Thursday, July 30, 2020

Spirit World and the Doctrine of Restoration (Alma 40-42)



The Spirit World and the Resurrection of the Dead

READ Alma 40:1-5
Who holds the keys to the resurrection of the dead?
Whoever brings it to pass holds the keys.
Christ brought it to pass for us, so Christ alone holds the keys… to our resurrection from this earth.
He and the Father know the details of who is to be resurrected when.

READ Alma 40:6-7
Why must there be a space between death and the resurrection; why can’t it be immediate or almost immediate?
For most individuals, their “probationary experience” isn’t yet over at death, as they will have the opportunity to accept more truth after this life is over.
Implied in this is that the “veil of forgetfulness” is still in place in the spirit world, otherwise accepting the truth would no longer be a test.
Also implied in this is that the truth is no more obvious in the spirit world than it is here, although it probably is more widely available – it’s the idea of the “fair and full chance” to receive the gospel or reject it – the great majority of humans will not have that chance in mortality but all will later.
Joseph Smith decried the doctrine of reincarnation or past lives on this earth in this eternity, but the doctrine of multiple mortal probations seems to be required if one is to move from a small capacity to a great one, from grace to grace in a testing environment outside the presence of God – i.e. in a mortal life;
This could mean that either resurrected beings (i.e. beings resurrected because of the grace of another, as opposed to those who attain to the resurrection themselves like Christ did on this earth) have the opportunity to voluntarily lay down their bodies of glory to live another mortality in a future eternity, OR that spirits can wait on being resurrected until a future eternity, to have the chance to experience multiple mortal probations and grow in light before their eventual single resurrection, OR they can experience multiple mortal probations here on this earth in this eternity (the traditional “past lives” theory of reincarnation, i.e. only in a human body) – hence the “space” between death and the resurrection which “must” be in place.

READ Alma 40:8
With regards to time, how would you describe the difference between what God experiences and what man experiences?
The Lord lives in a timeless state and we live inside time. 
Eternity will be composed of living well one day, as for God, all is as one day.
What is the implication on understanding God – when He reveals things to men?
When the Lord shows things to prophets from His perspective, it takes a while for mortals to comprehend what they have been shown – it is a process and our effort is required – see also D&C 130:7).
What is the implication for how we should live each day on earth?
When we are living well one day at a time – we are ready to receive eternity.
Until then, worrying about the larger and more chaotic picture of what is going on keeps us from changing the only environment over which we have any influence or control – the environment of our hearts, in this life, today.

