Svithe: Alma 5
Tomorrow, Lady Steed and I are speaking in sacrament meeting. The topic is Perfecting the Saints and I have decided to give a talk I have long longed to give.
To believe this talk is even possible, you will have to trust me when I say that I can read the scriptures compellingly. I'm not boasting, it's just something I can do, like run into door jambs.
This talk is making its world premiere here on Thmusings, so I cannot yet tell you how it went over with an actual congregation. If you want to know, ask.
It's possible I will have to severely truncate it. Who knows how much time I'll actually have.
Anyway, here it is:
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Brothers and sisters, today I will channel Alma the Younger.
Before I share the message I’ve prepared, you need to understand a bit about me and about my father, who was also named Alma.
The story is well known among us and I dare say you are all familiar with the evil King Noah who led so many of our own fathers into dreadful wickedness.
And how the prophet Abinadi came to them and warned them of the judgments of God.
And how my father believed—and even after the king murdered the prophet with fire—my father hid in the wilderness and taught the people and built a Church.
I will mention our fathers again later, but now I want to remind you that their captivity is a metaphor for our own.
Each of us has been held captive by sin, and when I mention our fathers’ captivity, we would do well to think of our own weaknesses and wickednesses.
And when I speak of their redemption, I would remind you of the exquisite joy that comes from repentance and allowing the Savior to free us from our own sins.
My message today closely resembles a talk I gave to the people of Zarahemla about 2100 years ago. Mormon collected it in his book, and if you would turn to Alma chapter five, you can find the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation thereof.
My father began to establish a church in the land which was in the borders of Nephi; yea, the land which was called the land of Mormon; yea, and he did baptize his brethren in the waters of Mormon.
And behold, they were delivered out of the hands of the people of king Noah, by the mercy and power of God.
And after that, they were brought into bondage by the hands of the Lamanites in the wilderness; yea, I say unto you, they were in captivity, and again the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word; and we were brought into this land, and we began to establish the church of God throughout this land also.
And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers?
Yea, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance God’s mercy and long-suffering towards them?
And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?
Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God.
Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.
And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed?
I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.
And now I ask of you: on what conditions are they saved?
What grounds had they to hope for salvation?
What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?
Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them?
And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God.
And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.
And now I ask of you, my brethren of the church: have ye spiritually been born of God?
Have ye received his image in your countenances?
Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you?
Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
Can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day:
Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?
Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you?
Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?
Can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?
Can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?
Can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil?
I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, even Jesus Christ, who came to redeem his people from their sins.
And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you?
Will they not testify that ye are guilty of all manner of wickedness?
Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such a one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white?
I say unto you, Nay; except ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning, or suppose that he is a liar from the beginning, ye cannot suppose that such can have place in the kingdom of heaven; but they shall be cast out for they are the children of the kingdom of the devil.
And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God?
Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?
Behold, are ye stripped of pride?
I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God.
Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such a one hath not eternal life.
Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy?
I say unto you that such a one is not prepared; and I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand, and he knoweth not when the time shall come.
And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?
Wo unto such a one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!
Yea, even wo unto all ye workers of iniquity; Repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it!
Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.
Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;
Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire—
For behold, the time is at hand that whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit, or whosoever doeth not the works of righteousness, the same shall have cause to wail and mourn.
O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice!
Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.
And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil.
For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.
Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him;
but whosoever bringeth forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the devil, for he hearkeneth unto his voice, and doth follow him.
And whosoever doeth this must receive his wages of him; therefore, for his wages he receiveth death, being dead unto all good works.
And now, my brethren, I would that ye should hear me, for I speak in the energy of my soul; for behold, I have spoken unto you plainly that ye cannot err, or have spoken according to the commandments of God.
And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself.
And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation.
And it is available to all.
Moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true.
And I say unto you, that I know of myself that what I say unto you is true;
And I say unto you, that I know that Jesus Christ came, yea, the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth.
And behold, it is he that came to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name.
And now I say unto you that all, both old and young, both bond and free, both aged, and middle-aged, and the rising generation; they must repent and be born again.
Yea, thus saith the Spirit: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand; yea, the Son of God cometh in his glory, in his might, majesty, power, and dominion.
Yea, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, that the Spirit saith: Behold the glory of the King of all the earth; and also the King of heaven shall very soon shine forth among all the children of men.
And also the Spirit saith unto me, yea, crieth unto me with a mighty voice, saying: Go forth and say unto this people—Repent, for except ye repent ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say unto you, the Spirit saith: Behold,
the ax is laid at the root of the tree; therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire, yea, a fire which cannot be consumed, even an unquenchable fire. Behold, and remember, the Holy One hath spoken it.
And now my beloved brethren, I say unto you, can ye withstand these sayings; yea, can ye lay aside these things, and trample the Holy One under your feet; yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts; yea, will ye still persist in setting your hearts upon the vain things of this world, upon your riches?
Yea, will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another; yea, will ye persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the holy order of God, wherewith they have been brought into this church, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and they do bring forth works which are meet for repentance—
Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them?
And finally, all ye that will persist in your wickedness, I say unto you that these are they who shall be hewn down and cast into the fire except they speedily repent.
And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd,
Come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things;
Behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith:
The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people, for the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand.
And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? ↓ I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled.
For what shepherd is there among you who having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.
And what parents are there among you that doth not watch over their children, that the wolves enter not and devour them? And if a wolf were to enter their home, would they not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if they can, will they not destroy him?
And now I say unto you that the Good Shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice, he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.
And now I, Alma, do command you in the language of him who hath commanded me, that ye observe to do the words which I have spoken unto you.
I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying:
Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life, which fruit is most precious and most desirable above all other fruits—and the greatest of all the gifts of God.
And now, brethren and sisters, I would, if I may, share with you some words from Moroni about those (meaning all of us) who have decided (or are deciding) to accept baptism and to join Christ’s church:
Those who were baptized and cleansed by the Holy Ghost (Moroni writes), were remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
And the Church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak with one another concerning the welfare of their souls.
And they did meet together oft to partake of break and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.
And though they made mistakes, as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.
And their meetings were conducted after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost;
For as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach or to exhort or to pray or to supplicate or to sing, even so, it was done.
Brothers and sisters, I now add my testimony to those shared by Alma and Moroni.
We have been given the greatest of gifts—the Atonement of Jesus Christ—and through it we can be saved and return to live with him and our Eternal Father.
We have been given the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and he will guide us as we strive to be perfect, even as our Father, which is in heaven, is perfect.
And we have been given each other, our fellow travelers, to strengthen and help us, to guide and to love us
That together we can overcome any difficulty and become worthy of any blessing.
The Savior must believe we can do it, else why would he have named his church the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If he thought we were halfwits and screwups he would have said so; he does not lie.
So we can do it. Through the blood of Christ, we can go there together.
If we will hearken unto his voice, he will bring us into his fold, and we will be his sheep; and he will suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among us.
I leave my testimony with you that these things are true,
in the name of Jesus Christ,