Amulek and Alma teach about how our spirits will be restored to our bodies and we will stand before God to be judged. Amulek teaches that there is not more than one God, and that the Son of God is the very Eternal Father.
3 Nephi 9:10-11
2 Nephi 9:30
2 Thessalonians 2:11
Last summer I was having a discussion with a relative (my family is probably 50/50 mormon/non mormon) and he was asking me about mormon belief. I told him that the interesting thing about the corporate church today, is that it simultaneously has the most truth and the most falsehoods. And that their own scriptures (especially the BOM) condemn them. It really is a bizarre situation. Pure undefiled truth mixed with under crap. This is today’s mormonism. Joseph, in the end, was teaching from his own understanding rather than the spirit without knowing it most of the time. So, again things like the king follet sermon do have some truths in them, but a huge pile of crap mixed in.
I was thinking about the experiences of Paul and Alma, because they are so similar. And it seems that both of them faced an immediate preliminary judgment similar to what we face upon death. Alma’s account is perhaps more dramatic where he appears to be dead for several days and goes to spiritual hell. While in hell he calls out to Jesus to save him, and he is rescued from hell and restored to physical life as well, thus mirroring the physical resurrection. Perhaps this is why Alma could talk so well about the resurrection as he had kind of already gone through the whole process in his life. However, the interesting part is that his being restored to life seemed to be conditioned upon preaching the gospel and serving God the remainder of his life, so you could see this as the second half of his probation. Another interesting point is that upon the successful completion of this second half of his probation, he is then translated rather than dying. I really think Alma’s life is a model that most people can follow. We must awake to our sins and cry out to Jesus for salvation and repentance. We must be born again through water, blood, and the spirit. And then serve God the remainder of our lives to bring souls to Him. It is a beautiful model.
Finally, I wanted to mention how Zion will be redeemed. Isaiah 52:1-2 says:
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
Section 113 tells us what this means:
7 Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to?
8 He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.
9 What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck; 2d verse?
10 We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. See the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses. The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles.
This is what we should be praying for. Verses 3-7 of the same chapter of Isaiah say:
3 For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
4 For thus saith the Lord God, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.
5 Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.
6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.
7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Notice, we sold ourselves, but we will be redeemed by God without money. Only He can save us. Our filthy lucre can only canker our souls. Interestingly the word beautiful in verse 7 is Nauvoo in Hebrew. Perhaps Joseph and/or God was trying to tell us something about where the restoration of Zion and the priesthood would take place?
Anyways great podcast as always guys!
Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Paul. With regard to where the Priesthood will be restored, I tend to think that Kirtland (Jerusalem) will be the place because of the Temple there and the promise that the Servants would “yet be endowed” with spiritual power prior to preaching the Gospel for the last time. The fame of that House has to go to the world at some point.
I think the promise of the restoration of the priesthood will still happen in Nauvoo first. And then we will build up Kirtland again, which is the New Jerusalem and where the Lord will suddenly come to his temple for the third time to then endow us with the true endowment of power and send us out to gather the nations.
Hyrum while acting as prophet said the following:
“All the saints that dwell in that land are commanded to come away, for this is, “Thus saith the Lord;’ therefore pay out no monies [moneys] nor properties for houses, nor lands, in that country, for if you do, you will lose them; for the time shall come that you shall not possess them in peace; but shall be scourged with a sore scourge; yet your children may possess them; but not until many years shall pass away; and; as to the organization of that branch of the church, it is not according to the spirit and will of God; and as to the designs of the leading members of that branch relative to the printing press, and the ordaining of Elders, and sending out Elders to beg for the poor, are not according to the will of God; and in these things they shall not prosper, for they have neglected the House of the Lord, the Baptismal Font, in this place, wherein their dead may be redeemed, and the key of knowledge that unfolds the dispensation of the fullness of times may be turned, and the mysteries of God be unfolded, upon which their salvation and the salvation of the world, and the redemption of their dead depends, for “Thus saith the Lord,” “there shall not be a General Assembly for a general conference assembled together until the House of the Lord shall be finished, and the Baptismal Font, and if we are not diligent the church shall be rejected, and their dead also,” “Saith the Lord,” therefore, dear Brother, any proceedings otherwise than to put forth their hands with their might to do this work, is not according to the will of God, and shall not prosper; therefore tarry, not in any place whatever, but come forth unto this place from all the world, until it is filled up, and polished, and sanctified according to my word, saith the Lord, come ye forth from the ends of the earth, that I may hide you from mine indignation that shall scourge the wicked, and then I will send forth and build up Kirtland, and it shall be polished and refined according to my work; therefore, your doings and your organizations, and designs in printing, or any of your councils, are not of me, saith the Lord even so, Amen
HYRUM SMITH, Patriarch for the whole church.