READ Alma 40:11-14
What happens to the spirits of all mankind at death?
They enter a world of spirits – either a paradise or hell.
Who is the God who gave our spirits life?
Christ (see Alma 11:38-41; Mosiah 2:20-21).
It seems we will not be brought before the Father again until we are resurrected.
Why does Alma tell us that an angel told him that “as soon as” all people die, their spirits are taken to God to be sorted into paradise or hell, when this is not the current doctrine of the Church?
The current doctrine may not be correct…
The current doctrine of the Church is: spirits go to the Spirit world, not to God, after death.
If “God” refers to Christ, and His ministry still continues to those in their second estate, then Alma is saying that He is the one who personally judges and consigns each spirit to their state or dwelling in the Spirit World.
What does Alma mean by “outer darkness” here and how does it differ from how the term is used in the Church?
Outer darkness here is used to describe “hell” or “Sheol”, the place the unredeemed spirits go after death.
In the Church today, “outer darkness” refers to the kingdom of non-glory that those who experience the “second death” will go – including Satan’s followers (spirits) and the Sons of Perdition (resurrected to bodies of no glory) from this world.
It is interesting that “outer darkness” is not referred to in any of the scriptures to refer to an eventual kingdom for resurrected beings (see Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30; D&C 101:91; D&C 133:73) except D&C 88:15-24, as D&C 76 seems to imply that it is a kingdom for non-resurrected or disembodied spirits like the devil (see D&C 76:36-39, 43-48); it is also interesting that the “second death” refers to a much broader group of people than the Sons of Perdition who had exaltation sealed upon them but then betrayed their Lord (see Jacob 3:11; Alma 12:12-18, 31-36; Alma 13:30; Helaman 14:18-19; D&C 63:17; the only exception to this is D&C 76:31-38, which is about the sons of perdition).
If the righteous are received into paradise, what defines "righteous"?
Those who can "rest" from all their troubles, care and sorrow.
Who then is righteous?
Those who can rest from all their troubles, cares and sorrows are those whose garments have been made white in the blood of the Lamb, who have been declared by Christ clean from the sins of their generation (see D&C 88:75).
In other words, those who have previously (during mortal life) entered into the Rest of the Lord and received the promise that they would be able to return there upon their deaths - their probationary state having been concluded successfully as they had accomplished the primary objective they were on earth to do, i.e. reenter the presence of the Lord and be sealed up to eternal life as Christ's son or daughter (see also D&C 76:51-57).
This does not seem to apply generally to "active" Church members who, although baptized - and even having possibly entered the Gate by being baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, have not progressed to the end of the journey to enter into the Rest of the Lord and be sealed up to eternal life while in the flesh (see D&C 132:21-25).  So most active Church members may not find themselves in Spirit Paradise upon their deaths – their probation continues in “spirit prison”, “hell”, “Sheol” or “outer darkness” after their deaths.
Who then are the "wicked" and what happens to them?
The wicked are all those that are not righteous by the definition articulated above - having not entered into the rest of the Lord, thus having not completed their assignment in the second estate; for them the testing ground of the second estate continues after mortal death.
Learning - not resting from cares or sorrow but learning what they must know to be able to enter into the rest of the Lord.
Repenting (D&C 84:49-53) to the degree they can without a mortal tabernacle.
Suffering for sin (Alma 40:13) as justice takes hold of them, since they had previously spurned mercy through Christ's atonement; this is evident by the fact that their repentance and accepting of Christ’s atonement was not to the degree that He invited them to enter into His rest because they were done learning.
Can people move from hell to paradise prior to the resurrection and if so, how?
According to Alma and the angel who taught him, the wicked stay in hell until the time of their resurrection.
Now this was taught to Alma before Christ's resurrection and the missionary work He commissioned - was the angel being very specific to the current state of those in the spirit world or does this doctrine still apply after Christ's death (see D&C 138:27-37, 57-59); if he was being very specific, why did Mormon include this doctrine in an account going to readers who live after Christ’s ministry and resurrection?
What effect does proxy baptism on earth by a mortal have on the state of the person in spirit prison - does it release them and allow them to go to paradise?  With the definition of "righteous" laid out previously, it doesn't seem like baptism alone would be enough; although it is not clear, as one's second estate continues into the spirit world for the vast majority of people, that they cannot do what is required to enter into the rest of the Lord while in the spirit world with a veil still over their minds; regardless of not having a mortal body, they are still outside the presence of God with the use of their agency.

READ Alma 40:15
Why would Alma say that the initial judgement and consignment to paradise or hell can be termed a "resurrection"?
It is not a bodily resurrection.
But to the extent that a resurrection can be defined as a judgment and consignment to a degree of glory for at least some measure of time, then the assignment by Christ to rest and happiness in Paradise or misery and probation in Prison could be an apt description.

READ Alma 40:16-21
What is the implication of Alma's admitting there are things about the resurrection that he does not know?
That prophets of God do not know everything.
This makes sense as for a person to know everything they would have to fully comprehend the mind of God and all His works, which they cannot do and remain in the flesh upon the earth (see Moses 1:5).
That different prophets understand different aspects and to different degrees, and as some of these Godly subjects are very complex, it is possible that prophets may seem to disagree or may actually disagree, based on their level of knowledge about a subject - although a high degree of humility should be in place, where they are curious and teachable, like children.
Why is the doctrine of a literal resurrection difficult for most Christian sects?
The Hellenistic doctrine of the Greek philosophers that is so foundational to the apostate doctrine of the nature of God means that they don't/can't believe that God has a physical body because the physical body is evil and God is "above" being constrained by a body - he is without body, parts or passions.
If this is true, they would ask “why would we want to have a physical body?”
If we don't have a physical resurrection, what would we be in the eternities?
Disembodied spirits unable to abide the presence of God because we are filled with darkness and have no light in us.
Angels to a devil without family ties or eternal offspring.
Stuck (damned) without a way to continue to progress to become like God is.


