A fundamental aspect of the good news of the gospel is the message of liberty. As President Joseph F. Smith said, “The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of freedom; the gospel of the Son of God is the gospel of liberty.” Men of God, both ancient and modern, have spoken on this issue repeatedly. This book analyzes what liberty is and how it applies to government.
In 36 A.D., shortly after Christ’s visit, we learn that everybody was converted to the Lord (v. 2). There were no contentions or disputations among them (v. 2, 13, 15, 18) and they had all things in common (v. 3). There were no social classes or labels (“-ites”) among them (v. 3, 17). They were in one. They were Zion. Indeed, as Mormon noted, there couldn’t be a happier people among all of God’s children (v. 16).
Fast forward 165 years. The people begin to be lifted up in pride, and wear costly apparel to distinguish themselves in a higher social class (v. 24). Six years previous to this time a faction dissented from the church, calling themselves Lamanites (v. 20). However, it isn’t until this time, in 201 A.D., that social classes arise among the people, and the law of consecration ceases to properly function, since they no longer had all their goods and substances in common (v. 25, 26).
It goes downhill from there. Much more downhill. But I stop to ponder… how can I apply 4th Nephi to our day? Is there a pattern to observe? Are people today divided into social classes? Do people wear costly apparel? Are people lifted up in pride, and looking down on others? Is the true Church and its followers persecuted? Are there secret combinations among the wicked?
It’s amazing what opposite ends of the spectrum this chapter touches. First, we had everybody being converted to the Lord, living peaceably, and having all their goods in common. Then at the end of the chapter and book, we learn that everybody, save for the Three Nephites, are wicked, the Gadianton Robbers infest the entire land, and nobody has any goods in common.
Where do we stand today? Are we lifted up in pride? Do we assist those of less fortunate circumstances? Are we infatuated with celebrities, the latest fashion, and buying more and more unnecessary things? Are we striving for Zion? Are we striving to live the law of consecration?
Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life. (Alma 5:28)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot to work on. There’s no better time to start than now.