Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday School - Book of Mormon Lesson 28

Book of Mormon Lesson #28: “The Word is in Christ Unto Salvation”
Alma 32-35

1. Joseph Smith: Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation nor existence. Lectures on Faith.

2. Joseph B. Worthlin: Faith exists when absolute confidence in that which we cannot see combines with action that is in absolute conformity to the will of our Heavenly Father. Without all three, first, absolute confidence; second, action; and third, absolute conformity – without these three, all we have is a counterfeit, a weak and watered-down faith. Gen. Conference, Oct. 2002.

3. Bruce R. McConkie: Deity is worshipped in prayer, song, sermon, and testimony; by the making of covenants, offering of sacrifices, performance of ordinances, and the participation in religious rituals and ceremonies; he is worshipped by man’s act of believing divine truths, by his being converted to them in their fullness; he may be worshipped in thought, word, and deed. But the most perfect of all worship comes from those who first believe the gospel, who then participate in its outward forms, and who finally keep the standards of personal righteousness that appertain to it. Mormon Doctrine, p. 849.

4. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [Alma 32:17 – show unto us a sign] There never was a people in the universe more difficult to be persuaded of the truth than the Jews: and had not their religion been incontestably proved by the most striking and indubitable miracles, they never would have received it. This slowness of heart to believe, added to their fear of being deceived, induced them to require miracles to attest to every thing that professed to come from God. They were a wicked and adulterous generation, continually seeking signs, and never saying, It is enough. … The Greeks, in like manner, could not believe that proclaiming supreme happiness through a man that was crucified at Judea as a malefactor could ever comport with reason and common sense; for both the matter and manner of the preaching were opposite to every notion they had formed of what was dignified and philosophic. … Thus Christ crucified was to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 226, quoting Clark’s New Testament Commentary, vol. 2, p. 195.

5. Bruce R. McConkie: [Alma 32:21 – Faith is not a perfect knowledge] Because faith is the power of God himself, it embraces within its fold a knowledge of all things. This measure of faith, the faith by which the worlds are and were created and which sustains and upholds all things, is found only among resurrected persons. It is the faith of saved beings. But mortals are in process, through faith, of gaining eternal salvation. Their faith is based on a knowledge of the truth, within the meaning of Alma’s statement that “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of all things,” but that men have faith when they “hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” In this sense faith is both preceded and supplanted by knowledge, and when any person gains a perfect knowledge on any given matter, then as pertaining to that thing, he has faith no longer; or, rather, his faith is dormant; it has been supplanted by pure knowledge. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pp. 209-10.

6. Bruce R. McConkie: [Alma 32:21 – faith in things … which are true]. Anyone with the power of speech could have commanded the rotting corpse of Lazarus to come forth, but only one whose power was greater than death could bring life again to the brother of Mary and Martha. Nor is working by faith merely a mental desire, however strong, that some eventuality shall occur. There may be those whose mental powers and thought processes are greater than any of the saints, but only persons who are in tune with the Infinite can exercise the spiritual forces and powers that come from him. … Faith cannot be exercised contrary to the order of heaven or contrary to the will and purposes of him whose power it is. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pp. 191-92.

7. Hugh Nibley: Twelve times the Book of Mormon names the prophet Zenos, next to Isaiah the most conspicuous Old World prophetic figure in the book. … How, one wonders, could an important prophet like Zenos, if he ever existed, have simply dropped out of sight without leaving a trace of himself in the Bible or anywhere else? That, as we have seen, is just the question that is being asked today about certain prophets now rediscovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Since Cumorah, p. 322.

8. Hartman Rcctor Jr.: [Alma 34:16 – Mercy can satisfy justice] All too often, the justice of God seems to be relegated to the back burner, while the mercy of God seems to get the lion’s share of attention. I presume this is true because we are all hoping for mercy and trying to avoid justice if at all possible. But it is a fact that God is just, and mercy cannot rob justice. Justice will have her due! It is also a fact that mercy, while it cannot rob justice, can satisfy the demands of justice in one instance and one instance only. … Only in the instance where we exercise faith in Jesus Christ unto repentance.

