As always, use the official Gospel Doctrine Lesson Manual in your preparation. Here are some supplemental ideas that I hope might be helpful:
Mosiah 25 – Four groups of people are all gathered together — Zarahemla’s people (Mulekites), Mosiah’s people, Limhi’s people, and Alma’s people. The people of Zarahemla, or the Mulekites, are numbered with the Nephites hereafter.
7-8 – “struck with wonder and amazement” When King Mosiah read the records of Zeniff and Alma to the people, they “knew not what to think.” They rode an emotional roller coaster of joy (8), then sorrow (9), then thanksgiving (10), followed by pain and anguish (11).
16 – “remember that it was the Lord that did deliver them” Alma wants them to remember that it was not swords, tactics, chance or luck that delivered them, but the Lord. Today as in times of old, people have short memories, and have to be reminded to acknowledge the Lord’s hands in all things.
22 – “repentance and faith in God” First things first – first principles should always receive first priority in teaching.
Mosiah 26 – Many of the rising generation are unbelievers and cause difficulties within the church.
3 – “Because of their unbelief, they couldn’t understand” – Shouldn’t this be the other way around? They didn’t understand, therefore they didn’t believe? It may seem that way, but having a “believing heart,” invites the spirit of revelation and understanding. Notice the sequence in Mormon 9:25: “And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.” Believing comes before a confirmation. Additionally, President Boyd K. Packer has taught that in the world, “seeing is believing,” but in the gospel, “believing is seeing.” (See That All May be Edified, 307). Therefore, “doubt not, but be believing” (Mormon 9:27), and “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another” (D&C 90:24).
10 – “there had not any such thing happened before” Alma had never had this type of problem in the church before. His first reaction was to take them to King Mosiah, who sent them right back, perhaps because their crimes were more within the jurisdiction of a religious leader than a political leader. Alma did not have a “handbook of instructions” so he inquired of the Lord and received direction.
14 – “after he had poured out his whole soul” Note that the answer came “after,” not “while” he had poured out his soul. Like Nephi (son of Nephi) who prayed “all that day” before the answer came (3 Nephi 1:12).
18 – “they are mine” A beautiful verse that reminds us of the result of taking the sacrament, and of taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ. Just as our own name, embossed upon our scriptures shows that they belong to us, those who have taken upon them the name of Christ signifies that we belong to him. In a literal way, we “take upon us the name of Christ” when we are willing to serve missions and have his name on our hearts on our nametags.
22-23 – “it is me that taketh upon me the sins of the world” Notice that the Savior is the one who is answering Alma’s prayer. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:
It is true that when we pray to the Father, the answer comes from the Son, because “there is . . . one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5.) Joseph Smith, for instance, asked the Father, in the name of the Son, for answers to questions, and the answering voice was not that of the Father but of the Son, because Christ is our advocate, our intercessor, the God (under the Father) who rules and regulates this earth. And it is true that sometimes in his answers, Christ assumes the prerogative of speaking by divine investiture of authority as though he were the Father; that is, he speaks in the first person and uses the name of the Father because the Father has placed his own name on the Son. (Prayer [Deseret Book, 1977], 10.)
29-30 – “as often as my people repent will I forgive” This is a hopeful verse! D&C 61:2 states, “Behold, verily thus saith the Lord unto you, O ye elders of my church, who are assembled upon this spot, whose sins are now forgiven you, for I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts;”
Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1979, p. 201: “Even though a mighty change occurs at rebirth, no one becomes perfect overnight. So the principle of repentance is needed as one endeavors to go on unto perfection (Hebrews 6:1) and as he endures to the end. Satan would have him believe that, once forgiven, any misstep is fatal and irreparable. But this passage [Mosiah 26:30] shows that Satan is a liar. Every young person should have this passage memorized as a source of hope. But he should understand that it is not a license to commit willful sin or try to take unrighteous advantage of the Lord’s mercy, for the Lord has also said, “but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return.” (D&C 82:7.) Though at first these two scriptures (Mosiah 26:30; D&C 82:7) may seem contradictory, together they teach the true mercy and justice of the Lord.”
