Alma 12:3 thy thoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit
If we are careful not to share our personal, intimate thoughts, they can remain private. For the most part, we can be assured that no one will be able to pry into our private world. But although we can hide our thoughts from others, we cannot hide our thoughts from God. The Lord your God...is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (DC 33:1), and there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart (DC 6:16).
When God shares his power of omniscience with his servants, they are able to wield a great weapon in the cause of truth. Zeezrom, the greatest of their lawyers, is reduced to rubble by the power Amulek and Alma demonstrate. Zeezrom's private world of subtlety and wickedness seemed to be laid bare for all in Ammonihah to examine. How humiliating! And how humiliating it would be for us, at times, if our personal thoughts and wicked intentions were made public. See also Jacob 2:5, Alma 18:16.
Spencer W. Kimball
"Being in charge of the Endowment House, while the Temple was in the process of construction, Heber C. Kimball met with a group who were planning to enter the temple for ordinance work. He felt impressed that some were not worthy to go into the temple, and he suggested first that if any present were not worthy, they might retire. No one responding, he said that there were some present who should not proceed through the temple because of unworthiness and he wished they would leave so the company could proceed. It was quiet as death and no one moved nor responded. A third time he spoke, saying that there were two people present who were in adultery, and if they did not leave he would call out their names. Two people walked out and the company continued on through the temple." (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 112 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 263)
Alma 12:7 Zeezrom...was convinced more and more of the power of God
Dean L. Larsen
"It is at this point that a remarkable change begins to take place in the demeanor of Zeezrom. He becomes the earnest inquirer-the learner. The change is the more remarkable because it occurs in the presence and full view of the people to whom he has been appealing with his inquisition. 'And Zeezrom began to inquire of them diligently, that he might know more concerning the kingdom of God' (Alma 12:8)." (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 115)
Alma 12:9 it is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command
Stephen R. Robinson
"But doesn't God reveal things to people who are not priesthood leaders? Isn't it possible for exceptional individuals to learn by direct revelation mysteries that are unknown to others? Yes, this is possible, but always with one hugely important condition that is stated in Alma 12:9: 'It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him' (emphasis added). In other words, many of the faithful may receive revelations from God-even revelation regarding the mysteries. But they are commanded at the same time to keep their mouths shut! They can share with others what God has already revealed to the Church in the scriptures and through his prophets, but the rest is private, and keeping it private is a sacred obligation. In effect the Lord tells those who are blessed with additional insights, 'If I wanted everyone to know, I would instruct the prophet to teach it to the Church. But this is for you alone, so keep it to yourself.' Therefore, anyone in the Church (or out of it, for that matter) who shares a private revelation out of stewardship does so in violation of God's 'strict command.'" (Following Christ, pp. 102-3)
Marion G. Romney
"I do not tell all I know. If I did, the Lord could not trust me." (Lucile C. Tate, Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower, pp. 178)
Boyd K. Packer
"...as students there are some questions that we could not in propriety ask.
"One question of this type I am asked occasionally, usually by someone who is curious, is, 'Have you seen Him?' That is a question that I have never asked of another. I have not asked that question of my Brethren in the Council of the Twelve, thinking that it would be so sacred and so personal that one would have to have some special inspiration-indeed, some authorization-even to ask it.
"Though I have not asked that question of others, I have heard them answer it-but not when they were asked. I have heard one of my Brethren declare, 'I know, from experiences too sacred to relate, that Jesus is the Christ.' I have heard another testify, 'I know that God lives, I know that the Lord lives, and more than that, I know the Lord.' I repeat: they have answered this question not when they were asked, but under the prompting of the Spirit, on sacred occasions, when 'the Spirit beareth record.' (D&C 1:39.)
"There are some things just too sacred to discuss: not secret, but sacred; not to be discussed, but to be harbored and protected and regarded with the deepest of reverence.
"There are many difficult questions, including some that we will not be able to answer, and many things are to be taken on faith. As a teacher, therefore, do not let difficult questions create difficult problems for you or for those you teach." (Teach Ye Diligently, pp. 86-7)
Alma 12:10 until it is given...to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full
The Lord is anxious to give his obedient children the great mysteries of godliness. This blessing is reserved for those who will not harden their hearts, but instead fear God and honor him with their service.
