Alma 8–16

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 141–155


Introduction

Lehi taught his son Jacob that there must be opposition in all things (see 2 Nephi 2:11). The contrasts in the scriptures can teach us many gospel truths. In Alma 5–8 the prophet Alma delivered his message of repentance in several Nephite cities. Many responded positively to his message, and he succeeded in reclaiming the Saints of Zarahemla, Gideon, and Melek. Alma 8–16 records that the people of Ammonihah reacted quite differently to the prophet’s plea. What gospel truths can you learn by comparing these two accounts?

Heavenly Father gives His children ample opportunities to hear and accept His message. After Alma was cast out by the people of Ammonihah, an angel sent him back a second time to deliver the Lord’s message. Although most of the people rejected Alma’s message, there were many whose lives were changed. Watch for who accepted Alma’s message and what they sacrificed in order to embrace the gospel.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 75–80.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 8. Missionary work is challenging, but it is the work of the Lord and He will assist us. (35–40 minutes)

Share the following story from President Gordon B. Hinckley, who described his experience as a young missionary in Great Britain:

“When I arrived, it seemed that everyone was prejudiced against us.

“I was not well when I arrived. Those first few weeks, because of illness and the opposition which we felt, I was discouraged. I wrote a letter home to my good father and said that I felt I was wasting my time and his money” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 350).

Tell students that the story is not over and you will return to it later in the lesson. Explain that President Hinckley’s story is not unlike the challenges many missionaries face while serving the Lord. Alma also experienced difficulties during his missionary labors. Have students read Alma 8:1, 3–5, and discuss his success in Zarahemla, Gideon, and Melek. Read what happened in Ammonihah (see vv. 8–13) and compare it with his experience in the previous three cities. Ask:

  • Why do you think Alma’s experience in Ammonihah was so different?

  • What does this tell us about missionary work? (Answers might include that sometimes it is more difficult than others and that it isn’t always filled with immediate, visible success.)

  • How might the Lord comfort His missionaries when their message is rejected?

Have students read verses 14–15 and compare the angel’s message with the reaction of the people of Ammonihah when they heard Alma’s message. Read Alma 8:16–17 looking for what the angel told Alma next. Remind students of verse 13, and ask: How might you have felt about this assignment if you had been in Alma’s position? Why did Alma have reason to be apprehensive?

Read 1 Nephi 3:7 and ask: What does this scripture teach about God’s commandments? Have students read Alma 8:18–22 looking for the “way” the Lord prepared for Alma to accomplish his mission. Discuss their findings. Have them do the same for verses 27–32. As you discuss these verses, point out that the Lord called Amulek to serve this mission with Alma. The following questions may be helpful:

  • What might have occurred while “Alma tarried many days with Amulek”? (It was probably a time of preparation for their mission.)

  • What is the advantage of having two messengers rather than just one to deliver the Lord’s message? (To answer this question, have students read Alma 9:6 and then read the reference in footnote b; see also D&C 6:28.)

  • Why might the power spoken of in Alma 8:31 be needed to teach the people of a wicked city?

Testify that missionary work can be difficult and discouraging, but the Lord will help us if we are humble and trust Him. Remind students of the difficult time President Hinckley had at the start of his mission. Share the rest of his account:

“I wrote a letter home to my good father and said that I felt I was wasting my time and his money. He was my father and my stake president, and he was a wise and inspired man. He wrote a very short letter to me which said, ‘Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.’ Earlier that morning in our scripture class my companion and I had read these words of the Lord: ‘Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.’ (Mark 8:35.)

“Those words of the Master, followed by my father’s letter with his counsel to forget myself and go to work, went into my very being. With my father’s letter in hand, I went into our bedroom in the house at 15 Wadham Road, where we lived, and got on my knees and made a pledge with the Lord. I covenanted that I would try to forget myself and lose myself in His service.

“That July day in 1933 was my day of decision. A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart. The fog of England seemed to lift, and I saw the sunlight. I had a rich and wonderful mission experience, for which I shall ever be grateful” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 350).

Ask students:

  • What difference did the advice of President Hinckley’s earthly father make?

  • How did Heavenly Father speak to the discouraged missionary?

Invite students to share examples of friends or family members who have been assisted by the Lord during their missions.

Alma 9:1–24. Those who sin with greater understanding of the gospel receive greater condemnation than those who sin with less understanding. (25–30 minutes)

Devise a mathematical story problem or get one from a high school math book. Before class, give a student the problem and provide instructions on how to solve it (do not give the student the answer). In class, invite this student and a student who has not seen the problem to find the answer. (The student you gave instructions to before class should be able to solve the problem first.) When they finish, describe to the class the help you gave the first student, and ask the two volunteers why the one with the extra information should have been able to find the answer first.

Invite two additional students to solve a complicated division problem. Give one student a piece of paper and a pencil and the other a calculator. Ask the class who should be able to find the answer first. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 82:3 and suggest ways the above examples illustrate this scripture.

Write ritual prodigalism on the board, and ask students what they think it means. Tell them that one definition for ritual is “according to social custom or tradition.” A definition for prodigal is “extremely wasteful.” The young man in Christ’s parable who wasted his inheritance on riotous living is referred to as “the prodigal son” (see Luke 15:11–32). Ask students again what the phrase ritual prodigalism might mean. Share the following observation by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“Why do some of our youth risk engaging in ritual prodigalism, intending to spend a season rebelling and acting out in Babylon and succumbing to that devilishly democratic ‘everybody does it’? Crowds cannot make right what God has declared to be wrong. Though planning to return later, many such stragglers find that alcohol, drugs, and pornography will not let go easily. Babylon does not give exit permits gladly” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 40; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 33).

Ask what Elder Maxwell is warning us about. Have students suggest reasons young Church members might rationalize doing what they have been taught is wrong. Read James 4:17 and Doctrine and Covenants 82:3 and ask: How do these scriptures warn against such rationalization? Have students take turns reading from Alma 9:1–18 to find an example of this principle. Ask why Alma proclaimed to the people of Ammonihah: “It shall be more tolerable for [the Lamanites] in the day of judgment than for you, if ye remain in your sins” (v. 15).

Read verses 19–22 with students. Invite them to find and underline blessings the people of Nephi received, and list these on the board. Ask: Which of these blessings have we received? Discuss how the people of Ammonihah could have forgotten these blessings. Read verses 23–24 and Doctrine and Covenants 3:4. Ask:

  • How could we lose blessings we have been given?

