I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from The Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity - the pure love of Christ - will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.
- President Marion G. Romney

Monday, July 7, 2008

...As Many as...Were Converted Unto the Lord, Never Did Fall Away....

Isn't that a beautiful thought? It's found in Alma 23:6 -- speaking of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies or the converts from Ammon's missionary service. We have several chapters to cover this week and they are so good. We can learn so much about true conversion and discipleship from the Anti-Nephi-Lehies -- let's make that a point of discussion as we study and comment this week.

For today, let's read chapters 23 & 24. I loved the questions about these chapters from the Class Member Study Guide, so I'm going to shamelessly use them to guide our discussion today. At least I'm giving credit, right?!

  • • The Anti-Nephi-Lehies “were converted unto the Lord” (Alma 23:6). Why is it essential that Jesus Christ be at the center of our conversion?

  • • The converted Lamanites chose to distinguish themselves from their brethren who remained wicked (Alma 23:16–18; 27:27–30.) In what ways are we distinguished from the world when we are converted?

  • • Despite their afflictions, what were the Anti-Nephi-Lehies grateful for? (See Alma 24:7–10.) How can gratitude to God help us face trials and afflictions?

  • • The Anti-Nephi-Lehies “took their swords … and they did bury them up deep in the earth” (Alma 24:15–17). Why was it significant that they buried their weapons rather than simply promising not to use them? What can we do to bury our “weapons of rebellion”?

After a busy week of Independence Day celebrations, let's redouble our efforts in studying!


Julie said...

Ever since serving as a missionary, I've loved Moroni 6:4 -- "...relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith." I always wanted the people I taught to be converted to Christ, not to "their missionaries." Ammon accomplished this, don't you think? And I feel like the way he did that was by being motivated by love and teaching by the Spirit. The results of that are beautifully described in Alma 23:6 -- "...as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away." When we are truly converted, we won't fall away, either.

Another verse that totally struck me this time was verse 14. It's in the middle of the recitation of which cities were converted and which were not: "And the Amalekites were not converted, save only one..." This offers further proof that God is concerned with each individual -- of course He wants to help me in my day to day life. Of course He is concerned with my concerns. He cared for this one Amalekite who was converted to be sure that he was counted...He cares about me, too.

There were many verses that illustrated signs of true conversion. I liked verses 11-16 very much. I love that the king recognized that going back to our sins, no matter whether the cause seems just or not, is not an option. I can be much more supportive of those around me who are trying to avoid past pitfalls, just as the Nephites did in protecting the Anti-Nephi-Lehis from their enemies.
Verse 18 is definitely a mark of true conversion.

Finally, I loved loved loved verses 21-22 and 26-27. Isn't this the truth? "...thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people." I think about the many ways in which people find the Gospel and are converted. There are as many different stories as there are people, yet there is a common theme among them all -- their conversion was perfect for them and their personality. God works in whatever way possible to bring His children to a knowledge of the Truth. I suppose that's why the Spirit is so important when sharing the Gospel with others -- it is by the Spirit that we'll be given the right words to share in a way that will be received.
And considering this example in Alma 24 (the killing of innocent believers to bring about the conversion of just as many Lamanites) it's pretty clear to me that any idea that might pop into my head, no matter how bizarre it might seem at the moment, is probably inspiration from God.

A final thought on verses 29 & 30 -- this applies directly to us as active members of the Church, don't you think? It's a warning of sorts that we are accountable for so much more and can't expect to just leave the Church or reject God without any fear of retribution from Him. We have been given greater light and knowledge and we will be held to that standard. It would scare me, if I didn't also have the outstanding example of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies who were going to now be held to that standard, but were so zealous for keeping the word of God that rebellion wouldn't even enter into their minds. I want to be on their side of the spectrum and am taught exactly how to do that in these chapters.

Bonnie @ bjacksonphotography said...

I know that when I look at trials with frustrations and resentments from my past and even today, the problems seem to get bigger, almost to the point of exploding. When I take a breath and remember to be grateful for my life, my family and especially the gospel, I get a peace that envelopes me and gives me a totally different perspective. Being humble and grateful comes naturally to some people, but I am not one of those, I have to work at it and when I do the problems and trials that arise are maybe still as big and explosive as they seemed but my attitude is different in how I perceive it, and then of course how I approach it. Showing gratitude by being obedient helps me face trials and afflictions. Being humble is so needed in so many of us. Doesn't a humble person just seem to shine? Thanks for letting me share!

Bonnie @ bjacksonphotography said...

When the converted Lamanites chose to distinguish themselves from their brethren I have a feeling just how they must have felt. I too wanted to be seperated from what people thought I was because my family was that way. I wanted to shout to everyone and say, "See I am different, I chose not to be like that". When I was baptized I didn't feel that need as much because I "knew" that I was different, by the way that I choose to worship, dress, talk and most importantly what I look forward to and understand about my role here on earth. We are distinguished by our covenants that we make for sure!

Julie said...

Hi Bonnie! Thank you so much for your comments. I love your thoughts about covenants setting us apart. So good.

Everyone, meet Bonnie! Bonnie and my mom work together and she is a great friend. She sews and quilts and does a gajillion other things. Say hi!

Janelle said...

I like that even though the king was converted he did not force the religion on his people. Protection of free agency is core to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also appreciated that in that freedom he allowed Aaron and his brothers access to the people to preach.

I was discouraged by the Amalekites only having one convert. It makes me sad for the people I meet who have fallen away(or in some cases excommunicated) from the church and are so bitter that they openly and diligently fight the church. They seem to be all over the internet hounding and proding believers. I've gotten some rude comments from time to time.

Yesterday there was an article in our local newspaper quoting four local and apparently active LDS members who are opposed to the church's request for time and money in support of the Marriage Ammendment banning gay marriage in CA. They spoke out in direct opposition to President Monson and criticised members for not using their own minds to sort this issue through. It made me very upset, because not only have I used my mind but I have put this issue to prayer and was hoping and waiting for direction from Salt Lake and was happy when direction came. Following the prophet has always been a choice, I hope I will always make the right one and choose to seek confirmation in prayer of the Prophet's counsel. Ugh!

Julie said...

Janelle, I'm surprised you were discouraged by that one convert. Don't you think the fact that he or she never fell away is cause for rejoicing?
When I was serving on the Ohio State University campus, we taught and baptized many converts. Some stayed faithful, some did not. But I knew God was concerned with each one of them individually. And when I saw two of the young men we taught go on missions of their own, I realized what a profound influence one convert could have. And even if they didn't serve missions (as other converts we taught), their righteous actions were a light to others around them. I love the concept of the one and that Mormon chose to record that little detail...

Janelle said...

Oh I love the one. I'm lamenting the thousands of others. I do like that Mormon included the one Amalikite convert. As influential Ammon and his brothers were, Nehor may have converted at least that many Nephites into false doctrine. Isn't that scary? Who do we let have influence over us?

Also, retention is everything. How do I learn to teach so that I myself am so converted that I never fall away as well as new converts that come to the ward. My favorite class to teach is gospel essentials, you just can't beat the meat and potatoes of the gospel as lesson material. I loose sleep if a new member misses two weeks of church in a row. I know, I'm crazy.