Kingdom Algebra (Alma 28)
When I was in 9th grade, one of my classes was Algebra. Whereas some students (and perhaps you can identify) had a hard time understanding this subject, I actually enjoyed it. It was kind of like trying to solve a mystery — what is the value of the mysterious X?
For those who don't remember — and forgive me if this brings back bad memories — it went something like this:
If X + Y = 10 and Y = 3, then what is the value of X? In this set of equations, X would be 7 since X and Y together add up to 10 and we already know that Y is 3. 10 – 3 = 7. (I promise that this is as mathematical as this article is going to get.)
Now, let's pretend for a moment that when you stand before the Lord at the end of your life that He assigns a number to you based on how you lived your life, with 1 being the worst score and 10 being a perfect score. Perhaps the dialogue would go something like this:
God: You get a score of 7 for how you lived your life. That's above average.
You: Thank you so much.
God: Well, there is actually good news and bad news. You see, the minimum score for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven is 10.
You: Oh no!
God: That was the bad news, but here's the good news. I see your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and my Son, Jesus, knows you. That means you qualify for the grace bonus. In your case, that's an extra 3 points, which brings your score to 10. So, enter in, my good and faithful servant!
In Kingdom Algebra, the grace of God is the X factor. We do the best we can to live our lives according to the teachings of God, but none of us will achieve a perfect score of 10 on our own. Maybe some of us will reach a 9, but others may be a 5 or a 3 or even less. However, even if the best we can do would receive a score of 3, the grace of God is then a 7 for us such that we still wind up with the perfect score of 10.
It is important that we actually do the best we can to live according to the precepts of God. Continuing with the simplified example of a score from 1 to 10, if we're capable of achieving a 9 in life, but we intentionally live an unrighteous life such that our score is a 3, then we enter questionable territory as to whether God will be willing to award "extra bonus points" to cover our intentional disobedience. Following the Holy Ghost will keep us on the right path.
In Alma 28, Alma is thinking about the many people killed in a recent war. He takes comfort in knowing that the believers "are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness" (verse 12). He also reflects on what causes an "inequality" in people such that some get the perfect score and some don't:
"And thus we see how great the inequality of man is, because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he has devised to ensnare the hearts of men" (Alma 28:13).
In general, it's true to say that God loves everyone equally and He values everyone equally. However, the one thing that makes people unequal in His sight is if they carry sin that has not been forgiven. Coming to Christ and being forgiven of our sins is the only way to become a 10 in God's sight. Let's make sure we endure to the end and maintain that perfect score.
Here are some verses you can use if you want to use Kingdom Algebra to present the gospel:
- "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) — Nobody is a 10.
- "Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him … that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ" (Moroni 10:32) — Coming to Christ makes us a 10.
- "Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life" (3 Nephi 15:9) — Look to Christ for the remainder of our lives to maintain our 10.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.