The Doctrine of Restoration

READ Alma 40:22-26 and Alma 41:2-7, 12-13
What is the doctrine of Restoration?
It is the restoration of the spirit (called the soul by Alma) to the physical body - restored to their proper or perfect frame; it is interesting to think about why we would be restored (or returned, brought back, recovered, retrieved) to a perfect frame when no one had a perfect frame in a corruptible, mortal body here on earth...again the idea that some, or perhaps many, people had already received a physical body or "royal robe" or "temple/tabernacle/house of God" in some prior eternity which we have laid aside to attempt to progress and gain more light, becoming more like God by experiencing the test of yet another mortal probation outside of God's direct presence.
It is a restoration to either good or evil; it is not the need to pay the price for sin but rather the continuation in eternity of what we have become here on earth through our desires and choices - if we chose good, He allows us to continue to be what we have become through those choices, and the same with evil.
Restoration is about restoring things to a "proper order" or natural frame or state; we will end up where we feel most comfortable or we will get what we most desired; it is a plan of happiness at the end of the day – it is illustrated in Stephen Robinson's idea of the "eternal buffet table" with bratwurst and beer at one end and gourmet delicacies at the other, depending upon your preference or taste (see Mormon 9:3-4), but it’s not poison at one end and top cuisine at the other, regardless of what you might think of hot dogs; the point is that it’s all serviceable but some will enable you to continue to progress in light while the rest will not – by your own choice. 
Given that God follows the doctrine of Restoration, why is an atonement necessary?
Restoration is "just" or requisite only because of Christ's atonement; if not for that, we would not deserve to be reunited with our bodies as the wages of sin are death (see Romans 6:23).
Without the Atonement, we would all be angels to a devil, regardless of the desires of our hearts and the choices that we made to do good here on earth (see 2 Nephi 9:6-12).
The atonement is what enables the principle that if you lived true to the light you received, you will be blessed (i.e. you will not get what you deserve, but receive mercy), but if you went against that light of Christ, you will get what you deserve (justice).
What is required of us to be restored to good?
We must repent of our sins.
We must desire righteousness until the end of our days.
We must love Christ enough to choose to keep the commandments He has revealed to us (which He has promised us we can do) and trust Him enough to allow Him to test and try us, which is the refiner’s fire.
It doesn't say we must BE completely righteous or at He is, as we won't be able to accomplish that, at our current stage of development.
What does it mean that these who are restored to good are "taken out" or "delivered from that endless night of darkness"?
The endless night of darkness continues for those who are not taken out or delivered or removed from it.
While endless may not refer to something being never ending (see D&C 19:10-12), it is possible that it could mean that in some sense, in that God is endless meaning that He has always existed in some form or another...
But if a night of darkness is endless going forward, it is also endless going backward - implied in this is that we are in an endless night of darkness until we are taken out of it by God based on our own desires and choices to be good or evil.
An endless night of darkness could refer to eons of mortal probations in fallen, dark worlds that we have already experienced and will continue to experience unless we awake and rise up to embrace the Redeemer and become His sons or daughters - it is a similar to the stars of the Zodiac continually circumnavigating the ecliptic but never rising up to the "sides of the North" where God dwells in His Heavens.
Or an endless night of darkness could refer to the time wherein no work or progression can be performed, where we are stuck with the reward that we have earned through our desires, until a future eternity when another redeemer is selected to save another creation upon which we can participate in another mortal probation, if we choose to lay down what we have and risk it.

READ Alma 41:14-15
How should the doctrine of Restoration shape our behavior in mortality?
We have full control of what the doctrine of restoration will restore to us - if we want mercy at the judgement, we must extend it to others now; but if we do extend it to others now, we are guaranteed it then by the doctrine of restoration.
It is the true principle behind the philosophical idea of the "law of attraction" (that what you send out into the world comes back to you because it is attracted to you or your frequency - like attracts like; see D&C 88:36-40).

READ Alma 41:1
What does it mean to wrest the scriptures and how does this happen?
Wrest = to twist or extort by violence, to pull or force; to distort; to turn from truth; to pervert.
Unless the reader has a fullness of the Holy Spirit or mind of God, they run the risk of misunderstanding the scriptures (thinking they mean something they do not) or of only comprehending them to a certain level (not understanding the full message).
If this limited or incorrect understanding is accompanied by intellectual pride or a desire to control the thinking or behavior of others, individuals may be tempted to wrest or twist the scriptures to seem to align them with their personal understanding or to support their personal agenda of control.

