Alma 5:30-36 — LeGrand Baker — ‘come unto me’
30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?
31 Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!
32 Yea, even wo unto all ye workers of iniquity; repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it!
33 Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.
34 Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;
35 Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire—
36 For behold, the time is at hand that whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit, or whosoever doeth not the works of righteousness, the same have cause to wail and mourn.
There appear to be three major encoded ideas here. The fun thing is that they are not in code at all. These seem to be instances where the words simply mean precisely what they say. But since we tend not to expect them to mean what they say, we are apt to water down their meaning. In these instances, the precision of the words become the code. The ideas are:
1. The arms of mercy are extended towards them
2. The Saviour says, “come unto me” and “I will receive you.”
3. The relationship between “works of righteousness” and “bringeth forth not good fruit,”
I think the best commentaries on these verses are from the Sermon on the Mount. That sermon reads like a how-to explanation of what the Saviour has said before from 3 Ne. 9 through the Beatitudes.
1.} The arms of mercy are extended towards them
When the Saviour spoke to the Nephites out of the darkness, he said:
14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. (3 Nephi 9:14)
There are places where the phrase “arms of mercy” seems to be only figurative, but it may also carry with it the same connotation as “hand” in the following scriptures. When that occurres, the scriptures are not talking figuratively. These scriptures help one see that.
29 Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed;
he will hear him from his holy heaven
with the saving strength of his right hand. (Psalms 20:6)
23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee:
thou hast holden me by my right hand.
24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel,
and afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but thee?
and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
26 My flesh and my heart faileth:
but God is the strength of my heart,
and my portion for ever. (Psalms 73:23-26.)
And the Lord commands Job
10 Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency;
and array thyself with glory and beauty. [put on appropriate clothing] ….
14 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee. (Job 40:10-14.)
Another psalm describes one way Job might have responded.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness;
and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed,
and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help,
therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
8 My soul followeth hard after thee:
thy right hand upholdeth me. (Psalms 63:5-8.)
That brings us to the next idea:
2} The Saviour says, “come unto me” and “I will receive you.”
If one reads “come unto me” as meaning, “come to where I am..” then the imagery of the extended arm takes on a new relevance. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Saviour explained how that might be done.
19 And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled.
20 Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
That, in turn, brings us to the Saviour’s most immediate commands:
22 …Whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment.
whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—
24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you. (3 Ne. 12: 19-24)
That, now brings us to the third of Alma’s principles:
3} The relationship between “works of righteousness” and “bringeth forth not good fruit,”
I presume that “Righteousness” is translated from the Nephite equilivant of the Hebrew “zedek.” In that case “works of righteousness” would mean the same as his “holy works” in Alma 12. If that is true then “works of righteousness” is a reference to temple ordinances and covenants, which Alma seems to be equating with “good fruit.” Again the Sermon on the Mount provides the best commentary:
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. [same word Alma uses. It helps to understand what the Saviour is saying when we remember that Alma equates the fruit, with the fruit of the tree of life and with the works of righteousness. If the Saviour is doing the some, then the fruits he is talking about are the priesthood ordinances.] Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (3 Nephi 14:15-23.)
In chapter 32 Alma teaches that one must plant a seed, nurture it to maturity, then partake of the fruit of the tree of life. By then, one has become such a tree, not only to one’s own salvation, but also to assist in the salvation of others.
Putting all those ideas together and we have an eternal spiral – the Lord extends his hand to us that we may taste the fruit, then we help others so that they may recognize the Lord’s hand and accept his invitation also, that person, in turn, helps others, ad infinitum.