Alma 20–29

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 160–165


Introduction

Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught that “by not returning aggressions from others we can have a profound effect on them. Literally, we can change their hearts when we follow Christ’s example and turn the other cheek. Our examples as peaceable followers of Christ inspire others to follow him” (Living with Enthusiasm [1996], 128). The sons of Mosiah were instrumental in bringing many to the truth who then left behind a life of bloodshed. Their meekness impressed many of their enemies, who also laid down their weapons and joined their converted brothers and sisters. Help your students see that the change that comes into the lives of converts and their resulting happiness is worth any sacrifice they may be required to make.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 82–86.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 20:1–5; 21:16. The Holy Ghost prompts us to do God’s will, even when it is difficult. (15–20 minutes)

Show the class a pitcher of water. Have a student come to the front of the class. Request that the student change the water into orange juice without using any other objects or supplies. Ask the student:

  • Why can’t you do it?

  • What difference would it make if the Lord told you to do it?

  • What commandments, if any, has the Lord given that seem impossible to keep?

Ask the class to name people from the scriptures who were asked by the Lord to do things that might have seemed impossible. List their answers on the board. (These might include Noah being commanded to build an ark, Moses being called to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, and so on.) Ask:

  • What made it possible for each person to accomplish the command?

  • Why do you think they even attempted such tasks?

  • Did they always know beforehand how they would accomplish their tasks?

  • What could they rely on until the commandment was fulfilled?

Have a student read Alma 20:1–3, and ask:

  • What task did the Lord give Ammon?

  • Why would this assignment be difficult? (The people of Middoni were unfriendly toward Ammon’s brothers and did not know Ammon.)

  • Why was Ammon ready to leave before he even knew how he was to rescue his brothers?

Remind students that Nephi was also given a difficult assignment. Have them read the chapter heading for 1 Nephi 3 to discover what it was. Have a student read 1 Nephi 4:6 and explain how this was similar to Ammon’s assignment. (Ammon was told of a problem but not how to solve it.) Read the first sentence of Alma 20:4 and ask: How did Lamoni show that he had faith in the Lord’s ability to help His children accomplish His commands? Have students read Romans 8:31 and cross-reference it with Alma 20:4. Ask students what principle both Lamoni and Paul testified of.

Read Alma 20:4–7 and ask: How did the Lord provide a way for Ammon to rescue his fellow missionaries? You may wish to ask students to share experiences in which they felt impressed to do something difficult and found a way to do it with the Lord’s help. Testify that as we live worthily, we will receive promptings to do the Lord’s work. This inspiration will not always be easy to follow, but with faith and prayer we can do what we are asked.

Alma 20:8–17. Anger can lead to greater sins. (20–25 minutes)

Have students suggest some reasons people become angry. Read 3 Nephi 11:29 and ask who encourages angry feelings and contention. Read Alma 20:16 and ask students what they think led Lamoni’s father to anger. Have them read verses 8–15 looking for reasons that could explain his anger, and have them share their findings. Ask: How do these reasons relate to the doctrine taught in 3 Nephi 11:29?

Read Alma 20:17 and ask:

  • What did Ammon warn the king about his anger?

  • Why do you think Ammon told the king about the spiritual danger of anger rather than simply defending Lamoni with his sword?

  • Why is it so difficult to feel the Spirit when we are angry?

Write the following references on the board: JST, Ephesians 4:26; 3 Nephi 11:30; 12:22. Invite students to read the passages and summarize their message in one brief sentence. Explain that we must repent of anger in order to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives (see D&C 1:33). Have students share ways they have learned to overcome their anger.

Share the following observations about anger and invite students’ comments. Elder Lynn G. Robbins, a member of the Seventy, said:

“We can ‘do away’ with anger, for He has so taught and commanded us.

“Anger is a yielding to Satan’s influence by surrendering our self-control. It is the thought-sin that leads to hostile feelings or behavior. It is the detonator of road rage on the freeway, flare-ups in the sports arena, and domestic violence in homes.

“Unchecked, anger can quickly trigger an explosion of cruel words and other forms of emotional abuse that can scar a tender heart” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 106; or Ensign, May 1998, 80–81).

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

“May I suggest that you watch your temper now, in these formative years of your life. … This is the season to develop the power and capacity to discipline yourselves. You may think it is the macho thing to flare up in anger and swear and profane the name of the Lord. It is not the macho thing. It is an indication of weakness. Anger is not an expression of strength. It is an indication of one’s inability to control his thoughts, words, his emotions. Of course it is easy to get angry. When the weakness of anger takes over, the strength of reason leaves. Cultivate within yourselves the mighty power of self-discipline” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 71; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 51).

