Gospel Doctrine Lesson 27

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 27

from Gospel Doctrine Lesson 27 – Alma 37

23 And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations.

24 And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying:

25 I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land.

Gazelem. I don’t know the interpretation of this word. It appears to be used as a title or name-type. Such names were substituted in modern revelations to hide the identities of various Church leaders until it was safe to reveal who the revelations were speaking of, (then the real names were added in brackets in later publishings). (See D&C 104:20-34, etc., for an example.) I cite this because the name “Gazelem” was the name used for the identity of Joseph Smith. (See D&C 78:9; 82:11; and 104:26, 43, 45, and 46.)

Which shall shine forth in darkness unto light. This is how a seer stone operates. Remember that for most of the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith used his chocolate-colored seer stone, (which was opaque–you couldn’t look through it!). His scribes said he placed the seer stone in a hat to exclude the natural light, and then would lower his face to the hat. As he would look at the stone in the darkness, the “spiritual light would shine” and he would there see what he needed as far as text to translate, and after working out the translation in his mind with the aid of the Holy Spirit, the translation would also appear in the stone in letters of light, which he would read off to his scribes. In this manner, the stone would “shine forth in darkness unto light,” in the translation process.

(Why would Joseph put the seer stone in a hat? Probably two reasons: (1) to cut down on what we would call “monitor glare.” Computer monitors have special coatings on their surfaces to cut down on glare. You can also purchase silk-screens you can attach to the front of a monitor to cut out glare from the glass surface of the monitor. (2) It probably helped him focus his concentration on the translating task.)

You will recall also that those who saw the Urim and Thummim–two stones set in a bow–and with a “rod” attached, which could be inserted into the Breastplate found with the plates–said it looked like “a pair of old spectacles” to them. (The kind that have a rod attached on one side, which you hold in one hand.)

The statement is often published in the Church that we do not know how the Urim and Thummim operated. That is not true. Two quotations from Church History will illuminate the basic mode of operation for us. Brigham Young was shown the Urim and Thummim with the Twelve by Joseph Smith, and Joseph explained its operation to them:

I met with the Twelve at brother Joseph’s. He conversed with us in a familiar manner . . . and explained to us the Urim and Thummim. . . . He said that every man who lived on the earth was entitled to a seer stone, and should have one . . . he showed us his seer stone. (Millennial Star, 26:118-9; underlining added; see also 40:787.)

Subsequently, President Young explained how the Urim and Thummim (or a seer stone) operated:

The breastplate of Aaron that you read of in the Scriptures was a Urim and Thummim, fixed in bows similar to the one Joseph Smith found. Aaron wore this Urim and Thummim on his breast, [it was attached by the rod,] and looked into it like looking on a mirror, and the information he needed was there obtained. This earth, when it becomes purified and sanctified, or celestialized, will become like a sea of glass; and a person, by looking into it, can know things past, present, and to come; though none but celestialized beings can enjoy this privilege. They will look into the earth, and the things they desire to know will be exhibited to them, the same as the face is seen by looking into a mirror. (Journal of Discourses, 9:86-7; underlining added.)

The Urim and Thummim operates on a visual principle. One looks into the stones, not through them. The information, (whether text, images, or scenes of past, present, or future), appears in the stones.

Due probably to the description that the Urim and Thummim looked like a large pair of old spectacles, a misconception has occurred that the Urim and Thummim also operated like glasses–namely that Joseph looked through the stones to see the plates, and then proceeded with the translation. That is absolutely not true! He did not look through them! Absolute evidence that this is not true can be obtained in many ways:

(1) The seer stone Joseph used for most of the Book of Mormon translation was chocolate-colored, and opaque. He couldn’t look through it.

As a historical note, Brigham Young related how Joseph obtained his seer stone:

. . . President Young also said that the seer stone which Joseph Smith first obtained he got in an iron kettle 15 feet underground. He saw it while looking in another seer stone which a person had. He went right to the spot and dug and found it. (Wilford Woodruff Journal, 11 September 1859.)

