Lesson 71: Alma 5:1–36

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

When the Church was threatened by internal contention and wickedness (see Alma 4:9–11), Alma gave up the judgment seat so he could focus his efforts on strengthening the Church. He embarked on a mission to reclaim the people of Nephi by “bearing down in pure testimony against them” (Alma 4:19). Alma began his mission by reminding the people of Zarahemla that the Lord had delivered their ancestors from physical and spiritual bondage. He encouraged them to prepare for the final Day of Judgment by believing in the word of God and evaluating the spiritual condition of their hearts.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 5:1–13

Alma recounts the conversion of his father and those who followed him

Write the word change on the board. Ask students to think about times when they may have felt a desire or prompting to make a change in their lives.

  • Why can it sometimes be difficult to make the changes that the Lord would like us to make in our lives?

As students study Alma 5 today, invite them to look for what Alma taught about how we can change to become what the Lord would like us to become and why it is important for us to change in these ways.

Remind students that Alma was concerned about the wickedness that had begun to grow among the Nephites. He could see that if they did not change, they would forfeit the promised blessings of the covenants they had made. He gave up the judgment seat and devoted himself to ministering to the people and calling them to repentance. He began by teaching the people of Zarahemla.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 5:3–6. Ask the class to follow along, looking for events Alma emphasized as he began to teach the people.

  • What events did Alma emphasize as he began to teach the people?

  • How might it have helped Alma’s people to hear the account of the bondage, deliverance, and conversion of Alma’s father and those who followed him?

Invite students to read the first sentence of Alma 5:7 silently, looking for the kind of change that had occurred in the lives of Alma’s father and his people. Ask students to report what they find.

On the board, add the words of heart after change, so it reads change of heart.

  • What do you think it means to experience a “change of heart”? (To help students answer this question, you might refer them to Mosiah 5:2, which teaches that as we experience a mighty change of heart, “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” Another way to express that someone has experienced a mighty change of heart is to say that he or she has been born again or been converted.)

Add to the phrase on the board so it reads, A change of heart is like …

Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 5:7–9. Invite the class to follow along, looking for Alma’s descriptions of what a change of heart is like. Invite them to consider marking any words or phrases that describe a change of heart.

Ask students to report what they found, and add their responses to the board. (Your list might look like the following: A change of heart is like … waking out of a deep sleep, being filled with light, being freed from chains, having your soul expand, singing about redeeming love.)

  • How is a change of heart like the descriptions listed on the board?

Invite a student to read Alma 5:10–13 aloud, and ask the class to look for what brought about the mighty change of heart in Alma’s father and his followers.

  • According to these verses, what brought about the mighty change of heart in Alma’s father and his followers? (Their belief in the word of God and, by extension, their faith and trust in God.)

  • What principle can we learn from these verses about what we can do to experience a mighty change of heart? (Help students identify the following principle: When we believe in the word of God and exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we can experience a mighty change of heart. Emphasize that the word of God as preached by Abinadi and Alma focused on the redemption that comes through Jesus Christ [see Mosiah 16:4–9; 18:1–2].)

To help students understand that experiencing a mighty change of heart, or being born again, is most often a gradual process, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

“You may ask, Why doesn’t this mighty change happen more quickly with me? … For most of us, the changes are more gradual and occur over time. Being born again … is more a process than an event” (D. Todd Christofferson, “Born Again,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 78).

  • Why do you think it is important to understand that a change of heart usually happens gradually?

  • How has studying and applying the teachings of the Book of Mormon helped you experience a change of heart? (You may want to invite students to write their answers to this question in their class notebooks or study journals before asking them to respond verbally.)

Alma 5:14–36

Alma teaches that a mighty change of heart is required to enter the kingdom of heaven

Tell students that after Alma taught that the word of God had led his father and others to experience a mighty change of heart, he asked the people questions that would help them evaluate the condition of their own hearts.

Invite a student to read Alma 5:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for questions Alma asked the people of Zarahemla. (You may want to explain that in this context the word countenance refers to “the general appearance of a person’s face, which often reflects spiritual attitude and state of mind” [Guide to the Scriptures, “Countenance,” scriptures.lds.org].)

  • What do you think it means to receive the Savior’s image in your countenance?

Invite students to silently reread Alma 5:14 and then to read Alma 5:26, considering how they would answer the questions in these verses.

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: By experiencing a change of heart, we …

Invite a student to read Alma 5:15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for two future events Alma wanted the people of Zarahemla to think about.

  • Which two future events did Alma want the people of Zarahemla to think about? (The Resurrection and the Final Judgment.)

Point out that the questions in verse 14 can help us prepare for the Final Judgment. Complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following principle: By experiencing a change of heart, we prepare ourselves to stand before God to be judged.

