1 Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.
2 They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.
3 And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.
What happened to the Nephites is not much different than what happened to American culture in the twentieth century. America had been a God-fearing country, but with the rise of secularism and humanism our country has chosen a course that has lead this generation away from the Lord. It was much similar for these people.
4 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.
5 And now in the reign of Mosiah they were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the dissensions among the brethren they became more numerous. [At this stage it became almost like a political movement among the people.]
6 For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church.
7 And it came to pass that they were brought before the priests, and delivered up unto the priests by the teachers; and the priests brought them before Alma, who was the high priest. [Wicked behavior was questioned whether it was a sin at all. It was even taught that such things were good and proper. Sins of morality and idolatrous living were now considered by these people as preferred and desirable. They saw the church as a form of subjugation.]
8 Now king Mosiah had given Alma the authority over the church.
9 And it came to pass that Alma did not know concerning them; but there were many witnesses against them; yea, the people stood and testified of their iniquity in abundance.
10 Now there had not any such thing happened before in the church; therefore Alma was troubled in his spirit, and he caused that they should be brought before the king. [Before this time there had been no formal protocol for handling dissension in the church.]
11 And he said unto the king: Behold, here are many whom we have brought before thee, who are accused of their brethren; yea, and they have been taken in divers iniquities. And they do not repent of their iniquities; therefore we have brought them before thee, that thou mayest judge them according to their crimes.
12 But king Mosiah said unto Alma: Behold, I judge them not; therefore I deliver them into thy hands to be judged. [It is one thing to commit a crime against the Nephite kingdom and another to commit sin against God. There was nothing that King Mosiah felt inclined to judge against them.]
13 And now the spirit of Alma was 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. [Alma took his time to consider this problem before taking it to the Lord.]
14 And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying: [What does it mean to pour out your whole soul to God? For me it is to approach the Lord in absolute contrition, with all my heart as I focus upon receiving Him and having a communication with the Heavens. I have two kinds of prayers: the kind that I offer throughout the day, seeking the Holy Spirit as a guide as I ponder and ask questions. The second is when I go to my closet and take time to be holy. It is here that I attempt to pour my whole soul to God and ascend to Him that I might ask Him questions directly.]
15 Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi.
16 And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone which thou hast spoken unto them.
17 And blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people.
18 Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine.
19 And because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor, thou art blessed.
Three times the Lord tells Alma that he is “Blessed.” It is here that Alma receives a fullness of the Second Comforter, after pouring his whole heart out to the Lord.
20 Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep. [When one receives the Calling and Election Made Sure they are blessed as a servant and the Lord gives them instuctions regarding their mission.]
21 And he that will hear my voice shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church, and him will I also receive. [What does it mean to “hear His voice?” It is to yeild your heart to God and begin the process of receiving revelation as you search for a relationship with the Lord.]
22 For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive. [This is a definition for the Church of Christ, which transcends any governmental established institution or denomination.]
23 For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.
24 For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand. [Here lies the key to Eternal Life: to know the only true God, which is Jesus Christ. How well do you know Him? Whatever principle of intelligence we gain in this life will rise with us in the resurrection. The intelligence is not the amount of knowledge one possesses, but the degree of light we gain in this life. It is our relationship with God.]
25 And it shall come to pass that when the second trump [Another announcement of an event] shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me. [There are as many as seven events related to the resurrection. D&C 88:94-110]
26 And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed. [For they chose Satan. This does not apply to those who did not choose either. Refer to Moroni 8:22]
27 And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. [Outer Darkness]
28 Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice [not repent], the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day.
29 Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth [attempt to change the laws of God] 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 the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also.
Here is the first time we see a requirement of confession in the church. Sins such as attempting to lead members into sinful behavior, attacking the church of Christ, or adulterous acts, must be confessed to the church in the spirit of contrition and repentance. Minor acts of sin that do not affect others are meant to be between us and the Lord. The church authorities are not meant to be the gatekeepers to salvation, but the gatekeepers to the fellowship of believers within the church.
30 Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me. [The Lord always forgives and never turns away from us. Ever. To deny the Holy Ghost (which is the only sin without forgiveness) is to deny our relationship with God all together, and the requirements for such an act are beyond most everyone’s capability in this life.]
31 And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor’strespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation. [When we do not forgive others it blocks our spiritual progression and inhibits the baptism of fire from purging our sins.]
32 Now I say unto you, Go; and whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people; and this shall be observed from this time forward.
33 And it came to pass when Alma had heard these words he wrote them down that he might have them, and that he might judge the people of that church according to the commandments [revelations] of God.
34 And it came to pass that Alma went and judged those that had been taken in iniquity, according to the word of the Lord.
35 And whosoever repented of their sins and did confess them, them he did number among the people of the church;
36 And those that would not confess [acknowledge] their sins and repent of their iniquity, the same were not numbered among the people of the church, and their names were blotted out.
37 And it came to pass that Alma did regulate all the affairs of the church; and they began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly in the affairs of the church, walking circumspectly [prudently] before God, receiving many, and baptizing many.
38 And now all these things did Alma and his fellow laborers do who were over the church, 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.
39 And they did admonish their brethren; and they were also admonished, every one by the word of God, according to his sins, or to the sins which he had committed, being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things.
This chapter helps us to understand more regarding Alma’s coming to the Lord and receiving more relationship (priesthood), and also how the Lord commanded him to deal with dissension in the church via excommunication.
It had been many years since Alma had first led the followers of Abinadi to the Waters of Mormon and began the church. He had acted in faith, having received the gifts of the Spirit including revelation, prophesy, miracles, and the rites to perform Aaronic ordinances. He now had established a higher level of relationship having ascended to the Lord and received his calling and election made sure. His most difficult days were yet to come.
The second part of this chapter deals with the problems of a growing church, dissension, and how to deal with a rising negative movement among the people. Alma was not concerned about pleasing the non-believers or whether the church was all-inclusive. The only thing that mattered to Alma, the high priest of the church, was that the Lord was pleased with how he was performing as a servant.
The Lord had said unto him, “Alma, thou art Blessed.” When the day comes that you hear those words it brings an indescribable joy, yet at the same time comes a responsibility to perform every task the Lord gives you with great trepidation. We must do all we can to perform our calling for the Lord. He patiently helps us and is always there providing support. It is a beautiful and “Blessed” thing to be on the Lord’s errand!