  • Why do you think more is required of those who have been taught the gospel of Jesus Christ? (Answers might include that it is fair, that we have made covenants, that we need to be good examples, that we need to live up to the trust we’ve been given, that obeying the Lord is a good way to show gratitude.)

President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, said:

“Let us be grateful. But let us not be boastful. Let us rather be thankful and humble, as becomes those who are the beneficiaries of such rich blessings from the Almighty” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1982, 67; or Ensign, May 1982, 44).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught:

“As we remember our Lord and Savior, we should contemplate the great blessings we have as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have been taught by the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been led by his prophets. We have received the sealing ordinances of his gospel. He has blessed us bounteously.

“As we remember all of this, we should also remember the divine caution: ‘For of him unto whom much is given much is required’ (D&C 82:3; see also Luke 12:48). That eternal principle of law and justice is a measure of what God expects of us” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 37; or Ensign, May 1988, 32).

Ask students to share ways they express their gratitude for the blessings they have received from the Lord.

Alma 9:25–34. Those who are righteous will receive salvation “according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ.” (10–15 minutes)

Invite students to turn to “Redeemer of Israel” in the hymnbook (no. 6). Have them read the words and determine which coming of the Savior this hymn refers to (the Second Coming). Remind students that Jesus Christ was to come to the earth twice. Some scriptures prophesy of His first coming, some prophesy of His Second Coming, and some apply to both. Invite students to read Alma 9:25–27 and determine which coming of Jesus Christ Alma is referring to. (He is referring to Christ’s first coming, but his words can also be related to the Second Coming.) Encourage students to discuss the phrases in the verses that support their conclusions. Be sure they understand that as Jesus grew in mortality, He developed all the attributes and virtues listed in verse 26 (see Luke 2:52; Hebrews 5:8–9; D&C 93:12–14).

Have students reread Alma 9:26 and tell how each of these virtues of the Savior enables Him to help us live the gospel.

Read verse 27 again and the first part of verse 28, stopping at the words “deliverance of Jesus Christ.” Ask:

  • What must one become to receive salvation “according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ”?

  • What element of righteousness does Alma teach in verse 27?

  • How do faith on the name of Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism prepare us for the Savior’s Second Coming?

Have students read the rest of verse 28 and contrast the rewards of those who choose good and those who choose evil. Then have them read verses 30–33 and identify phrases that indicate how the people of Ammonihah responded to Alma’s message. Ask: Who was happier, Alma or the people he taught? Read Alma 41:10 and discuss why this is so.

Testify that the Savior will bless us if we follow His teachings. He wants to help us attain immortality and eternal life (see Moses 1:39). Share the following statement by President James E. Faust, a member of the First Presidency:

“All of us have made wrong turns along the way. I believe the kind and merciful God, whose children we are, will judge us as lightly as He can for the wrongs that we have done and give us the maximum blessing for the good that we do. Alma’s sublime utterance [in Alma 9:26] seems to me an affirmation of this” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 75; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 53).

Alma 10:1–8. The cares of the world can preoccupy us and deafen us to spiritual communication. (20–25 minutes)

Plug your ears with earplugs or cotton balls. Ask students questions about their school or church activities, and as they answer, indicate that you are having trouble hearing them. Remove the earplugs and ask:

  • How can earplugs be useful?

  • How can they be a problem?

Point out that we can choose to use or remove earplugs. Whether they help us or hinder us depends largely on how we use them.

Write Amulek on the board and ask students to tell who he is. Have them read Alma 10:1–6 to learn all they can about him, and invite some of them to write on the board what they learned. Ask:

  • What does verse 6 teach about spiritual communication?

  • How was Amulek’s response to the Lord’s voice like using earplugs?

If desired, use some or all of the following questions to help your discussion:

  • Does Amulek appear to have known something about the gospel prior to his call?

  • In what ways might the Lord have “called many times”? (v. 6).

  • What do these phrases mean: “I was called … and I would not hear” and “I knew … yet I would not know”?

  • Has the Lord called us many times? How? When?

Share the following statements by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“Youth may even have gifts, including the gift of the Holy Ghost, and yet be like counterparts of old who ‘knew it not’ (3 Nephi 9:20). Concerning the gospel message, they may be like busy and preoccupied Amulek” (Sermons Not Spoken [1985], 2).

“Amulek … is a classic case of an essentially good man being out of touch with the great spiritual realities; he resisted the things of the Spirit because, though he was basically good, he was preoccupied with the cares of the world” (Meek and Lowly [1987], 12).

Ask: What cares of the world might preoccupy us? Have students read Alma 9:1; 10:7–9 and determine how the Lord called Amulek. (Through an angel and a prophet.) Not everyone changes who sees and hears an angel. Ask students to give an example from the scriptures of an angel appearing to someone who did not subsequently change (see 1 Nephi 3:29–31). Ask:

  • How do you think Amulek was able to begin hearing and knowing?

  • How might the Lord call us to make changes in our lives?

Explain to students that Amulek’s change was life-altering. Elder Maxwell taught that Amulek “experienced the costs of discipleship” when he accepted the Lord’s call (Meek and Lowly, 12). Return to verse 4 and have students see what Amulek had prior to his call. Then have them read Alma 15:16 and compare what he forsook in order to obey the Lord. Discuss with students whether blessings are worth “the costs of discipleship.” Ask: What sacrifices might we be asked to make in order to hear and follow Heavenly Father’s will? Testify that hearing and knowing God is worth any worldly sacrifice.

Alma 10:22–23. The people of a region may be blessed because of the righteous who live among them. Destruction comes to the wicked who cast out the righteous from among them. (15–20 minutes)

Show students a package of yeast. Ask them to read Matthew 13:33 and Galatians 5:9 and find another name for this substance. Ask how a small amount of leaven affects an entire batch of dough.

Read the following examples to your students and ask them to determine what each has to do with spiritual leaven:

  • Inga’s soccer team just won the championship. Their coach wants to celebrate at a local bar. But Inga, the team captain, invites them to a party at her house. They accept her offer and celebrate without alcohol.

  • Shawn, Todd, and Randy decide to go to a movie together. Shawn and Todd want to see the newest release, an action movie with a lot of violence and profanity. Randy persuades them to attend another movie that has higher standards.

  • The Ferrera family are the only Church members in their small farming community. Relief from a severe drought comes to the area after the Ferreras’ frequent fasting and prayers.

