“Look to God and Live”

President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “When we have undergone this mighty change, which is brought about only through faith in Jesus Christ and through the operation of the Spirit upon us, it is as though we have become a new person. Thus, the change is likened to a new birth. Thousands of you have experienced this change. You have forsaken lives of sin, sometimes deep and offensive sin, and through applying the blood of Christ in your lives, have become clean. You have no more disposition to return to your old ways. You are in reality a new person. This is what is meant by a change of heart” (“A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989, 4).

Today we reach out to the Book of Mormon Alma 36–38 to find ways in which we can increase our conversion, through an understanding of the importance of scripture, bearing our testimonies and following the words of Christ we can find that by small and simple things great things come to pass, and we grow.

History and Background.

Chiasmus, sometimes called an inverted parallelism, is a Hebrew literary form where words or ideas are arranged in a certain order and then repeated in reverse order. This repetition emphasizes important ideas and words. In addition, the writer’s main idea is often located at the center of the chiasmus.

Alma used chiasmus to tell the story of his conversion to his son Helaman. The presence of Semitic literary forms such as chiasmus in the Book of Mormon is an external witness that the book is what the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that it is: a translation of an ancient text written in a Middle Eastern language.

Alma 36 After Alma returned from his mission to the Zoramites, he gathered together his three sons and gave individual counsel to each one (see Alma 35:16). His counsel to Helaman is recorded in Alma 36–37, his counsel to Shiblon is recorded in Alma 38, and his counsel to Corianton is recorded in Alma 39–42. Alma testified to Helaman that God will deliver those who put their trust in Him. To illustrate this truth, Alma described how he had been delivered from the pain of his sins many years earlier. After calling on the name of Jesus Christ, he had been born of God and filled with joy. He had then labored to bring others to Jesus Christ.

Alma 37 As recorded in Alma 37, Alma continued his counsel to his son Helaman and gave him charge of the sacred records. He reminded Helaman that the scriptures had already been the means of bringing thousands of Lamanites to the Lord, and he prophesied that the Lord had other great purposes for the records in the future. Alma instructed his son in what he should teach the people, and he taught Helaman the importance of looking to the words of Jesus Christ for guidance by comparing the Savior’s words to the Liahona.

Alma 38 Alma’s son Shiblon served with him as a missionary to the Zoramites. Following this mission, Alma expressed joy in the steadiness and faithfulness Shiblon had demonstrated while suffering persecution among the Zoramites. Alma testified to Shiblon of Jesus Christ’s power of deliverance and counseled him to continue to teach the gospel.

Part 1: Alma 36 We can be born of God as we are humble and repent.

Some may wonder why they have never had a dramatic conversion experience like Alma’s. Some also thing this is the only way in conversion, if there are not dramatic events or dreams, or visions, or signs and wonders, conversion didn’t happen. But we learn from Elder David A. Bednar that: “For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience” (“Converted unto the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 107–8). Although some things about Alma’s conversion experience are uncommon, his experience teaches principles that we all need to apply to our own ongoing conversion.

Ponder how the testimony or a particular teaching of a family member, friend, or Church leader has blessed your life. Now imagine yourself in Helaman’s position in Alma 36:1–5

My son, give ear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.

I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.

And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.

And I would not that ye think that I know of myself—not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God.

Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy angel, made these things known unto me, not of any worthiness of myself;

What did Alma want Helaman to remember?  Alma 36: 2

What did Alma want Helaman to learn from him?  Alma 36:3  When we put our trust in God, He supports us in all our trials and afflictions.

Alma described to his son Helaman how God had delivered him from the pain of his sins and reviewed what happened to him in his youth as he went about with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the Church. Alma 36:6–10,

In the Book of Mormon there are three accounts of the angel visiting Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Alma 36 contains the most detailed account of what Alma experienced during the three days and nights when he was unable to move or talk.  Mosiah 27 and Alma 38.

How did Alma describe the fear or pain he experienced after the angel appeared.  Alma 36:11–16

11 And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.

12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.

13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.

14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.

16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.

President Boyd K. Packer helps us understand what racked and harrowed up means:

Racked means ‘tortured.’ Anciently a rack was a framework on which the victim was laid with each ankle and wrist tied to a spindle which could then be turned to cause unbearable pain.

“A harrow is a frame with spikes through it. When pulled across the ground, it rips and tears into the soil. The scriptures frequently speak of souls and minds being ‘harrowed up’ with guilt” (“The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” Ensign, May 2001, 23).

