Mosiah Chapter 26
This chapter reports the difficulties encountered by the church due to the unbelief of the rising generation. It also describes Alma's struggle to appropriately deal with the transgressions of church members.
verses 1-4 If the people of King Benjamin, who were all converted by his preaching, diligently taught the gospel to their children, why did many of those children fall away? After all, 2 Nephi 4:5 teaches us the doctrine that "If ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it." We must be careful to keep in mind that this statement from 2 Nephi is not actually a doctrinal pronouncement. Rather it is an expression of faith and hope which will not always, unfortunately, hold true.
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.
verse 1 "being little children at the time he spake unto his people" Benjamin delivered his speech in 124 BC. This verse probably refers to a time about 100 BC when the children who listened to King Benjamin would have grown to adulthood.
"tradition of their fathers" We have encountered this expression previously (Mosiah 10:12; Mosiah 26:1). It refers to the unwritten "lore" or beliefs passed along by word of mouth from generation to generation. In this particular case it refers to the tradition of righteousness, the principles of the gospel of Christ, being passed along by the Nephites in Zarahemla.
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.
verse 3 The process is as old as the earth itself. Sin leads to a loss of the Spirit of God. Without the influence of the Spirit, it is simply impossible to comprehend spiritual truths. Such an individual who does not possess the influence of the Holy Spirit is said to have a "hardened heart." In the non-believer's heart, things of the world-carnality in all its forms-displace all matters of a spiritual nature. See the discussion of hard-heartedness in the commentary for Alma 10:6.
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.
verse 5 Obviously there became a growing wave of dissent among these young people in Zarahemla, though they were not yet in the majority.
The meaning of the phrase "dissensions among the brethren" is not entirely clear. We have not been told of any major dissensions among the brethren of Mosiah who held positions of leadership. It is likely that the phrase is simply intended to refer to inter-generational dissension.
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.
verse 6 "For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words" The spiritless and unbelieving younger generation were vocal in their godlessness and worldliness. Flattery, as it is used in the Book of Mormon, is a negative characteristic. It is the inclination and the ability of an unrighteous individual to bring others to his way of thinking. Such an individual who desires to so influence others is oft times attractive and prominent and honored by the world. He appeals to those worldly desires and needs which each of us possesses. Jesus taught that worldly individuals are likely to be loved by the world, while true disciples of Christ are more likely to be hated by the world (John 15:19). Jesus further warned, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!" (Luke 6:26).
For a discussion of the various forms of the word flatter, see the commentary for 2 Nephi 28:22.
Obviously, some of the non-believers at this particular time in Book of Mormon history were similarly charismatic and persuasive and had the ability to lead others away from the Church. One such was the son of the prophet Alma, the younger Alma (Mosiah 27:8).
"it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church" We are taught here an important principle-that those who sin and pose a danger to the spiritual welfare of others in the church should be "admonished by the church." To admonish is to reprove or to express warning or disapproval. It has been suggested that if we were to tolerate blatant sin and divisiveness in the church today, the brightness of the church as a beacon or light to the world would dim, and the Spirit would cease to strive with the church as it otherwise might. President George Q. Cannon, in speaking of apostasy within the church, said: "Now, such a condition of things if permitted to continue in our midst, unchecked, would be productive of the most terrible consequences. The Spirit of God would undoubtedly be so grieved that it would forsake not only those who are guilty of these acts, but it would withdraw itself from those who would suffer them to be done in our midst unchecked and unrebuked; and from the president of the church down, throughout the entire ranks of the priesthood, there would be a loss of the Spirit of God, a withdrawal of his gifts and blessing and his power, because of their not taking the proper measures to check and to expose their iniquity" (JD, 26:139).
