Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Sunday, May 24, 2020

“They Were Steadfast and Immovable”



Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog

As we continue our Come Follow Me Sunday School discussions we have come to a point where we can truly see many parallels between events described in Mosiah 29–Alma 4 and things that are happening in today’s world or our own lives. Particularly today, we are living in a time that is by far, for many of us unsettling. Yet, we need not fear for we know these are the last days in which we prepare and we look forward to the coming of our Lord and Savior even Jesus Christ. Therefore it is important for each one of us, as members of the Church and children of God to find ways in which we can improve and endure our troubled days both personally and collectively. These chapters of the Book of Mormon give us great examples and teaching that we may be able to accomplish these important tasks.


History and Background

Mosiah 29 
Having been converted, the sons of King Mosiah felt a strong desire to preach the gospel to the Lamanites. After inquiring of the Lord and receiving an assurance that they would be blessed with success and protection, Mosiah allowed them to go. At this same time, Mosiah was working to care for the sacred records that had been entrusted to him. He translated the Jaredite records and then conferred all the records upon Alma the Younger. Because his sons had declined the opportunity to be king, he instituted a system of judges as the new form of government in the land.

Mormon compiled and abridged records from the large plates of Nephi to create the book of Alma. The book is named for Alma, who, as the son of Alma, is often called Alma the Younger. When King Mosiah instituted the reign of the judges among the Nephites, Alma the Younger became the first chief judge and succeeded his father as high priest over the Church  Mosiah 29:42. He eventually resigned his position as chief judge to dedicate himself “wholly to the high priesthood” and “to deliver the word of God unto the people” throughout the land of the Nephites Alma 4:20; 5:1. Mormon used the records of Alma’s ministry Alma 1–44 and the writings of Alma’s sons Helaman Alma 45–62 and Shiblon Alma 63 to compose the book of Alma.

Although the book of Alma is the longest in the Book of Mormon, it covers a period of only 39 years—approximately 91 BC to 52 BC. The book recounts the first instance of successful missionary labors among the Lamanites. It also highlights the faithfulness of the converted Lamanites in keeping their covenants  Additionally, the book of Alma includes teachings about the doctrine of foreordination and the ministry of Melchizedek, the power of the word of God, how to develop faith in Jesus Christ, the severity of breaking the law of chastity, the state of our spirits following death, the doctrines of resurrection and restoration, and the roles of justice and mercy in Heavenly Father’s plan of redemption. This book also contains the Lord’s instructions concerning self-defense and the justification for war.
 
Nehor introduces priestcraft among the Nephites. Alma leads righteous Nephites in defending themselves against Amlici and his followers, who have combined with a Lamanite army. After thwarting Amlici’s attempt to become a king and destroy the Church, the Nephites defeat another Lamanite army.

Alma the Younger faced severe challenges while serving simultaneously as the high priest over the Church and the first elected chief judge over the Nephites. Both the Church and the government were threatened by men seeking to use religion and politics for their own gain. Nehor undermined the Church by using priestcraft to establish a religious movement and profession that attracted many. Amlici, a man after the order of Nehor, made war against the newly elected government of judges after failing to obtain his desire to be king. Alma prayed, exercised faith in God, and then took action to overcome each of the problems he faced.  

Lets consider how we can follow Alma’s model as we deal with our own personal challenges and the challenges we face of the world today.

Part 1: Mosiah 29:11–27; Alma 2:1–7 We can be a positive influence in our communities


At the moment of this writing I am most postive that we can all think of particular issues we face in our communities today, especially in our dealings with the current pandemic situation, that are pressing, scary and true hardships. But in our thoughts of the toughness of the ties, have we had time to think about our daily lives and how we can be an influence ford good?  Perhaps in our reading of the Nephites and their trying times, we can find ways for to accomplish being positive.  

11 Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God.
12 Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.
13 Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.
14 And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity;
15 And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I punished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers.
16 Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you.
17 For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!
18 Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage.
19 And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now.
20 But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him.
21 And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.
22 For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;
23 And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.
24 And now behold I say unto you, it is not expedient that such abominations should come upon you.
25 Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.
26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.
27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

