Alma 34

Alma 34:5 the great question which is in your minds

For the purposes of discussion, we will paraphrase the "great question." The great question is, what think ye of Christ? (Matt 22:42) When Christ asked that question to the Pharisees, his next question was, whose son is he? Although the writings of Zenos, Zenock, and Moses were available to them, their answer demonstrates that the plain and precious truth of his divine Sonship had been lost in their religious tradition. Hence, their reply was that he was supposed to be The Son of David. Was the Christ to be the son of David or the Son of God? Or is he to come at all? The poor Zoramites faced these same issues.

It is the same question which faces all of us. What do we think of him? Was he a man, a prophet, or a fable? Whose son is he? Can he be the Son of God without being God himself? How can his death and resurrection affect me?

Neal A. Maxwell

"My friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters all, the most important question in human history is one which will not go away. It echoes down the corridors of time. And "Jesus asked them...What think ye of Christ?" (Matt 22:42) Sooner or later, this is the vital question for all mortals, including you, my friends. And a failure to answer this question is an answer." (Investigator Fireside, Jan. 5, 1984)

Neal A. Maxwell

"...the Book of Mormon provides resounding and great answers to what Amulek designated as 'the great question'; namely, is there really a redeeming Christ? (Alma 34:5-6) The Book of Mormon with clarity and with evidence says, 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' Moreover, in its recurring theme, the book even declares that 'all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of [Christ]' (2 Ne 11:4). How striking its answers are, considering all that God might have chosen to tell us! He, before whom all things-past, present, and future-are continually, has chosen to tell us about the 'gospel'-the transcending 'good news,' the resplendent answers to 'the great question.'" ("The Book of Mormon: A Great Answer to 'The Great Question'", p. 1)

Alma 34:10 it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice

God does not condone human sacrifice. The sacrifice of the Only Begotten was a divine sacrifice not a human one. The individual offered had to have the qualities of Godhood in order for it to be infinite and eternal. Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another (v. 11). Tad Callister has noted, "the phrase 'infinite atonement' or 'infinite sacrifice' may refer to an atonement or sacrifice by a God, a being who is infinite in knowledge, power, and glory...Accordingly, the Atonement is 'infinite' because its source is 'infinite.'" (The Infinite Atonement, p. 58)

Bruce R. McConkie

"When the prophets speak of an infinite atonement, they mean just that. Its effects cover all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon, and reach out into the endless expanses of eternity....Now our Lord's jurisdiction and power extend far beyond the limits of this one small earth on which we dwell. He is under the Father, the creator of worlds without number (Moses 1:33). And through the power of his atonement the inhabitants of these worlds, the revelation says, 'are begotten sons and daughters unto God' (DC 76:24), which means that the atonement of Christ, being literally and truly infinite, applies to an infinite number of earths." (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 64-5)

Russell M. Nelson

"His Atonement is infinite-without an end. It was also infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death (see 2 Ne 9:7; 25:16; Alma 34:10,12,14). It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. It was infinite in time, putting an end to the preceding prototype of animal sacrifice. It was infinite in scope-it was to be done once for all (see Heb 10:10). And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him (see DC 76:24; Moses 1:33). It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension. Jesus was the only one who could offer such an infinite atonement, since He was born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. Because of that unique birthright, Jesus was an infinite Being." (Ensign, Nov. 1996, p. 35 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 114)

Alma 34:13 it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood

Bruce R. McConkie

"When the Lamb of God, in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, worked out the infinite and eternal atonement and permitted himself to be slain for the sins of the world, it was intended that the sacrificial ordinances prefiguring that most transcendent of all events should cease. No one has set forth why this was destined to be with the clarity and plainness found in the words of the prophet Amulek. 'According to the great plan of the Eternal God,' he said, 'there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish. . . . It is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice. . . . and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled; yea, it shall be all fulfilled, every jot and tittle, and none shall have passed away. And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.' (Alma 34:9-14.)