Joseph Smith taught, “Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God” (History of the Church Volume 3, p. 379).
31 – “forgive one another your trespasses” Notice the footnote to D&C 64:9-10; In Section 64, the Lord repeats “I the Lord forgive sins” (D&C 61:2, 64:7), but adds that our repentance is connected to our extending forgiveness to others: “he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”
33 – “when Alma had heard these words he wrote them down” These words became Alma’s own “Book of Commandments” we might say. We recall that Alma also recorded Abinadi’s words so that we could benefit from them (Mosiah 16:4). In our day, we are reminded of Wilford Woodruff who kept detailed journals and documented much of our early church history.
Mosiah 27 – Alma and the four sons of Mosiah are visited by an angel.
8 – “a very wicked and an idolatrous man” This description of Alma the younger makes the story of his conversion and rebirth even more remarkable. He is also described as being “a man of many words” who spoke “flattery” to the people, phrases which were also used to describe Sherem and Korihor! (see Jacob 7:4, Alma 30:47).
11-16 – “he has prayed with much faith concerning thee” We don’t know who long Alma the elder had been praying for his son, we don’t know how many sleepless nights, but we know that the Lord heard his prayers. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland observed: “We learn that there is majestic, undeniable power in the love and prayer of a parent. The angel who appeared to Alma and the sons of Mosiah did not come in response to any righteousness on their part, though their souls were still precious in the sight of God. He came in response to the prayers of a faithful parent” ( However Long and Hard the Road, p. 81).
16 – “go and remember” As mentioned before, the Lord wants his people to remember the times when they have seen his arm revealed in their lives. Nephi attempted to motivate his brothers by reminding them of the children of Israel and their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, now, in their very recent past, the Nephites have their own deliverance story and testimony to share with their posterity.
Visual Aid: I have a favorite painting, done by Walter Rane which depicts the four sons of Mosiah carrying the unconscious Alma the younger to his parents. His mother seems to be thinking, “Oh, no!” while his father seems to be thinking, “Oh, yes!” The painting is called “His Father Rejoiced” and is featured with the entire Walter Rane series called “Scenes from the Land of Promise” on lds.org.
25-26 – “marvel not that all mankind … must be born again” Notice that the atonement of Jesus Christ is not only to cleanse but to transform. All mankind must be redeemed, but must also become “new creatures.” King Benjamin’s people not only received forgiveness of their sins, but their hearts were purified, illustrating the dual nature of the atonement’s effects (Mosiah 4:2). The Psalmist wrote, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands [forgiveness of sins] and a pure heart [loss of desire to sin or a purified heart] (See Psalms 24:3-4. (See also a conference talk by Elder David A. Bednar given in October 2007 called “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart”).
32 – “publishing … the things which they had heard and seen” More than just testifying of spiritual feelings, Alma and the four sons of Mosiah spoke of the fruits of the gospel – things they had “heard and seen.” This reminds us of Acts 4:20, where Peter and John said “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”(Acts 4:20).
35 – “zealously striving to repair all the injuries” part of the repentance process is restitution when possible.
37 – “publish good tidings of good” Notice the footnote to Mosiah 12:21– We recall that King Noah’s wicked priests tried to stump Abinadi with an Isaiah scripture by asking what Isaiah meant when he spoke of the feet of those that “publish peace.” Alma the elder believed Abinadi, and now Alma the younger is one of those who is publishing peace.
Mosiah 28 – The Sons of Mosiah desire to preach the gospel among the Lamanites in the Land of Nephi.
3-4 – teach the people that repentance hurts (See Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, p. 52)
5 – “they did plead with their father many days” We can only imagine King Mosiah, who might have been thinking, “You want to go back there? We had quite a time getting those people out of there and back to safety. It required miracles to get them delivered!” But after “many days,” apparently, Mosiah asked the Lord, who answered, “Let them go up … I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites” (Mosiah 28:7).