(2) He put his seer stone in a hat to exclude ambient light, and then lowered his face to the hat to see the stone. The plates were not in the hat! Hence, he did not look through the seer stone to see the plates! Emma Smith acted as Joseph’s first scribe in the Book of Mormon translation. She confirmed in a published interview by her son that Joseph placed the seer stone in a hat to translate and therefore that he looked into the stone, not through it at the plates:

. . . In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, after sitting by the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us. (The Saints’ Herald, May 19, 1888, p. 310; underlining added.)

(3) Seer stones operate by looking into them, not through them, as explained by the Prophet Brigham Young, who was also one of the eye and ear witnesses to Joseph’s explanation as to how the Urim and Thummim operated.

(4) As President Young taught, in the resurrection, the earth will become a Urim and Thummim, and those living on its surface will be able to look into it and see what they need to see–they will not look through it!

(5) The Scriptures themselves reveal the fundamental operation of the Urim and Thummim:

13 . . . And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them [not “through them”] except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer. (Mosiah 8; underlining added.)

(6) While taking a break from the concentration and work of translation, Martin Harris and Joseph went to a creek to throw rocks. Martin found a stone almost identical to the chocolate-colored seer stone. Without Joseph seeing, he succeeded in substituting his stone for the seer stone before the translation resumed. Upon putting the substituted stone in the hat, Joseph was not able to proceed, but

. . . remained silent, unusually and intently gazing in darkness, no traces of the usual sentences appearing. Much surprised, Joseph exclaimed, “Martin! What is the matter? All is as dark as Egypt!” Martin’s countenance betrayed him, and the Prophet asked Martin why had done so. Martin said, to stop the mouths of fools, who had told him that the Prophet had learned [memorized] those sentences and was merely repeating them, etc. (Millennial Star, 44:86-7; underlining added.)

This experience confirms that Joseph was putting the seer stone in the hat, and that the Nephite characters appeared in the stone, without the need of seeing the plates. (Compare this experience with Alma 37:23 which states that with the aid of “a stone,” the translation would “shine forth in darkness unto light.” The use of the hat helped create the darkness apparently making it easier to view the letters of spiritual light which would shine in the stone.)

(7) David Whitmer, (one of the scribes), specifically stated that Joseph did not need the plates in the translation process, (Millennial Star, 43:423).

The question that always arises is, “If Joseph didn’t use the plates in the translation process, then why did he need to have them at all?” To answer this question, we could ask ourselves, “What did Joseph use the plates for?” The answer is: He showed them to witnesses, as evidence that the translation was of an ancient record: he had the original plates. The plates provided tangible, physical evidence that an ancient Nephite record really did exist. The plates were something the witnesses could see, lift, and touch–they could not see the translation process itself.

Suppose Joseph had never received the Nephite plates, and had been called to just give the world the translation of the record. He could have done this! In fact, he did it with the manuscript John the Beloved wrote anciently and hid away–Joseph translated the document, which is now our D&C 7. As far as Church History is concerned, Joseph never actually received or touched John’s ancient manuscript–rather, he saw the characters of John’s text in the Urim and Thummim–as he did when he translated the Nephite characters–and provided a translation without ever having John’s original manuscript!

Why was Joseph given the Nephite plates? He was given the plates so their existence could not be called into question.

(8) The Liahona had the capability to show writing (text) which would appear or be changed on its surface from time to time, (See 1 Nephi 16:26-9.) (Digital watches which have liquid crystal displays (LCDs) have letters and numbers that appear on the watches’ face, and change “from time to time.”)

(9) Think of the counterfeit to a seer stone–a crystal ball. Even though a counterfeit, the operation is the same: a medium does not look through a crystal ball, but into it.

(10) The Hyrum Page seer stone, (though giving revelations which were not true), was capable of giving literal words of “revelation.” Elder George A. Smith recorded that Bro. Page “began to get revelations through the medium of a black stone, certain characters appearing on that stone which he wrote down,” (JD, 11:2.) (The Page seer stone was opaque, like Joseph’s seer stone, but more of a slate gray color–the point is, you couldn’t look through either Joseph’s or Hyrum Pages’ seer stone.)

