For a long time I’ve wanted to go through the 50 questions that Alma put forth in Alma chapter 5 in order to spur people back into spiritual activity, and answer them based on where I’m at in life. I feel like I’m active and serious in my faith, but I know that I have a long way to go, and a lot of improvments to make both in my “spotlessness from the world” and in my discipleship. I hope this exercise helps, and I’ve created a starter to-do list at the end based on my answers. I can see these being good spiritual goals for 2010. The chart I filled in is found here.
I’ll “liken the scriptures” to myself by picturing the current prophet, Thomas S. Monson, asking these questions, in place of the ancient prophet Alma. When he mentions my ancestors and other prophets, I’ll think of the pioneers and Church history.
Verse in Alma 5
Remembering God’s Acts for His People
|1.||6||Have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers [or the LDS pioneers] ? Probably not sufficiently. Learning more about them and doing more to remind myself, more often, of their suffering and sacrifices would surely do me good.|
|2.||6||Have you sufficiently retained in remembrance God’s mercy and long-suffering towards your fathers? Again, I’m aware of it, but I could stand to refer to this in my study and prayer more often.|
|3.||6||Have you sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell? Not yet.|
|4.||8||Were your fathers destroyed? No.|
|5.||9||Were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled your fathers about, were they loosed? Yes.|
Knowing the Essential Logic of the Gospel
|6.||10||On what conditions were your fathers saved? Their faithfulness to the commandments and covenants they’d made.|
|7.||10||On what grounds had they to hope for salvation? The grace and mercy of God, through the power of the Atonement; through His promises about His role in the covenant.|
|8.||10||What is the cause of your fathers’ being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell? A combination of my answers to the last two questions!|
|9.||11||Did not my father Alma [or any other modern prophet] believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi [or any earlier modern prophet] ? Yes, our prophets are definitely role models of faithfulness.|
|10.||11||Was Abinadi not a holy prophet? Indeed, prophets are great guides for us.|
|11.||11||Did Abinadi not speak the words of God? Yes, he did.|
|12.||11||Did my father Alma believe them? Yes, he did.|
Being Personally Converted
|13.||14||Have you spiritually been born of God? Yes, I have.|
|14.||14||Have you received his image in your countenance? As I understand “receiving his countenance,” I still have a long way to go to reach that level of steady, instinctive spirituality.|
|15.||14||Have you experienced this mighty change in your heart? “This mighty change?” Conversion, or spiritual rebirth? Yes, I have. I can remember the feeling now.|
|16.||15||Do you exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Yes, but I could certainly stand to “exercise” more often!|
|17.||15||Do you look forward with an eye of faith? Yes, faith leads me to look forward to the future with hope. Thanks, President Hinckley.|
Imagining the Judgment Day
|18.||15||Do you view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? Yes, I believe that and I can imagine it now.|
|19.||16||Can you imagine to yourself that you hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me you blessed, for behold your works have been works of righteousness upon the face of the earth? I’d like to think that I’m basically on the right track, and I’ve been the beneficiary of God’s infinite mercy and patience all my life, but still…I have a long way to go before I’d feel comfortable saying yes to this one.|
|20.||17||Or do you imagine to yourself that you can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, my works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you? No, not at all. I understand that moral virtue and a character formed by Christlike service are necessary to pass this test.|
|21.||18||Or otherwise, can you imagine yourself brought before the tribunal of God with your soul filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that you have set at defiance the commandments of God? I don’t like to think about this—probably nobody does—but since you’ve painted such a vivid picture, yes, I can imagine that very clearly.|
|22.||19||Can you look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? Not enough!|
|23.||19||Can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenance? This is a beautiful and worthy goal, but not one that I can check off yet.|
|24.||20||Can you think of being saved when you have yielded yourself to become subject to the devil? No.|
|25.||22||How will you feel if you shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? I’m going to go with “bad” on this one.|
|26.||22||What will these things testify against you? That I have failed to live up to my blessing and potential; that I have failed to follow and obey Christ and His prophets.|
|27.||23||Will they not testify that you are a murderer? In a spiritual sense, yes.|
|28.||23||Will they not also testify that you are guilty of all manner of wickedness? Yes, they will because yes, I am.|
|29.||24||Do you suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white? No, I am not yet ready or worthy to inherit the blessings the most faithful might receive.|
Assessing One’s Spiritual Condition
|30.||26||If you have experienced a change of heart, and if you have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can you feel so now? Yes. I want to be and need to be more spiritual, and I know from countless scriptures and church lessons that such improvement is possible.|
|31.||27||Have you walked, keeping yourself blameless before God? No, not blameless.|
|32.||27||Could you say, if you were called to die at this time, within yourself, that you have been sufficiently humble? Absolutely not. Pride is the universal sin, and I’m no exception.|
|33.||27||Could you say that your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ? No, not since I constantly re-stain them through my shortcomings.|
|34.||28||Are you stripped of pride? No.|
|35.||29||Is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? Probably not, but definitely not me.|
|36.||30||Is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions? Probably. I hope I’m not persecuting anybody, but maybe I am—are there people whose lives are burdened, even slightly, by my attitude towards them? Perhaps. And “mocking” people is a mainstay of my sense of humor—where would I be without sarcasm and satire? Such things are almost surely offensive to the law of the gospel, and I would surely be better off spiritually if I quit such mean-spirited things.|
Identifying with a “Fold”
|37.||39||If you are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are you? The world’s, or the devil’s|
|38.||39||The devil is your shepherd, and you are of his fold; and now who can deny this? Not me.|
Obtaining Spiritual Knowledge
|39.||45||Do you not suppose that I know of these things myself? Yes, I am convinced that you have a sure testimony.|
|40.||45||How do you suppose that I know of their surety? Your knowledge comes from study, prayer, fasting, and diligent, consistent service in doing His work, His way.|
Refusing to Repent
|41.||53||Can you withstand these sayings? No, not even if I wanted to.|
|42.||53||Can you lay aside these things and trample the Holy One under your feet? No.|
|43.||53||Can you be puffed up in the pride of your heart? It’s a lot harder after thinking of these things. I don’t want to be proud.|
|44.||53||Will you still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your heart upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches? I’ll commit to do better, to be more humble and charitable.|
|45.||54||Will you persist in supposing that you are better than another? I’ll pray to have pride removed from me and work to be more humble. I’ll practice it.|
|46.||54||Will you persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the holy order of God, wherewith they have been brought into this church having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and they do bring forth works which are meet for repentance? Not only will I stop anything that might hurt any of my brethren, I’ll try to be more like those who are closer to God than I.|
|47.||55||Will you persist in turning your back upon the poor and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them? No, I’ll spend more of my time and substance in helping those less fortunate than I.|
|48.||58||The names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. What have you to say against this? Nothing. I want in.|
|49.||59||What shepherd is there having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? None, A good shepherd does exactly this.|
|50.||59||If a wolf enter his flock doth the shepherd not drive him out? Indeed, as the Lord and His prophets have worked to drive the devil out from among us and out of our hearts, like in sermons such as this one. I will respond affirmatively and follow the path prescribed herein for happiness.|
- Learn more about the trials and triumphs of my pioneer forebears, and how they were blessed.
- Retain what I learn in remembrance.
- Do more to “receive the image of God” in my own countenance—fully integrate Christlike characteristics into my personality.
- Identify anything that’s currently keeping me from being more clean and worthy; eliminate them; repent.
- Stop being so self-centered; focus more of my efforts on others.
- Stop using sarcasm and stop putting others down.
- Do more to alleviate the adversity and suffering of others.