Alma 1–4

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 132–135


Introduction

Which is more serious: an attack on one’s physical safety and liberty or an assault on one’s testimony of the truth? In Alma 1–4 we read of the Nephites facing assaults on both their physical and spiritual safety. Alma the Younger, as the nation’s chief judge (the highest political office) and the Church’s high priest (the presiding spiritual office), had to take action to protect his people on both fronts. Look for how Alma led the faithful in overcoming both temporal and spiritual opposition.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Note: Prayerfully study each assigned scripture block and consider the principles in this section before preparing your lessons.

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 71–72.

Suggestions for Teaching

Note: Choose from the ideas in this section, or use some of your own, as you prepare to teach the assigned scripture block.

Alma 1:2–28. Pride and priestcraft lead to spiritual destruction. Faithfulness, patience, and humility lead to peace. (20–25 minutes)

Display a picture of a church building on the board. Next to the picture, place a sign with the words Visitors Welcome. Admission $10. Have students read 2 Nephi 26:29 and find a word for such a requirement. (Priestcraft.) Ask them why they would never see such a sign on a building of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Write priestcraft on the board. Reread 2 Nephi 26:29 and ask the students to define the word. Read Alma 1:2–6 looking for elements of priestcraft that Nehor introduced among Alma’s people. Students may wish to underline these elements and write a cross-reference to 2 Nephi 26:29 in the margin. Have them find other teachings of Nehor in Alma 1:2–6. Ask:

  • Which of these teachings do you think made Nehor the most popular? Why?

  • Which of these teachings are taught in the world today? Explain and provide examples.

  • What happened to Nehor when he was successful? (see v. 6).

  • Why might priestcraft lead to pride?

  • How could both priestcraft and pride destroy one spiritually?

Not everyone accepted Nehor and his priestcraft. Read Alma 1:26 and look for what the righteous priests taught the people. Divide the class into three groups. Assign the first group Alma 1:3, 26; the second group Alma 1:5–6, 27; and the third group Alma 1:19–21, 25. Have each group read their assigned verses and write what they learn about those who did and did not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ (see the accompanying chart for suggested answers).

Those Who Did Not Follow the Teachings of Christ

Those Who Followed the Teachings of Christ

Alma 1:3. Nehor taught that teachers ought to be popular and that the people should support them financially.

Alma 1:26. Priests in the Church of God did not consider themselves better than their hearers. All labored for their own support.

Alma 1:5–6. People paid Nehor. He was lifted up in pride and began wearing costly apparel.

Alma 1:27. Church members shared their wealth with the poor, needy, and sick. They did not wear costly apparel.

Alma 1:19–20. Nonmembers persecuted those who belonged to the Church of God.

Alma 1:21, 25. The Church had a strict law not to persecute anyone, whether nonmember or member. Faithful members patiently bore persecution.

Not all Church members respond the same way to persecution. Read Alma 1:21–25 and look for the different responses of Church members. Read verses 26–28 looking for how the Lord blessed those who were faithful, patient, and humble. Ask:

  • Why would peace be such a prized blessing for the Church during that time?

  • In addition to an absence of war, what other sources of peace are there? (Harmony within our family, the Church, and our community; inner peace from a clear conscience; the presence of the Holy Ghost.)

  • How would peace be a blessing in your life?

  • What were Alma’s people doing that you could also do to bring more peace to your life? (see vv. 26–27).

Share the following statements about peace. Elder John Taylor, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“Peace is the gift of God. Do you want peace? Go to God. Do you want peace in your families? … If you do, live your religion, and the very peace of God will dwell and abide with you, for that is where peace comes from and it doesn’t dwell anywhere else” (The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham [1943], 340–41).

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve said:

“The Lord’s promise of peace comes from knowing and living the principles of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 32; or Ensign, May 1995, 24).

Add your testimony that peace will come, as it did to Alma’s people, if we humbly and patiently live the gospel.

Alma 1. The Lord will bless us as we keep the laws of the land as well as His commandments. (20–25 minutes)

Read Alma 1:1 and ask:

  • Who established the laws of the land?

  • What was the people’s responsibility toward the laws?

Invite students to imagine being in Alma’s situation. Show an overhead transparency of the “Alma and Nehor” activity found on page 296 of the appendix (or you could write it on the board before class). For each situation, read the question and discuss the possible answers. Then read the answer from the scriptures and discuss with students why they think Alma took the action he did.

After the activity, discuss the following questions:

  • Why were Alma’s responses the best way to deal with each situation?

  • What are the advantages of following the laws of the land?

  • Reread verses 29–31. Why did the Lord bless the faithful Church members with riches at that time?

  • Why were they so willing to share their wealth with those in need?

  • How can sharing with the poor bless the giver as well as the receiver?

Testify that the Lord will bless us as we keep the laws of the land and His commandments. Explain that sometimes blessings come in the form of material wealth, while other times the Lord blesses us spiritually (see Malachi 3:10; Helaman 3:24–25). Note: Be sure students understand that riches are not necessarily a sign of righteousness. Both the wicked and the righteous may be poor or rich at various times.

