Mosiah 26:1 there were many of the rising generation that...did not believe
As little children at the time of king Benjamin's famous sermon, this generation lacked the faith and commitment of their parents. What is most amazing is not that this generation lacked faith but that the preceding one never faltered after covenanting to serve the Lord. In one incredible sermon, Benjamin was able to change the lives of all his people. For years afterward, they were still faithful, providing us with a great example of what it means to endure to the end. Somehow, they didn't allow the passage of time to dim the light of their faith or slacken the strength of their conviction. While for us it often takes many talks, lessons, sermons, and conferences (as the scriptures say, stirring them up continually, Enos 1:23) to keep us in the straight and narrow way, it seems that Benjamin's speech was a seminal, life-changing experience for all who heard it.
Mosiah 26:6 they did deceive many with their flattering words
The enemies of the church use flattery to deceive the very elect. Flattery is to preach that which is pleasing unto the carnal mind (Alma 30:53). Although Mormon doesn't give us specific examples of what was said, elsewhere in the Book of Mormon we are told, Eat, drink, and be merry...God...will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this (2 Ne 28:8). Today, we have many examples of modern-day flattery designed to destroy the members of the church. In particular, there are many, who like the dissenters of Alma's day, find pleasure in fostering apostasy among the members. The following quotations are taken from websites designed to "enlighten" Mormons and encourage those who are struggling in the faith. Their words are flattering to the carnal mind. The first two promote fear and paranoia about the massive, power-hungry Church, the next two are the battle cry of the atheist, and the last is the sectarian warning about Moroni 10:4:
"The Church is not a benign organization. It believes in using tactics similar to McCarthyism of the 1950's."
"I am very concerned about the Mormon church gaining more political power. The church 'owns' parts of Idaho, Arizona and practically all of Utah. Utah also has a very powerful senator in Orin Hatch."
"I had been exposed to the idea of evolution before, but usually in a negative light. But in this class, we were required to read a lengthy passage from Darwin's 'Origin of Species.' It detailed the basic arguments of evolution and some of the evidence. It was like a light had gone on in my mind. I began to read everything I could about evolution, and the more I read, the more it made sense to me."
"I refuse to believe in a god that would drown his children, allow untold suffering and injustice to others, give the truth to a few and then damn to hell the rest of them who refuse to believe and do what he says. I'm sorry, but that does not compute."
"Asking a potential new convert to pray to God to reveal to them feelings of confirmation that the B of M is true is a 'a form of positive hypnosis'."
The list could go on and on, but if there is a common theme to all of these statements it is that they make sense to the carnal mind and, therefore, are a form of flattery. Paul explains that the man who destroys with flattery is vainly puffed up by his fleshy mind (Col 2:18). This has been the tool of the adversary for millennia. It worked for him in the days of Alma and it continues to work for him now.
Mosiah 26:9 there were many witnesses against them
Was it right for the members of the church to charge fellow members with transgression? Doesn't this amount to tattling on other members? Is there any basis for such behavior? The mores of our society condemn the whistleblower, yet there is a scriptural basis for witnessing against the transgressor. This is the responsibility of the member particularly when another member has been guilty of serious transgressions. As set forth in the Law of Moses, someone has to witness against the transgressor, At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death (Deut 17:6). Under current church government, both the accuser and the accused are given ample time to explain their position, In all cases the accuser and the accused shall have a privilege of speaking for themselves before the council (DC 102:18). From the above, we learn that the members of Alma's church were not amiss to testify of their iniquity in abundance.
Mosiah 26:12-13 Mosiah said unto Alma: Behold, I judge them not
This interchange is a great example of human nature. Neither Mosiah nor Alma wanted to judge the transgressors. There had been peace among both Mosiah's people and Alma's little band up until this point. Now, with a new problem to face, neither leader wanted to take responsibility for the unsavory task of punishing the transgressors. Besides, if Alma had been working so hard to convert souls to the church, he was certainly in no hurry to excommunicate anyone! This is the uncomfortable responsibility which is placed upon one acting as a judge in Israel. Only those who have acted in this calling can fully understand the weight of the mantle.
