Book of Mormon
“The Word Is in Christ unto Salvation”
Alma teaches the humble Zoramites to exercise faith and give place in their
hearts for the word of God.
Alma teaches the people to nourish the word of God in their hearts.
Alma cites prophets' testimonies of Jesus Christ and exhorts the people
to plant the word of God in their hearts.
Amulek testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He commands the
people to pray and exercise faith unto repentance.
A study of this lesson will help us understand that the word of God will lead us
to Jesus Christ and encourage us to "nourish the word" in our hearts (Alma
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 28 Handout (PDF)
After the episode with Korihor, Alma received word that the Zoramites were
perverting the ways of the Lord.
The Zoramites had separated themselves from the Nephites and gathered to
the land of Antionum under the leadership of a man named Zoram.
Alma went on a mission to the Zoramites:
To correct their false teachings.
There was fear that the Zoramites would begin correspondence with the Lamanites
and create an alliance which would be detrimental to the defense of the
The Zoramites had perverted the ways of the Lord:
They did not observe the law of Moses (v9).
They had forsaken daily prayer (v10).
They built synagogues for the purpose of worshiping one day a week (v12).
They built a prayer stand from which they offered the same prayer (v13-18).
They believed God was and would always be a spirit (v15).
They believed the fundamental beliefs of the Nephites were false (v16).
They believed there would be no Christ (v16).
They believed they were chosen to be the elect of God (v16-17).
Rodney Turner: "The religion of the ancient Zoramites in the
Book of Mormon is paralleled by much of the religion practiced in our modern
world: it was false, superficial, undemanding, impotent, and Christless. Consequently, the message of God's prophets to that misguided people is
as relevant now as it was over two thousand years ago." (Studies in Scripture,
The poor in the land of Zoram.
HOW DID THE ZORAMITES TREAT THE POOR AMONG THEM?
They were cast out of the synagogues (v2).
They were cast out because of the "coarseness of their apparel"
They were esteemed as "filthiness" and as
They were despised because of their poverty (v5).
HOW MIGHT SOME OF US MISTREAT THE LESS FORTUNATE TODAY?
HOW CAN WE REPENT OF MISTREATING THE LESS FORTUNATEOR OF THINKING WE ARE BETTER
OR CLEANER THAN THE POOR?
- See Mosiah 4:16-23.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Meek individuals
know they are set apart to serve, not merely set apart to observe. It is
the proud, not the meek, who keep score. The meek are not playing games
for those in the grandstand. The meek are slow to judge, whereas the proud
are quick, even eager to judge. The meek will not withhold compassion or
help, saying that 'the man has brought upon himself his misery.' (Mosiah
4:17.) Even though the individual may have done just that, they are nevertheless
slow to judge. Being more open to the truth, the meek are more free, while
the proud are compassed about with the glitzed self-sufficiency that keeps
them from grasping the hand of fellowship extended to all by the Lord's
prophets." (Meek and Lowly, p63-64)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "With regard to poverty
and disease, even if people have actually 'brought upon [themselves their]
misery' (Mosiah 4:17), how can we withhold our assistance, since we know
who they really are?" (A Wonderful Flood of Light, p44)
The poor in heart.
The record speaks of the Zoramites as being poor in heart (v3-4).
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE POOR IN HEART?
"I say unto you, it is well that ye
are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may
learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom; for it is
because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren because
of your exceeding poverty, that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart;
for ye are necessarily brought to be humble." (Alma 32:12)
"Will the LORD be pleased with
thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall
I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the
sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O
man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly,
and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:7-8)
WHAT CHALLENGES MIGHT PEOPLE WHO ARE POOR IN WORLDLY GOODS HAVE IN BECOMING
POOR IN HEART?
"Wo unto you poor
men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose
bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold
upon other men's goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will
not labor with your own hands!" (D&C 56:17)
WHAT CHALLENGES MIGHT PEOPLE WHO ARE RICH IN WORLDLY GOODS HAVE IN BECOMING
POOR IN HEART?
