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)

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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. LDSLiving.com)

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]

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

See http://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1055&index=1

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, GospelDoctrine.com)

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. LDSLiving.com)

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)

 

 

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