Those who had heard King Benjamin’s sermon earlier in this history had experienced marvelous conversion. But conversion is a personal experience and cannot be passed along, like an inheritance, to one’s children. We can teach our children the principles of faith, repentance, baptism, the resurrection—which it sounds like these people did—but we cannot force them to believe and become converted unto the Lord.
The rising generation “could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto hs people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.” (1) They don’t believe in the resurrection or the coming of Christ.
And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.”Mosiah 26:3
One must believe the word of God before they can understand it. I think God does this for our protection, so we don’t understand things we will be responsible to do and then damn ourselves by not doing them. But also, the Spirit is the one who teaches of godly matters. If we don’t believe, He cannot help us.
I’ve been reading the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. One of the characters, Sazed, has a faith crisis and is searching for truth and meaning, but he just can’t seem to find it. He finally has an epiphany near the end and realizes he must choose to believe in order to believe. Logic never will make us see belief as the right choice. We must have faith in something unseen and unproven in order to believe.
What was it Spook said? Sazed thought, sitting in the shadowy kandra cavern. That faith was about trust. Trusting that somebody was watching. That somebody would make it all right in the end, even though things looked terrible at the moment.
To believe, it seemed, one had to want to believe.The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
What do you choose to believe?
The people separate into two bodies, according to faith (or no faith). The unbelievers “would not call upon the Lord their God.” (4) They’ve made a conscious choice NOT to believe or do anything to gain belief.
Over time, the dissenters become more numerous than the believers “because of the dissensions among the brethren.” (5) The dissenters gain followers and cause some saints to commit many sins. Something has to be done.
When sinners are brought before Alma, he doesn’t know what to do. This hasn’t happened before, so he “was troubled in his spirit, and he caused that they should be brought before the king,” (10) to be judged.
King Mosiah is wise. He realizes they have not committed crimes against the state. They’ve committed crimes against the soul, which puts them in Alma’s jurisdiction to judge their spiritual state.
And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God.”Mosiah 26:13
- How much better would our lives be if we “feared to do wrong in the sight of God.”
- How much stronger would we be spiritually if we humbly inquired of God what to do in all important matters?
Alma seeks for an answer by pouring out “his whole soul to God” (14). That requires lots of time, soul-searching, pondering, and mighty prayer.
The Lord answers Alma, blessing him for his belief in the words of Abinadi and for setting up His church. He tells him that “blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine.” (18)
Do I choose to take Christ’s name upon me every single day?
He blesses Alma for being willing to ask Him questions about the transgressor. Now, Christ gives Him direction for His church.
For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive.”Mosiah 26:22
Those who believe in Christ, He will FREELY forgive. He is anxious to save us.
For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.”Mosiah 26:23
Those that know God will come forth to live with Him and “have a place eternally at my right hand.” (24) Those that don’t know Him shall still come forth to stand before Christ. They will know Him then that He is their Savior, but instead of that being a day of rejoicing, they will shrink before their Maker, knowing in the depths of their heart that they have rebelled against Him. (25-27)
The Lord tells Alma what to do with those who have sinned against Him. If they “confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also.” (29)
The Lord is merciful. He does not want to cast His children off. He wants to save us from our sins. But if we do not want to be saved, He cannot force redemption. We have to choose Him, which entails godly sorrow, confession, sincere repentance, forsaking sins, and enduring to the end after we are forgiven.
Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.”Mosiah 26:30
God does not hold grudges when we rebel against Him. His hands are always reaching out, ready to receive us when we turn to Him in repentance. Remember the last chapter, about the immediate goodness of God. He wants us to return to Him. He yearns to bless us.
After Alma receives this revelation, “he wrote them down that he might have them.” (33)
This was a wise act. Revelation is precious. As mortals, we are subject to forgetting things very easily. When we receive counsel or direction from God, we should write it down so we might always have those words to remember later. It also shows God that we feel His words are important enough to record.
The church prospers after Alma regulates it and blots out those who are not willing to repent. Alma and the righteous saints do the following:
- Walk in all diligence (38)
- Taught the word of God in all things.
- Suffered all manner of afflictions (life didn’t get easy because they chose to follow Christ. They were “persecuted by all those who did not belong to the church of God.”)
- Admonish their brethren. (39) Admonish means to warn, urge, encourage, reprimand. They did so kindly to help and inspire each other to be better.
- Pray without ceasing (39)
- Gave thanks in all things (39)
How am I doing in becoming a saint through Christ’s Atonement?
Do I work on these things above and try to improve each day through utilizing repentance and seeking His Spirit to be with me always, as I keep my covenants with Him?
What could I work on this week to do better?