Appropriately, the spirit of Alma was again troubled. Mosiah was the king and he was the high priest-making the ultimate responsibility his. He did the only thing he could do, he inquired of the Lord. This is a great model for all of those called as a judge in Israel.
"It is a fearsome and awesome responsibility to stand as a judge of the people. You must be their judge in some instances as to worthiness to hold membership in the Church, worthiness to enter the house of the Lord, worthiness to be baptized, worthiness to receive the priesthood, worthiness to teach and to serve as officers in the organizations." (Church News, Sep. 9, 1995)
Boyd K. Packer
"Bishop, those who come to you are children of God. Counsel them in the Lord's own way. Teach them to ponder it in their minds, then to pray over their problems.
"Remember that soothing, calming effect of reading the scriptures. Next time you are where they are read, notice how things settle down. Sense the feeling of peace and security that comes.
"Now, from the Book of Mormon, this closing thought: The prophet Alma faced a weightier problem than you, bishop, will likely see in your ministry. Like you, he felt uncertain; and he went to Mosiah. Mosiah wisely turned the problem back to him, saying:
'Behold, I judge them not; therefore I deliver them into thy hands to be judged.
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.
And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him.' (Mosiah 26:12-14.)
"That voice will speak to you, bishop. That is your privilege. I bear witness of that, for I know that He lives. May God bless you, bishop, the inspired judge in Israel, and those who come to you, as you counsel them in the Lord's own way." (That All May Be Edified, pp. 96-7)
Mosiah 26:15 Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi
"'Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi.' Now what about childish faith? What about being gullible, etc.? He believed in the 'words alone.' He saw no evidence, no proof, or anything like that. And it wasn't the words of God; it was the words of Abinadi alone that he believed in. What's going on here? Why is there merit in this?
"The great Krister Stendahl is now bishop of Lund and chief of the Swedish church. He was here at a luncheon and someone (namely me) quoted Joseph Smith as saying, 'Nobody was ever damned for believing too much.' Well, he found that extremely offensive. But when it comes to it, everybody believes too much. There's not a person here who believes a single thing that has been absolutely and completely proved-gravitation or anything else. You have to believe all sorts of things that you can't possibly prove, and everybody believes them. Well, what's the point here then? Because Alma believed in his words alone. I would emphasize his. You are blessed because of the things you chose to believe-not by the act of believing, not by just faith. You weren't blessed because you believed, but because you chose what to believe." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Lecture 40, p. 177, italics added)
Mosiah 26:18 this people who are willing to bear my name...they are mine
This verse is instructive because it reveals the blessing received by those who are willing to bear the name of Christ. If we take upon ourselves his name, we become his sons and daughters. In effect, we become his very possession-we are His, purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28). The message is clear, if we are willing to bear his name, He is willing to take claim us on judgment day. If we are not ashamed of his name, he will not be ashamed of us before the Father but will make intercession for us. For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand (v. 24). Of course, the converse is also true, whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory (Lu 9:26).
Mosiah 26:20 I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life
The distinguishing characteristic of having one's calling and election sure is the promise of eternal life. The Lord hereby gives Alma his calling and election. Notice that this promise of eternal life comes after Alma had shown the Lord that his faith was unfailing and his diligence was undaunted. Such a grand promise from the Lord comes only after 'the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards' (Teachings, p. 150). Alma had already demonstrated this determination.
This doctrine is sacred and discretion should be used regarding the appropriate time and audience in discussing it, but Peter thought it important enough for the saints that he exhorted them to make their calling and election sure, saying, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure (1 Pet 1:10). If one is to make their calling and election sure, it is helpful to understand what this phrase means. Elder McConkie explains.
