Alma 36–42

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 174–184


Introduction

The Lord has always required parents to teach their children the gospel. Adam and Eve provided our first mortal example of parental gospel instruction (see Moses 5:12). Soon after the Church was restored, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation directing parents in Zion to teach their children repentance, faith in Christ, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 68:25; see also D&C 93:40–49). More recently, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve reminded parents of their “sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another [and] to observe the commandments of God” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

Parents in the Book of Mormon were given these same responsibilities. King Benjamin admonished Nephite parents of his day: “Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another” (Mosiah 4:14). Alma 36–42 illustrates how well the prophet Alma understood his duty to instruct his own children and call them to repentance when necessary. Alma provided personal direction for each child, anchoring his message in the Savior’s Atonement and teachings.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 93–97.

Suggestions for Teaching

video iconBook of Mormon Video presentation 13, “God Has Delivered Me” (16:30), can be used in teaching Alma 36. Presentation 14, “These Things Are an Abomination” (7:41), can be used in teaching Alma 39. Presentation 15, “The Mediator” (10:49), can be used in teaching Alma 40–42. (See Book of Mormon Video Guide for teaching suggestions.)

weekly iconAlma 36. Sin causes suffering. Repentance takes away that suffering and replaces it with joy. (45–50 minutes)

Read a short rhyming poem to your students. Ask them what kind of literature it is. Explain that rhyming poetry is a form of writing that is easy to listen to because it has a predictable pattern. A lesser-known literary form is “chiasmus” (pronounced ki-Az-mus). Chiasmus was sometimes used by ancient Hebrew writers. Similar to rhyming poetry, it is effective because it follows a predictable pattern.

Chiasmus is an arrangement of words or ideas placed in a certain order and then repeated in reverse order. To illustrate a simple chiasmus, draw the following diagram on the board:

Have students read the examples of chiasmus in Isaiah 55:8 and Matthew 10:39 and look for how the diagram illustrates the chiasmus in these verses. The passages are given below with the related words italicized and marked by the letters A and B:

Isaiah 55:8

For (A) my thoughts are not (B) your thoughts,
neither are (B) your ways (A) my ways, saith the Lord.

Matthew 10:39

He that (A) findeth his life shall (B) lose it:
and he that (B) loseth his life for my sake shall (A) find it.

Point out that in chiasmus, important ideas and words are emphasized through repetition. Additionally, the writer’s main idea is often located at the center of the chiasmus.

Explain that Alma used chiasmus to tell the story of his conversion to his son Helaman. Assign each of your students to study a row of verses from the accompanying chart. (Depending on your class size, you may wish to pair students together.) Have the students determine how the verses relate to each other, and have them write on a piece of paper a brief summary of each verse.

Alma 36

position

verse(s)

verse(s)

A

1

30

B

2

28–29

C

3

27

D

4–5

26

E

6

24

F

10

23

G

14

22

H

16

19–21

I

17

18

Write the following outline on the board. Read the entire chapter as a class. Pause after each verse included in the outline, and invite students to write their summaries on the board next to the numbers of the verses they read.

A. verse 1
B. verse 2
C. verse 3
D. verses 4–5
E. verse 6
F. verse 10
G. verse 14
H. verse 16
I. verse 17
I. verse 18
H. verses 19–21
G. verse 22
F. verse 23
E. verse 24
D. verse 26
C. verse 27
B. verses 28–29
A. verse 30

(Adapted from John W. Welch, “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon,” in Noel B. Reynolds, ed., Book of Mormon Authorship [1982], 49–50.)

Remind students that the main message of a chiasmus is often located at its center. Ask:

  • What is the central message of this chiasmus? (see vv. 17–18).

  • What do we learn from Alma’s experience about how we can be delivered from suffering for our sins?

  • From Alma’s example, how would you describe repentance that is centered in Jesus Christ?

Have a student read the following testimony by Jeffrey R. Holland, who later became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Christ is the power behind all repentance. … 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. … 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 [1985], 85).

