Lesson 76

Alma 11

“Lesson 76: Alma 11,” 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


Introduction

As Alma and Amulek continued to teach the people of Ammonihah, a lawyer named Zeezrom offered Amulek money to deny the existence of God. Zeezrom also tried to twist Amulek’s words and discredit his teachings about Jesus Christ. As Amulek defended himself against Zeezrom’s attempts to snare him, he testified that salvation from sin comes only through Jesus Christ. Amulek also testified that all mankind will be resurrected and will be brought to “be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit” on the Day of Judgment (Alma 11:44).

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 11:1–25

Amulek rejects Zeezrom’s temptation to deny the existence of God

Invite students to discuss the following questions in pairs or small groups (you may want to write these questions on the board before class):

  • Why would a person who knows right from wrong make a wrong choice?

  • What are some situations in which youth might be tempted to act contrary to what they know is right?

After sufficient time, invite several students to report their answers to the entire class.

As students study Alma 11 today, invite them to look for truths that can help them overcome temptation.

Explain that Alma 11 continues the account of Alma and Amulek teaching the people of Ammonihah. Summarize Alma 11:1–20 by explaining that Mormon described the Nephite monetary system and how judges and lawyers were compensated for their work. Many of the judges and lawyers in Ammonihah were wicked and endeavored to stir up contention among the people in order to increase their own income.

Remind students that as Amulek taught, he was confronted by a lawyer named Zeezrom (see Alma 10:31). Invite a student to read Alma 11:21–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Zeezrom offered Amulek, and for what reason.

  • What did Zeezrom try to persuade Amulek to do?

  • What did Zeezrom offer Amulek if he would “deny the existence of a Supreme Being” (verse 22)?

Point out that Mormon’s explanation of the Nephite monetary system in Alma 11:4–19 helps us understand the size of Zeezrom’s bribe. Help students understand that an onti was a piece of silver with the greatest value (see Alma 11:6, 11–13). One onti was equal to approximately one week’s wages for a judge (see Alma 11:3, 11–13), which means that six onties was equal to about six weeks of wages for a judge.

  • Why might Zeezrom’s offer have been enticing to some people?

Ask students to consider what they would have said to Zeezrom if they had been in Amulek’s situation.

Invite a student to read Alma 11:23–25 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Amulek responded to this temptation to deny the existence of God. (You may want to explain that lucre means money.)

  • What does Amulek’s response indicate about him?

To help students identify how Amulek was able to resist Zeezrom’s offer, ask them to review Alma 11:22 silently, looking for what Amulek said would guide him in his response to Zeezrom.

  • What did Amulek say would guide him in his response to Zeezrom? (The Spirit of the Lord.)

  • What principle can we learn from Amulek’s response that can help us overcome temptation? (While students’ answers may vary, they should reflect the following principle: When we rely on the Holy Ghost, we can overcome temptation. Invite students to consider writing this principle in their scriptures next to Alma 11:22.)

  • How do you think being sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost can help us overcome temptation?

Invite a student to read aloud the following counsel from President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

President Boyd K. Packer

“It is not expected that you go through life without making mistakes, but you will not make a major mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Spirit. This promise applies to all members of the Church. …

“If you are slipping into things that you should not slip into or if you are associating with people who are pulling you away in the wrong direction, that is the time to assert your independence, your agency. Listen to the voice of the Spirit, and you will not be led astray.

“… As a servant of the Lord, I promise that you will be protected and shielded from the attacks of the adversary if you will heed the promptings that come from the Holy Spirit” (Boyd K. Packer, “Counsel to Youth,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 18).

  • What do you do to rely on the Holy Ghost? How does that help you to avoid or overcome temptation?

  • When has the Holy Ghost helped you to overcome temptation? (Caution students not to share too much detail about temptations to sin.)

Testify that as students live worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, they can experience greater confidence to stand for truth and overcome temptation.

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or study journals what they will do to better rely on the Holy Ghost in their efforts to avoid and overcome temptation.

Alma 11:26–40

Amulek testifies of the Son of God and overcomes Zeezrom’s attempts to discredit his word

Explain that after Zeezrom failed to get Amulek to deny the existence of God, he changed his tactics and began to attack Amulek’s faith in Jesus Christ.

Invite two students to come to the front of the class. Ask them to take turns reading aloud from Alma 11:26–35, with one student reading the verses that record Zeezrom’s words and the other student reading the verses that contain Amulek’s words. (Note that the word he in verses 29, 31, and 33 refers to Amulek and that verse 34 includes the words of both Zeezrom and Amulek.) Ask the class to follow along, looking for the way in which Zeezrom tried to twist Amulek’s words. After the students have finished reading, thank them and invite them to be seated. Ask the class:

  • How did Zeezrom try to twist Amulek’s words? (Zeezrom claimed that Amulek had stated that the Son of God will not save His people, when in reality Amulek had taught that the Son of God will not save His people in their sins [see verse 34].)

Invite a student to read Alma 11:36–37 aloud. Ask the class to look for Amulek’s explanation of why we cannot be saved in our sins.

  • What doctrine did Amulek teach to explain why we cannot be saved in our sins? (Help students identify the following doctrine: No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven. You may want to invite students to consider marking this doctrine in their scriptures.)

Invite a student to read Alma 11:40 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Amulek taught about whom Jesus Christ will redeem from their sins.

  • According to verse 40, whom will Jesus Christ redeem from their sins? (Explain that the phrases “his people” and “those who believe on his name” include all people who exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, receive the saving ordinances of the gospel—such as baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost—and keep the associated covenants.)