"Appearing in resurrected glory to his Nephite kinsmen, our Lord affirmed the end of the old order and announced the beginning of the new one. 'By me redemption cometh,' he said, 'and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled. . . . And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood.' It is the Lord Jesus who is the Lord Jehovah who is speaking, which means that the sacrifices of old were offered to Christ. 'Yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.' (3 Ne. 9:17-20.)" (The Mortal Messiah, p. 127)

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

"Under the new covenant that came in with Christ, the sinner must offer the sacrifice out of his own life, not by offering the blood of some other creature; he must give up his sins, he must repent, he himself must...become a better and changed man." (Church News, 12/24/60, p. 15)

Alma 34:14 this is the whole meaning of the law

Abinadi taught us that the Law of Moses could not save us (Mosiah 13:28). Was, therefore, the Law of Moses an imperfect law? Of course not! The Lord gave the law for the express purpose of pointing us to an event which could save us-the great and last sacrifice of the Son of God.

It is incredibly ironic that every whit of the Law of Moses pointed to the Savior, yet those who claimed to understand and abide that law during his mortal ministry did not recognize Him or his transcendent sacrifice. This occurred because they had missed the point. They had missed the whole meaning of the law. Indeed, they had omitted the weightier matters of the law...Making the word of God of none effect through [their] tradition (Matt 23:23, Mark 7:13). Rather than recognize the Redeemer, they would strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel (Matt 23:24). Equally ironic is the perceptiveness of the Roman centurion, who knew nothing of Jewish law, yet exclaimed, Truly this was the son of God (Matt 27:54). Elder Holland explains how the Nephites had not forgotten the whole meaning of the law.

Jeffrey R. Holland

"Unlike the Israelites in the Old World, the faithful Nephites of the New World found it easier to recognize the return of the higher gospel and thereby let go of the ancient law of Moses. For one thing, they seemed to grasp more readily that Christ had not destroyed the law but fulfilled it-given it breadth, dimension, meaning, and reality, just as a prophecy is spoken of as being 'fulfilled.'" (Christ and the New Covenant, p. 155)

Alma 34:16 mercy can satisfy the demands of justice

"Life, like a computer, has default settings, conditions that will automatically apply unless we take positive action to avoid them. Thus, if we refuse to make Christ our Lord by taking positive steps to enter into his covenant, then Satan becomes our lord by default. Christ by choice or Satan by default-there are no other options.

"Christ 'shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety.' (Alma 34:15-16.) The choice before us is mercy or justice. Either choice can be accommodated, and either choice is compatible with the nature and plan of God, but, as in the choice between the Lord and Satan, there are no third alternatives. Again, life has default settings, and they are set for justice. We can choose the mercy that is offered through the gospel covenant, but if we refuse that mercy, we will receive justice.

"Now here is an odd thing about the nature of mercy: by definition, mercy can only be mercy if we don't deserve it. For if we deserve something, then it becomes a matter of justice that we receive it. So it ceases to be a matter of mercy. Thus, in this sense at least, to give or to receive mercy is always somewhat unfair. But one of the great beauties of the gospel, some of the best news of all, is that Jesus Christ does not mind this unfairness. He is willing to suffer unfairly and compensate justice himself out of his own person in order to extend mercy to weaker beings like us. This willingness on his part to pay more than his fair share and to carry more than his fair load in order to grant mercy to others constitutes the grace of Christ." (Stephen R. Robinson, Believing Christ, p. 60)

Alma 34:17-27 humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him

Our world is full of problems which, in the eternal scheme of things, are insignificant. Yet, our day-to-day lives are filled with these insignificant problems and projects. Occasionally, church members worry that when they pray about these problems they are unnecessarily bothering the Lord. This attitude underestimates God's love for his children. A general rule of thumb is that if a problem is big enough to bother you, it is not too small for the Lord's attention.