10 – “King Mosiah had no one to confer the kingdom upon” This was the perfect time for Mosiah to begin a new system of government, a system which relied on the “voice of the people,” and made them more accountable for their choices.
Alma 36 – Alma the younger’s repentance and born again experience is retold. In Mosiah 27, these events are related third person as they happen. In Alma 36, Alma tells the story in first person to his son Helaman. In Alma 36 we get details not in Mosiah 27.
Also, this chapter is in the form of a chiasmus. For more information on this ancient form of writing, see here.
3 – “Supported in their trials” God does not always eliminate our trials, but he will help us through them.
7-10 – “We all fell to the earth” Alma fell, he arose, he fell again. This was a physical, as well as spiritual experience!
12 – “racked with eternal torment” How can you go through “eternal torment” for just three days? The answer is in footnote 12a, which takes us to a fascinating revelation about the meaning of “endless” and “eternal” torment in D&C 19:11-15. It also teaches us that “eternal” life is more than a length of life, but a quality of life as well.
14 – “The very thought of coming into the presence of my God…” The thought of coming unprepared into God’s presence made such an impression on Alma, that he used that same idea to teach others in Alma 5:18 and Alma 12:14.
15 – “Extinct both soul and body” For some reason, “soul” and “spirit” often mean the same thing in the Book of Mormon. Alma is not saying “I wish I’d never been born,” but something much more drastic – I wish I did not exist at all, that my body and spirit would be “extinct.” This is not possible, since our spirits are immortal. We’re going to spend eternity somewhere, so we might want to figure out where we’d like that to be :).
17 – “I remembered to have heard my father prophesy unto the people” You never know when you’re children might actually be listening. Fortunately, Alma remembered something his Father taught, which was the most important thing imaginable – Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the world.
19 – “I could remember my pains no more” Here is a clue regarding how we may know that we are forgiven – it won’t hurt anymore. It does not say that Alma could not remember his sins, he remembered them all – he’s telling us about them – it just didn’t hurt anymore. “But wait,” my students sometimes say, “doesn’t it say that God will remember our sins no more?” Yes. In D&C 58:42 it says, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” In my opinion, this is poetic. I don’t think we will remember something that God does not remember. I think it means our sins won’t be remembered at the judgment. I like the way Ezekiel 18:22 explains it: “All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live” (emphasis added). Another way the scriptures describe how we may know we are forgiven is “peace of conscience” as stated in Mosiah 4:3.
22 – “My soul did long to be there” This is quite a contrast from verse 14 – from “inexpressible horror” to “longing” to be with God. As the Lord helps us and changes us, as we grow spiritually, we become more comfortable in holy places and with holy people.
24 – “That I might bring them to taste” Alma gives us perhaps the finest motive for missionary work – so that others may “taste” what we have tasted. (Notice, he doesn’t say that they might feel what I felt – more on that when we study Alma 32-33).
27 – “I have been supported” Alma is bearing witness of how he knows what he taught in verse 3.
30 – “Keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land” Here again is the oft repeated promise to those who occupied the promised land.
Myrna Adams says
I love all your writings, tapes, talks & Gospel Doctrine Prep lessons. You add another layer of understanding for me. Just want to say “thank you”.
Dear Brother Bytheway, Thank you so much for sharing these insights into the scriptures for Gospel Doctrine. I am the only member in my family. As I am preparing my lessons, I often wish that I could share my thoughts and ideas with them as we sit and chat around the kitchen table. As this is not currently an option for me, I appreciate your ‘kitchen table’ explanations. In preparing my lessons I learn much. But guaranteed, someone in the class will bring up their understanding that had not even occurred to me. In this way, I also learn much. However, your knowledge helps me be just a bit more prepared. Thank you!