Book of Mormon
“Give Ear to My Words”
Alma shares his testimony and gives the records to his son Helaman.
Alma praises and encourages his son Shiblon.
Alma admonishes his son Corianton to repent.
A study of this lesson will teach us Alma’s counsel for remaining faithful in
the gospel and help parents understand how to teach and counsel both righteous
and unrighteous children.
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 29 Handout (PDF)
"After his mission to the Zoramites, Alma recognized
that many of the Nephites were hardening their hearts against the word
of God. He sorrowed greatly and gathered his sons to counsel them. Alma bore his testimony of the power and goodness of God and explained
how he was converted. He also gave specific advice to each son. Alma encouraged Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton to trust God, keep his
commandments, and teach others to forsake sin." (Gospel Doctrine
Teacher's Manual, ©1991, p27)
Alma gave these teachings to his sons shortly before the end of his life.
CONSIDER THIS THOUGHT: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE YOU WOULD LEAVE WITH YOUR CHILDREN?
Alma said to his son Corianton, "...the Spirit
of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good"
Alma 36 & 37 - Alma Teaches Helaman
Keep the Commandments and Prosper in the Land.
WHAT IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE ALMA TEACHES TO HELAMAN?
"My son, give ear to my words; for I swear
unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall
prosper in the land." (Alma 36:1)
A quick search of the Book of Mormon found at least seventeen references
that say essentially the same thing.
Alma starts out with this statement to his son Helaman.
He restated it to Helaman again in
Alma 36:30 and
It was also the first principle he taught to his son Shiblon (see
WHY IS THIS PRINCIPLE SO IMPORTANT THAT MORMON INCLUDES IT IN HIS ABRIDGEMENT
Without question, this must have been something Mormon pondered frequently
throughout his life as he lived through the decline and ultimate destruction
of his own civilization.
Mormon had prophetic vision. He had seen our day. Through inspiration
he included those messages which would be of greatest benefit to us in
Through sad experience Mormon and Moroni learned that national survival
depends on this vital principle, "keeping the commandments."
AS WE SEE PROBLEMS WITHIN GOVERNMENT, AND WITHIN OUR NATION, WHAT IS THE
MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO?
Keep the commandments.
Teach the gospel of repentance and obedience to the commandments.
We must reaffirm, as it has been often said, "The 10 Commandments are not
the 10 Suggestions."
"How is it possible that society should escape
destruction if the moral tie be not strengthened in proportion as the political
tie is relaxed? and what can he done with a people which is its own master,
if it be not submissive to the Divinity?" (Alexis de Tocqueville
in Democracy in America, 1:313)
Learn From The Past.
"I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words
and learn of me" (36:3).
"I would that ye should do as I have done, in
remembering the captivity of our fathers" (36:2).
It is natural for parents to hope that their children will not repeat their
"Alma wanted his sons to avoid the anguish of spirit he had suffered and
to learn when they were young to keep God's commandments. He testified
that the knowledge he had to share did not come through his own wisdom
or even his own worthiness, but was revealed to him from God." (Book of
Mormon Student Manual - Religion 121 & 122, p93)
DO WE AS A PEOPLE, A CHURCH, OR A NATION LISTEN TO THE LESSONS OF THE PAST?
President Ezra Taft Benson: "The lessons
of history should serve as wise counselors. Too frequently, however, we
seem to disregard or forget them. It is wisdom for us to sharpen our vision
and fortify our courage to face the future by considering carefully the
costly, yet priceless, lessons of the past. The man who cannot learn from
the past will be a poor steward of the future." (Teachings of
Ezra Taft Benson, p701)
President Spencer W. Kimball: "All through
the scriptures every weakness and strength of man has been portrayed, and
rewards and punishments have been recorded. One would surely be blind who
could not learn to live life properly by such reading. The Lord said, 'Search
the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are
they which testify of me.' (John 5:39.) And it was this same Lord and master
in whose life we find every quality of goodness: godliness, strength, controls,
perfection. And how can students study this great story without capturing
some of it in their lives?" (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,
President Ezra Taft Benson: "The object
of studying the Book of Mormon is to learn from the experiences of those
who have gone before us that blessings come by keeping the commandments
of God and that tragedy is the result of disobedience. By learning from
the lessons of the past, mistakes need not be repeated in our own lives."
(Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p51)
Trust In God.
"...for I do know that whosoever shall put
their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles,
and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day." (Alma
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO TRUST IN GOD?
To exercise faith in his teachings by doing his will.
We cannot be summer patriots in keeping the commandments. We must
keep the commandments at all times and in all places.
Neal A. Maxwell: "The issue for us is trusting
God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our
welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? The
same is true with the second coming and with all those matters wherein
our faith needs to include faith in the Lord's timing for us personally,
not just in His overall plans and purposes." (Even As
I Am, p93)
HOW DO THOSE WHO TRUST GOD RESPOND DIFFERENTLY TO THEIR TRIALS THAN THOSE
WHO LACK SUCH TRUST?
Source of spiritual knowledge.
Eternal truths cannot be discovered through the temporal and carnal world.
Speaking of the plan of salvation, Joseph Smith once said, "Could
you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by
reading all that ever was written on the subject." (TPJS, p324)
HOW MANY UNDERSTAND THIS TRUTH TODAY?
The power of the Atonement.
Alma shares the experience of his conversion with Helaman.
HAVE YOU EVER SUFFERED AND BEEN TORMENTED BY SIN? WHAT WAS THE RESULT
OF YOUR REPENTANCE?
- Elder Spencer W. Kimball: "When a true consciousness
of guilt finally settles down upon the one who has sinned and he feels
the heaviness of it its throttling force and crushing power only then can
the sinner begin to realize how powerless he is on his own to rid himself
of his transgressions. Only then can he begin to understand how futile
are his unaided efforts to wash away the stains so indelibly stamped on
his life and character. In his anguish he must come to lean heavily upon
the Lord and trust in him, acknowledging that 'with God all things are
possible'." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p339)
HAVE YOU SHARED THIS EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR CHILDREN AS ALMA DID WITH HIS?
Why Missionary Work?
"Yea, and from that time even
until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto
repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which
I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the
Holy Ghost." (Alma 36:24)
WHY DID ALMA DO MISSIONARY WORK?
To bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which he did taste.
HOW CAN WE STRENGTHEN OUR COMMITMENT TO MISSIONARY WORK?
Follow the example of Alma:
Consider the joy that we have and how many people we know who are searching
for that same joy.
The importance of the scriptural records.
Alma passed to Helaman the records for safekeeping and commissioned him
to keep a record of the people as he had done.
ACCORDING TO ALMA, WHY ARE THE SCRIPTURES SO IMPORTANT?
It is one of the means that the Lord uses to bring about his eternal purposes.
They confound the wise.
Brings salvation to many souls.
They enlarge the memory of the people.
Convince the wicked of the error of their ways.
Provide a knowledge of God.
Provide a knowledge of the commandments.
Remember: The Book of Mormon illustrates the fact that keeping the
commandments is essential to national survival.
"...we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them"
Alma gives Helaman a warning and a promise about his duty as keeper of
the record and obedience to the commandments.
I believe this great warning and promise also applies to us. What
are we doing with our copy of the records? Are we studying the scriptures
diligently so that we may learn the commandments and be motivated to live
A Warning against Secret Combinations.
Alma taught Helaman that the twenty-four plates (Jaredite history) contain a knowledge
of the mysteries, works of darkness, and the secret works of the Jaredite
ALMA 37:28-30. Helaman warned regarding secret
combinations and sharing the knowledge of the workers of darkness.
WHY DID MORMON INCLUDE ALMA'S WARNING?
"For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it
up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries;
and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built
up by the devil, who is the father of all lies" (Ether 8:25).