1 And it came to pass in the commencement of the fifth year of their reign there began to be a contention among the people; for a certain man, being called Amlici, he being a very cunning man, yea, a wise man as to the wisdom of the world, he being after the order of the man that slew Gideon by the sword, who was executed according to the law—
2 Now this Amlici had, by his cunning, drawn away much people after him; even so much that they began to be very powerful; and they began to endeavor to establish Amlici to be a king over the people.
3 Now this was alarming to the people of the church, and also to all those who had not been drawn away after the persuasions of Amlici; for they knew that according to their law that such things must be established by the voice of the people.
4 Therefore, if it were possible that Amlici should gain the voice of the people, he, being a wicked man, would deprive them of their rights and privileges of the church; for it was his intent to destroy the church of God.
5 And it came to pass that the people assembled themselves together throughout all the land, every man according to his mind, whether it were for or against Amlici, in separate bodies, having much dispute and wonderful contentions one with another.
6 And thus they did assemble themselves together to cast in their voices concerning the matter; and they were laid before the judges.
7 And it came to pass that the voice of the people came against Amlici, that he was not made king over the people.

In Alma 2:1–7 what issues were the Nephites facing?  Shortly after Alma became chief judge, a man named Nehor established himself as a preacher among the people. He spoke out against the Church and its doctrines, and he convinced many to believe him and give him money. When Nehor killed Gideon, who was a faithful member of the Church, he was brought before Alma. Finding Nehor guilty of priestcraft and of trying to enforce priestcraft by the sword, Alma sentenced Nehor to death.  Amlici, a cunning man after the order of Nehor, gathered support among many people and tried to become king of the Nephites. He and his followers revolted, came against the Nephites to battle, and eventually combined their forces with a Lamanite army. 

According to Alma 2:4, what did Amlici intend to do when he became king?
4 Therefore, if it were possible that Amlici should gain the voice of the people, he, being a wicked man, would deprive them of their rights and privileges of the church; for it was his intent to destroy the church of God. 

Why was Amlici unsuccessful in his quest?  Amlici’s attempt to deprive the people of their religious rights and privileges was defeated by the voice of the people.

What might have happened if “the people of the church” had not made their voices heard?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned that we must not be indifferent to wickedness in society, because destruction awaits nations that choose unrighteousness:

“Speaking behaviorally, when what was once the lesser voice of the people becomes more dominant, then the judgments of God and the consequences of foolish selfishness follow (see Mosiah 29:26–27).

“Cultural decline is accelerated when single-interest segments of society become indifferent to general values once widely shared. This drift is facilitated by the indifferent or the indulgent as society is led carefully down to hell (see 2 Nephi 28:21). Some may not join in this drift, but instead they step aside, whereas once they might have constrained, as is their representative right. …

“We actually have an obligation to notice genuine, telltale societal signs. …

“For what happens in cultural decline both leaders and followers are really accountable. Historically, of course, it is easy to criticize bad leaders, but we should not give followers a free pass. Otherwise, in their rationalization of their degeneration they may say they were just following orders, while the leader was just ordering followers! However, much more is required of followers in a democratic society, wherein individual character matters so much in both leaders and followers”
(Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 28–30; or Ensign, May 1999, 23–24).

President Boyd K. Packer also spoke of the recent trends of distorting tolerance:

“The virtue of tolerance has been distorted and elevated to a position of such prominence as to be thought equal to and even valued more than morality. It is one thing to be tolerant, even forgiving of individual conduct. It is quite another to collectively legislate and legalize to protect immoral conduct that can weaken, even destroy the family.

“There is a dangerous trap when tolerance is exaggerated to protect the rights of those whose conduct endangers the family and injures the rights of the more part of the people. We are getting dangerously close to the condition described by the prophet Mosiah [in Mosiah 29:26–27]”
(“Children of God,” BYU Women’s Conference, May 5, 2006, 6).

“Make your influence felt.”

Soon after Sister Belle S. Spafford was called as Relief Society General President in 1945, Relief Society leaders were invited to attend a meeting of a prominent national women’s council. Relief Society general leaders had been members of this council for many years, but they felt they had recently been treated poorly by the council. After discussion with her counselors, Sister Spafford recommended to President George Albert Smith, the President of the Church, that the Relief Society should terminate its membership in the council.

As they discussed the recommendation, Sister Spafford said, “You know, President Smith, we don’t get anything from the Council.”

She later recounted:

“The President looked at me with surprise. He said, ‘Sister Spafford, do you always think in terms of what you get? Don’t you think it is well at times to think in terms of what you have to give? I believe,’ he continued, ‘that Mormon women have something to give to the women of the world, and that they may also learn from them. Rather than have you terminate your membership, I suggest that you take several of your ablest board members and go back to this meeting.’

“Then he said with emphasis, ‘Make your influence felt’” (Belle S. Spafford, A Woman’s Reach [1974], 96–97).

