Lesson 90

Alma 32

“Lesson 90: Alma 32,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


Introduction

After witnessing the Zoramites’ apostate form of worship, Alma and his companions began preaching the word of God to the Zoramites. They began to experience some success among the people who were poor and who had been cast out of their synagogues. By comparing the word of God to a seed, Alma taught the people how to receive the word of God and increase their faith.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 32:1–16

Humble Zoramites show that they are prepared to hear the word of God

Invite students to imagine that they have a friend who has asked them how he or she can know if the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Ask them what they would say to help their friend receive a testimony.

After students share their thoughts, write on the board How to receive and strengthen a testimony.

As students study Alma 32 today, invite them to look for principles that help them understand how to receive and strengthen a testimony of Jesus Christ.

Remind students that Alma and his brethren had observed the false worship of the Zoramites, an apostate group of Nephites (see Alma 31).

Invite a student to read Alma 32:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to look for which group of Zoramites showed interest in the missionaries’ message. Ask them to report what they find.

  • According to Alma 32:3, in what ways were these people poor? (You may want to explain that being “poor in heart” includes being humble, repentant, and ready to hear the word of God.)

Invite a student to read Alma 32:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what one of the poor Zoramites asked Alma and how Alma reacted.

  • What did one of the Zoramites ask Alma?

  • Why did Alma experience great joy?

  • What principle can we learn from verse 6 about the importance of humility? (Help students identify the following principle: Humility prepares us to receive the word of God. Write this principle under the heading on the board.)

  • Why are humility and a willingness to receive the word of God essential in the process of receiving and strengthening a testimony?

Summarize Alma 32:7–16 by explaining that Alma explained that it was good that these people had been cast out of their synagogues, because this humbling experience could lead them to repentance and salvation. He further explained that choosing to be humble is better than being compelled to be humble.

Alma 32:17–43

Alma teaches the Zoramites how to increase their faith

Explain that Alma identified a false idea that many people have about obtaining a testimony. Ask a student to read Alma 32:17–18 aloud. Invite the class to look for this false idea.

  • What false idea did many of the people have about obtaining a testimony?

  • What is wrong with demanding a sign before believing? (Signs are a product of faith, not something we should demand before we have faith [see D&C 63:9–10].)

Explain that Alma taught the people what faith is. Invite students to read Alma 32:21 silently, looking for Alma’s definition of faith.

  • How did Alma define faith?

  • What are some aspects of the gospel of Jesus Christ that you have not seen with your eyes but that you believe are true?

Summarize Alma 32:22–27 by explaining that Alma taught that God wants His children to believe in His words, which He speaks by angels to men, women, and children. To help the Zoramites understand how to believe in the word of God, Alma suggested that they conduct an experiment.

Have a student read Alma 32:27 aloud. Ask the class to look for the experiment Alma invited the Zoramites to conduct.

  • What do you think Alma meant when he said to “experiment upon [his] words”?

  • Why do you think the experiment will work even for those who begin with only a “desire to believe”?

To help students discover how they can perform this experiment in their lives, invite them to read the first sentence of Alma 32:28 silently.

  • What did Alma compare the word of God to? (A seed.)

To help students understand the word that Alma was referring to, invite students to consider writing Alma 33:22–23 in their scriptures next to Alma 32:28. Invite a student to read aloud Alma 33:22 (beginning with the phrase “cast about your eyes”) and the first sentence of Alma 33:23. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Alma wanted the Zoramites to begin to believe in.

  • According to Alma 33:22, what is the word that Alma was inviting the Zoramites to plant in their hearts? (The doctrines that the Son of God would come to redeem His people, that He would suffer and die to atone for our sins, that He would be resurrected, and that all mankind will be resurrected and stand before Him to be judged.)

handout iconExplain that Alma’s description of the experiment of planting the word of God in our hearts can be divided into two phases: Alma 32:28–34 and Alma 32:37–43. Divide students into pairs, and give each student a copy of the accompanying handout.

handout, Experimenting upon the Word

Experimenting upon the Word

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 90

What did Alma instruct us to do with the word?

What did Alma say the results will be?

Phase 1 (Alma 32:28–34)

   

Phase 2 (Alma 32:37–43)

   

To help students understand the first phase of this experiment, invite them to study Alma 32:28–34 with their partners. Ask them to look for what Alma instructed us to do with the word and what the results will be if we do so. Encourage students to write what they learn on their handouts and to consider marking important words or phrases they discover in their scriptures.

After sufficient time, invite a few students to report to the class what they learned.

  • What do you think it means to “give place” for the word to be planted in our hearts (Alma 32:28)?

  • What do you think it means to feel that the word of God is “swelling” within you?

