1. Alma teaches the humble Zoramites to exercise faith and give place in their hearts for the word of God.
‘Alma 32 contains one of the most significant discourses on the doctrine of faith found anywhere in the scriptures. The Zoramites had been living in a state of apostasy and had been taught false doctrine; therefore, Alma taught those spiritually immature listeners the first steps in developing faith. Despite the simplicity of its presentation, the concepts taught in this discourse are profound.’ (Book of Mormon Seminary Manual)
Alma 32:2 Began to have success among the poor class of people
“Typically, when the gospel message goes to a nation or city the first willing to hear and accept it are those of the lower social classes. Humility of circumstances and humility of spirit are often found in company together. Writing to the Corinthian Saints, the Apostle Paul observed: ‘Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence’ (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
“Celsus, the second-century philosopher, is often quoted in descriptions of the infant Christian church. The basic material of his description–the general social level of the converts–is much like Paul’s, but the spirit is sharply different. Christians, he held,
“do not even want to give or to receive a reason for what they believe, and use such expressions as ‘Do not ask questions; just believe’ and ‘Thy faith will save thee.’… Their injunctions are like this: ‘Let no one educated, no one wise, no one sensible draw near. For anyone stupid, anyone uneducated, anyone who is a child, let him come boldly.’ By the fact that they themselves admit that these people are worthy of their God, they show that they want and are able to convince only the foolish, dishonourable, and stupid, and only slaves, women, and little children…. In private houses also we see wool-workers, cobblers, laundry workers, and the most bucolic and illiterate yokels, who would not dare lo say anything at all in front of their elders and more intelligent masters.”(Origen, in Contra Celsum 1:9; 3:44.)
“These descriptions given by Paul and Celsus aptly profile the typical Christian convert as seen by believer and unbeliever respectively in the period associated with the New Testament. The most striking thing about such expressions is that they are remarkably similar to the kind of thing we have so often read about the early converts to Mormonism. Nor does the similarity stop there, for it has been echoed by thousands of missionaries who have been the first to open various cities and regions to the teaching of the gospel; in so doing, they have found that the well-to-do, those resting comfortably in their own self-sufficiency, have little or no interest in their message, while those whose conditions are appreciably more humble are often more willing to listen.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 223)
Alma 32:12-13 It is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues
‘Alma now explains his surprising assertion that it was a blessing to be cast out of the synagogue. Their humility combined with their desire motivates them to seek change, or repentance. That change will bring Yahweh’s mercy and the blessings of the gospel.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 32:14-16 Humility
‘It is better to humble ourselves because we desire to believe and to be obedient than to be compelled to be humble. The word of God can lead us to humble ourselves if we seek the Spirit and acknowledge our dependence on God.’ (Neumanninstitute.org)
Alma 32:17 A sign from heaven
‘Certainly we should not be interested in signs. Signs are available and anyone, I believe, can have signs who wants them. I believe if one wants revelations enough to crave them beyond the rightness of it, that eventually he will get his revelations-but they may not come from God. I am sure that there can be many spectacular things performed, because the devil is very responsive. He is listening and he is eager to do it. And so he gives strange experiences.’
“…Manifestly, the performance of miracles and the appearance of signs and wonders are not evidences that those who do these things are servants of God or teachers of truth. In our day, God does not use miracles or signs as a way of teaching or convincing the unbeliever. As a result, we should not ask for signs for this purpose, and we should be deeply suspicious of the so-called spiritual evidences of those who do.” (Spencer W Kimball, The Lord’s Way, p. 86)
Alma 32:21 Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge
‘It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, October 2013)
Alma 32:22 Ye should believe, yea, even on his word
‘Alma had begun his discourse by defining “not-faith” (knowledge), then defining faith as related to knowledge. Now he encourages these humble people to have faith by comforting them about their relationship to Yahweh. They believed that they were cut off from Yahweh because they were cut off from Yahweh’s earthly location. Alma tells them that they may approach Yahweh personally through faith. He assures them that Yahweh wants them to have faith, and that’s why Yahweh provided the information about faith in Alma’s preaching to provide that opportunity for belief.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 32:27 Awake and arouse your faculties
“Far more of us need to awake and arouse our faculties to an awareness of the great everlasting truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing. We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past, and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities.