READ Alma 41:8
Why are the decrees of God unalterable?
Because God's decrees align perfectly with Eternal Law (see D&C 130:20-21).
If they did not and if He were anything different from what He was (a perfectly just and holy being), He would cease to be God (see LoF 7:9, 15-16).
And He swears by His own life - His eternal life or Godhood - that what He decrees will come to pass because He has the power to make them happen; so He must honor them or cease to be God because He would at that point be changeable and no longer a God of truth that one could have faith in.
What is the Way and where does it lead?
Christ is the Way in that He is both the prototype of the saved man AND the enabler of our redemption.
The Way leads both to the Father AND to become as the Father is.
What does it mean “that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved”?
God is no respecter of persons.
Callings, lineage, wealth, education, worldly success, promises made to fathers - none of it matters if YOU will not walk in the way yourself.

READ Alma 41:9
What is the relationship between understanding true points of doctrine and committing sin?
We are saved by knowledge - the more we know, the less we want to sin, as it loses its appeal as we see the consequences of where sin leads and what it does to you.
In addition, as we obey God’s commandments by not committing sin because of this knowledge we have been given, we gain more light and glory (intelligence); and as light cleaves to light, the darkness becomes less attractive to us anyway.
The flipside is that the more we know, the more we are accountable for that knowledge and the bigger the trouble we are in if we sin, as we are sinning against light, or in other words, we know better but are choosing to reject what we know.

READ Alma 41:10-11
What does "wickedness never was happiness" mean in the context of the doctrine of Restoration?
You will have restored unto you exactly what you desired and did in mortality.
If you desired and did wickedness, you will have wickedness or darkness restored to you.
Wickedness is behavior contrary to God's behavior; God's behavior fills anyone who also does it with the same light it fills Him with.
God is only God because He progressed from eternity to eternity to become precisely what He is and behave in precisely the way He does to possess a fullness of light, glory and intelligence (see D&C 93:12-14; TPJS 390:1-393:1; LoF 7:9, 15-16).
So if you are not precisely like God, you cannot be saved and will not be happy; you are in a state that is contrary to the nature of happiness, as set forth in Eternal Law, because you are not as God is and only He or one like Him possess the attributes that allow them to experience a fullness of joy and happiness.
What does it mean to be in a state of nature?
To be fallen, lost, carnal and devilish; to be a natural man.
To follow one's own will instead of God's.
Why is the natural man without God in the world?
They have lost their connection to God.
The mind of God or Holy Spirit does not animate them; it tries to affect them from outside but they have not received it within them.
They are out of God's presence or spiritually dead and unredeemed; in fact, they cannot be in God's presence because they are filled with darkness and sin, having gone contrary to God's commandments, and can no longer endure His glory.
Having said all that, He is still supporting them from moment to moment, allowing them to use the body He created from His matter and which He continues to sustain, to do with as they choose as if He did not exist; there is quite a bit of irony to the current mortal situation.


The Great Plan of Happiness

READ Alma 42:1
Why would Corianton feel it was unjust to consign a sinner to a state of misery?
God is supposed to be a God of love and we are supposed to be His children, so why wouldn’t He extend mercy universally to all, especially if Christ has already paid the price for all?
We did not choose to sin in the Garden but inherited the effects of the fall from Adam, making it almost impossible for us to avoid sin, as fallen beings separated from God in a mortal world and without a full measure of the Spirit as Christ had on earth, so how is that just or fair?
As an adulterer and sign seeker, Corianton is faithless by definition, so his mindset could be effected by doubt that there is a God in the first place and his mind would be darkened, making it harder for him to understand the things of God

READ Alma 42:2-5
What would have happened if Adam had eaten the fruit of the Tree of Life after he had partaken of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, but before he had repented?
He would have lived forever in his sins.
He would have frustrated the plan of God.
He would have turned God into a liar (“the word of God would have been void” – see Genesis 2:17), causing Him to no longer be God because He would have lost His honor as a God of Truth, being filled with Truth, which is also light, intelligence and glory (see D&C 93:29-30, 36).
Satan is always trying to dethrone God and take His place.
What is the role of the Cherubim?
To guard the Tree of Life from all who are not ready to partake of it, for their own good and to protect God’s integrity.
A Cherubim is an “Angel” or “Power of Heaven” who acts as a sentinel by which one must pass to receive certain blessings from God.

