After setting the Church in order in Zarahemla, Alma went to the city of Gideon. He found the people there to be more faithful than those in Zarahemla had been. Therefore, his message in Gideon was different from his message in Zarahemla. He encouraged the people to continually rely on the Lord and seek to apply His Atonement in their lives. He testified that the Savior would take upon Himself death and our sins, and that He would also take upon Himself our pains, afflictions, sicknesses, and infirmities, that He might know how to help us.
Suggestions for Teaching
Alma sets in order the Church in Zarahemla and goes to preach in Gideon
Display a small mirror. Invite students to explain how the mirror might represent the questions Alma asked the people of Zarahemla that are recorded in Alma 5. (Alma asked the people to consider if they had received the Savior’s image in their countenances and if they had experienced a mighty change in their hearts and were prepared to stand before God to be judged [see Alma 5:14–15].)
Summarize Alma 6 by explaining that Alma ordained priesthood leaders to preside and watch over the Church in Zarahemla. Their responsibilities included baptizing those who had repented of their sins and removing from the records of the Church the names of those who would not repent of their wickedness. The Church leaders ensured that all people had the opportunity to gather and “hear the word of God” (Alma 6:5), and Church members joined together “in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God” (Alma 6:6). After Alma set the Church in order in Zarahemla, he went to the city of Gideon.
Alma prophesies of the coming of Jesus Christ
Divide the class into pairs. Ask each pair to discuss their answers to the following question:
What are some future events that you are excited about?
After the pairs have had time to discuss their answers to this question, ask a few students to share their responses with the entire class.
Summarize Alma 7:1–7 by explaining that Alma told the people of Gideon about his great joy in knowing that the people of Zarahemla were once again living righteously, and he expressed his hope that he would also have joy because of the people of Gideon. He told the people there that of all things to come in the future, one thing was “of more importance than they all” (Alma 7:7).
Invite students to read Alma 7:7, 9–10 silently, looking for the event Alma felt was most important for the people to know about.
According to Alma, what was the “one thing which [was] of more importance” than anything else that was to come?
Why do you think the coming of the Savior is the most important event of all time?
Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 7:11–13. Invite the rest of the class to follow along and look for what the Savior took upon Himself for us.
What did Alma testify the Savior would take upon Himself for us?
List students’ answers as headings across the top of the board. Answers may include pains, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, death, infirmities (weaknesses or inabilities), and sins.
Invite students to consider marking the phrase “of every kind” in Alma 7:11. Ask them to name examples of each condition written on the board. As students give examples, write them underneath the corresponding headings. (For example, cancer might be listed under sicknesses, and physical disabilities could be listed under infirmities.)
According to verse 12, why did Jesus Christ take our infirmities upon Himself? (You may need to explain that succor means to give relief or to go to someone’s aid.)
Based on Alma 7:11–13, how would you state a doctrine summarizing what Jesus Christ has done for us? (Using students’ words, write the following doctrine on the board: Jesus Christ suffered to save us from sin and death and to help us through the challenges of mortality.)
Divide students into pairs or small groups. Provide them with the following handout, and ask them to follow the instructions on it.
Receiving the Savior’s Help
Read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Look for what we can do when we are experiencing a difficult problem or situation.
“Are you battling a demon of addiction—tobacco or drugs or gambling, or the pernicious contemporary plague of pornography? … Are you confused with gender identity or searching for self-esteem? Do you—or someone you love—face disease or depression or death? Whatever other steps you may need to take to resolve these concerns, come first to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Trust in heaven’s promises. …
“This reliance upon the merciful nature of God is at the very center of the gospel Christ taught. I testify that the Savior’s Atonement lifts from us not only the burden of our sins but also the burden of our disappointments and sorrows, our heartaches and our despair. [See Alma 7:11–12.]” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Broken Things to Mend,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 70–71).
Based on Elder Holland’s words, what can we do when we are experiencing a difficult problem or situation?
What do you think it means to “come first to the gospel of Jesus Christ”? Why do you think it is important for us to do this?
Read the following situations. After reading each one, discuss how Jesus Christ, through His Atonement, can help a person facing such a challenge and what a person might do to seek His help.
A young woman was in an automobile accident that left her legs paralyzed.
A young man is ashamed of some bad choices he has made. He feels depressed and worthless.
A young man’s father recently passed away, and the young man has moved to a new town with his mother. He feels sad and lonely, and he cannot see how anything will ever be right again.
A young woman struggles with a desire to give in to her friends’ invitation to join them in drinking alcohol. She does not know how much longer she can continue to resist this temptation.
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After sufficient time, invite several students to report what they learned through their discussion with their groups.
Share your testimony of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the extent of its reach. Then give students a few minutes to respond in their class notebooks or study journals to the following questions. (You may want to write these questions on the board.)
When has Jesus Christ helped you or someone you know in one of the ways we have discussed today?
What will you do to rely on Jesus Christ as you face challenges?
Alma encourages the people to continue along the path to the kingdom of God
Explain that after teaching the people of Gideon about Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Alma explained what the people needed to do in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Summarize Alma 7:14–18 by explaining that Alma invited the people of Gideon who needed to repent of their sins and be baptized to do so.
Display or draw on the board the following diagram of a person on a path:
Invite a student to read Alma 7:19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what path Alma told the people of Gideon they were on.
What path did Alma say the people of Gideon were on? (Write the kingdom of God to the right of the path drawn on the board.)
