Chapter 30: Alma 32–35

Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, (2009), 106–9


Introduction

Alma and Amulek’s mission among the Zoramites included profound teachings about faith, prayer, worship, and the Atonement. In approaching this scripture block, teachers sometimes present a lesson built exclusively on one of these topics. Or they might teach a few of these topics but fail to show how they relate to each other in the context of Alma and Amulek’s teachings. Your teaching of Alma 32–35 will be most powerful as you help students see that each of these topics is connected to the others: As we experiment upon the word, we develop faith. Our faith leads us to pray and to trust in the infinite and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This trust in turn leads us to repent and prepare for the day when we will return to the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. With this larger picture in mind, students can understand where their faith can lead them.

Some sections of this lesson suggest multiple teaching ideas. Remember your students’ abilities and interests, and select only the teaching ideas that will be the most beneficial for them.

Some Doctrines and Principles

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 32:1–16, 25. It Is Better to Choose to Be Humble Than Be Compelled to Be Humble

Ask students to explain how humility is essential to the conversion process.

Ask a student to read Alma 32:1–3.

  • What was the financial and social status of those who received the message of Alma and his companions?

  • What significance do you see in the fact that these Zoramites were “poor in heart” as well as “poor as to things of the world”?

Have another student read Alma 32:4–6.

  • What do you think is the meaning of the phrase “in a preparation to hear the word”?

Read Alma 32:13–16 to students. Invite them to follow along, looking for and marking truths about humility and the process of becoming humble. Invite them to share what they find.

  • Why is it better to choose to be humble than be compelled to be humble?

Have students work individually or in pairs to create lists of actions a person can take to develop greater humility. Invite several students or pairs to report their ideas to the class. Ask them to describe how the actions they found will result in greater humility.

Invite a student to read the statement by President Ezra Taft Benson on page 223 in the student manual. Ask the other students to listen for additional ideas on how to become humble.

Encourage students to choose to be humble by following the counsel of President Benson and by putting into practice one of the actions they have identified in the scriptures. Help them recognize that following the Savior’s example will always help them be more humble.

Alma 32:17–43; 33:12–23. Experimenting on the Word Leads to Faith in Christ

Ask students why people conduct experiments. (To find out if a premise is true.) Ask students to describe experiments they have performed in science classes or in other settings. Ask them what steps they took to complete their experiments. As part of this discussion, help students see that experiments require action, not just speculation, on the part of the researcher.

Have a student read Alma 32:26–27.

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

  • What can each of us do to perform this same experiment?

To help students discuss this question, invite them to read verses 27–42 silently and identify steps of the experiment Alma suggested. Explain that in this passage, the seed represents the word of God. After students have had sufficient time to read, ask them to share what they have found. List their answers on the board. The list might include the following steps:

  1. 1.

    Desire to believe—verse 27

  2. 2.

    Give place for the word to be planted in your heart—verses 27–28

  3. 3.

    Do not cast the seed out by unbelief—verse 28

  4. 4.

    Recognize the growth of the seed—verse 28

  5. 5.

    Nourish the seed as it grows—verse 37

  6. 6.

    Do not neglect the tree—verse 38

  7. 7.

    Look forward to the fruit of the tree—verse 40

  8. 8.

    Harvest the fruit—verse 42

  • What do you think it means to “give place, that [the word of God] may be planted in your heart”? (verse 28). What do you think it means to feel that the word of God is “swelling” within you? (verse 28). What do you think it means to “nourish the word”? (verse 41). In verses 28 and 34, how do the words enlarge, enlighten, and expand describe the effect the word of God can have on us?

Ask students to review verses 41–42 and list words that describe the fruit of the tree. For example, they may notice the phrase “springing up unto everlasting life”; the words precious, sweet, white, and pure; and the promise that those who feast on the fruit will be filled and will not hunger or thirst. Help students see that the fruit represents the blessings we can receive through the Atonement, including the blessing of eternal life (see chapter 3 in this manual).

Invite students to share experiences they have had as they have experimented on the word of God. As appropriate, tell about a time when your faith grew stronger because you experimented on the word. Encourage students to continue experimenting on the word.

Divide the class into pairs. Instruct each pair to analyze Alma 32:28–43, looking for principles that are meaningful to them. Have them mark their insights in their scriptures and discuss their findings with their partners. After they have had enough time to discuss their insights, invite them to create a list of questions that can be answered by the doctrines and principles they have found. You may want to write their questions on the board. Help students understand that they can find answers to important questions through scripture study.

Invite students to review the Zoramites’ prayer in Alma 31:15–18.

  • What were the Zoramites’ beliefs about their need for a Savior?

Ask students to silently read Alma 33:12–22, which contains some of Alma’s words to the Zoramites about Jesus Christ. Have students count the number of times Alma refers to the Savior in these verses.

  • What can we learn about Jesus Christ from these verses?

  • Alma recounted the story of the Israelites who refused to look at a type of Christ that Moses had made (see Alma 33:19–22; see also Numbers 21:5–9; 1 Nephi 17:41). How might this example have been helpful for the Zoramites? How does it help you?

You may want to point out that all the Israelites had to do was look. This can be compared with Alma’s request that the people “exercise a particle of faith” (Alma 32:27).

Have a student read Alma 33:22–23.

  • What do these verses teach about the meaning of the seed, the tree, and the fruit in Alma 32? (You may want to point out that in verse 23, when Alma says to “plant this word in your hearts,” he is referring to the testimony of Jesus Christ, which is summarized in verse 22.)

Alma 33:1–11; 34:17–27, 39. Our Hearts Should Be Drawn Out in Prayer Continually

Ask students to read Alma 33:1 silently and to underline the questions the Zoramites asked of Alma after his discourse. With the help of students, make a list of the questions on the board. Ask why each of these questions is important.