Amulek's advice helps us to understand that we can pray about all aspects of our lives, whether spiritual, temporal, and financial.

Marion G. Romney

"As there is no limitation as to when we should pray, so there seems to be no limitation as to where we should pray or what we should pray about." (Conference Report, Oct. 1944, pp. 55)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"(quoting Alma 34) I think that is very excellent doctrine, and I read it to impress upon your minds the season of prayer. The season of prayer is in the morning before the family separates. A good time for prayer is when you assemble at the table before you partake of the morning meal, and let the members of the family take turn in the praying. That is the season of prayer. The season of prayer for the merchant is in the morning when he goes to his place of business and before he begins his day's work, over his merchandise. The time of prayer for the shepherd, is when he is out with his flocks watching over them. The time for the farmer to pray is when he goes with his plow into the field, when he goes to sow his grain, and when he goes to gather his harvest. And if a man will pray as he is commanded to do in this passage of scripture which I have read, then he more than likely will be found in all things righteously keeping the commandments of the Lord. He will not be found scheming to take advantage of his neighbor in some trade or bargain, but in all things dealing justly, because he has prayed in the morning and has in his heart the spirit of prayer throughout the day, that the Lord will bless him in the increase of his goods, of his fields, of his flocks, or whatever it may be he is engaged in. So that is the season of prayer." (Conference Report, Oct. 1919, p. 143)

Alma 34:21 cry unto him in your houses

Joseph Fielding Smith

"...May I ask this important question: How many families in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have regular nightly and morning family prayer? Those who neglect to do so are displeasing the Lord and are entitled to the same rebuke which the Lord gave some of the leading elders of the Church in the early days. No parent should depend solely on the organizations of the Church for the training of the children. They should be taught to pray regularly, secretly as well as in the family circle. The counsel that Alma and Amulek gave to the straying Zoramites is just as essential to the Latter-day Saints today as it was two thousand years ago." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:48 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 310)

Alma 34:26 ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places

Amulek's use of language is not accidental. He has suggested crying unto God in several different circumstances. Yet, in this verse, he does not use the phrase "cry unto him." Rather, something more cathartic must take place in our closets. This is where the real emotional energy is expended. And so, the image is that we "pour out our souls" like water out of a pitcher. The pitcher is empty after the pouring. This signifies that nothing has been held back or hidden. We have been completely honest with the Lord and ourselves. It is the time of greatest spiritual vulnerability and honesty when our will has been submitted to the Father's.  As in all things, the greatest example comes from the Savior, who in the Garden of Gesthemane, poured out his soul unto death (Isa 53:12).

Elder Francis M. Gibbons

"Satan and his followers, who have been cast out of God's presence and are dead to His spirit, are excluded from those who, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, may know the thoughts and the intents of our hearts. So, in his wisdom and mercy, God has provided a channel of communication between him and his children on earth that Satan, our common enemy, cannot invade. This is the channel of secret prayer. The significance of this to the Latter-day Saint is profound, for by this means we are able to communicate with our Heavenly Father in secrecy, confident that the adversary cannot intrude." (Joseph B. Wirthlin, Finding Peace in Our Lives, p. 163)

Alma 34:27 when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him

It is impossible to pray forever. But when we are not praying, we are to have a prayer in our hearts. The Savior commanded the Nephites to pray until the time had come for them to stop. At that point, he commanded the multitude that they should cease to pray, and also his disciples. And he commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts (3 Ne 20:1).