President Young used a mirror in his example of how the Urim and Thummim operated. Notice that he says the operation was “like looking on a mirror,” or like “looking into a mirror.” One looks into a mirror, not through a mirror! I have stated before that had President Young lived in our day, undoubtedly he would have used a computer monitor or a television to illustrate the operation of the Urim and Thummim. You can see words of text, graphical images, and even “full-motion video” in a monitor. All could be seen as easily in a Urim and Thummim or seer stone. We look into a computer monitor and see the images on its surface.

With these facts in mind, here is a modern update on the new technology emerging which makes it much easier to relate to the scenario Joseph’s scribes related. OEM Magazine–a high-tech magazine for the computer manufacturers industry ran an article this month entitled, “Heads-up on monitors.” Extracts from the article follow. I will add some comparisons with Joseph’s instruments of revelation:

Heads-up on monitors

. . . But there’s another approach. What if, instead of taking up valuable real estate on the desk with a monitor, computer users were to wear the display on their heads? Such a monitor–mounted in an eyepiece [seer stone], special glasses [Urim and Thummim: two stones mounted in a bow, which resembled a large pair of “old-fashioned” spectacles], or goggles [like the seer stone in the hat]–would present users with a virtual image [or ancient text to translate] of any desired size, resolution and viewing distance. Though this concept is a bit visionary at the moment, display makers are investing a lot of work in head-mounted displays (HMDs), an area that’s as ripe with possibilities as it is with pitfalls. . . .

. . . How comfortable would it be to wear a display [or put on and wear the breastplate for translation] for eight hours or more per day? [Joseph found the operation of the seer stone more convenient.] What are the implications for eyestrain, concentration [Joseph took breaks with Martin by throwing rocks in the creek] and, perhaps, feelings of isolation from the real world? . . .

A one-eye display [seer stone] has the advantage of being lighter and probably more comfortable to wear for long periods that a two-eye device [Urim and Thummim]. . . .

Two-eye displays lend themselves to upgrading to stereo or virtual-reality applications. But they will be more expensive and more intrusive than one-eye devices. . . .

In some situations, it might be desirable to shut out the outside world completely and concentrate solely on the display [which is precisely what Joseph did with the seer stone in the hat]. (OEM Magazine, July 1996, p. 9-10.)

From the numerous parallels in this article on the latest emerging computer technologies, and the “two-eye piece” Urim and Thummim, or the “single-eye piece” seer stone, (used because it was more convenient, and could be placed in a hat to block out external light and aid concentration, like the “goggles” mentioned in the article), one might think Joseph Smith had lived at the end of the Twentieth Century–July 1996. How hard is it for us to believe he was describing the operation of a real instrument of translation that operated upon visual principles like our computer monitors, or the coming generation of “monitors” shaped and worn like eye-glasses?

28 For behold, there is a curse upon all this land, that destruction shall come upon all those workers of darkness, according to the power of God, when they are fully ripe; therefore I desire that this people might not be destroyed.

A curse upon all this land. The priesthood blessing for righteousness or the curse for wickedness have never been removed from the Americas. They are in force today.

30 For behold, they murdered all the prophets of the Lord who came among them to declare unto them concerning their iniquities; and the blood of those whom they murdered did cry unto the Lord their God for vengeance upon those who were their murderers; and thus the judgments of God did come upon these workers of darkness and secret combinations.

They murdered all the prophets. Joseph Smith prophesied of the impending American Civil War, (D&C 130:12-3). He was killed because he was a Prophet and taught the truth. The Lord had an obvious hand in leading the Saints to the West, where they were protected from that terrible conflict, which came upon the heads of those who had rejected the Prophets and the Saints:

34 Thy brethren have rejected you and your testimony, even the nation that has driven you out;

35 And now cometh the day of their calamity, even the days of sorrow, like a woman that is taken in travail; and their sorrow shall be great unless they speedily repent, yea, very speedily.

36 For they killed the prophets, and them that were sent unto them; and they have shed innocent blood, which crieth from the ground against them. (D&C 136; underlining added.)

