Mosiah Chapter 16
1 And now, it came to pass that after Abinadi had spoken these words he stretched forth his hand and said: The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just.
verse 1 "The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord" The expression "to see the salvation of the Lord" means simply to come to an understanding and to acknowledge that salvation, or redemption from sin and from the fall, can come only through Jesus Christ. This expression is used elsewhere in scripture. Moses used it, for example, in addressing the Israelites as they were being pursued by the Egyptian army (Exodus 14:13-14). Isaiah used the expression in speaking of the latter days when all Israel will be gathered just prior to the Millennium (Isaiah 52:10). We know that there will eventually come a time when "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess" that Jesus is the Christ (Mosiah 27:31; D&C 88:104). Each and every person who has ever inhabited this earth will finally know that Jesus Christ and his gospel-his commandments-are the only standards against which we will all be measured.
To what time period is Abinadi referring here? When is it that all shall see the salvation of the Lord? It has been suggested by authority that there are at least two times when every knee will bow and every tongue confess. Brigham Young suggested that this will occur during the Millennium when Christ will reign personally upon the earth as head of the political kingdom of God (Discourses of Brigham Young, 115). Though all will acknowledge the Christ, not all will belong to his Church. Indeed, there may be more religious sects upon the earth then than there are now (Ibid., 439). Bruce R. McConkie has also suggested a post-millennial time when all have been resurrected and the earth is about to be celestialized (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:531-32; D&C 88:103-04). It would seem that there may yet be a third moment in time when all shall see the salvation of the Lord. This is the time, just prior to the resurrection, when the purposes of the spirit-world experience have all been fulfilled-when all have had a chance to hear and understand the gospel plan. Then "As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God [that Jesus is Lord]" (Romans 14:11), except for those few who remains filthy still. These latter unfortunate souls will spend eternity in outer darkness. All of the rest will be then resurrected with bodies of celestial, terrestrial, and telestial glory.
"every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just" It has been pointed out by Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. that even though every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ's judgments are just, not all who so confess will receive forgiveness of sin or exaltation. Some will likely confess grudgingly (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:30). All of those who inherit the telestial kingdom, for example, will confess that Jesus is the Christ, yet their rewards are far less than eternal life in the celestial realm. What of those destined to become sons of Perdition? Will they confess Christ? It is unlikely they will, though they all will certainly understand in their private thoughts the exact role of Christ in the salvation of mankind. It seems likely that they will stubbornly and steadfastly refuse to publicly confess Christ and will remain "filthy still" (D&C 29:44; D&C 88:35).
2 And then shall the wicked be cast out, and they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth; and this because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord; therefore the Lord redeemeth them not.
verse 2 "the Lord redeemeth them not" Which people are referred to in this verse? Those who require no redemption are those who go with Satan to outer darkness. For those who are redeemed, there are various degrees of redemption. Those who inherit the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms require redemption from their sins, as they lack the ability to pay the price for their sins themselves. Only those who are exalted in the celestial kingdom are fully redeemed in the highest spiritual sense.
It would seem that this verse likely refers to those few unfortunate souls to spend eternity in outer darkness, though we have previously made the point that the Book of Mormon teaches an incomplete and simplistic version of our post-mortal life (see "Post-Mortal Life and the Book of Mormon" in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2, chapter 13, The Spirit World).
3 For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil.
verse 3 "they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them" The pronoun "they" refers back to the "wicked" who are "cast out" in verse 2. As in verse 2, this verse seems to have reference also to those who will ultimately go with Satan and become the sons of Perdition.
4 Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state.
verse 4 Abinadi now suddenly shifts his reference away from the sons of Perdition to all mankind who have been subject to the fall. We have read this doctrine before. It is an important doctrine that is stressed repeatedly in the Book of Mormon (see also 1 Nephi 10:6; 2 Nephi 9:8-9; Mosiah 15:19; Mosiah 16:4; Alma 34:9; and Alma 42:6). Simply stated, were it not for the atonement, all mankind would live eternally with Satan as sons of Perdition. Again, Abinadi is speaking of the atonement of Christ as if it were in the past, though it is yet to occur in Abinadi's future.