Later, as President of the Church, President Hinckley said:

“If you have a temper, now is the time to learn to control it. The more you do so while you are young, the more easily it will happen. Let no member of this Church ever lose control of himself in such an unnecessary and vicious manner” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 68; or Ensign, May 1998, 50).

Alma 20:28–30; 21:13–14. Living the gospel does not always prevent suffering. However, the Lord eventually delivers those who endure to the end. (20–25 minutes)

Show students a polished stone, a piece of forged metal (such as that used for many metal tools), and a smooth piece of woodwork. Ask what they have in common. Help them see that all have been through a refining process—abrasion polished the stone, heat forged the metal, and carving and sanding shaped the wood. Share the following observation from the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, … knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304).

Discuss the following questions:

  • What did Joseph Smith say helped him become a better servant of the Lord?

  • What are some examples of his suffering?

  • What are some examples in the scriptures of righteous people who suffered? (List responses on the board for later reference.)

  • Why does Heavenly Father allow His followers to suffer?

Assign three students to each read one of the following passages to the class: Alma 17:2–3, 5; Alma 20:28–30; Alma 21:13–14. Discuss the following questions:

  • What experiences faced by Ammon’s brothers might have challenged their faith?

  • Why do you think their missionary experience was so different from Ammon’s?

  • How did they react to their hardships? (see Alma 20:29).

To help students better understand how to bear their own trials, have them make a scripture chain with the following references: Matthew 5:10–12, 38–44; Mosiah 24:13–14; Doctrine and Covenants 24:8; 67:13; 90:24 (see page 280 for directions on making a scripture chain).

Share the following statements about patience during affliction. Elder Marion D. Hanks, an emeritus member of the Seventy, said:

“The promise is that in times of sorrow and affliction, if we endure and remain faithful and put our trust in him and are courageous, the Lord will visit us in our afflictions, strengthen us to carry our burdens, and support us in our trials. He’ll be with us to the end of our days, lift us at the last day to greater opportunities for service, and exalt us at last with him and reunited loved ones, and he will consecrate our afflictions to our gain” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 87; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 64).

Elder Rex D. Pinegar, then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, taught:

“There is terrible suffering in our world today. Tragic things happen to good people. God does not cause them, nor does He always prevent them. He does, however, strengthen us and bless us with His peace through earnest prayer” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 83; or Ensign, May 1993, 67).

Elder Ronald E. Poelman, then a member of the Seventy, said:

“Without adversity, we may tend to forget the divine purpose of mortality and live our lives focused on the transitory things of the world.

“Should we therefore desire or seek to experience adversity and suffering? No! May we appropriately try to avoid it? Yes! Is it proper to ask for relief? Yes, always adding, in accordance with the Savior’s example, ‘nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt’ (Matthew 26:39)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 31; or Ensign, May 1989, 24).

Refer students to the list on the board of righteous people in the scriptures who suffered. Ask which of these people endured their suffering with patience. Invite students to briefly share examples of people they know who have been patient during affliction. Ask them to tell what helped these people endure patiently.

weekly iconAlma 22:1–14. To understand our need for a Savior, we must first know that God lives, that He created all things, and that because of the Fall and our own sins, we are cut off from God’s presence. (30–35 minutes)

Show the class some cups and a pitcher of ice-cold water. Offer a drink to a few students who are thirsty. Ask if there are any students who are not interested in a drink of water. Ask:

  • What makes a drink of water appealing?

  • Why does everyone need water?

  • Why might some not want it?

Display a variety of foods or pictures of food on a table and ask if anyone is hungry.

  • Why does food interest those who are hungry?

  • Why does everyone need food?

  • If we are not hungry, does food have the same appeal for us? Why not?

Display a picture of Jesus Christ. Ask:

  • Does everyone need the Savior in their lives? Why?

  • Does everyone know they need Him? Why or why not?

Share the following observation by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

“No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 106; or Ensign, May 1987, 85).

Ammon taught Lamoni about the Fall so he could understand why we all need Christ (see Alma 18:36–39). Aaron did the same with Lamoni’s father. Read with students Alma 22:1–8 to see how Aaron prepared the king to learn the doctrines of the Fall and the Atonement. Ask: Why do you think Aaron began his teaching by asking the king about his belief in God? Share the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“A knowledge of God and of his laws is essential to salvation. No one can be saved in ignorance of God” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 43).

