Now Alma starts preaching to the people in Gideon, who seem to be in a much better spiritual state than the people of Zarahemla. Alma preaches about the future coming of the Redeemer, which brings him joy.
“For behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all—for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people.” (7)
Christ’s condescension and redemption of His people is THE most important thing that has happened. That’s why Alma left the judgment seat to preach this message to the people.
- How important to me is the knowledge that Christ came and died for ALL mankind?
- Does this knowledge work in me to lead me to humility and repentance?
- Does this testimony of Christ work in me to increase my love for others, in that I want to share with them this truth that brings me joy?
- If not, what could I sacrifice or consecrate in my life to know and internalize these truths of salvation better?
Alma admits that he doesn’t know whether Christ will come among them when He comes to dwell with mortals, but he trusts God no matter what.
Now as to this thing I do not know, but this much I do know, that the Lord God hath power to do all things which are according to his word.”Alma 7:8
That is the kind of trust we need to have. Even when we don’t have answers to all our questions, we trust that God will do what is right and ultimately good for us.
Alma’s message from the Lord hasn’t changed. This message is the same one our prophets today give to us.
Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth..”Alma 7:9
The timing of this event is about 83 years before the coming of Christ. Alma tells the people that the Son of God will be born of Mary, “she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.” (10)
Then he gives them a true gift—prophetic testimony of Jesus Christ.
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kin; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”Alma 7:11
Hardships will come our way—whether we suffer physical, mental, social pain, temptations, sickness, infirmities (being weak or ill, especially due to age; disease, malady, broken minds, etc). Christ understands EVERY hardship we suffer in this life, because He took upon Himself ALL our infirmities, no matter what they were.
Thinking about what this must have entailed boggles my mind, and makes His call to repent and be born again so overwhelmingly miraculous to me.
Christ loves us, unconditionally. He knows our worst sins. He knows our most agonizing pains. He knows our humiliating crutches. He knows where we fail. He knows the very worst parts of us. Yet, He took these upon Himself so that we might be saved through His infinite grace.
Why wouldn’t we want to repent and follow Him after all He’s done for us? No one here on earth knows and loves us more thoroughly than Him? Why would we let ourselves be deceived by others who pull us away from such infinite love and mercy?
The answer is: we forget. It seems built into our mortal makeup. Forgetting is easy, and our mortal bodies take the easy route usually
But we must work to remember. It’s vital that we remember what Christ did for us, how much He loves us, and humble ourselves before our most merciful Redeemer.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.Alma 7:12
Alma tells his people once again that “ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven.” (14) He tells them to repent and be baptized and have “faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.” (14)
Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.Alma 7:15
This message is repeated throughout the Book of Mormon. Christ tells us to come unto Him and be saved. He has experienced everything we will ever experience, including our sins, weaknesses, bad habits, sicknesses, depression, low self-esteem, loneliness, and sorrows. He is the ONLY one who truly understands how we feel at our lowest points. Yet, still He says, ‘Come, I can make you whole. All you have to do is believe and come unto Me with your whole heart. Don’t hold anything back…and I promise to heal you.’
Death is the worst thing He could take upon Himself, and He did it for us. Because of His infinite love. For me. For you. He knows the pain I experienced after hip surgery. He knows the anguish and guilt I felt after losing a loved one to suicide. He knows the shame I felt when I realized that I had offended someone. He knows the hurt I felt when I learned that family members were gossiping about me. He knows the bone-crushing pain of cancer. He understands the darkness of depression.
He understands perfectly…because He experienced all our infirmities their worst forms. Because He has, He knows how to “succor his people according to their infirmities.” Jesus Christ is the perfect Source of healing for whatever ails us.
All he asks in return is to give up our sins, our weaknesses. Give them to Him, so He can give us healing, strength, and comfort in exchange. If we are willing to give away our sins to know Him and “show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments…” we shall have eternal life (16).
Alma tells the believers in Gideon to “awaken…to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him…” (22)
What is our duty? To come unto Christ through humble repentance, acknowledging our sins and weaknesses, and giving them to Him. It can be easy to become lax in our commitment to Christ, especially when life is going good. But when we go to sleep spiritually, we are vulnerable to the devil’s influence and power.
Alma gives them this final counsel. It is inspiring encouragement to us, guidance on how to be better.
And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive;
And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.”Alma 7:23-24
Will I embrace this ultimate gift of love the Savior holds out for me? Will I come unto Him, giving Him all my sins and infirmities, so that He can heal me?