Friday, November 2, 2012

A Joyful Lesson From Alma Jr. - Mormonism Teaches Repentance

For the past little while I have shared some posts relating to Mormonism.  In brief, 'Mormonism' is a word some people use when talking about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or what the Church believes.  This particular post is on the topics of repentance and atonement.

"Repentance," as defined as, "is one of the first principles of the gospel and is essential to our temporal and eternal happiness.  It is much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings.  It is a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world."  Repentance, in short, is the process to change.  Big or small, whatever the sin, repentance is a gift to become a happier person.

The atonement is what makes this all possible.  Again using definitions from, the atonement "to atone is to suffer the penalty for sins, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God.  Jesus Christ was the only one capable of carrying out the Atonement for all mankind.  Because of His Atonement, all people will be resurrected, and those who obey His gospel will receive the gift of eternal life."

Due to the effects of the Fall of Adam, all people would fall short of the Celestial Kingdom without some sort of atonement to redeem them from this fall.  That is what the atonement does.  Christ has paid the atonement for mankind to rise above this fall, on condition that they follow him.  If they do so they will return to the kingdom of God.  (This is talked about in more detail in my previous post, here.)  But everyone makes mistakes, and repentance is the process to get past these mistakes.

The scriptures contain countless examples of repentance.  In the Bible there can be seen the conversion of the great missionary Paul, before named Saul.  But the example I wish to use is from the Book of Mormon.  This is the story of Alma Jr.  Alma, much like Saul of Tarsus, went around persecuting those that believed in Christ.  This is his story, as he himself told it to his son Helaman, found in Alma chapter 36:
6.  For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way.
7.  And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us.
8.  But behold, the voice said unto me:  Arise.  And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel.
9.  And he said unto me:  If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.
10.  And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs.
11.  And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words - If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God - I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.
12.  But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
13.  Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
14.  Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God di rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
15.  Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
16.  And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
17.  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.
18.  Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart:  O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19.  And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20.  And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21.  Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains.  Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
- Alma 36:6-21 -

When people follow the steps of repentance it is rarely through such a dramatic way as it was for Alma.  But the end result can always be the same:  Our "souls [can be] filled with joy as exceeding as was [our] pain!"

If you have questions on repentance or the atonement, you can ask someone here and they will be happy to answer your questions.

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