Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 26 – Converted unto the Lord

1. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies are converted to the Lord.

Alma 23:1-2 He sent a decree among them

‘Once we review verses 27 to 32 of the previous chapter and realize how extensive the land of the Lamanites had become, we begin to appreciate the fantastic ramifications of the king’s decree which is described in the first two verses of the next chapter.

What wouldn’t the apostle Paul have given for a decree like this as he went forth to convert the Gentile nations. The sons of Mosiah and the other Christian missionaries were to have complete access to every home and every congregation in the land. No one was allowed to smite the missionaries, or arrest them, or exclude them from their churches, synagogues, or sanctuaries.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Alma 23:3 He sent his proclamation throughout the land

‘By issuing this proclamation, the King opened the door to preaching the gospel in his land. It also planted the seed that the “wicked traditions of their fathers” may be resolved and that the Nephites and Lamanites are truly brothers. He also emphasized the laws of social relations as previously outlined in the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Not only does adherence to the laws of the gospel bring an individual happiness now and eternally, it also embraces the qualities of citizenship that benefit the well-being of any nations citizens.’ (

Alma 23:6 Never did fall away

“The Book of Mormon is to be ‘a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel,’ said the Lord. (2 Nephi 29:2.) It is a standard we should heed and follow.

“In the twentieth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord devotes several verses to summarizing the vital truths which the Book of Mormon teaches. (See verses 17-36.) It speaks of God, the creation of man, the Fall, the Atonement, the ascension of Christ into heaven, prophets, faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, endurance, prayer, justification and sanctification through grace, and loving and serving God.

We must know these essential truths. Aaron and Ammon and their brethren in the Book of Mormon taught these same kinds of truths to the Lamanite people (see Alma 18:22-39), who were ‘in the darkest abyss’ (Alma 26:3). After accepting these eternal truths, the Book of Mormon states, those converted Lamanites never did fall away. (See Alma 23:6.)

If our children and grandchildren are taught and heed these same truths, will they fall away? We best instruct them in the Book of Mormon at our dinner table, by our firesides, at their bedsides, and in our letters and phone calls-in all of our goings and comings.” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, p. 11)


Alma 23:16 Desirous that they might have a name

‘Modern readers use names only as labels; but in the ancient world, a name was frequently a definition. Names were who a person was. Many societies give one name to children; but they take on a new name at puberty or as an adult, indicating their true identity. In the Book of Mormon, Benjamin urged his people to assume a new name that would solidify their new, covenant identity (Mosiah 5:7). The renaming of these Lamanite believers separated them from their past culture and, apparently, also their past political affiliations. It united them even more tightly in the gospel bond, emphasizing that their new similarity as believers was stronger than the differences represented by the cities from which they had come.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 23:17 Anti-Nephi-Lehies

“It is not clear exactly why they called themselves AntiNephi-Lehies. Viewing the word anti as meaning ‘opposed to’ or ‘against,’ perhaps their action symbolized a desire to dissolve barriers between Nephites and Lamanites and thus establish peace; their name could in this sense represent their opposition to a Nephite-Lamanite distinction. That is they wanted neither Nephites nor Lamanites, nor ‘any manner of –ites’ (4 Nephi 1:17). “Another possibility suggests itself. Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 indicates that the word anti means ‘like’ or ‘mirror image of.’ In that case anti-Christ would mean not just opposed to Christ, but also deceptively similar to Christ, and perhaps the name Anit-Nephi-Lehies would symbolize their desire to be as Nephi and Lehi of old, that is, that they might remember the goodness and faithfulness of their first Nephite prophet leaders (see Helaman 5:6).” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L Millett, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol.3. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991, [3rd Printing, 1993], 165).

Alma 24:7 Our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach

“I used to enjoy very much hearing President Grant tell of the Scandinavian Brother who came over to Utah. He had not been taught much about the gospel; all he knew was that it was true. The bishop went to him and taught him the law of tithing. He paid his tithing. He taught him about fast offering. He paid his fast offering. He taught him about ward maintenance (budget) and he paid that. Then the bishop went to him to get a donation to help build the meeting house. The man felt that ought to come out of the tithing, but before the bishop was through with him, he paid his contribution toward the meeting house. Then the bishop went to him to get his son to go on a mission. The good brother said, ‘That is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. He is the only child we have, and his mother can’t miss him.’ Then the bishop countered, ‘Brother so and so, who do you love in this world more than anyone outside of your immediate family?’ He thought a few minutes and said he guessed he loved that Mormon Elder who came up to the land of the midnight sun and taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then the Bishop countered, ‘Brother so and so, how would you like someone to love your boy just like you love that young Mormon Elder’ The brother said, ‘Bishop, you win again. Take him. I will be glad to support him in the mission field.'” (LeGrand Richards, Just To Illustrate, p. 52)

Alma 24:21 Prostrated themselves before them

“In 1979…I was serving as president in the Mexico City North Mission…A (community) meeting was called…at which Church members were given the following options: denounce the Church, leave the village, or be killed (not an idle threat). The members, particularly the women, said they knew the Church to be true and would not denounce it. They also indicated they had worked just as hard as the rest of the community to secure their homesteads, and they would not leave. Boldly stepping forward, they told their taunters if they were going to kill them to get on with it. The moment grew tense as machetes were raised, then finally lowered while the Latter-day Saints stood up for that which the Spirit had testified to them to be true. These Saints eventually learned, as most of us do, that it is harder to live the gospel day by day than to die for it in an instant, but their early commitment came because the Spirit had touched their hearts and changed their lives.” (John B. Dickson, Ensign, Feb. 1995, p. 7 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 289)

Alma 24:22 Without meeting any resistance

“The question is worth asking, ‘Could I be as strong as these new converts?’ ‘Could I lay down, peacefully pray to God when an enraged army attacked and commenced slaughtering my friends and family?’ ‘Am I ready to die for the cause of truth?’ These are the questions which we must ask ourselves. If we expect the Lord to bless us with the ultimate blessing, all that the Father has (D&C 84:38), we have to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice—-all that we have, even if it means laying our own lives on the altar of sacrifice.” (

2. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies seek safety among the Nephites.

‘Ammon and the Lamanite king both had suggestions for how to help the converted Lamanites preserve themselves from destruction by their Lamanite enemies. But in the end, they did what the Lord wanted them to do.(See Alma 27:1-14)There is no better way to deal with danger and turmoil.

One additional event here is deserving of a comment. The Nephites were not only willing to give a home to these homeless converts, but they were willing to set themselves between them and their enemies. That is to say, the Nephites were willing to risk death in order to help the Anti-Nephi-Lehies keep their covenants.’ (Ted Gibbons,

Alma 27:8 We will be their slaves

‘This offer of enslavement tells us that, while slavery is expressly not a part of Nephite culture (Mosiah 2:13), it is nevertheless a cultural option. Earlier, Limhi had also suggested that his people could become slaves to the Nephites (Mosiah 7:15). Both kings were in the land of Nephi when they made this offer, strongly suggesting that slavery was common in Lamanite lands, particularly in the land of Nephi. And certainly, slavery was a well-documented practice in Mesoamerica.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 27:23 That we may protect our brethren

“The conversion of the war-mongering Lamanites who became the Anti-Nephi-Lehies was remarkable. But just as remarkable was the instant forgiveness of the Nephites, who apparently had friends and relatives who had been killed by the Anti-Nephi-Lehies prior to their conversion (see Alma 27:6). Conversion involves a mighty change of heart, a process experienced by both Anti-Nephi-Lehies and Nephites alike.” (Spencer Condie, Your Agency: Handle with Care, p. 106)

Alma 27:26 The people of Ammon

‘It is interesting that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies not only got a new land but they got a new name. They would be called the Ammonites and they were completely assimilated into the Nephite civilization except for their covenant not to shed blood.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)


Alma 28:1 The armies of the Lamanites had followed their brethren into the wilderness

‘What could be the motivation of these Lamanites in trying so hard to destroy their converted brethren? The people of Ammon had not offended them, fought them in battle, or caused them any harm, yet they are the object of great hatred. They could be accused of being “traitors” to the Nephites but their conversion and migration presented no military threat to them. So what is the driving force?