Joseph F. Smith

"The prophets of the Book of Mormon have enjoined upon us that we should carry with us always the spirit of prayer in our hearts, morning, noon and night, and that we should pray for the blessings of the Lord upon our families, our farms, our flocks, our herds, our business, and everything that we possess in the world. Do not forget to pray. Don't suppose for a moment that you are as safe and secure in the favor of the Lord when you feel independent of Him as you will be if you feel your dependence upon Him all the day long." (Conference Report, Apr. 1915, p. 140)

Elaine L. Jack

"We are women with spiritual strength. We have within us the Spirit of the Lord to guide us on the path of righteousness. Daily, we choose between temptation and sanctification. We seek spiritual moments as we read the scriptures. We pray and carry that prayer in our hearts." (Church News, 10/02/93)

Alma 34:28 if ye turn away the are as hypocrites who do deny the faith

Dallin H. Oaks

"In modern times the Lord told his people they 'must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief' (D&C 44:6), and 'he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple' (D&C 52:40). The Lord commanded his saints to 'learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.' (D&C 88:123.) President Marion G. Romney explained the importance of these commandments by relating them to the Savior's statement that when he comes in his glory, he will divide his people 'as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.' (Matt. 25:32.) He said, 'The test on which the division [will] be made on that great day [will] be the care given to the poor and the needy.'" (The Lord's Way, p. 103)

Jeffrey R. Holland

"To worthy causes and needy people, we can give time if we don't have money, and we can give love when our time runs out." (Ensign, May 1996, p.30 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 312)

Elder S. Dilworth Young

"The revelations given to Joseph Smith on this subject are numerous and were among the early ones. To care for the poor is one of the first and early obligations. To help the needy and those who mourn follows close behind. All of us have some time, but those who are not given great responsibility in the organizations have more time to seek out the poor, needy, and helpless.

"And this help is badly needed. All about us are those in need of encouragement, assistance, and help-help of a kind we can all give, not money, but time and attention and personal encouragement, especially to those who must bear great responsibility for loved ones and who cannot pass it to others for the simple reason there are no others to whom to pass it.

"...Those with no ward assignments have more time to pursue this great work of the salvation of souls. Let us not sit back jealous of those giving attention to the stake, the ward, the auxiliaries, but seek our salvation where the Lord appointed us, among those who, weak in spirit, weak in body, or weak in desire, need to be encouraged, need to be raised up in the kingdom of God on this earth." (Ensign, Dec. 1971, p. 66)

Alma 34:29 to be charitable

To be charitable is different than to have charity. Often, they go together, but their definitions differ considerably. To be charitable, is to donate to charity, to visit the sick, impart of your substance, etc. To have charity (the pure love of Christ) is to have something much greater. Paul taught that it is possible to be charitable without having charity when he said, though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor...and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing (1 Cor 13:3). Therefore, our goal is to be charitable because we possess charity not because we wish to be seen, Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven (Matt 6:1).

Alma 34:31 immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about

"Those who truly desire repentance and willingly turn to the Lord, forsaking their sins, find that the Savior Immediately effects the plan of redemption in their behalf. It would seem only fair that years of unrepentant sin would necessitate years of repentance and sorrow in order to eradicate the same; however, this is not the case. Great revolutionary changes can be effected immediately through deep, heart-felt repentance. (See Alma 15:3-11; 22:1-23; 36:11-20.)This repentance can bring forgiveness, complete forgiveness.

"Amulek was speaking in 74 B.C., over a hundred years before Jesus would actually make the atoning sacrifice. But the people who lived before Christ did not have to wait for the time of his coming to have the Atonement become effective. It could be applied immediately if they exercised faith and repentance." (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 303)

Alma 34:32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God

The single most important thing for us to do in mortality to prepare to meet God is to repent. Repentance must take place now, before we get to the spirit world.

Hartman Rector, Jr.

"Oh yes, it is possible to repent in the spirit world, although we are given to understand that it is much more difficult to repent there because we will not have our physical bodies to help us. Also an integral part of repentance is that we must make restitution. This means that if you have stolen five dollars, you have to return five dollars to the person whom you have robbed. This may be very difficult to do in the spirit world. You can also understand then why murder and adultery or fornication are such grievous sins; how can you make restitution? Virtue once gone cannot be replaced. Neither can a life be restored.