31 Yea, and cursed be the land [of the Americas] forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations, even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe.

Even unto destruction. That curse operating upon the wicked, has brought about the destruction of the Jaredite Nation, the Nephite Nation, and will also bring a “full end” to the nation of the United States, if its people fail to repent of their sins and embrace the restored gospel. (See D&C 87:5-7. Please read this revelation. The United States is not an exception. The revelation says “all nations.”) Otherwise, there awaits “a sore vexation” of “bloodshed,” “famine,” “plague,” “earthquake,” and other calamities until these destructions have made “a full end of all nations”–including the United States–who do not repent!

33 Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil. This is a great statement on how to overcome sin: through faith in Christ. From this verse we also learn it is possible to “withstand every temptation.” (So much for rationalization.)

36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

Whithersoever thou goest. If we never go to places where the devil reigns, we will avoid those temptations.

Thoughts. Here is good counsel that we are responsible for our thoughts.

Heart. Another instance that it is the heart the Lord wishes to be turned toward Him.

37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Counsel with the Lord. This can be done in our minds as we go through our daily tasks. Morning prayers and reading the Scriptures helps us set the tone for the day, and bring spiritual things to the forefront of our minds.

38 And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director–or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it.

39 And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.

40 And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.

41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;

42 Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.

Liahona. Our modern gyroscope compasses are still not as sophisticated as this instrument from space.

43 And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.

44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

Type. As Alma points out, these sacred instruments can be considered “types” of spiritual realities. The type of the Liahona is a beautiful symbolism.

46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

47 And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell.

Chapter 38 Introduction

The commandments of Alma to his son, Shiblon.

Shiblon. This introduction appears in the text of the 1973 Edition. It was not set in larger type, which appears to be an error in typesetting. As with the other introductions to the chapters Alma wrote to his sons, I believe this text was part of the original translation from the Book of Mormon plates.

Chapter 38

2 And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end.

Blessed is he that endureth to the end. Joseph Smith taught that enduring to the end was one of the fundamental principles of the gospel. The following letter is an excellent example of the importance of this principle:

Letter: Joseph and Hyrum Smith to Mr. Tewkesbury–Seeking to Restore Latter to Fellowship.

NAUVOO, ILLINOIS, June 4th, 1844.

SIR.–We understand that you have been cut off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and feeling an ardent desire for the salvation of the souls of men, we take pleasure in feeling after you; and therefore would, in the sincerity of men of God, advise you to be rebaptized by Elder Nickerson, one of the servants of God, that you may again receive the sweet influences of the Holy Ghost, and enjoy the fellowship of the Saints.

The law of God requires it, and you cannot be too good. Patience is heavenly, obedience is noble, forgiveness is merciful, and exaltation is godly; and he that holds out faithful to the end shall in no wise lose his reward. A good man will endure all things to honor Christ, and even dispose of the whole world, and all in it, to save his soul. Grace for grace is a heavenly decree, and union is power where wisdom guides.

Respectfully, JOSEPH SMITH, HYRUM SMITH. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:427; underlining added.)

3 I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the Zoramites.

4 For I know that thou wast in bonds; yea, and I also know that thou wast stoned for the word’s sake; and thou didst bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee.

Stoned. This shows the Israelite heritage of the Zoramites. Stoning the transgressor was one of the punishments God commanded ancient Israel, and which was part of their law. (See Leviticus 20:2, 27; 24:14, 16, 25 for some examples.)

8 And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.

A remission of my sins. If repentance is the road to life in the eternities to come, then receiving a complete remission of ones sins is a worthy goal. This is my personal goal–to obtain and retain a full remission of sins–as I assume and hope it is the goal of every Latter-day Saint. The ordinance of the Sacrament, and personal prayer, are tools given to us to help us attain that goal.

9 And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.

There is no other way or means. We have learned in other lessons that there is only one gospel, with its principles and ordinances, and that obedience to the one and only true gospel is required for any salvation in any kingdom of glory in the life to come. Christ is the only source of life and light in eternity, and only those whom He claims as His sheep–who have entered His Fold by baptism and confirmation–will be His and will have life and light. Others will go with the devil into death and darkness.