Sister Spafford obeyed this counsel. She served for many years in the council and was eventually elected as one of its leaders.

What do we learn about being good citizens from this account, from Mosiah 29:26–27
26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.
27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

How can we be more like Sister Spafford following the counsel of our the Prophets, in what we have to offer as Saints? 

What can you do to influence your community for good in a positive light, particularly during our trying times? 

Part 2: Alma 1:2–9, 26 We can recognize and reject false teachings

Shortly after Alma became chief judge, a man named Nehor established himself as a preacher among the people. He spoke out against the Church and its doctrines, and he convinced many to believe him and give him money. 

2 And it came to pass that in the first year of the reign of Alma in the judgment-seat, there was a man brought before him to be judged, a man who was large, and was noted for his much strength.
3 And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.
4 And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.
5 And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money.
6 And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching.
7 And it came to pass as he was going, to preach to those who believed on his word, he met a man who belonged to the church of God, yea, even one of their teachers; and he began to contend with him sharply, that he might lead away the people of the church; but the man withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God.
8 Now the name of the man was Gideon; and it was he who was an instrument in the hands of God in delivering the people of Limhi out of bondage.
9 Now, because Gideon withstood him with the words of God he was wroth with Gideon, and drew his sword and began to smite him. Now Gideon being stricken with many years, therefore he was not able to withstand his blows, therefore he was slain by the sword.

In your own words, what is priestcraft?

According to Alma 1:4, what were some of Nehor’s teachings that became popular?  
4 And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.

How was Nehor’s preaching an example of priestcraft?

Why do you think this false teaching might have become popular among some of the people?  This teaching ignores the need for repentance, ordinances, and keeping God’s commandments Alma 15:15

What was Nehor’s motivation?  To entice and get the popularity and acceptance of the people for personal gain.

According to verse 4, what is a true statement that Nehor made?  “The Lord … created all men.”

How does this teaching illustrate a common tactic that Satan uses? Satan uses lies mixed with truth to deceive people. 

“Satan is the great deceiver, the father of lies (see John 8:44). This is not because Satan tells only lies. His most effective lies are half-truths or lies accompanied by the truth” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Reading Church History” [address to Church Educational System religious educators, Aug. 16, 1985], 3).

Nehor was going to preach to a group of his followers when he met Gideon, who had helped deliver the people of Limhi from bondage and who was currently serving as a teacher in the Church. Nehor “began to contend with Gideon sharply, that he might lead away the people of the church; but Gideon withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God” Nehor, in a fit of anger, drew his sword and killed Gideon. The people of the Church took Nehor to Alma, who was the chief judge, to be judged for his crimes.

How is Gideon inspiring to us in this situation? 

How did Gideon withstand the false teachings of Nehor?  “With the words of God”

How do you see this kind of tactic being used by Satan to deceive people today?  One example is the false teaching that because God loves us, He will excuse or condone anything we do.

How can we be more like Gideon in our defense of the truth?

By Satan, the teachings of Nehor actually continue today in our time.  How can we help our families and loved ones distinguish between truth and error?

Scriptures that refute Nehor’s false teachings:

21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.
34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.
31 But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.

9 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.

23 And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things—stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them.

24 And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained should labor with their own hands for their support.
25 And there was one day in every week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God, and also, as often as it was in their power, to assemble themselves together.
26 And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.

26 And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.

37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.

25 And I would that all men might be saved. But we read that in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord;
26 Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation. And thus it is. Amen.

What does Alma teach his people and us about priestcraft and our actions as members of the church?  Choosing to contend with those who are not members of the Church can bring afflictions and trials upon the Church.  If we are humble during persecution, our hearts will not be hardened by our experiences.  Even when people around us are being disobedient, we can be steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments.  We can choose to bear persecution with patience. Church members who remained humble continued to help the needy and sick and were blessed both temporally and spiritually. 

**Points to Ponder: What are our motivations for serving in the Church? What does Alma 1:26 suggest about our responsibility as learners?

Part 3: Alma 1:19–30; 4:6–15 Pride can cause us to “fail in our progress.”

Alma 1 and Alma 4 can help us as members understand how pride affects both individuals and the Church. The Nephites mourned greatly because of the afflictions they had experienced as a result of their battles against the Lamanites and Amlicites. These afflictions humbled them and reminded them of their duty to God.