  • How could you summarize as a principle what we can do to help our testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel begin to grow? (Using their own words, students may identify a principle such as the following: If we give place in our hearts for Jesus Christ and His gospel, then our testimony of Him will begin to grow. Add this principle to the list on the board.)

Invite a student to read Alma 32:35 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Alma taught about how we can know that the testimony growing within us is real.

  • How can we know that the testimony growing within us is real?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency:

President Henry B. Eyring

“You have felt the quiet confirmation in your heart and mind that something was true. And you knew that it was inspiration from God. … It may have come during a talk, lesson, or hymn in church. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth. You feel peace, hope, and joy when He speaks to your heart and mind that something is true. Almost always I have also felt a sensation of light. Any feeling I may have had of darkness is dispelled, and my desire to do right grows” (Henry B. Eyring, “Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times,” Ensign, June 2007, 18).

Ask students to ponder experiences they may have had in which they have felt their testimony of Jesus Christ swell or grow within them. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class. You may also want to share an experience.

Explain that Alma 32:36 explains that Alma taught that the experiment is not over just because someone plants the seed and discovers it is good and is beginning to grow.

  • Why would our faith not yet be perfect after performing the first phase of the experiment?

To help students understand the second phase of this experiment, invite them to study Alma 32:37–43 with their partners. Ask them to look for what Alma further instructed us to do with the word and what the results will be if we do so. Encourage students to write what they learn on their handouts and to consider marking important words or phrases they discover in their scriptures.

After sufficient time, invite a few students to report to the class what they learned.

  • What principle can we learn from Alma 32:37–43 about what we can do to help our testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel to continue to grow? (After students respond, add the following principle to the list on the board: As we diligently nourish God’s word in our hearts, our testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel will continue to grow.)

  • What can we do to nourish the word?

  • According to verses 38–40, what will happen if we neglect the word of God that has been planted in our hearts?

Display a piece of fruit and ask:

  • According to verse 42, how did Alma describe the fruit that results from diligently nourishing a testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel?

  • According to verse 41, what does this fruit represent? (Everlasting life.)

Point out that the ultimate purpose of obtaining a testimony is not just to know whether the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Rather, the ultimate purpose of gaining a testimony is to help us prepare for eternal life—to become like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and to dwell with Them and our righteous family members for eternity.

Invite a few students to share how diligently nourishing God’s word in their hearts has helped them strengthen their testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Consider sharing your own experiences as well.

Conclude by inviting students to record in their class notebooks or study journals how they will strengthen their testimonies of Jesus Christ and His gospel by applying the principles they learned from Alma 32.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 32:21–22, 26–27. Faith as a choice

Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric taught that faith is a choice:

Bishop Richard C. Edgley

“Because of the conflicts and challenges we face in today’s world, I wish to suggest a single choice—a choice of peace and protection and a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith. Be aware that faith is not a free gift given without thought, desire, or effort. It does not come as the dew falls from heaven. The Savior said, ‘Come unto me’ (Matthew 11:28) and ‘Knock, and it shall be [given] you’ (Matthew 7:7). These are action verbs—come, knock. They are choices. So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism.

“Alma’s classic discussion on faith, as recorded in the 32nd chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon, is a series of choices to ensure the development and the preservation of our faith. Alma gave us a directive to choose. His were words of action initiated by choosing. He used the words awake, arouse, experiment, exercise, desire, work, and plant. Then Alma explained that if we make these choices and do not cast the seed out by unbelief, then ‘it will begin to swell within [our] breasts’ (Alma 32:28).

“Yes, faith is a choice, and it must be sought after and developed. Thus, we are responsible for our own faith. We are also responsible for our lack of faith. The choice is yours” (Richard C. Edgley, “Faith—the Choice Is Yours,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 31–32).

Alma 32:40–43. Seeking a living testimony

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency identified ways we can nourish our testimonies:

President Henry B. Eyring

“Testimony requires the nurturing by the prayer of faith, the hungering for the word of God in the scriptures, and the obedience to the truth we have received. There is danger in neglecting prayer. There is danger to our testimony in only casual study and reading of the scriptures. They are necessary nutrients for our testimony. …

“Feasting on the word of God, heartfelt prayer, and obedience to the Lord’s commandments must be applied evenly and continually for your testimony to grow and prosper. All of us at times have circumstances beyond our control that interrupt our pattern of scripture study. There may be periods of time when we choose for some reason not to pray. There may be commandments that we choose for a time to ignore.

“But you will not have your desire for a living testimony granted if you forget the warning and the promise in Alma [32:40–43]” (Henry B. Eyring, “A Living Testimony,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 127–28).