taught about the spirit world (doctrine), where the dead, depending on their choices in mortality, wait in either paradise or prison until the resurrection. Alma also taught that the plan of restoration (doctrine) includes not only physical resurrection but also a spiritual restoration (doctrine) in which our eternal state reflects our mortal actions and desires (Alma 41). Alma emphasized the principle that wickedness can never lead to happiness (see Alma 41:10). 

Alma concluded his counsel to his son Corianton by explaining that Heavenly Father had provided a way for those who sin to obtain mercy (doctrine). He taught that the justice of God demands that sinners be cut off from the presence of God (doctrine). He then testified that Jesus Christ would “appease the demands of justice” (Alma 42:15) by suffering for all who have sinned and by providing mercy to the penitent (doctrine). Once Corianton “understood” all of this “true doctrine”, he returned to the ministry that he had previously forsaken (Alma 42:31). Twenty years later, he was still faithfully ministering the gospel. (see Alma 49:30Alma 63:10)

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior”

The Mediator

A portrayal of the analogy Elder Boyd K. Packer used in his April 1977 general conference address. A young man who fails to pay a debt is saved from the grasp of justice through the mediation of a friend. (10:44)

President Boyd K. Packer also gave a wonderful talk which used these chapters as an outline to teach the doctrine of repentance (“I Will Remember Your Sins No More”). I invite you to read, watch, or listen to his talk in its entirety and see what changes in “attitudes and behavior” it may inspire you to make.

I Will Remember Your Sins No More

My message is about a father and a son. Alma, the father, was a prophet; his son, Corianton, a missionary.

Two of Alma’s sons—Shiblon and Corianton (the youngest)—were on a mission to the Zoramites. Alma was greatly disappointed at the failure of his son Corianton to live the standards of a missionary. Corianton forsook his ministry and went to the land of Siron after the harlot Isabel (see Alma 39:3).

“This was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted” (Alma 39:4).

Alma told his son that the devil had led him away (see Alma 39:11). Unchastity is “most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost” (Alma 39:5).

“I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime.” He then said: “I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.

“But behold, ye cannot hide your crimes from God” (Alma 39:7–8).

He sternly commanded his son to accept the counsel of his older brothers (see Alma 39:10).

Alma told him that his iniquity was great because it turned away investigators: “When they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words. And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities” (Alma 39:11–12).

After this severe rebuke, Alma the loving father became Alma the teacher. He knew that “the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else” (Alma 31:5). So Alma taught Corianton.

He spoke first of Christ: “My son, I would say somewhat unto you concerning the coming of Christ. Behold, I say unto you, that it is he that surely shall come to take away the sins of the world; yea, he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people” (Alma 39:15).

Corianton asked how they should know about the coming of Christ so far in advance.

Alma replied, “Is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?” (Alma 39:17).

Corianton was “worried concerning the resurrection of the dead” (Alma 40:1).

Alma had inquired of God concerning the Resurrection and told Corianton of the First Resurrection and of other resurrections. “There is a time appointed that all shall come forth from the dead” (Alma 40:4).

He had inquired as to “what becometh of the souls of men from this time of death to the time appointed for the resurrection” (Alma 40:7).

He then told Corianton, “All men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life” (Alma 40:11). The “righteous are received into a state of happiness” (Alma 40:12), and the evil are “led captive by the will of the devil” (Alma 40:13). The righteous remain “in paradise, until the time of their resurrection” (Alma 40:14).

“Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world” (Alma 34:34).

Alma told his son “that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works” (Alma 40:21).

“The soul”—that is, the spirit—“shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul” (Alma 40:23). “This,” he said, “is the restoration of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets” (Alma 40:24). Alma said that “some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing” (Alma 41:1).

Alma then said: “And now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery.

“Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee” (Alma 42:1–2).

He told Corianton about the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Adam and Eve: “And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will” (Alma 42:7).

“It was appointed unto man to die” (Alma 42:6).