Christ. Law is a manifestation and extension of a being. The Law of God is an extension of Him. He is first, the law is second. (Lehi taught that God was first–the Creator–and that from Him came creation, and then He gave laws to His creation: see 2 Nephi 2:13-16. D&C 93:30 teaches that God places all intelligence into a sphere where it may act for itself, otherwise there is no existence!) In this view, a Being is the pinnacle of existence. We therefore worship a Being, not the law or attributes of perfection. All things center in Christ.

Elder Orson Pratt, in the early days of the Church, published his doctrinal speculation that true worship was to worship the attributes of God, rather than any particular God, (see JD 2:334-47). His speculation was riddled with doctrinal errors. President Brigham Young, in council with the presiding officers of the Church, corrected this view:

President Young then said, “Do I worship attributes or the dispenser of these attributes? I worship the Dispenser of these attributes and not the attributes. . . . Brother Orson worships the attributes of God, but not God. I worship not the attributes, but that God who holds and dispenses [them]. If eternity was full of attributes and no one to dispense them, they would not be worth a feather.” (Wilford Woodruff Journal, 27 January 1860.)

11 See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength. . . .

14 Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy–yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.

See that ye do not boast. I believe that this includes boasting to ourselves in our own minds–not just boasting to others. It appears to me that a person can achieve real humility when they are convinced of God’s greatness, and their lowliness before Him–and really come to see their true condition before God. This should not be “putting ones self down,” or a lack of self-esteem. Children of God–Heavenly Father and Mother–also have Their potential, and will have a healthy self-esteem as they put off the natural man. I believe the correct balance comes from a true perspective.

15 And may the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace. Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be sober. My son, farewell.

Be sober. And I would add, “Be Happy!” The gospel is one of life and happiness. Of course, we are sober in serious matters. However, if we are not smiling (from the joy within) as we go though our days–with appropriate sadness and grieving as we have our trials and challenges, or share them with others–hopefully we look forward to and are working toward the day when we do. I have always enjoyed this quote from President Heber C. Kimball, (President Spencer W. Kimball’s grandfather), when he was a member of the First Presidency:

I was speaking here a few Sundays ago for you to multiply and increase. Our generation is on the increase, and is returning back towards our Father and God. Brother Brigham has talked here to-day so plain that a little child cannot misunderstand it. He spoke about our Father and our God; I believe what he has said, in fact I know it. Often when I have been in the presence of brother Brigham, we would feel such a buoyant spirit that when we began to talk we could not express our feelings, and so, “Hallelujah,” says Brigham, “Glory to God,” says I. I feel it and say it.

Some of the brethren kind of turn their noses on one side at me when I make such expressions, but they would not do it if they knew God. Such ones do not even know brothers Brigham and Heber; if they did they would not turn a wry face at us. I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured when I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is–the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, “I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.” That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man.

I cannot refer to any man of my acquaintance in my life as being so much like God as was brother Brigham’s father. He was one of the liveliest and most cheerful men I ever saw, and one of the best of men. He used to come and see me and my wife Vilate almost every day, and would sit and talk with us, and sing, and pray, and jump, and do anything that was good to make us lively and happy, and we loved him. I loved him as well as I did my own father, and a great deal better, I believe. Thus you see that I am not partial in my feelings. If I see a tree bring forth better fruit than the tree I was brought forth from, I will like that tree the best. (Journal of Discourses, 4:222-3; underlining added.)

Chapter 39 Introduction

The commandments of Alma to his son, Corianton.

Corianton. This introduction appears in the text of the 1973 Edition. It is set in larger type, indicating this text was part of the original translation from the Book of Mormon plates.

