Joy and Thanksgiving: Compare/Contrast Those who keep the Commandments

In today’s Joy and Thanksgiving assignment, we are comparing and contrasting two groups of people described by King Benjamin. This is kind of a long scripture block…just so you know.

“And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—

I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.

Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.

And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.

O, all ye old men, and also ye young men, and you little children who can understand my words, for I have spoken plainly unto you that ye might understand, I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression.

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” – Mosiah 2:41

Here is how I mark scriptures that compare and contrast.

When we compare and contrast, we look for what the items being compared have in common and how they differ. Usually, we can learn something from this comparison!

Commonalities between the groups

  • They both had been taught the things of the gospel.
  • They both had known the things of the gospel.
  • They both make choices based on what they have been taught and what they know.
  • They both experience consequences based on their decisions.

Differences between the groups
The First Group

  • The first group chooses to sin. As a result, they withdraw themselves from the spirit of God.
  • The Lord can no longer guide, bless, or prosper them.
  • Come out in open rebellion against God – listing to obey the evil Spirit. – This is open rebellion because they knew better.
  • An enemy to righteousness.
  • Is an unholy temple, so the Lord will not dwell with them.
  • If they die before repenting, then they die an enemy to God.
  • Bound by justice, and because they refused to repent, cannot receive mercy.
  • No Lord, No Righteousness, No Mercy → guilt, pain, anguish, fire.

When I think about this first group, I realize that King Benjamin doesn’t tell us these things to “scare us into righteousness.” These verses aren’t a manipulation. They are the facts. When someone refuses to keep the commandments and come unto Christ, then he cuts himself off from the atonement of Christ. He cuts himself off from the Spirit and the happiness of God. It is what it is – simple.

The Second Group

  • Keep the commandments.
  • Blessed and Happy
  • Blessed in all things: both temporal and spiritual
  • Received into Heaven
  • Dwell with God in a never-ending state of happiness.
  • Keep the commandments → Never ending happiness

As I write this, I keep getting impressed by the fact that a part of keeping the commandments is repenting. We aren’t expected to be sinless. We are expected to keep the commandments. Because this is the expectation, then we are allowed room to sin – as long as we repent.

If we refuse to keep the commandments, then we refuse to repent.

I don’t mean this to be an excuse for sinning and breaking the commandments. We need to do our best. However, we’re human, so we will sin. Also, if we could perfectly keep the commandments, then there would be no need for Christ. Which is ridiculous. We need to keep the commandments – which means we need to repent. Which implies, that the Lord knows that we’ll sin, he just wants us to change it when we do.

Then, when we repent, we are blessed. We are blessed through the atonement of Jesus Christ. We are received into Heaven, thanks to His infinite Mercy, and we are able to dwell with God in a state of Never-ending happiness.

It’s a really good deal for us.

***
For tomorrow’s assignment, click here.

Conversion: Three Book of Mormon Examples

I have been thinking about conversion a lot lately. These three examples really stuck out to me.

Nephi
In the 8th chapter of 1 Nephi, Lehi, Nephi’s father, tells of a dream that he had: The vision of the tree of life. Lehi has gathered his family and is teaching them of the dream in his tent. He is also prophesying to them of the destruction of Jerusalem and Babylonian captivity; he prophesies of the Messiah – including the events surrounding his baptism; Lehi teaches of the scattering and gathering of Israel. (It kind of sounds like some heavy-duty FHE).

After Lehi teaches and prophesies, Nephi has this response: ” And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, … I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.” – 1 Nephi 10:17.

Because of Lehi’s teachings, Nephi is inspired to go to the Lord for his own testimony. What follows is Nephi’s own vision of the tree of life – and his conversion.

Of course, Nephi was faithful before he received this vision. However, it is during this revelation that he began to understand the condescension of God, Christ’s life and mission, and what it meant for him and the rest of the world.

Nephi’s experience was miraculous, and because of the faith that he exhibited – it was relatively easy. He knew how to get answers from the Lord. Nephi is an example of someone who sought the Lord. He wanted to understand the mysteries of God, and he knew that if he went to the Lord, then he would receive testimony. His example is stellar.

Enos
Enos was the son of Jacob. The book of Enos is, for the most part, an account of his conversion. Enos states, “Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often hear my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.” – Enos 1:3. Before Enos had the desire to pray to God, preliminary to his receiving a testimony, he began to ponder his father’s words.

We don’t know the details – where and when Enos was taught, but we do know that Jacob fulfilled his duty as a father – to teach his children the gospel. Because of this the seeds to true conversion were planted deep in the heart of Enos.

Enos went about seeking his testimony in a different way than Nephi did. When Nephi heard the testimony and prophecies of his Father, His heart was pricked by the Holy Ghost, and he went away from his father’s tent seeking his own experience with the Lord.

Enos, he seems a lot more like most of us. He seems like a good guy – that probably listened to his dad preach, and then went on with the rest of the day. Finally, one day, when he has a moment to ponder and meditate, his heart is pricked by the Holy Ghost. Then, he is inspired to pray and have his experience with the Lord.

Alma
Alma’s experience is a little bit different than those of Nephi and Enos.

Alma was naughty. He liked to go around with his friends and destroy the church. This came to an abrupt halt one day when he and the sons of Mosiah were visited by an angel. The visitation was not quite positive – as it left Alma comatose for a few days.

Alma explains what happened while he was in this state:

“And now, And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.

And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.” – Alma 36:16-17

Alma, like both Nephi and Enos, was inspired by the words spoken by his father. It is Alma the Elder’s testimony that inspires Alma to pray for forgiveness – having faith that Christ could (and would) save him from his bitter state.

Alma is another extreme example. He began his life in wickedness. Yet he eventually arrived to his conversion in the exact same way Nephi and Enos did – through faith on Jesus’ name and humble prayer. Even though Nephi, Enos, and Alma came to Christ in different ways, what matters is that they came to Christ. And the even better part: Christ doesn’t deny any that come to him.

I love these examples. They inspire me to go to the Lord. They also help me to remember that it is easier to go to the Lord the way Nephi did than the way Alma did. I would rather remember to be humble than be compelled from time to time. Yet, there are times when I’m a little more like Alma the younger than Nephi, and I’m so grateful to know that the Lord loves the repentant sinner no less than the faithful.

Scripture Study Tips: Compare and Contrast

Recognizing comparisons and contrasts in the scriptures can be especially interesting and informative. There are many examples of these elements in the scriptures.

One example – is Nephi and Laman (and Lemuel). A quick refresher: Lehi is the father of Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi. They have left Jerusalem, headed for a promised land. One morning, Lehi tells his family of a dream he had – the vision of the Tree of Life. This dream is totally symbolic. Upon hearing the dream, Nephi’s reaction is as follows:

And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, … I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, …” – 1 Nephi 10:17.

Now let’s see the reaction of Nephi’s brothers, Laman and Lemuel:

And it came to pass that I beheld my brethren, and they were disputing one with another concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them.

For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought.” – 1 Nephi 15:2-3.

By comparing Laman and Lemuel with Nephi, we learn a great deal about obtaining revelation. If we want to understand the mysteries, of God, then we need to display faith and humility by going to the Lord in prayer. Otherwise, we will be like Laman and Lemuel – angry and confused by the saving principles of the gospel.

There are sooooo many other great examples of comparison and contrast in the scriptures. Personally, I find them really interesting. They are also useful in helping us apply the scriptures to our lives.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any practical way of marking comparison/contrast in my scriptures. Usually, I just write a quick note in the margin of my scriptures. If you have any advice, please feel free to comment.

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