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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday School - Book of Mormon Lesson 20

Book of Mormon Lesson #20: “My Soul Is Pained No More”
Mosiah 25-28, Alma 36

1. Bruce R. McConkie: [Mosiah 26:1-2 – the rising generation did not believe] It is one thing to teach ethical principles, quite another to proclaim the great doctrinal verities, which are the foundation of true Christianity and out of which eternal salvation comes. True it is that salvation is limited to those in whose souls the ethical principles abound, but true it is also that Christian ethics, in the full and saving sense, automatically become a part of the lives of those who first believe Christian doctrines. It is only when gospel ethics are tied to gospel doctrines that they rest on a sure and enduring foundation and gain full operation in the lives of the saints. A New Witness, pp. 699-700.

2. Ezra Taft Benson: Seeking the applause of the world, we like to be honored by the men the world honors. But therein lies real danger, for ofttimes, in order to receive those honors, we must join forces with and follow those same devilish influences and policies which brought some of those men to positions of prominence. … Today we are being plagued within by the flattery of prominent men in the world. General Conference, Oct. 1964.

3. Jeffrey R. Holland: Perhaps no anguish of the human spirit matches the anguish of a mother or father who fears for the soul of a child. … [But] parents can never give up hoping or caring or believing. Surely they can never give up praying. At times prayer may be the only course of action remaining – but it is the most powerful of them all. Ensign, March 1977.

4. Joseph Smith: Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 148.

5. Spencer W. Kimball: He who will not forgive others breaks down the bridge over which he himself must travel. This is a truth taught by the Lord in the parable of the unmerciful servant [Matt. 18] who demanded to be forgiven but was merciless to one who asked forgiveness of him. Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 269.

6. Ed J. Pinegar & Richard J. Allen: The Lord answers the prayers of the people according to their faith. Therefore an angel is sent to convince Alma of the power and authority of God. We can have the blessings of God in our lives as we exercise our faith through prayer. Alma changes after this experience. Laman and Lemuel do not change after their angelic visitations. Agency is supreme – everyone can choose to obey or disobey. Let us realize the angels (messengers of God) can be in the form of mortals as well as from beyond the veil. President Thomas S. Monson has taught us that in our eternal roles and duties within the Church we can be inspired to be an answer to someone’s prayer. He said, “As we love the Lord, as we love our neighbor, we discover that our Heavenly Father will answer the prayers of others through our ministry.” Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 455.

7. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: Our first scriptural reference to gall, a bitter and poisonous herb, is found in Deuteronomy 29:18, where it is used as a metaphor to describe the spiritual state of those who turn from the God of Israel to embrace idolatry. The phrase Moses used was “gall and wormwood.” Wormwood also was a plant with a bitter taste. The doctrine being taught by Alma’s comment is that to leave righteousness and truth to embrace wickedness and falsehood embitters and poisons the soul toward those covenants that have been abandoned. Thus it is to be expected that those leaving the Church to satiate carnal appetites will not be able to remain neutral toward it but rather will be characterized by a bitter and poisonous spirit. Alma was a classic example of this sequence and here [in Mosiah 27:29] announces that he has been freed from this spirit of bitterness. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 308.

8. D. Parry, D. Peterson, & J. Welch: Apocalyptic imagery is not missing from the Book of Mormon, though it is not nearly as prominent as one would expect if the book had actually been composed in the world of Joseph Smith, because this was the one kind of doctrine that did have popular reception – the apocalyptic destruction. End-of-the-world sects were very common in Joseph Smith’s time …. The Book of Mormon avoids this image. The fire and smoke of hell, and other apocalyptic images, are clearly stated to be types, rather than realities, as is the monster death and hell. … Typical is the phrase of Alma: “I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God” (Mosiah 27:29). Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, p. 484.

9. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [Alma 36:9 – “If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed”] This is not a threat on Alma’s mortal life but a solemn warning relative to the eternal welfare of his soul. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 263.

10. Harold B. Lee: Conversion must mean more than just being a “card-carrying” member of the Church with a tithing receipt, a membership card, a temple recommend, etc. It means to overcome the tendencies to criticize and to strive continually to improve inward weaknesses and not merely the outward appearances. Ensign, June 1971.

11. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: True repentance requires that we surrender the memory of the sin, not in the sense that we are without the knowledge that we once transgressed but rather in the sense that we have laid down the burden, that our confidence might now wax strong in the presence of the Lord. … We must retain sufficient memory of the pain to avoid a repetition of the suffering. Still, as we grow in the things of the Spirit, that which is forgiven is to be forgotten. It is not true repentance when we cling to a sensuous memory in whose mental replaying we find delight. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, pp. 265-66.

12. Dennis L. Largey: Although the appearance of the angel led the youths to reverse directions spiritually, Alma observed that his final, true conversion came only after he had “fasted and prayed many days” (Alma 5:46), a clarification of the relationship between miraculous events and genuine conversion. Book of Mormon Reference Companion, p. 37.

13. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [Alma 36:21 – bitter pains] What, then, of those who accept Jesus as the Christ and allow his infinite and eternal sacrifice to stand in the stead of the suffering just described? Are such excused from all suffering? Contrary to much in the Christian world tradition, the answer is no. True repentance, which centers in faith in Christ and his atoning sacrifice, still requires sufficient suffering on the part of those desiring to repent to make them one in mind and soul with the Savior. The blessings of salvation, though freely given, cannot be wholly undeserved. In all things we must unite our best effort with him who sacrificed all. The testimony of holy writ is that without suffering there is no repentance. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 267.

14. Ezra Taft Benson: [Alma’s conversion] 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 that they are building a Godlike life. Ensign, October 1989.

15. Joseph Fielding Smith: [Reflecting on his own baptism] The feeling that came upon me was that of pure peace, of love, and of light. I felt in my soul that if I had sinned – and surely I was not without sin – that it had been forgiven me; that I was indeed cleansed from sin; my heart was touched, and I felt that I would not injure the smallest insect beneath my feet. I felt as if I wanted to do good everywhere to everybody and to everything. I felt a newness of life, a newness of desire to do that which was right. There was not one particle of desire for evil left in my soul. Gospel Doctrine, p. 96.

16. Robert L. Millet: The Spirit of God sanctifies – it cleanses and purges filth and dross out of the human soul as though by fire. The Spirit does far more, however, than remove uncleanliness. It also fills. It fills one with a holy element, with a sacred presence that motivates the person to a godly walk and goodly works. … Indeed,, they are freer than free, because they have given themselves up to the Lord and his purposes. They choose to do good, but their choices are motivated by the Spirit of the Lord. Life in Christ, pp. 98-99.

17. L. Tom Perry: After conversion comes the desire to share – not so much out of a sense of duty, even though that responsibility falls on the priesthood, but out of a sincere love and appreciation for that which has been received. When such a “pearl of great price” comes into our lives, we cannot be content just to admire it by ourselves. It must be shared! General Conference, April 1984.

Next week: Mosiah 29, Alma 1-4 “Alma … Did Judge Righteous Judgments”

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