Alma then explained why death is absolutely necessary: “If it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord” (Alma 42:11).

Alma taught Corianton about justice and mercy: “According to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men” (Alma 42:13).

Alma explained that “the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (Alma 42:15).

Alma taught Corianton about the unwavering standard of eternal law (see Alma 42:17–25).

He very bluntly explained why punishment was necessary: “Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul” (Alma 42:16).

Alma knew personally the pain of punishment and the joy of repentance. He himself had once greatly disappointed his own father, Corianton’s grandfather. He rebelled and went about “seeking to destroy the church” (Alma 36:6). He was struck down by an angel, not because he deserved it but because of the prayers of his father and others (see Mosiah 27:14).

Alma felt the agony and guilt and said: “As I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. …Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Alma 36:17–21, 24).

Alma asked Corianton, “Do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice?” (Alma 42:25). He explained that because of the Atonement of Christ, both could be satisfied by eternal law.

“Moved upon by the Holy Ghost” (D&C 121:43; see also Alma 39:12), Alma had rebuked Corianton with sharpness. Then, after plainly and patiently teaching these fundamental principles of the gospel, there came the abundance of love.

The Prophet Joseph Smith was taught through revelation that “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death” (D&C 121:41–44).

Alma said: “O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility” (Alma 42:30).

Corianton’s grandfather, also named Alma, was among the priests who had served the wicked King Noah. He heard Abinadi the prophet testify of Christ, and he was converted. Condemned to death, he fled the evil court to teach of Christ. (See Mosiah 17:1–4.)

Now Alma, in turn, was the father pleading with his son Corianton to repent.

After sternly rebuking his son and patiently teaching the doctrine of the gospel, Alma the loving father said, “And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance” (Alma 42:29).

In agony and shame, Corianton was brought “down to the dust in humility” (Alma 42:30).

Alma, who was Corianton’s father and also his priesthood leader, was now satisfied with Corianton’s repentance. He lifted the terrible burden of guilt his son carried and sent him back to the mission field: “And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. … Go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness. … And may God grant unto you even according to my words” (Alma 42:31).

Corianton joined his brothers, Helaman and Shiblon, who were among the priesthood leaders. Twenty years later in the land northward, he was still faithfully laboring in the gospel. (See Alma 49:30Alma 63:10.)

It is a wicked, wicked world in which we live and in which our children must find their way. Challenges of pornography, gender confusion, immorality, child abuse, drug addiction, and all the rest are everywhere. There is no way to totally escape their influence.

Some are led by curiosity into temptation, then into experimentation, and some become trapped in addiction. They lose hope. The adversary harvests his crop and binds them down.

Satan is the deceiver, the destroyer, but his is a temporary victory.

The angels of the devil convince some that they are born to a life from which they cannot escape and are compelled to live in sin. The most wicked of lies is that they cannot change and repent and that they will not be forgiven. That cannot be true. They have forgotten the Infinite Atonement of Christ.

“For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him” (D&C 18:11).

Christ is the Creator, the Healer. What He made, He can fix when broken. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of repentance and forgiveness (see 2 Ne. 1:132 Ne. 9:45Jacob 3:11Alma 26:13–14Moro. 7:17–19).

“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10).

The account of this loving father and a wayward son, drawn from the Book of MormonAnother Testament of Jesus Christ, is a type, a pattern, an example.

Each of us has a loving Father in Heaven. Through the Father’s redeeming plan, those who may stumble and fall “are not cast off forever” (Title Page of the Book of Mormon).

“And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!” (D&C 18:13).

“The Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; nevertheless” (D&C 1:31–32), the Lord said, “he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42).

