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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday School - Book of Mormon Lesson 22

Book of Mormon Lesson #22: “Have Ye Received His Image in Your Countenances?”
Alma 5-7

1. Ezra Taft Benson: The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. … The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature. General Conference, October 1985.

2. Mary Ellen Smoot: My dear brothers and sisters who have returned from missions, if the people you helped bring into the Church were to see you today, would they recognize you? Would they see a bright countenance when they look into your eyes? Are you praying, reading the scriptures, going to the temple, and otherwise investing in your spiritual well-being? … I hope that worldly concerns have not kept you from investing in eternity. BYU Satellite Broadcast, Feb. 2002.

3. Bruce R. McConkie: Except in … unusual circumstances, as with Alma (Mosiah 27), spiritual rebirth is a process. It does not occur instantaneously. It comes to pass by degrees. Repentant persons become alive to one spiritual reality after another, until they are wholly alive in Christ and are qualified to dwell in his presence forever. DNTC, vol. 3, p. 401.

4. Spencer W. Kimball: Somebody asked me this morning, “How do you keep humble?” Sometimes I am humble and sometimes I am unhumble. I think there is a formula that will never fail. First, you evaluate yourself. … I would be nothing without the Lord. My breath, my brains, my hearing, my sight, my locomotion, my everything depends on the Lord. That is the first step and then we pray, and pray often, and we will not get up from our knees until we have communicated. The line may be down; we may have let it fall to pieces, but I will not get up from my knees until I have established communications – if it is 20 minutes, if it is all night like Enos …. If it takes all day long, you stay on your knees until your unhumbleness has dissipated, until you feel the humble spirit and realize, “I could die this minute if it were not for the Lord’s good grace. I am dependent upon him – totally dependent upon him,” and then you read the scriptures. Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 233-34.

5. Gordon B. Hinckley: People ask me frequently what is my favorite verse of scripture. I have many and this is one of them, “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answers to thy prayers” (D&C 112:10). What a promise to those who walk without arrogance, to those who walk without conceit, to those who walk without egotism, to those who walk humbly. … What a solid and wonderful promise that is. Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 265.

6. Dallin H. Oaks: If we do righteous acts and refrain from evil acts, we have clean hands. If we act for the right motives and if we refrain from forbidden desires and attitudes, we have pure hearts. Pure in Heart, p. 1.

7. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [Alma 5:21 – garments must be purified] The garments of salvation are also a symbol of divine protection. Nephi sought such a blessing in this language: “O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my paths straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way – but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy” (2 Ne. 4:33). Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 31.

8. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [Alma 5:37 – professed to have known the ways of righteousness] Like a fire that gives no warmth, the profession of faith without the attending actions purges no sins and merits no place in the heavenly kingdom. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 35.

9. Joseph Smith: [Alma 5:52 – an unquenchable fire] A man is his own tormentor and his own condemner. Hence the saying, they shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man. Teachings, p. 357.

10. Boyd K. Packer: [Alma 7:7 – the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people] Truth, glorious truth, proclaims there is a Mediator. Through Him, Mercy can be fully extended to each of us without extending the eternal law of justice. This truth is the very root of Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them. General Conference, April 1977.

11. Hugh Nibley: When we speak of Jerusalem, it is important to notice Nephi’s preference for a nonbiblical expression, “the land of Jerusalem” (1 Ne. 3:10), in designating his homeland. While he and his brothers always regard “the land of Jerusalem” as their home, it is perfectly clear from a number of passages that “the land of our father’s inheritance” (1 Ne. 3:16) cannot possibly be within, or even very near, the city, even though Lehi had “dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days” (1 Ne. 1:4). The terms seem confused, but they correctly reflect actual conditions, for in the Amarna letters we read of the “land of Jerusalem” as an area larger than the city itself, and even learn in one instance that “a city of the land of Jerusalem, Bet-ninib, has been captured.” It was the rule in Palestine and Syria, as the same letters show, for a large area around a city and all the inhabitants of that area to bear the name of the city. … This arrangement deserves mention because many have pointed to the statement of Alma 7:10 that the Savior would be born “at Jerusalem, which is the land of our forefathers” as sure proof of fraud. It is rather the opposite, faithfully preserving the ancient terminology to describe as system which has only recently been rediscovered. An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 101.