Alma 11:41–46

Amulek teaches about the Resurrection and Judgment of all mankind

Point out that Zeezrom and many of the other people of the city of Ammonihah were after the order of Nehor, who had taught that “all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, … [for] all men should have eternal life” (Alma 1:4; see also Alma 16:11).

Invite a student to read Alma 11:46 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the truths Amulek taught affected Zeezrom.

  • How did Amulek’s teachings affect Zeezrom? (He “began to tremble.” Explain that Alma 12:1 explains that Zeezrom “began to tremble under a consciousness of his guilt.” In other words, he began to fear because of his sins.)

Divide students into pairs or small groups. Invite them to search Alma 11:41–45 together, looking for truths Amulek taught that may have caused Zeezrom to tremble.

After sufficient time, ask the class:

  • What truths did Amulek teach that may have caused Zeezrom to tremble? (List students’ responses on the board. They may identify several truths, including the following: All people will be resurrected and will stand before God to be judged according to their works.)

Point out the simple definition of resurrection in Alma 11:45: “They can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided.” (You might want to encourage students to mark this statement.)

  • What details do we learn from verses 43–44 about resurrected bodies? (Every part of the body will be restored to its perfect and proper frame.) Why is this important for us to know?

  • According to verse 43, what will those who have not repented remember when they are brought before God to be judged? (After students respond, you may want to point out that the prophet Jacob taught that at the Day of Judgment “the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity” [2 Nephi 9:14].)

  • Why do you think these truths about resurrection and judgment may have caused Zeezrom to tremble?

  • How does the knowledge that you will be resurrected and judged affect the way you choose to live each day?

Testify that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected and stand before God “to be judged according to their works” (Alma 11:44). Invite students to prepare for that experience by striving to live righteously each day and by following the guidance of the Holy Ghost as they seek to avoid and overcome temptation.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 11:28. “Is there more than one God?”

The Latter-day Saint doctrine of the Godhead (that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three separate Personages who are perfectly unified in purpose and doctrine) has come under attack in the modern Christian world. Christians who trace their conception of God to fourth- and fifth-century creeds that declare the doctrine of the Trinity (that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are not separate beings) often question members of the Church about our unique conception of God. The question raised with its given answer in Alma 11:28–33 has also left many questioning the doctrine of the Godhead as outlined in the restored Church. Roy W. Doxey (1908–1992), assistant in the office of the Council of the Twelve and dean emeritus of Religious Instruction, Brigham Young University, explained a possible reason for Amulek’s answer that there is but one God:

Is there more than one God? The question is often raised in response to Alma chapter 11, where Zeezrom, a critic, is contending with the missionary Amulek. …

“In order to understand Amulek’s statement [that there is but one true and living God], we must look at the full context. Throughout most of their history, many Israelites (forefathers of the Nephites) were eager to accept the numerous pagan gods of the Egyptians and Canaanites. Although the Book of Mormon is silent about the specific apostate notions held by the people in Zeezrom’s city of Ammonihah, it is clear that some apostate Nephites of Alma’s time were idolatrous—as some of their Israelite fathers had been. When Alma, Amulek’s missionary companion, was chief judge as well as high priest over the Church, he helped to establish a strong and faithful body of church members. Nevertheless, ‘those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry.’ (Alma 1:32.) Apostasy was such a problem that Alma later gave up the judgment seat, ‘that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them.’ (Alma 4:19.)

“As a missionary, Alma found that many of the people were steeped in idolatry. He discovered, for example, that the people in the city of Zoram ‘were perverting the ways of the Lord, and that Zoram, who was their leader, was leading the hearts of the people to bow down to dumb idols.’ (Alma 31:1.)

“This is the context, then, of the discussion Alma and Amulek had with Zeezrom. Seen in this light, Amulek’s answer is completely understandable and, of course, correct: There is only one ‘true and living God’—who shares none of his godhood with the hosts of false gods invented by man” (Roy W. Doxey, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Aug. 1985, 11).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how and why the Latter-day Saint belief in the Godhead differs from traditional Christianity’s belief in the Trinity:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ‘We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost’ [Articles of Faith 1:1]. We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true. …

“In the year a.d. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea to address—among other things—the growing issue of God’s alleged ‘trinity in unity.’ What emerged from the heated contentions of churchmen, philosophers, and ecclesiastical dignitaries came to be known (after another 125 years and three more major councils) [Constantinople, a.d. 381; Ephesus, a.d. 431; Chalcedon, a.d. 451] as the Nicene Creed, with later reformulations such as the Athanasian Creed. These various evolutions and iterations of creeds—and others to come over the centuries—declared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, immanent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted ‘mystery of the trinity.’ They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.

“We agree with our critics on at least that point—that such a formulation for divinity is truly incomprehensible. …

“We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer … , His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephen—to name just four [see John 17; Matthew 3:13–17; 17:1–6; and Acts 7:54–60]” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 40–41).

Alma 11:38–39. How is Jesus Christ the Eternal Father?

Zeezrom asked Amulek, “Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?” (Alma 11:38). In response, Amulek testified that Jesus Christ “is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are” (Alma 11:39). In making this statement, Amulek did not assert that Jesus Christ and God the Father are the same person. Rather, he testified of Jesus Christ’s role as the Creator. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“[Jesus Christ] acts as the Father in that he is the Creator of heaven and earth. …

“… The Savior himself made this triumphant announcement as he appeared to the Nephites in the New World:

“‘Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name’ [3 Nephi 9:15].

“Clearly, Christ—under the direction of his Father—is the Father of creation, the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 184, 186).

For further commentary on this subject, see Commentary and Background Information from lesson 60 in this manual.