Lesson 72: Alma 5:37–62

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

As Alma continued preaching in Zarahemla, he warned the people that the decision to follow or reject his words held serious consequences. Alma also compared Jesus Christ to a good shepherd who called after them and desired to bring them back to his fold. He encouraged the people to repent and avoid the unclean things of the world so they could inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 5:37–42

Alma warns the wicked and invites all to hearken to the voice of the Good Shepherd

Ask students to close their eyes. Without mentioning him or her by name, invite one student to open his or her eyes, come to the front of the class, and read Alma 5:37–38 aloud. (You may want to arrange this with one of your students before class begins.) Instruct the other students to raise their hands as soon as they know who is reading. After the student finishes reading, invite everyone to open their eyes and see who was reading. Thank the student who read, and invite him or her to be seated.

  • How did you know who was reading aloud?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994). Ask the class to listen for why the voice of a shepherd was important to his sheep in ancient times:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“Unlike modern sheepherders, the shepherd always walked ahead of his flock. He led them. The shepherd knew each of the sheep and usually had a name for each. The sheep knew his voice and trusted him and would not follow a stranger. Thus, when called, the sheep would come to him. (See John 10:14, 16.)” (Ezra Taft Benson, “A Call to the Priesthood: ‘Feed My Sheep,’” Ensign, May 1983, 43; see also John R. Lasater, “Shepherds of Israel,” Ensign, May 1988, 74–75).

  • Why was the voice of a shepherd important to his sheep in ancient times?

  • In verse 37, who does Alma compare to sheep that have no shepherd? (If necessary, help students remember the context of Alma 5 by explaining that Alma was preaching to the people of Zarahemla, many of whom had become prideful and wicked.)

  • In verse 38, who is “the good shepherd” calling after the sheep? (Jesus Christ.)

The Lost Lamb

Display the picture Jesus Carrying a Lost Lamb (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 64; see also lds.org/media-library).

  • According to verses 37–38, why were the wicked people of Zarahemla not the sheep of the Good Shepherd? (Because they would not hearken to His voice.)

Invite a student to read Alma 5:40–41 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what our works or actions indicate about whom we choose to follow.

  • According to verse 41, what do our works or actions indicate about whom we choose to follow? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we bring forth good works, we show that we are hearkening to the voice of Jesus Christ and are following Him.)

Invite students to think of individuals they know who they feel are true followers of Jesus Christ.

  • What are some good works you have seen these individuals do that indicate they are following the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Alma 5:43–62

Alma fulfills his responsibility to preach repentance

Explain that after Alma declared the importance of following the voice of the Good Shepherd, he spoke about his responsibility as a priesthood leader to testify of Jesus Christ and to preach repentance. He also explained how he knew his message was true.

Invite a student to read Alma 5:45–46 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Alma had received his knowledge of truth.

  • According to verse 46, what did Alma say was the source of his testimony?

  • What had Alma done to receive this witness from the Holy Ghost?

  • What principle can we learn from verse 46 about what we can do to learn truth? (Help students identify the following principle: Through fasting and prayer, we can invite the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures near verse 46.)

Point out that even though Alma had seen an angel, he attributed his knowledge and testimony of truth to revelation he had received through the Holy Ghost.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972). Ask the class to listen for why revelation we receive through the Holy Ghost can be more influential than the things we learn through sight, sound, or other physical senses.

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even of the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. [1958], 2:151).

  • Why is revelation we receive through the Holy Ghost more influential than the things we learn solely through our physical senses?

  • How can prayer and fasting help invite the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us?

  • When have you felt that your testimony has been strengthened through prayer or fasting?

Invite a student to read Alma 5:47–48 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Alma said he had learned by revelation through the Holy Ghost.

  • According to Alma 5:47–48, what did Alma know by revelation through the Holy Ghost?

  • Why do you think it is important for each of us to receive a testimony of Jesus Christ by revelation through the Holy Ghost?

You may want to share your testimony of Jesus Christ and relate how the Holy Ghost has helped you receive and strengthen your testimony.

Summarize Alma 5:49–52 by explaining that Alma informed the people of Zarahemla that the Spirit had directed him to warn them that if they did not repent, they would not be able to inherit the kingdom of God.

Refer again to the picture “Jesus Carrying a Lost Lamb.” Explain that as Alma finished speaking to the people of Zarahemla, he taught them specifically how to repent and change in order to follow the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Divide students into pairs. Invite students to read Alma 5:53–56 aloud in their pairs, searching for attitudes and actions that make it difficult for someone to hearken to the voice of the Savior.

After a few minutes, invite a few students to write their findings on the board. Have them write their answers so they fill up as much of the board as possible. Ask them to add any other attitudes or actions they have seen around them that make it difficult to hearken to the voice of the Savior. (Students’ answers might include laying aside [ignoring] God’s teachings, pride, vanity, setting our hearts upon riches and worldly things, thinking we are better than others, persecuting the righteous, or turning our backs on the poor and needy.)

Create some space to write in the middle of the board by erasing a portion of the students’ answers. In that space, write follow the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Invite a student to read Alma 5:57 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for phrases that teach how we should respond to evil influences. You may want to suggest that students mark these phrases in their scriptures.

  • Which phrases in this verse teach how we should respond to evil influences? (“Come ye out from the wicked,” “be ye separate,” and “touch not their unclean things.”)

  • What principle can we learn from verse 57 about how we can follow the voice of the Good Shepherd? (Help students identify the following principle: To follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, we must separate ourselves from wickedness. Write this principle on the board.)

  • What can Latter-day Saint youth do to separate themselves from wickedness? (To reinforce students’ answers, consider sharing a positive example you have seen in one of the students in your class. You might also invite students to share good examples they have seen in each other.)

  • How have your efforts to separate yourself from wickedness helped you to follow the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 5:58–62. Ask the class to follow along, looking for blessings promised to those who separate themselves from wickedness and hearken to the voice of the Good Shepherd. (You may want to invite students to consider marking these blessings in their scriptures.)

  • According to these verses, what blessings will we receive as we separate ourselves from wickedness and hearken to the voice of the Good Shepherd? (You may want to explain that receiving “an inheritance at [the Savior’s] right hand” [verse 58] means to be saved in the celestial kingdom.)

If there is time, give students a few minutes to ponder the following question. You may want to invite them to answer the question in their class notebooks or study journals.

  • What can you do to better separate yourself from wickedness and hearken to the Savior’s voice? (You might suggest that the answer could be something they feel a need to do better, or it could be something they need to stop doing.)

Share your testimony of the importance of separating ourselves from wickedness and hearkening to the voice of Jesus Christ.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 5:46–47. “The spirit of revelation”

Alma had seen an angel, but he testified in Alma 5:46–47 that his testimony of the redeeming mission of Jesus Christ was strengthened through the Holy Ghost, after much fasting and prayer. President Heber J. Grant (1856–1945) said, “Many men say: ‘If I could only see an angel, if I could only hear an angel proclaim something, that would cause me to be faithful all the days of my life!’ It had no effect upon these men [Laman and Lemuel] that were not serving the Lord, and it would have no effect today” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1924, 159).

President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) emphasized there is a witness more powerful than sight:

President Harold B. Lee

“I can say that more powerful than one’s sight is the witness that comes by the power of the Holy Ghost bearing testimony to our spirits that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [2000], 216–17).