Bruce R. McConkie
"Those members of the Church who devote themselves wholly to righteousness, living by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, make their calling and election sure. That is, they receive the more sure word of prophecy, which means that the Lord seals their exaltation upon them while they are yet in this life. Peter summarized the course of righteousness which the saints must pursue to make their calling and election sure and then (referring to his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration with James and John) said that those three had received this more sure word of prophecy. (2 Pet. 1.)
"Joseph Smith taught: 'After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shall be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter.' To receive the other Comforter is to have Christ appear to him and to see the visions of eternity. (Teachings, pp. 149-151.)
"Thus, as the prophet also said, 'The more sure word of prophecy means a man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy through the power of the Holy Priesthood.' (D. & C. 131:5.) Those so favored of the Lord are sealed up against all manner of sin and blasphemy except the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and the shedding of innocent blood. That is, their exaltation is assured; their calling and election is made sure, because they have obeyed the fulness of God's laws and have overcome the world. Though such persons 'shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation.' (D. & C. 132:26.)
"The Lord says to them: 'Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; . . . and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths.' (D. & C. 132:19.) The prophet, for one, had this seal placed upon him. That is, he knew 'by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood,' that he would attain godhood in the world to come. To him Deity said: 'I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father with Abraham your father.' (D. & C. 132:49.)" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 109-110)
Mosiah 26:22 For behold, this is my church
When the Lord discusses His church, he often is not referring to the ecclesiastical organization but a group of followers-those who follow him and repent of their sins. This broad definition is given in the D&C, Behold, this is my doctrine-whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church (DC 10:67). This seems to one of the meanings in verse 22 because the Lord had spoken of those that will hear my voice (v. 21) and those who are baptized unto repentance. Based on the D&C definition, it is possible to be a Mormon but not a member of His church. The unrepentant and self-righteous Mormon is like the children of Israel who thought that salvation came by virtue of their descent through Abraham, saying, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham (Jn 8:39). The modern day corollary is an unrepentant member of the Church who says to the Lord, "but Lord, I am a member of your church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." He would reply, "If ye were a member of my Church, then ye would repent and come unto me."
Conversely, it is possible for a non-Mormon to be considered part of His church if they have truly repented and come unto him. The point of this is not to say that non-Mormon followers of Christ don't need the ordinances of salvation, but to show that when the Lord looks down from the heavens, he doesn't just identify with the faithfulness of the Latter-day saints. He loves all of his children and considers many non-Mormons part of his flock. Those of us who are members of his recognized ecclesiastical organization must understand that membership alone does not equal recognition by the Lord. We must hear his voice and follow him in order to really be part of His church.
Mosiah 26:24 if they know me they shall...have a place eternally at my right hand
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (Jn 17:3). These famous words are filled with meaning. The importance of knowing the Lord cannot be underemphasized. This doesn't refer to knowing his name, knowing the history of his mortal ministry, or knowing of the thousands of Christian traditions that have developed since. It means that every individual must have a real, personal relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ. The story is told of two men who died and went to heaven. The first was interviewed about his life, beliefs, and accomplishments. After the interview, the interviewer showed him which door he was to pass through. Next, it was the second man's turn. After he entered the room for his interview, he immediately dropped to his knees and exclaimed, "My Lord, My God!"
Those who know him have hearkened to his invitation, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20). The Lord further explained, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also (DC 132:22-23). This is the life-long goal of the true disciple, to develop an intimate, personal relationship with the Master. Lip service is not enough for Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matt 7:21-23).