READ Alma 42:6-10
What happens if one does not partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life?
Physical death.
To be lost forever – unable to receive their body back, unable to renter the presence of God, unable to become like God is – a saved being.
So, why would it have been injustice to allow man to partake of the Tree of Life after falling, as enabling this would consign a man to be lost forever – which we deserve?
Partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life after falling would have caused the man to live forever BUT in his sins.
Meaning he never would be able to become as God is, worlds without end, as he would be unredeemed and would not be God’s child.
And it would have overthrown God, as discussed earlier.
It is unjust to God, who is trying to enable us to become as He is, through His own work and sacrifice. 
So why is the probationary nature of this mortal life so important?
It gives us a chance to repent, serve God, gain light, and be redeemed – it is a merciful gift.
What is the "great plan of happiness" that Alma explains to Corianton?
Man is cut off from God and is no longer in His presence because of the fall of Adam (spiritual death) and becomes fallen themselves.
Mankind becomes subject to follow after their own will (agency), because s/he is no longer in God’s presence.
Mortal life then becomes a probationary state - how will they use that agency?
S/He can choose to use their agency to repent and serve God.
Which if s/he does, can enable them to become a Son or Daughter of God, redeemed by Christ and sealed up to eternal life to one day be as the Gods, which is happiness!
Because of Christ’s atonement, which reclaims mankind.
Can man follow his own will while in God's presence?
Yes, Satan is an example.
But if he chooses to go contrary to God's will while in His presence, he receives "perdition" as he is clearly rebelling against God while in full knowledge of what he is doing.
So for most people, the answer is no; they need to be out of God's presence to truly have the opportunity to exercise their agency.
Why was it not expedient that man be reclaimed from temporal death but it was expedient that s/he be reclaimed from spiritual death?
Like those for whom the second estate continues after death, mankind needs to learn to live as men/women in the flesh but live according to God in the Spirit (see 1 Peter 4:6)
The test of mortality is to reconnect with God and be redeemed from spiritual death by reentering His presence (see Ether 3:13) while in the fallen flesh (see D&C 132:21-25).
However, after the chance of a mortal probation, it is still expedient or critical for mankind to also be reclaimed from temporal death. 


The Law of Justice

READ Alma 42:11-14
Why would God cease to be God if He violated the Law of Justice?
God’s honor is His power (see D&C 29:36).
In other words, from the dust of the earth to all light or intelligence in the universe (that are in and through all things), everything honors God and obeys him, which gives Him power through His word, because of His integrity in the way He keeps the Law of Justice; this is why He is called a just and holy being.
But if He ever went contrary to the Law of Justice and became a changeable being and a respecter of persons, if He did not play fair and did not speak the truth and execute justice with impunity, He would not be honored by the intelligence in the universe which demand fairness and justice, and would not be obeyed and would cease to be God.
Given that mankind chose to fall and continue to sin, what justice do we deserve?
No unclean thing can enter the presence of God, so we deserve to become angels to the devil in outer darkness.
Outer darkness is just for us because we had agency and chose to follow our own will and not God’s way, which is the way of a fullness of light.
Why could mercy not be brought about except through repentance; can't mercy be decreed by God upon whomever He chooses?
Repentance means a change of mind, heart and behavior; a change from being unaligned to God to being perfectly aligned with God or "one" with God.
Not only is mortality a probationary state, it is also a preparatory state; we are here to gain more light and knowledge, which will be to our advantage in the life to come.
A failure to repent, and thus being saved in one's sins not from one's sins, is really a failure to gain more light or in other words, one's probationary or preparatory state was wasted.
So to make the redemption worthwhile (where the law of restoration returns light to the individual), it really must be given to those who repent and seek to align themselves with God's mind, heart, and behaviors – in other words, those who are seeking light will have the Law of Restoration return light to them, enabled by Christ’s atonement. 

READ Alma 42:15-16
What does justice require?
Punishment for sin, including death without recourse (see Romans 6:23; Alma 5:42) and suffering if one is ever brought into the presence of a just and holy being unprepared (see D&C 19:10-20; Mormon 9:3-5; Alma 36:12-16).
The Law of Restoration - light is attracted to light and dark to darkness; we receive eternally what we have chosen to become - it is only fair or just, as we are the decision makers.
No unjust thing can abide the full glory of a just and holy being because of the imperfections and darkness that they have chosen to have within themselves which can't abide the light, as light casts out darkness and the darkness must flee – but it is just because they have chosen it. 
How are mercy and justice both served?
God (Christ) himself atones for the sins and corruption of the world.
Justice's requirement of punishment is met.
And mercy can also be extended by the one who fulfilled the requirements of justice.