'For thus saith the Lord--I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.
Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.
And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.
Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.
And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.
For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will--yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.' (DC 76:5-10)
But is it possible to know the mysteries of God in full during mortality? It would seem that this is not possible during our lifetimes. But imagine the joy of being present when the Savior teaches the mysteries of God during the Millenium. Imagine the blessings of celestial glory when everyone will be given a small white stone by which all that God sees and knows can be both seen and known.
'This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ's.
Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known' (DC 130:9-10).
Should we then be complacent with our current understanding of the mysteries? Given the great gap between God's knowledge and ours, should we just throw in the towel until a time when it is easier to learn? As Paul would say, God forbid. Clearly, we must learn how to receive the peaceable things of the kingdom through our diligence and obedience. For whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come (DC 130:18-19).
"I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness...It has always been my province to dig up hidden mysteries-new things-for my hearers." (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 363)
Dallin H. Oaks
"Learning the mysteries of God and attaining to what the apostle Paul called 'the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ' (Eph. 4:13) requires far more than learning a specified body of facts. It requires us to learn certain facts, to practice what we have learned, and, as a result, to become what we, as children of God, are destined to become.
"...(referring to DC 130:18-19) Note that intelligence is something more than knowledge. And note also the implication that knowledge is obtained by diligence and intelligence is obtained by obedience. Admittedly, the two methods are not mutually exclusive. But we come close to an important mystery of the gospel when we understand that the intelligence God desires us to obtain is much more than knowledge, and it cannot be obtained without obedience and revelation. That is the Lord's way, and it is far beyond the ways of the world."(The Lord's Way, p. 43)
Alma 12:11 they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion...until they know nothing
This is the doctrine of incremental insight, of revelation based on readiness, of precept upon precept; line upon line (Isa 28:10). The parable of the talents (and the very use of parables, themselves) teaches this same principle. At different times in our lives, we may only be ready for the Lord to give us one talent. Yet later he may find us worthy of two or five. If we are wise in our stewardship over the knowledge and revelation which he has given us, then more is given. When we waste the talent given to us by hardening our hearts, we will be left with nothing. As the Lord said, Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. (Matt 25:28-9)
B. H. Roberts
"For my own part I can think of nothing that could be a greater offense against the majesty of God than for a man with his limited intellectual power presuming to pass judgment upon and rejecting the things of God, because forsooth, these things do not conform to his opinion of what the things of God should be like; or because the way in which they are revealed does not conform to the manner in which he thinks God should impart his truths. Such pride always has and always will separate men from receiving knowledge by divine communication. As Alma taught, 'he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word' (Alma 12:10)." (Dallin H. Oaks, Pure in Heart, p. 93)
Alma 12:14 our words will condemn us
The prophet who most eloquently described the wickedness of evil speech is the apostle James. His instructions are unequalled when it comes to mastery of the tongue.
'If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.' (James 1:26)
'If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.' (James 3:2)
'Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity' (James 3:5-6)
'But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?' (James 3:8-11)
The Lord taught the equally sobering reality That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matt 12:36). Here the Lord appears to be reading us our rights, for anything we say can and will be used against us in His courts of law.
Alma 12:14 our works will condemn us
This concept is not hard to understand for the Jews, Mormons, and Catholics. It is the rest of Christianity which has turned faith into the all encompassing ticket to salvation. Again we are indebted to James for his words of perspective, faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (James 2:17).
Alma 12:14 our thoughts will also condemn us
We have already discussed how most of us consider our thoughts to be a private thing. Alma and Amulek exposed the wicked thoughts of Zeezrom, then teach us that all of us are going to be similarly exposed if we do not clean up our thoughts, for they will also condemn us.
That our thoughts both shape and reflect our character is not immediately evident to most. The book, As a Man Thinketh, has helped many to understand this concept:
"In the armory of thought man forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace....between these two extremes are all grades of character, and man is the maker and master...and shaper of condition, environment and destiny....All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts." (James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 264)
Spencer W. Kimball
"The one who harbors evil thoughts sometimes feels safe in the conviction that these thoughts are unknown to others and that they, like acts in the dark, are not discernible. The Revelator, John, seemed to clear this matter when he wrote:
'And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.' (Rev. 20:12.)
