Understanding the Scriptures
|Inflicted (v. 1)||Forced, imposed|
|Haughtiness (v. 4)||Arrogance, pride|
|Esteem (v. 4)||Respect, value|
|Hinderment (v. 9)||Barrier, obstacle|
|Part asunder (v. 18)||Break apart|
|Bidding (v. 23)||Inviting, encouraging|
|Gall of bitterness (v. 29)||The most extreme form of bitterness|
|Abyss (v. 29)||A very deep hole, a bottomless depth|
|Racked (v. 29)||Tormented greatly|
|Consolation (v. 33)||Comfort, reassurance|
|Travail (v. 33)||Hardship, toil|
|Zealously (v. 35)||Enthusiastically, eagerly|
Mosiah 27:11–26—The Remarkable Conversion of Alma the Younger
The account of the conversion of Alma the Younger is a wonderful example of what the Atonement of Jesus Christ does for those who repent. To be “redeemed of the Lord” (Mosiah 27:24) implies being rescued, ransomed, or bought back from a situation of great debt (see vv. 27–29). To be “born of the Spirit,” “born again,” or “born of God” means to be changed from our earthly, fallen state “to a state of righteousness” becoming “new creatures” (vv. 25–26). We are no longer slaves to sin but desire instead to do good always (see Mosiah 5:2).
While the story of the conversion of Alma the Younger is impressive, President Ezra Taft Benson gave the following caution:
“We must be careful, as we seek to become more and more godlike, that we do not become discouraged and lose hope. Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible. The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were: Alma the Younger, Paul on the road to Damascus, Enos praying far into the night, King Lamoni. Such astonishing examples of the power to change even those steeped in sin give confidence that the Atonement can reach even those deepest in despair.
“But we must be cautious as we discuss these remarkable examples. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. …
“We must not lose hope. Hope is an anchor to the souls of men. Satan would have us cast away that anchor. In this way he can bring discouragement and surrender. But we must not lose hope. The Lord is pleased with every effort, even the tiny, daily ones in which we strive to be more like Him. Though we may see that we have far to go on the road to perfection, we must not give up hope” (“A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989, 5).
Mosiah 27:29—How Long Does “Eternal Torment” Last?
While Alma the Younger was unconscious, he was “wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death” (Mosiah 27:28). His suffering was so intense that he described it as being “racked with eternal torment” (v. 29). The phrase “eternal torment” may be confusing, since we know from this chapter that he was unconscious just a little more than two days.
We must understand that the word eternal has a different meaning to the Lord than it does to the world. In a modern revelation, the Lord said:
“I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
“Eternal punishment is God’s punishment” (D&C 19:10–11).
Terms like “eternal torment” are more a description of the kind of torment (God’s torment) rather than the length of the suffering (see D&C 19:6–12). Remember also that this describes punishment for unrepented sins.
Studying the Scriptures
Do any two of the following activities (A–D) as you study Mosiah 27.
Pick the True Statements
After reading Mosiah 27:1–7, read the following statements and indicate whether they are true or false. If you think a statement is false, rewrite it to make it true.
The Nephites in Zarahemla were all united as members of the Church.
The king passed a law that everyone had to respect the Church.
The poor members of the Church complained about being treated badly by the rich members.
The leaders of the Church were all volunteers who served without pay.
Because there were so many poor members, the Church struggled in poverty.
Write It in Your Own Words
The visit of the angel had a powerful effect on Alma the Younger.
Study Mosiah 28:13–16 and, in your own words, rewrite what the angel said. Remember that the angel was being direct and spoke in a way that left Alma without an excuse.
What do you find in the verses that helps explain why the Lord sent the angel to Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah?
Conduct an Interview
Think of a person in your ward, branch, stake, or district, or perhaps a relative, whose faith in God and obedience to the gospel you admire.
Interview that person and ask the following questions:
How did you gain a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Did your testimony come all at once or over a longer period of time?
How long did it take you to get to your present level of obedience and faithfulness?
Describe how his or her experience was similar to or different from the experience of Alma the Younger in Mosiah 27:23–32.
Read also the statement by President Ezra Taft Benson in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for Mosiah 27:11–26 and explain what you have learned about the process of becoming Christlike.