When hatred and malice are demonstrated for the sake only of hatred and malice, Satan is the driving force. These Lamanites would not have chased their brethren deep into Nephite territory if they were not stirred up by the Amalekites. One of the Amalekites’ most pronounced qualities was hatred, for Satan has great hold on the hearts of the Amalekites, who do stir up the Lamanites to anger against their brethren to slay them (Alma 27:12). (Bryan Richards,

Alma 28:4 Mourning and great lamentation

“More painful to me are the thoughts of annihilation than death. If I have no expectation of seeing my father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends again, my heart would burst in a moment, and I should go down to my grave. The expectation of seeing my friends in the morning of the resurrection cheers my soul and makes me bear up against the evils of life. It is like their taking a long journey, and on their return we meet them with increased joy.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings)

Alma 28:11-12 Mourning and rejoicing

‘We might read the first category as the Lamanites and the second Nephites, but Mormon’s concerns are almost exclusively Nephite. Therefore, these mourners are Nephites. The contrast is between those who embrace the gospel of the Atoning Messiah with its promise of resurrection and those who follow the order of the Nehors and who therefore “have reason to fear” (v. 11).’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 28:13 The inequality of man is because of sin and transgression

‘This phrase has more than one level of meaning. Inequality in mortality is rarely blamed on sin and transgression, but the sins of pride, greed, deceit, stealing, and dishonesty all breed such inequality. If all were righteous and living the law of consecration, there would be no inequality at all. But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin (DC 49:20). If inequality is because of sin, then the converse should also be true—that equality is a function of righteousness. The law of equality, under the law of consecration, is a necessary and fundamental component of celestial law, That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things; For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you (DC 78:5-7).

The second level of meaning to Mormon’s comment is that there is inequality in the rewards given to men. This inequality also comes because of sin and transgression. He is contrasting the death and punishments of the wicked, consigned to a state of endless wo (v. 11), to the death and rewards of the righteous, raised to dwell…in a state of never-ending happiness (v. 12). In many respects this inequality is greater than that of mortality. In other words, the difference between the blessed state of the righteous and the cursed state of the wicked after death is much greater than the disparity between the rich and the poor during mortality.’ (Bryan Richards,

3. Ammon and Alma rejoice in the accomplishment of the Lord’s work.

Alma 26:5 Behold the number of your sheaves

‘A short time ago, I stood in a little room in Wales, in which my mother was born 102 years before, the room so small that the six-foot bed covers the entire width, and its length is barely two feet longer than it is wide, and the old rafters just two feet above my head, so about eight feet high. But my thoughts on that occasion have been sacred to me. I share one or two with you.

‘I thought, as Sister McKay and I stood in that small bedroom, how different life would be now if two humble elders had not knocked at that door a hundred years ago! And how different life would be if my mother’s father and mother had not accepted that message? I looked around the village and found descendants of others who heard it at that time, descendants of some who ridiculed my grandfather and grandmother, for having accepted the truth; and they made light of their religion, scoffed at them and ostracized them for having accepted Mormonism. I realized how unenlightened those neighbors were when they condemned my grandparents.

‘…Father’s folk were way up in the north of Scotland. It was only through the gospel that Father and Mother met. So I expressed gratitude, as I sensed it probably never so keenly before, as we stood in that little room, six by eight.’ (David O McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 122-3)

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Alma 26:9-10 Aaron rebuked him

‘Mormon says that Aaron was rebuking his brother. Ammon had said nothing offensive to Aaron until verse 9 when he seemed to take credit for their success, saying, if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla. Aaron’s rebuke is actually quite gentle, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting. Aaron is saying, “now don’t get carried away thinking you are anything special.” Ammon was, of course, “something special” but a true servant of the Lord never takes credit for what the Lord has done. To do this demonstates pride and insolence. Aaron wants to make sure that Ammon does not give himself too much of the credit. But Ammon never meant to extol his own virtues and his response is a great explanation of his own nothingness compared to the power of God.’ (Bryan Richards,

Alma 26:22 Exerciseth faith

‘Your testimony will be fortified as you exercise faith in Jesus Christ, in His teachings, and in His limitless power to accomplish what He has promised. The key words are “exercise faith.” True faith has enormous power, but there are principles that must be followed to unleash that power. Moroni taught, “Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. That means you must practice the truth or principle you have faith in. As you live it consistently, there will come a witness of its truthfulness through the power of the Holy Ghost. It is often a feeling of peace. It could be a stirring within you. It might be evidenced by opening doors to other truths. As you patiently look for a confirmation, it will come. Recognize that the Lord will give you the capacity to understand and prove through personal experience the truthfulness of His teachings. He will confirm the certainty that His laws will produce the promised results when obeyed willingly and consistently.’ (Richard G Scott, General Conference, October 2001)

Alma 26:27 When our hearts were depressed

“There are times when you simply have to righteously hang on and outlast the devil until his depressive spirit leaves you. As the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith: ‘thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if you endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high’ (DC 121:7-8). To press on in noble endeavors, even while surrounded by a cloud of depression, will eventually bring you out on top into the sunshine.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1974)

Alma 26:36 Wanderers in a strange land

“The Nephites never ceased to think of themselves in those melancholy terms. Five hundred years after Jacob, Alma could write that his people were both blessed and sorrowful in their wandering state. Because of their isolation, he says, God gives them special revelation, and glad tidings ‘are made known to us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored’ (Alma 13:23). God, he says, has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land (Alma 26:36).” (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 142)

Alma 29:1 O that I were an angel

‘Let others know that you know. Bear your testimony in fast meeting. Tell your family; tell your friends. You will find when you share your testimony it becomes stronger, and there are many others around you who also want to embrace the truth.

Be willing to endure the test of time. Do not think that it is easy to maintain a testimony. Others will test you. Sometimes they will point the finger of mockery and scorn. Sometimes they may persecute you openly. Be prepared. Know in advance that the best of God’s children have had the courage of true conviction and were willing to suffer ridicule, deprivation, and even death for the sake of true testimony. Is each of us willing to do likewise?’ (Robert D Hales, General Conference, October 1994)



Posted in Israel, Jesus Christ, Old Testament, Symbolism, Temples

Boaz as a type of Christ

The book of Ruth tells the story of Ruth, an ancestor of Jesus. Following the death of her husband she decides to leave her own country, people and religion to follow her mother-in-law to Israel. Here she finds a husband in her ‘kinsman’ Boaz. Boaz is a foreshadowing or type of Christ.


  • Like Jesus, Boaz was of the tribe of Judah.
  • He was an ancestor of David and of Jesus.
  • He was born and lived in Bethlehem.
  • He owned a field into which he sent His laborers. (He was a ‘Lord of the Harvest’)
  • The Hebrew word translated as kinsman, go’el literally means “redeemer.”
  • Boaz became the kinsman Redeemer of both Jew and Gentile, by buying the lost inheritance of Naomi and Ruth thus gaining the right to make Ruth his bride. In this way Boaz is a type of Christ’s love and redemptive power.
  • Before approaching Boaz in his own place, Ruth washes and anoints herself and puts on raiment.
  • When Ruth comes and lays at Boaz’s feet Boaz does not immediately receive her. He tells her that there is a relative closer than Himself who has a right to redeemer. Boaz is acting in accord with the Law of God.
  • The Saviour receives and welcomes Jew and Gentile. He pays our debt, and therefore, gains the right to make us His bride.
  • Boaz paid the price of the redemption of Naomi and Ruth outside the gate of the city. Hundreds of years later Jesus Christ would pay the price for us also outside the gate of the city.
  • He was honouring the demands of the Law and obeying the Lord in his dealings with Ruth. He does not, and cannot redeem Ruth and Naomi until he has obeyed the demands of the law, and then pay the price to redeem her. The Saviour, similarly first fulfills the righteous requirements of the Law, then He pays the price.


Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 25 – They Taught with Power and Authority of God

1. The sons of Mosiah preach the gospel to the Lamanites.

Alma 17:2 They had searched the scriptures diligently

“May I suggest…a formula [in missionary work] that will ensure your success: Search the scriptures with diligence!…Your confidence will be directly related to your knowledge of God’s word. Oh…I am sure you have heard of some missionaries who were lazy, less than effective, and anxious for their missions to conclude. A careful examination of such instances will reveal that the actual culprit is not laziness, nor disinterest, but is the foe known as fear. Our Father chastised such: ‘…with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man (DC 60:2).'” (Thomas S Monson, Conference Reports, Oct. 1969)


Alma 17:9 They journeyed many days

‘The missionary experiences of the sons of Mosiah also help us understand how to become instruments in God’s hands. “And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness”  We must be willing to journey. The sons of Mosiah were willing to step outside their surroundings and do that which was uncomfortable. Had Ammon not been willing to journey into a foreign land, inhabited by a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people, he never would have found and helped Lamoni and his father, and many Lamanites may have never learned about Jesus Christ. God has asked us to journey, go on missions, accept callings, invite someone to church, or help someone in need.