Invite students to read Alma 33:2–11 silently, looking for the way Alma began to answer the questions in verse 1.

  • How can prayer help answer the questions in verse 1?

  • In verse 3, Alma uses the words prayer and worship synonymously. In what ways is prayer the same as worship?

  • When have your prayers had the most power?

Invite students to tell about moments when they have experienced the power of prayer. Give them enough time to think about their experiences before they respond.

  • Why is it an act of mercy for God to hear our prayers? In verse 11, what does the phrase “because of thy Son” mean to you?

Invite students to read Amulek’s teachings in Alma 34:17–26. Then ask them to read verses 27 and 39 silently, looking for a common word that describes the frequency of our prayers. After they have had time to examine the words, suggest that they mark the word continually.

  • What do you think it means to let your heart be “drawn out in prayer … continually”?

As students discuss this question, invite them to read the statement by President Henry B. Eyring on page 228 in the student manual. Discuss with students how this statement broadens their understanding of what it means to have their hearts “drawn out in prayer … continually.” Then ask students to silently ponder their personal answers to the following questions:

  • What can you do to apply these teachings in your life? What can you do to be more prayerful and more responsive to personal revelation?

Bear your testimony in relation to Amulek’s instructions about prayer.

Alma 33; 34:1–17. The Great Plan of the Eternal God Required an Atonement—an Infinite and Eternal Sacrifice

As Alma spoke to the Zoramites, he referred to the teachings of three prophets whose writings appeared in the brass plates: Zenos, Zenock, and Moses. Have students review Alma 33:3–23 and identify these prophets’ teachings about the Savior. Suggest that they highlight all the places where Alma or one of these prophets refers to Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

  • Why is it important to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? How does this knowledge influence your faith in Jesus Christ?

  • What attributes of God does Alma emphasize in Alma 33:4–11?

  • What aspects of Christ’s eternal mission are highlighted in Alma 33:22? Why do our burdens become light when we plant this knowledge in our hearts and nourish it? (See Alma 33:23.)

Write the words infinite and eternal on the board. Invite students to discuss the meaning of these words.

Invite students to highlight the three instances of the word all in Alma 34:9. Discuss what Amulek teaches in this verse about our fallen condition and the Atonement. The following questions may assist you in your discussion:

  • How does the Fall of Adam and Eve make the Atonement necessary? (See Mosiah 16:3–4; Alma 12:22; 22:14.)

  • According to Alma 34:10, why was the Savior the only one who could offer a sacrifice to save all mankind?

Refer students to the words infinite and eternal on the board. Have a student read Alma 34:10–14 while the rest of the class looks for what is infinite and eternal in these verses. (Help them see that the Atonement is infinite and eternal, and so is the Son of God.)

  • In what ways is the Atonement infinite and eternal?

  • How is the Savior infinite and eternal?

To help students discuss these questions, invite them to read the statements by Elder Bruce R. McConkie and Elder Russell M. Nelson on pages 228–29 in the student manual. The statement by Elder Nelson is also available on the companion DVD A.

Consider reading and discussing the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), the 13th President of the Church:

“He was able to accomplish His mission because He was the Son of God and He possessed the power of God.

“He was willing to accomplish His mission because He loves us.

“No mortal being had the power or capability to redeem all other mortals from their lost and fallen condition, nor could any other voluntarily forfeit his life and thereby bring to pass a universal resurrection for all other mortals.

“Only Jesus Christ was able and willing to accomplish such a redeeming act of love” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 6–7; italics in original).

To help students see how to receive the blessings of the “infinite and eternal” Atonement, have them search Alma 34:15–17 and identify a phrase that appears four times. (“Faith unto repentance.”)

  • What does the phrase “faith unto repentance” mean?

  • How does faith lead to repentance?

  • According to Alma 34:16, what blessings do we receive as we exercise faith unto repentance? What happens if we fail to exercise faith unto repentance?

Alma 34:1–8. The Great Question of the Zoramites

Ask a few students to go to the board and list several of the great questions mankind has asked. They might mention questions such as “Where did we come from?” “What is the purpose of life?” or “Does God exist?” Compare the students’ list to the “great question” on the minds of the Zoramites in Alma 34:5. Help students see that the great question of the Zoramites—“whether the word be in the Son of God, or whether there shall be no Christ”—is similar to questions many people ask today as they wonder if salvation really is in Christ and if the Savior really will come again. Ask students to review Alma 34:6–8 and share in their own words how Amulek answered this great question. Discuss how the world would be different if everyone knew and believed the correct answer to this question. Our response to this question will influence the choices we make throughout our lives.

Alma 34:32–41. The Lord Commands That We Not Procrastinate the Day of Our Repentance

President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972), the 10th President of the Church, taught, “This life is the most vital period in our eternal existence” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:69). Read Alma 34:32–34 together, looking for principles that support President Smith’s statement. To emphasize the need to repent in this life, read the statement by Elder Melvin J. Ballard on pages 230–31 in the student manual.

  • What can we do to prepare to meet God?

  • Imagine that a friend tells you, “I’ll enjoy experimenting with sin for a while, but my intent is to repent and be worthy in the end.” What would you say to a person with this attitude?

Ask the following question:

  • Who is responsible for your salvation?

Have students read Alma 34:37–41 to find Amulek’s response to this question.

  • Amulek counseled the people to “work out [their] salvation” (Alma 34:37). He and Alma both taught the people that they must depend on the Savior for salvation. How do these two principles work together?

Share your testim0ony about the necessity to do all that we can while depending on the Savior (see 2 Nephi 25:23–26).