Mosiah 26:26-27 but they would not be redeemed. And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them
Charles W. Penrose
"There is one class which will be different from all the rest. They shall be brought forth, the Lord says, but they will go back into their own place. They would not receive that which they might have had; they would not obey that which they might have obeyed. They received the light and the truth and then would not use it in the way that God had appointed. They would not go on unto perfection by keeping every word that proceeded from the mouth of God, but prostituted the power God had given them, to rise to the highest heights but sunk down to the lowest depths; denying the truth revealed to them; shedding innocent blood; consenting to the death of Christ; thus sinning against the Holy Ghost and becoming so corrupt and abominable that they cannot be redeemed. But they shall be brought forth from the grave and become subject to the devil, and his angels in eternity. What is their end? we do not know; nobody knows, the Lord says. Some people are inquiring about the end of these sons of perdition. The Lord says no man knows it, that the end thereof and the height and the extent and the depth thereof no man knoweth and if the Lord does reveal it to some He shuts up the vision. What, then, is 'the second death?' Why, the Lord tells us what that is in His revelation in the twenty-ninth section of the D&C. It is eternal banishment from His presence. He is the source of light and truth and power and glory and happiness and joy and dominion and increase forever, of which they will all be deprived. Being shut right out from the light, these shall go away into outer darkness where no ray of light comes, spiritual or physical--no ray of light from sun or moon or twinkling star or even a comet; to be in outer darkness, and no wonder there is 'weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth,' to use the scripture expression." (Conference Reports, Oct. 1914, p. 42)
Mosiah 26:29 Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge
The Lord is commanding Alma to do that which he was hesitant to do. He was placed in a position which required him to pass judgment, and the Lord is encouraging him to fulfill his duty. This is a difficult position for a priesthood leader but he cannot afford to shirk his responsibility.
Harold B. Lee
"Sometimes, too, stake presidents, bishops, and others are so anxious about not offending someone, that they do not confront them when there is serious moral transgression.
"I was in a stake conference recently where one of the bishops frankly stated that he had determined that he would never excommunicate any person no matter what the sin. I told him that if this was his true feeling, then he was in the wrong position as a common judge in Israel. Whenever I have been asked by a bishop or stake president as to how he should handle a given case, I have usually replied that it was his responsibility as a bishop to make that decision and not mine as a General Authority, and that in making his decision he had better be sure that he was right. To be a judge requires spiritual guidance, tact, and wisdom, but it takes courage when action is necessary.
"I do not think such situations call for stake presidents and bishops to be insensitive or militant, but stake presidents and bishops must realize that the gospel is designed to change us all, to make us more like the Master. When we let members lead a double and destructive life, instead of doing them a favor as we suppose, we damage them, sometimes, irreparably. We must let the light of gospel standards shine fully, and not try to deflect the penetrating rays of its standards. The gospel is to save man, not to condemn them, but to save, it is sometimes necessary to confront and to discipline as the Lord has directed us. When individuals are on the wrong path, our task is to redirect them lovingly, and not to watch idly from our vantage point on the straight and narrow path. (69-13)" (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, pp. 117-8)
Spencer W. Kimball
"By virtue of his call and ordination and setting apart, [the bishop] also becomes a 'judge in Israel' and has the responsibility of making many decisions which affect the progress and development of his people. He gives direction to their spiritual activities so that he can give them opportunities for growth, and judge their accomplishments. He decides as to their worthiness and eligibility for certain blessings and privileges. He holds the key to all temples in the world and it is he who must turn that key to open the doors thereof and that they may go through eternal marriage to life eternal.
"He has the keys to the storehouses and must decide if one is eligible through need and worthiness to be given welfare assistance. ...
"Numerous suggestions have come from many sources in the years past that the bishops should be trained in social work to be able to meet the demands of the people in their numerous needs. But the Brethren have never felt that would be the answer.
"In the Church of Jesus Christ, the leaders have no formal academic training for their positions but gain experience through their lifetime, and they depend much upon the Spirit for guidance. ...
"It would be unrealistic and untrue to state that all these young men are perfect men or perfect bishops. They are mortals subject to the whims and weaknesses common to their fellows. They are not all as wise as Solomon. They are not all as personable as President McKay. They are not all as kind as President George Albert Smith was, but as I have known thousands of them personally through a half century and more, I am astounded at the power and strength and dignity and goodness and ability of these young men." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 475)
Mosiah 26:30 as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me
The Lord instructed Peter to forgive the trespasser 490 times, Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven (Matt 18:21-22). While we are required to forgive up to 490 times, the Lord, in his infinite mercy, has placed no limit on the number of transgressions for which he will grant forgiveness. This is comforting for those of us who have already offended him on more than 490 occasions.