In their pursuit to help their Lamanite brothers, the sons of Mosiah also learned the importance of fasting and prayer: “They fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth”  Do we really want to be instruments in God’s hands? If so, our desire will permeate our prayers and be the focus of our fasts.’  (Don R Clarke, General Conference, October 2006)

Alma 17:11 Go forth among the Lamanites

‘This verse contains Yahweh’s instructions on how to do difficult missionary work. He approves of their mission, urges them to “establish my word,” but to be aware that success will require their full cooperation. First, they must be “patient in long-suffering and afflictions.” Very few missions are immediately successful; in their early stages, missions are even less obviously productive. Patience allows us to realize that the lack of immediate success is not evidence of lack of success. Missionaries need the time to find the right people among all of the possible converts. The potential converts need time to accept the change in their lives that will come through the acceptance of the gospel. Patience allows the missionary to wait for these natural processes to take place. This is patience in long-suffering. “Long-suffering” does not emphasize “suffering” in the sense of withstanding pain or uncomfortable situations, but in its more archaic meaning of allowing or permitting. To be “long-suffering” is to have the patience to allow events to develop at their own pace. (See a further definition in the commentary accompanying Alma 7:23–24.)

Patience in afflictions is self-directed, while patience in long-suffering is applies to others. Missionary tasks are not always easy and may lead to different types of afflictions. In the days of Mosiah’s sons, those afflictions would have been more numerous and potentially life-threatening than those modern missionaries face. Nevertheless, they were to have patience even through those trials.

A second requirement is that the missionaries become “good examples… in me.” One of the greatest tools of the missionary is his or her own soul. The change effected in the missionary is a visible example of the gospel’s workings. Anyone considering the great change represented by conversion needs to know both that the process is possible and that the results are worthwhile. The missionary’s example shows both of these aspects.

In return Yahweh promises: “I will make an instrument of thee in my hands.” This is a promise of partnership and also a reminder to humility. The excellent missionary is an instrument, not the hand that moves the instrument. It is the Spirit that converts, manifesting itself through the efforts of the missionary, who by faith and works, is in the right place at the right time.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 17:14 A wild and a hardened and a ferocious people

‘Mormon’s statement that the work undertaken by the sons of Mosiah “was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people” was no exaggeration (Alma 17:14). After Nephi and his people separated themselves from the people of Laman and Lemuel, the Lamanites fell deeper and deeper into darkness. Nephi reported that the Lamanites became “an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety” (2 Nephi 5:24). Enos reported that “they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness” (Enos 1:20), and his son Jarom wrote that the Lamanites “loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts” (Jarom 1:6).

There are indications, however, that the Lord had begun to prepare the Lamanites to accept the gospel. They had interaction with various Nephite groups such as Zeniff’s colony, and even apostate groups like the Amulonites (the wicked priests of Noah), and were taught many things, including the Nephite language (see Mosiah 24:1–7). Such teachings may have provided an initial preparation for the Lamanites that later led the way to their conversion by the sons of Mosiah.’ (Book of Mormon Seminary Manual)

2. Ammon serves and teaches King Lamoni, and many of the people are converted.

Alma 17:29 The power which is in me

‘I’ve seen courage in the military. I’ve witnessed courage in the classrooms of learning and the factories of industry. Never have I observed its beauty more radiant than reflected from the service of a missionary. As a member of the Missionary Executive Committee of the Church, I often interview prospective missionaries who have physical impairments or other shortcomings. In considering the recommendation of one such candidate, the bishop of the ward had written:

‘Brother ________ is badly scarred due to an automobile accident. However, if courage will help, he’ll lead the lot.’ I made an appointment to visit with the lad. My initial reaction upon meeting him was one of mixed surprise and pity. His face was badly scarred. He had been trapped in a burning automobile. Gone were his eyebrows, eyelashes, portions of his nose and face. ‘Son, ’ I responded, ‘if you were in the mission field, there would be those who would reject your message and you may feel that they were rejecting you. This would be unbearable.’

‘Brother Monson, ’ he replied, ‘I have become accustomed to that challenge. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I so much want to serve the Lord and to preach the gospel. Please let me be called.’ The courage of his spirit bore witness to me of his faith. He received a call. After two years of outstanding missionary activity, his president wrote, upon the occasion of his honorable release:

‘The bearer of this letter has served in this mission for two years. He has been one of the finest missionaries in our mission over the whole time that he has been here. He has been effective as a leader, as a proselyting missionary, as the liaison between the mission office and the several stakes in which he has served, and in all respects his performance has been without flaw.

‘He has handled his personal problem, his severe scarring, in a way which has discouraged or affronted no one. It has been on a basis that “this is my problem; don’t worry about it.”

‘We love him dearly. We are grateful for his services; and if you have any more just like him, send them along.’’

(Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection, pp. 145–46)

Alma 17:30 Those whom he termed to be his brethren

‘Ammon thought of the other shepherds as his brothers and as equals. We must not convey a holier-than-thou or more-worthy-than-thou attitude as we meet and teach others. (Alma 18:17 Behold, I am a man . . .) Our attitude should say, I am no better than you. I am only different from you in that I have something precious that you do not have that I would like to give to you. In my mission, Elders occasionally referred to the Brazilians as Brazies. This seems to be offensive and demeaning and is certainly counter-productive. My companion spoke to me one day as we rode in a taxi. Do you think this dumb Brazi knows where he is going? Before I could respond, the driver spoke over his shoulder in perfect English. You Americans are all the same. The attitude that caused a servant of the Lord to use that title for our driver might have done great damage perhaps irreparable damage to the likelihood of this man listening to the gospel in the future.’ (Ted L Gibbons.

Alma 18:2 Preserving his flocks

‘Some may read this [account of Ammon] as a story about some shepherds trying to round up some missing sheep, but the message is much more powerful and significant than that. Ammon was a missionary with noble intentions to bring the king and his kingdom back to the fold of righteousness, to the well of living water. The challenge looked daunting to round them up. They were discouraged and fearful that the king would discover their loss. Ammon not only led the force to recapture the sheep, he drove away the evil men who caused the problems; and his heroic efforts persuaded the king to follow him and to follow the Savior. [Robert D. Hales, Ensign, May 1997]


Alma 18:8-9 Horses in the Book of Mormon


Alma 18:10 Chariots

‘Desire de Charnay, a traveled Frenchman, published Ancient Cities of the New World. In his visits in Mexico he had excavated a number of ancient burials found on the slopes of Popocatepetl in which he had found a number of small clay objects that had the appearance of pull toys, but more importantly had wheels and axles connecting the wheels. On page 175 Charnay also quoted and commented on a statement by an early Indian historian who used an ambiguous word meaning both chariot and transport. He further referred to a drawing in the writings of Father Duran, which showed a “rude chariot with clog wheels, drawn by a multitude of Indians.”