19 But it came to pass that whosoever did not belong to the church of God began to persecute those that did belong to the church of God, and had taken upon them the name of Christ.
20 Yea, they did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another, without money and without price.
21 Now there was a strict law among the people of the church, that there should not any man, belonging to the church, arise and persecute those that did not belong to the church, and that there should be no persecution among themselves.
22 Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.
23 Now this was in the second year of the reign of Alma, and it was a cause of much affliction to the church; yea, it was the cause of much trial with the church.
24 For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them.
25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.
26 And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.
27 And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.
28 And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions.
29 And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need—an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.
30 And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.
31 And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church.

6 And it came to pass in the eighth year of the reign of the judges, that the people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, and their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen, and because of their many flocks and herds, and their gold and their silver, and all manner of precious things, which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes, for they began to wear very costly apparel.
7 Now this was the cause of much affliction to Alma, yea, and to many of the people whom Alma had consecrated to be teachers, and priests, and elders over the church; yea, many of them were sorely grieved for the wickedness which they saw had begun to be among their people.
8 For they saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.
9 And thus, in this eighth year of the reign of the judges, there began to be great contentions among the people of the church; yea, there were envyings, and strife, and malice, and persecutions, and pride, even to exceed the pride of those who did not belong to the church of God.
10 And thus ended the eighth year of the reign of the judges; and the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.
11 And it came to pass in the commencement of the ninth year, Alma saw the wickedness of the church, and he saw also that the example of the church began to lead those who were unbelievers on from one piece of iniquity to another, thus bringing on the destruction of the people.
12 Yea, he saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted.
13 Now this was a great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ’s sake, who should come according to the spirit of prophecy;
14 Looking forward to that day, thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and deliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death.
15 And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.

What did many of the Nephite Church members begin to focus on? Alma 4:6
6 And it came to pass in the eighth year of the reign of the judges, that the people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, and their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen, and because of their many flocks and herds, and their gold and their silver, and all manner of precious things, which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes, for they began to wear very costly apparel.

What effect did focusing on their riches have on them? They were “lifted up in the pride of their eyes.”

How would you summarize what we learn from Alma 4:6?  Focusing on the things of the world can cause us to be lifted up in pride.

What do you think it means to be lifted up in pride?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught: “Pride is sinful … because it breeds hatred or hostility and places us in opposition to God and our fellowmen. …

“This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being ‘chosen,’ ‘superior,’ or ‘more righteous’ than others. This is the sin of ‘Thank God I am more special than you.’ At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification.
“For others, pride turns to envy: they look bitterly at those who have better positions, more talents, or greater possessions than they do. They seek to hurt, diminish, and tear down others in a misguided and unworthy attempt at self-elevation. When those they envy stumble or suffer, they secretly cheer” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign Nov. 2010, 56)

What happened as Church members were affected by pride?  As Church members became proud, their negative examples became a stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the Church.  President Gordon B. Hinckley related the story of a young man who faced terrible odds to learn about the gospel because of the way Church members treated him:

“He was not a member of the Church. He and his parents were active in another faith.

“He recalls that when he was growing up, some of his LDS associates belittled him, made him feel out of place, and poked fun at him.

“He came to literally hate this Church and its people. He saw no good in any of them.

“Then his father lost his employment and had to move. In the new location, at the age of 17, he was able to enroll in college. There, for the first time in his life, he felt the warmth of friends, one of whom, named Richard, asked him to join a club of which he was president. He writes:

“‘For the first time in my life someone wanted me around. I didn’t know how to react, but thankfully I joined. … It was a feeling that I loved, the feeling of having a friend. I had prayed for one my whole life. And now after 17 years of waiting, God answered that prayer.’

“At the age of 19 he found himself as a tent partner with Richard during their summer employment. He noticed Richard reading a book every night. He asked what he was reading. He was told that he was reading the Book of Mormon. He adds:

“‘I quickly changed the subject and went to bed. After all, that is the book that ruined my childhood. I tried forgetting about it, but a week went by and I couldn’t sleep. Why was he reading it every night? I soon couldn’t stand the unanswered questions in my head. So one night I asked him what was so important in that book. What was in it? … He started to read where he had stopped. He read about Jesus and about an appearance in the Americas. I was shocked. I didn’t think that the Mormons believed in Jesus.’ …

“On a subsequent occasion this young man and his friend were traveling. Richard handed him a Book of Mormon and asked that he read it aloud. He did so, and suddenly the inspiration of the Holy Spirit touched him.

“Time passed and his faith increased. He agreed to be baptized. …

“That is the end of the story, but there are great statements in that story. One is the sorry manner in which his young Mormon associates treated him.

