1. Alma teaches the people how they can experience a “mighty change” of heart.
Alma 5:6 Remembrance
“Remembering and counting our many blessings can humble us by reminding us of all the reasons we have to be thankful to God-not just today’s reasons, but those relating to all our yesterdays…If we fail to stir remembrance of blessings received, the human tendency is to say, in effect, whether to one’s God or to one’s fellows, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ Indeed, prophets of the Lord have asked directly whether their people had ‘sufficiently retained in remembrance’ His deliverances and blessings (Alma 5:6-7). It is best to cultivate our ‘remembering’ capacity now and to be guided accordingly, since at judgment day we will have ‘perfect remembrance’ (Alma 5:18). The important theme of remembrance occurs in one form or another in the Old Testament well over two hundred times. It appears in the Book of Mormon dozens of times, too. This parallelism is to be expected, since the Israelites in Palestine observed the law of Moses and the Nephites kept it ‘strictly’ for many years (see Mosiah 13:30; Alma 30:3). Wherever the gospel is, there too is the call to remembrance.” (Neal A Maxwell, A Wonderful Flood of Light, p. 51)
Alma 5:7 Behold
‘Hinneh is the Hebrew word for “lo,” “behold” or “see.” It is used for pointing out persons, things, places and action. Hinneh occurs over a thousand times in the Old Testament Hebrew text. In English usage we consider it unnecessary. “Behold” is used frequently in the Book of Mormon and can be found on almost any page. Its common use gives evidence of a literal rendering of Hebrew into English.’ [Angela M. Crowell, “Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon,” in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 5]
Alma 5:9 Saved
‘To be saved is to be freed from the effects of Adam’s fall, to overcome death and hell, to know a fullness of joy; it is to inherit eternal life. ‘ (McConkie and Millett, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 3:27)
Alma 5:13 ,14 A mighty change was wrought in their hearts
“Disciples are to make for themselves ‘a new heart’ by undergoing a ‘mighty change’ of heart (Ezekiel 18:31; Alma 5:12-14). Yet we cannot make such ‘a new heart’ while nursing old grievances. Just as civil wars lend themselves to the passionate preservation of ancient grievances, so civil wars within the individual soul-between the natural and the potential man-keep alive old slights and perceived injustices, except in the meek.” (Neal A Maxwell, Meek and Lowly, p. 55)
‘Because our goal is to become more like our Savior and to eventually qualify to live with our Heavenly Father, each of us needs to experience the mighty change in our hearts described by the prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 5:14 Our love for our Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be reflected in our daily choices and actions. They have promised peace, joy, and happiness to those who keep Their commandments.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2010)
Alma 5:26 Felt to sing the song of redeeming love
‘Alma gets right to the heart of things when he essentially asks his listeners to recall what it felt like to become converted and “sing the song of redeeming love.” If they felt that way once upon a time, he implores, can they feel so now?’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)
Alma 5:27-30 Sufficiently humble
‘Alma provides his listeners (and us, as readers) with a kind of spiritual checklist of ways to discern true conversion. People who’ve experienced a mighty change of heart try to keep themselves blameless by being humble (verse 28), avoiding jealousy (verse 29), and refraining from mockery of others (verse 30). They feel that if they were to die today, they would die “sufficiently humble” in the knowledge that Christ has redeemed them from their sins (verse 27).’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)
Alma 5:31-33 Repent
‘Alma formally calls for repentance. Repentance is the process by which ungodly characteristics are stripped away and God’s healing hand may touch us. This is a greater call than to simply cease an undesirable act. Alma is not simply saying that they should stop being prideful but that they should repent of being prideful. He is not only saying to stop persecuting, but to repent of persecuting. Where stopping is a physical action, repenting is a spiritual one. There are tremendous differences to the soul between ceasing an untoward act and repenting from it.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 5:34 Ye shall eat and drink of the bread and waters of life freely
‘This doctrine is reminiscent of the ministry of the Savior in two instances. First, in the interaction between him and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. To her the Savior said, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water…whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst (Jn 4:10–14). The metaphor of spiritual bread and water given in endless supply by the Savior is particularly appealing for those societies in which the pursuit of physical food and drink is a perennial concern.
Second, the Savior repeated this doctrine when he challenged those Jews who were following him because he fed them the loaves and the fishes. He did not want to be their king because of his ability to provide for physical food. Therefore, he emphasized the spiritual food which he had to give saying, I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world…Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you (Jn 6:51–3). Remarkably, the Lord tells us that the only requirement needed to partake so freely of the bread and water of life is to simply, Come unto me.’ (Bryan Richards, Gospeldoctrine.com)
Alma 5:37 Ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world
“This was all Brigham Young could preach in his last year: ‘fast into idolatry, drifting into the spirit of the world and into pride and vanity…We wish the wealth of things of the world; we think about them morning, noon and night; they are first in our minds when we awake in the morning, and the last thing before we go to sleep at night…We have gone just as far as we can be permitted to go in the road on which we are now traveling. One man has his eye on a gold mine, another is for a silver mine, another is for marketing his flour or his wheat, another for selling his cattle, another to raise cattle, another to get a farm, or building here and there, and trading and trafficking with each other, just like Babylon. . . . Babylon is here, and we are following in the footsteps of the inhabitants of the earth, who are in a perfect sea of confusion. Do you know this? You ought to, for there are none of you but what see it daily. . . . The Latter-day Saints [are] trying to take advantage of their brethren. There are Elders in this Church who would take the widow’s last cow, for five dollars, and then kneel down and thank God for the fine bargain they had made.’ This is the great voice of the economy of Babylon. It does not renounce its religious pretensions for a minute. Many in it think they are identical with a pious life.” (Neal A Maxwell, Things As They Really Are, p. 334)
Alma 5:38 In his own name he doth call you
‘Entrance into the kingdom of heaven requires that we take upon ourselves the name of Christ. Salvation is found in no other name (see Mosiah 5:9–10; Acts 4:12; D&C 18:23–25). The significance of this proclamation is worthy of careful consideration. How is it that the power of salvation is vested in a name? Be it remembered that Christ in his mortal ministry was careful to establish the fact that he came in his “Father’s name” (John 5:43), that all his works were done in the name of the Father (see John 10:25), and that he sought to glorify the name of the Father in all he did (see John 12:28). Thus the Son assumed the name and power of his Father and through the name and by that divine investiture he extended the promise of salvation to all who would take upon themselves his name [by covenant] as he had taken upon himself the name of his Father.