Chapter 39

3 And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.

After the harlot Isabel. Joseph Smith prophesied that in the last days, one of the greatest trials the Elders of Israel would face would be lusting after women. Paul taught that the true key to overcoming this temptation was compassionate love: the gift of charity. “[Charity] thinketh no evil,” he taught, (see 1 Corinthians 13:5). “First the heart, then the thought, then the act” is a true saying. A man will not have trouble treating a woman with respect and with her best interests at heart, if his heart is filled with true charity and compassion toward her. With a heart filled with charity, you would treat her as your mother or sister, (assuming that you love and respect them).

4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.

She did steal away the hearts of many. She many have been beautiful on the surface, but she was filled with lust and wickedness inside. She appealed to the carnal, fallen lusts of the natural man.

5 Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?

These things are an abomination. I am convinced that as rampant as the sin of fornication has become among some LDS youth in some parts of the world, that parents and even some Church leaders have not been as clear in the past about the “abomination” of these sexual sins as they might have been. However, the Church has produced a booklet, entitled, “For the Strength of Youth,” that every parent and youth leader in the Church should review very carefully with those in their stewardship–so that these sins are spelled out plainly and understood. This book has the sanction of the General Authorities of the Church, and was specifically prepared by them for this purpose. Please–for the sake of the youth–read this book with them and talk to them about it.

I honestly believe that those parents and youth leaders who are not specific and clear enough in discussing the sins of our day with their youth, will find that the transgressions of those youth who were not clearly taught, will come back upon the parents and leaders. How can our LDS youth abhor murder, but not fornication, which ranks in sin next to it? It is because they have not been properly taught. How serious is this transgression? Consider this quotation from Elder Mark E. Petersen speaking to a gathering of LDS youth:

Virtue is more important than life. Protect it above your life. If the time ever comes when you must choose between the two, then sacrifice your life, but under no circumstances sacrifice your virtue. And may you do this, I pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen. (Address at a Brigham Young University MIA Meeting, 3 February 1953; transcribed from audio tape.)

And this is a quote from President Spencer W. Kimball when he was President of the Twelve:

Remember this, girls, it is actually better for you to die fighting for your chastity and cleanliness, than to let any one take advantage of you and take your virtue. . . . Remember that one of the prophets said [that] to retain your chastity is more important than your life.

One young lady had an unpleasant experience. They were in the car, and the boy tried to take advantage of the girl, and she was courageous enough to say, “Get over on your own side of the seat.” And when he insisted on getting his arms around her and fondling her body, she said, “You stop this car and let me get out, and if you don’t, I’ll knock out your teeth.”

Now that is not too much. You fight for your chastity. . . . (First Mexico Area Conference, 26 August 1972, p. 108-9.)

Our young men should be taught that it is worth sacrificing their lives in defending a young lady’s virtue–and that it is a sin in the extreme to take a woman’s virtue, whether she offers it voluntarily or not!

6 For behold, if ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.

If ye deny the Holy Ghost. The “sin against the Holy Ghost” that is “unpardonable” is generally not well understood. You can go around all day saying, “I deny the Holy Ghost,” and you have not committed the unpardonable sin.

Make a list of all the sins you can think of, and rank them in seriousness. Do not include the “unpardonable sin,” the “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,” or the sin of “denying the Holy Ghost.” When you are finished, at the top of your list should be the sin of premeditated, first degree murder. (Following below should be the sins of adultery and fornication.) According to the teachings of Joseph Smith, if a person has had their calling and election sure, they are in a different category than anyone else. If such a person, after being sealed up, is guilty of the greatest sin on your list–premeditated murder–he has committed the “unpardonable sin” and “the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.” Two quotes will show this. First, the sin of murder, by one sealed up, is identified four (4) times so you won’t miss it, as the “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost”:

19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them–Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths [in other words, they are sealed up]–then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them [by ordinance], in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. . . .

26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, [again, meaning their calling and election is made sure,] according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, [this is literal, but Israel has to be free for it to be implemented,] and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.

27 The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God; and he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, [i.e., perdition,] saith the Lord. (D&C 132; underlining added.)

In harmony with this scripture, Joseph Smith taught:

Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, [and sealed up to eternal life,] and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory. The unpardonable sin is to shed innocent blood, or be accessory thereto. All other sins will be visited with judgment in the flesh, and the spirit being delivered to the buffetings of Satan until the day of the Lord Jesus. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 300-1; underlining added.)