Why do you think Alma used such strong words to describe how he felt?

How do these words describe the guilt and pain of a person who has sinned and not repented?

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gives the following insight into Alma’s experience: “Alma had been touched by the teaching of his father, but it is particularly important that the prophecy he remembered was one regarding ‘the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.’ (Alma 36:17.) That is the name and that is the message that every person must hear. Alma heard it, and he cried out from the anguish of a hell that kept burning and a conscience that wouldn’t heal. ‘O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me.’ (Alma 36:18.) … Whatever other prayers we offer, whatever other needs we have, all somehow depends on that plea: ‘O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me.’ He is prepared to provide that mercy. He paid with his very life in order to give it” (However Long and Hard the Road [1985], 85).

Alma used the phrase “born of God” to describe his conversion. What does it mean to be born of God: 1 John 4:7Mosiah 5:727:25–26; and Alma 5:1422:15.

Nicodemus asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Nicodemus asked his question in response to Jesus’ statement that a man would have to be born again to see the kingdom of God. Was Nicodemus’s question naive or sarcastic? His subsequent behavior would suggest not. Rather, Nicodemus was voicing a question deeply felt by many people. How is it possible for a mature person to regain the innocence of the newly born? How is it possible to begin life anew, fortified against the pitfalls that cause mankind to be declared carnal, sensual, and devilish? Jesus answered that there must be a two-fold birth that would allow us to enter into the kingdom of God.

How do people feel and act when they are born of God? The Apostle Paul listed the characteristics of the spiritual person, one who yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and contrasted them to the characteristics of a person dominated by the flesh.

Natural Man Galatians 5:16–21: Adultery Fornication Uncleanness Lasciviousness Idolatry Witchcraft Hatred Variance Emulations Wrath Strife Seditions Heresies Envyings Murders Drunkenness Revelings

Colossians 3:2–9 Fornication Uncleanness Inordinate affection Evil concupiscence Covetousness Disobedience Anger Wrath Malice Blasphemy Filthy communication Lying

Spiritual Man Galatians 5:22–25: Love Joy Peace Long-suffering Gentleness Goodness Faith Meekness Temperance Walking in the Spirit

Colossians 3:10–15: Mercies Kindness Humbleness of mind Meekness Long-suffering Forbearance of one another Forgiveness Charity Peace Thankfulness

How are you being born of God?

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.

“Human nature can be changed, here and now,” said President McKay, and then he quoted the following:

“You can change human nature. No man who has felt in him the Spirit of Christ even for half a minute can deny this truth. …

“You do change human nature, your own human nature, if you surrender it to Christ. Human nature has been changed in the past. Human nature must be changed on an enormous scale in the future, unless the world is to be drowned in its own blood. And only Christ can change it.

“Twelve men did quite a lot to change the world nineteen hundred years ago. Twelve simple men.” (Beverly Nichols, in David O. McKay, Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1971, p. 23.)

Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world. Men changed for Christ will be captained by Christ. Like Paul they will be asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6.) Peter stated they will “follow his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21.) John said they will “walk, even as he walked.” (1 Jn. 2:6.)

Finally, men captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. To paraphrase President Harold B. Lee, they set fire in others because they are on fire. (See Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 192.)

Their will is swallowed up in his will. (See John 5:30.) They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.) Not only would they die for the Lord, but, more important, they want to live for Him.

Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians. They stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places. (See Mosiah 18:9.) They have Christ on their minds, as they look unto Him in every thought. (See D&C 6:36.) They have Christ in their hearts as their affections are placed on Him forever. (See Alma 37:36.)

Almost every week they partake of the sacrament and witness anew to their Eternal Father that they are willing to take upon them the name of His Son, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. (See Moro. 4:3.)

In Book of Mormon language, they “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Ne. 32:3), “talk of Christ” (2 Ne. 25:26), “rejoice in Christ” (2 Ne. 25:26), “are made alive in Christ” (2 Ne. 25:25), and “glory in [their] Jesus” (see 2 Ne. 33:6). In short, they lose themselves in the Lord and find eternal life. (See Luke 17:33.)

President David O. McKay tells of a singular event that happened to him. After falling asleep, he said he “beheld in vision something infinitely sublime.” He saw a beautiful city, a great concourse of people dressed in white, and the Savior.

“The city, I understood, was his. It was the City Eternal; and the people following him were to abide there in peace and eternal happiness.

“But who were they?

“As if the Savior read my thoughts, he answered by pointing to a semicircle that then appeared above them, and on which were written in gold the words:

These Are They Who Have Overcome the World—Who Have Truly Been Born Again!

