Lesson 31: Firm in the Faith of Christ

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 138–41


Purpose

To help class members see how the Nephites’ attitudes and actions in times of war can serve as a pattern for dealing with our earthly conflicts and the battle against Satan.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Alma 43–44. Led by Zerahemnah, the Lamanites come to battle against the Nephites, seeking to bring them into bondage. The Nephites, led by Moroni, fight to defend their families and their liberty. The Nephites prevail because they are “inspired by a better cause” and because they exercise faith in Jesus Christ.

    2. b.

      Alma 45:20–24; 46. Amalickiah desires to be king and causes dissension among the Nephites. Captain Moroni raises the “title of liberty” to inspire the people, and they covenant to follow God. Amalickiah and a few of his followers join the Lamanites.

    3. c.

      Alma 47–48. Through treachery, Amalickiah becomes king of the Lamanites. He incites the Lamanites to fight against the Nephites. Captain Moroni prepares the Nephites to defend themselves righteously.

    4. d.

      Alma 49–52. War continues between the Nephites and the Lamanites. The king-men desire to set up a king over the Nephites, but they are defeated. Teancum kills Amalickiah, who is succeeded as king of the Lamanites by his brother Ammoron.

  2. 2.

    If the picture Captain Moroni Raises the Title of Liberty is available, prepare to use it during the lesson (62051; Gospel Art Picture Kit 312).

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Ask class members:

  • Why do you think Mormon included so much information about war in the Book of Mormon?

    In addition to class members’ answers, you may want to suggest the following:

    1. 1.

      Mormon knew that the Book of Mormon would be read and studied in a time when war would be common throughout the world. These writings teach us how to remain Christlike during times of conflict.

    2. 2.

      Mormon recorded Nephite history preceding the Savior’s appearance in great detail. We can read of the Nephites’ experiences and be prepared for similar events occurring in our day prior to the Second Coming of Christ.

Explain that this lesson will discuss what the battles between the Nephites and their enemies can teach us about how to handle earthly conflicts and how to defend ourselves and our families in the battle against Satan.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Help class members understand how these scriptures can apply to daily life in times of peace as well as times of war. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. The Nephites fight to defend their families and their liberty.

Discuss Alma 43–44. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud.

  • Why did the Nephites fight against the Lamanites? (See Alma 43:3–4, 9–11, 45–47; 48:14.) Under what circumstances does the Lord approve of people going to war?

    President Charles W. Penrose, who was a member of the First Presidency, said: “It is not right for us to engage in the shedding of human blood, for vengeance or retaliation. But when the Lord commands or inspires his servants to counsel the sons and daughters of Israel to lend their aid in the work of righteous warfare, that is different. … We are to arise in our might and in our strength and go forth to victory; not with a desire to shed blood, not with the desire to destroy our fellow creatures, but in self defense and because we do want to maintain and hand down to our posterity those sacred principles of liberty that have been revealed from on high” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1917, 21).

    Elder David O. McKay said: “There are … two conditions which may justify a truly Christian man to enter—mind you, I say enter, not begin—a war: (1) An attempt to dominate and to deprive another of his free agency, and, (2) Loyalty to his country. Possibly there is a third, [namely], Defense of a weak nation that is being unjustly crushed by a strong, ruthless one” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 72).

  • When Moroni confronted Zerahemnah, to what did he attribute the Nephites’ success in battle? (See Alma 44:3–4.) How had the Nephites demonstrated their faith in Christ? (See Alma 43:23, 49–50.)

  • What can we do in our families and communities to help preserve the freedoms the Nephites cherished?

  • Discuss the following principles that governed the attitudes and actions of the righteous Nephites in times of war. How might understanding and applying these principles today help bring about greater peace in the world? How can we apply these principles in dealing with conflict in our personal lives?

    1. a.

      Fight only for righteous reasons, such as self-defense (Alma 43:8–10, 29–30, 45–47; 48:14).

    2. b.

      Have no hate toward your enemies; seek their best interests as well as your own (Alma 43:53–54; 44:1–2, 6).

    3. c.

      Live righteously and trust in God (Alma 44:3–4; 48:15, 19–20).

    4. d.

      Follow righteous and wise leaders (Alma 43:16–19; 48:11–13, 17–19; see also D&C 98:10).

