CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 27.
Now that the people understand clearly how to join the church, the Lord now teaches them what to do in their daily lives to actually live like people of God. They cannot just join the church and consider it finished, because it is an ongoing process of becoming – this chapter teaches them how to become His people, His consecrated and set apart people. It applies to us as well.
Because the people are set apart, the nonbelievers began to persecute them. These persecutions became so great that the church began to murmur, complaining to Alma, who “laid the case before their king Mosiah” (verse 1).
Mosiah ordered the persecution to stop (verse 2), in a proclamation sent to all in the land. This strict command reminded all – both believers and non-believers – that there should be equality among them all (verse 3).
He reminded them that “they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself, laboring with their own hands for their support” (verse 4).
The people were to be humble, caring for each other, and self-reliant.
Even the teachers of the people, the priests, “should labor with their own hands for their support”, and in this obedience they “did abound in the grace of God” (verse 5).
This set the people at peace again, “and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth…” (verse 5). The Lord blessed them, and they became a large and wealthy people (verse 7).
Sadly, the sons of King Mosiah were some of the unbelievers, as one of the sons of Alma. This son of Alma was also named Alma, known as Alma the younger, like Alma, junior. “… he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities” (verse 8). This bad behavior was not just his own I-don’t-know-better behavior outside the church, but because of his father he did know better and people knew him so that his bad behavior actually hindered the work of the church by “stealing away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension among the people; giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them” (verse 9).
This was not just someone being naughty who doesn’t know better. It was not even just someone breaking his covenants instead of keeping them. It was someone actively “going about to destroy the church of God” (verse 10), with his little buddies – the sons of Mosiah – to help him. Their goal?
“… to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God… even the king” (verse 10).
One day they were out “rebelling against God” when an angel appeared to them (verse 11).
“So great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth” and couldn’t even understand what the angel said to them (verse 12).
The angel had to repeat his message, telling Alma to stand and answer why he is persecuting the church!(verse 13) The angel says that the Lord has heard the prayers of Alma’s father (Alma the prophet) and the prayers of the people these bad boys are persecuting. The angel says that Alma “has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth”, and for this purpose the angel has come to teach them of the power and authority of God (priesthood). This, the angel says, is in answer to the prayers of the faithful (not because of anything these guys have earned) (verse 14).
The angel says:
“And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God” (verse 15).
The angel then reminds them of the history of their people, when they were in bondage, and how the Lord delivered them (verse 16).
He is telling Alma not to repeat history, not to lead the people back into bondage since now they have been delivered.
This applies also Alma on a personal level, that he would not put himself into bondage and cast off (because he needs deliverance but has rejected the one who can deliver him).
When the angel left (verse 17), Alma and the other guys fell to the earth “for great was their astonishment; for with their own eyes they had beheld an angel of the Lord…” (verse 18).
“… the astonishment of Alma was so great” that he couldn’t speak or move, and so he was “carried helpless, even until he was laid before his father” (verse 19). The guys told Alma the prophet all that had happened to his son Alma the younger and themselves, and Alma the prophet “rejoiced, for he knew that it was the power of God” (verse 20).
Alma the prophet got the people to gather around, so that they could witness what the Lord had done for his son and the sons of Mosiah (verse 21). He and the priests began to fast for the strength of Alma the younger, so that he could speak (testify!) and move again ” – that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God” (verse 22).
After two days of fasting, Alma began to recover his strength. He stood up and spoke to them, “bidding them to be of good comfort” (verse 23).
“For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold, I am born of the Spirit” (verse 24). Then he goes on to explain and teach what he himself has just learned: “… all mankind… must be born again… (and) changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; and thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God” (verses 25-26).
He points out some significant things in that speech. It’s not enough to just get baptized. We must also do the work of becoming the people of God. We must exchange what is not of God (our sins and transgressions) for His righteousness; this is what sanctifies us and prepares us to be able to re-enter His presence.
Without that, we cannot.
“… unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off” (verse 27).
This is part of repentance, acknowledging the awful state we would be in without the Savior.
But it is in the Savior that we have hope:
“Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting night unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God” (verse 28).
Part of being born of God – of being a new creature – is again, understanding clearly what an awful state we were in or would be in without Him. This is part of our faith process, part of our faith becoming knowledge, part of faith becoming testimony. This is faith: knowing what the Savior has done for us.
“My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more” (verse 29).
Part of understanding this is acknowledging what we have done, and what He has done for us.
“I rejected my Redeemer… but now (I know) he remembereth every creature of his creating, (and) he will make himself manifest unto all” (verse 30).
This brings us to an understanding of who He is!
“Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him… then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, (even those) who live without God…” (verse 31).
This was Alma-the-younger’s testimony of his repentance and what the Lord had taught him, and from this time on he began to teach the people. His companions were those sons of Mosiah who were with him when the angel appeared. This was a great sacrifice to them, as they were now believers being persecuted just as they had done the persecuting of others before (verse 32).
Regardless, “they did impart much consolation to the church, confirming their faith, and exhorting them with long-suffering and much travail to keep the commandments of God” (verse 33).
This is their “fruit of the Spirit”, their evidence of true conversion: that not only were their lives changed, but they testified of what the Savior had done for them.
The sons of Mosiah that went with Alma the younger were Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni (verse 34). They traveled through all the lands of Zarahemla, “zealously striving to repair all the injuries which they had done to the church, confessing their sins, and publishing all the things which they had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them” (verse 35).
This was the restitution part of their repentance, but as they did this work it became their mission.
As they testified of what the Savior had done for them, they were changed.
This is their keeping the premortal covenant: knowing that the Savior had kept His promise in atoning for them, they are now testifying of that atonement.
“And thus were they instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer” (verse 36).
“And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth” (verse 37).
This is what we promised premortally to do: to declare good tidings of good.
Good tidings of good: that’s some seriously good good-news.