After Abinadi’s death, Alma secretly taught Abinadi’s words among the people. Those who believed him gathered at the Waters of Mormon to learn more. Alma preached the message of “repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord” (Mosiah 18:7). Those who accepted his teachings and repented of their sins entered into the covenant of baptism. The people were faithful to this covenant, and they helped each other temporally and spiritually.
Suggestions for Teaching
Alma teaches and baptizes the people
Display the picture Abinadi before King Noah (62042; Gospel Art Book , no. 75). Point out the priests in the background of the picture. Explain that Mosiah 18 tells of the experience of Alma, who was one of the priests of King Noah.
Invite a student to read Mosiah 18:1, 3–6 aloud. Ask the class to look for what Alma did after hearing Abinadi’s testimony. After students report what they have learned, invite them to refer to their diagrams showing the overview of journeys in Mosiah 7–24. Instruct them to draw the Waters of Mormon in the appropriate location. (For the complete diagram, see the appendix at the end of this manual.)
Explain that Alma intended his teachings to prepare the people for baptism. Ask students to think for a moment about their baptisms. To help them ponder what their baptisms mean to them, you might ask questions like the following:
What details can you remember about your experience?
How did your parents, teachers, and leaders help you prepare for baptism?
What do you appreciate more about baptism now than you did when you were baptized?
Explain that the story of Alma teaching and baptizing the people at the Waters of Mormon can help us gain a deeper understanding of the baptismal covenant.
Ask students to read Mosiah 18:2, 7 silently, looking for what Alma taught the people as he prepared them for baptism.
According to these verses, which doctrines and principles did Alma emphasize?
How do you think an understanding of these truths might help someone prepare for baptism?
To help students understand what they can do to keep the baptismal covenant, and to help them appreciate the blessings they will receive as a result, copy the following chart on the board. Do not include the statements or scripture references in the lower half of the chart.
I am willing to …
God promises …
Help bear other’s burdens that they may be light (see Mosiah 18:8).
Mourn with those who mourn (see Mosiah 18:9).
Comfort those who stand in need of comfort (see Mosiah 18:9).
Stand as a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places (see Mosiah 18:9).
Serve God and keep His commandments (see Mosiah 18:10).
That I will be redeemed of God (see Mosiah 18:9).
That I will receive eternal life (see Mosiah 18:9).
He will pour out His Spirit upon me (see Mosiah 18:10).
Explain that before inviting the people to be baptized, Alma spoke to them about attitudes and actions that would indicate they were ready to make and keep this covenant with the Lord. (You may want to remind students that a covenant is an agreement between God and man but that God and man “do not act as equals in the agreement. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and men agree to do what he asks them to do. God then promises men certain blessings for their obedience” [Guide to the Scriptures, “Covenant,” scriptures.lds.org]. For a latter-day explanation of the requirements for being baptized, see Doctrine and Covenants 20:37.)
Divide the class in half. Invite one half of the class to search Mosiah 18:8–11 for what Alma taught we should be willing to do when we are baptized. Invite the other half of the class to search the same passage and identify how the Lord promises to bless us if we keep our covenant. After students have had time to study the verses, ask several of them to come to the board and write in the appropriate columns what they have discovered.
To help students appreciate their baptismal covenant, ask:
What do the actions and attitudes in the first column mean to you?
Why are the promises listed in the second column important to you?
Ask students to search Mosiah 18:12–16 silently, looking for ways Alma and his people were blessed as they covenanted to serve the Lord. Invite students to report what they find. You may want to point out that Alma was filled with the Spirit of the Lord as he prepared to baptize Helam and that both Alma and Helam were filled with the Spirit when the baptism was completed, showing that the Lord had already begun to fulfill His covenant to pour out His Spirit upon the people.
Share your testimony that we receive the Spirit of the Lord and the promise of eternal life by making and keeping the covenant of baptism.
Alma establishes the Church of Jesus Christ among the people
Read the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency:
“From the day of baptism through the spiritual milestones of our lives, we make promises with God and He makes promises with us. He always keeps His promises offered through His authorized servants, but it is the crucial test of our lives to see if we will make and keep our covenants with Him” (“Witnesses for God,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 30).
Refer students to the chart on the board. Explain that they will now learn about how Alma’s people lived according to the baptismal covenant and how they were blessed for doing so. Divide students into two groups. Ask one group to study Mosiah 18:17–23 and the other group to study Mosiah 18:24–30. As they read, invite both groups to look for some of the ways Alma taught the people they should live in order to keep the baptismal covenant. Ask individual students from each group to report what they find to a partner chosen from the other group. Or have a representative from each group report what he or she has learned to the entire class.