"Wo unto you rich
men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will
canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation,
and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is
ended, and my soul is not saved!" (D&C 56:16)
HOW CAN WE OVERCOME THESE CHALLENGES?
Spending time in serious scripture study will prick our hearts.
Pray for a contrite spirit.
Give of ourselves in service.
The Adversity of Poverty.
WHY DID ALMA BELIEVE THAT IT WAS FORTUNATE FOR THE ZORAMITE POOR TO BE
DESPISED AND CAST OUT OF THEIR SYNAGOGUES?
Review verse 12: "I say unto you, it is
well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and
that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom;
for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren
because of your exceeding poverty, that ye are brought to a lowliness of
heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble."
It is highly probable that these poor Zoramites would not have been brought
to this "lowliness of heart" and humility, had they been treated with
the same respect as the favored Zoramites. Most of them would have
remained part of the "in" crowd. They were brought to this humility
because of their cast off state. Indeed, it was fortunate, for it
prepared and opened their hearts for the wonderful sermon that Alma was
about to deliver, which would change their eternal destiny.
HAS YOUR LIFE BENEFITED FROM ADVERSITY?
As a youth growing up in Utah, I recall listening to the returning missionaries
give their homecoming talks. They spoke of their missions
in glowing terms and how it was the best two years life. At age nineteen, I had the privilege of being called on a full time mission and
following in their footsteps. As my mission progressed, I found that the returned missionaries of my youth were indeed correct
in their assessment. I also learned something else, those two years
were also the most difficult and challenging. I did not have the challenge
of a foreign language, but I discovered the challenge of teaching people with
faith as deep as my own. My testimony was challenged to the core. I struggled when I saw people grasp the gospel and then turn away from
it. It was tough to go out on a cold, wintry Kansas morning and
go tracting. It was humbling to walk the roads of rural eastern Oklahoma.
It was distressing to walk into the kitchen and see cockroaches. The result: My testimony was forged during those two years. My love of the scriptures and knowledge of the gospel was born during morning
after morning of gospel study. My love for teaching the gospel came
from day after day of sharing my testimony.
I sometimes find a pattern in my life:
When things are going smooth, it is easy to coast and go along for the
When things get a little rougher, we dig in, make plans, and execute them.
As the old saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Times of
adversity are times of growth.
Elder Sterling W. Sill read a wonderful quotation during the April 1960
General Conference: "Dr. Alan Stockdale
has called our attention to an interesting challenge by saying, 'God left
a world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity
still in the cloud, the oil still in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged
and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gave to man the challenge
of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He left the problems
unsolved and the pictures unpainted and the music unsung that man might
know the joys and glories of creation. God created the quarries, but he
carves the statues only by the hand of man'." (Conference Report,
WHAT CAN WE DO TO ALLOW ADVERSITY TO HUMBLE US AND BRING US CLOSER TO GOD
RATHER THAN MAKING US BITTER AND DRIVING US AWAY FROM HIM?
pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your
good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have
covenanted one with another." (D&C 90:24)
The attitude of 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, striking with accelerated force...all hell 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, p304)
"...blessed are they who humble themselves without
being compelled to be humble" (v16).
WHY IS IT BETTER TO HUMBLE OURSELVES RATHER THAN BE COMPELLED TO
It is a demonstration of our love and devotion to the Lord. These
are they who do not have to be brought down to seek a better way.
HOW CAN WE HUMBLE OURSELVES?
President Ezra Taft Benson: "The antidote for
pride is humility--meekness, submissiveness.... God will have a humble
people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled
to be humble.... We can choose to humble ourselves by conquering
enmity toward our brothers and sisters, esteeming them as ourselves, and
lifting them as high or higher than we are.... We can choose to humble
ourselves by receiving counsel and chastisement,...by forgiving those who
have offended us,...by rendering selfless service,...by going on missions
and preaching the word that can humble others,...by getting to the temple
more frequently, [and] by confessing and forsaking our sins and being born
of God.... We can choose to humble ourselves by loving God, submitting
our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives." (Conference Report, Apr 1989)
HOW DID ALMA DEFINE FAITH?
