Alma 32: An Experiment with the Word

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 121–122

In Alma 31 you read about the missionary work among the Zoramites. If you had been Alma, what would you have wanted to teach them? How would you have taught it? Alma 32 is a favorite of missionaries because it helps explain to people they teach how they can come to a knowledge of the truthfulness of gospel principles. It is not just for investigators of the Church, however. All of us—regardless of our level of spirituality—can apply the principles Alma taught in this chapter.

Understanding the Scriptures

Alma 32

Coarseness (v. 2)Roughness, plainness
Apparel (v. 2)Clothing
Esteemed (v. 3)Valued
Dross (v. 3)Of little value or use
Despised (vv. 5, 12)Disliked, hated
Penitent (v. 7) Repentant, humble
Compelled (vv. 13–16, 25)Forced by circumstances
Imparteth (v. 23)Gives
Confound (v. 23)Confuse
Arouse your faculties (v. 27)Be alert and attentive
Dormant (v. 34)Inactive, unused
Discernible (v. 35)Understandable, apparent
Barren (v. 39)Unproductive, has no nourishment for growing things
Reap (v. 43)Harvest, gather
seed growing to tree

Alma 32:21–22—What Is the Difference between Belief, Faith, and Knowledge?

Belief can be passive, merely an acceptance that something is true, while faith is active. Faith requires belief and trust. It gives us confidence and conviction and moves us to action. We cannot have faith without belief, but we can believe and not have faith. It is not enough, therefore, to just believe in Jesus Christ. For the gospel to bless our lives we must have faith that motivates us to follow Him. Knowledge, like belief, needs action in order to benefit us. Simply knowing that something can help or harm us does us no good unless we act on that knowledge. There is special knowledge that comes when we exercise faith and seek to live the gospel. When we act upon our beliefs with faith, the Spirit touches our heart and mind. We receive a spiritual witness from the Holy Ghost that enables us to say “we know” that Christ is our Savior and that the Church is true. (See James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 96–100.)

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Alma 32.

Activity A Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—Alma 32:21

  1. 1.

    Write an example illustrating how obedience to God’s commandments shows a person’s faith. In your example, point out the ways a person does not “have a perfect knowledge,” but does have “hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”

  2. 2.

    Suppose you were talking about faith with a friend. You gave Alma’s definition of faith in Alma 32:21. Your friend then asked, “But how do you know something unseen is true?” How would you answer? Give a specific example of something you know is true but is not seen.

Activity B iconWrite the Instructions

Write a set of step-by-step instructions for the “experiment” Alma described in Alma 32:27–43. Make sure you include cautions for what will prevent a person from getting the proper results.

Activity C iconFind and Explain a Repeated Idea

Find three words that appear in each verse of Alma 32:41–43. Explain what you think is the importance of each of these three attributes or qualities in the process of spiritual growth and understanding. You may want to mark those words in your scriptures.