Could there be any more sweeter or more consoling words, more filled with hope, than those words from the scriptures? “I, the Lord, remember [their sins] no more” (D&C 58:42). That is the testimony of the Book of Mormon, and that is my testimony to you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Boyd K. Packer, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior”

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#BOMTC Alma 37-39: “The Lord’s Side of the Line”

George Albert Smith’s grandfather, George A. Smith, served for many years in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and in the First Presidency, as a counselor to Brigham Young. George Albert Smith often repeated the counsel his grandfather used to give to his family:

There is a line of demarcation well defined between the Lord’s territory and the devil’s territory. If you will stay on the Lord’s side of the line you will be under his influence and will have no desire to do wrong; but if you cross to the devil’s side of that line one inch you are in the tempter’s power and if he is successful, you will not be able to think or even reason properly because you will have lost the Spirit of the Lord.

George Albert Smith said that he used this counsel throughout his life to guide his choices:

When I have been tempted sometimes to do a certain thing, I have asked myself, ‘Which side of the line am I on?’ If I determined to be on the safe side, the Lord’s side, I would do the right thing every time. So when temptation comes think prayerfully about your problem and the influence of the Lord will aid you to decide wisely. There is safety for us only on the Lord’s side of the line.

“All safety, all righteousness, all happiness are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you are keeping the commandments of God by observing the Sabbath day, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you attend to your secret prayers and your family prayers, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you are grateful for food and express that gratitude to God, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you are honest in your dealing with your fellow men, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. If you observe the Word of Wisdom, you are on the Lord’s side of the line. And so I might go on through the Ten Commandments and the other commandments that God has given for our guidance and say again, all that enriches our lives and makes us happy and prepares us for eternal joy is on the Lord’s side of the line. Finding fault with the things that God has given to us for our guidance is not on the Lord’s side of the line.” (“Stay on the Lord’s Side of the Line“, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith)

Stay Within the Lines

There are many decisions we can make that are neither good nor evil (such as what color to paint our house, what to have for breakfast, and so forth). But when it comes to the Lord’s commandments, there is a line between the Lord’s territory and Satan’s territory (see 2 Nephi 28:21–23;Moroni 7:16–17)

The Lord's Side of the Line

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught, “The simple fact is this: anything that does not draw us closer to God takes us away from Him. We have no middle ground, no foggy gray area where we can sin a little without suffering spiritual decline. That is why we must repent and come to Christ daily on submissive knees so that we can prevent our bonfires of testimony from being snuffed out by sin” (Ensign, Nov. 1992).

Some people think of crossing the line as something like a line in the sand, where one crosses from one side to another on an equal plane. However, I believe that when we cross the line we are no longer on an equal plane, but rather dropping to a plane that is dramatically and dangerously lower. I think of crossing the line as crossing over the edge of a waterfall. President James E. Faust pointed out the same thing in his talk entitled, “The Devil’s Throat“:

“As a young man I served a mission to Brazil. It was a marvelous experience. One of the wonders of the world in that great country is Iguaçu Falls. In the flood season, the volume of water spilling over the brink is the largest in the world. Every few minutes, millions of gallons of water cascade into the chasm below. One part of the falls, where the deluge is the heaviest, is called the Devil’s Throat.

“There are some large rocks standing just above, before the water rushes down into Devil’s Throat. Years ago, reckless boatmen would take passengers in canoes to stand on those rocks and look down into the Devil’s Throat. The water above the falls is usually calm and slow moving, and the atmosphere tranquil. Only the roar of the water below forewarns of the danger lurking just a few feet away. A sudden, unexpected current could take a canoe into the rushing waters, over the cliff, and down into the Devil’s Throat. Those foolish enough to leave the canoes to stand on these treacherous wet rocks could so easily lose their footing and be swept away into the swirling currents below.

“I recognize that some of you think of yourselves as daredevils, ready to take on almost any challenge. But some of these excursions for excitement will inevitably take you down into the Devil’s Throat. The only safe course is to stay well away from the dangers of the Devil’s Throat.”