Explain that we must be humble before we can recognize the need for the Savior’s help in our lives. Focusing on Him will not only help us be humble but will bring us greater joy. Read the following statement, also by Brother Holland:

“Our will quite literally changes to receive His will. We may have avoided church attendance, the sacrament, the bishop, our parents, our worthy companions—avoided anyone we had sinned against, including God himself—but now that repentant heart longs to be with them. That is part of the joy and light of the Atonement—the ‘at-one-ment’—which not only binds us back to God but also brings us back to a special unity with our best natural self and our most beloved human associates” (However Long and Hard the Road, 86–87).

Sing or read the first and third verses of “Come unto Jesus,” (Hymns, no. 117).

scripture mastery iconAlma 37:1–20, 38–47 (Scripture Mastery, Alma 37:6–7). By “small and simple things,” great things are brought to pass. (30–35 minutes)

Show or draw on the board a few items such as the following: a spark plug, a horse’s bit, a computer disc, a picture of a ship’s rudder, a paper clip, a compass, an empty sacrament cup. Ask students: What do these items have in common? After they discuss their ideas, write small and simple on the board. Ask: How does each item fit this description? Have students read Alma 37:6–7 and decide which of the items these verses best describe and why.

Read as a class Alma 37:1–5 and determine what Alma was describing to his son (the brass plates). Have students read the first phrase of the chapter heading looking for another item that could be added to the display of “small and simple things” (“other scriptures”).

Read Alma 37:8–10 and have students mark the words these things and they. Ask what these words refer to. List on the board the “great things” the scriptures did for the Nephites and Lamanites who heeded them. Ask:

  • Which of these benefits do the scriptures bring to your life?

  • In what ways have the scriptures enlarged your memory or convinced you of the error of your ways?

  • Who do you know who has come to a knowledge of God because of the scriptures?

Have students compare verse 15 with verses 16–18. Discuss the following questions:

  • In verse 15, what was Helaman warned would be taken away if he broke the commandments?

  • What can be taken away from us if we break the commandments?

  • How can God’s power strengthen us when we keep His commandments? (see v. 16).

  • How has the Book of Mormon fulfilled God’s promises to Helaman’s “fathers”? (see vv. 17–18).

Show the class a compass and ask:

  • How does a compass work?

  • What forces can keep it from working properly?

  • How would ignorance of how to use it keep it from being helpful?

Write the following on the board:

Alma 37:40. The Liahona worked according to.

Alma 37:41–42. The Liahona ceased to work when

Alma 37:43–45. How is the Liahona like the words of Christ?

Alma 37:46. Alma cautions us

Have students read the verses indicated and fill in the blanks. Discuss their answers, and invite them to give examples of how these verses apply in their lives. (Note: In verses 43–45, students may need help with the meaning of the words type and shadow. Types and shadows are symbols or representations of other things, particularly of the Savior.)

Testify that the words of Christ are a source of strength and help. We must not neglect searching the scriptures out of the mistaken belief that they are too “small and simple” to help with our complex problems. Read Alma 37:47 and the following counsel from Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“How often have we ourselves said or have we heard others exclaim in times of crisis or trouble, ‘I just don’t know where to turn’?

“If we will just use it, a gift is available to all of us—the gift of looking to God for direction. Here is an avenue of strength, comfort, and guidance” (The Measure of Our Hearts [1991], 18).

scripture mastery iconAlma 37:35 (Scripture Mastery). It is wise to learn in our youth to keep God’s commandments. (15–20 minutes)

Draw the accompanying picture on the board:

Ask students:

  • Why are young trees often tied to poles?

  • Why are the supports removed from mature trees?

Point out that people often prune or trim young trees so they will grow properly. Ask: Why is it important to prune a tree while it is young rather than waiting several years?