Springdale, Hamilton county, Ohio,
September 4th 1841.
That’s a good find. I looked it up in History of the Church (4:443-444), but there were some minor differences. So I looked up the version that was printed in the Millenial Star in December 1841. Here is that version:
All the saints that dwell in that land are commanded to come away, for this is, “Thus saith the Lord;” therefore pay out no moneys nor properties for houses, nor lands, in that country, for if you do, you will lose them; for the time shall come that you shall not possess them in peace; but shall be scourged with a sore scourge; yet your children may possess them; but not until many years shall pass away. And as to the organization of that branch of the church, it is not according to the spirit and will of God. And as to the designs of the leading members of that branch, relative to the printing press, and the ordaining of Elders, and sending out Elders to beg for the poor, are not according to the will of God. And in these things they shall not prosper, for they have neglected the House of the Lord, the Baptismal Font, in this place, wherein their dead may be redeemed, and the key of knowledge that unfolds the dispensation of the fullness of times may be turned, and the mysteries of God be unfolded, upon which their salvation, and the salvation of the world, and the redemption of their dead depends, for “Thus saith the Lord, there shall not be a general assembly for a general conference assembled together until the House of the Lord shall be finished, and the Baptismal Font; and if we are not diligent the church shall be rejected, and their dead also, saith the Lord.”
Therefore, dear brother, any proceedings otherwise than to put forth their hands with their might to do this work, is not according to the will of God, and shall not prosper. Therefore tarry not in any place whatever, but come forth unto this place from all the world, until it is filled up and polished and sanctified according to my word, saith the Lord, come ye forth from the ends of the earth, that I may hide you from mine indignation that shall scourge the wicked, and then I will send forth and build up Kirtland, and it shall be polished and refined according to my word. Therefore, your doings and your organizations, and designs in printing, or any of your councils, are not of me, saith the Lord, even so, Amen.
HYRUM SMITH, Patriarch for the whole church.
It also appears that Hyrum wrote this letter on October 31, 1841 after reading the minutes from the Kirtland conference held on October 3. October 3 was also when Joseph proclaimed there would be no more baptisms for the dead nor General Conferences until they could be held in the Lord’s House. Hyrum is confirming that in this letter.
Interesting, your version is probably the accurate one. I actually stole the quote from a post watcher did on baptisms for the dead awhile ago, so he found it. I actually just noticed yesterday, that if you look at the chronology of the D&C, section 121 called Hyrum as a patriarch and prophet in 1841 in January. Hyrum and Joseph make these statements later in the year. Section 125 talks about Zarahemla and us calling ourselves by God’s name and essaying to be His saints. Section 126 mentions an acceptable sacrifice of Brigham. There’s nothing for over a year until 127 and 128 in September of 1842 where Joseph is obviously feeling the heat and knows baptism for the dead and the temple need to be finished or the saints will be rejected. Again nothing for 5 months when we have 129-131 given in February, April and May of 1843 with some interesting things some of which where corrupted by later redactions. Then what do we have? Section 132 supposedly given 12 July 1843, 4 days later Joseph says he will no longer prophesy. And then 11 months later he and Hyrum are both dead. It really gives a fascinating perspective and Joseph’s final years. He knew what needed to be done to save the church and tried to do so, but had been blinded and was led off into sin to turn the people over to satan. Like you guys said satan is literally sitting in all mormon temples proclaiming himself the god of this world.