Modern-day scriptures suggest that we may offend God lest we judge the sinners within the church: "And him that repenteth not of his sins, and confesseth them not, ye shall bring before the church, and do with him as the scripture saith unto you, either by commandment or by revelation. And this ye shall do that God may be glorified-not because ye forgive not, having not compassion, but that ye may be justified in the eyes of the law, that ye may not offend him who is your lawgiver-verily I say, for this cause ye shall do these things" (D&C 64:12-14). This is a subject that might provoke some debate among thoughtful individuals. Obviously each individual case must be considered on its own merits, and there is certainly much room in the church for repentance and forgiveness (verses 28-30). President Harold B. Lee taught, "The gospel is to save men, not to condemn them; but to save, it is sometimes necessary to confront and to discipline as the Lord has directed (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, Edited by Clyde J. Williams, [Salt Lake City: Book craft], 1996, 118).
In addition to helping transgressors repent, formal church discipline serves to cleanse the church. When sin goes unchecked in the church, the Spirit of the Lord withdraws, and the entire institution is adversely affected (Cannon, George Q., JD, 26:139). The Lord's authorized leaders have a solemn obligation to protect the church from such danger (Alma 4:10; Alma 5:59-60; D&C 20:83; D&C 20:107:72). Christ taught his disciples that those who will not repent "shall not be numbered among my people, that [they] may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered" (3 Nephi 18:31). "Nevertheless," Jesus continued, "ye shall not cast [them] out of your synagogues . . . for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent . . . and I shall heal them" (3 Nephi 18:32). Jesus's instructions, which teach intolerance of sin and yet compassion for the transgressor, echo his words to the prophet Joseph Smith: "For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven" (D&C 1:31-33).
Alma's implementation of the Lord's instructions will be a blessing to individuals and to the church, for "they began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly in the affairs of the church, walking circumspectly before God, receiving many, and baptizing many" (verse 37).
"those who committed sin . . . should be admonished by the church" Some definitions of the word admonished found in Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language include, "to warn or notify of a fault; to reprove with mildness; to counsel against wrong practices; to caution or advise; in ecclesiastical affairs, to reprove a member of the church for a fault, either publicly or privately." For an alternate meaning of admonished, see the commentary for Omni 1:13.
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.
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.
verse 9 "Alma did not know concerning them" It appears that when these dissenters were brought before Alma, he had no prior first-hand knowledge of their offenses. Accordingly he required the testimony of "many witnesses against them."
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.
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.
verse 11 "And they do not repent of their iniquities" This phrase implies that these dissenters had already been admonished or warned, yet they had not heeded the warning. They had failed to repent.
12 But king Mosiah said unto Alma: Behold, I judge them not; therefore I deliver them into thy hands to be judged.
verses 10-12 It is interesting that Alma would turn to the king for assistance in solving this troublesome ecclesiastical problem. Alma, after all, had expressed firm anti-monarchical views (Mosiah 23:6-9). Perhaps old habits die hard. Mosiah, however, refuses to become involved in this purely religious issue, and he places the issue back on Alma's shoulders: "I judge them not; therefore I deliver them into thy hands to be judged." Obviously Mosiah is even more committed to the principle of separation of church and state than is Alma. We will learn that Mosiah is also a firm anti-monarchist himself (Mosiah 29:13; Mosiah 29:16-18).
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.
verse 13 Now Alma is in a quandary. Previously in Nephite culture, the king had been the last word and final resort in all religious questions. It is obvious, however, that Mosiah had given up such a role.
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:
verse 14 This is a most exciting verse. In response to Alma's sincere and earnest prayer, he was privileged to hear the voice of the Lord! One is left to wonder as to the mechanism by which Alma received this important revelation on church discipline (verses 15-32). Was, for example, the will of the Lord made known to him by the Spirit? Did he hear the audible voice of the Lord? Was he favored to see and hear the Lord in open vision? Enos had a similar experience after he had prayed "all the day long" and into the night (Enos 1:4-5). We will later learn that Alma wrote down this counsel from the Lord so that he would not forget it and so that he might judge members of the Church fairly and according to the commandments of the Lord (verses 29-30, 32- 33). The Lord will teach Alma that this pattern of judgment in the church was parallel to what would occur at the final judgment (verse 20-28).