"And in the last days an angel will 'sound his trump, and reveal the secret acts of men, and the thoughts and intents of their hearts .' (D&C 88:109.)
"Accordingly, men's deeds and thoughts must be recorded in heaven, and recording angels will not fail to make complete recordings of our thoughts and actions. We pay our tithing and the bishop records it in his book and gives us a receipt. But even if the entry fails to get in the ward record, we shall have full credit for the tithes we paid. There will be no omissions in the heavenly records, and they will all be available at the day of judgment." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 109)
Boyd K. Packer
"We don't have to press upon you college intellects, do we, the generally accepted and accurate assessment that 'The idle mind is the devil's workshop,' or that 'As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he'? (Proverbs 27:3.)
"How many times have we heard it, over and over again? 'Guard your thoughts; keep your mind in the right place.'
"And yet it occurred to me that, with all of the urging I had been given on this subject, never had anyone told me how. Never did I receive any specific instruction on how to do what I had been urged to do-control my thoughts. So I, too, wondered, Does this control of one's thoughts have to be an individual discovery for every soul? Or can self-control of thoughts be taught? Are there things one can do, exercises that one can perform, or procedures that one can learn to help him? I have often lamented not having learned or been taught in my early college years more mastery of thoughts.
"It is to this subject, self-control of thoughts, that we turn.
"...The mind is like a stage. Except when we are asleep, the curtain is always up. Always there is some act being performed on that stage. It may be a laughing comedy or an aggrieved and tragic drama. It may be interesting or dull. It may be clear or it may be confused. It may be strenuous or perhaps relaxing. But always, except when we are asleep, always there is some act playing on that stage of the mind.
"Have you noticed that, without any real intent on your part and almost in the midst of any performance, a shady little thought may creep in from the wings and endeavor to attract your attention? These delinquent little thoughts, these unsavory characters, will try to upstage everybody. If you permit them to go on, all other thoughts, of any virtue, will leave the stage. You will be left, because you consented to it, to the influence of unworthy thoughts.
"If you pay attention to them, if you yield to them, they will enact for you on this stage of the mind, anything to the limit of your toleration. It may be vulgar, immoral, depraved, ugly. Their theme may be of bitterness, jealousy, excessive grief, even hatred. When they have the stage, if you let them, they will devise the cleverest persuasions to hold your attention. They can make it interesting, all right, even apparently innocent-for they are but thoughts.
"What do you do at a time like this, when the stage of your mind is commandeered by these imps of unclean thinking?....Let me suggest that you choose from among the sacred music of the Church one favorite hymn. I have reason for suggesting that it be a Latter-day Saint hymn, one with lyrics that are uplifting and the music reverent. Select one that, when it is properly rendered, makes you feel something akin to inspiration.
Now, go over it in your mind very thoughtfully a few times. Memorize the words and the music. Even though you have had no musical training, even though you do not play an instrument, and even though your voice may leave something to be desired, you can think through a hymn. I suspect you already have a favorite. I have stressed how important it is to know that you can only think of one thing at a time. Use this hymn as your emergency channel. Use this as the place for your thoughts to go. Anytime you find that these shady actors have slipped in from the sideline of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, think through this hymn. 'Put the record on,' as it were, and then you will begin to know something about controlling your thoughts. 'Music is one of the most forceful instruments for governing the mind and spirit of man.' (William F. Gladstone.) It will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind. Because it is clean and uplifting and reverent, the baser thoughts will leave.
"While virtue, by choice, will not endure the presence of filth, that which is debased and unclean cannot endure the light.
"Virtue will not associate with filth, while evil cannot tolerate the presence of good.