"One of Satan's most cunning ways to lead men on in wrongdoing is craftily to make them believe in the uselessness of repentance. 'I have gone too far to repent; there is no forgiveness for me.' That is not true. 'Yea,' the Lord said to Alma, 'And as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.' Of course there is forgiveness for everyone, if it were not so, God's great purposes would fail and this we do not believe. The poor sheep may be lost in the wood, hungry and helpless and cold, hunted by the wolf, falling over the precipice. 'But the Good Shepherd is on His way and is looking for it, and will find it. And will take it into His arms and will carry it to the fold' and will rejoice that the lost is found and the dead is again alive." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 268)
Mosiah 26:31 he that forgiveth not his neighbor's trespasses...hath brought himself under condemnation
The Lord gives this advice to Alma to help him understand that those brought before him in judgment who are critical of others are not truly repentant. This is a key for passing correct judgment upon the transgressor. A warning to all of us, it is reminiscent of the word of the Lord to the elders of the church, ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men (DC 64:9-10).
Spencer W. Kimball
"Remember that we must forgive even if our offender did not repent and ask forgiveness...Do we follow that commandment or do we sulk in our bitterness, waiting for our offender to learn of it and to kneel to us in remorse?...No bitterness of past frictions can be held in memory if we forgive with all our hearts." (Conference Report, Oct. 1949, pp. 132-3 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 237)
Mosiah 26:32-36 whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people
This is the answer for which Alma sought the Lord. He wondered what to do with those accused of transgression, and the Lord instructed him to judge them based upon their attitude. If they are repentant and humble, they should be forgiven and remain in the church. If they were proud, unrepentant, and rebellious in their attitude, they should be excommunicated. The advice given to Alma is still applicable today. As the bishops and stake presidents decide what to do with transgressors, this principle is a key to wise judgment. From the Church Handbook of Instructions, the following paragraphs are applicable:
"The purposes of Church discipline are (1) to save the souls of transgressors (2) to protect the innocent, and (3) to safeguard the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church. These purposes are accomplished through private counsel and caution, informal probation, formal probation, disfellowshipment, and excommunication." (Church Handbook of Instructions, 1998, Book 1, p. 91)
Voluntary and complete confession demonstrates a repentant attitude, which may favor leniency. An admission of guilt after a person has been accused of or interviewed about a transgression is less indicative of repentance. A person who admits guilt when interviewed by a bishop shows greater repentance than one who tries to deceive and admits guilt only when confronted with evidence." (Church Handbook of Instructions, 1998, Book 1, p. 103)
"Evidence of Repentance
Normally, evidence of repentance is the most important single factor in determining how to accomplish the first purpose of Church discipline: saving the soul of the transgressor. Genuine repentance is demonstrated more reliably by righteous actions over a period of time than by intense sorrow during a single interview. Judgments about the adequacy of repentance require spiritual discernment. Factors to consider include the nature of the confession, depth of sorrow for the sin, success in forsaking the sin, strength of faith in Jesus Christ, faithfulness in obeying other commandments, truthful communications to Church officers, restitution to injured persons, obedience to legal requirements, and willingness to follow the direction of Church authorities." (Church Handbook of Instructions, 1998, Book 1, p. 104)
Dallin H. Oaks
"In contrast to the punishment that is the intended result of the judgment of a criminal court, the primary purpose of church discipline is to facilitate repentance-to qualify a transgressor for the mercy of God and the salvation made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ....Church discipline is not an instrument of punishment, but a catalyst for change....The major concern of the laws of God is to perfect the lives of his children." (Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 237)
Spencer W. Kimball
"The Lord is on your side and you must remember that numerous people are saved by excommunication. They are not lost by excommuncation. They are saved through excommunication." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 98 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 238)