Alma 36:6-20 – LeGrand Baker — the source and nature of Alma’s pain and joy

 Alma 36:6-20 – LeGrand Baker — the source and nature of Alma’s pain and joy

16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! (Alma 36:16-20)

To understand something about the horror of the darkness that enveloped Alma, we must begin by examining the nature of the light that later filled him with such joy.

The Gospel of John and Doctrine and Covenants sections 88 and 93 each begin by introducing the Savior as the source of light. He introduced himself to the Nephites that same way by saying:

18 I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (3 Nephi 9:18).

John the Baptist testified that Jesus “was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). John’s words are expanded in Doctrine and Covenants 93.

9 The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men. 10 The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him (D&C 93:9-10). (That is, “made…of” his light.)

The scriptures are replete with the fact that our physical selves are literally made of the great aura of light that surrounds the person of the Savior. Science confirms that. Whether one uses Einstein’s famous E=MC2or the more recent string theory, the conclusions are the same. All matter is energy. Energy is light—but we are talking about a much greater range of lights than just photons we can see with our eyes. The Savior said of himself:

6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made …
11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space— 13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things (D&C 88:6-7, 11-13).

That is explained in section 93: “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come. . . . The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth” (D&C 93:24, 26).

The ultimate source of light is truth—truth shines. The Savior is the Spirit of Truth and has all truth, therefore his truth/light gives light and life to all things.

However, truth is information. It is the knowledge of reality in sacred time. Raw information cannot of itself produce light. But when intelligent beings assimilate truth, that truth shines within them and causes them to shine. The more truth they assimilate, the more they shine. Therefore, Christ above all, but all other intelligent beings also, radiate the light of truth. This ability to assimilate truth and emit light is the very definition of our earliest state of being as intelligences. The Lord explained:

29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be (D&C 93:29).

In comparison:

36 The glory [shechinah] of God is intelligence, or, in other words, [the fullness of] light and truth (D&C 93:36).

Man is also intelligence, but not its fullness. Intelligences (the very core of our personalities and cognizance) are not “light and truth” but “ the light of truth.”

Christ is the source of the light and salvation to all the inhabitants of this universe. The Prophet

Joseph testified:

He’s the Saviour and only begotten of God;
By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,
Even all that careen in the heavens so broad.
Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,
Are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours;
And, of course, are begotten God’s daughters and sons
By the very same truths and the very same powers
(Joseph Smith, A Vision published in Times and Seasons, February 1, 1843).

God’s truth is infinite. It fills all space. Therefore his light is infinite also, and “fills the immensity of space.” Christ (that is, the great aura of the light of his truth radiates from his person) is “in all and through all things.”

His love is also in and through all things. Therefore truth, light, and love either occupy the same space at the same time or they are the same thing. If they are the same thing then love has the same physical qualities as light—not just photons, but also “that light which enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings.” To a much smaller degree, this also is true with man. Therefore, even though we can rarely see another person’s light, we can feel it, and we often use those feelings to communicate our love.

With God, light/truth/love are the defining qualities of his person and personality. To a much lesser degree, that is also true of man. Christ is also the source of life. John the Baptist testified that “in him was the life of men and the light of men.” The Savior explained,

50 Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound.[live, exist] (D&C 88:50).

The Savior further explained:

66 Behold, that which you hear is as the voice of one crying in the wilderness—in the wilderness, because you cannot see him—my voice, because my voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound (D&C 88:66).

Human beings exude light: if light, then also truth and love. That truth/light/love become the eternal definition of each individual Self. The object of this life is to define one’s Self in those terms, and that definition persists into the eternities. The Savior explained;

22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.
25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—
26 Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it. 27 For notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual body.
28 They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.
29 Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
30 And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
31 And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness (D&C 88:22-31).

If persons are pure truth/light/love, then the resurrected body that is compatible with that personality will be celestial. If it is less then pure, then their resurrected body will be compatible with their quality of light, and will be something different from celestial. What is less than pure celestial light must be the quality of light of “lower” kingdoms.

The product of truth/light/love/life is joy—eternal life is equivalent to eternal love, is equivalent to eternal joy. True joy can only be felt in tandem with other people who share the same quality of truth/light/love/life. For that reason, ultimate and eternal joy is a characteristic of only those in the Celestial Kingdom.

Joy in this life is the comradery that Peter called “brotherly kindness” (2 Peter 1:7) (the Greek philadelphia). That is equally true in the next world. The Prophet Joseph explained:

1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy (D&C 130:1-2).

Charity, which is the ultimate togetherness, is also the ultimate joy. Charity is the crowning qualification of those who are in the celestial kingdom. That is probably why only those in the celestial kingdom can be sealed together to experience perfect togetherness and why those in the lesser kingdoms experience only that quality of togetherness that they are willing to give and receive.

That helps us define the differences between the three degrees of glory. It is the differences in the quality of the truth/light/love/life/joy that exude from within the individual. For that reason, even though the priesthood sealing ordinances are necessary because there must be order in all things, adhering to those ordinances alone are not sufficient for us to be sealed to our families in the eternities. This is because ultimately, the sealing power is the quality of our own love as we share it with each other, and with the Savior, and his Father.

Summary: Our physical bodies are made of light, and the resurrection is the restoration of our physical bodies, then it follows that the quality of our resurrected bodies will be determined by the quality of the light of which that body is made. The quality of the light of the body is determined by the quality of truth/light/love/life/joy of the spirit that inhabits it.

22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory (D&C 88:22-24).


The severest contrast to charity is the self-imposed separation from others that is the product of an insatiable desire for self-aggrandizement.

Loneliness and aloneness are not the same things even though they may feel somewhat the same. Loneliness is a longing to be with others. Aloneness is self-imposed austerity and contempt, even hatred, toward others. There is neither love nor joy in a world of aloneness.

To understand the darkness that engulfed Alma, it helps to realize that if our truth/light/love diminishes, then so does our power to be alive and experience joy, so life itself becomes less as love becomes less.

Some persons exude little or no light. Alma’s life, to that point, had been more defined by his desire to “become a law unto itself”—that is, defined by his contempt and hatred for others rather than by love. The Lord explained,

35 That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still (D&C 88:35).

If our truth/light/love are the definition of our life, and if the quality of our life is the definition the quality of our joy, then the absence of truth/light/love must be hell.

A total lack of love is a total lack of light—a black hole where there is absolute aloneness but no quality of life. If one refuses the Savior’s light, and emits none of his own, and if he remains cognizant, then his existence must be only contempt for others and vanity for himself. The saddest of all scriptures reads:

32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received (D&C 88:32).

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