According to Verneil Simmons, we have no idea what these “chariots” looked like. They could have been two-wheeled carts or even flatbed bodies on four wheels which would have been practical for moving their goods. The toys come in two-wheeled and four-wheeled models and indicate that both types were possible. Since we assume they would have been constructed of wood, it is unlikely that no evidence would survive until today. [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places And Prophecies, pp. 134-135]

Verneil Simmons also writes about an interesting phenomenon of archaeological “scholarship.” He comments that until very recently, almost the first thing one read in a textbook or was told in the classroom was the supposed fact that the principle of the wheel was unknown to the ancient inhabitants of this continent. . . . However, as excavations increased more wheeled toys were found in the state of Veracruz and in other areas of Mexico. Eventually the cumulative evidence reached the point that the books had to be rewritten and public confession made that the wheeled toys had been hidden in museum storage rooms for decades (because it was a well known fact that the principle of the wheel was unknown in ancient America!). [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 134]’ (Alan C Miner, Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon)

Alma 18:13 Rabbanah

Rabbanah is a wonderful word. Translated, it means powerful, or great king. In applying that name to Ammon, the servants of Lamoni did not know that in reality he was a prince, the son of the mighty king of the Nephites. But after Ammon’s miraculous exploits at the Waters of Sebus, they regarded him, as did their master, something more than a man.” (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 265)

Alma 18:16 Filled with the Spirit of God

‘It is almost impossible to be an effective instrument within our own families, with our neighbors, or even from the pulpit unless we can discern the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Ammon was able to perceive the thoughts of the Lamanite king because he was living close to the Lord (see  Alma 18:16

Our ability to hear the voice of the Spirit is dependent upon our willingness to keep the commandments, for “when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated”  D&C 130:21 If we want to experience the inexpressible joy of gospel living and feel of Christ’s atoning mercies, obedience to all, and not just a select few, of God’s commandments is the only way.’ (Mary Ellen W Smoot, General Conference, October 2000)

Alma 18:24 Began to speak unto him with boldness

“Creating a gospel-sharing home does not mean that we are going to have to dedicate large amounts of time to meeting and cultivating friends with whom to share the gospel. These friends will come naturally into our lives, and if we are open about our membership in the Church from the very beginning, we can easily bring gospel discussions into the relationship with very little risk of being misunderstood. Friends and acquaintances will accept that this is part of who we are, and they will feel free to ask questions. …

“A sister in France was asked about the secret of her success. She said, ‘I simply share my joy. I treat everyone as if they were already a member of the Church. If I’m standing by someone in line and strike up a conversation, I share with them how much I enjoyed my Church meetings on Sunday. When co-workers ask, “What did you do this weekend?” I do not skip from Saturday night to Monday morning. I share with them that I went to church, what was said, and my experiences with the Saints. I talk about how I live, think, and feel’” (M Russell Ballard, Conference Report, Apr. 2006).

Alma 18:38 He expounded unto them all the records and scriptures

“Ammon’s teaching methods were not elaborate or excessive.  He started on Lamoni’s level with questions about very basic gospel principles.  He then explained the doctrines of the plan of salvation the Creation and the Fall–expounded the scriptures of ancient history, and finished with the plan of redemption.  He used the scriptures from both the Old and New Worlds as his basic source (Alma 18:36-39).  Ammon’s straightforward doctrinal approach calls to mind President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.’s comment about how not to teach our spiritually alert youth, ‘There is no need for gradual approaches, for ‘bed-time’ stories, for coddling, for patronizing, or for any of the other childish devices’.  If Ammon could teach doctrine from the scriptures to a wicked Lamanite who barely knew God existed, surely students in modern Zion deserve to be taught in the same way.” (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, “Alma, the Test of the Word,” edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 269)

“What do you teach a person who has no knowledge of God or the gospel and yet has consented to listen and believe?  Where do you start?  What principles do you emphasize?  The way in which Ammon taught King Lamoni constitutes a classic response to such questions.  Ammon taught him what we have come to know as the three pillars of eternity-the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.  These three doctrines, which are inseparably associated one with the other, constitute the foundation upon which all other gospel principles must rest.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon,vol. 3, p. 135)

Alma 18:40-41 And he began to cry unto the Lord

‘King Lamoni demonstrates that he has understood Ammon’s message by his response—immediately repenting and praying for forgiveness. Lamoni did not simply accept the logical coherence of Ammon’s account as an intellectual exercise; he clearly saw that he needed to change his way of life. He prays for Yahweh’s “abundant mercy.” His faith has moved him to action.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 19:5 To me he doth not stink

“The love of this faithful wife for her beloved husband seems typical to me of the love which will obtain in the heavenly kingdom and which should here characterize our relationships with those dear to us.” (Marion D Hanks, Conference Report, Apr. 1957, p. 129)

Alma 19:9 I have had no witness save thy word

‘Ammon asks the queen if she believes, and she does—but adds that it is on the basis of testimony from Ammon and the servants. In other words, no logical argument and no manifestation of the Spirit have confirmed her faith.

In this simple ability to believe based upon another’s testimony, the queen is laying claim to one of the most powerful of the gifts of the Spirit: “To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful” (D&C 46:13–14). Some are blessed by a direct witness of the Spirit. Certainly Ammon’s experience with Alma either qualifies or comes close. Lamoni was also experiencing this direct, personal witness of the Spirit. While the Doctrine and Covenants focuses on obtaining a testimony that Jesus is the Son of God, the principle clearly applies to any gospel principle about which the Spirit bears direct witness.

Those who know certainly have a gift, but others have the gift of the ability to believe. They apparently do not need the Spirit’s personal confirmation but, like this Lamanite queen, may sincerely believe because of faith in other’s words.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 19:13 Overpowered by the Spirit

“Elder David B. Haight expressed deep gratitude Sunday morning for the faith and prayers of countless people in his behalf, and for the divine intervention that spared his life from a serious illness…He recounted his experience the evening of his health crisis, as he pled with his Heavenly Father to spare his life a little longer to have more time to do His work, if it was His will.

“‘While still praying,’ he recalled, ‘I began to lose consciousness. . . . I was now in a calm, peaceful setting; all was serene and quiet. I was conscious of two persons in the distance on a hillside. . . . Detailed features were not discernable. I heard no voices but was conscious of being in a holy presence and atmosphere.’

“During the days that followed, Elder Haight said he was shown a panoramic view of Christ’s earthly ministry. He saw the Savior and His apostles on the eve of His betrayal, where the Lord instructed and prepared the sacrament as a remembrance of His coming sacrifice. ‘It was so impressively portrayed to me – the overwhelming love of the Savior for each,’ Elder Haight said. ‘I witnessed His thoughtful concern for significant details – the washing of the dusty feet of each apostle; His breaking and blessing of the loaf of dark bread and blessing of the wine; then His dreadful disclosure that one would betray Him.’

“He said he saw Christ in Gethsemane, where ‘in some manner beyond our comprehension,’ the Savior took upon Himself the sins of mankind. As he witnessed these events during his days of unconsciousness, Elder Haight said the Holy Ghost blessed him with ‘a more perfect knowledge’ of the Lord’s mission.

“‘My soul was taught over and over again,’ he said solemnly. ‘I witnessed His struggling up the hill in His weakened condition carrying the cross, and His being stretched upon it…I cannot begin to convey to you the deep impact that these scenes have confirmed upon my soul,” (Church News, Oct. 7, 1989)

Alma 19:16 Abish

‘Abish is noteworthy not just because of her pivotal role in the events of chapter 19 but because she is one of the few women mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon. The others are Sariah, Eve, Sarah, Mary, and Isabel (Alma 39:3). Some may wonder why women did not play a bigger part of the narrative of the Book of Mormon. Others may complain, but this is a great example of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon because it followed the old Hebrew cultural tradition which was male-dominated. The Lord God should not be held responsible for this cultural tradition, nor does this scant treatment of women reflect the Lord’s view on the role and importance of womanhood.

Let’s take a look at Abish’s spiritual maturity. Assuming that it was her father who had the vision and not her, 1) she was obedient to the vision and teachings of her father, 2) she was faithful and discreet as a silent convert, 3) she had the gift of discernment by which she knew that the three lay prostate by the power of God, 4) she was an opportunist and a missionary who gathered all to witness the power of God, 5) she was sensitive to the great conflict amongst the gathering (v. 28), and 6) she took inspired action amidst this great conflict which led to its resolution in that she took the queen and king by the hand, awakening them from their trances (v. 29-30). In the span of a very few verses, she demonstrates incredible spiritual acumen which is worthy of emulation. (Bryan Richards,

Alma 19:17 She knew that it was the power of God

‘Abish had no hesitation or confusion about what had happened. Not only was the Spirit providing her with inspiration, but she had been among those attending Lamoni when he revived. She could immediately and confidently interpret this experience.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 19:28 The contention began to be exceedingly sharp

“Another special challenge we face from time to time is having good motives and good intentions-and even good actions misfire. Abish, the ‘Lamanitish woman’ (Alma 19:16-17), was not the first nor the last Church member to think an opportunity to be present and, therefore, to act on the impulse to do good. Confusion and contention followed her deed, as did tears from conscientious Abish. Vindication was nearly immediate in her case, but it is much slower coming at other times.