Thanks for providing a place that the rest of us can chime in on random thoughts that come up as we go through the scriptures together. The section this week reminds me of something Nephi said, “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” (1 Ne. 19:23) I haven’t been shy in the past about sharing my thoughts about current political events being reflected in the Book of Mormon, another proof to me of its value as prophecy for our day as well as a testimony of Jesus Christ.
The section we are reading today could have come out of the newspapers. Does anyone else see parallels between the “Lawfare” tactics (think warfare waged by lawyers) used against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (lying to the FBI) and Pres. Trump (Russian collusion/ Ukraine phone call/impeachment, etc,) and what the lawyers and judges do to Alma and Amulek? They are stirring up public controversy by distorting the facts of their cases to generate pubic outrage that will justify the criminal penalties they want to impose on them. They have the political targets, they just have to generate the crime.
So, here is another connection. “And behold, I am also a man of no small reputation among all those who know me; yea, and behold, I have many kindreds and friends, and I have acquired much riches by the hand of my industry. Nevertheless, after all this, I have never known much of the ways of the Lord”. God gave Alma a person to help get the message across, someone who had name recognition, and status among the people. He had earned his money by his own efforts, but was not considered religious, even by his own opinion of himself. Amulek saw the situation and did what he could to save his city and the people in it. Does this also sound like a description of our President?
[Note: I have had plenty of push back about my opinion that our current President is doing the work of God to restore this country to a land of Promise, but that push back seems to be because of his public reputation. The missionary efforts that take place by “former apostates/unbelievers” (Alma Sr, Alma Jr, and the sons of Mosiah) in this section of the BOM are dramatic, We will can add Amulek and Zeezrom to the list also. Don’t discount a person’s contribution to God’s efforts based on their public reputation or former life.]
Yes, our society is overly legalistic and corrupt. However, the problem in the case of Flynn is that both sides do crap like this to each other (think Clinton being impeached for perjury not cheating), and to normal people all the time. I saw a study once estimating the average American breaks several laws per day without even knowing that they do so. Furthermore, as I’ve said before, I agree God can use imperfect vessels to do His work. But again I see Trump as more of a Nebuchadnezzar. Also, in this particular political fight the Republicans and the Democrats have aligned themselves with rival Ukrainian Oligarch/Mafia clans, in order to get gain and power, and undermine each other (Eastern Europe is one of my areas of study and Ukraine is a total failed Mafia state run by different rival factions). We have both parties, upon ceasing power, using various bureaucracies to go after their political enemies. So this is why I think the book of Ether’s political intrigue is more relevant to our current political situation.
As to your question below, I have often wondered what the “premortal existence” entails.
I do love Ukraine by the way and its people as I served my mission there. So it especially pisses me off to see our government using Ukrainians as cannon fodder for their own political and financial gain. So I say a pox upon both their houses.
It’s true that this kind of judicial abuse is common, but the difference is that the attack on Flynn and Trump seems to be turning the focus to the lawyers’ abuse of the legal process and might end up bringing the prison down on their own heads, while the victims walk out of the rubble unscathed, like lions. But that is a story for another week. Keep watching!
I’m with you that Trump is doing good by helping the poor in America. His focus is on improving the working class, those who were left behind by globalization.
I don’t agree, though, that Trump is fulfilling the scriptures in restoring Zion. I believe Zion is separate and distinct from the USA, even though its borders are geographically within the country.
There are a couple of things that make me reject him as the one redeeming Zion. His focus is highly nationalistic. He wants to improve the lot of Americans – America First. That’s fine from a table of nations perspective. But from God’s perspective it is still pitting one people against another. God loves all His creations, no matter what nation they are in. When Zion is redeemed, it will be open to all the righteous. It’s not just those who can come to the USA with advanced degrees or unique skills – that’s Trump’s immigration policy (and perfectly fine for a nation, but not for Zion). Zion will accept all who are righteous from all over the world: the meek, mild, poor, and needy.