READ the Parable of the Mediator: a man wanted something very much and went into debt to get it.  While he made token payments over time, he was vastly short of paying back the money when the loan fell due.  The creditor required justice, which meant losing all the man had to begin to pay off the debt.  The debtor begged for mercy.  The creditor told the debtor that mercy would serve only the debtor; didn't the debtor believe in justice?  The debtor looked around for someone, anyone, to save him.  The debtor had a friend.  The friend, who was debt-free, came to the creditor and offered to pay the whole amount.  He reminded the creditor that it wouldn't be just to refuse the offer.  He went to the debtor and asked if he would take himself as the debtor's new creditor.  The friend told the debtor that they would restructure the loan so that it would be possible for the debtor to meet the new terms of the contract.  The debtor wholeheartedly agreed.  The friend went to the creditor and paid off the debt, freeing the debtor from bondage and beginning a new relationship with the debtor.

How is the Mediator able to extend mercy?
He is not in debt himself to the Creditor (justice), as he lived a perfect life; not only did He refrain from sin by “keeping the commandments”, He aligned His life perfectly with eternal law – meaning He didn’t just keep all of the commandments He knew of, but He kept all of the commandments that are required to be a God on earth.
Through His Father, Christ had the funds to pay, or in other words, He had the power to suspend His life in the face of the required suffering, which no full mortal would have been able to do.
He paid the price of justice and suffered an infinite sacrifice, all that a God could suffer.
And because He did it unjustly (i.e. He paid the penalty, including death which are the wages of sin, and yet warranted life because of His own perfect performance), He had the power to overturn death and open the doors to hell to release the inmates who were imprisoned there justly.
In other words, God has given a law with necessary consequences, and then He takes those consequences upon Himself for each of us, if we allow Him to do so.

READ Alma 42:17-21
So why isn’t this the answer to all our problems: God, don’t give us a Law that must be obeyed, because if you don’t there is nothing for justice to condemn and no need for Christ to suffer or us to repent or anyone to be lost?
Because God did not make the Eternal Law; He abides by it, which is how He became a God and why He continues to reign as one (see LoF 7:9, 15-16).
Because His work and glory is to bring about our immortality and eternal life, which consists in His helping us to become precisely as He is or we cannot be saved as salvation consists in being a God, so there must be a standard against which to measure or Eternal Law that must be complied with because if He was different in any degree from what He is, He would cease to be God; so God’s commandments are to live in alignment with the Eternal Law that He Himself is perfectly compliant with.