“If our motives and actions are good, we should be able to endure some misunderstanding, but the pain and frustration of it will be real because we really care. Time and truth can cause lower courts of opinion to reverse themselves, hopefully soon. But if not, we will come to that final gate where Jesus Christ is the gatekeeper and ‘he employeth no servant there.’ The gospel guarantees ultimate, not proximate, justice.” (Neal A Maxwell, Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward, p. 115)

Alma 19:29 O blessed Jesus who has saved me

‘In a writing called The Ascension of Isaiah, Isaiah goes to the king’s court and passes out on the king’s bed. The people say he is dead. He’s gone for two days and comes back again. When he comes back he says, I have seen the Messiah, O blessed Jesus, etc. That’s the very thing that happens when the king and queen come to, here. In Alma 19:29 it says that the queen “arose and stood upon her feet, and cried with a loud voice, saying: O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell! O blessed God, have mercy on this people!” ‘[Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, p. 384]

3. Ammon is led by the Spirit to deliver his brethren. Lamoni’s father is converted.

‘Let me share with you an example from the Book of Mormon that illustrates what one convert was willing to pay in order to receive the joy associated with finding the treasure spoken of by Jesus in the parable of the treasure hidden in the field.

Remember in the book of  Alma chapter 20 Ammon and Lamoni were traveling to the city of Middoni for the purpose of finding and delivering Ammon’s brother Aaron out of prison. During their journey they encountered Lamoni’s father, who was the Lamanite king over all the land.

The king was very upset that his son Lamoni was traveling with Ammon, a Nephite missionary, whom he considered an enemy. He felt that his son should have attended a great feast he had sponsored for his sons and his people. The Lamanite king was so upset that he commanded his son Lamoni to slay Ammon with his sword. When Lamoni refused, the king drew his own sword to slay his son for disobedience; however, Ammon interceded to save Lamoni’s life. He ultimately overpowered the king and could have killed him.

This is what the king said to Ammon after finding himself in this life-and-death situation: “If thou wilt spare me I will grant unto thee whatsoever thou wilt ask, even to half of the kingdom.”

So the king was willing to pay the price of one-half his kingdom in order to spare his own life. The king must have been astonished when Ammon requested only that he release his brother Aaron and his associates from prison and that the king’s son Lamoni retain his kingdom.

Later on, due to this encounter, Ammon’s brother Aaron was released from the Middoni prison. After his release he was inspired to travel to where the Lamanite king ruled over the land. Aaron was introduced to the king and had the privilege of teaching him the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, including the great plan of redemption. The teachings of Aaron inspired the king deeply.

The king’s response to Aaron’s teachings is found in  verse 15 of Alma chapter 22: “And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.”

Amazingly enough, in contrast to giving up one-half his kingdom to spare his life, the Lamanite king was now willing to give up his entire kingdom that he might receive the joy that comes from understanding, accepting, and living the gospel of Jesus Christ.’ (Richard G Maynes, General Conference, October 2015)

Alma 20:13 To his astonishment his father was angry

‘Lamoni is “astonish[ed]” that the explanation that is so clear to him only unleashes his father’s wrath. His own changes have been so complete that he has forgotten his own prejudice against Nephites. Lamanite tradition had taught him to hate Nephites, just as Nephite traditions had taught hatred for Lamanites. Free in the Spirit, both Ammon and Lamoni have stepped away from the false “traditions” of their fathers to meet as brothers in Yahweh-Messiah.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 20:26 I will grant unto you that me son may retain his kingdom

‘Lamoni’s father not only agrees to Ammon’s modest request but matches it with a generous gesture. Because Lamoni was with Ammon and was tacitly supporting Ammon in the conflict, Lamoni was technically in rebellion against his father. Had Ammon been defeated, Lamoni’s life would surely have been forfeit. Lamoni’s father, however, here relinquishes his right of rule over Lamoni, making Lamoni independent. This may have been a simple political necessity, since Lamoni had demonstrated his lack of loyalty. Nevertheless, the old king was granting more than had been requested. The consequences for Lamoni were likely as much economic as political. The “freedom” was probably from the expected tribute to the over-king.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 21:15 And they went forth again

‘No one would have blamed them if they had taken a week or two off to recuperate. No one would have found fault with them for choosing another field of labor. But not these men: they were under divine direction to go forth.’ (Ted L Gibbons.

Alma 21:16 Led by the Spirit of the Lord

“Walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you.” (Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower, p. 138)

Alma 22:2-3 If thou wilt spare our lives, we will be thy servants

‘It seems likely that Aaron and his brethren offered to become the king’s servants after hearing how well this technique had worked for Ammon. There is no indication that they had tried it in earlier cities where they preached. Here, however, Lamoni’s father is anxious to talk to them. He has seen Lamoni’s astonishing determination to follow the new beliefs, even to the point of committing possible political suicide by rebelling against his over-king. Another astonishing feature was Ammon’s generosity, basically asking for nothing but the king’s attentiveness to his preaching. No wonder his curiosity is piqued.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 22:13 Aaron did expound unto him the scriptures

“Just as soil needs preparation for a seed, so does a human heart for the word of God to take root…Aaron, one of the great missionaries in the Book of Mormon, knew how to teach that way. You remember how he taught King Lamoni’s father, the old king. The king’s heart had already been prepared by seeing love and humility in the way Aaron’s brother had treated Lamoni, his son. But even with that preparation of the old king’s heart, Aaron taught the word of God in a way to emphasize God’s love and our need for him: ‘And it came to pass that when Aaron saw that the king would believe his words, he began from the creation of Adam, reading the scriptures unto the king-how God created man after his own image, and that God gave him commandments, and that because of transgression, man had fallen. And Aaron did expound unto him the scriptures from the creation of Adam, laying the fall of man before him, and their carnal state and also the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on his name.’ (Alma 22:12-13.)

“You won’t very often have the remarkable result that Aaron had. After hearing the word of God taught that way, in what the scriptures sometimes call the plan of happiness, the old king said that he would give whatever he had to root the wickedness out of him and have eternal life. When Aaron told him to cry to God in prayer for forgiveness, the king bowed down on the spot. The seed was planted. He was doing the will of God. (See verses 15-18.)

“When you touch the hearts of people you serve, you won’t do everything exactly the way Aaron did. But you will do some of the same things. You will try to help them feel that God loves them by the way you treat them. You will be humble so that they are more likely to choose to be meek and lowly of heart. You will teach the word of God, when the Spirit prompts you, in a way that testifies of God’s love for them and their need for the atonement of Jesus Christ. And you will teach them commandments they can keep. That is why, when you go into the mission field, you learn to commit those you teach to pray or to read the Book of Mormon or to come with you to a sacrament meeting or to be baptized. You know that when they keep commandments they plant the seed. And you know that it will grow, their souls will be expanded, and when that happens their faith will increase.” (Henry B Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, pp. 187-8)

Alma 22:16 Call upon his name in faith

‘The unfailing source of our hope is that we are sons and daughters of God and that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved us from death. How can we know that Jesus truly is our Savior and Redeemer? In human terms His reality is almost undefinable, but His presence can be known unequivocally by the Spirit if we continually seek to live under the shadow of His influence. In the Book of Mormon we read the account of Aaron expounding the gospel to Lamoni’s father. He told him, “If thou wilt bow down before God … and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.” The old king followed this to the letter and received a witness of the truth that Aaron had imparted. As a result, he and all his household were converted and came to know the Lord.’ (James E Faust, General Conference, October 1999)

Alma 22:18 To know God

‘I cite for you an example of a man whose life was changed to a more Christlike life after he earnestly desired such a change and sought the Lord’s help.

Lamoni’s father was a king who had bitter enmity toward the Nephites. A great missionary by the name of Aaron—one of the sons of Mosiah—had come to the Lamanite nation to bring them the gospel. He proceeded to the king’s home and subsequently engaged him in a gospel discussion about the purpose of life. Once the king became receptive to his message, Aaron taught him about Christ, the plan of salvation, and the possibility of eternal life.

This message so impressed the king that he asked Aaron, ‘What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy’ (Alma 22:15).

Aaron instructed him to call upon God in faith to help him repent of all his sins. The king, anxious for his own soul, did as Aaron instructed:

‘O God, ’ he prayed, ‘Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee’ (Alma 22:18; italics added).

Now I want you, my brethren, to hear again this humble man’s words:

‘I will give away all my sins to know thee.’