5 But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore, he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God.
verse 5 Just who is this rebellious "enemy to God" who "persists in his own carnal nature" and "goes on in the ways of sin"? He is the "natural man" whom we have discussed previously in the commentary for Mosiah 3:19. It is important to have firmly in mind the definition of this natural man. Hence, let us review that commentary:
The term "natural man" applies to all men and women born into this world. This label does not refer to a man's moral character but rather to his relationship to God. A natural man is one who has not been touched by the influence of the Holy Ghost. He has not been born again. He has not become transformed into a new creature. Indeed, he is not a saint. The natural man is an "enemy to God" because his nature is alien to things of a spiritual or eternal nature. His perspective is limited to the carnal and worldly, and he is incapable of understanding spiritual things. "[Spiritual truths] are foolishness unto him" (1 Corinthians 2:14). He is blind and deaf to matters of the Spirit. He is independent rather than submissive and humble, though, ironically, he usually ends up conforming to the worldly trends of the day. He is proud, overly-competitive, and driven by rewards of the world. His behavior is likely to be influenced by his animal passions.
Every man is a natural man and in bondage to the flesh until he "yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord" (Mosiah 3:19). Once sanctified by the Holy Spirit, man is fundamentally and profoundly changed. He transforms from a state of carnality to being "as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him" (Ibid.). He cannot look upon sin "save it be with abhorrence." He receives Christ's "image" in his "countenance." He experiences a "mighty change" of heart. He enjoys the "fruits of the Spirit" which, according to the Apostle Paul, are "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23). He is then said to possess the "divine nature" rather than a "natural" nature. His perspective is not confined to this earthly sojourn but is rather an eternal one. He knows that this earth life is not the real life. Ultimately he may be endowed with the most transcendent fruit of the Spirit-charity. He will be enabled to love as Christ loved.
Only when thus transformed does a man realize how totally dependent is humanity upon the Lord. This true humility comes only with revealed divine knowledge to the sanctified individual. The proud, on the other hand, are never humble. They are ignorant of man's dependence upon the Lord, and they are unaware of their ignorance. Pride is the very father of ignorance.
For a more complete discussion of this subject, see The "Natural Self" and "Spiritual Self" in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 5.
6 And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.
verse 6 "if Christ had not come into the world . . . there could have been no redemption" The redemption that resulted from Christ's atoning sacrifice consists of two major parts: (1) the unconditional overcoming of physical death and (2) the conditional overcoming of spiritual death-in other words, giving man the opportunity, based on the degree of his repentance, of returning to live with God in the celestial kingdom, or at least escaping the clutches of Satan by inheriting either the terrestrial or the telestial kingdom.
"speaking of things to come as though they had already come" We have spoken previously of the so-called "prophetic perfect" verb tense. It is that a prophet may prophesy of things yet in the future, but speak of them as though they had occurred in the past or as if they were occurring in the present. It is interesting to see this very principle explained by the editorial comment that is inserted into the middle of this verse. After stating a future event but placing it in the past perfect tense ("if Christ had not come into the world"), the text then explains the use of the seemingly illogical verb tenses ("speaking of things to come as though they had already come"). Do we know for certain who inserted this editorial comment? It certainly could have been Abinadi himself or perhaps it was Alma or even the prophet Mormon (Mosiah 17:4).
7 And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.
8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
verses 7-8 These verses simply restate the fact that through Christ's atonement, physical death, the "last enemy" (JST 1 Corinthians 15:26), has been eliminated as a permanent condition.
9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
verse 9 "He is the light and the life of the world" What does this expression really mean? Perhaps man is not given, as yet, to fully understand it. In reviewing what has been said by authority about this phrase, it seems there are two general meanings. The first was given by Elder Bruce R. McConkie. He suggested that the phrase means that in some mysterious physical way, Christ is the very source of life, light, and truth (Mormon Doctrine, 448). Unfortunately, this explanation does not add to our understanding. It is possible that the light which emanates from God actually brings life and energy to all things in the universe (D&C 88:13). See The Concept of Light in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 15.