We also see Trump projecting American power and military might throughout the world. I believe he does not want war and bloodshed – he uses belligerent rhetoric to enable peaceful negotiations, just look at North Korea. That’s the art of the deal. However, he also recognizes the threat China has to the US and the world and he’s been at war with them throughout his presidency. It’s been an economic war so far, but it can easily and quickly escalate into a shooting war.
Zion will not provoke its enemies. Zion will not have an interventionist foreign policy.
I don’t criticize Trump for how he leads the USA. It’s appropriate for a leader of a nation. But it isn’t in alignment with the scriptural description of Zion.
I think his enemies will eventually succeed in removing him from office (fulfilling the Esdras Eagle prophecy). That, to me, would be a major sign of the times and the servants should return very close to that event (and hopefully prior to it).
Trump has explicitly said he is “America First” because he is the President of America, and every other national leader should also be working to put the welfare of their citizens first as well. As you said, this is as it should be. However, he is not trying to put America First at the expense of the citizens of any other nation either. When he negotiated the trade agreement with Mexico, it required a certain percentage of manufacturing jobs to have a minimum of $16/hour. This is to benefit the Mexican workers to have a living wage by staying in their countries, with their families to build up their communities, rather than putting themselves in the hands of the cartels to risk crossing illegally and ending up in the shadows of America without being able to live the American dream.
I could be wrong, but how is restricting entrance to those who have a chance at integrating (by learning the language and being able to support themselves without welfare assistance) more restrictive than your criteria for Zion, “open to all the righteous”? The problem to this point has been that immigrants are getting jobs at the expense of the working class and the unskilled, entry level American applicants. Trump is trying to make the economic pie big enough so there are enough jobs to take care of our own house first and then admit people from other countries who really want to be here, who won’t have to live in the margins of society. It doesn’t matter whether they are doctors or janitors. American engineering students are getting cut out of jobs by immigration too.
As for the scriptures, D&C 101 has a parable about the redemption of Zion, starting at verse 81 (right after talking about why we have a Constitution in this land). The people importune up the chain until they get to the President for relief. “IF THE PRESIDENT HEED THEM NOT, THEN WILL THE LORD ARISE AND COME FORTH OUT OF HIS HIDING PLACE… and cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards.” The result? verse 100-101 “Inasmuch as they bring forth fruit and works meet for my kingdom they shall dwell thereon. They shall build and another shall not inherit it; they shall plant vineyards, and they shall eat the fruit thereof.”
Section 58 talks about the process of preparing the land for Zion. Starting in verse 7, “also that you might be honored in laying the foundation and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand; and also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor; yea a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail; yea, a supper of the house of the Lord, well prepared, unto which all nations shall be invited. FIRST, the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble; AND AFTER THAT cometh the day of my power; THEN shall the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come.”
As for projecting power and military might, it has kept us out of war so far. China has been at war with us for a long time. Trump is the first one to call them out on it. You can’t blame him for defending his country when it has been under attack for decades, and doing it in such a way that we aren’t being shot at. More to the point, though, I was under the impression that Zion was going to be the only place in the world that was at peace because it would stay out of other people’s fights and was too strong and intimidating for others to attack it. Isn’t that what you see happening now? The reason he brags about having the strongest military by far and how much he has spent on it?
I’m with you on a nationalistic perspective. But you lose me on equating it to Zion.
Do you realistically see Trump ushering in the Law of Consecration in this land?
No, I see Trump breaking the yoke of bondage from off our backs so we have a fair chance to see how we will behave. Whether America chooses to repent is up to each American. How God will go about His work is a mystery to me, but I see the pieces being put into place. Trump is trying to restore the Constitutional law as the foundation of our nation, and unite us as one people. If he is successful, I think we will prosper tremendously. What we choose to do with that prosperity (and a possible parallel spiritual revival) will determine whether we will be swept off the land or build Zion.
However, if God wanted Trump to usher in the Law of Consecration after the country has been united and the enemies eliminated, it would not be that much different from what King Benjamin did with his final speech. He would just need an angel to appear before his farewell speech and tell him what to say. I just don’t think that two 4-year terms is enough time to get the whole job done.