Brethren, each of us must surrender our sins if we are to really know Christ. For we do not know Him until we become like Him. There are some, like this king, who must pray until they, too, have ‘a wicked spirit rooted’ from them so they can find the same joy.’ (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1983, p. 43)

Alma 22:22 He put forth his hand and raised the king from the earth

‘Twice in the Book of Mormon, when individuals fell as if dead under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, someone raised them by grasping their hand. This happened to Lamoni and his wife (Alma 19:29–30) and later to Lamoni’s father (Alma 22:18–22), each of whom came to know the Lord during the experience. While there are no exact parallels in the Bible, inRevelation 1:17 the apostle John falls down as dead before the risen Christ, who then lays his right hand upon him and tells him not to fear. Closer parallels to the Book of Mormon stories are found in various pseudepigraphic texts unavailable to Joseph Smith.

The Apocalypse of Abraham 10:1-5; 11:1 has Abraham reporting that when he heard the voice of God speaking to him, “my spirit was amazed, and my soul fled from me. And I became like a stone and fell face down upon the earth for there was no longer strength in me to stand up on the earth.” Then God sent an angel who “took me by my right hand and stood me on my feet . . . And I stood up and saw him who had taken my right hand and set me on my feet.”

A similar story is told of Enoch, who is quoted as saying, “Then I fell upon my face before the Lord of the Spirits. And the angel Michael, one of the archangels, seizing me by my right hand and lifting me up, led me out into all the secrets of mercy; and he showed me all the secrets of righteousness” (1 Enoch 71:2-3).

In 4 Ezra 10:25-30, we find Ezra, in vision, being frightened by a woman (the heavenly Jerusalem) whose face shone like lightning (like the angel at the tomb in Matthew 28:2–4). “I was too frightened to approach her, and my heart was terrified . . . I lay there like a corpse and was deprived of my understanding.” Then the angel Uriel came and “he grasped my right hand and strengthened me and set me on my feet.”

In light of these and other accounts, the Book of Mormon stories of people falling into ecstasy and being raised by a handclasp fits quite well into the ancient world from which the Nephite record came. [John A. Tvedtnes, “Raised by a Handclasp,” in The Most Correct Book, pp. 215-218]

Alma 23:6 Never did fall away

“You may recall that the sons of Mosiah were so effective in their teaching, with ‘the power of God working miracles in them,’ that ‘as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away’ (Alma 23:6). We trust that your efforts will be as fruitful. As you teach potential converts, make sure they have a sufficient foundation of faith, understanding, conviction, and commitment to keep themselves faithful when they become members of the Church. Please be certain there is coordination with the ward mission leader and stake missionaries so that new converts are warmly fellowshipped by ward or branch members.” (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 252)



Posted in Uncategorized

5 ways to wellbeing

Reblogged from June 2015


I recently attended a conference where one of the speakers was Nic Marks of the New Economics Foundation who, a few years ago, came up with the Five Ways of Wellbeing. These are 5 actions that can increase wellbeing or happiness. They have been taken up by governments and other organisations around the world. And they are:

Connect: because social relationships are the strongest part really of happiness and wellbeing

Be active

Take notice: noticing what’s going on around us and within us

Keep learning: learning through your life course

Give: volunteering, generosity, altruism are all really good for our own wellbeing as well as other people’s.

It struck me that as members of the Church, we didn’t need the New Economics Foundation to tell us about this.


With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in…

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Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 24 – Give Us Strength According to Our Faith in Christ

1. Alma gives a powerful discourse on the priesthood and foreordination.

Alma 13:1 Priests

“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 13:3 Called and prepared from the foundation of the world

“Why were some spirits sent to earth among the Amalekites, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians, while others at the same moments found birth in the house of Israel? Why was Antipas sent as the son of a debauched and evil Herod, while John the Baptist came into the home of a priestly Zacharias and a saintly Elisabeth?

All of these things operate by law; they are the outgrowth of long years of personal preparation in the preexistence on the part of each individual; they come to pass according to the laws that the Lord has ordained. This second estate is a continuation of our first estate; we are born here with the talents and capacities acquired there. Abraham was one of the noble and great spirits in the premortal life. He was chosen for his mortal ministry and position before he was born, and as with the father of the faithful so with all of the spirits destined to be born as his seed.

The greatest and most important talent or capacity that any of the spirit children of the Father could gain is the talent of spirituality. Most of those who gained this talent were chosen, before they were born, to come to earth as members of the house of Israel. They were foreordained to receive the blessings that the Lord promised to Abraham and to his seed in all their generations. This foreordination is an election, Paul tells us, and truly it is so, for those so chosen, selected, or elected become, in this life, the favored people. Though all mankind may be saved by obedience, some find it easier to believe and obey than others. Hence the concept, taught by Jesus, that his sheep know his voice and will not follow the dissident voices of the world” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.512 p.513).

Alma 13:4 While others would reject the Spirit of God

“God gave his children their free agency even in the [premortal] spirit world, by which the individual spirits had the privilege, just as men have here, of choosing the good and rejecting the evil, or partaking of the evil to suffer the consequences of their sins. Because of this, some even there were more faithful than others in keeping the commandments of the Lord. …

“The spirits of men had their free agency. … The spirits of men were not equal. They may have had an equal start, and we know they were all innocent in the beginning; but the right of free agency which was given to them enabled some to outstrip others, and thus, through the eons of immortal existence, to become more intelligent, more faithful, for they were free to act for themselves, to think for themselves, to receive the truth or rebel against it” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:58–59).

Alma 13:6 To teach his commandments

‘Inherent in the calling of an elder is the responsibility to teach the commandments. They require no further calling, invitation, or setting apart, although these may take place. By virtue of their priesthood alone, they are both commissioned and authorized to teach the commandments and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord referred to this in his words to Sidney Gilbert, take upon you mine ordination, even that of an elder, to preach faith and repentance and remission of sins, according to my word (DC 53:3). See also DC 42:12.’ (Bryan Richards,

Alma 13:9 They become high priests forever

‘Alma does not mean to say that a high priest will retain his priesthood without regard to righteousness. Rather, his explanation points out that the priesthood was designed to be eternal, all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually (JST Heb 7:3, see also Heb 7:17). It was not meant to be tried and then rejected. Once a man is called to this high and holy calling, there is no going back—at least not without severe punishment. The Lord warns, whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come (DC 84:41). This punishment is so severe because to reject the priesthood of the Lord is to make a mockery of God’s great power and benevolence to the children of men. It also makes a mockery of the eternal nature of the priesthood.’ (Bryan Richards,

Alma 13:10 Many who were ordained

“God may have called and chosen men in the spirit world or in their first estate to do a certain work, but whether they will accept that calling here and magnify it by faithful service and good works while in mortality is a matter in which it is their right and privilege to exercise their free agency to choose good or evil.

“… I fear there are many among us who because of their faithfulness in the spirit world were ‘called’ to do a great work here, but like reckless spendthrifts they are exercising their free agency in riotous living and are losing their birthright and the blessings that were theirs had they proved faithful to their calling. Hence as the Lord has said, ‘there are many called but few are chosen’” (Harold B Lee, Decisions for Successful Living [1973], 169).

Alma 13:11-12 Sanctification

“I will put my own definition to the term sanctification, and say it consists in overcoming every sin and bringing all into subjection to the law of Christ. God has placed in us a pure spirit; when this [the spirit] reigns predominant, without let or hindrance, and triumphs over the flesh and rules and governs and controls … , this I call the blessing of sanctification. Will sin be perfectly destroyed? No, it will not, for it is not so designed in the economy of heaven.

“Do not suppose that we shall ever in the flesh be free from temptations to sin. Some suppose that they can in the flesh be sanctified body and spirit and become so pure that they will never again feel the effects of the power of the adversary of truth. Were it possible for a person to attain to this degree of perfection in the flesh, he could not die, neither remain in a world where sin predominates. Sin has entered into the world, and death by sin. [Rom. 5:12.] I think we shall more or less feel the effects of sin so long as we live, and finally have to pass the ordeals of death” (Brigham Young, in Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon [1976], 2:248–49).

Alma 13:14 Melchizedek

‘Melchizedek is one of the most enigmatic figures in Judaeo-Christian history. Legends about Melchizedek abound in Jewish traditions, in Christian literature and art, and among the writings of the Qumran sectaries. . . In some Jewish and Christian writings he is identified as Shem, the son of Noah, while later traditions hold that he was a descendant of Shem. Others suggest that he was named Melchizedek by God when the priesthood was bestowed upon him.

