After Alma returned from his mission to the Zoramites, he gathered together his three sons and gave individual counsel to each one (see Alma 35:16). His counsel to Helaman is recorded in Alma 36–37, his counsel to Shiblon is recorded in Alma 38, and his counsel to Corianton is recorded in Alma 39–42. Alma testified to Helaman that God will deliver those who put their trust in Him. To illustrate this truth, Alma described how he had been delivered from the pain of his sins many years earlier. After calling on the name of Jesus Christ, he had been born of God and filled with joy. He had then labored to bring others to Jesus Christ.
Ponder how the testimony or a particular teaching of a family member, friend, or Church leader has blessed your life.
Read Alma 36:1–5, and imagine yourself in Helaman’s position as he listened to his father’s testimony. What did Alma want Helaman to remember? (See verse 2.) What did Alma want Helaman to learn from him? (See verse 3.)
Write the following principle in your scriptures next to Alma 36:3: When we put our trust in God, He supports us in all our trials and afflictions. Think of a time when you had a trial in your life. In the space provided, write a few ways in which God helped and supported you during that time.
Alma described to his son Helaman how God had delivered him from the pain of his sins. Read Alma 36:6–10, and review what happened to Alma in his youth as he went about with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the Church.
In the Book of Mormon there are three accounts of the angel visiting Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Alma 36 contains the most detailed account of what Alma experienced during the three days and nights when he was unable to move or talk. (To read the other accounts, see Mosiah 27 and Alma 38.) Read Alma 36:11–16, and mark words or phrases that Alma used to describe the fear or pain he experienced after the angel appeared.
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles helped us understand what racked and harrowed up mean:
“Racked means ‘tortured.’ Anciently a rack was a framework on which the victim was laid with each ankle and wrist tied to a spindle which could then be turned to cause unbearable pain.
“A harrow is a frame with spikes through it. When pulled across the ground, it rips and tears into the soil. The scriptures frequently speak of souls and minds being ‘harrowed up’ with guilt” (“The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” Ensign, May 2001, 23).
In your scripture study journal, write why you think Alma used such strong words to describe how he felt. Also write how these words describe the guilt and pain of a person who has sinned and not repented.
You may want to write the following truth in your scriptures near Alma 36:11–16: Sin can lead to pain and regret.
Read Alma 36:17–18, and look for what Alma remembered his father prophesying about. Notice what Alma did when he remembered what his father had taught him.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following insight into Alma’s experience: “Alma had been touched by the teaching of his father, but it is particularly important that the prophecy he remembered was one regarding ‘the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.’ (Alma 36:17.) That is the name and that is the message that every person must hear. Alma heard it, and he cried out from the anguish of a hell that kept burning and a conscience that wouldn’t heal. ‘O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me.’ (Alma 36:18.) … Whatever other prayers we offer, whatever other needs we have, all somehow depends on that plea: ‘O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me.’ He is prepared to provide that mercy. He paid with his very life in order to give it” (However Long and Hard the Road , 85).
Think back on a time when you have prayed to receive the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, including the blessing of forgiveness for a sin. In your scripture study journal, write why you think it is important to ask the Lord for the blessings of the Atonement in your life.
Read Alma 36:19–22, and mark words and phrases that describe how Alma changed after he prayed for mercy. Write some of these words and phrases in your scripture study journal, and explain what they teach you about the power of the Savior’s Atonement.
From these scriptures we learn this principle: If we exercise faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, then He will deliver us from the pain of our sins and fill us with joy. Ponder what you can do to exercise more faith in Jesus Christ so that, like Alma, you can be delivered from feelings of pain or remorse for your sins.
Read the following situation, and consider how you might respond: A friend who has been reading the Book of Mormon asks you for help in understanding Alma’s words in Alma 36:19. Your friend asks, “If I can remember my sins and still feel sorry for them, does it mean I haven’t been forgiven?”
Read the following explanation from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, and underline any phrases you believe would be helpful to your friend:
“Satan will try to make us believe that our sins are not forgiven because we can remember them. Satan is a liar; he tries to blur our vision and lead us away from the path of repentance and forgiveness. God did not promise that we would not remember our sins. Remembering will help us avoid making the same mistakes again. But if we stay true and faithful, the memory of our sins will be softened over time. This will be part of the needed healing and sanctification process. Alma testified that after he cried out to Jesus for mercy, he could still remember his sins, but the memory of his sins no longer distressed and tortured him, because he knew he had been forgiven (see Alma 36:17–19).
“It is our responsibility to avoid anything that would bring back old sinful memories. When we continue to have a ‘broken heart and a contrite spirit’ (3 Nephi 12:19), we may trust that God will ‘remember [our sins] no more’ [D&C 58:42]” (“Point of Safe Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 101).
It is also important to note that Alma did not say that he remembered his sins no more but that he remembered the pain of his sins no more, and he was no longer “harrowed up” by their memory (Alma 36:19). True repentance will cause the pain and guilt of sin to be swept away (see Enos 1:6–8).
In your scripture study journal, write an answer to the friend mentioned above, and use insights you gained from President Uchtdorf’s explanation. Include in your answer why you think it is a blessing that we still remember our sins, even though we may not be “harrowed up by the memory of [our] sins” (Alma 36:19) after our repentance.
How do you feel when you share delicious food with a friend? When you receive an exciting piece of news, what is the first thing you want to do? Why do you think most people have an almost instant desire to share what they have heard with someone else? Read Alma 36:23–24, and look for how the feelings described in these questions relate to Alma’s experience following his conversion. What did Alma want other people to experience?
Read Alma 36:25–26, and identify how Alma’s efforts to teach the gospel affected him and others. Complete the following principle, based on what you have learned about sharing the gospel from these verses: As we share the gospel with others, we receive .
Write your completed principle statement in your scripture study journal, and explain why you believe this principle is true. As part of your explanation, you may want to include experiences you have had with feeling joy from sharing the gospel with others.
Think of someone you know—a friend, family member, or ward or branch member—who might benefit from your testimony of the Savior and His restored gospel. Ponder how you might share with this person your testimony of how Jesus Christ is able to deliver us from pain and fill us with joy. You may want to consider writing a letter or e-mail to this person, or you may want to write a few notes to prepare for a specific time when you will speak with the person.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Alma 36 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: