This post contains multiple 'commentaries' from various dates. The dates are noted under each section.
Knowledge and Experience
I actually read this chapter a while ago and now I am just barely getting around to it. Some interesting events have coincided with me reading this chapter.
In humanities, we were studying Goethe’s Faust. Faust is a story about a man who makes a bet with Satan. The bet is if Satan can make Faust be completely satisfied about something, then Satan will take possession of Faust’s soul forever. To understand Faust we must know that he is a man who has been studying his entire life – striving to know everything – to become like God. However, Faust has not experienced life itself. So Satan makes him experience it
The theme of the store is to constantly strive. Faust strives to become like God in both knowledge and deed.
Well, about the time I read Faust, I was contemplating my reasons for getting an education. Was it for money or knowledge or to become like God. I found that I was fixed on “getting the grade” so I could get a job. I wasn’t necessarily learning for knowledge’s sake. That is when I came across Faust and Alma 42:3 and 16. In verse 3, Adam and Eve are said to have come to know good and evil. They had become like Gods. They took the fruit to be like God. I think we have a divine seed in us that want to grow to be like God. We strive to know what God knows.
Someday we will know all that God knows. In verse 16, Alma makes mention how the soul is eternal. The verse mentions the phrase two times. We have eternity to know all that God knows. In this life, we must learn and apply that knowledge.
Written March 24, 1999
Today during the intermission of conference sessions, the TV station showed a documentary of the saints in Spain, as part of the commemoration of the Madrid temple dedication. As I was watching, I thought of all the experience of the leaders of the saints there. Many of them spoke English and seemed to be very intelligent.
The purpose of knowledge is to be more capacitated to serve. Elder Haight spoke of the need of more couples in missionary service. All their experience and knowledge can be used to build up the kingdom. As we learn in college and as we experience life, we gain valuable mental and spiritual assets which will enable us to better serve the Lord and his kingdom.
I have long felt the need to gain as much education as possible. I need to gain it for the right purpose.
Written April 4, 1999
The Problem and the Solution
At least in my mind, I see our Father in Heaven, standing at the beginning of time, willing to give us all that he has if we are worthy of it. In order to prove our worthiness, we are sent to this mortal life to prove to Heavenly Father that we "will do all things whatsoever" he commands us. (Abraham 3:25)
Adam and Eve are sent to earth, partake of the forbidden fruit, fall and are kept from partaking of the tree of life, which would have left them living forever in their sins. (Alma 42:2) Now they are found in a probationary time … "a time to repent, and serve God." (Alma 42:4) Adam and Eve (and we as their children) are "cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord" and we are subject to follow after our own wills … we have complete agency. (Alma 42:7)
The first problem is how to deal with the predicament of redeeming us from spiritual death. If we were not to be redeemed, as soon as we die our souls would suffer endless misery from being separated from the presence of the Lord. (Alma 42:11) In effect, justice would run its course.
The answer to this problem is to send a redeemer to atone for our sins so that we might be brought back into God's presence. Alma calls this the plan of mercy. As Christ would atone for our sins, the demands of justice would be appeased, thus allowing God to be both just and merciful. (Alma 42:15) The problem is solved.
Now "mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice. For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved." (Alma 42:23-24)
"Let your sins trouble you"
Alma counsels Corianton not to let these doctrinal issue trouble him, but to "only let [his] sins trouble [him]" which would bring him down to repentance. (Alma 42:29) This goes back to a point I mentioned earlier that our conscious is one of the greatest gifts we have. Much like our nerves, our conscious lets us know when we are in danger. If we did not have nerves, we would not retract our hand when we touch a hot stove and our bodies would burn and eventually become useless to us. But we do have nerves and a conscious to tell us when we are in danger. Let us be thankful for a conscious and not suppress our guilt when we have it. Rather than suppress it, we ought to confront it and clear our conscious through repentance.
Written July 3, 2007