Just as the current becomes more swift and strong as one moves toward the brink of a waterfall, so we are drawn by the power of the adversary as we approach “the line”. This increased pull of the adversary is explained well in Elder Bruce C. Hafen’s talk, “A Disciple’s Journey” (This is one of my FAVORITE talks of all time! I highly recommend that you take some time to study it in its entirety.):

“A few years ago our teenage daughter was feeling quite unsettled, asking some very honest questions, such as “Why is life so hard?” As we talked over dinner one night, I prayed like a missionary for the right things to say. After all, our children are our most important investigators. In the very moment, I received a prompting about “gravitational pull.” I grabbed a paper napkin and drew a sketch I’d never thought of before. It sparked a lively discussion…

“I’d like to share with you today the ideas from that sketch on the napkin…. Let’s call this sketch “a disciple’s journey.”

“A disciple moves from darkness into light, which increases from the dim light of the stars to the moon and then to the brightness of the sun. Joseph Smith compared these heavenly bodies with the telestial, terrestrial, and celestial kingdoms. As the temple teaches, we can and should move toward that celestial light during mortality. We need not be of the world, even if we must live in the world.

“Imagine that two vertical lines separate the stars, moon, and sun into three sections. Each line suggests a major transition as we move from one stage to the next. However, our journey is not rigidly sequential. Our experiences may move us back and forth.

“Envision also two circles, each with a center point, located in stage one and in stage three. These circles represent the gravitational pull from the opposing poles of our journey. In the darkness of stage one, he who claims to be the god of this world exerts a constant force to hold us back from moving toward the light. As we cross the first barrier, we will leave the strongest satanic tugging—though he will always try to ensnare us wherever we are in the journey.

“Reaching out from the center of light in stage three, Jesus also “entices” us with a spiritual gravitational pull toward Him.”

“As soon as you start moving toward the light, the gravitational pull of darkness will immediately try to jerk you back, “for Satan desireth to have you.” He will tempt, frighten, and fight you. Missionaries know all about this. In some way, opposition hits virtually every investigator. The first time Adam and Eve taught their children the gospel, for example, Satan came among them, saying, “Don’t believe your parents.” And so the children, we’re told, “believed [them] not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.” (“From that time forth” tells us that these children chose to be devilish after the Fall, after they heard that message. They were not born devilish.)

“Satanic opposition does have great power in today’s world. Satan holds “a great chain in his hand,” which symbolizes such addictions as drugs, alcohol, and pornography—and the prince of darkness looks up and laughs at the poor souls he captures.20

“But that opposition cannot destroy us. Remember Joseph praying in the grove: an enemy power, he said, bound his tongue so he “could not speak.” Remember Moses when he first saw his grand vision: “Satan came tempting him” until Moses feared exceedingly, and “he saw the bitterness of hell.” But both Joseph and Moses called upon God, who gave them power to drive Satan away. That is a key insight: Satan may rattle us, but he cannot overcome us, for God can cast him from our presence.”

Alma 39 contains the scriptural basis for today’s discussion. Although there are a LOT of things that I would LOVE to focus on in Alma 37, 38, and 39, the principle of finding safety on the Lord’s side of the line is the one thing that it seems the world, and I, really need to work on. It hit me hard as I came across the words of Alma to his son Corianton:

Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.” (see Alma 39:1-5, emphasis added).

Had Corianton stayed away from “the borders of the Lamanites” he may have never crossed paths with Isabel. He may have heard of her, but he probably would have never met her. He sought her out, and he found her–among the boarders of the enemy.

Stay on “the Lord’s side of the line”! Stay upstream from the brink of the waterfall–“The Devil’s Throat”!! Stay far away from “the boarders of the Lamanites”!!! STAY SAFE, BY STAYING WITHIN THE BOUNDS THE LORD HAS SET!

Within Bounds

Chastity: What Are the Limits?

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#BOMTC Alma 34-36: YOMO Not YOLO

Have you ever heard someone use the term YOLO to justify doing what they want to do? YOLO is an acronym for You Only Live Once. Similar to carpe diem or memento mori, it implies that one should enjoy life, even if that entails taking risks.

