Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Alma 8-14

        I am not a seeker of signs but I have been seeing some. The number two is frequently presented to me in different venues. 

    One re-current theme in the Book of Mormon is the "two ways".  Nephi describes these two paths as "choosing liberty, or eternal life" or "choosing captivity and spiritual death through the power of the devil". Given this argument, who wouldn't choose liberty? But this liberty is not freedom to do as we please. This freedom is gained by walking in the ways of God and keeping his commandments. 
   Is it possible there is a third way; my way? I found a lesson in a reality show, of all things. The Biggest Loser teaches the concept that to be successful at losing weight and restoring your life you must "walk the walk " according to the trainers and planners of the show or you will find yourself kicked off the ranch. The "walk" is hard and the contestants are tested each day as to whether they will work as hard as possible. I totally understand why some of them try to approach it through the "third way". They are thinking, "I am trying as hard as possible, I deserve to rest or just give up" 
  "I can slack off a little and no one will know." 
  " If I get kicked off the ranch, I can still do my own thing and get the desired outcome."
   But, the winners of this game choose the "way of liberty" because they can not regain their physical health without intervention. They see "the way" as their only hope. It takes a while to see the lie in the "third way" because we want very much to create our own reality. 

   So, in the continuing story of the teaching of Alma more evidence is given of the enabling power offered by the Savior, through the atonement. These chapters show the sweetness of relationships forged through "walking in the ways of God". Take for example the relationship between the Almas; father and son. Both men have walked the path of "captivity and death". In repenting from these errors in judgement they both have similar "enabling power" granted to them from angels who desire to strengthen them.
   Mosiah 26:14 "And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying: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."

Alma 8:10 "Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance....15   Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you."

    The foremost relationship is that between Alma and the Lord,  but the relationship between Alma and Amulek is also very sweet. Alma stayed many days with Amulek before they started preaching to the people of Ammonihah. I would love to know what they talked about.
   Alma 8:30 "And Alma went forth, and also Amulek, among the people, to declare the words of God unto them; and they were filled with the Holy Ghost. And they had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them; nevertheless they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison. Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his power in them."

   Alma and Amulek, bound together in a relationship with God, teach the "way". The people in Ammonihah hear this compelling explanation of the two ways.

   Alma 12:33 "But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son;
34 Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest."

    The first way is the way of repentance and the pathway is the soft heart towards the Savior who can then offer his mercy.

      Alma 12:35 "And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.  Now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first."

   The second way is the way of iniquity and the pathway is a hardening of the heart towards the Savior which stops our progression and results in the second death, the death of the spirit.
     Alma 12:37 "And now, my brethren, seeing we know these things, and they are true, let us repent, and harden not our hearts, that we provoke not the Lord our God to pull down his wrath upon us in these his second commandments which he has given unto us; but let us enter into the rest of God, which is prepared according to his word."

   That makes sense, doesn't it? I can see the only possible "way" is the way of life eternal. Everlasting destruction is not so good and the third way does not exist.  

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