  • Mele’s family often argues. When she is present there is more peace because of her humble, cheerful attitude.

Explain that there were righteous people living in the wicked city of Ammonihah. Amulek taught that these faithful people were the reason the city had been preserved. Invite a student to read to the class Alma 10:22–23. Ask:

  • What were the righteous people doing that blessed the rest of the city?

  • What could happen if the wicked cast out or killed those who were praying for them?

  • What does this teach us about the effect a few righteous people can have on the lives of those around them?

Help students see how this prophecy was fulfilled by reading the chapter heading to Alma 14 as well as Alma 16:9–10. Ask students to give other examples from the scriptures of wicked people who lost the Lord’s protection after the righteous were gone. (These might include Sodom and Gomorrah after Lot’s family left [see Genesis 18:23–32], Jerusalem after Jesus and several Apostles were killed [see Luke 19:41–44], King Noah’s people after the righteous were cast out or killed [see Mosiah 17–19].)

President Spencer W. Kimball, then Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught:

“Many voices of seducing spirits advocate carnal pleasures and unrestrained physical satisfactions. Our world is now much the same as it was in the days of the Nephite prophet who said: ‘… if it were not for the prayers of the righteous … ye would even now be visited with utter destruction. …’ [Alma 10:22.] Of course, there are many many upright and faithful who live all the commandments and whose lives and prayers keep the world from destruction” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 7; or Ensign, June 1971, 16).

President Gordon B. Hinckley added:

“I think we stand in this dispensation like the righteous in the days of the cities of the plains when perhaps the Lord might spare the wicked, some of them, because of the righteous. That places upon us a great and significant burden. That’s why we are here, to make of ourselves more effective instruments, truer warriors under the direction of the Almighty to save His sons and daughters from those things which will destroy them in time and for eternity unless they turn their lives around” (“Messages of Inspiration from President Hinckley,” Church News, 5 Apr. 1997, 2).

Invite students to share thoughts or feelings they have about how to be a good influence in the lives of their families, other students in their schools, their neighbors, and members of their communities.

Alma 11:1–25. We are sometimes faced with the temptation to trade our testimony for personal gain or selfish interests. True happiness comes from living righteously. (15–20 minutes)

Show students coins or bank notes of various denominations. Ask them to name honest ways they can earn money. Read Alma 11:1, 3, 20. Ask students to comment on the honesty and sincerity of the judges and lawyers in Ammonihah. Ask: What was their motive? (To get gain.)

Have students quickly read verses 5–19. Ask: What do these verses describe? Draw the following chart on the board.

1

2

4

7

Gold

senine

seon

shum

limnah

Silver

senum

amnor

ezrom

onti

Point out that an onti is the silver currency with the greatest value (see vv. 7–13). Read verses 21–22 and ask:

  • How much money did Zeezrom offer Amulek?

  • What did he tell Amulek he had to do to obtain this money?

  • What are people today sometimes tempted to exchange for their testimony, beliefs, or standards? (Power, popularity, money, worldly pleasures.)

  • What are the consequences of choosing wickedness over righteousness? (see Alma 41:10).

Read Alma 10:10–12; 12:1; 14:6 and compare Zeezrom with Amulek. Invite students to write descriptions of each man on the board.

Have a student read the following statements. President Ezra Taft Benson said:

“We must first and foremost come to realize this eternal truth—the gospel plan is the plan of happiness. Wickedness never did, never does, never will bring us happiness. Violation of the laws of God brings only misery, bondage, and darkness” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 71).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“There is no happiness in doing what’s wrong. There is no happiness in sin. There is misery and pain and regret and heartache and suffering. Happiness lies in walking in righteousness. Happiness lies in faithfulness and in righteousness” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 256).

Ask:

  • In what ways does following the Lord make us happy?

  • Why do temporal pleasures bring less happiness than obeying our Father in Heaven?

  • What acts of obedience to Heavenly Father have brought you the greatest joy?

Testify that there is lasting joy in choosing righteousness over temporal, or temporary, pleasure.

weekly iconAlma 11:21–40. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is “the very Eternal Father” and provides salvation to all who “believe on his name.” (40–45 minutes)

Write the following quiz on the board, or give it to students as a handout. Explain that these questions were asked of a prophet. Invite students to write the answers on a piece of paper. Do not correct the quizzes yet.

True or False?

1. We must answer every gospel question that is asked of us.

2. There is more than one God.

3. Jesus Christ will save His people in their sins.

4. The Son of God is the very Eternal Father.

5. Eternal life and salvation usually have the same meaning.

Invite two good readers to play the roles of Zeezrom and Amulek. Ask them to take turns reading the dialogue between these two men from Alma 11:21–40. (You could take the part of the narrator.) While the two students read their parts, invite the class to listen for Amulek’s answers to the quiz questions. Suggest to students that they underline the questions and answers in their scriptures.

When the readers finish, discuss the quiz questions. Explain that some of the statements might be true or false depending on the context, and that Amulek’s answers were appropriate for his situation. The following suggestions and questions may help your discussion:

  1. 1.

    We must answer every gospel question that is asked of us. (False; see Alma 11:21–22.)

    Have students read Alma 12:9–11; Doctrine and Covenants 42:12–14 and cross-reference them with Alma 11:22. Discuss why it is important to teach only what the Holy Ghost permits us to teach. Emphasize that generally people must be ready to learn a doctrine before the Spirit will witness the truth of it to them.

  2. 2.

    There is more than one God. (False; see Alma 11:28–29.)

    Help students understand that we believe the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are members of the Godhead and each carry the title of God. Amulek’s answer, however, doesn’t address the physical nature of the Godhead. Rather than getting into the plurality of gods, Amulek is focusing on Jesus Christ and His role as God. Read 1 Corinthians 3:2 and ask:

  3. What does it mean to feed someone spiritually “with milk, and not with meat”?

  4. How does this apply to answering gospel questions?

  5. What are some circumstances that would call for being brief and simple with our answers to gospel questions?

  6. Why was Amulek’s one-word answer a wise way to answer Zeezrom’s question about God? (Zeezrom was asking the question as a debate strategy. He wasn’t trying to understand God’s nature.)

  7. 3.

    Jesus Christ will save His people in their sins. (False; see Alma 11:34.)

    Ask students what important word makes this a false statement. What word could they replace the word in with to make the sentence true? Nephi the son of Helaman later taught this same doctrine and answered this question (see Helaman 5:10–11; see also 3 Nephi 9:21).