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.
verses 15-16 What is the significance of the word "alone" in these verses? Alma had believed the preaching of Abinadi without the help of any particular divine manifestation and without the testimony of other witnesses except for the whispering of the Spirit. The Lord in our dispensation has called such believing souls "blessed" (D&C 50:36).
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.
verse 17 "they shall be established" The Lord here still has reference to those "who were baptized in the waters of Mormon." This phrase appears to mean, "they shall become established members of the church here in Zarahemla."
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.
verse 18 In this verse the Savior states that the members of his church will be called "in my name" rather than "by my name." He is not giving us his name. Rather he is saying that when we are called up to receive eternal life, he will be our advocate. Those who know and love him will be called up. We will be called in his name (see also verse 24).
19 And because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor, thou art blessed.
verse 19 "Thou art blessed," and therefore you shall learn the answer to your entreaty.
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.
verse 20 Alma is sealed up by the Lord to eternal life. His calling and election is made sure. For a discussion of this remarkable covenant between God and man, see the commentary for Helaman 10:4-7 and also the Calling and Election Made Sure in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2, chapter 16.
verses 21-32 These verses contain the divine pattern for church disciplinary action. This information was revealed to Alma by the Lord after Alma's sincere prayer for direction (verse 14) and is still pertinent today in the Lord's Church.
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.
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.
verses 21-22 The first principle of church discipline is prevention. The best form of prevention is to baptize only truly repentant converts who had accepted Jesus Christ. Accordingly, only those who hear and believe the word of the Lord will be received into the church.
"him shall ye receive into the church, and him will I also receive" Alma was to judge whether or not the prospective member was a truly repentant believer committed to a Christ-like life. The Lord would then ratify Alma's decision. The Lord thus confirms that Alma held the keys of the kingdom. And how does he confirm this fact? The Lord said to Joseph Smith in our dispensation: "I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time. And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens" (D&C 132:45-46).
"For behold, this is my church" Here is an important doctrine. Christ is head of the church, and he directs his church through revelation to his prophet (verse 14).
"him will I freely forgive" The Lord extends a generous offer of forgiveness to those who are baptized with sincere intent. It is comforting to know that this same offer applies to us today in the Church. It is vital that each of us has been "baptized unto repentance."
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.
verse 23 The Lord reiterates his qualifications as our Savior.
What is the antecedent of the pronoun "them" in this verse? It certainly is not the "sins of the world." It is, from the previous two verses, "he that will hear my voice," "him shall ye receive into the church," and "whosoever is baptized."
Is Jesus our creator? Wasn't it the Father who created us? In what sense is Jesus referred to here as having "created them"? We know that the Father of our spirits is God the Father. Christ participated with his Father in creating the earth and all things upon the face of the earth including the mortal materials of the earth-the dust of the earth-of which the bodies of man are comprised. "And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so" (Moses 2:26-27, italics added; see also Isaiah 45:12; 2 Nephi 29:7; Jacob 2:21; Alma 1:4). Additionally the Savior may be speaking here for God the Father according to the principle of "divine investiture of authority." See also the commentary for Alma 5:15.
"a place at my right hand" This phrase refers to exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
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.
verse 24 "and if they know me" What does it mean to know God? It is the same as to love God. It is to obey his commands-to follow his counsel. It is only in this way that we will come home to him.
verses 25-28 These verses apparently refer to those who will eventually go with Satan and become sons of perdition.
25 And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me.
verse 25 "when the second trump shall sound" Keep in mind the fact that the doctrine of the after-life, as taught to and understood by the Book of Mormon prophets, was apparently simplified and incomplete relative to our present-day understanding. The expression "second trump" here seems to signal the time between the resurrection of those who will inherit the telestial glory and the resurrection of those who will become sons of perdition. In the only other usage of the phrase "second trump" in the scriptures (D&C 88:99), the expression refers instead to the moment between the morning and afternoon of the first resurrection. This is the interval following the resurrection of the celestial souls and just before the resurrection of those bound for the terrestrial kingdom. Please review the doctrine of the resurrection in the commentary for 2 Nephi 9:15.