"And now as I said concerning faith--faith
is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith
ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." (Alma 32.21)
Elder Boyd K. Packer: "Faith,
to be faith, must center around something that is not known. Faith, to
be faith, must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence. Faith,
to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk
to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness. If everything
has to be known, if everything has to be explained, if everything has to
be certified, then there is no need for faith. Indeed, there is no room
for it." (Improvement
Era, Nov 1968, p62)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Faith is based
on truth and is preceded by knowledge. Until a person gains a knowledge
of the truth he can have no faith. Alma said, 'Faith is not to have a perfect
knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which
are not seen, which are true." (Alma 32:21; Ether 12:6.) Thus faith is
a hope in that which is not seen which is true, and accordingly it can
enter the heart of man only after he has received the truth."
(Mormon Doctrine, p262)
Alma has provided us with a wonderful sermon on the application of faith. The concept of faith can often be confusing or difficult. Alma has
presented faith in a manner which all can understand.
He tells us to "arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my
Though Alma was speaking to the ancient Zoramites, Mormon chose to include
this sermon for we who live in the latter days. We live in an era
when science is vitally important. We teach our children about science
and its importance from the time they begin school. All of us have
done experiments to demonstrate scientific principles.
As a teenager, I subscribed to a service that mailed out
science experiments in small box. The box came with instructions
and materials for carrying out an experiment. I looked forward to
receiving the box and trying out the experiment. In every instance,
if I followed the instructions, the experiment would yield the results
In a sense, Alma has sent out a box with seeds and instructions. Like my youthful experiments, if we follow the instructions, there will
WHAT ARE THE SEEDS?
WHAT INSTRUCTIONS DOES ALMA GIVE US REGARDING THE SEEDS?
You must first plant the seed. Where? In your heart.
Do not cast it out by your unbelief. We must give the Spirit of the
Lord a chance to germinate the seed and let it grow.
Most of us have had the opportunity to plant seeds. Seeds seem to
work on a time scale of their own. They don't just pop up. Sometimes they take several days to germinate. We must have patience
with this seed. That is faith.
"Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold
it is not good, therefore it is cast away."
HOW CAN WE APPLY ALMA'S COUNSEL TO HELP STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH AND TESTIMONIES?
We can arouse our faculties to an experiment upon the word. How do
we do this? How do we plant seeds?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "The exercising
of faith is a willingness to accept without total regular proof and to
move forward and perform works. 'Faith without works is dead' (James 2:26),
and a dead faith will not lead one to move forward to adjust a life or
to serve valiantly. A real faith pushes one forward to constructive and
beneficial acts as though he knew in absoluteness." (Teachings
of Spencer W. Kimball, p71)
Faith requires us to do something, to act.
We plant the seed by desiring to believe. The seed requires nourishment
"And behold, as the tree
beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that
it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And
now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow
up, and bring forth fruit. But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought
for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat
of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers
away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out." (Alma 32:37-38)
Consider the process of obtaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We hear of its
wonderful principles and desire to gain a knowledge of its truthfulness. We have planted a seed. But it is not enough. We have to nourish
the seed and the plant by action:
Read the Book of Mormon.
Ponder its teachings.
Pray with a sincere heart.
Live its principles.
HOW CAN WE USE THIS COUNSEL TO HELP CHILDREN OR NON-MEMBERS DEVELOP TESTIMONIES?
WHAT DID ALMA SAY WOULD HAPPEN TO OUR TESTIMONIES AND FAITH IF WE DO NOT
NOURISH THEM CONSTANTLY?
They will wither away (v37-38).
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THIS HAPPEN? IN YOURSELF? IN OTHERS?
HOW CAN WE "NOURISH THE WORD" MORE EFFECTIVELY?
We must be diligent. Diligence implies action.