The gospel however teaches a different motto. The gospel motto is more like YOMOYou’re Only Mortal Once! Alma 34 explains the concept of YOMO this way:

32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses  therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis  that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

In Alma 36, Alma shares with his son, Helaman, an important life-lesson: YOLO will make you say, “OH NO!!!” and YOMO is the “WAY TO GO!”

YOMO--You're Only Mortal Once

YOMO–You’re Only Mortal Once

Here are a few video clips to help you YOMO a little “mo” ;o)

What Matters Most

President Thomas S. Monson counsels us to spend time with, cherish, and express love to the people we hold dear.

Moments That Matter Most

We would do well to slow down a little, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Read President Uchtdorf’s entire address “Of Things That Matter Most” at http://bit.ly/momentsmatter

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#BOMTC Alma 30-31: Are You a Puppet or an Instrument?

In the Book of Mormon we learn about anti-Christs (Sherem in Jacob 7, and Nehor in Alma 1). One definition of anti-Christ is “anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel plan of salvation and that openly or secretly opposes Christ” (“Antichrist,” Guide to the Scripture). In Alma 30, another anti-Christ named Korihor teaches that there will be no Christ. Here is a very interesting and relevant quote from Sister Julie B. Beck, a former Relief Society General President:

Public policies are being made every day that are antifamily, and the definition of family is changing legally around the world. Pornography is rampant. For those who create pornography, their new target audience is young women. Parents are being portrayed as inept and out of touch. Antifamily media messages are everywhere. Youth are being desensitized about the need to form eternal families.

We see how this can happen when we read the words of Korihor, an anti-Christ: “Thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms” (Alma 30:18). Satan knows that he will never have a body; he will never have a family. So he targets young women, who will create the bodies for the future generations.

Korihor was an anti-Christ. Anti-Christ is antifamily. Any doctrine or principle our youth hear from the world that is antifamily is also anti-Christ. It’s that clear. If our youth cease to believe in the righteous traditions of their fathers as did the people described in Mosiah 26, if our youth don’t understand their part in the plan, they could be led away. (“Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Ensign, March 2011. Emphasis added.)

As I read these chapters, one thing that stands to me is how our actions lead us to become either INSTRUMENTS in the hands of God or PUPPETS in the hands of Satan. Alma is an instrument (see Alma 29:9) while Korihor is a puppet (Alma 30:60). Think for a moment about the differences between being a puppet and being an instrument. Consider how Alma and Korihor respectively act as an instrument and a puppet as we review their story.

 All Things Denote There Is a God

(Alma 30) Korihor preaches against the prophecies of the coming of Christ. He seeks a sign to be convinced that there is a God. He is struck dumb.

Korihor’s false teachings led many to sin. He spoke against the leaders of the Church, claiming they were teaching “foolish traditions” (Alma 30:27. I refer to these as “Korihorrible teachings”). Alma taught him that all things testify of Christ. Korihor demanded that Alma show him a sign of God’s existence. In response, Korihor was struck dumb by the power of God and was convinced of the truth. Eventually, Korihor confessed that his actions were guided by the devil. Korihor asked Alma to pray so the curse could be removed from him. Alma said that if Korihor received the ability to speak, he would again teach false doctrine to the people. Korihor was cast out and went from house to house begging for food. Eventually he went to the Zoramites, who had dissented from the Nephites, and was trampled to death. Alma 30:60 teaches an important truth about what eventually happens to those who choose to be Satan’s puppets. Contrast that with the way the Lord preserves his instruments in Alma 19:23.

Alma (an instrument of God) also learned that the Nephite dissenters called the Zoramites (new puppets of Satan) had strayed from the truth of the gospel and fallen into false practices (see Alma 31). Saddened by these reports of wickedness, Alma took a group of missionaries (more instruments of God) to teach the word of God to the Zoramites. Alma and his companions witnessed the apostate worship services, materialism, and pride of the Zoramites. Alma prayed earnestly that the Lord would comfort him and his companions as they faced this challenge and that they would have success in bringing the Zoramites back to the Lord (It is interesting to contrast the prayer of Alma with that of the Zoramites upon the Rameumptom).