26 And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed.
verse 26 Even the sons of perdition will know that Christ is the Savior, though they will confess that knowledge only grudgingly, and their confession will imply no acceptance or submission.
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.
verse 27 "I will confess unto them that I never knew them" Certainly the Lord knows, in fact is intimately acquainted with, every creature. How then could the Lord say of the wicked, "I never knew them." John W. Welch has provided a possible explanation: "The Hebrew word 'know' (yada) has a broad range of meanings. One of them is covenantal. [Speaking to Israel, the Lord said through the prophet Amos] "You only have I known of all the families on earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities (Amos 3:3). . . . Yahweh had recognized only Israel as his legitimate servants; only to them had he granted the covenant" (Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple & Sermon on the Mount, [Copublished by FARMS: Provo, Utah and Deseret Book: Salt Lake City, Utah], 95-96). Certainly the Lord is aware of every being upon the earth, but he covenants with or "knows," in the special sense of these two verses (26 and 27), only those who do good works in his name and by the Spirit of God.
28 Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, 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 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.
verse 29 "him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed" The judgment of a person must be commensurate with the violation. Certain priesthood officers in the church then and now are appointed judges in Israel. Then, it included Alma the high priest and perhaps others. Today it includes bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents, and general authorities. The judgments that might be meted out by these officers are strictly restricted. Today our doctrine on this subject is: "We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members . . . provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world's goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship" (D&C 134:10).
"if he confess his sins before thee and me" A vital step toward repentance is that the transgressor confess his sins before God and, when appropriate, before an authorized church leader.
There are certain serious sins which may affect an individual's standing in the church and his ability to hold office in the church. Examples would include such sins as murder, certain instances of apostasy, incest, other serious moral transgressions, and serious criminal acts. These sins require two kinds of forgiveness, the forgiveness of the Lord and the forgiveness of the church. They also require confessions both to God and to the "common judges" of the church.
"repenteth in the sincerity of his heart" True repentance requires more than "worldly sorrow." It also requires "godly sorrow" (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Worldly sorrow consists of that sorrow born of fear of social ostracism, the fear of having to suffer the practical and often humiliating consequences of one's actions. In contrast, godly sorrow consists in the knowledge that one has offended God, broken the divine law, strayed from the strait and narrow path, and jeopardized his eternal future. An individual who "in the sincerity of his heart" suffers godly sorrow is eager and anxious to receive any punishment required to right himself before the Lord. He is not inclined to dictate the terms of his own punishment. He possesses "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (2 Nephi 2:7; 3 Nephi 9:20). He is devoid of hypocrisy, pretense, and deception. The prophet Joel described him as one who is apt to "rend [his] heart and not [his] garments" (Joel 2:12-13). One cannot come to experience true godly sorrow lest it be personally revealed by the Holy Spirit. It does not come easily. It is a precious gift of the Spirit. And how does one acquire this gift of the Spirit? The formula for acquiring any gift of the Spirit is always the same. First one must summon from within himself a genuine desire to obtain the gift-in this case to repent. One must then evidence this desire by "experimenting upon the words." That is, one must strive with one's conscious and purposeful thoughts and behavior to recognize one's errors and feel remorse for them. One must plead for forgiveness from the Lord in humble prayer. One must make amends where possible by asking the forgiveness of any who might have been offended. One must also contemplate the excruciating suffering which the Lord willingly agreed to suffer and the gratitude which each of us should have to him. Once sufficient effort has been expended, then the Lord may see fit to bestow the gift of godly sorrow, a heartfelt desire and determination to repent-to change one's life. Only when one possesses true godly sorrow does that individual have the strength and ability to complete the process of true repentance or change.