"...One final declaration: No good thought is ever lost. No turn of the mind, however brief or transitory or illusive, if it is good, is ever wasted. No thought of sympathy, nor of forgiveness, no reflection on generosity or of courage or of purity, no meditation on humility or gratitude or reverence, is ever lost. The frequency with which they are experienced is the measure of you. The more constant they become, the more you are worth, or, in scriptural terms, the more you are worthy. Every clean thought becomes you. Every clean thought becomes you." (That All May Be Edified, pp. 32-40)
Elder Milton R. Hunter
"If it is true that our bad unspoken thoughts are recorded against us, will it not be just as true that all our good thoughts unspoken, the kindness, tenderness, sympathy, pity, love, beauty, and charity that enter the breast and cause the heart to throb with silent good, find remembrance in the presence of God, also? Yes, I firmly believe that all of our good impulses and thoughts will find remembrance with the Lord just as much as will the evil that we have thought, said, or done; and certainly Since God is our loving Father, he will remember the good with a greater degree of satisfaction and joy than he will the evil." (Conference Report, Oct. 1946, p. 42)
Elder J. Thomas Fyans
"...just as rivers are colored by the substances picked up as they flow along, so the streams of our thoughts are colored by the material through which they are channeled" (Conference Report, Apr. 1975, p. 130).
Alma 12:15 we must come forth...and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just
Neal A. Maxwell
"The judgment day is one of the things that really will be. The 'future shock' of that judgment and the events to precede it will be without parallel. The dramatic day described so powerfully by Alma will be a highly compressed and collective moment of truth. This will be the day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus is the Christ. (Philippians 2:10-11.) No mortals will be standing that day. Those who were cruelly used by the adversary will see that awful reality. Nephi said the unrepentant guilty would 'remember [their] awful guilt in perfectness, and be constrained to exclaim: Holy, holy are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty-but I know my guilt; I transgressed thy law, and my transgressions are mine; and the devil hath obtained me, that I am a prey to his awful misery.' (2 Nephi 9:46.) Jesus, who purchased us and who owns us, will require this owning up. They who transgressed divine law will openly admit that their transgressions are their own and cannot be laid at someone else's door." (Things As They Really Will Be, p. 111)
Alma 12:16 then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death
The second death, or spiritual death, is defined as being cut off from the presence of God. This means that you cannot see the face of God, you cannot withstand the presence of God, you will not enjoy the visitation of the Son, and you are not worthy of the smallest portion of the spirit of the Holy Ghost. It is a total and complete separation from God. As described in the scripture, this state happens to those who suffer in hell. It also describes the state of the Sons of Perdition who are cast out after the last soul is resurrected. Therefore, the second death has power upon all those who suffer in hell until the resurrection of the wicked. At that point the second death applies only to the Sons of Perdition, These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels-And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power (DC 76:36-7).
One might be inclined to think that the "first death" must be the death of the mortal body. This is not the case. The Lord explains that the first death is also spiritual and occurs when we leave his presence and come to earth. This is symbolized by the fall of Adam, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death (or second death), which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed (DC 29:41).
Alma 12:18 they shall be as though there had been no redemption made
Those who suffer the second death are cast into the lake of fire and brimstone and they are described as Amulek had stated earlier, the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death (Alma 11:41). Therefore, these prophets are describing the fate of the sons of Perdition. Although resurrected, they are not redeemed by the Lord. In other words, they cannot enjoy his presence. The language of DC 76 makes it clear that Alma and Amulek are talking about the sons of Perdition, These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels-And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord (DC 76:36-38).
What is amazing is how many times this subject has come up and we are not even half way through the Book of Mormon. Interestingly, the Book of Mormon never talks about the three degrees of glory. Rather, exaltation and the fate of the sons of Perdition are spoken of over and over again. From other latter-day scriptures and prophets, we are led to understand that only the very most wicked and rebellious souls will suffer this terrible fate. Yet, from the Book of Mormon's warnings, one might think that it would be the fate of millions of the wicked. It seems that the Book of Mormon prophets are discussing this doctrine to warn the wicked and exhort them to repentance. The words of DC 19 seem to apply to these prophets' continual use of this doctrine, wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name's glory (DC 19:7).
