January 13, 2010

Destruction vs. Salvation


Last night while I was reading Alma 26-28 it appeared to me that Mormon was trying to juxtapose several stories together to show the power of the atonement and the love of the Lord. It seems that the placement of his stories, the repetition of certain words and phrases, and the contrasts he shows can only be due to a desire on Mormon’s part to teach us a valuable lesson. Before I begin to explain, it is important to read these chapters and note the following contrasts and words: darkness vs. light, destruction vs. salvation, death vs. life, and mercy, love, and gratitude.

Chapter 26 opens with Ammon glorifying the Lord for His wondrous mercies. Ammon and his brethren had just completed a prosperous mission to the Lamanites in which thousands were converted to the gospel. He then comments in verses 17-20 on how they as brethren had faced destruction because they desired to destroy the church and then were saved from this destruction due to the mercy of God. He then recounts how the Nephites had similarly desired to destroy the Lamanites because of their wickedness (vs. 23-26) and that Ammon and his brethren preferred to spare their souls as they felt that the gospel could change their hearts. It appears that Ammon realized that he should have been destroyed because of his evil acts, yet because God was merciful and patient He spared his life and brought him great light and joy. Seeing this blessing brought into his life helped him to want to likewise bring salvation instead of destruction to his brethren the Lamanites.

Chapter 27 is somewhat of a transition point in which we learn that again these converted Lamanites face destruction and yet are now saved by the very Nephites who had earlier desired to destroy them. Then in chapter 28 we learn that because of the anger of the unconverted Lamanites a tremendous battle takes place wherein thousands are slain (Mormon states that this destruction of life is one of the greatest since the time of Lehi). Again, it would seem very purposeful that these stories of salvation and destruction are placed next to each other, juxtaposing the true meaning of being saved. Those who were valiant in the gospel did not face destruction, only death, while the unrepentant face true destruction in addition to facing death (see vs. 27:28). To make his point all the more powerful, Mormon concludes his comparisons with these words: “And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life” (28:14).

So what does this mean for us? How can this be applied to our lives? Each of us in our own way faces destruction because of our sins. According to the laws of justice we each should face death as a consequence for our sins. Yet, the Lord has provided a way for the destroying power of sin to be reversed. Through the atonement of Christ we are enabled (like Ammon and his brethren and the converted Lamanites) to be saved from eminent destruction and be brought to know of true joy and light. As in the words of Ammon, who so perfectly states this teaching, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things” (26:12). Let us, like these valiant individuals, look to Christ so that we may avoid destruction AND bring this light to others that they, like us, may avoid destruction and know of true joy and light!

3 comments:

  1. Wow, that's really neat. How do you come up with this stuff, anyway? You should give classes or write a book or something.

    Also, I kind of want to poke around in your brain a little and figure out how you think.

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  2. I am not sure how I feel about you poking my brain. =)

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