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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday School - Book of Mormon Lesson 24

Book of Mormon Lesson #24: “Give Us Strength According to our Faith in Christ”
Alma 13-16

1. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: Those born into this life with the gift of faith merited that blessing, for we are told that there is a law “irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated” (D&C 130:20). Good works were also requisite for such high and holy foreordinations. Surely there is no better preparation for exercising faith and doing good works in the second estate than actually exercising faith and doing good works in the first. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, pp. 94-95.

2. B.H. Roberts: People sooner or later will manifest the strength of that intelligence and nobility to which their spirits had attained in the heavenly kingdom before they took bodies on earth. Defender of the Faith, p. 2.

3. Joseph Smith: Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365.

4. Bruce R. McConkie: The mightiest and greatest spirits were foreordained to stand as prophets and spiritual leaders, giving to the people such portion of the Lord’s word as was designed for the day and age involved. Other spirits such as those who laid the foundations of the American nation, were appointed beforehand to perform great works in political and governmental fields. In all this there is not the slightest hint of compulsion; persons foreordained to fill special missions in mortality are as abundantly endowed with free agency as are any other persons. By their foreordinations the Lord merely gives them the opportunity to serve him and his purposes if they will choose to measure up to the standard he knows they are capable of attaining. Mormon Doctrine, p. 290.

5. Theodore M. Burton: It is a sobering and humbling thought then to realize that we have been chosen beforehand and reserved for a special purpose – to use that priesthood for the benefit of others and not for our own aggrandizement. General Conference, Oct. 1974.

6. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: Sanctification is the process whereby one comes to hate the worldliness he once loved and love the holiness and righteousness he once hated. To be sanctified is not only to be free from sin but also to be free from the effects of sin, free from sinfulness itself, the very desire to sin. One who is sanctified comes to look upon sin with abhorrence. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 263.

7. Susan W. Tanner: [Alma 14:1-5 – the wicked reviled the truth] Recently my own children and their spouses were remembering times through the years when they had stood for correct values in the face of peer pressure. One would not participate in a cheer competition on Sunday; another told his employer that he could not work on the Sabbath day. One refused to watch a pornographic movie at a friend’s house when he was only 11; another refused to look with classmates at pornographic magazines. Both were ostracized socially for some time thereafter. Another child refused to succumb to bad, crass, vulgar language in her work environment. One refused liquor that his friend had stolen out of his parents’ locked cabinet. Another, who was the only Latter-day Saint member in her class, stood to give an English-class presentation and ended up fielding questions about the Book of Mormon. Our married children have continued to bear children in the face of worldly criticism. In these moments they could have felt alone; but as they stood as witness, they felt the companionship and sustaining presence of the Holy Ghost. They also were armed with blessings that come from obedience to God’s commandments. General Conference, April 2008.

8. Brigham Young: You are aware that many think that the Devil has rule and power over both body and spirit. Now, I want to tell you that he does not hold any power over man, only so far as the body overcomes the spirit that is in a man, through yielding to the spirit of evil. Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 69-70.

9. Lance B. Wickman: Mortality is so fragile. Only one heartbeat, the drawing of a single breath, separates this world from the next. One moment, my friend was a vital, living person; the next, his immortal spirit had fled, leaving the mortal tabernacle a lump of lifeless clay. Death is a curtain through which each must pass, … none of us knows when that passage will occur. Of all the challenges we face, perhaps the greatest is a misguided sense that mortality goes on forever and its corollary, that we can postpone until tomorrow the seeking and offering of forgiveness, which as the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches, are among mortality’s central purpose. General Conference, April 2008.

10. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [Alma 13:28 – pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear] The promise of the Almighty is that there is no situation out of which God cannot deliver us and no temptation that he cannot empower us against – if we are seeking with all our heart to avoid the taints of the world, if we are striving to navigate the gospel path with fidelity and devotion. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 107.

11. Robert L. Millet: The return to the path of purity and peace through repentance is not simply a grand work which man must perform on his own. … Rather, repentance is granted and available as a free gift to man through the Atonement; through the grace and goodness of Jesus Christ, men and women are not only entitled to repent but also are enabled to do so. In short, since God grants repentance, it cannot be viewed as a human work alone. By Grace Are We Saved, p. 34.

12. Thomas S. Monson: [Alma 14:11 – tragedy and trials] Yes, each of us will walk the path of disappointment, perhaps due to an opportunity lost, a power misused, or a loved one not taught. The path of temptation, too, will be the path of each. … Likewise shall we walk the path of pain. We cannot go to heaven in a feather bed. The Savior of the world entered after great pain and suffering. We, as servants, can expect no more than the Master. Before Easter there must be a cross. Ensign, Sept. 1992.

13. Spencer W. Kimball: But if all the sick were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled, and the basic principle of the Gospel, free agency, would be ended. If pain and sorrow and total punishment immediately followed the doing of evil, no soul would do a misdeed. If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously given the doer of good, there could be no evil – all would do good and not because of the rightness of doing good. … Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment or even death, and if these were not there would also be an absence of joy, success, resurrection, eternal life and Godhood. … Being human we would expel from our lives sorrow, distress, physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we closed the doors upon such, we might be evicting our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, longsuffering, and self-mastery. The sufferings of our Savior were part of his education. Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp. 92-106.

14. Harold B. Lee: To be persecuted for righteousness’ sake in a great cause where truth and virtue and honor are at stake is god-like. Always there have been martyrs to every great cause. The great harm that may come from persecution is not from the persecution itself but from the possible effect it may have upon the persecuted who may thereby be deterred in their zeal for the righteousness of their cause. Much of that persecution comes from lack of understanding, for men are prone to oppose that which they do not comprehend. Some of it comes from men intent upon evil. But from whatever cause, persecution seems to be so universal against those engaged in a righteous cause. Decisions for Successful Living, pp. 61-62.

15. Joseph Smith: The constable who served this second warrant upon me had no sooner arrested me than he began to abuse and insult me; and so unfeeling was he with me, that although I had been kept all the day in court without anything to eat since the morning, yet he hurried me off to Broome county, a distance of about 15 miles, before he allowed me any kind of food whatever. He took me to a tavern, and gathered in a number of men, who used every means to abuse, ridicule and insult me. They spit upon me, pointed their fingers at me, saying, “Prophesy, prophesy!” and thus did they imitate those who crucified the Savior of mankind, not knowing what they did. History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 91.

16. Ed J. Pinegar & Richard J. Allen: Ammonihah, a city pretending religion, a religion perfectly tolerant of any action save it be the preaching of the gospel of repentance! To preach repentance, to testify of Christ, to speak of the necessity of good works – these were sins too grievous to be borne. Their effect was to unite in wrath and bitterness the diversified factions within the congregations of this ever-tolerant religion. These missionaries of righteousness must be mocked, ridiculed, beaten, and imprisoned. Their adherents must be stoned, driven from the community, or burned at the stake. Such were the seeds they planted and such was the harvest they reaped in the desolation of Nehors. We are left to wonder to what extent Ammonihah is a prophetic foreshadowing of that which the scriptures denominate as the “desolation of abomination” (D&C 88:85), events that will precede and attend the coming of our Lord and Master that will bring again that peace once known to the faithful of the Nephite nation. Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, vol 1, p. 559.

Next week: Alma 17-22 “They Taught With Power and Authority of God”

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