31 May 2015

Alma 41:14 - Alma's Advice on a Good Resurrection

Everyone wants advice about how to live their lives, right? What better source than Alma the Younger, former bad boy, Chief  Judge, mega-missionary, and a recipient of the "hey, he got translated" prize?

After clarifying that resurrection is an incorruptible restoration of ourselves, good or bad, Alma give some advice to his wayward son, Coriantion, in Alma 41:14.
  • be merciful to others;
  • deal justly;
  • judge righteously; and
  • do good continually. 
He says that if we do these things, we will get them in return in the resurrection.  In his words, they will be "restored unto you again, and you will have good rewarded unto you again."

So, you want a nice afterlife? Alma's advice is to learn to spread niceness around during life and it will come back to you in the hereafter!

24 May 2015

What is Important about Resurrection? - Alma 40

The "one-a-day" study plods on and I am to the chapter where Alma is telling his son Corianton about how the resurrection works from his perspective. Of course, I am now interjecting my thoughts on the subject from my perspective as well, so as Alma did, "...I give it as my opinion..." (Alma 40:20).

One has to recall that Alma lived before the coming of Jesus Christ, so his perspective on it is different than those of us that live after Jesus himself was resurrected. Alma uses the phrase "first resurrection" in this context to mean the resurrection of the people that happens somewhat immediately after Christ's resurrection and involved those who lived before Christ, like Alma himself.

Often, we, from our perspective, talk of the "first resurrection" as the one that is next in coming on the time-line, the resurrection of the repentant previous to judgement, which has not yet begun. I suppose we call it "first" because others will follow where the unrighteous are resurrected.

So, here is the same phrase used to talk about two separate happenings and occasions. I never really noticed this before, but Alma is talking about the earlier "first resurrection" at some length. It is a bit confusing.

Apparently, there was some confusion about resurrection in the times of Alma and Coriantion that the father felt the need to clarify to the son. We only get to read Alma's response to that confusion. He said that no resurrection happens until Christ has come. He also says that God reserves many of the particulars of the process to himself and that, for our part, we only need to know that resurrection comes for all and the timing of it doesn't matter too much and God hasn't revealed such. (Alma 40:1-10)

I think this is instructive about what we feel is important about many gospel subjects. We can dig about in the minutia of sentence structure in the record, "strain at a gnat" (Matthew 23:24) as it were, but we are better served to realize what is important and leave "the small stuff" to the Lord. Righteousness, the thing we will be judged by, is determined by how we live and spend our time, not particularly by knowing sometimes confusing scripture details we hope to reconcile one day.

To Alma explaining things to his errant son, some things just don't matter as much as others. We will be resurrected and judged for our obedience during mortal life - that matters.

03 May 2015

Alma 39:14

Alma 39:14
  • Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you.
A few days back, I read one of those "riches" scriptures as part of my "one-a-day" study. At one time in the past, I did a rather in-depth study of the whole idea of money and the Lord's feelings on the subject. I can't say that I found any amazing insight into the subject, but I did learn that the manner in which one becomes rich and how it is used are of more vital interest to the Lord than the wealth itself.

For most of us, it is better not to have or pursue riches in the first place. The whole endeavor can cause spiritual problems that are just as well avoided. But one must also understand that wealth can be the consequence of obedience to the Lord and his desire to increase your stewardship.

Helaman 13:21
  • Behold ye, the people of this great city, and hearken unto my words; yea, hearken unto the words which the Lord saith; for behold, he saith that ye are cursed because of your riches, and also are your riches cursed because ye have set your hearts upon them, and have not hearkened unto the words of him who gave them unto you. (emphasis mine)
The problem with wealth is that we often pursue it for its own sake, having our "hearts (set) upon them". If you seek riches simply for the luxuries that riches can bring, you are not listening to the Lord, who has other plans for the things he permitted you to acquire.

This scripture brings up the truth that, if you have riches, you must remember who provides it, which is the Lord. We don't have a thing that the Lord hasn't generously provided. Also, he has the absolute right to take such away from us, including our lives if it pleases him. He lets us have these things and even lets us misuse them, for a while. We must always remember that we must give an accounting for the use of everything, as we are merely stewards of our possessions and bodies. As it says in the first scripture, you can't take it with you!

Helaman 6:17
  • For behold, the Lord had blessed them so long with the riches of the world that they had not been stirred up to anger, to wars, nor to bloodshed; therefore they began to set their hearts upon their riches; yea, they began to seek to get gain that they might be lifted up one above another; therefore they began to commit secret murders, and to rob and to plunder, that they might get gain.
Boy, does that sound like us? We have been so blessed, especially in the United States of America, with such abundance. I am trying to lose weight that is a result of enjoying the riches of this land more than is good for myself! It is a magnificent blessing that also comes with its evil sisters of pride and greed, which quickly turn such richness into a curse. We think we are better than the poor. We think we are rich because we are better people. In the end, we might even steal and murder to increase our riches and status.

Jacob 2:19
  • And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
Of course, the result of righteousness is to be blessed and some of those blessings may include riches. It becomes important that we have the right heart when dealing with riches, and that must be to share it with others in need. If you are generous with what you have, the Lord will help you acquire more so that you can expand that generosity! The goal is that everyone will be rich, or rather more richly blessed.

Doctrine and Covenants 38:39
  • And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.
And now, the Lord's modern rendition which is a nice sum-up of the subject. Be careful in seeking riches - your only intent in doing so should be the blessing of the needy. Don't fall into the constant cycle of the Nephites, where they were humbled into righteousness, blessed, grew prideful in their wealth, and were punished, over and over again. Trust that the Lord always blesses righteousness and punishes pride.