Invite three students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 7:23–25. Ask the class to look for what we need to do and what we need to be in order to follow the path leading to the kingdom of God.
According to these verses, what do we need to do and what do we need to be in order to follow the path that leads to the kingdom of God? (Write students’ answers on the board along the path.)
Based on what we learn from these verses, how would you state a principle about what we need to do in order to follow the path that leads to the kingdom of God? (Students may identify a principle such as the following: By living the principles of the gospel, we follow the path to the kingdom of God.)
You might consider asking students what some of the actions or attributes along the path mean to them. You might also ask them to think about how they can follow this path in their lives. Testify that when we live faithfully, we are “in the path which leads to the kingdom of God” (Alma 7:19). Encourage students to continue their efforts to press forward on this path.
Commentary and Background Information
Alma 6:6. Fasting and praying in behalf of “those who knew not God”
To emphasize that the blessings of Church membership are intended for all God’s children, you may want to read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Everyone prays for the missionaries. May it ever be so. In that same spirit, we should also pray for those who are (or who need to be) meeting the missionaries. In Zarahemla, members were commanded to ‘join in fasting and mighty prayer’ [Alma 6:6] for those who had not yet joined the Church of God. We can do the same.
“We can also pray daily for our own personal missionary experiences. Pray that under the divine management of such things, the missionary opportunity you want is already being prepared in the heart of someone who longs for and looks for what you have. ‘There are many yet on the earth … who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it’ [D&C 123:12]. Pray that they will find you! And then be alert, because there are multitudes in your world who feel a famine in their lives, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord [see Amos 8:11]” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Witnesses unto Me,” Ensign, May 2001, 15).
Alma 7:1–5. The people in the land of Gideon
Alma 7 contains the teachings of Alma to the people who lived in the city of Gideon, which was located in the valley of Gideon, “being called after the man who was slain by the hand of Nehor with the sword” (Alma 6:7). Gideon was a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ who had been an instrument in the hands of God in delivering the people of Limhi out of bondage. He withstood the doctrine of Nehor with the word of God unto death. (See Mosiah 22:3–9; Alma 1:7–9.) The people who dwelt in the land that bore the name of this faithful man were also faithful (see Alma 7:17–20, 26). Alma was able to speak to them words of holiness with joy, knowing that they believed and had chosen to worship the true and living God (see Alma 7:6, 17). Their faithfulness may have prepared them to receive Alma’s powerful lesson on the Atonement—that Jesus Christ would “take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people,” that He would “succor his people according to their infirmities,” and that He would “take upon him the sins of his people” (Alma 7:11–13).
Alma 7:10. Jesus was born “at Jerusalem”
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) explained the location of the Savior’s birth as declared by Alma:
“There is no conflict or contradiction in the Book of Mormon with any truth recorded in the Bible. A careful reading of what Alma said will show that he had no intention of declaring that Jesus would be born in Jerusalem. Alma knew better. So did Joseph Smith and those who were associated with him in the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon. Had Alma said, ‘born in Jerusalem, the city of our fathers,’ it would have made all the difference in the world. Then we would have said he made an error. Alma made no mistake, and what he said is true.
“Dr. Hugh Nibley, in his course of study for the priesthood for 1957, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, in Lesson 8, page 85, has this to say on this point:
“‘… One of the favorite points of attack on the Book of Mormon has been the statement in Alma 7:10 that the Savior would be born “at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers.” Here Jerusalem is not the city “in the land of our forefathers,” it is the land. Christ was born in a village some six miles from the city of Jerusalem; it was not in the city, but it was in what we now know the ancients themselves designated as “the land of Jerusalem”’” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. , 1:174).
Alma 7:11–13. “Pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind”
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency offered the following insight regarding the comfort we can receive because of the Savior’s Atonement:
“It will comfort us when we must wait in distress for the Savior’s promised relief that He knows, from experience, how to heal and help us. The Book of Mormon gives us the certain assurance of His power to comfort. And faith in that power will give us patience as we pray and work and wait for help. He could have known how to succor us simply by revelation, but He chose to learn by His own personal experience” (Henry B. Eyring, “Adversity,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 24).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that the Savior is able to help us with any kind of challenge we may face:
“Many carry heavy burdens. Some have lost a loved one to death or care for one who is disabled. Some have been wounded by divorce. Others yearn for an eternal marriage. Some are caught in the grip of addictive substances or practices like alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or pornography. Others have crippling physical or mental impairments. Some are challenged by same-gender attraction. Some have terrible feelings of depression or inadequacy. …
“The healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ—whether it removes our burdens or strengthens us to endure and live with them …—is available for every affliction in mortality” (Dallin H. Oaks, “He Heals the Heavy Laden,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 6, 8).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote of Christ’s empathy and ability to help us:
“Christ walked the path every mortal is called to walk so that he would know how to succor and strengthen us in our most difficult times. He knows the deepest and most personal burdens we carry. He knows the most public and poignant pains we bear. He descended below all such grief in order that he might lift us above it. There is no anguish or sorrow or sadness in life that he has not suffered in our behalf and borne away upon his own valiant and compassionate shoulders” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon , 223–24).
Supplemental Teaching Idea
Video presentation—“Like a Broken Vessel”
As you discuss the doctrine that Jesus Christ suffered to save us from sin and death and to help us through the challenges of mortality (see Alma 7:11–13), you may want to show the video “Like a Broken Vessel” (11:36), in which Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and others testify of how the Savior can succor those who experience depression and other mental illnesses. This video is available on LDS.org.