Whosoever murdereth. This is as the case of David of Old, who knew the will of the Lord, and descended in sin until he was guilty of the premeditated murder of Uriah. Still, Joseph Smith taught he had not had his “calling and election made sure,” and so his sin of murder was not the unpardonable sin.

David sought repentance at the hand of God carefully with tears, for the murder of Uriah; but he could only get it through [spirit world] hell: he got a promise [from the Lord] that his soul should not be left in hell.

Although David was a king, he never did obtain the spirit and power of Elijah and the fullness of the Priesthood; [hence, he was not sealed up]. . . . (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 339; underlining added.)

Those guilty of murder will be redeemed at the end of the Millennium, and receive a Telestial reward. (The Lord handles all judgment, including that of Paul, who held Stephen’s coat when he was stoned, and Alma the Younger, who said he had “murdered” many of the Saints–Alma 36:14. These repentant souls apparently could claim ignorance when they committed their sins.)

7 And now, my son, I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime. I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.

Crime. Here again is my point: are our youth taught that sexual sins are real and true crimes, whether or not the civil law says they are?

9 Now my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things.

Cross yourself in all these things. Charity is the way that the sin of lust is fully and finally resolved, wherein the fully sanctified heart has no more disposition to do evil. Until then, however, it is required that men take up their cross in bearing the pressures of the natural man, and resist these temptations.

11 Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.

When they saw your conduct. Depending on his knowledge, and the stewardship he had, the sins of the Zoramites who were effected by Corianton’s sinful conduct, might in fact come upon him. He could avoid such a responsible through sore and thorough repentance.

12 And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities;

Command thy children to do good. Such commandments from parents must be done in the spirit of loving kindness, consistently over time, using clear and direct language, and especially by example.

13 That ye turn to the Lord with all your mind, might, and strength; that ye lead away the hearts of no more to do wickedly; but rather return unto them, and acknowledge your faults and that wrong which ye have done.

But rather return unto them. This is part of the repentance process. (See verse 11 commentary.)

Lesson Summary

The highlight of this lesson is Alma’s account of his conversion, (Chapter 36). Alma also gives counsel to his three sons, Helaman, (Chapter 36), Shiblon, (Chapter 38), and Corianton, (Chapter 39).

In sharing his spiritual conversion and testimony, Alma states he knows these realities are true because he has been born again. As Alma went about to destroy the Church, an Angel appeared to him and spoke in a voice that shook the earth. Alma fell to the ground and was “racked with eternal torment” as a damned soul in spiritual hell. He would rather become “extinct” than stand before God in his sins. He then remembered his father speaking of the coming of “one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.” As he remembered this, he cried in his heart that Jesus would have mercy upon him, and take away his sins! Through the Lord’s supreme mercy, Alma was delivered from his hell, and could “remember [his] pains no more.” He then experienced a rapture of exquisite joy, and his soul longed to be in the presence of God!

He gives Helaman charge concerning the Brass Plates, which were changed so they would endure eternally. They will yet come forth to the Saints of our dispensation. Alma also gives instructions relative to the Jaredite Record and the Nephite Interpreters, which were prepared to bring things from darkness unto light. There is a curse and a blessing eternally on the Land of the Americas. The righteous will be blessed and prospered, and the wicked will be vexed and destroyed if they do not repent. Alma advises his son, Helaman, to counsel with the Lord in his life. Finally, he identifies the Liahona as a type of things spiritual: the words of Christ point to the Promised Land in eternity just as the Liahona did in coming to the promised land of America.

Alma commends his son Shiblon, and teaches him of Christ: the life and light of the world.

In addressing his son, Corianton, Alma speaks to him of his sexual sins while he was in the ministry. Such transgressions are crimes and “an abomination in the sight of the Lord.” He also discusses the sin against the Holy Ghost and the sin of murder. Corianton is counseled to “cross [himself] in all these things,” or he “can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.”

Next Week:

Lesson #28

Alma 40-42

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