Tell students that after teaching the king about God, Aaron read and explained the scriptures to him. Elder Henry B. Eyring said, “Aaron taught the word of God in a way that emphasizes God’s love and our need for Him” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 52; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 39).

Write the headings Creation, Fall, and Atonement of Jesus Christ on the board. Have students read Alma 22:9–14 looking for the verses in which these doctrines are taught. Then have a few of them come to the board and write the verse numbers they identified and a brief summary of the doctrines found in those verses under each heading. The lists on the board might look something like this:

Creation

Fall

Atonement of Jesus Christ

Verses 10–11. God created the heavens and the earth.

Verse 12. God created man in His own image.

Verses 12–13. Because of transgression, man is fallen and is in a carnal state.

Verse 14. Fallen man cannot “merit anything of himself.”

Verse 13. The plan of redemption was prepared during the premortal existence.

Verse 14. “The sufferings and death of Christ atone for [our] sins, through faith and repentance.”

Verse 14. Christ’s Atonement breaks the bands of death (all will be resurrected).

Refer students to the three headings on the board and ask:

  • How does the doctrine that we are created in God’s image help you understand His love for you?

  • Why does God allow His children to break His commandments?

  • What does the Atonement of Jesus Christ do for us that we cannot do for ourselves?

  • What must we do to apply the gift of the Atonement in our lives?

Share the following questions from President Ezra Taft Benson and invite students to write their answers on a piece of paper:

“What personal meaning does the Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane and on Calvary have for each of us?

“What does redemption from the Fall mean to us? In the words of Alma, do we ‘sing the song of redeeming love’? (Alma 5:26)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 107; or Ensign, May 1987, 85).

weekly iconAlma 22:15–18. Giving up our sins and being willing to sacrifice all we have brings eternal life and the joy of knowing God. (25–30 minutes)

List on the board baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, priesthood ordination, and temple sealings. Ask:

  • Why are these ordinances so important?

  • What would you be willing to sacrifice in order to receive these ordinances?

Share the following remark by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“Two companion qualities evident in the lives of our pioneers, early and modern, are unselfishness and sacrifice. Our Utah pioneers excelled at putting ‘the general welfare and community goals over individual gain and personal ambition’ [Carol Cornwall Madsen, Journey to Zion: Voices from the Mormon Trail (1997), 6]. That same quality is evident in the conversion stories of modern pioneers. Upon receiving a testimony of the truth of the restored gospel, they have unhesitatingly sacrificed all that was required to assure that its blessings will be available to their children and to generations unborn. Some have sold all their property to travel to a temple. Some have lost employment. Many have lost friends. Some have even lost parents and extended family, as new converts have been disowned for their faith. This must be the greatest sacrifice of all” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 100; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 72).

You might want to share recent accounts of members who sacrificed much to accept the gospel or receive gospel ordinances, or have students share examples. Be sure to emphasize the blessings of such sacrifice.

Explain to students that sometimes we are called on to make material sacrifices to receive some of the blessings of the gospel. And though the ordinances are always free, we must meet the requirements to receive them. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 64:34, and suggest they underline what the Lord requires. Read Alma 22:15 to see what King Lamoni’s father was willing to give to receive the joy of the gospel. Ask:

  • How did the king’s offer begin to fulfill the requirement the Lord gave in Doctrine and Covenants 64:34?

  • Why did the king have to give more than material possessions to be filled with joy?

  • What evidence can you give that the king’s heart, or motive, was right?

Read Alma 22:16–18 and invite students to mark in their scriptures what the king offered and what he desired in exchange. Ask some of the following questions:

  • How did the king’s “giving away” all his sins show he was offering his “heart and a willing mind”?

  • In what ways are sins a possession?

  • What does it mean to give away all our sins?

  • Which of his offers (verse 15 or verse 18) do you think required the greater sacrifice? Why?

  • Why is it so difficult to give away our sins?

Ask students what they think it means to know God. Have them consider what we must do to give away our sins. Show students the statements under “Giving Away Our Sins” in the appendix (p. 300). (You could display them on an overhead projector or on the board, or give them to students as a handout.) Ask students to identify words or phrases in the statements that describe what we can do to give away our sins, and discuss their findings.

Alma 23–29. Those who are converted to the Lord glory in His power and goodness, fear sin more than death, find joy in helping to save souls, and are strengthened against apostasy. (35–40 minutes)

Ask students if they have ever heard people speak of their conversion to the gospel. Ask: Why are they usually enthusiastic about the gospel? Help students see that true conversion to the gospel brings many blessings. Read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson and have them identify words that describe those who are truly converted:

“Men captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. To paraphrase President Harold B. Lee, they set fire in others because they are on fire. (See Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], p. 192.)