Have a student read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency:

“Not long after we were married, we built our first home. We had very little money. I did much of the work myself. It would be called ‘sweat equity’ today. The landscaping was entirely my responsibility. The first of many trees that I planted was a thornless honey locust. Envisioning the day when its filtered shade would assist in cooling the house in the summertime, I put it in a place at the corner where the wind from the canyon to the east blew the hardest. I dug a hole, put in the bare root, put soil around it, poured on water, and largely forgot it. It was only a wisp of a tree, perhaps three-quarters of an inch in diameter. It was so supple that I could bend it with ease in any direction. I paid little attention to it as the years passed.

“Then one winter day, when the tree was barren of leaves, I chanced to look out the window at it. I noticed that it was leaning to the west, misshapen and out of balance. I could scarcely believe it. I went out and braced myself against it as if to push it upright. But the trunk was now nearly a foot in diameter. My strength was as nothing against it. I took from my toolshed a block and tackle. Attaching one end to the tree and another to a well-set post, I pulled the rope. The pulleys moved a little, and the trunk of the tree trembled slightly. But that was all.”

Have students read Alma 37:35 and relate it to President Hinckley’s experience with his tree. Ask:

  • What was Alma teaching his son about keeping the commandments?

  • Why does Alma use the word wisdom to describe those who learn to keep the commandments while they are young?

  • What commandments have you kept since you were young that would be more difficult to begin living as a teenager? as an adult?

Share the rest of President Hinckley’s account:

“Finally in desperation I took my saw and cut off the great heavy branch on the west side. The saw left an ugly scar, more than eight inches across. I stepped back and surveyed what I had done. I had cut off the major part of the tree, leaving only one branch growing skyward.

“More than half a century has passed since I planted that tree. My daughter and her family live there now. The other day I looked again at the tree. It is large. Its shape is better. It is a great asset to the home. But how serious was the trauma of its youth and how brutal the treatment I used to straighten it.

“When it was first planted, a piece of string would have held it in place against the forces of the wind. I could have and should have supplied that string with ever so little effort. But I did not, and it bent to the forces that came against it” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 77–78; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 59).

Invite students to write on a piece of paper their thoughts and feelings about Alma 37:35. Suggest they include:

  • The message of this verse in their own words.

  • How they feel about a specific commandment they have kept since they were young.

  • When they first learned about this commandment and why they started obeying it.

  • How much easier it is to keep this commandment because they started when they were young.

Encourage them to copy what they wrote into their journals at home.

Alma 37:32–37; 38:11–39:4. Pride and boasting lead to sin, while humble dependence on the Lord protects us from sin. (10–15 minutes)

Write on the board: True or False: A Book of Mormon prophet counseled his son to teach others to have an everlasting hatred. Have students read Alma 37:32 to find the answer. Ask:

  • What did Alma tell Helaman to teach the people to have an everlasting hatred toward?

  • Why should we hate sin?

  • How can sin damage a person’s life?

Read Alma 37:33–35 to find how we can withstand the devil’s temptations. Ask:

  • Why do you think it is important to be humble?

  • In what ways can humility help you better keep the commandments?

Invite students to share times that faith in Jesus Christ helped them resist temptation. Read Alma’s counsel to his son Corianton in Alma 39:1–3 looking for the more serious sin Corianton succumbed to. Ask: What sin may have led to his more serious sin? How?

Invite half of your students to read Alma 37:36–37 and the other half Alma 38:11–14. Have them underline Alma’s advice that can help us resist temptation, and discuss what they find.

Read the following illustration by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“When I was president of the New England Mission, the Tabernacle Choir was to sing at the world’s fair in Montreal. The choir had one day unscheduled and suggested a concert in New England. One of the industrial leaders there asked for the privilege of sponsoring the concert.

“Brother Condie and Brother Stewart came to Boston to discuss this matter. We met at the Boston airport and then drove to Attleboro, Massachusetts. Along the way Mr. Yeager asked about the concert. He said, ‘I would like to have a reception for the choir members. I could have it either at my home or at my club.’ He wanted to invite his friends who were, of course, the prominent people of New England—indeed, of the nation. He talked of this, and then he asked about serving alcoholic beverages.

