“What Natural Man Knoweth These Things”

Monte S. Nyman

Ammon now turns to teach his brethren some doctrine. “The natural man (v. 21) is an enemy to God … unless he yields to the enticings of the Spirit,” as an angel had taught King Benjamin (Mosiah 3:19). Adding to this doctrine, Ammon teaches the process for receiving revelation and coming to understand the mysteries of God (Alma 26:22). The mysteries of God are the things that will only be revealed to those who prepare themselves to know the principles of salvation (v. 20 above). To have things revealed that have never before been revealed, one must be qualified. As the Lord has said, “no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith [the President of The Church]” or those to whom he has delegated authority (D&C 28:2–5; see also Alma 43:2–5). Those who have been delegated authority will be known to the Church and ordained through the regular channels (see D&C 42:11). However, in missionary work, as Ammon implies, the Lord will reveal new information and procedures to bring souls to repentance. As evidence of this concept, Ammon cites their mission to the Lamanites. The covenant made by the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi to suffer death rather than fight against the Lamanites had resulted in over a thousand Lamanites to listen to and accept the gospel (Alma 24).

Those in Zarahemla had “laughed [the son of Mosiah] to scorn” and suggested that the Lamanites were beyond redemption and should be destroyed (Alma 26:23–25). Through personal revelations and faith, they and their brethren had desired to go and try to save some of the Lamanite souls (v. 26): “The Spirit of the Lord” had worked upon them to desire this great mission (see Mosiah 28:1–4). The ways of the Lord are often considered ridiculous or even humorous to those who are not in tune with the Spirit. In the Apostle Paul’s words, “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” and his programs succeed “because the foolishness of God is wiser than man; and the weakness of God is stronger than man” (1 Corinthians 1:20, 25). The souls of men are precious in the sight of God, and the intent of the missionaries was in tune with the mind of the Lord (Alma 26:26; see D&C 18:10–16; Alma 31:35).

Book of Mormon Commentary: The Record of Alma