Bruce R. McConkie: "Secret combinations
are tools of Lucifer to accomplish his purpose and to destroy the works
of God. The devil 'stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations
of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.' (2 Ne. 9:9.) They
keep men from accepting the gospel; they destroy the freedoms and true
worship of the saints; and they spread wickedness and abominations everywhere."
(The Millennial Messiah, p64-65)
Alma Instructs Helaman as to What to Teach the People (see
An everlasting hatred of sin and iniquity (v32).
Repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ (v33).
Withstand every temptation of the devil with faith in Jesus Christ (v33).
Never weary of good works (v34).
DO YOU EVER WEARY OF GOOD WORKS?
I decided as a youth that I ought to learn to play the piano. My
mother taught piano and I have always loved piano music. One day I sat down
with my mom and had my first lesson. Rather than play a Mozart concerto or a
popular tune, I had to start with simple songs. I was required to do scales and
memorize notes. What I found was that learning the piano was tedious work and
after three months I gave it up. Mom said she wouldn't teach me if I wouldn't
practice. I wanted to play beautiful music, I didn't want to practice. I
never learned to play the piano. I grew "weary" of a good work. To this day, I
still love piano music, but the only kind I can play comes off of a recording.
Doing that which is routine sometimes becomes wearisome. If we are
not careful, we can grow "weary" of doing good works. If we keep
the end result in mind, it will motivate us to keep going. When learning
to play the piano, I forgot about the end result. We cannot do that
with spiritual things.
Learn wisdom in your youth - the most important is to keep the commandments
of God (v35).
Cry unto God for all thy support (v36).
Let all your thoughts be directed unto the Lord.
Let the affections of your heart be placed upon the Lord.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good
"O my son, do not let us be
slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers;
for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live;
even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may
live forever." (Alma 37:46)
Alma used the example of the easiness of following the Liahona to the ease
of giving heed to the word of Christ.
The warning: Be not slothful.
Alma 38 - Alma Teaches Shiblon
Alma encouraged Shiblon to continue in his faithful ways and to trust in
He bore a brief testimony.
Alma encouraged Shiblon to continue to teach the gospel.
Alma reminded Shiblon of some important character traits.
Be diligent and temperate in all things (v10).
Again, a reminder to not weary of good works or to be slothful.
"See that ye are not lifted up unto pride"
Do not boast in your own wisdom or strength.
"Use boldness, but not overbearance"
"Bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled
with love" (v12).
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Whereas the natural
man vents his anger, the men and women of Christ are 'not easily provoked'
(1 Corinthians 13:5). Whereas the natural man is filled with greed, the
men and women of Christ 'seeketh not [their] own' (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Whereas the natural man seldom denies himself worldly pleasures, the men
and women of Christ seek to bridle all their passions (see Alma 38:12)."
(Men and Women of Christ, p14)
See that ye refrain from idleness (v12).
Spencer W. Kimball quoted a judge and his observation about youth:
"As I see young people of what I consider an employable
age sitting around drive-ins or malt shops, on park benches, or at the
beaches, cruising around in cars or hanging around on the street corners
at all hours of the day and the night, I am amazed at their ability to
stay out of trouble as well as they do . . . idleness is a prime factor
in most juvenile misbehavior." (Conference Report, Oct 1963)
"For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare
to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform
their labors" (Alma 34:32). How can we possibly
justify idleness when there is such important work to do.
Do not pray as the Zoramites do.
"...but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness,
and remember my brethren in mercy--yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before
God at all times" (v14).
Alma 39 - Alma Teaches Corianton
Introduction to Alma 39.
CORIANTON RECEIVED A MUCH DIFFERENT MESSAGE FROM HIS FATHER THAN DID HIS BROTHERS. WHY?
He had been guilty of sexual sin during his mission to the Zoramites.
He had become involved with a harlot named Isabel.
WHY HAD CORIANTON YIELDED TO THIS MORAL TEMPTATION?
These reasons should cause the Saints of our time to take note.