“Next is the manner in which his newfound friend, Richard, treated him. It was totally opposite from his previous experience. It led to his conversion and baptism in the face of terrible odds”
(Conference Report, Apr. 2006, 62–63; or Ensign, May 2006, 59–60).

What do we learn about the effects of pride on the Church and its members and the blessings of humility from Alma 1:19–30; 4:6–15 ?

What lessons do these accounts hold for us today?


Part 4: Alma 4:12–20 The “word of God” and “pure testimony” can change hearts

Many people can relate to what Alma felt when he was “very sorrowful” about the wickedness and afflictions of his people.  Think about a loved one you are worried about and keep that person in mind as you read Alma 4:12–20.

12 Yea, he saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted.
13 Now this was a great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ’s sake, who should come according to the spirit of prophecy;
14 Looking forward to that day, thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and deliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death.
15 And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.
16 And he selected a wise man who was among the elders of the church, and gave him power according to the voice of the people, that he might have power to enact laws according to the laws which had been given, and to put them in force according to the wickedness and the crimes of the people.
17 Now this man’s name was Nephihah, and he was appointed chief judge; and he sat in the judgment-seat to judge and to govern the people.
18 Now Alma did not grant unto him the office of being high priest over the church, but he retained the office of high priest unto himself; but he delivered the judgment-seat unto Nephihah.
19 And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.
20 And thus in the commencement of the ninth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, Alma delivered up the judgment-seat to Nephihah, and confined himself wholly to the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to the testimony of the word, according to the spirit of revelation and prophecy.
 
What brought joy to the people in their difficult circumstances?

What does the phrase “the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him” mean to you? Alma 4:15
15 And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.

What sacrifices did Alma make to help his people, and what sacrifices are we sometimes asked to make? 

What examples have we seen of the power of “pure testimony”? Alma 4:19 
19 And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.

What principle can we learn from Alma’s example in Alma 4:19? Bearing pure testimony helps others draw closer to God.

How can we share our testimonies without lecturing or being judgmental?  When Alma saw that he needed to reclaim the people by “bearing down in pure testimony against them” he called the people to repentance. However, in our fast and testimony meetings, our testimonies should be simple declarations of our faith, not exhortations. President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Do not tell others how to live. Just tell how you feel inside. That is the testimony. The moment you begin preaching to others, your testimony ended” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 138).

When have you heard people bear “pure testimony”? How have these experiences influenced you?


Examples of pure testimony can be seen in this video“Apostle Testimony Montage”



How do these testimonies, or others we have heard, “stir us up in remembrance of our duty”? Alma 4:19

How do these testimonies help us overcome pride and contention?

Conclusion
In this important lesson particularly for our day, we are given great guidance on being a positive influence, weeding out false doctrine from our lives as we avoid pride and find pure testimonies.  It makes me think about the things we do today, like, how and what will I post the next time I am on facebook or social media.  What will I engage in, conspiracy, arguments, lashing out, or will I invoke even the light of Christ on Social Media, which today, is our main means of communication and spreading of the gospel.  Will I allow pride and opinion to rule or will I follow Alma and our prophets and leaders today in my choices?  I know that lately I have seen and read many things that trouble me even from loved ones, and members, and its heartbreaking.  For me;  I will make great changes and strides, to be more aware of my comments and postings for even though they come not from the mouth, they are same.  We are in need of the examples of the gospel of Jesus Christ more today than ever; we need pure testimony, and positive light and love. That is something I wish to be a part of, that is something I wish to engage in as a service to Heavenly Father and ALL his children, and I pray it will be for all of you.  

Resources 
Book of Mormon Student Manual
Ensign
Conference Reports
Teachings of President Spencer W Kimball
Belle S. Spafford, A Woman’s Reach [1974], 96–97
BYU Women's Conference Speeches
Dallin H. Oaks, “Reading Church History”


“They Were Called the People of God”




Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog

Repentance and forgiveness are recurring themes in our gospel study, and being much thoughtfulness to our minds. When we study we may think about ourselves in such ways as: are we doing all we can to live righteously, are there things we need to fix, or improve upon. Have I really been forgiven of sins, because sometimes I don't feel as if I have, or I don't feel worthy of the forgiveness freely given. Sometimes I wish I could feel as I did when I was baptized.

These questions can plague us, and make us wonder, but they can also drive us to prayerful study so that we learn and understand the principles of the gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Fortunately the book of Mosiah in the book of Mormon, is full of these topics and can help answer our questions, as well as teach us for the future.