“In answering, Brother Stewart said, ‘Well, Mr. Yeager, since it is your home and you are the host, I suppose you could do just as you want to do.’

“‘That isn’t what I had in mind,’ this wonderful man said. ‘I don’t want to do what I want to do. I want to do what you want me to do.’

“Somewhere in that spirit is the key to freedom. We should put ourselves in a position before our Father in Heaven and say, individually, ‘I do not want to do what I want to do. I want to do what Thou wouldst have me do.’ Suddenly, like any father, the Lord could say, ‘Well, there is one more of my children almost free from the need of constant supervision.’” (That All May Be Edified [1982], 257).

Invite students to describe how humble obedience gives them freedom from sin.

weekly iconAlma 39:1–11. Breaking the law of chastity is a very grievous and abominable sin. Forgiveness can only come through complete repentance. (50–55 minutes)

Note: The following teaching suggestion includes several lengthy quotes. You may find it useful to make copies of these statements for your students to read and keep.

Read Alma 39:3–5 and invite students to name the three most abominable sins in the sight of the Lord. Tell students that Alma’s son Corianton became involved in one of these sins. Read Alma 39:1–2 looking for what Corianton did that led to his greater sin. Read Proverbs 3:3–6 and ask: How would living these teachings have saved Corianton from falling?

Share the following statement:

“One of God’s many powers, one that he values very highly, is the power to give and take life. He has forbidden us to take life, but has shared with us his power to create it, by allowing us to bring children into the world. Because this is a divine power, he has commanded all of his children to use it correctly and reserve it only for marriage. He has also told us that the desire behind this great power must be controlled and used within the bounds he has set” (The Uniform System for Teaching Families [missionary discussions, 1973], H-13).

Ask: Why do you think sexual sins are next to murder in seriousness? Explain that because the power to create life is so sacred, Satan makes great efforts to persuade us to misuse it. Share this statement by Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Satan tempts a weaker individual to rationalize that when two are in love and agree that sexual intimacies can be performed, such things are acceptable. They positively are not. The boundaries of appropriate behavior are defined by God.

“Strongly tied to the sacred, private parts of the body are powerful emotions intended to be used within the covenant of marriage between a man and woman in ways that are appropriate and acceptable to them both. They are an important part of the love and trust that bond a husband and wife together and prepare them for the responsibilities of a family. They bring the blessing of children. These emotions are not to be stimulated or used for personal gratification outside of the covenant of marriage. Do not touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body to stimulate those emotions. Do not allow anyone to do that with you, with or without clothing. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body. These things are wrong. Do not do them. Such practices would undermine your ability to be inspired by the Holy Ghost in the vitally important decisions you must make for your future. They lead to binding addictions and grievous transgressions.

“Satan knows that those powerful emotions can be aroused by things you could see, hear, or touch. When stirred, those emotions can be used to lead one to destructive experimentation, then to serious transgressions. He uses pornography through videotapes, movies, magazines, computer images, or contaminated music for this purpose. Close your eyes, ears, mind, and heart to it. Unchecked, it would surely grow unrelentingly from initial curiosity step-by-step to become a raging monster. That demon would wreck wholesome desires, worthy companionship, and noble thoughts and acts until it could destroy you. Don’t lift the cover of salacious material in any form, and you will not be captured by it” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 88; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 69).

Tell students that because Corianton had broken the law of chastity, his father Alma wanted to help him repent and make his life clean again. Read Alma 39:7–8 and discuss what Corianton needed to know about his sin. Read Doctrine and Covenants 38:7 and cross-reference it with Alma 39:7–8. Read John 3:20 and discuss how it relates to Corianton. Discuss the following questions:

  • Why might people want to hide their sins? What might they hope to gain?

  • Why do you think Satan teaches us to hide our sins and keep them secret?

  • How does trying to hide our sins delay our repentance?

  • What could be the consequences of a missionary trying to hide sins from a priesthood leader?