  8. 4.

    The Son of God is the very Eternal Father. (True; see Alma 11:38–39.)

    This doctrine was also taught by King Benjamin. Read Mosiah 5:7 and ask: In what ways is Jesus Christ our Father? Consider listing their answers on the board. The list might include the following:

  9. He created the earth, which sustains our life. He is our Father through His Creation. (See Hebrews 1:1–2; Moses 1:31–33.)

  10. He brings about the Resurrection. He is the Father of our resurrected bodies. (See 1 Corinthians 15:22; Alma 11:42; Mormon 9:12.)

  11. He provides a newness of life through the Atonement. He is the Father of our spiritual rebirth. (See Moroni 10:33; Moses 6:59.)

  12. He changes our nature as we repent and follow Him and makes us part of His family. He becomes our Father as we take on ourselves His name. (See Mosiah 5:7–8; 27:25.)

    See also the commentary for Mosiah 5:7 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 58). Note: Be sure students understand that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are separate and distinct beings.

  13. 5.

    Eternal life and salvation usually have the same meaning. (True; see Alma 11:40.)

    Invite students to carefully read Alma 11:40, paying particular attention to the promise to those who believe on the Savior’s name. Note that, as Amulek uses the words, salvation is granted only to those who gain eternal life. Share the following explanation by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

    “Since it is the prophetic purpose to lead men to full salvation in the highest heaven of the celestial world, when [prophets] speak and write about salvation, almost without exception, they mean eternal life or exaltation. They use the terms salvation, exaltation, and eternal life as synonyms, as words that mean exactly the same thing without any difference, distinction, or variance whatever” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 129).

Invite students to write on a piece of paper the doctrines Amulek taught that they understand better than they did before class. Have them include why these doctrines are important and how they can apply them to their lives. Encourage them to save these papers to refer to later.

Alma 11:40–46. Because of the Savior’s Atonement, we will all be resurrected and brought back into God’s presence to be judged. (20–25 minutes)

Write on the board the definitions of the words below (do not write the words you are defining). Read Alma 11:40–45 with students, asking them to watch for words that match the definitions. As students identify the correct words, write them on the board next to their definitions.

Redemption: Deliverance from the effects of the Fall and sin through Christ’s Atonement.

Temporal death: Separation of the spirit from the body.

Reunited: Brought together again.

Restored: Returned to a former condition.

Recollection: Memory.

Arraigned: Called to account for actions.

Mortal: Subject to death.

Corruption: Decomposition as a result of death.

Write Resurrection and Judgment on the board. Ask half the class to reread verses 41–43 and the other half to reread verses 44–45 looking for teachings about the Resurrection and the Judgment. Have them share their findings, and suggest that they mark in their scriptures any insights they gain.

Read verse 46 and ask: Which of Amulek’s teachings from Alma 11 do you think made Zeezrom tremble? Why?

Ask students if any of them have lost a family member or friend to death. (Note: Be careful not to intrude on sensitive feelings.) Ask:

  • What was most difficult about the death of this person?

  • Why do you miss this person?

Ask students to think of someone they know about with a physical or mental disability. Ask: What comfort comes from knowing that the Savior provided a way for everyone to live forever with a perfect body and mind?

Share your feelings about the power of the Resurrection. Testify that because of Jesus Christ all people will be resurrected and stand before the Godhead “to be judged according to our works” (Alma 12:12). If we apply the Atonement and keep the commandments with hope in Christ, we will receive the promised blessings of the faithful.

Alma 12:1–8. God knows our thoughts and, when necessary, reveals them to His servants by the power of the Holy Ghost. (30–35 minutes)

Read the following account:

“Being in charge of the Endowment House, while the [Salt Lake] Temple was in the process of construction, Heber C. Kimball [a member of the First Presidency] met with a group who were planning to enter the temple [the Endowment House] for ordinance work. He felt impressed that some were not worthy to go into the temple, and he suggested first that if any present were not worthy, they might retire. No one responding, he said that there were some present who should not proceed through the temple because of unworthiness and he wished they would leave so the company could proceed. It was quiet as death and no one moved nor responded. A third time he spoke, saying that there were two people present who were in adultery, and if they did not leave he would call out their names. Two people walked out and the company continued on through the temple” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 112).

Ask students how President Heber C. Kimball knew that “some were not worthy to go into the temple.” Explain that Alma and Amulek had an experience similar to President Kimball’s. Read Alma 12:1–3, and have students mark Alma’s explanation of how he knew of Zeezrom’s intentions.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 6:16 and cross-reference it with Alma 12:3. Ask students to name a truth taught in each verse that is not taught in the other. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:16 teaches that only God knows our thoughts. Alma 12:3 shows that our thoughts can be made known to another by the Spirit.) This discernment is a gift of the Spirit (see D&C 46:11–12, 23, 27). Be sure students understand that though Heavenly Father knows our thoughts, He respects our privacy and does not frequently reveal them to others. Read the following explanation by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“Men’s thoughts are secret and cannot be pried into by other men, or for that matter by devils. …

“However, the Lord can and does on occasion reveal to his prophets the thoughts and intents of the hearts of men. [Jacob 2:5; Alma 10:17.] This revealing of the thoughts of another is one of the gifts of the Spirit; it is akin to the spirit of prophecy; it comes by the power of God and not of man. [Alma 12:3, 7; 18:16–20, 32; Helaman 9:41.] Our Lord during his ministry frequently exercised the power to read the thoughts of those among whom he labored” (Mormon Doctrine, 777; see also p. 197).

Read Alma 12:4–8 looking for what Alma did with his knowledge of Zeezrom’s thoughts. Ask:

  • What effect did Alma’s exposing Zeezrom’s plan have on Zeezrom’s heart?

  • How might a priesthood leader, such as a bishop or a stake president, use the gift of discernment to help a Church member?

Testify that those who live in tune with the Spirit may be prompted in various ways to help others. Ask students to suggest ways our Heavenly Father might lead us to bless His children because of His knowledge of their thoughts and intents. Invite them to share examples from their own experience. If needed, the following examples may help your discussion:

  • Yoshiko, on her way to lunch one day, walks past a girl standing by her locker. Yoshiko responds to a brief thought to turn around and talk to the girl. Upon doing so Yoshiko learns that this girl has just transferred to the school, doesn’t know anyone, and is lonely. Yoshiko invites the new girl to eat lunch with her, and a friendship begins.