With proper prayerful study we can be confident that we have been forgiven of our sins, and continue to be forgiven daily as we seek the Lord, and follow all he has taught. We can remember the God freely forgives all those who repent, but also that we must be converted fully to be in harmony with Him. 

Through your study this week, contemplate how accepting the Atonement of Jesus Christ leads to repentance, full conversion, and the desire to labor for the salvation of others.

History and Background Mosiah 25–28

Limhi’s people and Alma’s followers journeyed to Zarahemla to be united safely under King Mosiah’s rule. As these groups of Nephites came together, they recognized the goodness of God and His power to deliver them and they established a unified Church.  

However, many of the “rising generation” rejected the testimony of their fathers and led some Church members to “commit many sins”  As a result, Alma sought the Lord’s guidance on how to deal with members of the Church who broke the laws of God. He also prayed that his own son might “be brought to the knowledge of the truth”

From Alma's prayers for help we learn the manner in which priesthood leaders must admonish those who commit serious sin and help them through the repentance process. We also see the need for all mankind to be “born of God” in the story of Alma the Younger and the four sons of Mosiah. 

After the conversion of Alma the younger and the four sons of Mosiah; the sons of Mosiah felt a strong desire to preach the gospel to the Lamanites. King Mosiah supported their decision, but he was then left without a successor to his throne and a caretaker for the scriptural records. He gave Alma (the son of Alma) the responsibility for the records. Instead of appointing another king, he instituted a system of judges as the new form of government.

Part 1: Mosiah 26:15–31; 27:23–37 God freely forgives those who repent

What comes to mind when you think of the words repentance and forgiveness? Do we wonder sometimes if our repentance has been sufficient? Alma the Elder from these chapters asked those same questions too, and after diligently seeking the Lord in prayer he was able to teach not only his people but us as well, what the Lord expects and how we obtain true forgiveness.

15 Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi.
16 And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone which thou hast spoken unto them.
17 And blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people.
18 Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine.
19 And because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor, thou art blessed.
20 Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep.
21 And he that will hear my voice shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church, and him will I also receive.
22 For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive.
23 For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.
24 For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.
25 And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me.
26 And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed.
27 And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
28 Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day.
29 Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also.
30 Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.
31 And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor’s trespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation.

23 And it came to pass after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and began to speak unto them, bidding them to be of good comfort:
24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
27 I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off.
28 Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.
29 My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.
30 I rejected my Redeemer, and denied that which had been spoken of by our fathers; but now that they may foresee that he will come, and that he remembereth every creature of his creating, he will make himself manifest unto all.
31 Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye.
32 And now it came to pass that Alma began from this time forward to teach the people, and those who were with Alma at the time the angel appeared unto them, traveling round about through all the land, publishing to all the people the things which they had heard and seen, and preaching the word of God in much tribulation, being greatly persecuted by those who were unbelievers, being smitten by many of them.
33 But notwithstanding all this, they did impart much consolation to the church, confirming their faith, and exhorting them with long-suffering and much travail to keep the commandments of God.
34 And four of them were the sons of Mosiah; and their names were Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and Himni; these were the names of the sons of Mosiah.
35 And they traveled throughout all the land of Zarahemla, and among all the people who were under the reign of king Mosiah, zealously striving to repair all the injuries which they had done to the church, confessing all their sins, and publishing all the things which they had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them.
36 And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.
37 And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.

What words and phrases from these verses teach about repentance and forgiveness?

How does God feel about those who repent and seek forgiveness?

Imagine you are a bishop of a ward that includes some members who have committed serious sins. As a bishop, you are charged by the Lord to hold these members accountable and help them to repent. How you would treat these members and how you could best help them?

A situation like this was difficult for Alma. Like authorized priesthood leaders today, he had the responsibility to help members of the Church who had committed serious sins to repent, gain forgiveness, and return to an active and honorable standing in the Church.

What did Alma learn from the Lord in Mosiah 26:15–31 that could help church members? 


Why is it important for us to know that priesthood leaders seek and receive the Lord’s guidance when helping those who have sinned?

After Alma prayed for guidance about how to help the Church members who had committed serious sins, the Lord gave him instructions. He was to give the members the opportunity to repent, but if they did not repent, they were not to be numbered among the Lord’s people. These instructions give important insights into the principle of repentance.

How would you summarize the Savior’s words in Mosiah 26:23

Why do you think it is important for us to realize that the Savior Himself paid for our sins?

What phrases in Mosiah 26:21–31 show the Savior’s confidence and trust in Alma as a priesthood leader? 

How could having the help of a priesthood leader assist those who struggle with difficult sins or temptations?