I can see how you see Trump in that light, however that’s not what’s happening in America. The people are being riled up to be more divided. The opposition to Trump is fierce. There’s more talk of another civil war than there is of harmony and peace. Some even say we are already in a civil war – a cold civil war. We are seeing that in the re-opening of states. The states more aligned with Trump are opening faster while the states more opposed to Trump are dragging their feet and going as slowly as their citizens will allow.
Many times the Lord will use the “if…then…” in His statements to say that there is another way, but He knows the people are going to choose the opposite of what He has to offer. I think that’s the case with the parable you quoted.
I’ve read other places that the details we get in the Book of Mormon about the years before Christ’s birth is a shadow of things that will happen in America before the second coming. There’s a lot of strife, secret works and combinations, and disunity. I could see Trump in the role of a Lachoneus/son of Lachoneus.
3 Nephi 7:1 Now behold, I will show unto you that they did not establish a king over the land; but in this same year, yea, the thirtieth year, they did destroy upon the judgment-seat, yea, did murder the chief judge of the land.
2 And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land.
3 And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes.
I think this is more of a description of what lies ahead than establishing peace.
Interestingly, I wonder if the EU might have a similar fate due to the virus in dividing themselves back into individual countries and dissolving the union. Their idea of removing borders has come crashing down with the need to quarantine entire countries in the EU.
I don’t agree with your assessment of the division in this country. Trump is gathering Americans of every race, gender, occupation, age, political party, etc. Look at the demographics of his rallies. We are less divided than we were under Obama. What you see as division is simply the public push back of people who want to control a divided nation. What you see as civil war is really people waking up to the real state of bondage they are under and the oppressors in politics and media fighting desperately to keep them under control. We are dividing into two sides, wheat/tares, Great &Abominable church/church of Christ, etc. You might not see the religious aspect of the division yet, but if you look in terms of agency vs. top down control it is more apparent.
As for the states, I used to wonder what it would take for the wicked cities to cast out the “righteous” so they would be destroyed. Why would anyone kick out Good Guys? Well, now I see how someone who wants to work for a living might move voluntarily when the leaders won’t let them work. But I think that is a comment for next week’s reading.
I have a different opinion about the “first provocation” and “last provocation” section. The context these terms are used in is explaining the concept of how a person could have immortality after a resurrection (and a day of judgment) when the scriptures said the tree of life was forbidden. In this context, the first provocation would refer to the original “fall” of mankind. In that circumstance, Adam and Eve knew God and His commandment concerning them and they chose the path of knowledge and death instead of waiting for the Lord’s further instructions. However, they did not actually know good and evil at that time, making the fall a transgression of the law, rather than sin resulting from intentional rebellion. The last provocation seems to occur after we have had an opportunity to know good and evil from our own experience, be called to repentance, and choose to reject the invitation to repent. This would provoke God to inflict a second, permanent death instead of the temporary one that was first applied to fallen mankind, the destruction of the soul as opposed to entering into the rest of God.
The original Book of Mormon had a chapter break after Alma 13:9, instead of where we break the storyline after chapter 12:37. If you continue into chapter 13, it seems to tell a story of a select group which being given the choice between good and evil, chose good and were rewarded with a preparatory redemption and a calling to lead others to the rest of God by teaching about the plan of redemption. Is it possible that we ALL had a “garden experience” to determine our place here in mortality? (Think about it like the “marshmallow test” where the child is told to wait to eat until the adult returns to the room.) If so, we are not being punished for Adam’s transgression, but for our own, forgotten choice. This might explain how some people, like Melchizedek and Elijah had incredible spiritual gifts, which were activated by their exceeding great faith, despite living in very fallen societies and were able to bring people to repentance as well as passing out of mortality without tasting death. Just something to think about going into next week’s reading.
Great find about the full sermon by Alma. I think a lot of what we need to know is contained within the context of his sermon, sometimes we miss the mark by searching for terms elsewhere when their meaning can be found right in this passage.