  • As he is delivering newspapers, Juan, the new teachers quorum president, can’t get the name of a quorum member off his mind. He concludes that this quorum member should be his new first counselor. That evening he calls the bishop with his recommendation. The bishop tells Juan that it is the same person he was considering.

  • Brother Wong is a busy father. One evening as he returns home from work he feels that he should stop and see a family he home teaches. Upon arriving he learns that the family’s father is seriously ill. The mother had been unable to reach Brother Wong to request a blessing.

  • Danielle is making bread for her family. She thinks about a family in her branch whose father has lost his job. She decides to give several of her loaves of bread to the needy family. When she presents the bread, the family’s mother expresses gratitude, mentioning that they were running low on food. She tells Danielle the gift will provide enough for several meals.

Elder Thomas S. Monson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, shared the following experience:

“Late one afternoon I was swimming at the Deseret Gym, gazing at the ceiling while backstroking width after width. Silently, but ever so clearly, there came to my mind the thought: ‘Here you swim almost effortlessly, while your friend Stan languishes in his hospital bed, unable to move.’ I felt the prompting: ‘Get to the hospital and give him a blessing.’

“I ceased my swimming, dressed, and hurried to Stan’s room at the hospital. His bed was empty. A nurse said he was in his wheelchair at the swimming pool, preparing for therapy. I hurried to the area, and there was Stan, all alone, at the edge of the deeper portion of the pool. We greeted one another and returned to his room, where a priesthood blessing was provided.

“Slowly but surely, strength and movement returned to Stan’s legs. …

“Frequently Stan speaks in Church meetings and tells of the goodness of the Lord to him. To some he reveals the dark thoughts of depression which engulfed him that afternoon as he sat in his wheelchair at the edge of the pool, sentenced, it seemed, to a life of despair. He tells how he pondered the alternative. It would be so easy to propel the hated wheelchair into the silent water of the deep pool. Life would then be over. But at that precise moment he saw me, his friend. That day Stan learned literally that we do not walk alone. I, too, learned a lesson that day: Never, never, never postpone following a prompting” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 87; or Ensign, May 1985, 70).

Ask:

  • How did Heavenly Father’s knowledge of Stan’s thoughts lead Elder Monson to give assistance?

  • Why was it important for Elder Monson to be in tune with the Holy Ghost?

  • What did Elder Monson need to do after receiving his prompting to help his friend? (He needed to act on the prompting.)

Invite students to record on a piece of paper what they will do to (1) be worthy to receive the Lord’s promptings, (2) recognize promptings, and (3) act on promptings to assist Heavenly Father in blessing His children.

Alma 12:8–11. We learn the mysteries of God according to the heed and diligence we give to Him and as He sees fit to reveal them to us. (10–15 minutes)

Ask students:

  • If you could visit for fifteen minutes with anyone in the Church, who would it be? Why?

  • What would you ask this person?

  • How would you respond to any counsel this person gave you? Why?

Read to students the following experience of Elder Marion G. Romney, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Last fall, near the conclusion of a three-mission tour in which I had interviewed personally about 400 missionaries, I was abruptly cut down to size by a missionary who, in answer to my inquiry as to whether he had anything further he would like to comment on or ask, said: ‘What is so great about an interview with a General Authority?’ …

“‘… Most of the missionaries look forward in anticipation to an interview with a General Authority, and then they talk about it for a long time after. I don’t see anything so great about it.’”

Have the students imagine they are traveling with President Romney and he asks them to answer the missionary’s question. How would they respond? After discussing their answers conclude President Romney’s account:

“Having recovered my composure, I … said, ‘Maybe you can answer this question. Why is it that two men can sit side by side in a conference and then when they leave, one of them says to the other: “Wasn’t that the most glorious meeting we ever attended? It thrilled me.” The other responds: “Oh, I didn’t think it was so wonderful. It just sounded like the same old stuff to me.”’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 66).

Ask students to suggest reasons two people can have very different experiences in the same church meeting. Invite a student to read aloud Zeezrom’s question at the end of Alma 11:21. Ask students to read verse 22 and determine whether or not Zeezrom was sincerely trying to learn the gospel. Have a student read aloud the first sentence in Alma 12:8, and discuss the following questions:

  • What words show that Zeezrom’s intent had changed?

  • In what ways had it changed?

  • How could this alter his ability to understand gospel truths?

  • What role do you think Zeezrom’s diligence in asking about the gospel played in his eventual conversion?

Have the class read verse 9. Explain that the phrase mysteries of God means truths that are withheld from the world but given to the faithful through revelation (see Alma 26:22). Ask: According to this verse, what must a person do to learn the mysteries of God? Read verses 10–11, looking for who receives “the lesser portion of the word” and who receives “the greater portion of the word.” Ask: What is the eventual result if we harden our hearts?

Invite students to listen for how “heed and diligence” relate to receiving “the greater portion of the word” as you read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“We become receptive to inspiration and revelation by obedience to the commandments of God, by prayer, and by attention to the teachings of the living prophets. Their words serve as a guide for each of us, in scripture interpretation as in other matters. …

“… Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, ‘I sometimes think that one of the best-kept secrets of the kingdom is that the scriptures open the door to the receipt of revelation’ (Doctrines of the Restoration, ed. Mark L. McConkie, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989, p. 243). This happens because scripture reading puts us in tune with the Spirit of the Lord” (“Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 7–8).

Ask students to comment on how each of the following activities can lead them to a greater understanding of the gospel:

  • Searching the scriptures

  • Praying sincerely

  • Obeying the teachings of living prophets

Testify that the Spirit will guide us as we diligently study the gospel and heed the truths we learn. The Savior set a perfect example for us in applying the gospel to our lives.

Alma 12:12–18. We will be judged according to our words, works, and thoughts. (10–15 minutes)

Ask students to give examples of how our thoughts and beliefs affect what we do. Read Alma 12:12–13 looking for how this principle pertains to Amulek’s teaching.

Amulek gave a stern warning to Zeezrom. Read verse 14 and suggest that students mark the three ways we can be condemned. Read Mosiah 4:30 and cross-reference it to verse 14. Ask: Why would we “not dare to look up to our God” if our words, works, or thoughts were not clean? Read verses 15–18 and list the results of not learning to control one’s thoughts, words, or actions.

Ask: Since so much of who we are and how we live starts with what we think, what can we do to control our thoughts? Share the following suggestions for maintaining proper thoughts. Elder Boyd K. Packer, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“If you can control your thoughts, you can overcome habits—even degrading, personal habits. If you can learn to master them, you will have a happy life.

