CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 16.
Abinadi the prophet, who just quoted some of Isaiah’s teachings, is still speaking to the people who should know better.
“… the time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and confess before God that his judgments are just” (verse 1).
The resurrection was for everyone, even those who do not believe. We will all stand before God, and we will all understand what He has done for us and agree with Him about what we have done or failed to do.
Those who do believe will be able to claim the atonement of Christ, because they have chosen it now in life. The atonement of Christ will for us meet the demands of judgment, and we will be able to claim the mercy that Christ provides.
But those who do not choose mercy now cannot claim it later “because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord” (verse 2).
Part of the whole mortal experience caused by Adam and Eve’s choices in eating that fruit, was that we live this life on Earth “knowing evil from good” (verse 3). That’s the whole point, besides being born in physical bodies, of our mortality: to learn to make good choices, and in this way show our love for our Heavenly Father. We cannot make good choices if there is no actual choice; there has to be opposition.
I once saw a Sunday School teacher present it this way:
If you are at a party, and offered vanilla ice cream or vanilla ice cream, there is no actual choice.
But having vanilla or strawberry is a choice.
We needed the choice of both good and evil for us to actually be able to choose good.
But since we do have the choice, we are also held accountable for that choice.
Because we are unable to consistently and completely make good choices, there is a gap between who we are and who God is. Christ bridges that gap.
“Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state” (verse 4).
But we have to let Him rescue us if we want to be rescued.
And if we are rescued, then He we make different (better) choices.
We are able to make better choices because He makes us perfect, as in whole and complete. We ourselves are not perfect, but He meets us where we are and makes up the difference by giving us the perfect-ness that is His.
But if we do not want to be rescued, or do not make better choices as evidence of having been rescued, then we go “on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God… Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God” (verse 5).
We deny the very atonement of Christ, making it as “if Christ had not come into the world” (verse 6).
And if Christ never came, then death itself was never conquered, and “there could have been no resurrection” (verse 7).
What a sad outlook!
“But there is a resurrection!” (verse 8).
Christ, being mortal, had the ability to die, but being divine was also able to conquer death itself.
“There can be no more death” (verse 9).
All of us having been given the gift of immortality. Our choices now, in this life, will determine the quality of life we experience in that immortality, and in this way we judge ourselves. This is how we will agree that His judgment of us is right.
“Even this mortal shall put on immortality… and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil… if they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation…” (verses 10-11).
We all get immortality. That is a free gift given to us through the resurrection of Christ.
We will all get to return to God’s presence, the presence of our Heavenly Father, even if just for a moment of judgment.
But our quality of life during that immortality, whether we get to continue to progress or not, depends on our progression here. Do we choose progression, and so continue learning and working hard and repenting? Every moment we turn to Him, he is ready and waiting to help, wanting to bring us closer to Him. Do we want more joy and more happiness and more peace, and do the hard work of what it takes to live in such a way as to develop such a quality of life?
Or do we choose to quit, to stop learning, to not make changes? Do we choose drama by not being willing to learn from our own mistakes, misery by repeating the same mistakes over and over, distress by living in fear or bitterness or anger? Is how we live life now all we want, without any hope of anything better, easier, shinier?
We will, literally, get what we choose.
If we choose Him, the hard work of living by His example will smooth out the rough edges of life, and life gets better each step we take.
But when we choose our own path, it slowly takes us away from Him, leading us to our own consequences that meet judgment instead of claiming His mercy.
“Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them… they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent…” (verse 12).
When we repent, we are able to claim His mercy. Judgment will be met, by what Christ has done for us, and we will be granted mercy.
But only if we choose Him now.
“And now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?” (verse 13).
If the people understand this, Abinadi says, then what they should be teaching the people is that the law of Moses (Old Testament) is a shadow of things which are to come.
The Law of Moses wasn’t about the sacrificial lamb, but it had a sacrificial lamb to point to the sacrifice Christ would make for us. It wasn’t about wandering in the wilderness, it was about us wandering through our lives. It wasn’t about bondage to the Egyptians; it was about us putting ourselves in bondage by the choices we make, and Christ being the one who is able to deliver us. The one.
He is the only one who can deliver us.
He can and will do it, if we let Him. He promised.
“Teach them that the redemption cometh through Christ the Lord…” (verse 15).
That is our hope, but it is a hope we know.
That knowing is our faith-become-knowledge.
It is our testimony of who He is and what He can do for us.