We have work to do, you and I, so very much of it. Let us roll up our sleeves and get at it, with a new commitment, putting our trust in the Lord.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Church News, 04/08/95)
2. Alma teaches the people to nourish the word of God in their hearts.
Alma 32:28 We will compare the word unto a seed
‘This is often how a testimony begins: with sacred, enlightening, assuring feelings that demonstrate to us that the word of God is true. However, as wonderful as these feelings are, they are only the beginning. Your work to grow your testimony is not done—any more than the work of growing a redwood tree is done when the first tiny sprout pokes out of the ground. If we ignore or neglect these early spiritual promptings, if we do not nurture them by continuing to study the scriptures and pray and by seeking more experiences with the Spirit, our feelings will fade and our testimonies will diminish.’ (Craig C Christenses, General Conference, October 2013)
Alma 32:29 Nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge
‘Alma warns, however, that we should not mistake these early signs as sufficient. Just as the first shoot is no proof of the mature plant, so, too, the beginnings of our faith are far from being an eventual mature faith. We are in a process and must realize that we must continue to act rather than be satisfied with the results of our first small attempts.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 32:34 Your knowledge is perfect in that thing
“Subsequently, by our nurturing the seed carefully and by experiencing for ourselves, belief grows into confirmed faith, and faith grows into knowledge. Personal verification thereby occurs ‘in that thing’-meaning, in the principle which is specifically being obeyed and applied. Other principles or doctrines await the same process of personal verification.” (Neal A Maxwell, Gaining Spiritual Knowledge, p. 102)
Alma 32:37 Nourish it with great care
‘If your faith is proven and mature, choose to nurture it “with great care” . As strong as our faith is, with all the mixed messages attacking it, it can also become very fragile. It needs constant nourishment through continued scripture study, prayer, and the application of His word.’ (Richard C Edgley, General Conference, October 2010)
Alma 32:39 It is because your ground is barren
“Just as soil needs preparation for a seed, so does a human heart for the word of God to take root. Before he told the people to plant the seed, Alma told them that their hearts were prepared. They had been persecuted and cast out of their churches. Alma with his love and the circumstances of their lives, which led them to be humble, had prepared them. They were then ready to hear the word of God. If they chose to plant it in their hearts, the growth in their souls would surely follow, and that would increase their faith.” (Henry B Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, p. 186)
Alma 32:41 It shall take root
“…a faculty…may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 51)
3. Alma cites prophets’ testimonies of Jesus Christ and exhorts the people to plant the word of God in their hearts.
Alma 33:1 How they should plant the seed
‘The brilliance of Alma’s discourse on comparing faith to a seed is that he takes an abstract, intangible concept and makes it understandable and practical. Yet, the Zoramites still wonder what they should do to begin. The answer is that they should pray (v. 3-11) and they should begin to believe in the Son of God (v. 22). The promise is that it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son (v. 22).’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)
Alma 33:4 For Thou hast heard my prayer
“Be prayerful. You can’t do it alone. You know that. You cannot make it alone and do your best. You need the help of the Lord . . . and the marvelous thing is that you have the opportunity to pray, with the expectation that your prayers will be heard and answered. . . . The marvelous thing about prayer is that it is personal, it’s individual, it’s something that no one else gets into, in terms of your speaking with your Father in Heaven in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Be prayerful. Ask the Lord to forgive your sins. Ask the Lord for help. Ask the Lord to bless you. Ask the Lord to help you realize your righteous ambitions. . . . Ask the Lord for all of the important things that mean so much to you in your lives. He stands ready to help. Don’t ever forget it.” (Colorado Springs Young Adult Meeting, April 14, 1996 as taken from The Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley)
Alma 33:16 They will not understand thy mercies
‘Our Father in Heaven is saddened when we limit the power of His Son’s atoning sacrifice. As you exercise faith in Jesus Christ, you can have your guilt “swept away.” If guilt remains after sincere repentance, believe your priesthood leaders when they declare you to be worthy.’ (Anthony D Perkins, General Conference, October 2006)
Alma 33:19 Whosever would look upon it might live
‘”‘How silly,’ some must have said. ‘How can such a thing cure me? I’ll not show my stupidity by paying any attention,’ and some would not look….
