Alma, Chapter 5

Alma’s model of powerful teaching

I love italian dressing on my salad.  In order to have it, you have to shake or stir it to mix the oil and vinegar together.  In Alma 4:19 we read, “And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.”  Like the oil and vinegar, Alma needed to stir or shake the souls of the Nephites, so that they would remember.  He knew that they needed to be humble and knew the only way that he could help, was to bear “down in pure testimony”.  I’ve thought some more about this since yesterday’s post and of course this could help the people.  Alma (the younger) was blessed with sacred experience of being chastened by an angel.  He must have had one of the strongest testimonies of all men who had ever lived.  People can feel it when someone shares something they truly believe with no doubts, and it effects them.  This is the beauty of our spirits, we cannot hear a true testimony without being effected in some way.  The test for us, is how do we act upon it.

“Now it came to pass that Alma began to deliver the word of God unto the people, first in the land of Zarahemla, and from thence throughout all the land (v. 1).  And these are the words which he spake to the people in the church which was established in the city of Zarahemla, according to his own record (v. 2) …”  Alma taught in Zarahemla first and then in all the land.  So many members of the church today (and those who are not members) could benefit from hearing a strong testimony such as Alma’s.  Like the Italian dressing, if we sit for long enough without having our souls stirred, we begin to separate and loose our own flavor.  We all need to have someone or something continually stirring us up, even the best of us, so that our spirits continue to guide our bodies.  Otherwise, we live without both doing its job and we become forgetful of our own “duties”.  This is part of the reason why we are told renew our covenants at church on a weekly basis.  Even weekly, may not be often enough for us, which is why we have been told to have daily scripture study and prayer.  We need our souls to be stirred often.

What is the value of studying history?

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  I truly believe this.  If we cannot learn from the things that have happened to others before us, God will help us to have the opportunity to learn for ourselves.  And we can learn anything there is to learn in the ‘lessons of life’ from those who have lived already.  The examples of those whom I love and trust are usually the ones that stick with me the most in my own life.  It is always nice to be able to learn from the experiences of others, so that we don’t have to deal with the consequences of things.  For example, I have had examples in my life of what doing drugs can to your physical body, spiritual frame of mind and all of the relationships that you have.  I have chosen to learn from these examples and not be involved with drugs myself, because I do not want to deal with the same types of consequences that my loved ones have dealt with.  But sometimes, a lesson is best learned when we experience it for ourselves.  For example, the experience of gaining a testimony of something, can only happen with our own experiences.  We have to be able to feel the spirit, tell us something is true, in order to gain a testimony of it.  We may believe because of another’s words, or we may have to go through an experience that convinces us of it, but either way we have to experience the spirit ourselves.

What was Alma going to help the people remember from their history?   “I, Alma, having been consecrated by my father, Alma, to be a high priest over the church of God, he having power and authority from God to do these things, behold, I say unto you that he began to establish a church in the land which was in the borders of Nephi; yea, the land which was called the land of Mormon; yea, and he did baptize his brethren in the waters of Mormon (v. 3).”  First, he wanted the people to remember how the their family members were baptized because of his father, Alma.

“And behold, I say unto you, they were delivered out of the hands of the people of king Noah, by the mercy and power of God (v. 4).”  He wanted them to remember how the people had escaped wicked king Noah.

“And behold, after that, they were brought into bondage by the hands of the Lamanites in the wilderness; yea, I say unto you, they were in captivity, and again the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word; and we were brought into this land, and here we began to establish the church of God throughout this land also (v. 5).”  He wanted them to remember that they had been able to escape the Lamanites and establish Zarahemla as the land of the Nephites.

“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell (v. 6)?  Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them (v. 7).  And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not (v. 8 ).  And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved (v. 9).  And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell (v. 10)?”  Alma wanted them to remember the conversion of their parents and what they had gone through in order to know that they would have salvation.

“Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them (v. 11)?  And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true (v. 12).  And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved (v. 13).”  He also wanted them to remember the experience of his father and the prophecies of Abinadi.  He wanted them to remember that Alma was humbled and he taught the people, their parents, who were also humbled.