Alma 2:1–31. If we are humble and faithful the Lord will strengthen us. He can help us overcome or endure any problems we have. (25–30 minutes)

pliers and clothespin

Bring to class a pair of pliers and a clothespin with a spring clamp. Invite a student to hold the clothespin open using only her forefinger and thumb. Instruct her that when she gets tired she can ask for help, but she must still keep the clothespin open. If she asks for help, give her the pliers to keep the clothespin open.

Ask: How is the help of the pliers like the way Heavenly Father helps us? Point out that the Lord often waits for us to ask Him for things rather than giving them to us right away (see 3 Nephi 27:29). Ask:

  • What qualities does asking the Lord for help develop in us?

  • Why do you think Heavenly Father sometimes gives us help rather than simply removing the trial we face? (see D&C 122:7).

Invite students to watch for places in Alma 2 where Heavenly Father does not remove trials but instead strengthens His faithful Saints so they can endure.

Read with students Alma 2:1–4, 7–8. Write on the board Alma (Mosiah 29:43) and Amlici (Alma 2:4, 10). Have the class read these verses and compare Amlici to Alma. Ask: What would have happened to the Nephites if the voice of the people had chosen Amlici? To answer this question you could have students read Mosiah 29:25–27 and cross-reference it with Alma 2:7.

Have students read Alma 2:15–19, 21, 23–24, 28–31 and mark the words strengthen and strengthened each time they appear. Ask: How could the Nephites possibly defeat the large numbers of Amlicites and Lamanites? Read and cross-reference Deuteronomy 31:6 and Isaiah 40:29–31. Ask students to tell what phrases they like most from each of these Old Testament scriptures. Invite students to share times the Lord has strengthened them or a member of their family. Conclude by singing or reading “How Firm a Foundation” (Hymns, no. 85).

Alma 3:4, 15–18. We “mark” ourselves when we choose to follow the styles of the world. (10–15 minutes)

The day before teaching this suggestion, ask a student to wear to class a piece of clothing or a uniform that would identify the student with a sports team or a particular profession. As you begin your lesson, ask the class what clothing tells about a person. Have students read Alma 3:4, 15–18 and discuss why the Amlicites marked themselves. Read the second and third paragraphs under “Dress and Appearance” in the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth ([2001], 14–15). Ask how both modest and immodest dress can be a “mark.” Have students suggest additional ways people mark themselves. (Answers might include jewelry, language, diet, entertainment, hairstyles.)

Have a student read this warning by Elder M. Russell Ballard:

“There is an entire subculture that celebrates contemporary gangs and their criminal conduct with music, clothing styles, language, attitudes, and behaviors. …

“I do not believe that you can stand for truth and right while wearing anything that is unbecoming one who holds the priesthood of God. To me, it is impossible to maintain the Spirit of the Lord while listening to music or watching movies or videos that celebrate evil thoughts and use vulgar language” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 51–53; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 38–39).

Read Matthew 5:14–16 and ask students what positive ways faithful people can “mark themselves” to bless those around them.

Alma 4:1–11. Depending on our faithfulness, our example can be either a stepping stone or a stumbling block for others. (10–15 minutes)

Set a large rock on the floor in the front of the classroom. Begin class by walking by the rock and pretending to trip. Stand on the rock to do some task that requires reaching (for example, hang a picture on the wall). Ask students if the rock is a help or a hindrance. In what ways?

Divide the class into two groups. Have the first group read Alma 4:1–5 and the second Alma 4:6–11. Have both groups look for answers to the following questions:

  • Were these Church members a stepping stone or a stumbling block to those who did not belong to the Church?

  • How would you describe their material wealth?

  • What words describe the spiritual condition that came as a result?

  • How did they treat others?

  • What effect did this have on nonmembers?

Allow time for a discussion of these questions. As part of the discussion, have students compare the dates for Alma 4:1, 5 (86–85 B.C.) and Alma 4:6, 11 (84–83 B.C.). Ask: Why do you think many members of the Church changed from being stepping stones to stumbling blocks in such a short time?

Share this statement by Elder Robert D. Hales, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“No matter our circumstances, we can be an example to others, we can lift them, we can inspire them to seek righteousness, and we can bear testimony to all of the power of Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 113; or Ensign, May 1997, 82).

The Apostle Paul taught that a young person’s life can provide a positive example. Have students read 1 Timothy 4:12 and cross-reference it with Alma 4:10. Ask students to share times a young person’s example influenced them in a positive way. You may also wish to share how the faithful lives of people you know have influenced you for good.

Alma 4:11–20. Studying the word of God can help us live the gospel. (5–10 minutes)

Read Alma 4:11–12, 15 and ask:

  • What problem is described in these verses?

  • What could be done to resolve this problem?

Read verses 16–18 to find what Alma was willing to give up to help his people. Have students read verse 19 and underline what Alma did to help the Church members. Ask: What benefits of preaching the word of God does Alma list? Share with students this statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“When individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, these other areas of activity will automatically come. Testimonies will increase. Commitment will be strengthened. Families will be fortified. Personal revelation will flow” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 81).

Invite students to tell how daily scripture study has helped them live gospel teachings.