Ask students to consider whether they have ever imagined what it will be like to stand before God to be judged. Explain that in Alma 5:16–25 we read that Alma invited the people of Zarahemla to imagine themselves on the Day of Judgment.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 5:16–18, 22. Ask one half of the class to look for what the Day of Judgment will be like if we have repented and experienced a mighty change of heart. Ask the other half of the class to look for what the Day of Judgment will be like if we have not repented or experienced a change of heart.

  • What did Alma suggest the Day of Judgment will be like for those who have repented and experienced a change of heart?

  • What did Alma suggest the Day of Judgment will be like for those who have not repented or experienced a change of heart?

Explain that after Alma taught the people of Zarahemla that they needed to repent and experience a mighty change of heart to be prepared to stand before God to be judged, he asked them several more questions to help them consider the condition of their hearts.

Provide each student with a handout containing the following chart, or display the chart on the board for students to copy.

Alma 5:27

Alma 5:28

Alma 5:29*

Alma 5:30–31

Always

      

Almost always

      

Usually

      

Sometimes

      

Seldom, if ever

      

*Answer the question in Alma 5:29 as though it read, “Are you stripped of envy?”

Explain that a cardiogram is a chart that doctors sometimes use to evaluate or monitor the functioning of our physical hearts. It helps them identify problems or conditions that need treatment.

Invite students to spend a few minutes studying and pondering the scripture passages listed at the top of the spiritual cardiogram. Encourage them to mark the boxes in the chart that best describe how they feel they are doing in regard to the questions in each passage. (Note that verse 27 has more than one question.)

Because of the personal nature of this activity, students should not be asked to report their answers to the class. You may want to invite students to consider marking any questions in these verses that they feel are particularly important for them to ponder further.

After students have had sufficient time to complete the activity, explain that taking account of where we are in our personal conversion process helps us recognize aspects of our lives that may require repentance and efforts to improve.

Ask a student to read Alma 5:33–36 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that can give us hope and the courage to repent. Invite students to consider marking the words and phrases that are most meaningful to them.

  • What words or phrases did you find that can give us hope and the courage to repent? (As students respond, consider asking them to explain why the words or phrases they mentioned can give us hope.)

Testify that if we believe in the word of God and exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we can experience a change of heart and be prepared to stand before God to be judged.

To help students apply the principles they have learned today, ask them to choose one of the areas of their cardiogram in which they need to improve. Invite them to write in their class notebooks or study journals how they plan to improve in that area. Encourage them to be specific in their plans.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 5:14, 26. “Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) explained that experiencing a mighty change of heart is most often an incremental process:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible. The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were: Alma the Younger, Paul on the road to Damascus, Enos praying far into the night, King Lamoni. Such astonishing examples of the power to change even those steeped in sin give confidence that the Atonement can reach even those deepest in despair.

“But we must be cautious as we discuss these remarkable examples. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said ‘were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not’ (3 Ne. 9:20; italics added)” (Ezra Taft Benson, “A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989, 5).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

video iconAlma 5:15–36. Video presentation—“Can You Imagine?”

As students study Alma 5:15–36, you may want to show the video “Can You Imagine?” (8:24), in which a young man is asked some of the questions in Alma 5 in a courtroom setting. This video is available on LDS.org.

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Alma 5:3–13. Remembering our righteous ancestors

After students read and discuss Alma 5:3–6, you could write the following principle on the board: When we remember the righteous examples of our ancestors, we can be inspired to become more righteous ourselves.

To help students understand this principle, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy:

Elder William R. Walker

“It would be a wonderful thing if every Latter-day Saint knew the conversion stories of their forefathers. …

“The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices.

“And so it is. Each of us will be greatly blessed if we know the stories of faith and sacrifice that led our forefathers to join the Lord’s Church” (William R. Walker, “Live True to the Faith,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 97, 99).

  • How has your faith been fortified as you have learned about the faith and dedication of your ancestors?

You may want to explain that we can also learn and benefit from the righteous examples of our ancestors who may not have been members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and from other righteous role models besides our ancestors. It is also possible that the examples we look up to are as recent as our own parents and siblings or that we may be the pioneers setting examples for our potential descendants.

video iconTo help students feel the truth and importance of the principle above, consider showing the video “Be an Example Like She Was” (1:25), in which a woman discusses the strength she has gained from learning about the righteous example of one of her ancestors. This video is available on LDS.org.

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  • What stories about your ancestors have inspired you to make wise and righteous choices? (If students do not share any stories, you might share one of your own.)

Testify that learning our ancestors’ stories will fortify our faith. Invite students to learn about their ancestors.