“When I awoke, it was breaking day.” (Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1988, p. 102.)

When we awake and are born of God, a new day will break and Zion will be redeemed.

May we be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, choose to follow Him, be changed for Him, captained by Him, consumed in Him, and born again.” (Born of God By President Ezra Taft Benson Ensign July 1989)

Part 2: Alma 37 The scriptures have been preserved “for a wise purpose.”

Alma continued his counsel to his son Helaman and gave him charge over the sacred records. Alma instructed his son about what to teach the people. Comparing the words of Christ to the Liahona, he impressed upon Helaman the importance of looking to them for guidance. Studying Alma’s words as he gave sacred records to his son Helaman can help us understand how we have felt the power of the scriptures in our lives.

How do we show that the scriptures are sacred to us?

To help prepare his son Helaman to be the spiritual leader and the new record keeper for the people, Alma stressed the importance of the scriptures. Some of the major points he made are that the Lord would preserve the brass plates and the Nephite record in a marvelous but simple way (see Alma 37:1–5). He commanded his son to keep a record of his people and taught him that the scriptures are designed to enlarge our memory, convince us of the error of our ways, and bring us to a knowledge of God and His plan of salvation (see verses 8–9). Then he reminded his son that only one who keeps the commandments is worthy to record scripture (verses 14–16). Alma further promised his son, and us, that following the words of Christ will “carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise” (verse 45).

Elder David A. Bednar described ways we could get more from our personal scripture study: “The scriptures contain the words of Christ and are a reservoir of living water to which we have ready access and from which we can drink deeply and long. You and I must look to and come unto Christ, who is ‘the fountain of living waters’ (1 Nephi 11:25; compare Ether 8:2612:28), by reading (see Mosiah 1:5), studying (see D&C 26:1), searching (see John 5:39Alma 17:2), and feasting (see 2 Nephi 32:3) upon the words of Christ as contained in the holy scriptures. By so doing, we can receive both spiritual direction and protection during our mortal journey” (“A Reservoir of Living Water” [CES fireside for young adults, Feb. 4, 2007], 1).

How can we, like Alma, teach our loved ones to “keep all these things sacred”? Alma 37:2

And I also command you that ye keep a record of this people, according as I have done, upon the plates of Nephi, and keep all these things sacred which I have kept, even as I have kept them; for it is for a wise purpose that they are kept.

How do the scriptures “show forth [God’s] power” to us? Alma 37:14

14 And now remember, my son, that God has entrusted you with these things, which are sacred, which he has kept sacred, and also which he will keep and preserve for a wise purpose in him, that he may show forth his power unto future generations.

One way to learn about the blessings of having the scriptures is to study what Alma said in Alma 37 about the sacred records and other items he entrusted to Helaman:

The plates of Nephi and the brass plates Alma 37:2–20:

And I also command you that ye keep a record of this people, according as I have done, upon the plates of Nephi, and keep all these things sacred which I have kept, even as I have kept them; for it is for a wise purpose that they are kept.

And these plates of brass, which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning—

Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon.

And now behold, if they are kept they must retain their brightness; yea, and they will retain their brightness; yea, and also shall all the plates which do contain that which is holy writ.

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.

And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.

Yea, I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer.

10 And who knoweth but what they will be the means of bringing many thousands of them, yea, and also many thousands of our stiffnecked brethren, the Nephites, who are now hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities, to the knowledge of their Redeemer?

11 Now these mysteries are not yet fully made known unto me; therefore I shall forbear.

12 And it may suffice if I only say they are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God; for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

13 O remember, remember, my son Helaman, how strict are the commandments of God. And he said: If ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land—but if ye keep not his commandments ye shall be cut off from his presence.

14 And now remember, my son, that God has entrusted you with these things, which are sacred, which he has kept sacred, and also which he will keep and preserve for a wise purpose in him, that he may show forth his power unto future generations.

15 And now behold, I tell you by the spirit of prophecy, that if ye transgress the commandments of God, behold, these things which are sacred shall be taken away from you by the power of God, and ye shall be delivered up unto Satan, that he may sift you as chaff before the wind.

16 But if ye keep the commandments of God, and do with these things which are sacred according to that which the Lord doth command you, (for you must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever ye must do with them) behold, no power of earth or hell can take them from you, for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words.

17 For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers.

18 For he promised unto them that he would preserve these things for a wise purpose in him, that he might show forth his power unto future generations.