“I would teach you this. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. …

“Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. …

“As the music begins and as the words form in your mind, the unworthy thoughts will slip shamefully away” (Teach Ye Diligently [1975], 46–47).

President Marion G. Romney, who was a member of the First Presidency, said:

“The great overall struggle in the world today is, as it has always been, for the souls of men. Every soul is personally engaged in the struggle, and he makes his fight with what is in his mind. In the final analysis the battleground is, for each individual, within himself. Inevitably he gravitates toward the subjects of his thoughts. Ages ago the wise man thus succinctly stated this great truth: ‘As he thinketh in his heart, so is he’ [Proverbs 23:7]. …

“I am persuaded, my brothers and sisters, that it is irrational to hope to escape the lusts of the world without substituting for them as the subjects of our thoughts the things of the Spirit, and I know that the things of the Spirit are taught with mighty power in the Book of Mormon. …

“And so, I counsel you, my beloved brothers and sisters and friends everywhere, to make reading the Book of Mormon a few minutes each day a lifelong practice” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1980, 88–90; or Ensign, May 1980, 66–67).

Invite students to share how uplifting music and daily reading of the Book of Mormon can help them control their thoughts, words, and actions.

Alma 12:22–37. God provided the plan of redemption to save all mankind from their fallen condition. He sends His servants to teach the plan to His children. (40–45 minutes)

Draw a syringe on the board. Ask:

  • How is this instrument used to protect us from contracting diseases? (It is used to inject vaccines into our bloodstream.)

  • What does a vaccine do? (It stimulates our immune system to create antibodies to attack the germs that cause a given disease.)

  • Germs cannot be seen with the naked eye. How do we know they are dangerous? (Others who have contracted them have become ill or died.)

Invite a student to read this statement by President Boyd K. Packer:

“When you were children, you went through an immunization program. Antibodies were injected into your system to protect you should you be exposed to contagions, enemies so small as to be invisible. …

“… I do not know how many times I have been exposed to, yet spared from, serious illness by having submitted to the momentary discomfort of an inoculation.

“While we can protect our bodies from contagious diseases with the proper serums, we cannot immunize our minds and spirits that way. We immunize our minds and our spirits with ideas, with truth” (The Play and the Plan [address to young adults, 7 May 1995], 1).

Have students read Alma 12:25–26, 30, 32–33 and look for the phrase that appears seven times. (“Plan of redemption.”) Suggest that they mark the phrase each time it occurs. Point out that phrases such as “the plan of redemption,” “the plan of happiness,” “the great plan of mercy,” “the plan of salvation,” and “the merciful plan of the great Creator” appear more than two dozen times in the Book of Mormon. Ask: Why do you think the Lord’s prophets emphasize this doctrine so much? Invite students to think about how knowledge of the plan of redemption is like a vaccine, as President Packer suggested.

Have students review Alma 12:25, 30 and look for when the plan of redemption was prepared. Testify that the plan was taught to us before we came to this earth. Each of us understood and accepted the plan. President Packer taught:

“The course of our mortal life, from birth to death, conforms to eternal law and follows a plan described in the revelations as the great plan of happiness. The one idea, the one truth I would inject into your minds, is this: There are three parts to the plan. You are in the second or the middle part, the one in which you will be tested by temptation, by trials, perhaps by tragedy. Understand that and you will be better able to make sense of life and to resist the disease of doubt and despair and depression” (The Play and the Plan, 1–2).

Although the veil prevents us from remembering our premortal life, we lived before we came to earth and we will live after we die. Ask:

  • How can knowing that you are living in the second part of a three-part plan help you when you are faced with temptation?

  • How can this understanding help you face hardship?

Alma explained the plan of redemption to Zeezrom. The following activity will help students identify elements of the plan.

Divide the class into groups of two or three students. Assign each group one or more sets of verses from the accompanying chart. Give each group a sheet of paper for each set of verses they are assigned. Instruct them to find an element of the plan of redemption in each verse or set of verses. Have them describe these elements on the paper (you could also have them illustrate with simple pictures). When they finish, have the groups read their verses to the class and explain what they wrote.

Alma 12

v. 22

Because of the Fall of Adam, all mankind is lost and fallen.

vv. 23, 26

Death was a result of the Fall of Adam and is a necessary part of the plan.

v. 24

Earth life is a probation and a time to prepare to meet God.

v. 25

If there were no plan of redemption, there would be no Resurrection.

vv. 25, 30

The plan was prepared before the creation of the earth.

v. 27

All people will die and be judged.

vv. 28–30

God teaches the plan to His children according to their faith, repentance, and holy works.

v. 32

God gave commandments after He taught the plan of redemption.

vv. 33–34

The Atonement of the Only Begotten Son is central to the plan of redemption.

Post the papers on the board in the order of the verses. Review the principles they describe to help students see how the pieces of the plan fit together. Be sure students understand each of the concepts in the right-hand column of the chart. Discuss how these doctrines can provide us with a “spiritual vaccination.”

Draw students’ attention to the importance of verses 33–34. Explain that the Redeemer made the plan of redemption possible. Point out that the root of both redemption and Redeemer is redeem. Write on the board the following definition of redeem: “to buy back; recover; free from captivity by paying a ransom; rescue; restore; repair.” Ask: What do these words teach about the Redeemer’s role in the plan of redemption? Read Mosiah 3:7 and the third verse of “There Is a Green Hill Far Away” (Hymns, no. 194). Ask: Why was Jesus Christ the only one who could fulfill the plan of redemption?

President Packer counseled:

“Some are born with so little and others with so much. Some are born in poverty, with handicaps, with pain, with suffering. Some experience premature death, even innocent children. There are the brutal, unforgiving forces of nature and the brutality of man to man. We have seen a lot of that recently.

“Do not suppose that God willfully causes that which, for his own purposes, he permits. When you know the plan and purpose of it all, even these things will manifest a loving Father in Heaven” (The Play and the Plan, 2).

Express gratitude for Heavenly Father and His Son for loving us enough to provide the plan of redemption.

Alma 12:31–13:2. One responsibility of Melchizedek Priesthood holders is to teach God’s children how to live worthy, Christlike lives and eventually receive eternal life. (25–30 minutes)

Prior to class place a picture of the Prophet Joseph Smith on the board. Next to it, write this statement:

“The Melchizedek Priesthood … is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation and every important matter is revealed from heaven” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 166–67).