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency taught:

“Korihor was arguing, as men and women have falsely argued from the beginning of time, that to take counsel from the servants of God is to surrender God-given rights of independence. But the argument is false because it misrepresents reality. When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence [PUPPET of Satan]. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love [INSTRUMENT of God]. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose” (“Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997, 25).

So, will you be a PUPPET or an INSTRUMENT? We now know the results for each!

Ready to Serve As An Instrument In God's Hands

Ready to Serve As An Instrument In God’s Hands

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#BOMTC Alma 20-22: Conversion–Changing Common Creatures into Celestial Citizens

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change” (“Repentance and Change,” Ensign, Nov. 2003).

As recorded in Alma 19–20, King Lamoni experienced a change of heart, leading to the conversion of his wife and many of his people. Ammon and King Lamoni then traveled to the land of Middoni to deliver Ammon’s imprisoned brethren. On the way, they encountered Lamoni’s father, who was king over all the Lamanites. The king was astonished by the words of Lamoni and Ammon, by Ammon’s strength, and by Ammon’s love for Lamoni. His heart was softened, and he assured them that Ammon’s brethren would be released from prison. He expressed a desire to learn about the words he had heard from his son and Ammon. Because of Ammon’s testimony and example, many people felt the influence of the Holy Ghost and were taught the gospel and converted.

Aaron, one of Ammon’s brothers, attempted to teach the Amalekites and Amulonites about Jesus Christ and the Atonement, but the people rejected him. Then he preached in Middoni, where he and some of his companions were eventually imprisoned. They remained faithful during their time of adversity, and they continued their mission to share the gospel after Ammon and King Lamoni secured their release. After Lamoni’s father was prepared through the example of Ammon, he learned from Aaron about how to be “born of God” (Alma 22:15). The king learned that by repenting of his sins, he could come to know God and eventually receive eternal life. The faithfulness of Aaron and his brethren helped many Lamanites come to know God and His way of redemption.

It has been my experience that the more I EXPERIENCE the gospel, the greater VALUE I place upon it. Use the “Degrees of Discipleship” scripture-chain listed below as an illustration of this principle of change and conversion.

Degrees of Discipleship

Repentance requires CHANGE!

Repentance requires CHANGE!

4th Degree: Alma 20:9-10, 13, 16, 19, What words show the value that Lamoni’s father placed on Ammon and the gospel?

 CHANGE: Alma 20:20, Because the Lord loves us, He gives us “humbling experiences” to help us change. We must learn to rely on the Arm of the Lord and not on the arm of the flesh.

3rd Degree Disciple: Alma 20:23, Oddly enough he values his kingdom even more than his life at this point. What does a dead king do with half a kingdom anyway?

CHANGE: Alma 20:24-27, Feeling sincere love can help us become “desirous to learn” the gospel. “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

2nd Degree Disciple: Alma 22:15, As a result of Aaron’s teaching Lamoni’s father was willing to give up his kingdom for God’s Kingdom.

CHANGE: Alma 22:16-17, “Hope is a memory of the future.” Feelings of faith and hope compel us to approach the throne of grace in our utmost humility.

1st Degree Disciple: Alma 22:18, Eventually, our great desire for the “future” that God has promised the faithful becomes so great that we not only are willing to give up “the world”, but we are willing to give up “ourselves”.

So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving “away all [our] sins” in order to “know God” (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him.” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,” Ensign, May 1995. Emphasis added.)

Like Lamoni’s father, we must be willing to sacrifice ALL things to be born of God. In the Lectures on Faith, we learn the importance of sacrifice in our eternal progression:

Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 69. Emphasis added.).

Reclaimed

Elder Shayne M. Bowen teaches: “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you.”

