“Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.” – Alma 41:8
Alma said these words to a struggling son named Corianton who had committed some serious sins. There are three important principles outlined in this sentence that go along with some other observations I have made in recent weeks.
- God’s decrees cannot be altered.
- The way is prepared.
- Whoever walks in the way will be saved.
To some, the idea of God being unchangeable may sound constricting and limiting. But imagine how frustrating it would be if you were trying to design an airplane and the laws of physics just kept changing on you continually. Imagine trying to bake a cake when all of a sudden it required cold to cook instead of heat. Imagine if electricity all of a sudden worked like water and water like electricity.
The fact that God’s decrees are unalterable allows us to go forward boldly and confidently. In question 19 of Lecture 3, the question is asked if it was necessary to believe that God was unchangeable in order to have faith in him. The question is answered affirmatively and here is the explanation why:
“…because without this, he would not know how soon the mercy of God might change into cruelty, his long suffering into rashness, his love into hatred, and in consequence of which doubt, man would be incapable of exercising faith in him, but having the idea that he is unchangeable, man can have faith in him continually, believing that what he was yesterday he is to day, and will be forever.”
The fact that there is a way prepared should also inspire great confidence in us. Yet many are not satisfied with this path, they would rather find another path and delight in their own cleverness. They feel justified in taking another direction because there isn’t anything in particular telling them they can’t. If they cannot find something specifically condemned in the scriptures, then it must be ok.
Imagine for a moment the people in Lehi and Nephi’s visions walking along the path while holding fast to the iron rod. One stops and says to the other, “Hey, look at this other trail over here, it looks pretty amazing don’t you think? Why don’t we give it a try, after all, there aren’t any posted signs that warn us that this path won’t lead to the tree. I think it does lead to the tree, it may even be a faster way and how wonderful it is that I found it!”
When you diverge into strange roads, you never get to experience the discovery of those things on God’s path that lie just beyond the mists of darkness. When we walk in God’s ways, we show that we trust his wisdom. No matter how difficult it may be for us to walk his ways instead of our own, it is that very struggle shapes us. God knows this but we do not, not until we pass through those mists of darkness and into the light.
Sometimes we may desire an easier way. It is natural to want to avoid pain, confrontation, and struggle.
“Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things…” – Isaiah 30:10
“…whatsoever a man did was no crime.” – Alma 30:17
“I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words. Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage.” – Alma 30:23-24
“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? […] From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” – John 6:60-61,66
“Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.” – 1 Nephi 16:1
The truth is that it is good for us to confront pain and struggle, we must pass through the mist of darkness; trying to avoid it will get us nowhere.
“Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; … I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.” – 2 Nephi 9:40
“…if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” D&C 122:7
“And all they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory. Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full. Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.” D&C 101:35-37
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” – John 14:27 NABRE