Invite students to read Alma 39:9–11 and mark Alma’s counsel on repenting and forsaking these serious sins. Ask students to share what words they marked and why. Discuss the phrase cross yourself in verse 9. (For help understanding the phrase, read with students Matthew 16:24, footnote d.) Elder Richard G. Scott counseled:

“For a moment I speak to anyone who has succumbed to serious temptation. Please stop now. You can do it with the help from an understanding parent, bishop, or stake president. Serious transgression such as immorality requires the help of one who holds keys of authority, such as a bishop or stake president, to quietly work out the repentance process to make sure that it is complete and appropriately done. Do not make the mistake to believe that because you have confessed a serious transgression, you have repented of it. That is an essential step, but it is not all that is required. Nor assume that because someone did not ask you all the important details of a transgression, that you need not mention them. You personally must make sure that the bishop or stake president understands those details so that he can help you properly through the process of repentance for full forgiveness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 89; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 69–70).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught:

“To you is extended the peace and renewal of repentance available through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. In such serious matters the path of repentance is not easily begun or painlessly traveled. But the Savior of the world will walk that essential journey with you. He will strengthen you when you waver. He will be your light when it seems most dark. He will take your hand and be your hope when hope seems all you have left. His compassion and mercy, with all their cleansing and healing power, are freely given to all who truly wish complete forgiveness and will take the steps that lead to it” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 101–2; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 78).

Testify that sexual sins are serious and bring great sorrow. The Atonement of Jesus Christ, however, brings peace and a clear conscience to those who seek help from their priesthood leaders and repent fully.

Alma 40; 41:2; 42:23. A universal resurrection was made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (50–55 minutes)

Ask students to list as many miracles from the scriptures as they can. Ask: Which of these miracles will everyone experience someday? Read 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 and discuss the following:

  • What miracle did Paul testify everyone will experience?

  • How does knowledge of the Resurrection affect your view of life and death?

Tell students that the word resurrection or some form of it is found over sixty times in the Book of Mormon. Ask: Why do you think a book written for our day would speak so often on this subject? Read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“The Lord promised … that righteousness would come from heaven and truth out of the earth. We have seen the marvelous fulfillment of that prophecy in our generation. The Book of Mormon has come forth out of the earth, filled with truth” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 102; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 79).

Read Moses 7:62 looking for two truths that the Lord would send forth “out of the earth” (the reality of Jesus Christ and of the Resurrection). Explain that Alma gave one of the Book of Mormon’s longest discussions on the Resurrection. Divide the verses from the following chart among your students and ask them to read and summarize them. Write their conclusions on the board and discuss them as needed. (Suggested answers are given in the chart’s right-hand column.) Have students underline words and phrases in their scriptures that will help them remember what the verses teach. A list of additional scriptures and quotes for each of the nine groups of verses follows the chart. Use these as needed to help your discussion.

Alma Teaches Corianton about the Resurrection

1.

Alma 40:1–2

There will be no Resurrection until after the coming of Jesus Christ.

2.

Alma 40:3

Jesus Christ brings the Resurrection.

3.

Alma 40:4

There is a time appointed for all people to be resurrected.

4.

Alma 40:6–9

There is a period of time between death and the Resurrection.

5.

Alma 40:11–12

Righteous spirits await the Resurrection in a state of happiness called paradise.

6.

Alma 40:13–14

The wicked await the Resurrection in darkness and fear of judgment.

7.

Alma 40:16–19

Those who lived before Jesus Christ are resurrected before those who live after Him. (Note: Be sure students understand that the righteous are resurrected before the wicked; see John 5:29; D&C 88:95–102.)

8.

Alma 40:23; 41:2

When the spirit and body are reunited, every limb, joint, hair, and part of the physical body will be restored to its proper place.

9.

Alma 42:23

The Atonement makes the Resurrection possible, and the Resurrection brings everyone back into the presence of God to be judged.

  1. 1.

    1 Corinthians 15:20, 25–26; 2 Nephi 2:8.

  2. 2.

    Mosiah 16:7; Alma 7:12; 11:42.

  3. 3.