Just as a garbage dump can be turned into a beautiful park, a life of sin can be cleansed and changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

It Is Never Too Late

Message given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the Saturday Afternoon Session of General Conference on March 31, 2012

Lifting Burdens: The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Apostles of Jesus Christ testify of the Savior’s power to heal, change, and purify us through His Atonement.

 Member Message: Repentance

This is a member-made non-official Mormon Message.

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#BOMTC Alma 17-19: M.T.C. = MEMBER TRAINING CHAPTERS

Try filling in the blanks in the following quote using the words: MEMBER and MISSIONARY (I listed the words in alphabetical order so that you won’t try and do that “Princess Bride” thing where the guy tries to figure out which cup has the poison… No cheaters!).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

“Asking every member to be a ___________ is not nearly as crucial as asking every member to be a ___________.”

So, what do ya think?

I know what we typically hear, and that may be why you chose what you did. Or perhaps as you thought about it you realized what Elder Holland is really getting at. The easiest way to figure out the correct answer is to “do the math!

What do I mean by, “do the math”? Well, what I mean is, with roughly 70,000 missionaries serving currently and a world population of 7 Billion +, each missionary would have responsibility for sharing the gospel with ~100,000 people. Not very good odds.

Now if we use the same world population and use the members of the church (7,000,000,000/15,000,000) we get a ratio of ~467 people for each member of the church to influence. Now those odds are pretty good! Especially when you take social media into account.

Sharing Your Beliefs

“Sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. . . . Perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to ‘open [your] mouths’ might today include ‘use your hands’ to blog and text message the gospel to all the world!” . . .

“With the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard . . . around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.” — President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Ensign, May 2011, “Waiting on the Road to Damascus.” Emphasis added)

Inviting All to Come unto Christ: Sharing the Gospel

When Junior, a young man in a small Florida branch, decided he didn’t want to be alone in his belief in Christ, he invited a friend. One friend joined, then another, and another….

Click here to read more about the young men in Immokalee, Florida

You may be thinking that you are right on your guess now, but we are not done yet (well, we are with the math…). Here is Elder Holland’s quote in context:

“A young returned missionary sister from Hong Kong told me recently that when she and her companion asked an investigator if she believed in God, the woman replied, ‘I didn’t until I met a member of your church and observed how she lived.’ What exemplary missionary work! Asking every member to be a MISSIONARY is not nearly as crucial as asking every member to be a MEMBER! Thank you for living the gospel.” (“‘Witnesses unto Me’,” Ensign, May 2001, emphasis added.)

youths reading Joseph Smith pamphlet

Now, why on earth would Elder Holland say something like that when it seems to contradict what has been taught previously and is emphasized currently with the Hasten the Work initiative?

We know what it means to be a MEMBER MISSIONARY. “Member missionary” sounds great (and the challenge has been extended frequently and recently by prophets of God), but one of the primary problems is the psychology behind the phraseology.  There is a lot of “baggage” and responsibility that comes with the word “missionary”. This can be very intimidating for members–especially those who may have never served a full-time mission. But if we ask every member to be a MEMBER, well, that doesn’t sound hard at all–no extra baggage, no added responsibility–we are just asking a member to do what they should already be doing.

RMN, Catch the Wave (9)

So, what does it mean to be a MEMBER MEMBER. Well, Elder Holland said that one way we do it is by simply “living the gospel.” Perhaps one of the best places to look for information on how to be a MEMBER MEMBER that is “living the gospel” is to study Mosiah 18:7-11. Think about it, isn’t that exactly what Ammon did? He didn’t start out in typical “missionary mode”. What did he do? He did exactly what any member of the church could and should do. He wasn’t able to be a MISSIONARY until he fulfilled his responsibility as a MEMBER first.