I agree with you that the first provocation was the fall of Adam. We can figure out the last provocation from that same context:
Alma 12:31 Wherefore, he gave commandments unto men, they having first transgressed the first commandments as to things which were temporal, and becoming as gods, knowing good from evil, placing themselves in a state to act, or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good—
32 Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for on such the plan of redemption could have no power, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God.
I believe in Alma’s sermon, he refers to the “first” as the fall of Adam. The “second” or “last” is right there in verse 32. God commanded men that they should not do evil. If we do evil, then the second death applies.
Now we move forward to verse 36 and it’s all pretty clear:
Alma 12:36 And now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first.
The first provocation brought temporal death to mankind. The last or second provocation will bring spiritual death to mankind. This fits perfectly within the context of Alma’s sermon.
Keying off the full sermon, I think we can figure out who those group of priests are who Alma talks about in what is now the beginning of Alma 13. If we go back to Alma 12 we learn about what God had appointed unto man:
Alma 12:27 But behold, it was not so; but it was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment, even that same judgment of which we have spoken, which is the end.
28 And after God had appointed that these things should come unto man, behold, then he saw that it was expedient that man should know concerning the things whereof he had appointed unto them;
29 Therefore he sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory.
Adam and Eve were not allowed to partake of the tree of life, so God’s word that they shall die was appointed unto them and all of their descendants. So why does God see that He needs to let man know about what will befall them?
This is where we have to move ourselves back into their time and what life was like in the first millennium. Adam lived for 930 years. If you were born six or seven hundred years after the fall, would you really understand that you were destined to die? All of your ancestors, up to Adam were all alive. The only death you might know about would be accidental or murder. You wouldn’t know that no matter what you did, at some point you would die. I don’t think it was obvious to them that life would come to an end.
Because of that, and as Alma states this life became a time of probation, God sent angels to declare the message that they would all die some day, that they needed to follow God and to not do evil, that they would be returned to life and face judgment.
Now as we read Alma 13 in the context of this sermon we can see who he is talking about:
Alma 13:And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.
He’s talking about the commandments to not do evil, but to repent and harden not your hearts. Those are the commandments he is telling his audience to remember. In order to do this, God ordained priests. These priests are the ones who lived during that first millennium and beyond. They would include Enoch and the patriarchs. Here’s where the word link is so valuable, because Alma uses the very same description as given to Melchizedek who was given the same priesthood as Enoch:
JST Genesis 14:27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained a high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
28 It being after the order of the Son of God, which order came not by man, nor the will of man, neither by father nor mother, neither by beginning of days nor end of years, but of God.
Alma is talking about those priests from the earliest of days on down who had the same calling.
I don’t believe we can get from this that we all had a garden like experience. Adam and Eve knew what they did. They did not forget it. It isn’t consistent that we would have had to make a choice in some sort of “premortal existence”. That doesn’t match up with what the scriptures teach us about when God gave us agency. Rather, Alma 13 is explicit that it wasn’t any premortal action on our part that determined it, but was due to the foreknowledge of God:
Alma 13:And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
God could call them from the foundation of the world because of God’s foreknowledge of all things. He knew what decisions the people would make. He didn’t set them up with a premortal test to determine who would have faith and good works. That destroys the teaching of Alma that it was God’s foreknowledge, instead God is clueless so He has to test all these spirits to figure it out – that’s bunk! God has no need to test premortal spirits to find out what they will do. He already knows because of His foreknowledge.
Once we understand that, then the only reason why God would have anyone go through a test is for their own benefit, their own growth. It doesn’t benefit any of us if we took a test of which we have no memory. It’s useless to us. It doesn’t help us progress at all. Thus, being unnecessary and useless and further having no scriptural support, there’s no reason to believe in it.
I know that the LDS indoctrination is strong and it’s hard to shed so many of the falsehoods. When I studied this and figured out it was wrong, I was really angry for a while. I couldn’t believe that the ENTIRE plan of salvation as the LDS laid out and taught me is wrong. From denying that God atoned for our sins, to creating a false premortal trials and tests, to the false idea that we will permanently end up in different degrees of glory. It was really upsetting that the truth in the scriptures is so different than what the LDS believe. But it’s so much better to have the scales fall from my eyes and see what the gospel really is.