READ Alma 42:22-28
What is the default condition for man, coming out of mortality?
A law was given and a punishment affixed and repentance was granted – a probationary state.
But you did not repent; you are not penitent.
Justice requires that the punishment, per the Law, be carried out.
Since mercy cannot rob justice of this default condition, what must mankind do to receive mercy?
Freely choose to be penitent; see your awful state for what it truly is and humble yourself to the dust; then cry unto the Lord for mercy and extend mercy to all others.
Repent or change your mind, heart and behavior to be in line with God’s; to change course and turn to “face” or fully submit to God.
Come unto Christ and partake of the waters of life freely (see D&C 132:21-25).
Mercy cannot rob justice; mercy must satisfy the demands of justice; so mankind must repent and come unto Christ to receive mercy and enable the atonement to fulfill the requirements of justice for each of them.
How does God bring about His great and eternal purposes (His work and glory) which is our immortality and eternal life?
Salvation is freely available to all… who come unto Christ and partake of His life saving atonement;
It is purely voluntary or non-compulsive.
Anyone is free to accept it and anyone is free to reject it…
But in the last day, it shall be restored unto man according to his deeds; you are accountable for your choice.
If you decline what is offered, then you receive at the last day the recompense you merit because of your ingratitude; you will receive whatever comes as a consequence of your refusal.
What is implied about God’s willingness to make available His “waters of life”?
The waters of life or God’s truth/light/knowledge which enables exaltation is always freely available; it continues to shine down on all creation without diminishing (see Alma 13:4-5; 2 Nephi 26:33) – it is in and through all things.
We restrict ourselves or the amount of light we are willing to receive by failing to search it out or recognize it for what it is (because we are blind to it, even though it is all around us) and by failing to apply it (or align our behavior with it or eternal law); implied in the second reason is that we recognize it but actively recoil from it out of pride or selfishness or fear and lack of trust in, or love for, God (see John 1:5).
Receiving truth is like a lens aperture; God starts with a fullness of truth and light but we cut down the aperture size until we can abide the level of light that coincides with what level of truth we are willing to live; some people close it all the way.
Apostasy or closing the aperture is not binary – it is not either fully open or fully closed but is adjusted by degrees; it is not a group event but is always completely individual; it is also not static but continually opening for more truth or closing to block it; God does not turn away from a person or people who close themselves to light – He continues to give them opportunities until their chance is done and they die or are destroyed.
God enables us to open the aperture (which closes due to sin) through the atonement of Christ and our own repentance.
One of the ways God shares truth with us, particularly if we cannot abide much light directly from Him because of our sins (and associated “closed aperture”), is to send others to us with more truth and light than we currently have ourselves (see Moroni 7:29-32);
Individuals that come to earth with more light do so because they have less inclination to sin and more diligence in seeking God – this is a result of pre-existing character they built by choosing to live more righteously in a prior life (see Alma 13:3-12; D&C 130:18-21); that being said, none but Christ have had a fullness of light in this life (see D&C 93:6, 11-14) and any who come down to earth and do not continue in righteousness will lose what they have previously gained (see Alma 12:10-11; 1 Corinthians 15:30).
However, if we rely alone upon other men and women to give us light, the maximum amount of light we will be open to, let alone actually receive, will only be what our mentors obtained, and the chances of even that happening are low – as we would have to be precisely like them to gain what they have gained;
Although He is unchanging and all light is still universally available, the Lord in His mercy may give people a lower law to act as a “schoolmaster” to teach them (see Galatians 3:24-29); the Law of Moses is an example of this – it was a remedial “law” administered by men - it was a lower “aperture setting” because the children of Israel couldn’t take the amount of light they were offered from God directly (on Mount Sinai); having said that, God did not restrict the amount of light that was available to all, as evidenced by the fact that Moses continued to commune with God and a few others rose up and saw God, including Joshua.
As we must become precisely like Christ is now, we should be very diligent in trying to receive our light directly from Him; the light you receive from others is only truly helpful to the degree that it helps you connect with the source of all light or “living waters”; a lower “aperture setting” is designed to enable the person to become acclimatized to that level of light and then motivate them to seek for further light and knowledge directly from God (see D&C 84:19-27; 2 Nephi 22:3).
If we are restored unto righteousness, whose righteousness are we restored unto?
Christ’s perfect righteousness; anything less does not merit salvation (see LoF 7:9, 15-16).
All our righteousness is as rags anyway; and we are unprofitable servants (see Isaiah 64:6; Mosiah 2:20-25).
This is done through covenant; we become one with Christ or perfect in Christ (see Moroni 10:32-33).

READ Alma 42:29-30
What does true doctrine do to the one who will open their ears to hear it?
It seems to bring one down into the dust in humility.
But in reality, it only awakens you to the fact that you are already groveling down in the dust.
Why does Alma tell Corianton not to let the true doctrine trouble him any longer but to only let his sins trouble him?
The doctrine or “knowledge” is critical to give Corianton a true picture of his “awful state” but now that Alma has shared the truth with him, what truly matters now is what Corianton does with this knowledge.
A knowledge of the doctrine will help Corianton “awake” but now he must “arise” by repenting and coming unto Christ to partake himself – his salvation rests in the balance.
Understanding the truth but not doing it or going against it (which amounts to the same thing) is perdition if you have a perfect knowledge.
But this doesn’t mean knowledge isn’t important – it’s absolutely necessary (as we can’t be saved without it see TPJS 246:1; 400:2), but it is just not sufficient – we must act in line with it.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Spirit World and the Doctrine of Restoration (Alma 40-42) QUESTIONS



The Spirit World and the Resurrection of the Dead

READ Alma 40:1-5
Who holds the keys to the resurrection of the dead?

READ Alma 40:6-7
Why must there be a space between death and the resurrection; why can’t it be immediate or almost immediate?

READ Alma 40:8
With regards to time, how would you describe the difference between what God experiences and what man experiences?
What is the implication on understanding God – when He reveals things to men?
What is the implication for how we should live each day on earth?

READ Alma 40:11-14
What happens to the spirits of all mankind at death?
Who is the God who gave our spirits life?
Why does Alma tell us that an angel told him that “as soon as” all people die, their spirits are taken to God to be sorted into paradise or hell, when this is not the current doctrine of the Church?
What does Alma mean by “outer darkness” here and how does it differ from how the term is used in the Church?
If the righteous are received into paradise, what defines "righteous"?
Who then is righteous?
Who then are the "wicked" and what happens to them?
Can people move from hell to paradise prior to the resurrection and if so, how?