“And today many say, ‘How silly! How could accepting Christ save me?’ They will not turn their heads to look nor incline their ears to hear. They ignore the great witness that comes from these conferences. We ought to, indeed we must, heed the counsel of these men, for the Lord said, ‘What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.’ (DC 1:38)”‘ (Boyd K Packer, Conference Report, Oct. 1968, p. 76)
Alma 33:22 Cast about your eyes
‘Any person who is to be saved from sin must cast his eye upon the saving power of Jesus Christ. Just as the children of Israel needed to look upon the brazen serpent that Moses fashioned and raised upon a rod in order to be saved from the serpent’s deadly bite, we need to look to the Savior to be saved from the deadly effects of sin (seeNumbers 21). The person who opens his eyes and looks upon the Lord will find it easy to recognize him as the divine source from which relief from sin comes.’ (Seminary Book of Mormon Manual)
4. Amulek testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He commands the people to pray and exercise faith unto repentance.
Alma 34:5 The great question which is in your minds
“My friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters all, the most important question in human history is one which will not go away. It echoes down the corridors of time. And “Jesus asked them…What think ye of Christ?” (Matt 22:42) Sooner or later, this is the vital question for all mortals, including you, my friends. And a failure to answer this question is an answer.” (Neal A Maxwell, Investigator Fireside, Jan. 5, 1984)
Alma 34:6-8 I will testify unto you
‘Amulek is establishing a ring of testimony around the Messiah’s coming. He begins by confirming, but not repeating, what they have just heard Alma say. His focus is on the scriptural evidence Alma quoted, specifically naming Zenos, Zenock, and Moses, as Alma had done. Apparently, he is making sure that he is the second witness to Alma’s testimony. He next offers himself as a witness: “I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true.” He becomes the second living witness, reinforcing the three ancient testators of this doctrine. Thus, they provide two sets of at least two witnesses. If not explicit, it appears that implicitly the Nephite society accepts the Deuteronomic law of witnesses (Deut. 19:15, see commentary accompanying Alma 9:6). If the farmers do take this law of witnesses seriously, Alma and Amulek have presented what they understand to be an iron-clad witness of the coming of the Messiah.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 34:9 It is expedient that an atonement should be made
‘If you have made no mistakes, then you do not need the Atonement. If you have made mistakes, and all of us have, whether minor or serious, then you have an enormous need to find out how they can be erased so that you are no longer in darkness.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, October 2012)
Alma 34:10 Not a human sacrifice
‘Because Jesus is the Son of God, his sacrifice is beyond what a human could do, it is therefore not a human sacrifice.’ (JohnBytheway.com)
Alma 34:16 Mercy can satisfy the demands of justice
“Life, like a computer, has default settings, conditions that will automatically apply unless we take positive action to avoid them. Thus, if we refuse to make Christ our Lord by taking positive steps to enter into his covenant, then Satan becomes our lord by default. Christ by choice or Satan by default-there are no other options.
“Christ ‘shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety.’ (Alma 34:15-16.) The choice before us is mercy or justice. Either choice can be accommodated, and either choice is compatible with the nature and plan of God, but, as in the choice between the Lord and Satan, there are no third alternatives. Again, life has default settings, and they are set for justice. We can choose the mercy that is offered through the gospel covenant, but if we refuse that mercy, we will receive justice.
“Now here is an odd thing about the nature of mercy: by definition, mercy can only be mercy if we don’t deserve it. For if we deserve something, then it becomes a matter of justice that we receive it. So it ceases to be a matter of mercy. Thus, in this sense at least, to give or to receive mercy is always somewhat unfair. But one of the great beauties of the gospel, some of the best news of all, is that Jesus Christ does not mind this unfairness. He is willing to suffer unfairly and compensate justice himself out of his own person in order to extend mercy to weaker beings like us. This willingness on his part to pay more than his fair share and to carry more than his fair load in order to grant mercy to others constitutes the grace of Christ.” (Stephen R. Robinson, Believing Christ, p. 60)
Alma 34:17-27 Prayer
“As there is no limitation as to when we should pray, so there seems to be no limitation as to where we should pray or what we should pray about.” (Marion G Romney, Conference Report, Oct. 1944, pp. 55)
Alma 34:31-32 Immediately
‘Amulek uses an interesting adverb, promising that repentance can bring “immediate” results! This life is the time to prepare to meet God. We spend the rest of our lives showing that we have repented or turned from our old ways, but the plan is put into effect “immediately” upon repentance.’ (JohnBytheway.com)
Alma 34:33 Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance
“Because men are prone to postpone action and ignore directions, the Lord has repeatedly given strict injunctions and issued solemn warnings. Again and again in different phraseology and throughout the centuries the Lord has reminded man so that he could never have excuse. And the burden of the prophetic warning has been that the time to act is now, in this mortal life. One cannot with impunity delay his compliance with God’s commandments.” (Spencer W Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 9)