Ask students what the following have in common: a stripe painted down the middle of a road, a boundary between two pieces of property, a time zone, the border between countries, longitude and latitude, hours and minutes. (They are all man-made boundaries.) Explain that, much like these artificial boundaries, the chapter and verse numbers in scriptures were added by human beings. They assist us in locating scripture passages. However, because of chapter breaks we sometimes don’t see the development of an idea that may have started in the previous chapter. You could show students examples of this in the Bible by reading the last few verses of Matthew 24 and the first verse of Matthew 25. Another example can be found at the end of 1 Corinthians 12 and the beginning of chapter 13.

Explain that we can understand some chapters in the Book of Mormon better when we read them in context with the previous chapter. Have students read Alma 13:1, stopping at the words “these commandments.” Ask: Which commandments is Alma referring to? Invite them to search Alma 12:37 for a reference to commandments. To clarify what “second commandments” refers to, read Alma 12:31 and point out the words first commandments. Have students look up the references in footnote b to see what these first commandments were. Read Alma 12:32 and ask:

  • What did the Lord do before He gave Adam and Eve new commandments? (He made known unto them the plan of redemption.)

  • How does first knowing the plan of salvation help us obey Heavenly Father’s commandments? (The plan helps us understand why we have the commandments.)

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 82:3. How does this verse relate to the principle taught in Alma 12:32? (We are required to live a greater law after we have been taught.)

Write These Commandments on the board. Ask the following questions, and as students respond, write the answers on the board:

  • According to Alma 12:32, what is one of the commandments God gave?

  • Read verses 33–34. What else does God call on us to do?

  • How does this bring us to Christ?

Have students read Alma 13:1–2 and look for how Heavenly Father teaches “these commandments” to His children. Suggest that students mark footnote 2a, and then read Doctrine and Covenants 107:2–4. Ask: What authority do the words “after the order of his Son” in Alma 13:2 refer to? (The Melchizedek Priesthood.) Read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“Book of Mormon prophets gave the title priest to officers known in this dispensation as high priests. That is, they were priests of the Melchizedek Priesthood. … Since there was no Aaronic Priesthood among the Nephites in Alma’s day … , there was no need to distinguish between priests of the lesser and greater priesthoods” (Mormon Doctrine, 599).

According to Alma 13:1, why did the Lord give the Melchizedek Priesthood? If you have time, you may wish to show an example of this from an earlier Book of Mormon chapter. For example, read Alma 6:1–5 and look for how these priesthood holders fulfilled their call. Read the statement on the board by the Prophet Joseph Smith and refer to the list of “these commandments.” Ask students to suggest ways that Melchizedek Priesthood holders serve by fulfilling these responsibilities. (Answers might include filling missions, completing home teaching assignments, attending quorum meetings, administering priesthood blessings and temple covenants and ordinances.)

Testify that the Melchizedek Priesthood provides all Church members with opportunities to serve, covenants and ordinances, and callings so we can learn how to live Christlike lives.

Alma 13. Many were foreordained in the premortal life to receive callings in the Melchizedek Priesthood in mortality. Callings to the priesthood are based on personal worthiness and following the example of Jesus Christ. (35–40 minutes)

Show a picture of the Salt Lake Temple (for example Gospel Art Picture Kit, no. 502). Ask students the following questions:

  • How long did it take to build this temple? (Forty years.)

  • What preparations were needed prior to its construction? (Plans were drawn, materials were gathered, workers were organized.)

  • Who had knowledge of this temple hundreds of years before the Saints entered the Salt Lake Valley? (Read with students Isaiah 2:2–3. President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, said of the Salt Lake Temple, “It is a veritable fulfillment of the words of Isaiah” [“The Salt Lake Temple,” Ensign, Mar. 1993, 6].)

  • How must we live in order to enter this sacred building? (see D&C 97:15–16).

Teach students that the Melchizedek Priesthood is like a temple. Building a temple requires physical preparation, and before we enter a temple we must prepare spiritually. Alma 13 teaches that those who hold the priesthood in mortality were called, prepared, and foreordained in their premortal life.

During the following activity, encourage students to mark in their scriptures words and phrases that teach them about the priesthood. Arrange your students into two groups. Have each group read one of the scripture blocks from the following chart and answer the questions that go with it. Write their findings on the board, and discuss them as a class.

Alma 13:1–9
Requirements for Holding the Priesthood

Alma 13:10–19
Honoring the Priesthood

•Why are Melchizedek Priesthood holders ordained? (see vv. 1, 6).

•When were they first called? (see vv. 3, 5).

•What qualifies them to receive the priesthood? (see vv. 3–4).

•What is the nature of the priesthood? (see vv. 7–9).

•How do priesthood holders become worthy of this holy calling? (see vv. 10–12).

•How should priesthood holders (and other Saints) live to stay worthy? (see vv. 12–14).

•What does Melchizedek’s example teach about honoring the priesthood? (see vv. 17–19).

Use the following prophetic statements to help your discussion. The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

“Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 365).

President J. Reuben Clark Jr., who was a member of the First Presidency, said:

“I like to think that [this statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith] does include those of us of lesser calling and lesser stature. … I like to think that perhaps in that grand council something at least was said to us indicating what would be expected of us, and empowering us, subject to the re-confirmation here, to do certain things in building up the kingdom of God on earth” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1950, 170–71).

President Wilford Woodruff, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“I believe with regard to the apostles, the high priests, seventies and the elders of Israel bearing the holy priesthood, I believe they were ordained before they came here; and I believe the God of Israel has raised them up, and has watched over them from their youth, and has carried them through all the scenes of life both seen and unseen, and has prepared them as instruments in his hands to take this kingdom and bear it off” (in Journal of Discourses, 21:317).

President Harold B. Lee said:

“Despite that calling which is spoken of in the scriptures as ‘foreordination,’ we have another inspired declaration: ‘Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. …’ (D&C 121:34.)

“This suggests that even though we have our free agency here, there are many who were foreordained before the world was, to a greater state than they have prepared themselves for here. Even though they might have been among the noble and great, from among whom the Father declared he would make his chosen leaders, they may fail of that calling here in mortality” (Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 9).

President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, said:

“Every one of us who holds this divine power must recognize this transcendent truth—that those powers of heaven which are associated with the priesthood ‘cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.’” (“Only upon Principles of Righteousness,” Ensign, Sept. 1992, 69; see D&C 121:36).