READ Alma 40:15
Why would Alma say that the initial judgement and consignment to paradise or hell can be termed a "resurrection"?

READ Alma 40:16-21
What is the implication of Alma's admitting there are things about the resurrection that he does not know?
Why is the doctrine of a literal resurrection difficult for most Christian sects?
If we don't have a physical resurrection, what would we be in the eternities?


The Doctrine of Restoration

READ Alma 40:22-26 and Alma 41:2-7, 12-13
What is the doctrine of Restoration?
Given that God follows the doctrine of Restoration, why is an atonement necessary?
What is required of us to be restored to good?
What does it mean that these who are restored to good are "taken out" or "delivered from that endless night of darkness"?

READ Alma 41:14-15
How should the doctrine of Restoration shape our behavior in mortality?

READ Alma 41:1
What does it mean to wrest the scriptures and how does this happen?

READ Alma 41:8
Why are the decrees of God unalterable?
What is the Way and where does it lead?
What does it mean “that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved”?

READ Alma 41:9
What is the relationship between understanding true points of doctrine and committing sin?

READ Alma 41:10-11
What does "wickedness never was happiness" mean in the context of the doctrine of Restoration?
What does it mean to be in a state of nature?
Why is the natural man without God in the world?


The Great Plan of Happiness

READ Alma 42:1
Why would Corianton feel it was unjust to consign a sinner to a state of misery?

READ Alma 42:2-5
What would have happened if Adam had eaten the fruit of the Tree of Life after he had partaken of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, but before he had repented?
What is the role of the Cherubim?

READ Alma 42:6-10
What happens if one does not partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life?
So, why would it have been injustice to allow man to partake of the Tree of Life after falling, as enabling this would consign a man to be lost forever – which we deserve?
So why is the probationary nature of this mortal life so important?
What is the "great plan of happiness" that Alma explains to Corianton?
Can man follow his own will while in God's presence?
Why was it not expedient that man be reclaimed from temporal death but it was expedient that s/he be reclaimed from spiritual death?


The Law of Justice

READ Alma 42:11-14
Why would God cease to be God if He violated the Law of Justice?
Given that mankind chose to fall and continue to sin, what justice do we deserve?
Why could mercy not be brought about except through repentance; can't mercy be decreed by God upon whomever He chooses?

READ Alma 42:15-16
What does justice require?
How are mercy and justice both served?

READ the Parable of the Mediator: a man wanted something very much and went into debt to get it.  While he made token payments over time, he was vastly short of paying back the money when the loan fell due.  The creditor required justice, which meant losing all the man had to begin to pay off the debt.  The debtor begged for mercy.  The creditor told the debtor that mercy would serve only the debtor; didn't the debtor believe in justice?  The debtor looked around for someone, anyone, to save him.  The debtor had a friend.  The friend, who was debt-free, came to the creditor and offered to pay the whole amount.  He reminded the creditor that it wouldn't be just to refuse the offer.  He went to the debtor and asked if he would take himself as the debtor's new creditor.  The friend told the debtor that they would restructure the loan so that it would be possible for the debtor to meet the new terms of the contract.  The debtor wholeheartedly agreed.  The friend went to the creditor and paid off the debt, freeing the debtor from bondage and beginning a new relationship with the debtor.

How is the Mediator able to extend mercy?

READ Alma 42:17-21
So why isn’t this the answer to all our problems: God, don’t give us a Law that must be obeyed, because if you don’t there is nothing for justice to condemn and no need for Christ to suffer or us to repent or anyone to be lost?

READ Alma 42:22-28
What is the default condition for man, coming out of mortality?
Since mercy cannot rob justice of this default condition, what must mankind do to receive mercy?
How does God bring about His great and eternal purposes (His work and glory) which is our immortality and eternal life?
What is implied about God’s willingness to make available His “waters of life”?
If we are restored unto righteousness, whose righteousness are we restored unto?

READ Alma 42:29-30
What does true doctrine do to the one who will open their ears to hear it?
Why does Alma tell Corianton not to let the true doctrine trouble him any longer but to only let his sins trouble him?

God’s Character and Attributes (Lectures on Faith 3-4) QUESTIONS

A Correct Idea of God’s Character   READ LoF 3:2-5 What is necessary for any rational and intelligent being to exercise faith in God u...