Alma is asked about the Resurrection of everyone and judgment afterward. The first topic Alma discusses before answering that questions is regarding the mysteries of God. I’ll copy it in because I like it so much. It’s Alma 12:9-11
“And now Alma began to expound these things unto him saying: it is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they given unto Him.
And therefore, he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he knows them in full.
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word unti lthey know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of Hell.”
There is so much I can be writing about this. I’ll start with verse 9. President Brigham Young said, or maybe it was Joseph Smith once said that there is no end to what God will tell you, as soon as you can be trusted to not open your mouth about certain things. I think it was in the teachings of the Presidents of the church books. I’m not sure I paraphrased it correctly either.
Learning the Mysteries of God
What I like about this verse is that it informs us that we can learn about things that aren’t general knowledge in the church. But if we do, we can’t talk about it till it’s announced or someone gets special permission to tell people. Cross reference Daniel 1:17. It is telling you that Daniel and his friends had knowledge and skill in learning and in wisdom. Daniel had understanding in visions and in dreams. Then it hit me! This verse was describing the spiritual gifts of Daniel and his friends! They had the gifts of knowledge and wisdom! Daniel had visions and dreams. Then I thought to myself that maybe the same verse in the Book of Mormon had a similar layout. Look at Moroni 10 when it talks about spiritual gifts with Alma 12:9. In Moroni 10 it says, ” To one is given…” In Alma, it says, “It is given to many…” Similar sentence structure, but mean the same thing. The only difference is that one is singular and the other is plural. Both convey the idea of being given a gift. With that in mind, you can look at verse 9 as telling you about a spiritual gift and then explaining the ramifications of it. Look at Alma 26:22. This continues further about the spiritual gift of knowing the mysteries of God. I’ll copy it in.
“Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually, without ceasing–unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which have never been revealed; yea and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.”
What this further explains about this gift is how to get it and what the fruit of this gift is. So how do we get this gift? Repent, exercise faith, bring forth good works and pray continually without ceasing. Simple right? 😉
Fruits of this gift are: Having things revealed unto you that never have been revealed unto man. You will bring thousands of people unto repentance. Verse 9 is turning out to have a lot more to it than I previously imagined! Let’s keep going!
The Lord Grants Truth Unto All
The next part I want to talk about in verse 9 is the commandment not to reveal things. To kick off the section I want to share the cross reference at the bottom. It’s Alma 29:8. I’ll copy it in.
“For behold, the lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.”
I want to use this quote to kick off talking about how this verse is true using three different examples. All of which are cross-references. The examples are the Nephites, Jaredites and the apostles in Jerusalem. Before I begin, I want to talk about what the above scripture is saying.
This scripture is interesting if you are of the belief that all religions or peoples of the world have had some bits of truth from the gospel. This verse supports that train of thought. What this verse is saying is that it is the privilege of all nations to have the word of God taught unto them. All in their native tongue as well. However, it may not be the word of God in full. It says according to the Lord’s wishes–as he sees fit that they should have. I think it is important to know that we are all God’s children. Not just the Christians or the Mormons, but ALL people. That includes Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Shinto, or any other person on this planet. God loves us all. As long as we follow divine laws, whether they are packaged as such on earth or not, we are blessed. God answers prayers of everyone but they may not realize it or even say it is God doing the blessing.
Often when teaching about the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we confine our explanation of scattered pieces of truth to merely Christianity. Every Christian church picked up bits and pieces. But to say that, we assume that the church began with Jesus’ mortal coming. When in fact, the gospel was taught on earth far before Jesus arrived. It was revealed to Adam and Eve, our first parents. It was during periods of apostasy, individually or at the national level, that the gospel of Jesus Christ was distorted, changed, hushed or whited out. That is when other religions emerged. Therefore, the truth did not begin with the Christianity of Christ’s time nor did it end, as we know. All throughout the ages, unless people have had the gospel in its fullness, have latched on to the truth they had and attempted to make the most of it. But because of the imperfections of men and the snares of Satan, that truth did not prevail enough.
I’m not trying to suggest that God was trying to restore the church of Jesus Christ in fullness all throughout the earth but was unable to due to human folly, up until Joseph Smith came around. Frankly, I think that would take away from Joseph Smith’s foreordination in Heaven to carry out his earthly works. It would also upset the omnipotence and omniscience of God. To think that man’s stupidity was limiting God from restoring truth on earth is ridiculous. God could raise up a righteous man that could do whatever he wanted, should he desire.
God is infinitely wise. Much wiser than any human being. He has a plan for each of us. I don’t know the meaning of all things. But I believe that God gave men eternal truths as they could bear, and that would influence the creation of religions to bring to bring about his great and eternal purposes. How that all works out, I cannot begin to fathom. But it works.