What do you think it means to repent “in the sincerity of one’s heart”? Mosiah 26:29

Why do you think we must forgive others to receive the Lord’s forgiveness?
  Mosiah 26:31

How can we be sure the Lord has forgiven us? President Henry B. Eyring teaches us that: “If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life” (“Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times,” Ensign, June 2007, 23)

Part 2: Mosiah 27:8–24 God hears our prayers and will answer them according to His will

Alma the Younger and the sons of King Mosiah rebelled against their fathers and the Lord and attempted to destroy the Church of God. Many of us can relate to the feelings of Alma the Elder, whose son was “rebelling against God" 

8 Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities.
9 And he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God; stealing away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension among the people; giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them.
10 And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king—
11 And as I said unto you, as they were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood;
12 And so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth, and understood not the words which he spake unto them.
13 Nevertheless he cried again, saying: Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people.
14 And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.
15 And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God.
16 Now I say unto thee: Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam, and in the land of Nephi; and remember how great things he has done for them; for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.
17 And now it came to pass that these were the last words which the angel spake unto Alma, and he departed.
18 And now Alma and those that were with him fell again to the earth, for great was their astonishment; for with their own eyes they had beheld an angel of the Lord; and his voice was as thunder, which shook the earth; and they knew that there was nothing save the power of God that could shake the earth and cause it to tremble as though it would part asunder.
19 And now the astonishment of Alma was so great that he became dumb, that he could not open his mouth; yea, and he became weak, even that he could not move his hands; therefore he was taken by those that were with him, and carried helpless, even until he was laid before his father.
20 And they rehearsed unto his father all that had happened unto them; and his father rejoiced, for he knew that it was the power of God.
21 And he caused that a multitude should be gathered together that they might witness what the Lord had done for his son, and also for those that were with him.
22 And he caused that the priests should assemble themselves together; and they began to fast, and to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak, and also that his limbs might receive their strength—that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God.
23 And it came to pass after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and began to speak unto them, bidding them to be of good comfort:

24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.

What part of the description of Alma and the sons of Mosiah stands out most to you? Why?

Why had the angel come to Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah?

What do these verses teach about how we can help others who are struggling?  Praying with great faith in behalf of others may help them come to a knowledge of the truth.


Why do you think the angel told Alma to remember the captivity of his fathers and the great things God had done for them? Mosiah 27:15–16 
15 And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God.
16 Now I say unto thee: Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam, and in the land of Nephi; and remember how great things he has done for them; for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.


 After the angel shared his message, Alma could not speak, became weak, and was carried helpless to his father. When Alma’s father heard what had happened, he “rejoiced, for he knew that it was the power of God” He assembled the people “that they might witness what the Lord had done for his son”  He also had the priests gather, and they fasted and prayed that his son might receive his strength and be able to speak.

The account of Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah is evidence that the Lord hears our prayers, He will not override the agency of those for whom we pray, and He may not send an angel to intercede, but He will hear our prayers and will respond in His way and His time.

When have you felt that your prayers have made a difference in someone’s life?

Understanding that we cannot demand a miracle or override someone’s agency, what can we appropriately pray for when a loved one goes astray?
Alma 6:6

6 Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.

Part 3: Mosiah 27:8–28:4 All men and women must be born again

When the scriptures speak of being born again the refer to a spiritual rebirth. What does it mean to be spiritually reborn? The Bible dictionary tells us that to be spiritually reborn is to be converted.  Conversion is given this definition:  Denotes changing one’s views, in a conscious acceptance of the will of God (Acts 3:19). If followed by continued faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism in water for the remission of sins, and the reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, conversion will become complete and will change a natural man into a sanctified, born again, purified person—a new creature in Christ Jesus (see 2 Cor. 5:17). Complete conversion comes after many trials and much testing. 

What doctrine did the Lord teach Alma, in Mosiah 27:8–28:4? We must be born again in order to inherit the kingdom of God. 

What does it mean to be born again? To be born again means to have the Spirit of the Lord cause a mighty change in a person’s heart so that the person has no more desire to do evil but rather desires to seek the things of God Mosiah 5:2

According to Mosiah 27:24, 28, what did Alma do that led to this change? 
24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
28 Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.

What signs do you find in Mosiah 27:8–28:4 that teach of Alma and the sons of Mosiah had been spiritually reborn?