12. Brigham Young: [Alma 7:11-12] The Father withdrew His Spirit from His Son, at the time he was to be crucified. … At the very moment, at the hour when the crisis came for him to offer up his life, the Father withdrew Himself, withdrew His Spirit. … That is what made him sweat blood. If he had had the power of God upon him, he would not have sweat blood. Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 206.

13. Merrill J. Bateman: [Alma 7:11-12] Whatever the source of pain, Jesus understands and can heal the spirit as well as the body. The Savior, as a member of the Godhead, knows each of us personally. … In the garden and on the cross, Jesus saw each of us and not only bore our sins, but also experienced our deepest feelings so that he would know how to comfort and strengthen us. General Conference, April 1995.

14. Neal A. Maxwell: Can we, even in the depths of disease, tell Him anything at all about suffering? In ways that we cannot comprehend, our sicknesses and infirmities were borne by He even before they were borne by us. The very weight of our combined sins caused him to descend below all. We have never been, nor will we be, in depths such as he has known. Thus His atonement made perfect His empathy and His mercy and His capacity to succor us, for which we can be everlastingly grateful as He tutors us in our trials. Even as I Am, p. 16.

15. Merrill J. Bateman: For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” (Hebr. 4:15), “[bore] our griefs, … carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4-5). The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us. The Pearl of Great Price teaches that Moses was shown all the inhabitants of the earth, which were numberless as the sands upon the seashore” (Moses 1:28). If Moses beheld every soul, then it seems reasonable that the Creator of the universe has the power to become intimately acquainted with each of us. He learned about your weaknesses and mine. He experienced your pains and sufferings. He experienced mine. I testify that He knows us. He understands the way in which we deal with temptations. He knows our weaknesses. But more than that, more than just knowing us, He knows how to help us if we come to Him in faith. General Conference, Oct. 2005.

16. Neal A. Maxwell: At the gate to heaven, Christ, the King of kings, waits for us with open arms. He awaits not only to certify us, but also to bestow a Shepherd’s divine affection upon His sheep as we come Home. The reality that, if we are worthy, we should one day be so warmly received by the Lord of lords and King of kings is marvelous beyond comprehension. Yet He cannot fully receive us until we fully follow Him. His love for us is unconditional and perfect, but ours for him is clearly not. Being just, He cannot deviate from His standards by giving us blessings without our obedience to the laws upon which such blessings are predicated. His devotion to truth is such that even in His mercy, He cannot lie, including to Himself, about our readiness. He knows our weaknesses, but, mercifully, He also knows how to succor us as we seek to cope with them. And whatever weaknesses remain in us, He will tutor us and train us to exculpate these, if we will but let Him. Let others, if they choose, advocate lesser lords or causes for mankind. Only Jesus, truly and fully, advocates the basic and central cause of mankind. Christ’s advocacy is advocacy with perfect empathy and mercy. Being sinless Himself, the wounds and scars He bears are actually ours. After all, He was “wounded for our transgressions.” He loves us so dearly that He voluntarily laid down His life for us. Furthermore, even though He gives us demanding commandments and stern tasks, He has mercifully promised to prepare a way for us to keep and to fulfill all of them. Oh, how glorious and wonderful is “this Jesus Christ”! If contemplating the doing of all these things – to become more and more like Him – makes us feel discouraged, intimidated, and overwhelmed, we need to remember that He never said it all had to be done in a day. Rather, if we could not travel fast, we could at least be steadfast and press forward, doing things in wisdom and in order and in a pattern of paced progress, first achieving correct direction and then added momentum. It is the labor of a lifetime and more. Even as I Am, pp. 33-34.

Next week: Alma 8-12 “More Than One Witness”

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