As I have read these scriptures, I have continually reviewed my own life and have realized things I am doing right, and things that I need to work on as well.  Some lessons are easier for me to learn than others and I think that is something that we all deal with.  There are some lessons in life that we will need to learn and re-learn because we are constantly changing and our lives/situations are changing as well.  However, I know that the more I study these things that happened to the people of God many years ago, the better I understand the principles of the gospel.  The issue becomes a matter of remembering or forgetting these things as time goes on.  I know that I need to continue to read these scriptures to progress and to constantly have the reminders, because I have benefited so much from learning from them at this point in my life.

Why did Alma ask so many questions?

A ruler measures length, a thermometer measures temperature, a scale measures weight, a teaspoon measures amounts of liquids and dry goods, a clock measures the time, but what does a question mark measure?  The manual I am using says that the questions that our priesthood leaders ask us, for example during an interview for a temple recommend, help us to measure our spiritual strength.

“And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts (v. 14)?  Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body (v. 15)?  … can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth (v. 16)?  Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you (v. 17)?  Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God (v. 18)?  … can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? … can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances (v. 19)?  … can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil (v. 20)?”

There is so much eternal value to asking ourselves these kinds of questions.  This is only eleven of the many questions that Alma asked them as he spoke.  As I am reading this chapter, I am almost tempted to take the questions in the chapter, rephrasing a few to remind myself of how I can measure my spirituality on a more regular basis.  I think these questions were intended to make the people think, not to answer out loud, but to truly take a look at their own lives and see what they need to change.  I’ve made myself a questionnaire from this chapter, because I think that these questions can help give an accurate measurement of my personal spirituality.  They address the things that can either bring us down in sin or help us avoid it, such as pride vs. humility, envy vs. service, faith vs. doubt, obedience vs. wickedness.

His image in your countenance

What does it mean to have Christ’s image in our countenances?  (see verse 14 above)  When we are doing what Christ would do, we have a glow about us.  When we pattern our lives after His, we look like Christ because we stand tall in faith, are clean and pure, and are truly happy people.  We can be more Christlike by serving others and by learning of Him and His ways in the scriptures.  Sometimes the idea of trying to be like someone who was perfect, can be too difficult for us to imagine, so we need to see others and be able to follow their Christ-like attributes.  When I think of people who are Christ-like, I think of my Stake President, who knows each individual in our stake and you can just tell that he has a love for them.  I also think of my Mother-in-law, who drops everything in her own life to serve others, family or friend.  I think of those in my life who have never raised their voice in anger (that I know of).  I think of my brother, who is serving the Lord on his mission right now, and who is constantly striving to live better, even without most of the distractions that I have on a daily basis.  The list could go on and on.

How do you look in white?

On the day I went to the temple to take out my endowments, I was so thrilled to put on my beautiful white dress and look so clean and pure in the temple.  As, I was getting dressed, I poked a finger with a pin and did not realize it.  I touched the tie on my dress and got a single drop of blood on it.  This one drop of blood, unseen by anyone else because it was hidden in my bow, made me feel like my dress was not fit to be inside the temple. It was not clean, it really bothered me until I was able to take care of it.  It was such a small thing, but it continues to remind me how I would feel, standing before my Savior, if I felt unclean.

(see verses 15-20 above) “I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins (v. 21).  And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you (v. 22)?”  It is through the atonement of Christ, that we become clean and pure again.

In Enos 1:27 we read, “And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.”  Then in Mosiah 2:28 we read, “I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood, at this period of time when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God.”  Both Enos and Alma were old in age and new that death would come soon.  They also knew that they wanted to be clean of sin when the time came for them to die, so that they could rejoice and sing praises when they saw the Lord.  This life is really just a small moment in time, and we never know what may happen today.  We need to constantly be striving to repent for those things we have done that would cause us to have shame when the Lord sees us.  We all want to rejoice and be welcomed in with open arms by the Lord.

Have you ever trampled on the Lord?

Would you ever step on this picture?