"It may be very difficult to gain forgiveness for these kinds of sins. President Brigham Young said it is a hundred times easier to repent here on the earth than it is in the spirit world. By the same token, if we go there in the right condition, it is a hundred times easier to learn in the spirit world than it is here in this life. So we should do what we can do best where we are. Now is the best time to repent; then will be the best time to learn." (Conference Report, Oct. 1970, p. 74)

Melvin J. Ballard

"This life is the time to repent. That is why I presume it will take a thousand years after the first resurrection until the last group will be prepared to come forth. It will take them a thousand years to do what it would have taken but three-score and ten to accomplish in this life." (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 10)

Joseph B. Wirthlin

"Prepare and perform are the key words in how we will improve our time in this life.

"This day is the day to perform our labors. We should not just mark time and kill time, for time is too precious to waste. We do not want procrastination to use up our precious time, for the Lord revealed in that great council in heaven before the foundation of the earth was laid that an earth would be created 'whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith...' (Abraham 3:24-26.)

"We made choices in our first estate, and as a result, we are here today. Today is the time to improve ourselves. We should not procrastinate. Today is the time for us to decide what our priorities will be and how we will accomplish them. Procrastinating decisions that will affect our eternal salvation and seeking for happiness in doing things contrary to the commandments will not help us keep our second estate...

"Everyone is given the same amount of time. Each of us has twenty-four hours in each day. We all know that some people accomplish several times more than others. There are also some who are over-accelerated, who hurry too much and accomplish too little. Time management is really self-management and discipline in how we manage ourselves in the time allotted. It involves making choices, and choosing how to use that time that is sometimes difficult." (Finding Peace in Our Lives, p. 224)

Russell M. Nelson

"Each of us prepares for future exigencies with life insurance, wills, trusts, and all that may be needed to organize business affairs. Time is both fleeting and precious.

"We who tarry here have a few vanishing moments remaining to prepare to meet God. Unfinished business is our worst business. Perpetual procrastination must yield to perceptive preparation." (The Gateway We Call Death, p. 104-5)

Alma 34:33 do not procrastinate the day of your repentance

Spencer W. Kimball

"Because men are prone to postpone action and ignore directions, the Lord has repeatedly given strict injunctions and issued solemn warnings. Again and again in different phraseology and throughout the centuries the Lord has reminded man so that he could never have excuse. And the burden of the prophetic warning has been that the time to act is now, in this mortal life. One cannot with impunity delay his compliance with God's commandments." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 9)

Ezra Taft Benson

"Some people intend to make a decision and then never get around to it...They intend to paint the barn, to fix the fence, to haul away that old machinery or remove that old shed, but the time of decision just never arrives.

"Some of us face a similar situation in our personal lives...We intend to pay a full tithing, to begin keeping the Word of Wisdom, to make our initial home teaching visits early in the month. However, without actual decision followed by implementation, the weeks and months go by and nothing is accomplished. We could drift into eternity on these kinds of good intentions. The Lord apparently sensed this weakness in His children, for He said: 'Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today. (DC 64:25)" (God, Family, Country, p. 389.)

Richard L. Evans

"It sometimes seems that we live as if we wonder when life is going to begin. It isn't always clear just what we are waiting for, but some of us sometimes persist in waiting so long that life slips by-finding us still waiting for something that has been going on all the time. ... This is the life in which the work of this life is to be done. Today is as much a part of eternity as any day a thousand years ago or as will be any day a thousand years hence. This is it, whether we are thrilled or disappointed, busy or bored! This is life, and it is passing." (Improvement Era, Jan. 1967, p. 65.)