Alma 12:21 God placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the garden of Eden
Antionah asks a good question. He is familiar enough with the scriptures to know that as soon as Adam confessed his sin in partaking of the fruit, God immediately placed angels in the way of the tree of life so that Adam would not live forever "in his sins." Antionah interprets this to mean that it is impossible for Adam or any of his children to live forever. Because of his interpretation, he is confused by Alma's open discussion of a resurrection in which the soul can never die.
The point of preventing Adam and Eve from partaking of the tree of life after they had become as the gods, knowing good and evil, is that they would be immortal in a sinful state. Nothing could be worse than to live forever having been severed from God by the first spiritual death. Alma says they would have been forever miserable (v. 26). Had they partaken of that fruit, they would never have been granted that probationary state where inevitable sin, repentance, and redemption become the great road back to the paradise of God. Alma teaches the doctrine more clearly to his son, Corianton:
'For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.
But behold, it was appointed unto man to die--therefore, as they were cut off from the tree of life they should be cut off from the face of the earth--and man became lost forever, yea, they became fallen man.
And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will.
Now behold, it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness.
Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.
Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state...
Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.' (Alma 42:5-13)
"When Adam was driven from the garden, an angel was placed with a flaming sword to guard the way of the tree of life lest man should eat of it and become immortal in his degenerate state, and thus be incapable of obtaining that exaltation which he would be capable of enjoying through the redemption of Jesus Christ, and the power of the resurrection, with his renewed and glorified body." (Gospel Kingdom, ed. by G. Homer Durham, p. 218)
Alma 12:24 this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God
Were we to meet God in our current state of mortality, his great glory and power would consume our imperfect bodies. Those who have stood in his presence in mortality and lived to tell about it explain that they must first be transfigured in order to withstand his presence. Some day this will change. Some day, the righteous will be able to stand in the presence of the Father without first being transfigured. They will do so with pure hearts, clean hands, and a perfect resurrected body. Although we are not yet prepared to meet him, his great plan of redemption has given us the necessary time to make stupid mistakes, learn how to deal with carnal desires, and overcome them all so that we can, once again, enjoy his presence-not as innocent spirit children, but as perfected, resurrected heirs of exaltation.
The greatest estate planner of all is the Lord:
'We will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.' (Abr 3:24-26)
"We are being tested every minute of the day by the choices we make, by the reactions we have, by the things we say, by the things we think about. It's like the ancient Christian doctrine of the two ways, the way to the right and the way to left, whichever they are. You must make the choice, and you may have made the wrong choice every day of your life up until now, but as long as you are here it is still not too late. You can still make the right choice-every minute you can make the right choice. It's never too late to make the right one...We have a time to repent; 'therefore this life became a probationary state.' Well, it can't be anything else; it's a time to prepare to meet God. That's why we need the gospel here." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Lecture 48, p. 327)
Jeffrey R. Holland
"'Our second estate is indeed a probationary state. The choices we are called upon to make every day of our lives call forth the exercise of our agency. That we fail so frequently to think and do that which is right is not evidence against the practicality of righteous living. We do not falter and stumble in the path of righteousness simply because we do nothing else, but because too often we lose the vision of our relationship with God. The incessant din and cackling ado of this turbulent life drown out the message which asserts that, as man is, God once was, and that as God is, man may become.
"'If we will not dance to the music of materialism and hedonism but will remain attuned to the voice of godly reason, we will be led to the green pastures of respite and the still waters of spiritual refreshment. All the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune this world can hurl against us are as nothing when compared to the rewards for steadfastness and faithfulness. It would behoove us all to fix our sights more consistently upon the things which are everlasting and eternal. This world is not our home.'
"Those lines are from the valedictory address at the Utah state prison graduation exercise I mentioned at the outset. The speaker was about fifty years of age and has been behind bars for more than half of those years. He knows whereof he speaks." (However Long and Hard the Road, p. 63)
Alma 12:31 becoming as Gods, knowing good from evil
The scriptures always explain how it is that Adam and Eve became as gods with a variation of the phrase "knowing good and evil." This underscores the importance of the agency of man. Just having the knowledge of good and evil and being placed in a situation in which they could act for themselves, made them like the gods. Obviously, the exercise of free will is a quality of godhood. What a great responsibility it is to be placed in a situation in which we are free to act according to our wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good!