Mike, I didn’t plan to get into chapter 13 too much this week, I just mentioned it because of the chapter break issue and thought it was helpful in completing the chapter. However, just to be clear, my thoughts on chapter 13 are based on reading the text, not on lds indoctrination. When I suggested we might have had a test, it is based on the line you quoted above: “being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding good works; IN THE FIRST PLACE BEING LEFT TO CHOOSE GOOD OR EVIL; THEREFORE THEY HAVING CHOSEN GOOD, AND EXERCISING EXCEEDINGLY GREAT FAITH, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to a preparatory redemption for such.”
My question is “What is a preparatory redemption?”
As to what could be the point of a test you don’t remember…I believe our spirits can remember things our bodies never experienced. Since earthly experiences are stored in the body, we would have no way to access those experiences directly at this time. We might have learned from them, though. I think I have learned more from my errors than my successes, so there could be a first lesson to be gained prior to birth as well.
That’s why it’s important to keep chapter 12 in mind when you read chapter 13. Look back at Chapter 12 and how does it use “first”? What does “first” refer to? It’s to choices made in the flesh, that you can remember. It’s not about a pre-existence test.
As to “preparatory redemption”, everywhere “preparatory” is used it has to do with this life. This is our mortal probation, our preparatory time. The combination of redemption with it is unique, however, I don’t think it’s that much of a mystery. All of those priests (high priests) were ordained long before the atonement. Nevertheless, they were in a state of redemption for exercising great faith and choosing to do good. They had been redeemed prior to the atonement.
Everywhere in the scriptures, we exercise faith here during our probation, we make choices here during our probation. The indoctrination is that we made choices prior to our probation. That’s not what the scriptures teach. I’m not being critical of you, I had the same indoctrination and it took a lot to realize I’d been led astray.
So, just to be clear, you don’t believe an individual spirit has the opportunity to make any choices until after they are born?
I believe in the scriptures:
JST Genesis 7:40 And in the garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency; and unto thy brethren have I said, and also gave commandment, that they should love one another and that they should choose me their Father.
Alma 12:31 Wherefore, he gave commandments unto men, they having first transgressed the first commandments as to things which were temporal, and becoming as gods, knowing good from evil, placing themselves in a state to act, or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good—
The scriptures tell us all about when and where we had the opportunity to choose. The scriptures do not tell us about going through probation while being unborn spirits. It’s just LDS indoctrination that makes us want to read them other than what they are.
What do you think about the two options you highlighted above 1) placing themselves in a state to act, or 2) being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good?
How did Adam and Eve place themselves in a state to act? Is it possible that the other choice was to exercise exceeding faith after which they would be placed in a state to act? Who would place them? Would they be blessed with an accompanying advantage in this state (a preparatory redemption), relative to people who had placed themselves?
I think it’s all about where Alma is quoting from and getting the content for his sermon. It’s straight out of the JST of Genesis. It’s what was written on the Brass Plates. He’s not talking about any premortal tests.
God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden. God gave Adam commandments to not partake of the forbidden fruit at the same time He gave him agency. What was the forbidden fruit? The tree of knowledge of good and evil. The keywords are right there.
Once Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they had now placed themselves in a state of knowledge. While they had brought upon them death, they had also become like gods, knowing good from evil:
JST Genesis 3:10 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Alma 42:3 Now, we see that the man had become as God, knowing good and evil; and lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever, the Lord God placed cherubim and the flaming sword, that he should not partake of the fruit—
I don’t know what good it does to speculate what the other choice would or could have been. God had always planned to redeem mankind. His atonement was always part of the plan. Read through all of Alma 42. We can’t realistically believe that God had another plan in mind but Satan messed it up by tempting Eve. Because God knows all things, nothing is a surprise to Him. He knew man would fall. He planned for it, from before the foundation of the earth.