The second meaning is suggested by 3 Nephi 11:11. The atoning sacrifice qualified the Savior to be the "light"-the beacon or signal which man must navigate toward his eternal destiny-and the "life"-the giver of eternal life.
10 Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil-
verse 10 "this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption" For a discussion of the terms corruption and incorruption, see the commentary for 2 Nephi 2:11. "This mortal" refers to our mortal bodies. They shall be changed into immortal ones at our resurrection. "This corruption" also refers to our mortal bodies which are subject to physical change, disease, decay, aging, and death. They shall be changed into "incorruptible" eternal bodies.
We have commented previously that the sequence contained in this verse and in other scripture is a little confusing. This verse suggests that first we will be resurrected, and then we will stand before the judgment bar of God. We know, however, that at the moment of our resurrection, our eternal judgment and reward will already be evident and obvious since the type of body in which we come forth will betray that judgment. That is, we will come forth with celestial bodies, terrestrial bodies, or telestial bodies. Perhaps we will stand before the judgment bar of God after our resurrection, but that is likely to be more of a ritual or symbolic experience rather than the actual judgment.
There is another possible explanation for this enigma. Please see subtitle "What is the role of the resurrection in the final judgment of us all-two views of resurrection?" under "The Great Final Judgment" in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 3, chapter 9, The Judgments.
11 If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation-
verses 10-11 In these verses we again encounter the Book of Mormon's simplified doctrine of eternity-the "good" will enjoy "endless life and happiness" and the "evil" will suffer "endless damnation" in subjection to Satan. For a brief discussion of what it means to be damned, see the commentary for 2 Nephi 9:24. See also "Post-Mortal Life and the Book of Mormon" in The Spirit World in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2, chapter 13.
We now are privileged to have further light on this subject as revealed to Joseph Smith in D&C 76. We know that salvation is divided into "many mansions."
verse 11 While studying Mosiah 15, it was suggested that you review the understanding now available to us of the sequence of the two resurrections in the commentary for 2 Nephi 9:15. You may want to review those important concepts yet again. There we learned that there are two resurrections-the "first" and the "second." The first resurrection has a "morning" and an "afternoon." Those resurrected during the morning of the first resurrection (beginning at the moment of Christ's resurrection) will come forth with celestial bodies. Those who come forth with terrestrial bodies (during the Millennium) will come forth in the "afternoon" of the first resurrection. The second resurrection will occur following the millennial thousand years and will involve those bound for the telestial kingdom. And then, also as part of the second resurrection, those who have earned no kingdom of glory will come forth with resurrected bodies. These will spend eternity with Satan. They are the sons of Perdition.
The doctrine of the resurrection taught in the Book of Mormon is a more simple version. Abinadi teaches that the first resurrection involves the just and is a resurrection unto eternal life. The second resurrection includes the unjust and is unto damnation. Armed with the more complete understanding provided by modern revelation and summarized in the commentary for 2 Nephi 9:15, each of us must interpret for ourselves Abinadi's teachings. Apparently he had not been given all of the details of the two resurrections that we have today. You might want to assume, in Book of Mormon terms, that the first resurrection includes only those who have earned the celestial glory or eternal life, and the second resurrection includes everyone else.
12 Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.
verse 12 This verse describes the "natural man" who never yields to the offer of the "arms of mercy," which might be interpreted here as the "enticings of the Holy Spirit." See the commentary for verse 5 above.
13 And now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?
14 Therefore, if ye teach the law of Moses, also teach that it is a shadow of those things which are to come-
verse 14 Abinadi summarizes and scolds Noah's priests. He says, "If you are going to teach the law of Moses, then at least teach it in its proper context. Teach that it is a 'shadow' [type or symbol or foreshadowing] of the Savior who is to come."
15 Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen.
verse 15 "Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father" We have previously discussed the reasons why Christ may be referred to as the Father. See, for example, the commentary for Mosiah 15:2.