Josephus explained that the city of Salem, over which Melchizedek reigned, later became known as Jerusalem. (“The Antiquities” 1.10.3) In writing of Jerusalem, Josephus observed: “He who first built it was a potent man among the Canaanites and is in our tongue called [Melchizedek] the Righteous King, for such he really was; on which account he was [there] the first priest of God, and first built a temple[there], and called the city Jerusalem, which was formerly called Salem.” (“The Wars” 6.10.1; emphasis added). And, most important for our study the legends attest that Melchizedek was both king and priest in Salem (Hebrews 7:1; Ginzberg 1:233).

The scriptures also make clear that Melchizedek is a marvelous type of Christ. His name comes from two Hebrew roots, melekh (king), and tzedek (righteousness), Melchi-tzedek meaning literally “king of righteousness” or “my king is righteousness.” ‘[Robert L. Millet, “The Holy Order of God,” in The Book of Mormon: Alma, The Testimony of the Word]


Alma 13:27 Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance

‘Christ bridged the gulf between the mortal and immortal. The grave no longer holds its captives; justice can be satisfied through mercy; the wondrous Atonement, infinite and eternal in scope, is in place (see  Alma 34:8–10, 14–16) Christ is the resurrected Lord, our Savior and Redeemer. Therefore, do not wait any longer. (Keith B McMullen, General Conference, April 1999)

Alma 13:28-29 Humble yourselves before the Lord

‘Alma does not simply charge the people to repent, but tells them how to do it.

“Humble yourselves” is the essential first step. Humility requires that we see ourselves against the measuring stick of gospel ideals and recognize our shortcomings. Acknowledging the difference in where we are and where we want to be is the first step. There are two possible human but dangerous ways we decline to repent in the face of such a gap. The first is denial, perhaps as mild as making excuses or justifying ourselves. The second is an extreme rejection, perhaps taking the form of exploding in anger and violence against whatever showed us the difference. Many of the Ammonihahites took this second path.

The proper reaction to seeing the difference is humility, which includes the ability to be willing to change, to admit that we are mistaken. Humility accepts that it is we who must change, not the gospel or the person who shows us our faults.

The second and third steps are to “call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually.” Repentance is not a solo journey. It is a road we walk with our hand in the Savior’s. We call on his name. This injunction invokes the ancient concept of the power of the name, calling his presence into our lives. We are not to simply request an affidavit of forgiveness but to implore the comforting blessing of the Atonement in our lives. Alma tells us to pray continually for that blessing and watch continually so that we are following the true road.

One purpose of constant prayer is “that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear.” This promise is an important one. Although we desire to repent and we begin the process, temptations do not cease. In fact, they may actually increase as we turn away from them. Through learning to resist those temptations we become stronger, until we can be as those Alma has said: “Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence” (Alma 13:2). While Alma’s reminder of the need to be continually alert may suggest the possibility of irresistible temptation, this is not the case. Paul tells us: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

Paul, like Alma, recognizes the reality of temptation, but both men promise that we will not be tempted above our capacity to resist. With every temptation will come “a way to escape” or resist. Thus, should we ever succumb to temptation, it will always be our own fault. We can never blame God for confronting us with an overwhelming temptation. We must accept the fault ourselves and repent of it ourselves.

The effect of daily pleading with God is that we can “be led by the Holy Spirit,” or Comforter. This Spirit is the close and intimate reminder of God’s goodness that will uphold us through our weaknesses.

The effect of the Spirit will result in our “becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering.” It may seem ironic that this list of virtues begins with humility, which was also the trait necessary to begin the process of repentance. However, those engaged in this process know that the Spirit stands always ready to assist, even if our first efforts at humility are inadequate. The Spirit aids those beginning steps, strengthening our humility and leading to meekness and submission. These are not the traits of a weak character, but rather the traits of one who is growing in greater gospel understanding. As we repent, the Spirit is more strongly with us, leading us to desire greater understanding. The reward of humility is more humility, an increased outpouring of knowledge about God’s ways as revealed by the Spirit, and greater love for God and greater experience of his love for us.

For the Ammonihahites, their first step would be an acceptance of the Atoning Messiah—even if it was a shaky and doubtful one. Then, by humbly exercising faith and seeking enlightenment of the Spirit, they would achieve “a hope” of “eternal life.”’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 13:29 The rest of the Lord

‘It appears that the concept of the “rest of the Lord” is used occasionally in terms of what other scriptures call the Church of the Firstborn (see Heb 12:23; D&C 76:54). The Church of the Firstborn is the church of the exalted, an organization of saved souls, a body of believers who have passed the tests of mortality and received the approval of God. They qualify for life in the celestial kingdom, and because they have been true to all their trusts, are worthy to be joint heirs with Christ, co-inheritors with him to all of the blessings of the firstborn. The phrase “Church of the Firstborn” is not found in the Book of Mormon, but it may be that to enter the rest of the Lord is to enter the Church of the Firstborn. In speaking of the ancient worthies, Alma said: “They were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb. Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God” (13:11–12). From one point of view we can grasp and apply this vital lesson from the past: those of us who magnify our callings in the priesthood are sanctified—made pure and holy—by the renovating powers of the Spirit (see D&C 84:33). We come in time to hate sin and to love and cherish righteousness. We are at peace in a troubled and turbulent world. We enter the rest of the Lord. From another perspective, these qualify, through the atonement of Christ, for the highest of priesthood blessings spoken of in the revelations. “These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.” Further, “They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn” (D&C 76:67, 94). Indeed, the ultimate privileges of God’s holy authority are spoken of as follows: “The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—to have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” (D&C 107:18–19).'[Robert L. Millet, “The Holy Order of God,” in The Book of Mormon: Alma, The Testimony of the Word]

2. Alma, Amulek, and other believers are persecuted for their righteousness.

Alma 14:1 Many of them did believe on his words

‘This chapter is a vivid demonstration of what happens when good and evil run their course and finally reach their ultimate climax. During such a contest it always seems that during most of the time evil prevails. Not until God intervenes with all his divine power does the good overcome evil.

It must have been heartening to Alma to see that at least a few of the people of Ammonihah responded to his message. As for the remainder of the people, Alma carried a heavy burden on his heart because he had already been told what would happen to them.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Alma 14:1-5 A divided people

“The Gospel of salvation is perfectly calculated to cause division. It strikes at the root of the very existence of mankind in their wickedness, evil designs, passions, and wicked calculations. There is no evil among the human family, but at the foundation of which it strikes effectually, and comes in contact with every evil passion that rises in the heart of man. It is opposed to every evil practice of men, and consequently it disturbs them in the wicked courses they are pursuing” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses)

Alma 14:7 Behold, I am guilty

“An important lesson seems to emerge from the experiences of Zeezrom and the other repentant transgressors who have been mentioned. It is never safe for us to judge a person to be beyond the reach of the Lord’s merciful hand. Even those whose lives have been tainted by corruption and apparent rebellion against the things of God can, through sincere repentance, become forces for great good in the accomplishment of the Lord’s purposes.

“We do know that Zeezrom’s life was dramatically redirected. It appears that in spite of his having yielded to the influence of the environment in which he had gained notoriety, a spark of spiritual light must have endured in his soul.” (Dean L Larsen, Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 116)

Alma 14:8 Cast into the fire

‘An ancient practice of the wicked is to destroy the family of the enemy before their eyes. Accordingly, Zedekiah was forced to watch the murder of his sons before his eyes were gouged out (2 Kings 25:7). Yet in Ammonihah, this display of unbelievable cruelty is not designed for the eyes of the fathers who believed, for they had been stoned and cast out of the city (Alma 15:1). This wicked display of barbarity is designed specifically for Alma and Amulek, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire (v. 9).

Alma had prophesied to them about their fate if they did not repent. He warned them of a lake of fire and brimstone (Alma 12:17). These wicked men were determined to show Alma that it is the believers who are cast into a lake of fire (v. 14). While they hoped to demonstrate the weakness of Alma and Amulek who were seemingly unable to save the people, all that they really demonstrated was their own wickedness—that indeed their deeds qualify them for the torments which are as a lake of fire and brimstone.’ (Bryan Richards,


Alma 14:10-11 The Spirit constraineth me

‘I think it would have been easier for both of them to leap into the fire and die with their converts than to observe and do nothing when God had given them such great power. This is an important lesson. We must always be ready to act (or not act) in accordance with the will of the Father and the Son, no matter how much it might contradict our own will.’ (Ted L Gibbons,

3. Zeezrom is healed and baptized.

Alma 15:3 Caused by the great tribulations of his mind

“I recently asked a doctor of family medicine how much of his time was devoted purely to correcting physical disorders. He has a large practice, and after thoughtfully considering, he answered, ‘Not more than 20 percent. The rest of the time I seem to be working on problems that very much affect the physical well-being of my patients but do not originate in the body.