    John 5:28–29.

  4. 4.

    Doctrine and Covenants 138:11, 15–16.

  5. 5.

    Bible Dictionary, “paradise,” 742.

    President George Q. Cannon, who was a member of the First Presidency, taught:

    “Alma, when he says that ‘the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, … are taken home to that God who gave them life,’ has the idea, doubtless, in his mind that our God is omnipresent—not in His own personality but through His minister, the Holy Spirit.

    “He does not intend to convey the idea that they are immediately ushered into the personal presence of God. He evidently uses that phrase in a qualified sense” (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, ed. Jerreld L. Newquist, 2 vols. [1957], 1:73).

  6. 6.

    See the first quote by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in the commentary for Alma 40:11–15 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 95).

  7. 7.

    Mosiah 15:21–22.

    President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:

    “Alma does not intend to say, although verse 19 of chapter 40 implies it, that the wicked who lived before Christ will be raised before the righteous who lived after the coming of Christ; that may be implied by what he says in verse 19, but in verse 20, he modifies this and says it shall be the souls and bodies of the righteous who come forth at the time of that resurrection” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:300).

  8. 8.

    The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

    “As concerning the resurrection, I will merely say that all men will come from the grave as they lie down, whether old or young; there will not be ‘added unto their stature one cubit,’ neither taken from it; all will be raised by the power of God, having spirit in their bodies, and not blood” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 199–200).

    President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

    “Of course, children who die do not grow in the grave. They will come forth with their bodies as they were laid down, and then they will grow to the full stature of manhood or womanhood after the resurrection. …

    “… President Joseph F. Smith said that the same person, in the same form and likeness, will come forth ‘even to the wounds in the flesh. Not that a person will always be marred by scars, wounds, deformities, defects or infirmities, for these will be removed in their course, in their proper time, according to the merciful providence of God’ [Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 23]” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:293).

  9. 9.

    Helaman 14:15–17.

Alma 41. Through the plan of restoration, our spirits and bodies will be reunited to stand at the Judgment. The righteous will be restored to happiness, while the wicked will be miserable. (25–30 minutes)

Display a piece of restored furniture, pictures of a wrecked car before and after it was repaired, or a simple puzzle that can easily be taken apart and put back together. Write restoration on the board and ask students to discuss how the object illustrates the word. Read Alma 41:13 and invite students to mark the word restoration and the definition to bring back again.

Have students read Alma 41:1–2 and look for an example of restoration. Ask: Why is the Resurrection such a good example of restoration?

Explain that, in addition to the Resurrection, the restoration Alma spoke of includes the Judgment. Have students read Alma 41:3 and underline two things we will be judged by. Read Moroni 7:8 and Doctrine and Covenants 137:9, and suggest to students that they cross-reference those verses with Alma 41:3. Ask: Why is what we desire as important as what we do? Read Alma 41:5–6 and discuss the following:

  • What is restored or brought back to us at the Judgment?

  • What does receiving happiness for a life of righteousness illustrate about the Judgment?

  • What examples can you give of gospel principles that may be more difficult for some people to live than for others? (One possible answer is going to the temple, since some members live great distances from existing temples.)

  • How does knowing we will be judged according to the desires of our hearts as well as our actions make you feel about the Final Judgment?

Share this insight from Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“Just as we will be accountable for our evil desires, we will also be rewarded for our righteous ones. Our Father in Heaven will receive a truly righteous desire as a substitute for actions that are genuinely impossible. My father-in-law was fond of expressing his version of this principle. When someone wanted to do something for him but was prevented by circumstances, he would say: ‘Thank you. I will take the good will for the deed.’

“This is the principle that blessed Abraham for his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. The Lord stopped him at the last instant (see Genesis 22:11–12), but his willingness to follow the Lord’s command ‘was accounted unto him for righteousness’ (D&C 132:36).

“This principle means that when we have done all that we can, our desires will carry us the rest of the way. It also means that if our desires are right, we can be forgiven for the unintended errors or mistakes we will inevitably make as we try to carry those desires into effect. What a comfort for our feelings of inadequacy!” (Pure in Heart [1988], 59).