Dallin H. Oaks

"We are concerned that some young people who are anticipating serving a mission or being married in the temple have a very lax attitude toward sin. 'I'll just have a few free ones,' they say, 'and then I'll repent quickly, and go on my mission (or get married in the temple), and everything will be alright.'...Such persons want to experience the sin, but avoid its effects...There is something very peculiar about the state of mind or heart of the person who deliberately commits sin in the expectation that he or she will speedily and comfortably repent...there is a relationship between sin and suffering that is not understood by people who knowingly sin in the expectation that all the burden of suffering will be borne by another, that the sin is all theirs, but the suffering is all His. That is not the way. Repentance, which is an assured passage to an eternal destination, is nevertheless not a free ride." (BYU Fireside, Aug. 5, 1990 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 314)

Alma 34:34 that same spirit which doth possess your bodies...will have power to possess your body in that eternal world

Hartman Rector, Jr.

 "Sometimes we make excuses for ourselves, when we do what we should not do or fall short of what we should have done. We use such expressions as, 'Oh! the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.' With such rationalizations we insinuate that it is completely our physical body's fault that we sin. In my opinion, this is not true. I believe the physical body is a very strong part of us and is of great benefit to us. Among other reasons, it was given to us to help us overcome our addictions, bad habits, and evil desires. The body is very obedient; generally speaking, it will do exactly what the spirit tells it to do. So it is not the physical body that we are struggling with; it is the spirit we must bring into subjection.

"Sometimes we seem to get the idea that in the spirit world, we will be completely different individuals; we will suddenly undergo a miraculous change in our character when we die. But nothing could be further from the truth. We, our spirits, do not change at death; we are still the same. Amulek, a great Book of Mormon prophet, tells us plainly what the conditions in the spirit world will be." (Conference Report, Oct. 1970, p. 73)

Elder Samuel O. Bennion

"I do not believe as many do that the grave is the great common leveler, but rather that as we live and journey through this life, so shall we begin on the other side; that we shall begin where we left off here." (Conference Report, Apr. 1941, p. 32)

Harold B. Lee

"...we are our own judges of the place we shall have in the eternal world. Here and now in mortality, each one of us is having the opportunity of choosing the kind of laws we elect to obey. We are now living and obeying celestial laws that will make us candidates for celestial glory, or we are living terrestrial laws that will make us candidates for either terrestrial glory, or telestial law. The place we shall occupy in the eternal worlds will be determined by the obedience we yield to the laws of these various kingdoms during the time we have here in mortality upon the earth." (Conference Report, Apr. 1947, p. 46)

Alma 34:35 subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his

When the sinner dies before repenting, he has sealed his fate, literally. We can be sealed to the Lord and be brought to heaven or we can be sealed to Satan and taken to hell (Mosiah 5:15). This is just another instance in which Satan has copied the Lord's plan. Indeed, Satan's kingdom was created in the blurry image of God's. Hence, he has his own priesthood, he has his own angels, he has his secret combinations instead of sacred covenants, and he seals the sinner to himself. The result is truly frightful, for the devil hath all power over you.

Spencer W. Kimball

"There is a sad note of finality in that last statement. It matches the words of Samuel the Lamanite to those who would procrastinate the day of their salvation-'it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure' (Hel. 13:38); and it recalls those of Mormon relative to his wicked contemporaries-'the sorrowing of the damned.' (Morm. 2:13.)

"The key factor in such a situation is the withdrawal of the Lord's Spirit. In the final battle days of the Jaredites, 'the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people' (Eth. 15:19.)" (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 118)

Alma 34:36 in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell

Joseph Smith clearly taught that the only way that the Lord dwells in the heart is by the Holy Ghost. This doctrine was taught in response to the common Christian notion that God is without body, parts, and passions-immense enough to fill the entirety of space and yet small enough to dwell in the heart. Joseph declared, the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man's heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false...but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us (DC 130:3,22).

Alma 34:37 work our your salvation with fear before God

As a missionary, the author encountered a Christian who was particularly annoyed by the Mormons and their assertion that salvation was the responsibility of the individual and not a free gift. He just couldn't believe that it was necessary to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). As with most critics, he did not know or understand his own scriptures. He had attributed to Mormonism what is clearly taught by Paul to the Phillippians. Ironically, it is the writings of Paul which have so confused Christianity on just this issue.