19 And now behold, one purpose hath he fulfilled, even to the restoration of many thousands of the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; and he hath shown forth his power in them, and he will also still show forth his power in them unto future generations; therefore they shall be preserved.

20 Therefore I command you, my son Helaman, that ye be diligent in fulfilling all my words, and that ye be diligent in keeping the commandments of God as they are written.

The 24 plates of Ether and the interpreters Alma 37:21–37:

21 And now, I will speak unto you concerning those twenty-four plates, that ye keep them, that the mysteries and the works of darkness, and their secret works, or the secret works of those people who have been destroyed, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, all their murders, and robbings, and their plunderings, and all their wickedness and abominations, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, and that ye preserve these interpreters.

22 For behold, the Lord saw that his people began to work in darkness, yea, work secret murders and abominations; therefore the Lord said, if they did not repent they should be destroyed from off the face of the earth.

23 And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations.

24 And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying:

25 I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land.

26 And now, my son, we see that they did not repent; therefore they have been destroyed, and thus far the word of God has been fulfilled; yea, their secret abominations have been brought out of darkness and made known unto us.

27 And now, my son, I command you that ye retain all their oaths, and their covenants, and their agreements in their secret abominations; yea, and all their signs and their wonders ye shall keep from this people, that they know them not, lest peradventure they should fall into darkness also and be destroyed.

28 For behold, there is a curse upon all this land, that destruction shall come upon all those workers of darkness, according to the power of God, when they are fully ripe; therefore I desire that this people might not be destroyed.

29 Therefore ye shall keep these secret plans of their oaths and their covenants from this people, and only their wickedness and their murders and their abominations shall ye make known unto them; and ye shall teach them to abhor such wickedness and abominations and murders; and ye shall also teach them that these people were destroyed on account of their wickedness and abominations and their murders.

30 For behold, they murdered all the prophets of the Lord who came among them to declare unto them concerning their iniquities; and the blood of those whom they murdered did cry unto the Lord their God for vengeance upon those who were their murderers; and thus the judgments of God did come upon these workers of darkness and secret combinations.

31 Yea, and cursed be the land forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations, even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe.

32 And now, my son, remember the words which I have spoken unto you; trust not those secret plans unto this people, but teach them an everlasting hatred against sin and iniquity.

33 Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

34 Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.

35 O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.

36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

The Liahona Alma 37:38–47:

38 And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it.

39 And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.

40 And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.

41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;

42 Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.

43 And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.

44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

47 And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell.

In what ways can the scriptures enlarge our memories?  Alma 37:8

And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.

The scriptures enlarge our memory by helping us always to remember the Lord and our relationship to Him and the Father. They remind us of what we knew in our premortal life. And they expand our memory in another sense by teaching us about epochs, people, and events that we did not experience personally” (D. Todd Christofferson, “The Blessing of Scripture,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 33).

What can we learn from Alma’s words about the blessings of having the scriptures in our lives today? The words of Christ influence us spiritually and help us progress toward eternal life. If we follow the words of Jesus Christ, they will direct us to receive eternal life.

Part 3: Alma 37:6–7, 41–42 “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”

To teach about the importance of “small and simple things” in God’s work, Alma gave two examples: the scriptures and the Liahona  Alma 37:6–7, 41–42; see also 1 Nephi 17:41.

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.

41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;

42 Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.

What truths do we learn from these verses about the value of “small and simple things”? By small and simple things are great things brought to pass. The Lord works by very small means to bring about the salvation of many souls.

Do you remember examples from your own lives of small and simple things in God’s work?

President Dallin H. Oaks taught:

“I was reminded of the power of small and simple things over time by something I saw on a morning walk. … The thick and strong concrete sidewalk [was] cracking. Is this the result of some large and powerful thrust? No, this cracking is caused by the slow, small growth of one of the roots reaching out from the adjoining tree. …

“So is the powerful effect over time of the small and simple things we are taught in the scriptures and by living prophets. Consider the scripture study we’ve been taught to incorporate into our daily lives. Or consider the personal prayers and the kneeling family prayers that are regular practices for faithful Latter-day Saints. … Though each of these practices may seem to be small and simple, over time they result in powerful spiritual uplift and growth. This occurs because each of these small and simple things invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost, the Testifier who enlightens us and guides us into truth” (“Small and Simple Things,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 90).

Why do we sometimes fail to do the small and simple things?

How can we inspire ourselves and our families to overcome this tendency?

