Alma 5: A Mighty Change of Heart

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 100–101


Have you ever heard anyone say something such as “You don’t have to be perfect to go to heaven; God will let you in as long as you avoid the really bad stuff”? Perhaps you know people who do not say that but who live as though they believe it to be true. What would you say to such a person? How good must we be to return to live with God? What will God’s mercy do for us, and how do we obtain that mercy? Alma 5 is a good place to find answers to such questions.Alma gave up his position as chief judge to dedicate his time to building up the Church (see Alma 4:11–20). He began in the city of Zarahemla. Alma 5 is similar to a general conference talk from the prophet Alma. The message he gave is one of the most important in the Book of Mormon. As you read what he said, think about how it applies to you.

Understanding the Scriptures

Alma 5

Retained in remembrance (v. 6)Remembered
Received his image in your countenances (v. 14)Become like Christ in attitude and behavior
Tribunal (v. 18)Court of judgment
Set at defiance (v. 18)Knowingly disobeyed, opposed
Garments are washed white (v. 21)A symbolic reference to having sins washed away
Make a mock of (v. 30)Make fun of, show disrespect toward
Professed (v. 37)Claimed, pretended
Err (v. 43)Make a mistake
Order (v. 49)Priesthood authority

Alma 5:9—Are You Saved?

Dallin H. Oaks

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “As Latter-day Saints use the words saved and salvation, there are at least six different meanings. According to some of these, our salvation is assured—we are already saved. In others, salvation must be spoken of as a future event … or as conditioned upon a future event. … But in all of these meanings, or kinds of salvation, salvation is in and through Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 76; or Ensign, May 1998, 55). The following are summaries of the six different meanings of which Elder Oaks spoke:

  1. 1.

    We are saved from the permanent effects of death. Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected.

  2. 2.

    We are saved from sin through Christ’s Atonement and by following the gospel plan. Repentance is an important part of being saved from the consequences of our sins.

  3. 3.

    We are saved when we are “born again.” This happens when we enter into a covenant relationship with Christ by accepting baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and taking Christ’s name upon us. We must also faithfully keep and renew that covenant relationship.

  4. 4.

    We are saved from the darkness of ignorance as we learn about the gospel plan. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings light into our lives.

  5. 5.

    We are saved from the second death, which is final spiritual death, because of Christ’s Atonement. Everyone, except for those few who become sons of perdition, will enter into a kingdom of glory.

  6. 6.

    Our hope is that we will be finally saved in the celestial kingdom. In addition to the other requirements, this salvation, or exaltation, also requires that we make sacred covenants in God’s temples and remain faithful to them (see Conference Report, pp. 76–78; or Ensign, pp. 55–57).

Alma 5:7–14—What Is This Mighty Change of Heart?

If we search a few of the scriptures that describe this change, we learn that some of the characteristics shown by those who have experienced this mighty change include the following:

  • They “have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).

  • They are “changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness” (Mosiah 27:25).

  • They are “awakened … out of a deep sleep” and “illuminated by the light of the everlasting word” (Alma 5:7).

  • “They humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God” (Alma 5:13).

Elder Merrill J. Bateman, a member of the Seventy, taught how a person obtains this mighty change: “Changes in the heart and soul occur as a result of planting and nourishing the seed [see Alma 32:28]. Scripture study, prayer, obedience, and service are key elements in building faith in Christ” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 38; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 28).

King Benjamin and Alma both demonstrated the power of the preaching of the word of God in bringing about the mighty change (see Mosiah 4:1–3; 5:1–2; Alma 5:7, 11–13).

Speaking of the power of the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, to change lives, President Ezra Taft Benson declared: “It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A and one other activity (B–D) as you study Alma 5.

Activity A iconWrite a Letter

Imagine you have a friend who does not take religion and the gospel very seriously. His or her attitude is that we really do not have to be all that good to be saved. Your friend believes that God knows our weaknesses and will save us anyway; we just ought to avoid the really big sins. You really love your friend and want him or her to understand and find happiness. Write a letter to this friend, explaining what is incorrect about his or her ideas concerning the Atonement. Use the truths Alma taught in Alma 5:10–42 to help you teach your friend. Be sure to explain the following points in your letter:

  • What does the word saved mean?

  • What does it mean to experience the “mighty change” and be “born of God”? How may this principle help to change a person?

  • What can we do to experience that mighty change?

  • What is necessary to have our hearts changed and to be born of God?

  • What will become of us if we do not change?

Activity B iconExplain the Judgment Day

Alma described the judgment day, when we will all come before God to be judged.

  1. 1.

    Using the information in Alma 5:16–25, compare the feelings of the unrepentant and the repentant.

  2. 2.

    Doctrine and Covenants 76:5–10 gives more information about how the repentant and the righteous will be blessed. Study those verses and compare what the Lord offers those who follow Him with what the devil offers his followers. Which would you rather have? Why? How would you feel if the Lord spoke those words in Alma 5:16 to you?

Activity C iconCompare to Modern Times

Alma knew that the Church members in his time faced difficult challenges. Search Alma 5:26–35, 52–62 and list two challenges that Alma mentioned that are also challenges in our day. Using what you learned from Alma, explain what we can do to overcome them.

Activity D iconWrite a Key Word Summary

Alma shared his testimony in Alma 5:37–52. List what you think are five important words or phrases in his testimony. Explain your reasons for selecting each word or phrase.

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