Many will testify that "work" is the right word to describe the process of our spiritual struggles for salvation. Nephi groaned under the weight of his sins (2 Ne 4:19) and Enos had to wrestle with his (Enos 1:2). Alma described being born again only after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death (Mosiah 27:28). Expecting salvation without work is like expecting a college degree without attending any classes; it is expecting to reap where one has not sown.

David O. McKay

"An outstanding doctrine of the Church is that each individual carries the responsibility to work out his own salvation, and salvation is a process of gradual development. The Church does not accept the doctrine that a mere murmured belief in Jesus Christ is all that is necessary. A man may say he believes, but if he does nothing to make that belief or faith a moving power to do, to accomplish, to produce soul growth, his professing will avail him nothing. To work out one's salvation is not to sit idly by dreaming and yearning for God miraculously to thrust bounteous blessings into our laps. It is to perform daily, hourly, momentarily, if necessary, the immediate task or duty at hand, and to continue happily in such performance as the years come and go, leaving the fruits of such labors either for self or for others to be bestowed as a just and beneficent Father may determine.

"I am not unmindful of the scripture that declares: 'by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.' (Eph. 2:8.) That is absolutely true, for man in his taking upon himself mortality was impotent to save himself. When left to grope in a natural state, he would have become, and did become, so we are told in modern scripture, 'carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature.' (Alma 42:10.) But the Lord, through his grace, appeared to man, gave him the gospel or eternal plan whereby he might rise above the carnal and selfish things of life and obtain spiritual perfection. But he must rise by his own efforts and he must walk by faith."  (Conference Report, Apr. 1957, p. 7)

Heber C. Kimball

"Jesus says, 'Work out your salvation as it is my will to work within you.' Then, again, we are commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. All that hinders us and prevents us progressing faster, and going on from one step to another even as it was with our Father, even the Father and God pertaining to this earth, is our lack of confidence in the Almighty, and our slothfulness in the things of God. Joseph the Prophet said that our heavenly Father went on from one degree of knowledge to another until he obtained the knowledge that made him God. So also will it be with us, we shall have to advance from one degree of faith to another until we get that knowledge that will prepare us for exaltation in our Father's kingdom. But we must first prove ourselves in this state of probation, then we rise from step to step till we reach that position that is promised to the people of God." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 371)

Alma 34:40 do not revile against those who do cast you out

"Amulek's warning to be patient and to abstain from abuse and calumny under the circumstances is highly significant.  According to his inspired view violence in the social struggles is bound to lead to sin and to release passions and restraints which every true follower of Christ should avoid.

"Of course, Amulek does not advocate non-resistance as a means for bringing about the instant amelioration of the condition of the poor.  He deems their spiritual redemption to be of greater importance than their social liberation and as to the latter his immediate outlook is pessimistic.  Hence his exhortation that his listeners should bear their tribulation 'with the firm hope that [they] shall one day rest from all  [their] afflictions.' (Alma 34:41.)

"The rejection of violence as a principle of social action is, nevertheless, of political significance.  History bears out the spirit of Amulek's view that social justice should not be enforced at the point of the sword.  When the trial balance of the accomplishments of revolutions is struck, the result is likely to preponderate in favor of social progress through peaceful means.

"The advice of Amulek embodies, however, a complete moral vindication of the cause of the oppressed.  While the poor believer is admonished to abstain from force and abuse, the rich who entrench themselves in privilege created by their economically superior position and who consider 'their brethren as dross,' while their own hearts are set upon their riches, stand already condemned.  Predatory practices such as those indulged in by the rich Zoramite, by which their fellows are reduced to abject poverty, make sinners of those who resort to them.  Thus Amulek's warning to keep the social peace most." (Jean Wunderlich, A Book of Mormon Treasury, p. 269)