9. J. Richard Clarke: I believe, to use an insurance phrase, we must pay the deductible. We must experience sorrow enough, suffering enough, guilt enough so we are conscious and appreciate the heavier burden borne by the Savior. My soul pains when His atonement is treated lightly, when the blessing of repentance is reduced to simply “taking care of it with the bishop,” when there is a brief confession without humility or godly sorrow. This attitude of entitlement rather than privilege was recently expressed by a young Church member who wrote: “I have done bad things that I knew were bad because I’ve been taught that ever since I can remember. … I know repentance is a great gift. Without it I would be lost. I am not ready to repent of my sins; but I know that when I am ready I can.” Such indulgence in premeditated sin shows pitiful misunderstanding of repentance. Gen. Conference, April 1993.

10. Joseph Fielding Smith: [Alma 34:21 – cry unto him in your houses] May I ask this important question: how many families in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have regular nightly and morning family prayer? Those who neglect to do so are displeasing the Lord and are entitled to the same rebuke which the Lord gave some of the leading elders of the Church in the early days. No parent should depend solely on the organizations of the Church for the training of the children. They should be taught to pray regularly, secretly as well as in the family circle. The counsel that Alma and Amulek gave to the straying Zoramites is just as essential to the Latter-day Saints today as it was two thousand years ago. Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 5, p. 48 (1972).

11. John A. Widtsoe: Prayer should be direct and simple as if spoken to our earthly father. Routine forms of prayer should be avoided. The words spoken are less important than the humble faith in which they are uttered. “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.” It is the spirit of prayer that gives life to our desires. The direct simplicity of the Lords Prayer should be kept in mind. Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 316.

12. Jeffrey R. Holland: [Alma 34:28-29 – the royal law] To worthy causes and needy people, we can give time if we don’t have money, and we can give love when our time runs out. … Sister Drusilla Hendricks and her invalid husband, James, who had been shot by enemies of the Church in the Battle of Crooked River, arrived with their children at a hastily shaped dugout in Quincy, Illinois to live out the spring of that harrowing year. Within two weeks the Hendrickses were on the verge of starvation, having only one spoonful of sugar and a saucerful of cornmeal remaining in their possession. In the great tradition of LDS women, Drusilla made mush out of it for James and the children, thus stretching its contents as far as she could make it go. When that small offering was consumed by her famished family, she washed everything, cleaned their little dugout as thoroughly as she could, and quietly waited to day. Not long thereafter, the sound of a wagon brought Drusilla to her feet. It was their neighbor Reuben Allred. He said he had a feeling they were out of food, so on his way into town he’d had a sack of grain ground into meal for them. Shortly thereafter Alexander Williams arrived with two bushels of meal on his shoulder. He told Drusilla that he’d been extremely busy but the Spirit has whispered to him that “Brother Hendricks’ family is suffering, so I dropped everything and came running.” … May we hear the whisperings of the Holy Spirit when any neighbor anywhere “is suffering,” and … “drop everything and come running.” Gen. Conference, April 1996.

13. James E. Talmage: [Alma 34:32-33 – Can you repent after death?] We know not fully on what terms repentance will be attainable in the hereafter; but to suppose that the soul who has willfully rejected the opportunity of repentance in this life will find it easy to repent there is contrary to reason. To procrastinate the day of repentance is to deliberately place ourselves in the power of the adversary. Articles of Faith, p. 115.

14. Richard G. Scott: You can progress much more rapidly here on earth with your mortal body in this environment of good and evil than you will as a spirit in the spirit world. Gen. Conference, April 1997.

15. Brigham Young: [Alma 34:34-35 – same spirit possesses our bodies after this life] If we are faithful to our religion, when we go into the spirit world, the fallen spirits – Lucifer and the third part of the heavenly hosts that came with him, and the spirits of wicked men who have dwelt upon this earth, the whole of them combined will have no influence over our spirits. Is that not an advantage? Yes. All the rest of the children of men are more or less subject to them, and they are subject to them as they were while here in the flesh. Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 379.

Next week: Alma 36-39 “Give Ear to My Words”

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