2. Captain Moroni raises the “title of liberty” to inspire the people.

Read and discuss selected verses from Alma 45:20–24; 46. Explain that after the battles with the Lamanites, Helaman and his brethren went throughout the land, preaching and reestablishing the organization of the Church (Alma 45:20–22). However, some of the Nephites grew proud and rebelled against the Church. The leader of this group of dissenters was Amalickiah, who wanted to be king over the Nephites (Alma 45:23–24; 46:1–4).

  • How was Amalickiah able to persuade others to follow him? (See Alma 46:1–7, 10.) What was the motive of the people who supported him? (See Alma 46:4–5.) What can we learn from the account of Amalickiah and his followers? (See Alma 46:8–9.)

  • If you are using the picture of Captain Moroni raising the title of liberty, display it now. Why did Moroni create the title of liberty? (See Alma 46:11–13, 18–20.) How did the people respond to the title of liberty? (See Alma 46:21–22.) How does making and keeping covenants affect our lives?

3. Amalickiah becomes king of the Lamanites and incites them to battle.

Read and discuss selected verses from Alma 47–48.

  • What did Amalickiah do when he failed to become king over the Nephites? (See Alma 46:33; 47:1, 4. Have class members summarize the account of how Amalickiah became king over the Lamanites [Alma 47:1–35], or summarize this account yourself.)

  • Some of the strongest opponents of the Nephites had once been Nephites themselves, including the Amalekites (Alma 24:29–30; 43:6–7), the Zoramites (Alma 30:59; 31:8–11; 43:4), Amalickiah (Alma 46:1–7), Morianton (Alma 50:26, 35), and Amalickiah’s brother Ammoron (Alma 52:3). Why do those who have left the Church often fight so strongly against it? (See Mosiah 2:36–37; Alma 47:35–36.)

    The Prophet Joseph Smith made the following statement to a man who wondered why those who had left the Church often fought so fiercely against it: “Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant” (in “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, 15 Aug. 1892, 492).

  • Contrast Amalickiah and Moroni (Alma 48:1–17). Emphasize that just as one wicked person can cause much wickedness among the people (Alma 46:9), one righteous person, like Moroni, can inspire much righteousness. How can we encourage and support righteous leaders? How can each of us inspire righteousness among others?

4. War continues between the Nephites and the Lamanites.

Read and discuss selected verses from Alma 49–52. Explain that these chapters continue the account of the ongoing battles between the Nephites and the Lamanites. This account can help us in our ongoing battle against Satan and his hosts, who are waging a war against truth and righteousness, fighting to destroy our opportunities for eternal life.

  • How can the accounts of war in the Book of Mormon apply to our fight against the influence of Satan? (Some examples are given below, with application questions to encourage discussion. Class members may suggest other examples as well.)

    1. a.

      The Nephites built walls to protect their cities from the Lamanites’ attacks (Alma 48:7–9; 49:2–4, 13, 18). What defenses can protect us from Satan’s influence?

    2. b.

      The Nephites continually strengthened their defenses (Alma 50:1–6). Why must we continually strengthen our defenses against Satan?

    3. c.

      The Nephites kept the commandments of God and followed their Church leaders (Alma 44:3–4; 49:30; 50:20–22). How do the commandments of God and the counsel of our Church leaders help us fight wickedness?

    4. d.

      The Nephites thanked God for protecting them in battle (Alma 45:1; 49:28). How can gratitude to the Lord protect us against Satan?

    5. e.

      Contention caused the Nephites to fight among themselves and allowed the Lamanites to gain power over them (Alma 51:2–7, 12–23; 53:8–9). How does contention allow Satan to gain power over us? How can unity and support from other people help us as we fight against wickedness?

    6. f.

      The righteous Nephites were prosperous and happy even in times of war (Alma 49:30; 50:23). How can we find peace and happiness even during times of terrible wickedness?

Conclusion

Point out that the principles taught in these chapters of the Book of Mormon can help protect us and our families from the onslaught of evil. They can also help us have peace in our souls during times of war and tribulation.

As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Idea

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use this idea as part of the lesson.

Video presentation

If Book of Mormon Video Presentations (53911) is available, show “Firm in the Faith of Christ,” a fifteen-minute segment.