"And let us not be weary
in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
We must be patient. Great trees do not grow up overnight. Consider
the great Sequoia trees found in California. They may be the
greatest living things on earth. They started as seeds, but it has
taken them hundreds of years to reach their current stature. They
have endured time, weather, and fires. So it is with great testimonies. All are born from small seeds. They take a lifetime of nurturing
and nourishing. If we are patient, like the great Sequoias, our testimonies will
stand the test of time and stand as pillars to our faith. "Then,
my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence,
and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit
unto you" (v43).
Alma 33 & 34
In Alma 33, Alma goes on to teach the Zoramites about the Redeemer.
After giving the testimonies of prophets Alma says, "But
behold, this is not all; these are not the only ones who have spoken concerning
the Son of God. Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold
a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon
it might live. And many did look and live" (v18-19).
HOW WAS THE BRAZEN SERPENT THAT MOSES "RAISED UP IN THE WILDERNESS" A SYMBOL
OF JESUS CHRIST?
WHAT CAN ALMA'S TELLING OF THIS INCIDENT TEACH US ABOUT FAITH IN JESUS
Our faith can be simple. We cannot reach perfection on our own. We are all stained with sin and only through faith in the redemption of
our Savior can we become clean.
WHY DID AMULEK WARN AGAINST PROCRASTINATING OUR REPENTANCE?
Consider this statement from Elder Melvin J. Ballard:
"A man may receive the
priesthood and all its privileges and blessings, but until he learns to
overcome the flesh, his temper, his tongue, his disposition to indulge
in the things God has forbidden, he cannot come into the celestial kingdom
of God—he must overcome either in this life or in the life to come. But this life is the time in which men are to repent. Do not let
any of us imagine that we can go down to the grave not having overcome
the corruptions of the flesh and then lose in the grave all our sins and
evil tendencies. They will be with us. They will be with the
spirit when separated from the body.
"It is my judgment that
any man or woman can do more to conform to the laws of God in one year
in this life than they could in ten years when they are dead. The
spirit only can repent and change, and then the battle has to go forward
with the flesh afterwards. It is much easier to overcome and serve
the Lord when both flesh and spirit are combined as one. This is
the time when men are more pliable and susceptible. We will find
when we are dead every desire, every feeling will be greatly intensified. When clay is pliable it is much easier to change than when it gets hard
"This life is the time
to repent. That is why I presume it will take a thousand years after
the first resurrection until the last group will be prepared to come forth. It will take them a thousand years to do what it would have taken, but
three score years and ten to accomplish in this life.
"You remember the vision
of the redemption of the dead as given to the Church through the late President
Joseph F. Smith. President Smith saw the spirits of the righteous
dead before their resurrection and the language is the same as one of the
Prophet Joseph's revelations—that they, the righteous dead, looked upon
the absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage.
"I grant you that the righteous
dead will be at peace, but I tell you that when we go out of this life,
leave this body, we will desire to do many things that we cannot do at
all without the body. We will be seriously handicapped, and we will
long for the body, we will pray for the early reunion with our bodies. We will know then what advantage it is to have a body....
"The point I have in mind
is that we are sentencing ourselves to long periods of bondage, separating
our spirits from our bodies, or we are shortening that period, according
to the way in which we overcome and master ourselves." (Three
Degrees of Glory, p12-13)
WHY IS DEATHBED REPENTANCE IMPOSSIBLE?
"For behold, if ye have procrastinated
the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected
to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit
of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the
devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked."
WHY DO PEOPLE PROCRASTINATE GOOD WORKS AND REPENTANCE?
HOW CAN WE ENSURE THAT WE DO NOT DO THIS?
HOW CAN WE BETTER OBEY AMULEK'S COUNSEL?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on teachings of Alma and Amulek as recorded in this
lesson. How can you strengthen your faith?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Wonderful Flood of Light by Neal A. Maxwell.
Conference Reports (CR).
Meek and Lowly by Neal A. Maxwell.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Studies In Scripture, Volume 8, edited by Kent P. Jackson.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
The Improvement Era.
Three Degrees of Glory by Melvin J. Ballard.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
23 May 2016