How does your baptismal covenant influence the way you live each day? (Consider inviting students to answer this question by talking about how their baptismal covenant influences how they treat family members, which kinds of entertainment they choose, or how they interact with peers.)
Invite students to review Mosiah 18:17, 22, 29 to find words and phrases that indicate how the people were blessed for keeping their covenants. List these blessings on the board beneath the chart of the baptismal covenant. (You may need to remind students that the phrase “children of God” [Mosiah 18:22] has reference to our becoming heirs of eternal life through the Atonement of Jesus Christ [see Mosiah 5:6–8, 15].)
To help students see that great blessings come to those who keep the baptismal covenant, refer students to the chart on the board, and ask:
In what ways have you seen your friends, family members, or ward members blessed for keeping their covenants?
How has the Lord blessed you for keeping your baptismal covenants?
Bear your testimony about how keeping covenants has brought blessings into your life.
Those who belong to the Church flee from the persecution of King Noah
Summarize Mosiah 18:31–33 by explaining that one day, when Alma and his people had gathered to hear the word of the Lord, they were discovered by the servants of King Noah. The king then sent his army to destroy them.
Invite a student to read Mosiah 18:34 aloud. Point out that footnote a refers readers to Mosiah 23:1. (You may want to invite students to mark this footnote.) Explain that the account in Mosiah 18:34 continues in Mosiah 23:1, after chapters 19–22 record experiences of Limhi’s people. Ask a student to read Mosiah 23:1–2 aloud.
How was Alma “apprised” of the danger his people faced?
Write the following principle on the board: The Lord can warn the righteous when they are in danger. (You may want to invite students to write this principle in the margin next to Mosiah 18:34.) To illustrate this truth, read the following story told by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Working as a special agent for the FBI, my friend investigated organized crime groups transporting illegal drugs into the United States.
“On one occasion, he and another agent approached an apartment where they believed a known drug dealer was distributing cocaine. My friend describes what happened:
“‘We knocked on the door of the drug dealer. The suspect opened the door, and upon seeing us, tried to block our view. But it was too late; we could see the cocaine on his table.
“‘A man and a woman who were at the table immediately began removing the cocaine. We had to prevent them from destroying the evidence, so I quickly pushed the drug suspect who was blocking the door to the side. As I pushed him, my eyes met his. Strangely, he did not appear angry or afraid. He was smiling at me.
“‘His eyes and disarming smile gave me the impression that he was harmless, so I quickly left him and started to move toward the table. The suspect was now behind me. At that instant, I had the distinct, powerful impression come into my mind: “Beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes.”
“‘I immediately turned back toward the suspect. His hand was in his large front pocket. Instinctively I grabbed his hand and pulled it from his pocket. Only then did I see, clutched in his hand, the semiautomatic pistol ready to fire. A flurry of activity followed, and I disarmed the man.’ …
“… The Holy Ghost warned my friend of physical danger; the Holy Ghost will also warn you of spiritual danger” (“Beware of the Evil behind the Smiling Eyes,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 46–47).
Affirm that the Lord often warns the righteous of impending danger, but we should not assume we are unrighteous if we do not feel a warning from the Holy Ghost every time we encounter dangerous circumstances.
When have you felt the Lord warn you of physical or spiritual danger? (After students share their experiences, you may want to share one of your own.)
Commentary and Background Information
Mosiah 18:8–11. Understanding the power of the baptismal covenant
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“I have noted throughout my life that when people come to fully understand the blessings and the power of their baptismal covenant, whether as new converts or as lifelong members of the Church, great joy comes into their lives and they approach their duties in the kingdom with contagious enthusiasm” (“Alma the Elder: A Role Model for Today,” in Heroes from the Book of Mormon , 84).
Mosiah 18:12–18. Why did Alma bury himself in the water when he baptized Helam?
President Joseph Fielding Smith pointed out that “in the Book of Mosiah it is stated definitely that he had authority [see Mosiah 18:13].” President Smith reasoned that “if [Alma] had authority to baptize that is evidence that he had been baptized [already].” Therefore, he further explained, when Alma went down into the water with Helam, it “was not a case of Alma baptizing himself, but merely as a token to the Lord of his humility and full repentance” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 3:203).