Show the class two very different kinds of seeds (such as carrot seeds and acorns). Divide the class into three groups and have each group read one of the following verses: 2 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:7; Doctrine and Covenants 6:33. Have the groups look for and share how seeds are used in that verse to teach a gospel principle. Discuss the following questions:

  • How might the two kinds of seeds illustrate the plan of restoration described in Alma 41:5–6? (Righteousness brings one fruit, wickedness a different one.)

  • What “fruit” grows from the seeds of righteousness?

Read Alma’s warning to Corianton in Alma 41:9–11 and ask:

  • What brief phrase best summarizes Alma’s message?

  • Why can’t seeds of wickedness produce happiness?

Have students read Alma 41:14–15 and underline how Alma said we should apply the doctrine of restoration in our lives. Ask them to share what they underlined. Invite them to share positive examples of how “that which ye do send out shall return unto you again” (v. 15).

scripture mastery iconAlma 41:10 (Scripture Mastery). “Wickedness never was happiness.” (10–15 minutes)

Invite three students to each read one of the following statements to the class. Before they read, have them call on another student to summarize their statement’s message in a single sentence on the board.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“The commandments of the gospel come from a tender, loving Father whose laws are given to make us happy, to protect us, and to help us avoid the inescapable pain and misery that always result when we yield to Satan and give in to temptation” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 56; or Ensign, May 1994, 42).

The 1990 For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, published under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, advises:

“You cannot do wrong and feel right. It is impossible! … Satan would have you believe that happiness comes only as you surrender to his enticement to self-indulgence. We need only to look at the shattered lives of those who violate God’s laws to know why Satan is called the ‘father of all lies’ (2 Nephi 2:18). …

“Joy and happiness come from living the way the Lord wants you to live” (4, 19).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“Evil never was happiness. Sin never was happiness. Happiness lies in the power and the love and the sweet simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 69–70; or Ensign, May 1997, 49).

Ask students to find a verse in Alma 41 that summarizes the three sentences on the board. Have them mark Alma 41:10 as a scripture mastery scripture. Add your testimony that joy comes from keeping Heavenly Father’s commandments.

weekly iconAlma 42:1–28. Because of the law of justice, when we sin we are cut off from God’s presence. Through the Savior’s Atonement, mercy satisfies the demands of justice for all those who repent. (55–60 minutes)

Before class, write the accompanying chart on the board.

Alma 42

Word

Meaning

v. 1

consigned

delivered, handed over

vv. 2–3

cherubim

angels

v. 4

probationary

trial, test

v. 7

temporally

physically, having to do with the mortal body

v. 8

expedient

suitable, appropriate

v. 8

reclaimed

recovered, brought back

v. 10

carnal

worldly, given to crude physical pleasures

Write on the board I want the Final Judgment to be fair. Invite students to raise their hands if they agree with the statement. Count the hands and write the number on the board. (Most should agree.)

Assign students to read the following scriptures to the class: Deuteronomy 32:4; Mosiah 16:1; 2 Nephi 26:7. Have class members listen for what these scriptures teach about God, and invite students to share what they observed. Testify that God is just and His judgments will be fair, but explain that this presents a problem for all of us. Read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

Justice has many meanings. One is balance. …

“People generally feel that justice has been done when an offender receives what he deserves—when the punishment fits the crime. …

“… The idea of justice as what one deserves is the fundamental premise of all scriptures that speak of men’s being judged according to their works. …

“The justice of God holds each of us responsible for our own transgressions and automatically imposes the penalty” (Sins, Crimes, and Atonement [address to CES religious educators, 7 Feb. 1992], 1–2).