"For thou didst not give so much heed unto my
words as did thy brother, among the people of the Zoramites. Now
this is what I have against thee; thou didst go on unto boasting in thy
strength and thy wisdom" (v2).
He had become haughty and yielded to feelings of self-sufficiency.
He might have said something like, "I can handle it!"
Corianton learned through a painful process that no man or woman has sufficient
strength on their own to resist the enticements of the father of
Alma tells us how we can resist temptation, "...humble
yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray
continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and
thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient,
full of love and all long-suffering." (Alma 13:28)
"...for thou didst forsake the ministry" (v3).
- He didn't obey the mission rules. He was
not where he had been assigned to be. If he had been where he was supposed
to be, this serious
transgression would not have happened.
Corianton went "over
into the land of Siron, among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot
Isabel. Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many;
but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended
to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted"
He had begun to associate with the wrong kinds of
people and surrendered to the allurements and pressures to conform
to the ways of the worldly.
IN REVIEW - Three keys to the fall of Corianton:
He was proud in his own strength.
He was not diligent in the ministry.
He associated with the wrong kind of people.
The Seriousness of Sexual Transgression.
ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the
Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent
blood or denying the Holy Ghost?" (Alma 39:5)
WHY DOES SEXUAL TRANSGRESSION RANK AS THE THIRD WORST
It tampers with the powers of life.
Elder Boyd K. Packer: "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."
(Conference Report, Apr 1972)
President Ezra Taft Benson: "There
is no lasting happiness in immorality. There is no joy to be found
in breaking the law of chastity. Just the opposite is true.... Guilt and shame set in. We become fearful that our sins will be discovered. We must sneak and hide, lie and cheat. Love begins to die. Bitterness, jealousy, anger, and even hate begin to grow."
(Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p285)
A Pattern For Repentance.
Alma desired for Corianton to feel appropriate guilt.
now, my son, I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime.
I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were
not for your good." (Alma 39:7)
WHY IS APPROPRIATE GUILT DESIRABLE?
It "can and does
have a sanctifying effect: it alerts the offender to the spiritual chasm
between himself and his Maker and motivates him thereafter to a godly walk
and conduct" (Robert L. Millett in Studies
In Scripture, 8:51).
my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and go no
more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things;
for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh,
remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "CROSS" ONESELF?
Turn away from evil inclinations.
Deny oneself of worldly lusts.
To forsake worldly paths.
To chart and navigate a course of righteousness.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "As
well as establishing worthy goals, charting the course prevents one from
living an unplanned, haphazard life--a tumbleweed existence." (Miracle
of Forgiveness, p233)
Alma went on to say, "...ye
stand in need to be nourished by your brothers. And give heed to their
"O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the
Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words"
WHAT ELSE DID CORIANTON HAVE TO DO TO REPENT?
Refrain from further iniquities.
Return to the people and acknowledge his sinful practice.
Alma reaffirms his testimony of Christ.
now, my son, I would say somewhat unto you concerning the coming of Christ.
Behold, I say unto you, that it is he that surely shall come to take away
the sins of the world; yea, he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation
unto his people." (Alma 39:15)
Alma Did Not Give Up On His Son Corianton.
Alma did not give up on his son, but did his best
to pursuade him to choose righteousness.
Elder Orson F. Whitney: "You
parents of the wilful and the wayward: Don't give them up. Don't
cast them off. They are not utterly lost. The shepherd will
find his sheep. They were his before they were yours--long before
he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as he
loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right,
and God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fulness of knowledge brings
the fulness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful,
infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the
Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite
minds comprehend." (Conference Report,
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the teachings of Alma to his sons.
What principle can you more fully practice in your life? How will you do it?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Book of Mormon Student Manual - Religion 121 & 122.
Conference Reports (CR).
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville.
Even As I Am by Neal A. Maxwell.
Men and Women of Christ by Neal A. Maxwell.
Studies In Scripture, Volume 8, edited by Kent P. Jackson.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
The Millennial Messiah by Bruce R. McConkie.
The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
30 May 2016