Lesson 29: Give Ear to My Words

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 128–32


Purpose

To teach class members Alma’s counsel for remaining faithful in the gospel and to help parents understand how to teach and counsel both righteous and unrighteous children.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Alma 36–37. Alma recounts his conversion and bears his testimony to his son Helaman. He instructs Helaman to preserve the sacred records.

    2. b.

      Alma 38. Alma praises his son Shiblon for his faithfulness and encourages him to continue in righteousness, enduring to the end.

    3. c.

      Alma 39. Alma admonishes his son Corianton for immoral actions and counsels Corianton about the consequences of such sin.

  2. 2.

    If the picture The Gold Plates is available, prepare to use it during the lesson (Gospel Art Picture Kit 325).

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Ask class members:

  • What is the best advice or counsel your parents ever gave you? Why was this advice or counsel so valuable?

Allow time for class members to think, and then invite them to share their answers.

Explain that the chapters discussed in this lesson consist of Alma’s words of counsel to his sons Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton. These words of counsel are applicable to us as well.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Alma shares his testimony and gives the records to his son Helaman.

Discuss Alma 36–37. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud.

  • Alma 36 contains Alma’s testimony as expressed to his son Helaman (see especially verses 3–5 and 26–28). Why is it important for children to hear their parents bear their testimonies? In what ways have your parents’ testimonies influenced your life?

  • As part of his testimony, Alma told Helaman of his conversion (Alma 36:6–24; see also Alma 38:7–9, where Alma tells his son Shiblon of his conversion, and lesson 20, which discusses Alma’s conversion in greater detail). Why do you think Alma shared his conversion story with his sons? How have you benefited from hearing about how other people have become converted?

  • Many times Alma encouraged Helaman to follow his example. (You may want to review with class members some of the phrases in the list below, showing Alma’s charge to Helaman.) Why is it important for parents to set a righteous example for their children?

    1. a.

      “Ye should do as I have done” (Alma 36:2).

    2. b.

      “I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me” (Alma 36:3).

    3. c.

      “Ye also ought to retain in remembrance, as I have done” (Alma 36:29).

    4. d.

      “Ye ought to know as I do know” (Alma 36:30).

  • If you are using the picture of the gold plates, display it now. How did Alma emphasize to Helaman the importance of keeping the records? (See Alma 37:1–2, 6–12.) In what ways was keeping the records a “small and simple thing” that would bring about “great things”? (Alma 37:6–7). What “great things” will the scriptures do for us if we study them diligently? (See Alma 37:8–10.)

  • What did Alma tell Helaman to teach the people? (See Alma 37:32–34.) How can parents, teachers, and other adults help young people today “learn wisdom in [their] youth”? (Alma 37:35).

  • Have a class member read Alma 37:36–37 aloud. How has your life been affected as you have endeavored to follow this counsel? How can we better heed this counsel?

  • What comparisons did Alma make between the word of God and the Liahona? (See Alma 37:38–45.) What must we do so that the word of God becomes a Liahona for each of us?

  • Alma counseled Helaman, “Do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way” (Alma 37:46; see also Numbers 21:5–9; 1 Nephi 17:41). In what sense is the way to eternal life easy? Why is the easiness of the way a stumbling block to some people? How can we keep our focus on simple, saving faith in Christ? How do we “look to God and live”? (Alma 37:47).

2. Alma praises and encourages his son Shiblon.

Read and discuss selected verses from Alma 38. Point out that Alma also bore his testimony to his son Shiblon and told Shiblon of his conversion (Alma 38:6–9).

  • What qualities in Shiblon brought great joy to his father? (See Alma 38:2–4.) Why is it important for parents to recognize and praise their children for their good qualities and righteous living?

  • Have a class member read Alma 38:5 aloud. How has putting your trust in God helped you in times of trial or affliction?

  • Even though Shiblon was faithful, Alma concluded his words to his son with an admonition (Alma 38:10–15). Why is it important for even the righteous to receive counsel and warning? How can we learn to receive such counsel and warning in humility?

  • Alma counseled Shiblon to continue teaching the word of God, being “diligent and temperate,” using “boldness, but not overbearance” (Alma 38:10, 12.) How can we follow this counsel as we share our beliefs with others?

  • Alma warned Shiblon not to boast of his own wisdom or strength (Alma 38:11). How can pride in our own wisdom or strength lead to greater sins? How can we overcome such pride? (See Alma 38:13–14. We can “acknowledge [our] unworthiness before God at all times.”)

  • Alma counseled Shiblon to “bridle all [his] passions” (Alma 38:12). What does it mean to bridle our passions? (You may want to point out that the purpose of a horse’s bridle is to control and direct the horse.) Why must we bridle our passions in order to “be filled with love”?

3. Alma admonishes his son Corianton to repent.

Read and discuss selected verses from Alma 39. Point out that Alma’s counsel to his son Corianton was somewhat different from his counsel to his other sons. Helaman and Shiblon had been living righteously, but Corianton had committed serious sins.

  • What sins had Corianton committed? (See Alma 39:2–3.) Why is sexual immorality such a grievous sin?

    Elder Boyd K. Packer taught:

    “There was provided in our bodies—and this is sacred—a power of creation, a light, so to speak, that has the power to kindle other lights. This gift was to be used only within the sacred bonds of marriage. Through the exercise of this power of creation, a mortal body may be conceived, a spirit enter into it, and a new soul born into this life.