Ask the students to list ways that righteous Melchizedek Priesthood holders bless the members of the Church. (Answers might include through example, service, priesthood blessings, patriarchal blessings, ordinances.) Ask:

  • In what ways may a young man prepare to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood?

  • In what ways can young women help young men prepare?

  • In what ways can young men and women prepare to receive temple ordinances?

Read with students Alma 13:27–28 and suggest that they mark how we can keep ourselves worthy of these blessings.

Alma 14. Agency is so important that God sometimes allows the righteous to suffer from the evil acts of others. Nevertheless, He is aware of our afflictions and will bless those who are faithful in their trials. (30–35 minutes)

Ask students if they have ever been accused of doing something wrong that they did not do. Discuss the feelings that resulted. Ask students to share examples from the scriptures of people who were unjustly criticized, persecuted, or killed. Alma 14 includes an account of faithful women and children who lost their lives at the hands of evil people. You may wish to read the entire chapter with students. The following questions and suggestions may help your students’ understanding.

Verse 3

Read 1 Nephi 16:2 and cross-reference it with Alma 14:3. Ask: Why do those who are doing wrong get so angry at those who call them to repentance?

Verses 6–7

Zeezrom had previously been recognized as “one of the most expert” among the lawyers (Alma 10:31). Why wouldn’t the people listen to him now?

Verse 10

Why do you think the Lord allows innocent people to suffer at the hands of the wicked? (Read Alma 60:13 to help answer this question.)

Verse 11

Ask:

  • What doctrine in this verse can bring some comfort regarding those who suffer for the gospel?

  • How might the example of those who are patient in affliction strengthen us during our difficult times?

Review with students the story of Rafael Monroy and Vicente Morales in the teaching suggestion for Mosiah 17:11–20 (pp. 118–19).

Verses 17–19

Compare these verses with the Savior’s response in Matthew 27:12–14. Ask: Why do you think no answer was the best response?

Verses 26–29

  • Notice Alma’s first question. Have you ever felt like asking this same question? When?

  • How did the Lord finally deliver Alma and Amulek from their affliction?

  • Why were they preserved?

Share this statement by President James E. Faust:

“Let us not presume that because the way is at times difficult and challenging, our Heavenly Father is not mindful of us. … May each of us follow the Lord’s comforting counsel: ‘Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days’ (D&C 24:8)” (“The Blessings of Adversity,” Ensign, Feb. 1998, 7).

Testify that the Lord is aware of our trials and will bless us if we endure faithfully to the end.

Alma 15:3–11. We can be healed of our afflictions if we have faith in Jesus Christ and it is God’s will. (15–20 minutes)

Ask students if they or anyone they know has ever been so nervous about something that they became physically ill. Invite them to relate their experience. Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

“I recently asked a doctor of family medicine how much of his time was devoted purely to correcting physical disorders. He has a large practice, and after thoughtfully considering, he answered, ‘Not more than 20 percent. The rest of the time I seem to be working on problems that very much affect the physical well-being of my patients but do not originate in the body.

“‘These physical disorders,’ the doctor concluded, ‘are merely symptoms of some other kind of trouble.’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 89; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 59).

Ask:

  • What nonphysical troubles can cause physical sickness? (Answers might include stress, worry, anger, fear.)

  • Can sin cause a person to become physically ill?

Without telling the class the scripture reference, read to students Alma 15:1–3, stopping after the words “which was caused by.” Ask them to complete the sentence. Have students read verse 3 to discover the source of Zeezrom’s fever. Have them mark the reason he was ill, and ask why they think this made him sick.

Read verses 4–5 and ask:

  • What was the source of Zeezrom’s most intense suffering?

  • How was Alma able to help him?

Elder Packer continued:

“There is another part of us, not so tangible, but quite as real as our physical body. This intangible part of us is described as mind, emotion, intellect, temperament, and many other things. Very seldom is it described as spiritual.

“But there is a spirit in man; to ignore it is to ignore reality. There are spiritual disorders, too, and spiritual diseases that can cause intense suffering.

“The body and the spirit of man are bound together. Often, very often, when there are disorders, it is very difficult to tell which is which” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 89; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 59).

Read Alma 15:6 and ask: Why was Alma’s question important if Zeezrom was to be healed? (The healing would be based on Zeezrom’s faith in Jesus Christ.) Invite three students to each read one of the following scripture passages to the class: Alma 15:7–12; Matthew 9:2–7; James 5:14–15. Ask: In addition to overcoming his fever, what other kind of healing did Zeezrom experience? Share the following explanation by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“The person who by faith, devotion, righteousness, and personal worthiness, is in a position to be healed, is also in a position to have the justifying approval of the Spirit for his course of life, and his sins are forgiven him, as witnessed by the fact that he receives the companionship of the Spirit, which he could not have if he were unworthy” (Mormon Doctrine, 297–98).

Testify that the same power that can cure physical illness can also bring spiritual healing to the sick soul (see Matthew 9:5; Luke 5:18–25; JST, Luke 5:23). Both are possible through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider sharing a time you witnessed the healing of someone who was sick.

Alma 16:14–17. Teaching and receiving the word of God by the power of the Holy Ghost will help prepare us for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. (20–25 minutes)

A day or two prior to using this teaching suggestion, invite two to four students to prepare a “news broadcast” to present to the class from the events in Alma 16. Encourage them to use props and to be creative. Instruct half the students preparing the broadcast to focus on the destruction of Ammonihah (see Alma 16:1–11). Have them include what kind of people lived there (see Alma 8:9; 9:4; 14) and the results of their wickedness. Instruct the other half to report on Alma and Amulek’s success in preaching to the Nephites after Ammonihah’s demise (see Alma 16:12–21). Have them include how the people responded to their teaching (see especially Alma 16:13, 16–17, 21).

Introduce their presentation by telling the class that they are about to see a news report from Alma’s day. Invite the class to listen for the contrast between how the people of Ammonihah and how the people in the other Nephite cities responded to the gospel message.

After the news report, ask the class what the major difference was in how the message was received. Read Alma 16:12–17 looking for how those who were teachable and believing were blessed. Encourage students to mark the words that describe these blessings. Read Alma 14:26–27, 29 and have students note the word fear. Read Alma 16:20 looking for feelings that contrast with the fear felt by the wicked in Ammonihah. Read verse 21 and discuss why these people were prepared for the Savior’s coming. Ask: What does this teach us about preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?