Thus salvation centers in our accepting Christ as our Savior [by covenant], being born again into the family of the Father through the waters of baptism, and living worthy of all the [covenant] ordinances of the house of the Lord wherein we are endowed with the powers of heaven. Those rejecting such, like the rebellious children in the families of men, will be disinherited from the royal family of heaven and left to seek citizenship in some other kingdom.’ [Joseph F. McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3, pp. 36-37]
Alma 5:45-46 I testify unto you
“Now, after we teach the great plan of the Eternal God, we must personally bear our testimonies of its truthfulness. Alma, after giving a great message to the Saints about being born again and the need for them to experience a ‘mighty change’ in their hearts, sealed his teachings with his testimony in these words…(quoting Alma 5:45-46.).” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, Apr. 1987, pp. 84-85)
Alma 5:53-56 Setting your heart upon the vain things of the world
‘Do you understand, do you comprehend, that everything we have is required by God our Father, to be laid upon the altar? Is there anything that is nearer your heart than the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is there anything that stands between you and obedience, perfect obedience, to the will of God, as revealed unto you through the Holy Priesthood? If there is, you must get rid of it. We must humble ourselves before the Lord to that extent that we shall have a greater love of his work, a greater degree of obedience in our hearts to the Holy Priesthood than we now have for the things we so highly value. In no other way can we expect to become the people that God designs we shall be. Every day, it seems to me, the circumstances of the people make more and more apparent the necessity for a complete change in our temporal circumstances. We read in the Book of Mormon that when the ancient Nephites began to increase in means and become rich, as we are now increasing, the Spirit of God began to decrease in their midst. There were some who had property and could clothe and educate their children better than their neighbors. The wealthy could have carriages, horses and fine raiment and other comforts and advantages which their poorer brethren and sisters could not have. In consequence of these things they became divided into classes. The rich were raised up in their feelings above the poor. The poor were humble and meek and sought unto the Lord, in many instances at least. Divisions into classes prevailed, and all the attendant evils connected therewith. They became puffed up in pride, and the Lord suffered the Lamanites to come upon and scourge them, and after wars had wasted away their strength and the magnitude of the destructions which overtook them had abused them, they would begin again to feel after and to humble themselves before the Lord, and to seek for his Holy Spirit to dwell in their hearts. ‘ (George Q Cannon, Journal of Discourses)
2. Alma and the people establish the order of the Church in Zarahemla.
Alma 6:1 He ordained priests and elders
“Book of Mormon prophets gave the title priest to officers known in this dispensation as high priests. That is, they were priests of the Melchizedek Priesthood, or as Alma expressed it, ‘the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son.’ (Alma 13:1-20.) Since there was no Aaronic Priesthood among the Nephites in Alma’s day (there being none of the lineage empowered in pre-meridian times to hold that priesthood), there was no need to distinguish between priests of the lesser and greater priesthoods.” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 599)
Alma 6:6 In fasting and in mighty prayer
‘In gospel-sharing homes we pray for guidance for ourselves, and we pray for the physical and spiritual well-being of others. We pray for the people the missionaries are teaching, for our acquaintances, and for those not of our faith.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, April 2006)
3. Alma testifies of Jesus Christ. He encourages the people in Gideon to follow the Savior.
Alma 7:7 One thing which is of more importance than they all
Joseph Smith taught that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings, p. 121).
Alma 7:10 Mary
“We cannot but think that the Father would choose the greatest female spirit to be the mother of his Son, even as he chose the male spirit like unto him to be the Savior.” (D. Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 863)
Alma 7:11-12 pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind
“He knows by actual, personal experience, because not only did He suffer pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind during His second estate, but He took upon Himself our sins as well as our pains, sicknesses, and infirmities. (See Alma 7:11–12.) Thus He knew, not in abstraction but in actuality, ‘according to the flesh,’ the whole of human suffering. He bore our infirmities before we bore them. He knows perfectly well how to succor us. We can tell Him nothing of pain, temptation, or affliction; He learned ‘according to the flesh,’ and His triumph was complete!” (Neal A Maxwell, We Will Prove Them Herewith , 46).
Alma 7:14-16 He shall have eternal life
“Sometimes someone will say: ‘Well, I have been baptized into the Church; I am a member of the Church; I’ll just go along and live an ordinary sort of life; I won’t commit any great crimes; I’ll live a reasonably good Christian life; and eventually I will gain the kingdom of God.’
“I don’t understand it that way. I think that baptism is a gate. It is a gate which puts us on a path; and the name of the path is the straight and narrow path. The straight and narrow path leads upward from the gate of baptism to the celestial kingdom of heaven. After a person has entered the gate of baptism, he has to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, as Nephi expresses it, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men; and if he endures to the end, then he gains the promised reward.” (Bruce R McConkie, Conference Report, Oct. 1950, p. 16)