Exactly what are the characteristics of the spiritual gift of godly sorrow? Figuratively it may be understood as being equivalent to a personal interview with the Savior himself in which the Lord addressed himself to the particular sin of the individual. The love and concern of the Savior for the sinner would prevail at this interview. The individual would be brought to a clear understanding of his sins and the consequences of remaining unrepentant, yet the Savior would plainly manifest to the individual the road to repentance and the real hope of forgiveness. A genuine remorse would result from a yearning to remain or return to the warm and loving presence of the Lord and the possibility that a failure to repent of one's sins may render that hope forever untenable. The overall effect of this "personal interview" would be to engender in the individual a compelling urge to do whatever it takes to be forgiven and start anew.
There are many forms of counterfeit godly sorrow. A person may be sorry he has lost a blessing, or he may be unhappy that he is not permitted to continue "to take happiness in sin" (see Alma 41:10; Mormon 2:13). His sorrow may be only because of the embarrassment of being caught. That type of "repentance" will not cleanse a soul of its unrighteousness. Indeed, Paul indicated that some "repentance" itself needs to be repented of: "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner. . .. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves" (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). True repentance follows when a person has deep remorse that he has offended God by breaking his laws and being disobedient. He is sorry because of the alienation from God that the sin has brought into his life. Repentance then is "of the godly sort," and he learns that "wickedness never was happiness" (Alma 41:10). Because repentance requires a broken heart and a contrite spirit, nothing less will bring permanent relief. Mormon lamented that the Nephites were sorrowful, but not for the right reasons: "Their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned" (Mormon 2:13). Even though the scripture says the blood of Jesus Christ "was shed for the remission of your sins" (D&C 27:2), because nothing but genuine remorse for having offended God can bring forgiveness, the Lord has said that "my blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not" (D&C 29:17).
30 Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.
verse 30 Is it possible to abuse the principle of repentance by repeatedly sinning and repenting as seems convenient? Keep in mind that the Lord knows intimately the heart of each man.
31 And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor's trespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation.
verse 31 The doctrine of forgiveness without qualification is clearly laid out in the scriptures and is sobering to contemplate: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15; 3 Nephi 13:14-15; see also D&C 64:8-10).
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.
verse 32 "Now I say unto you, Go" The command "Go" or "Go to" in the scriptures means "Go to it" or "Get to work."
"whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people" Here is introduced the concept of excommunication. This likely was a new idea to Alma. Nephite culture had held the idea that merely being born a Nephite numbered one among the people of the Lord, and one could not be excommunicated from being a Nephite (see the commentary for Alma 5:57).
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 of God.
verse 33 In what context did Alma hear "these words"? See the commentary for verse 14.
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;
verse 35 Here we again are taught the importance of confessing, when appropriate, one's sins to the Lord and to proper church authority or even to oneself. The Lord said, "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins-behold, he will confess them and forsake them" (D&C 58:42-43).
36 And those that would not confess their sins and repent of their iniquity, the same were not numbered among the people of the church, and their names were blotted out.
verse 36 Blotted out, of course, means removed. According to the Lord's word, "the names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people" (Alma 5:57). Transgressors who fail to humble themselves, confess their sins, and repent, have their names removed, or blotted out, from the records of the Church. The corollary to "not [being] numbered among the people of Christ" is excommunication (Moroni 6:7). The removal of the names of rebellious and unrepentant church members from church records is a formal measure reflecting a loss that has already taken place in the heart. King Benjamin taught that the name of Christ, received by those who enter the gospel covenant will "never shall be blotted out, except it be through transgression" (Mosiah 1:12; cf. 5:7-8, 11). In an ultimate sense, the names of the wicked are blotted out of the Lord's book of life. The book of life contains the names of those who will receive an inheritance at the Lord's right hand (Alma 5:57-58).
It might also be added that those who are "blotted out" or excommunicated should still be received and welcomed in church meetings in case they should one day return to the fold (3 Nephi 18:32).
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 before God, receiving many, and baptizing many.
verse 37 "walking circumspectly before God" Circumspectly means cautiously; with watchfulness or attention.
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.
verse 39 Here is an appropriate comment on life in general. As we labor in life, we find ourselves in a position to admonish others around us, whether they be children, employees, or fellow church members. But it never ceases to be true that we ourselves are constantly "admonished, every one by the word of God, according to [our] sins."