Elder M. Russell Ballard taught the importance of giving heed to small and simple things:

“We observe vast, sweeping world events; however, we must remember that the purposes of the Lord in our personal lives generally are fulfilled through the small and simple things and not the momentous and spectacular. …

“Great and marvelous events seem to motivate us, but small things often do not hold our attention. Noting that the Liahona worked by faith, Alma stated, ‘Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means … [the people of Lehi] were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey’ (Alma 37:41).

“Is our journey sometimes impeded when we forget the importance of small things? (see Alma 37:46). Do we realize that small events and choices determine the direction of our lives just as small helms determine the direction of great ships? (see James 3:4D&C 123:16). …

“… We need to have family and personal prayers; study the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon; hold family home evenings; follow the admonition of the Savior to love one another; and be thoughtful, kind, and gentle within the family. Through these and other similar small and simple things, we have the promise that our lives will be filled with peace and joy” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1990, 4, 8; or Ensign, May 1990, 6, 8).

Part 4: Alma 37:38–47 The words of Christ can guide us day by day.

Comparing the word of God to the Liahona can inspire us to be more diligent and consistent about reading the scriptures.

38 And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it.

39 And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.

40 And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.

41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;

42 Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.

43 And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.

44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

47 And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell.Over the years several General Authorities have described different means in which the Lord continues to guide us in our journey of life, like a Liahona.Elder W. Rolfe Kerr of the Seventy compared the words of Christ to the Liahona: “So we see, brethren and sisters, that the words of Christ can be a personal Liahona for each of us, showing us the way. Let us not be slothful because of the easiness of the way. Let us in faith take the words of Christ into our minds and into our hearts as they are recorded in sacred scripture and as they are uttered by living prophets, seers, and revelators. Let us with faith and diligence feast upon the words of Christ, for the words of Christ will be our spiritual Liahona telling us all things what we should do” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2004, 38; or Ensign, May 2004, 37).

Can you find similarities between the Liahona and the word of God in these verses?

What does this comparison suggest about how we should approach our scripture study?

Over the years several General Authorities have described different means in which the Lord continues to guide us in our journey of life, like a Liahona.

Elder W. Rolfe Kerr of the Seventy compared the words of Christ to the Liahona: “So we see, brethren and sisters, that the words of Christ can be a personal Liahona for each of us, showing us the way. Let us not be slothful because of the easiness of the way. Let us in faith take the words of Christ into our minds and into our hearts as they are recorded in sacred scripture and as they are uttered by living prophets, seers, and revelators. Let us with faith and diligence feast upon the words of Christ, for the words of Christ will be our spiritual Liahona telling us all things what we should do” (Conference Report, Apr. 2004, 38; or Ensign, May 2004, 37).

President Thomas S. Monson compared the Liahona to an individual’s patriarchal blessing: “The same Lord who provided a Liahona for Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives. … The gift to which I refer is known as a patriarchal blessing” (Live the Good Life [1988], 36).President Spencer W. Kimball compared the Liahona to the light of Christ, or our conscience:“Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of a ball … ?“… The Lord gave to … every person, a conscience which tells him everytime he starts to go on the wrong path. …“… Every child is given it” (Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 117; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 79).

President Spencer W. Kimball compared the Liahona to the light of Christ, or our conscience: “Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of a ball … ? “… The Lord gave to … every person, a conscience which tells him everytime he starts to go on the wrong path. …“… Every child is given it” (Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 117; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 79).

Elder David A. Bednar compared the Liahona to the gift of the Holy Ghost: “As we each press forward along the pathway of life, we receive direction from the Holy Ghost just as Lehi was directed through the Liahona. …“The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as the Liahona did for Lehi and his family, according to our faith and diligence and heed. …“And the Holy Ghost provides for us today the means whereby we can receive, ‘by small and simple things’ (Alma 37:6), increased understanding about the ways of the Lord. …“The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide and will bless us with direction, instruction, and spiritual protection during our mortal journey” (Conference Report, Apr. 2006, 31; or Ensign, May 2006, 30–31).

Part 5: Alma 38 Sharing our testimonies of Jesus Christ can strengthen those we love.

Alma’s words to his son Shiblon provide a good example of how to strengthen and encourage those we love in living the gospel.

My son, give ear to my words, for I say unto you, even as I said unto Helaman, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence.

And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end.

I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the Zoramites.

For I know that thou wast in bonds; yea, and I also know that thou wast stoned for the word’s sake; and thou didst bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee.

And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Now, my son, I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself, but it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me; for if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things.