    “This power is good. It can create and sustain family life, and it is in family life that we find the fountains of happiness. …

    “The power of creation—or may we say procreation—is not just an incidental part of the plan: it is essential to it. Without it the plan could not proceed. The misuse of it may disrupt the plan.

    “Much of the happiness that may come to you in this life will depend on how you use this sacred power of creation. … If [Satan] can entice you to use this power prematurely, to use it too soon, or to misuse it in any way, you may well lose your opportunities for eternal progression. …

    “Protect and guard your gift. Your actual happiness is at stake. Eternal family life … can be achieved because our Heavenly Father has bestowed this choicest gift of all upon you—this power of creation. It is the very key to happiness” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 136–39; or Ensign, July 1972, 111–13).

  • Why did Alma feel it necessary to discuss Corianton’s sin with him? (See Alma 39:7–8, 12–13.) What can parents learn from Alma about how to counsel children who have made mistakes or committed sin? (Answers may include those listed below.)

    1. a.

      Alma reminded Corianton of what led to Corianton’s sin (Alma 39:2–4).

    2. b.

      He explained the consequences of Corianton’s sin (Alma 39:7–9, 11).

    3. c.

      He taught Corianton how to repent and avoid the sin in the future (Alma 39:9–14).

    4. d.

      He taught Corianton about God’s love and forgiveness (Alma 39:15–19).

  • What actions or attitudes in Corianton led to his sin? (See Alma 39:2–3.) What can we do to strengthen ourselves against Satan’s enticements to be immoral? (See Alma 39:4, 13; D&C 121:45.)

  • How did Corianton’s sinfulness influence others? (See Alma 39:11, 13.) Why do you think Corianton’s actions had more influence on the Zoramites than Alma’s words did? Why is it important for Church members to set good examples? How have you been blessed by people who set good examples? (Invite class members to silently consider how their actions might influence others’ opinions of the Church.)

  • What counsel did Alma give to Corianton on how to repent of his sin and avoid such sins in the future? (See Alma 39:9–14. List class members’ answers on the chalkboard. Some answers are listed below, with discussion questions to encourage participation.)

    1. a.

      “Go no more after the lusts of your eyes” (Alma 39:9). How can the things we choose to look at or pay attention to influence our determination to stay morally clean?

    2. b.

      “Take it upon you to counsel with your elder brothers” (Alma 39:10). How can counseling with righteous family members or friends help strengthen our resistance to temptation?

    3. c.

      “Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing” (Alma 39:11). What are some vain or foolish things that Satan uses to try to lead us away?

    4. d.

      “Turn to the Lord with all your mind, might, and strength” (Alma 39:13). How can we turn to the Lord for help when we face temptation?

    5. e.

      “Acknowledge your faults and that wrong which ye have done” (Alma 39:13). Why is acknowledging that we have done wrong an essential part of repentance?

    6. f.

      “Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world” (Alma 39:14). How can seeking riches or “the vain things of this world” tempt us to sin?

  • What did Alma teach Corianton about Christ? (See Alma 39:15–19. List class members’ responses on the chalkboard.) How can understanding these things help us when we are tempted to sin?

Conclusion

Point out that Alma taught Corianton how to repent and return to faithfulness, and he gave counsel to Helaman and Shiblon on how to remain faithful. Encourage class members to apply Alma’s counsel in their lives. Encourage class members who are parents to follow Alma’s example in teaching and counseling their children.

As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Counseling children individually

Have a class member read Alma 35:16 aloud.

  • What can we learn from this verse about teaching children who have different personalities, challenges, and needs? (Point out that Alma spoke to each son “separately.” He did not speak to his sons together or give each of them the same message; he spoke to each son alone and told him what he specifically needed to hear.) How can it be helpful to frequently teach children individually?

2. Parents’ responsibility to their children

Invite class members to identify righteous parents in the scriptures who had both righteous and unrighteous children. Answers may include the following:

Adam and Eve (Abel and Cain)

Isaac and Rebekah (Jacob and Esau)

Lehi and Sariah (Nephi, Sam, Jacob, Joseph, Laman, and Lemuel)

Alma the Younger (Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton)

Point out that even righteous parents can face the challenges of dealing with unrighteous children. Emphasize that parents are obligated to teach their children the gospel and encourage them to live by gospel principles, but they must also respect their children’s agency. Parents cannot force children to live righteously.

3. “So great a crime” (Alma 39:7)

You may wish to emphasize Alma’s teachings on the law of chastity. Make sure class members understand what the law of chastity is, why it is important, and how to remain steadfast in keeping it. In teaching youth about keeping the law of chastity, you may want to use the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth (34285). Consult with the bishop about obtaining copies of this pamphlet for class members who do not already have them.

The following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley may also be useful:

“You live in a world of terrible temptations. Pornography, with its sleazy filth, sweeps over the earth like a horrible, engulfing tide. It is poison. Do not watch it or read it. It will destroy you if you do. … Stay away from it. Shun it as you would a foul disease, for it is just as deadly. Be virtuous in thought and in deed. God has planted in you, for a purpose, a divine urge which may be easily subverted to evil and destructive ends. When you are young, do not get involved in steady dating. When you reach an age where you think of marriage, then is the time to become so involved. But you boys who are in high school don’t need this, and neither do the girls” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 71–72; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 51).