My point is that God doesn’t give truth to just the Christians. He gives it to all. According to his time and wisdom. Maybe the way other religions are is because the culture and lifestyle that sustain that religion, would somehow blend together just right to lead the honest seeker of truth in that particular area of the world, or society, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe we don’t give enough credit to other religions. In the end, they are preparing us to receive the whole truth as contained in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Truth Revealed to the Nephites
Let’s jump over to the Nephites now that we’ve done a general overview of truth being received among all nations. The cross reference is 3 Nephi 26:10. Wait! In Verse 7-13 Mormon adds a comment. Verse 10 is part of it. But to understand why the comment is made, you have to read the first verse of the chapter. Jesus in Chapter 26 is expounding on the previous two chapters. In chapters 24 and 25, Jesus is quoting Malachi 3 and 4. Jesus says that they were without these scriptures and it was expedient that future generations should have them. Chapter 26 in the first few verse, Mormon gives a brief summary of the topics he expounded but says that 1/100th part cannot be written of all the things he taught unto the people. Mormon says that the plates of Nephi contain a more part of the teachings of Christ. Mormon says what he has written is the lesser portion of what Christ taught. He was going to write everything recorded on the plates of Nephi but the Spirit of the Lord forbade him. Saying that he would try the faith of the people first. This is where the cross reference comes in. It would be better to include verse 9 with 10, that way, you get the entire thought. If, when the gentiles receive these things (the Book of Mormon), they exercise faith, greater things will be made manifest unto them. But if they don’t believe, then greater things will be withheld from them to their condemnation. What are these “greater things?” According to Ether 4:7-8, which is a cross reference for “greater things,” says all things that the brother of Jared saw. I believe that. But I think the way we find out all the things that the brother of Jared saw can be through multiple mediums. Visions of course. Like the brother of Jared. but think also through studying the scriptures with the Holy Ghost, praying, fasting, reading church books and magazines, watching conference, going to church. All those things that seem little, add up to great knowledge. However, that does not exclude the things that “rarely” happen such as visions, receiving new books of scripture, visitations by angels etc..
Think back over the course of the Book of Mormon timeline, what are some instances of “greater things” being revealed as people have accepted what they’ve already had? I can think of some.
Lehi’s family was led from Jerusalem because of his righteousness. Eventually, because of obedience to the Lord, he was able to receive the brass plates. These contained his genealogy and a record of the Jews.
The People in Zarahemla
The people of Zarahemla brought a giant stone to King Mosiah to translate. As well as the Jaredite gold plates. While we don’t have all the details, we can conclude that the Nephites may not have received those records had not Mosiah been righteous and left from the main group of wicked Nephites when he did.
Then, of course, there is Jesus. Due to the righteousness of the people, Christ taught and revealed many things to them. Most of which, aren’t recorded in our present day Book of Mormon.
Failing to Exercise Faith
The opposite is also true. As verse 10 says, if they fail to exercise faith in all the things they have, the greater things will be withheld from them. This is seen in the Book of Mormon timeline as well. Lamanites rebelling against God and becoming wild and ferocious. I don’t think condemnation means you will be judged on things you should have or could have known, but I think it means you aren’t progressing as fast as you could. Joseph Smith said that you are only saved as fast as you gain knowledge. Therefore, lack of knowledge, or in other words, knowledge being withheld from you due to unrighteousness, can be viewed as a form of condemnation. The more knowledge we gain, the easier it is to apply and make connections. If we are wise about it and try, the more we know, the easier it is to live the gospel.
Truth Revealed to the Jaredites
The next group of people I want to talk about is the Jaredites. We’ve already cross-referenced Ether 4:8 so I’ll just talk briefly about it. I’m afraid the Jaredites reflect more on the bad side of things than the good. There were good individuals and prophets. The two that are mentioned in excess are Ether and the brother of Jared. These are the highlights of good. They show us just how much we can obtain through our righteousness. Whereas on the flip side, we see just to what extent we can fall when we reject the things of God already given to us.
Truth Revealed to the Apostles
Finally, the apostles in Jerusalem. John 16:12. This is the only chapter where Christ is telling them about the Holy Ghost, Christ’s own death, and the resurrection. He tells them he has much more things to tell them but they cannot bear them at that time. It’s the whole milk and meat analogy. Babies start off on milk til they can get teeth and can handle meat and more solid things. Same with the gospel. The basic doctrine first. Once we have gained experience and knowledge, we are able to get teeth and therefore receive the more “meaty” things of the gospel. The progression of the apostles is interesting. We don’t have a record of most of them and their doings but what we do have is good. We’ll take Peter as an example to talk about.
A Brief Sketch of Peter
He started out as a fisher. A successful one if I’m not mistaken. One day Christ appears on the shore. It was a hard day with little fish being caught. Christ tells him to cast his net on the other side. He does and catches so many fish that they can’t get them all. Christ invites him to come follow him and he will make him a fisher of men. Peter follows. He witnesses the miracles of Christ. He learns from Christ and is personally taught by him. Probably even had interviews with him. All the apostles and Peter have power and knowledge given to them, more so than others. But it isn’t everything. It isn’t till after Christ leaves them after he is a resurrected being, bestowing the Holy Ghost, that they have power bestowed from on high and go performing great missions and miracles.
That didn’t come all at once, though. After Christ was crucified, they were going to go back to fishing. Christ had to come back and remind them who they were and that there was no going back. Even Peter denied Christ three times. What I’m trying to say is these things had to happen before they could gain that testimony that was strong enough to lead the church after Christ ascended back to Heaven.
Three stages. Fishers of fish, fishers of men, disciples of Christ. I think people can have stages like that in their own lives. For example, you have your pre-mission life, where you learn the ropes of life and spiritual things. The first part, pre-mission can be likened to the fishers of fish stage in the apostles’ life. Then you have this extremely short amount of time called a mission where you get to serve all day, every day. One thing I would like to point out about the fisher of men/mission life is that although it is a time of tremendous growth and development–spiritually, mentally, and physically, it wasn’t the end. God has better things in store. It wasn’t until Jesus ascended/ the mission is complete that you can continue on your path in life. The path that God wants you to follow. Jesus was training the apostles for a future time after he left, whether they realized it or not doesn’t matter. Same with missions. It’s a training ground for the rest of our lives. That is why the post-mission life if lived correctly, can be likened to the “disciples of Christ” stage in the apostolic ministry. The apostles fulfilled their potential. They became who God wanted them to be. We can do the same.