But behold, the Lord in his great mercy sent his angel to declare unto me that I must stop the work of destruction among his people; yea, and I have seen an angel face to face, and he spake with me, and his voice was as thunder, and it shook the whole earth.

And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.

And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.

10 And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things.

11 See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength.

12 Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.

13 Do not pray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men, and to be praised for their wisdom.

14 Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.

15 And may the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace. Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be sober. My son, farewell.

Alma encouraged Shiblon to develop qualities that would help him as he continued to teach the gospel and serve others. Alma’s counsel to Shiblon can apply to anyone who wants to serve, teach, or influence others for good.

What counsel did you find in these verses that can help you in your efforts to serve and teach others?

Examine different parts of Alma’s counsel listed below, and choose one that you would like to improve in. Complete the corresponding learning activity to help you apply this counsel in your life. (2017 by Intellectual Reserve)

Alma’s CounselLearning Activities
“Be diligent and temperate in all things” (Alma 38:10).Diligence is consistent, careful, and conscientious effort. To be temperate is to “use moderation in all things or to exercise self-control” (Kent D. Watson, “Being Temperate in All Things,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 38).Write your answers to the following questions in your class notebook or study journal:Why do you think diligence and temperance are needed when a person teaches the gospel and serves others?What are some areas of your life in which you could be more diligent or temperate?How might improving in those areas help you teach and serve others more effectively?
“See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; … do not boast” (Alma 38:11).One aspect of pride is putting greater trust in oneself than in God. Pride is also evident when a person thinks he or she is superior to or more important than others. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “True disciples speak with quiet confidence, not boastful pride” (Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 73).Write your answers to the following questions in your class notebook or study journal:What might happen if a Church member is prideful in his or her calling?Think of someone you know who teaches the gospel “with quiet confidence.” What effect have this person’s example and teachings had on you?What are some ways you will seek to avoid pride?
“Use boldness, but not overbearance” (Alma 38:12).Alma’s counsel to “use boldness” means to teach the word of God without fear (see Philippians 1:14). President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency taught how we can avoid being overbearing: “I do not believe that we need to be … loud, pushy, or insensitive in our approach [to missionary work]” (in James P. Bell, In the Strength of the Lord: The Life and Teachings of James E. Faust [1999], 373).Write your answers to the following questions in your class notebook or study journal:How can a person be bold without being overbearing?How could being bold but not overbearing help you be successful in teaching and serving others?How will you specifically apply the counsel to be bold but not overbearing as you teach and serve others?
“Bridle all your passions” (Alma 38:12).A bridle is the headgear used on a horse. It includes reins and sometimes a bit, which give the rider control. A passion is a strong emotion. A bridle is intended to direct—not destroy—desires and passions. “Alma taught his son: ‘See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.’ (Alma 38:12; emphasis added.) He did not say eliminate or even suppress your passions, but bridle them—harness, channel, and focus them. Why? Because discipline makes possible a richer, deeper love” (Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, The Belonging Heart: The Atonement and Relationships with God and Family [1994], 302).Write your answers to the following questions in your class notebook or study journal:Why do you think it is important for us to bridle our passions?How do you think bridling your passions can help you be filled with love?What will you do to follow Alma’s counsel to “bridle all your passions”?
“Refrain from idleness” (Alma 38:12).To be idle is to spend time doing nothing of significance. “Idleness can lead to inappropriate behavior, damaged relationships, and sin. One form of idleness is spending excessive amounts of time in activities that keep you from productive work, such as using the internet, playing video games, and watching television” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 40).Write your answers to the following questions in your class notebook or study journal:What are some activities that may keep you from productive work?How will refraining from idleness help you teach and serve others more effectively?What is a specific way you will refrain from idleness, starting today?

Conclusion

Alma’s final counsel to his three sons differed greatly. To a certain extent we determine what kind of counsel we might receive in our lives by how faithful we are to the counsel we have already been given. Alma’s conversion story provides one of the clearest examples of how we can know when we have been forgiven of our sins. Counsel given to Shiblon teaches us how to teach and strengthen our testimony, and Finally, the poignant counsel given to Corianton teaches how serious and destructive sexual transgression is. He teaches us through his story that by small and simple things come great things, as well as the importance of the scriptures, and gives us faith and hope through his personal testimony which we too, can give to others by sharing ours. These chapters are rich with gospel knowledge to be had for our day in progressing in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Resources

Book of Mormon student manual

Ensign

Conference Reports

 Intellectual Reserve in Seminary Manual 2017

CES Firesides

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