“‘These physical disorders,’ the doctor concluded, ‘are merely symptoms of some other kind of trouble.’…

“There is another part of us, not so tangible, but quite as real as our physical body. This intangible part of us is described as mind, emotion, intellect, temperament, and many other things. Very seldom is it described as spiritual.

“But there is a spirit in man; to ignore it is to ignore reality. There are spiritual disorders, too, and spiritual diseases that can cause intense suffering.

“The body and the spirit of man are bound together. Often, very often, when there are disorders, it is very difficult to tell which is which.” (Boyd K Packer, Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 59)

Alma 15:6 Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?

‘The most important question is whether Zeezrom believes in the Messiah, especially that he believes in the “power of Christ unto salvation.” This question is all-important because it requires the complete abandonment of his Nehorite denial of Yahweh-Messiah as the Atoning Messiah. He must also see that sin is real and that its redemption requires this atonement, another doctrine denied by the Nehorites. Alma is asking if Zeezrom has been completely converted.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 15:12 He began from that time forth to preach unto the people

“Alma’s administration is instantly effective. Zeezrom leaps to his feet, healed not only physically but spiritually as well. The report of this incident is spread throughout Sidom.

“One cannot reflect upon this episode without recalling the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in New Testament times. Saul, who had been a tormentor of the Christians and had condoned Stephen’s martyrdom (see Acts 8:1), requires a similarly dramatic conversion experience. His sightlessness is healed under the hands of Ananias. He is brought to a recognition and acknowledgement of his folly in attempting to thwart the Lord’s work. In a flood of repentant anguish he makes a dramatic reversal in the course of his life. His fervor and energy are redirected to promulgate and sustain the work he has previously sought to destroy.

“So it is with Zeezrom. He is baptized by Alma, and, just as was the case with Paul, he immediately begins to preach among the people, later becoming a trusted companion of Alma and Amulek. It is perhaps not adding too much to reality to suppose that Zeezrom’s healing, his conversion, and his testifying of Christ contribute much to the missionary success enjoyed by these three servants of the Lord. The record tells us that the people ‘did flock in from all the region round about Sidom, and were baptized’ (Alma 15:14).

“That Zeezrom proves himself in the eyes of his mentor, Alma, is confirmed by the fact that he regularly appears in the accounts of Alma’s ministry as one of his most trusted and reliable companions and fellow servants. Years after the events in Ammonihah and Sidom, when Alma undertakes one of the most difficult challenges of his life’s ministry-the conversion of the Zoramites-Zeezrom is chosen along with Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Amulek, and two of Alma’s sons to be a part of this seasoned missionary force (see Alma 31:6).” (Dean L Larsen, Heroes From the Book of Mormon, pp. 118-9)


Alma 15:15 Ammonihah remained a hard-hearted and a stiff necked people

‘Mormon spells out the contrast between the happy and hopeful state of the believers in Sidom and the hard-hearted Nehorites in Ammonihah. The contrast is all the more poignant because Zeezrom, who heeded the call to repentance, shows that such a mighty change was possible. Blinded by Nehorism, those remaining in Ammonihah were about to reap the consequences of their choice.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 15:17 That they might be delivered

‘In ancient Israel a person accused of committing a serious offence could flee to an altar to avoid immediate death. The Old Testament refers to this tradition in the so-called Covenant Code of Exodus (see Exodus 21:12–14). 1 Kings 1:50–51, 2:2 relate that Solomon’s enemies Adonijah and Joab fled to the tabernacle and “caught hold on the horns of the altar” in hopes of deliverance, albeit with different results.

This information proves significant for an understanding of altars in Nephite society. One of the four references to altars in the Book of Mormon establishes a direct correlation between that record and the Old Testament. Alma 15:17 notes that after Alma established the church at Sidom, the people

“began to humble themselves before God, and began to assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries to worship God before the altar, watching and praying continually, that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction.”

This verse invokes Israelite custom by identifying the altar as a location of deliverance, a subtlety that provides further evidence that the Book of Mormon clearly reflects the traditions of antiquity.’ [David Bokovoy, “A Place of Deliverance: Altars in the Hebrew Bible and Book of Mormon,” in FARMS Update, No 143, Vol. 21, 2001, in Insights, Vol. 21, 2001, p. 2]

Alma 15:18 Took him to his own house

‘Early in the Spring of 1840 we went to Nauvoo.  Here we were all sick with ague, chills and fever, and were only just barely able to crawl around and wait upon each other.  Under these trying circumstances my ninth child was born.  Joseph, upon visiting us and seeing our change of circumstances, urged us at once to come and share his accommodations. We went to live in the Prophet Joseph’s yard in a small cottage; we soon recruited in health, and the children became more like themselves.

One day while coming out of the house into the yard the remembrance of a prophecy Joseph Smith had made to me, while living in our house in Kirtland, flashed through my mind like an electric shock.  It was this: that even as we had done by him, in opening our doors to him and his family when he was without a home, even so should we in the future be received by him into his house.  We afterwards moved upstairs over the brick store.’ (Elizabeth Ann Whitney in Hyrum Andrus, They Knew the Prophet, 40)

4. The words of Alma are fulfilled as the Lamanites destroy Ammonihah.

Alma 16:2  Began to slay the people

‘This was an amazing development. Of all the cities among the Nephites, the one that would have been the most likely to have welcomed the Lamanites and joined them in conquering the Nephites, would have been the people of Ammonihah. In fact Ammonihah was the headquarters of a growing conspiracy to completely conquer the rest of the Nephite nation.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Alma 16:5 Aha

‘The name “Aha” in Egyptian means warrior. It was a very common name. The first king of Egypt was called Aha. That was one of his epithets; he was Aha, the warrior. It’s always written with a pair of arms, one holding a club and one holding a shield. That’s the nameAha, which means “a leader in war.” . . . The reader should note that in the Jaredite record we also find the name “Ahah” (Ether 1:9; 11:10)’. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, pp. 354-355]

Alma 16:11 Desolation of Nehors

“The desolation of the city of Ammonihah is an important part of the message of the Book of Mormon.  Ammonihah and Nehor are symbols-history as prophecy.  Ammonihah and Nehor were to the nation of the Nephites what the Book of Mormon is to us-a warning voice!  They were types casting shadows upon the cities of Zarahemla, Moroni, Moronihah, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Jerusalem, Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno, Jacobugath, Laman, Josh, Gad, and Kishkumen, all of which, like Nehor, had the blood of the prophets and the Saints upon their hands, and all of which were destroyed before the coming of Christ to the Nephites in the meridian dispensation (see 3 Nephi 8, 9).

“How perfect the type-Ammonihah, a city pretending religion, a religion perfectly tolerant of any action save it be the preaching of the gospel of repentance!  To preach repentance, to testify of Christ, to speak of the necessity of good works-these were sins too grievous to be borne.  Their effect was to unite in wrath and bitterness the diversified factions within the congregations of this ever-tolerant religion.  These missionaries of righteousness must be mocked, ridiculed, beaten, and imprisoned.  Their adherents must be stoned, driven from the community, or burned at the stake.  Such were the seeds they planted and such was the harvest they reaped in the desolation of Nehors.  We are left to wonder to what extent Ammonihah is a prophetic foreshadowing of that which the scriptures denominate as the ‘desolation of abomination’ (D&C 84:114, 117; D&C 88:85), events that will precede and attend the coming of our Lord and Master that will bring again that peace once known to the faithful of the Nephite nation.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p.119)

Alma 16:13 Synagogues

‘When the temple in Jerusalem was taken away in the Old World (at the time of Lehi) the authoritative priestly order that went with it also went away. Then the synagogue became the important thing, though they had used it before. When they lost the temple they lost everything. An entirely new order of Judaism was established. Before then their practices were different, their doctrines were different, and everything else was different. . . . A rabbi is not a priest; he has no authority. He is just a learned man who has been chosen by a community. They are very jealous of the temple. The rabbi-controlled synagogues didn’t begin until the temple disappeared. . . . What the Book of Mormon student should realize is that the Book of Mormon represents temple-centered Judaism. ‘[Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 3, p. 42]