“Their will is swallowed up in His will. (See John 5:30.)

“They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.)

“Not only would they die for the Lord, but more important they want to live for Him.

“Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians.

“They stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places. (See Mosiah 18:9.)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6–7).

Divide your class into four groups. Assign each group one of the following scripture blocks:

Give each group a copy of the quotations that go with their scripture block from “Those Who Are Truly Converted” in the appendix (p. 300). Have them read their verses and the quotes, and then invite each group to teach the rest of the class what they learned about true conversion.

Help students summarize how conversion changes us (you could list some ways on the board). Testify that these changes can continue throughout our lives as we faithfully keep our covenants.

Alma 28–29. We sorrow over those who die in wickedness. We teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all of God’s children so they can escape the consequences of dying in wickedness. (40–45 minutes)

Invite students to describe what they feel is the saddest experience in life. Ask:

  • What makes each circumstance so sad?

  • Could it be prevented? How?

Alma 28 contains an account of a very sad experience. Read with the class verses 1–11, pausing after verses 2 and 6 to apply the questions above. Read verse 12 and ask:

  • What is different about this description?

  • Why is the thought of someone dying in wickedness a reason to feel sorrow?

  • Why can we rejoice when a righteous person dies, even though we will miss the person?

  • How might our sorrow at the physical death of a loved one differ from our sorrow when a loved one dies spiritually?

Read and cross-reference Alma 28:13–14 and Doctrine and Covenants 93:38–39. Ask students to discuss the following questions:

  • All people are born innocent (see D&C 93:38). What causes the inequality spoken of in Alma 28:13? (Sin, transgression, and disobedience.)

  • Why doesn’t everyone face death with the same perspective?

  • What can we do to offer others a better view of life and death?

  • How can we “labor in the vineyards of the Lord”? (Alma 28:14).

Have a student read Alma 29:1–3, and ask:

  • What was Alma’s wish?

  • What frustrated him?

Continue reading verses 4–5 and look for what Alma understood about sharing the gospel with others. (People have their agency and may choose to reject the gospel message.)

Explain that sharing the gospel brings great joy, but it can also be very challenging. Many wish to share the Lord’s message but do not know how.

Divide students into five groups. Have them prepare for and then role-play the following situations:

  1. 1.

    You consider Monique to be your closest friend. You do a lot of things together but have never talked about the gospel. Your challenge is to introduce the Book of Mormon to her and invite her to start reading it.

  2. 2.

    You have become friends with Dennis. He is a lot of fun but is not a member of the Church. He has high standards and always treats you well. He lives in your ward area. Your challenge is to get him to attend church with you.

  3. 3.

    You are a member of a school sports team. Each day after practice you walk home with Nigel, a good athlete who is very popular. You have not associated with him very much until lately. You are impressed with his attitude. Your ward has a youth activity planned. Your challenge is to invite him to attend with you.

  4. 4.

    A group of your friends are at your home one evening. Ricardo is the only nonmember in the group. You have had a great time playing games and enjoying each other’s company. Suddenly Ricardo says, “You Mormons seem to really know how to have fun.” Your challenge is to let him know why Mormons have such good, clean fun and to invite him to attend church with you on Sunday.

  5. 5.

    You work in a restaurant with Nykele. She has been married about two years, and her marriage is in trouble. As she explains her problems to you, it becomes clear that the teachings of the Church can help her find what she and her husband seem to be lacking. Your challenge is to invite her to listen to the full-time missionaries.

Consider discussing the following questions:

  • Read Alma 29:8. What are some ways the Lord accomplishes what is described in this verse?

  • How can you assist Him?

  • Read verses 9–10. How does our sharing the gospel bring glory to the Lord?

  • In what ways does sharing the gospel bring us joy? (Invite students who have shared the gospel to describe how the experience brought them closer to the person they shared it with and to their Heavenly Father.)

  • Read verses 14–15. Why do you think returned missionaries have so much love for the missionaries they served with?

Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“[The Lord] expects us to be good neighbors, Christians in every sense of the word. Those who follow the golden rule—‘whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.’ (Matt. 7:12; 3 Ne. 14:12.) My brothers and sisters, we must be good neighbors. We must be a friendly people. We must recognize the good in all people. We don’t go about tearing down other churches. We preach and teach in a positive and affirmative way. We say to those of other faiths, ‘you bring with you all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it.’ That is … the essence of our great missionary program and it yields results” (“Messages of Inspiration from President Hinckley,” Church News, 7 Nov. 1998, 2).