There is another characteristic which immediately made Adam and Eve like the gods. That is the power of procreation. To whom else is this power given except to those who have been exalted? What greater power and responsibility could be given to Adam and Eve than to be responsible for the rearing and teaching of God's innocent spirit children? Yet, the scriptures do not speak of this doctrine because of its sensitive and truly sacred nature. But through Joseph Smith, the mysteries of the kingdom have been unfolded, and we learn that the continuation of the seeds forever and ever, is a quality of godhood (DC 132:19-20).
Alma 12:32 God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption
Jay E. Jensen
"A truth about which I want to speak comes from Alma: 'Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption.'
"The sequence in the teaching process from this verse is that our Heavenly Father first taught Adam and Eve the plan of redemption; then he gave them commandments. All commandments have their eternal importance in the context of the great plan of happiness (see Alma 42:8; 34:9).
"I know that this truth is a key to conversion, retention, and activation. If we can help people first understand the plan, they will find a deeper and more permanent motivation to keep the commandments.
"Another way of saying what Alma taught came from an experience on of the General Authorities shared. He related how he spoke with a sister he knows who years earlier went through a divorce. She approached him to thank him for the counsel he gave her during her darkest hours. She reminded him what he had told her; 'Now sister, don't lose your eternal perspective. Always keep an eternal perspective.' She said that truth became her pillar of strength.
"When we understand the great plan of happiness, we are gaining an eternal perspective, and the commandments, ordinances, covenants, and the experiences, trials, and tribulations can be seen in their true and eternal light." (Conference Report, Apr. 2000, May Ensign, p. 27)
Alma 12:36 he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation
Alma has been distinguishing between the first spiritual death and the second, and between the first commandments and the second commandments. The first commandments, of course, are the commandments given to Adam and Eve in the garden, and the second commandments are the ones given to them after they were cast out (v. 31-32). Along this same line of discussion, the first provocation is when Adam and Eve provoked the Lord by disobeying his commandments and thereby bringing about the Fall of man. The last provocation, to which Alma refers, is the provocation of the children of men when they disobey the second set of commandments and thereby are in danger of suffering the penalty of the second spiritual death.
"If any should feel disposed to doubt whether the second penalty will be inflicted, let them look at the infliction of the first, during the last 6,000 years. The first death, with all its attendant evils, has extended its ravages among all nations and generations since the first law was broken. If God, then, has fulfilled His word in the first provocation, to the very letter, why should any one suppose that He will not inflict the second death as a penalty of the second provocation?" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 330)
Alma 12:37 let us enter into the rest of God
The "rest of God" does not describe a condition of inactivity, idleness, and perpetual sleep. Rather, it connotes the rest received from wickedness, pain, and the tribulations of the world. It is similar to the state of translated beings who were not to suffer pain nor sorrow save it were for the sins of the world (3 Ne 28:38). The term, "the rest of God," is further described below:
"'Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.' (D&C 84:23-24)
"These verses indicate a connection between seeing the face of God, having the power of the priesthood, having the key of the knowledge of God, and entering into the rest of God.
"Alma also understood that entering into the rest of God meant seeing the face of God and experiencing his fulness, and that this could only be accomplished through the power of the higher priesthood. In the broader context within which Alma's sermon on priesthood appears, Alma referred to rest four times before the sermon (in Alma 12:34-37) and four times in the concluding portions of the sermon (Alma 13:12, 13, 16, and 29). Alma consciously emphasized the word 'rest,' repeating it again and again to accentuate the importance of the concept.
"In a sense, the word rest is an idiom in that its meaning is broader than the word implies. Rest doesn't just refer to lying in bed or doing no work. Rest is possible only through the atonement of Christ and is earned through faith, repentance, and not hardening our hearts (Alma 12:37)...the prophet Enos bids farewell to his people and expresses his assurance of eternal life.
'And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.' (Enos 1:27)
"These scriptural passages afford the hope and comfort that all the faithful saints who have been valiant in the service of God and who have kept his commandments and loved their fellow beings may confidently look forward to the rest of God." (FARMS: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Spring 1996, vol. 5, no. 1, p. 116-8)