Ammon Defends the Flocks of King Lamoni

All of this is why I refer to Alma 17-19 as the M.T.C. Not because it stands for Missionary Training Center in this case, but rather MEMBER TRAINING CHAPTERS. Ammon is the perfect model for how a good MEMBER MEMBER can make all the difference in the world by just “LIVING THE GOSPEL.” As you read Alma 19 you will be able to see the Ripple Effect of ONE MEMBER MEMBER easily affecting hundreds of other people.

ripples diagram

rock in water

You can do that, right? You can be a “lively member” of the church (see D&C 92:2) each and every day. You can influence the lives of many more than 467 people in a short matter of time by just living up to the covenants you made at baptism. You don’t need a badge on your shirt because you already wear His name on your heart! Think of what Ammon did in Alma 17-19, then liken it to your own station in life, and GO BE A MEMBER MEMBER!

Sharing Gospel Happiness

A priest finds out his friend has been hospitalized with cancer. His testimony and Christlike example lead her to a knowledge of the truth.

QLC, Pin One On Your Heart

 What the Apostles Say About Sharing the Gospel Online

Why You Should be Part of the Mormon Conversation Online

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#BOMTC Mosiah 11-13: Back to Basics

What do coach John Wooden and the prophet Abinadi have in common? Well, not much. But one thing that they do have in common is somewhat uncommon. They are both men who understand that success on the court (whether a basketball court or a court of wicked priests) begins with the basics!

John Wooden was the UCLA men’s basketball coach in the 1960’s and 70’s. One of the things that he is best know for is beginning with the basics as he trained his players. He did not presume that his players knew the basics. He started them all from scratch. One of the basics he taught them was the “right” way to tie their shoes. The “right” way was to begin with the RIGHT lace over the left. By tying their shoes in this way he wanted to emphasize doing things RIGHT. Before these seasoned players set foot on the court, they learned how to tie their shoes the “right” way. Silly? Maybe. But 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships (seven in a row from 1967-1973) make it seem like the “right” way to coach.

#BOMTC Day 29, May 5~Mosiah 11-13 or Pages 168-174 (4)

Abinadi seems to take the same approach with King Noah and his “court”. As the court of wicked priests question Abinadi on Isaiah’s advanced-placement doctrine, Abinadi brings them back to the basics of the gospel–the Ten Commandments. Abinadi knows what Cecil B. DeMille put so eloquently:

Those who have eyes to see will see… the awful lesson of how quickly a nation or a man can fall without God’s law. If man will not be ruled by God, he will certainly be ruled by tyrants—and there is no tyranny more imperious or more devastating than man’s own selfishness, without the law. We cannot break the Ten Commandments. We can only break ourselves against them—or else, by keeping them, rise through them to the fullness of freedom under God. God means us to be free.” (Cecil B. DeMille, BYU Speeches of the Year, 31 May 1957. Emphasis added.)

Mormonad poster

You will witness the truth of this statement as you read through the account of the people of King Noah (Mosiah 11-19), as they choose to be blinded by a tyrant rather than to see a SEER (See-er, Moses 6:27, 35-36) of the Lord!

#BOMTC Day 29, May 5~Mosiah 11-13 or Pages 168-174 (3)

By the way, have you ever wondered which commandment is the most important? Hopefully the words of Jesus come to mind when you consider the answer (see Matthew 22:36-40). However, have you ever thought about it this way?

The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today. If it is one of dishonesty, if it is one of unchastity, if it is one of falsifying, not telling the truth, today is the day for you to work on that until you have been able to conquer that weakness. Put that aright and then you start on the next one that is most difficult for you to keep. That’s the way to sanctify yourself by keeping the commandments of God. (TEACHINGS OF PRESIDENTS OF THE CHURCH: HAROLD B. LEE, Chapter 4.)

I know that as we get “back to basics” and keep the “first and great commandment” to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” that we will have the desire and discipline to work on keeping the commandment that we are having the “most difficulty keeping” today. May our efforts to do so today reflect our love for God and His precious Son! (see John 14:15)

What to learn more? Here ya go!

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