Ask: How is God’s justice a problem for us? Be sure students understand that sin makes us all unworthy to enter God’s presence. Elder Oaks continued:

“Justice will also see that we receive what we deserve, and that is an outcome I fear. I cannot achieve my eternal goals on the basis of what I deserve. Though I try with all my might, I am still what King Benjamin called an ‘unprofitable servant’ (see Mosiah 2:21). To achieve my eternal goals, I need more than I deserve. I need more than justice” (Sins, Crimes, and Atonement, 2).

Explain that Alma’s son was troubled by something related to justice. Read Alma 42:1 and look for what concerned Corianton. (He didn’t think a sinner should suffer for his sins.) Explain that Corianton did not understand Heavenly Father’s plan. Read with students Alma 42:2–11. Refer them to the chart on the board for help with difficult words. Have students look for answers to the following questions:

  • What did God grant to Adam and Eve and their descendants after the Fall? (see v. 4).

  • In what two ways were our first parents (as well as their descendants) cut off? (see vv. 7–9).

  • What would our condition be if there had been no Atonement? (see v. 11).

Explain that the Fall of Adam was a necessary part of the plan of salvation. Without the Fall, we could not have come to earth to gain our bodies and experience the tests that prepare the faithful for eternal life. But we cannot be saved in our fallen condition. Write justice and mercy on the board. Next to justice write getting what we deserve. Invite students to suggest a meaning for mercy. (One possible answer is getting better than we deserve.) Ask:

  • How many of us need mercy? Why?

  • How has Heavenly Father provided a source of mercy for us?

Read Alma 42:14–15, and share the following from Elder Oaks:

“In its relationship to justice and mercy, the Atonement is the means by which justice is served and mercy is extended. In combination, justice and mercy and the Atonement constitute the glorious eternal wholeness of the justice and mercy of God” (Sins, Crimes, and Atonement, 2).

Read Alma 42:13 and find what we must do to receive the mercy of the Atonement. Suggest to students that they cross-reference this verse with Alma 34:16 and Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–17.

Read Alma 42:16–18 and ask: What gift could not be extended to us if there were no law and no punishment? Why? Some students may wonder why suffering is required even for those who repent. The following explanation by President Spencer W. Kimball may be helpful:

“If a person hasn’t suffered, he hasn’t repented. … He has got to go through a change in his system whereby he suffers and then forgiveness is a possibility” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 99).

Elder Oaks added:

“The person who repents does not need to suffer ‘even as’ the Savior suffered for that sin. Sinners who are repenting will experience some suffering, but, because of their repentance and because of the Atonement, they will not experience the full ‘exquisite’ extent of eternal torment the Savior suffered for that sin. …

“… The repentant sinner who comes to Christ with a broken heart and a contrite spirit has been through a process of personal pain and suffering for sin. He understands the meaning of Alma’s statement that ‘none but the truly penitent are saved’ (Alma 42:24)” (Sins, Crimes, and Atonement, 5).

Read and discuss Alma 42:18–31, using the following suggestions and questions:

Verses 18–20

How is having a remorse of conscience a blessing to us? (see vv. 18–20).

Verse 23

Explain that when we repent, the Lord’s mercy keeps us from having to experience the whole punishment we deserve for our sins. Ask: What unconditional blessing of mercy is also provided by the Atonement? (We will be resurrected and brought back into the presence of God.)

Verse 29

Have students read 2 Corinthians 7:9–10, and suggest they cross-reference it with this verse. Ask:

  • How did Paul describe the feeling of “trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance”? (“Godly sorrow.”)

  • Why must we experience “godly sorrow” when we repent?

Verses 30–31

Even though Corianton had committed very serious sins, repentance and forgiveness were possible.

  • What evidence is there in these verses that Corianton repented and was forgiven?

  • What does this teach you about the sins you have committed?

The following request from Elder Dallin H. Oaks is for you, the teacher:

“I hope you will help your students feel their relationship to God, feel his concern for them, and feel his love for them. That love is manifest in the Atonement, and we accept that love when we practice the principle of repentance.

“Repentance is a continuing process, needed by all because ‘all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). Teach your students that full repentance is possible and that thereafter forgiveness is certain” (Sins, Crimes, and Atonement, 8).