“And now my beloved brethren, I say unto you, can ye withstand these sayings; yea, can ye lay aside these things, and trample the Holy One under your feet; yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts; yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches (v. 53)?  Yea, will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another; yea, will ye persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the holy order of God, wherewith they have been brought into this church, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and they do bring forth works which are meet for repentance (v. 54)—Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them (v. 55)?    And finally, all ye that will persist in your wickedness, I say unto you that these are they who shall be hewn down and cast into the fire except they speedily repent (v. 56).”  All of these things trample on the Lord, because to do them you take what the Lord has commanded and say with your actions that His words do not matter.  You say that your own way is better than His way.  You treat his gospel like garbage and toss it aside.

In 1 Nephi 19:7 we read, “For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.”  As soon as we choose not to value the words of the Lord, we trample Him under our feet.  I know that there have been times in my life when I have disobeyed my Mom and saw her disappointment afterwards.  This brought me sadness, to know that I had caused her that disappointment.  If I feel this way about my Mother, I can only imagine how I will feel if I realize that I have disobeyed the Lord and I am face-to-face with Him.  I want to remember this always.  I want to remember that I do not want that feeling, but that I want joy with Him.  I pray that my family will want the same thing, so that I can rejoice with them in Heaven.

Share What You Think

Here are some of the great questions found in this chapter  that I plan on reviewing often:

  • Have you spiritually been born of God?
  • Have you received his image in your countenance?
  • Have you experienced this mighty change in your heart?
  • Can you look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?
  • Could you say, if you were called to die right now, that you have sufficiently been humble?
  • Have you had all pride removed from you?
  • Have you had all envy removed from you?
  • Do you mock your brother, or persecute him?
  • Do you trample these things under your feet?

I know that we are always growing and changing, and I am sure that if I asked myself these questions on Sunday morning before I plan on taking the Sacrament, that I would have a different answer to one or more of them each week.  I know that if I reflect on these often, I will better use the atonement in my life.  I want to be better.  I want to be more Christ-like.  I want others to look at me and see someone who is happy and kind.  I hope that others will want this too, especially my loved ones.  With the help of the Savior, and with the Holy Ghost as my companion, I know that I can be able to answer these questions they way that my Heavenly Father wants me to.

Now it came to pass that *Alma began to adeliver the word of bGod unto the people, first in the land of Zarahemla, and from thence throughout all the land.
2 And these are the words which he spake to the people in the church which was established in the city of Zarahemla, according to his own record, saying:

2 Responses to “Alma, Chapter 5”

  1. 1 Victoria September 5, 2012 at 6:22 am

    thank you for your efforts this is a touching testimony of your love of God and
    your desire to not only move towards Him but to bring other souls with you.

  2. 2 srpacker September 2, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I spent 2 short weeks studying and pondering Alma Chapter 5. I too wanted to personalize all the questions. I came up with 44, but Elder Tate said he came up with 55. I wrote down and answered each question from this chapter. Some of the answers came from the chapter itself, and other questions were prompted to be answered personally, while others were answered both from the chapter and personally.

    I believe one of the sweetest blessings in asking and answering questions, is that it evokes a pure testimony of the very principle found in the question. I love teaching in a RS, or any teaching experience by asking questions. First of all, because it causes us to ponder what our own answers would be, while those answering the question from a pure, direct question, will bring out the most beautiful, sincere, testifying answer, straight from the heart. I love teaching this way. I have witnessed that the enabling power of questions, asked in simplicity, are more powerful than a lesson straight from the teacher only. It’s how I ask the questions though that has been more important. I look at a student, call out their name, and then by the spirit, feel the question that needs to be asked and ever so simply, ask them, perhaps, “How has daily prayer blessed you?” “How can you bring the power of the atonement in your life more fully?” How does service help you feel the love of God?” etc… The answers have been a powerful tool in bringing the spirit into the classroom, far stronger than from a rehearsed answer from previously handed out questions or only comments by those who always answer. This way, I can actually handpick sisters who do not usually answer, yet their hearts are filled with the answer more than anyone would know. It helps them feel of their worth as well when asked.

    I appreciate your blog! Beautiful work!

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.


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