CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 26.
Going back in time to the beginning of Mosiah, this first verse explains that many who were children when King Benjamin gave his last speech did not understand his words, and so did not grow up believing the traditions of their fathers (verse 1).
This indicates some kind of gap as well, that their parents may not have followed the counsel to teach their children so that they could grow up understanding.
Regardless, these children – now grown – did not believe what had been taught about the resurrection of the dead or the coming of Christ (verse 2).
And since they did not believe, “they could not understand the word of God, and their hearts were hardened” (verse 3).
This indicates the opposite is also true: when we believe, we will better understand the Scriptures – more and more, and our hearts will soften – more and more, in an upward spiral.
When we do not, it’s a downward spiral of destruction!
“And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God” (verse 4).
By the time of the “now” of this chapter, when King Mosiah has Alma teaching the people, there are about half as many of these grown-ups (who were children at the time of King Benjamin’s speech) as there are people in the church. However, because of dissensions within the church, more people left the church and the number of these non-believers began to grow (verse 5).
These dissenters, who left the church for being offended or bitter or any kind of contention manifestation not only drew people away from the church, but did “deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins” (verse 6). Because these were people who should know better, “it became expedient… that (they) should be admonished by the church” (verse 6).
So these were sent to Alma, who had authority over the church (verses 7-8). There were many witnesses against them, and “the people stood and testified of their iniquity in abundance” (verse 9). Nothing like this had happened before, where people within the covenant led people away from it through sin and contention. It troubled Alma in his spirit, so took these people to King Mosiah (verse 10).
Alma explained to the king that “here are many whom we have brought before thee, who are accused of their brethren… (for) divers iniquities (from which) they do not repent…” (verse 11). Alma states that since the people do not repent, he has brought them to King Mosiah for judgment. However, King Mosiah authorizes Alma the prophet to do the judging (verse 12).
“And now the spirit of Alma was a again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God” (verse 13). So he prayed and prayed, and he even “poured out his whole soul to God” (verse 14).
The Lord did answer his prayers, and comfort him, saying that he was blessed for his faith and obedience to the prophet (verse 15), and blessed are those who now obey him as prophet (verse 16), and blessed are those who are willing to bear His name (are baptized and keep covenants) (verse 17), and for seeking His will in how to discern judgment for those who should know better but are not keeping their covenants (verse 19).
The Lord then covenants with Alma, promising Him eternal life, as Alma promises to be His prophet (verse 20). With this authority, the Lord states that He will recognize those that Alma recognizes as members of the church (verse 21), even forgiving those who are baptized unto repentance (verse 22).
The Lord teaches Alma that this is the whole work of His atonement (verse 23), and that those who know Him will come forth at the resurrection (verse 24), but those who do not will not rise until the second resurrection (verse 25). Those who did not know Him will then acknowledge that He is their Lord and God and Redeemer, but will miss out on being redeemed since they have already chosen to reject Him (verse 26).
So the Lord instructs Alma to apply the covenant in his work of judging the people now, just as they will be judged at that time: those who believe Him and act like it (via obedience) can be received into the church; those who do not “ye shall not receive into my church” (verse 28).
“Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also” (verse 29).
This is huge, providing a way for all people to return to the Savior and truly be redeemed.
He emphasizes this, telling Alma again, “…as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me” (verse 30).
But as always, these blessings are hinged on the covenant which requires our obedience: if we are to be forgiven, we must also forgive (verse 31).
Thus we see that both repentance and forgiving others are requirements for being in the Lord’s church (verses 31-32).
Alma wrote down these teachings from the Lord, and went to use them to judge the people (verses 33-34). Those who confessed and repented, he welcomed into the church (verse 35); those who did not, were not counted and “their names were blotted out” (verse 36).
“And it came to pass that Alma did regulate all the affairs of the church; and they began again to have peace and prosper exceedingly in the affairs of the church, walking circumspectly before God, receiving many, and baptizing many” (verse 37).
This was the work Alma and his leaders of the church did, “walking in all diligence, teaching the word of God in all things, suffering all manner of afflictions, being persecuted by all those who did not belong to the church of God” (verse 38).
And part of teaching is always admonishing, “every one by the word of God, according to his sins”, with all of us “commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things” (verse 39).