Although the mighty change of heart apparently occurred quickly for Alma and the sons of Mosiah, most of us experience this change more gradually. Being born again is a process more than an event. As we are converted we must evolve and grow into Christlike lives, attitudes, thoughts and behaviors. We cannot expect ourselves to change overnight, but we can expect ourselves to grow and change.  President Ezra Taft Benson taught:  

“We must be careful, as we seek to become more and more godlike, that we do not become discouraged and lose hope. Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible. The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were: Alma the Younger, Paul on the road to Damascus, Enos praying far into the night, King Lamoni. Such astonishing examples of the power to change even those steeped in sin give confidence that the Atonement can reach even those deepest in despair.

“But we must be cautious as we discuss these remarkable examples. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment” (Ezra Taft Benson, “A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989, 5

Alma and others throughout the scriptures have used the metaphor of being born again to describe the change that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings to our lives. Elder David A. Bednar compared this change to a cucumber becoming a pickle:  

“A pickle is a cucumber that has been transformed according to a specific recipe and series of steps. The first steps in the process of changing a cucumber into a pickle are preparing and cleaning. …

“The next steps in this process of change are immersing and saturating the cucumbers in salt brine for an extended period of time. … Cucumbers can only become pickles if they are totally and completely immersed in the brine for the prescribed time period. The curing process gradually alters the composition of the cucumber and produces the transparent appearance and distinctive taste of a pickle. An occasional sprinkle of or dip in the brine cannot produce the necessary transformation. Rather, steady, sustained, and complete immersion is required for the desired change to occur.

“The final step in the process requires the sealing of the cured pickles in jars that have been sterilized and purified. The pickles are packed in canning jars, covered with boiling hot brine, and processed in a boiling-water-bath canner. All impurities must be removed from both the pickles and the bottles so the finished product can be protected and preserved. …

“Just as a cucumber must be prepared and cleaned before it can be changed into a pickle, so you and I can be prepared with ‘the words of faith and of good doctrine’ (1 Timothy 4:6) and initially cleansed through the ordinances and covenants administered by the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. …

“Just as a cucumber is transformed into a pickle as it is immersed in and saturated with salt brine, so you and I are born again as we are absorbed by and in the gospel of Jesus Christ. … This phase of the transformation process requires time, persistence, and patience. …

“The boiling-water-bath procedure enables the pickles to be both protected and preserved over a long period of time. In a similar way, we progressively become purified and sanctified as you and I are washed in the blood of the Lamb, are born again, and receive the ordinances and honor the covenants that are administered by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood” (“Ye Must Be Born Again,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 19–21).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught: “Being born again, unlike our physical birth, is more a process than an event. And engaging in that process is the central purpose of mortality” (“Born Again,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 78).

**Points to Ponder:

How do we strive to act toward others when we are spiritually reborn?

How might understanding that being born again usually happens gradually help someone who is frustrated with his or her spiritual development?

Conclusion:
As we continue to strive to repent daily and improve upon ourselves and natures, we see that God gives freely to us, he forgives, truly allowing us to change and does actually hear and answer our sincere prayers.  Whether through powerful spiritual events in our lives or through a gradual, sometimes imperceptible process that might be recognized only in hindsight, we each have a conversion story. However, it is truly important that we each remember that conversion should be ongoing. We do not become perfect in a day, but gradually through time and eternity, grow to that perfection, being wholly converted. Elder Bruce R McConkie taught: 

“We are born again when we die as pertaining to unrighteousness and when we live as pertaining to the things of the Spirit. But that doesn’t happen in an instant, suddenly. That … is a process. Being born again is a gradual thing, except in a few isolated instances that are so miraculous they get written up in the scriptures. As far as the generality of the members of the Church are concerned, we are born again by degrees, and we are born again to added light and added knowledge and added desires for righteousness as we keep the commandments. …

“As members of the Church, if we chart a course leading to eternal life; if we begin the processes of spiritual rebirth, and are going in the right direction; if we chart a course of sanctifying our souls, and degree by degree are going in that direction; and if we chart a course of becoming perfect, and, step by step and phase by phase, are perfecting our souls by overcoming the world, then it is absolutely guaranteed—there is no question whatever about it—we shall gain eternal life. Even though we have spiritual rebirth ahead of us, perfection ahead of us, the full degree of sanctification ahead of us, if we chart a course and follow it to the best of our ability in this life, then when we go out of this life we’ll continue in exactly that same course”
(Bruce R. McConkie, “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified” [Brigham Young University fireside, Sept. 5, 1976], 5, 6, speeches.byu.edu).

Resources: 
Book of Mormon student Manual 
Ensign
Conference Reports
Bible Dictionary




 

The Fall of Adam and Eve

  Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end...