March 20, 2018 Alma 1-4 by Cynthia Haller

“We begin to realize more and more, as we become acquainted with the principles of the gospel, as they have been revealed anew in this dispensation, that we are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors, to our friends and associates who have preceded us into the spirit world.  Therefore, I claim that we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous of our welfare, they love us now more than ever.  Their solicitude for us and their love for us and their desire for our well being must be (even) greater than that which we feel for ourselves.

When messengers are sent to minister to the inhabitants of this earth, they are not strangers, but from the ranks of our kindred, friends and fellow beings.  Our fathers and our mothers, our brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges may have a mission given to them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh.”

President Joseph F. Smith

Alma 1-14 deal with internal as well as external attacks on the government as well as the church of God.

Book of Alma covers only 39 years, yet it takes up about one third of the Book of Mormon.  Alma is rich in “teaching for our time,” and the wise teachings of Alma can be immediately applied to our day.

Alma the Elder taught his people to “trust no one to be your teacher nor your minster, except he be a man of God, walking in His ways and keeping His commandments.”  (Mosiah 23;14)

  1. Who do you trust to be your teacher?  To influence you and your opinions, values, views?  Those who believe in Jesus Christ and trust to follow Him, or TV, Hollywood, politicians?

Look how Nehor violated

Very first year of Alma the Younger’s service as chief judge or as the “president” of the country he encounters Nehor—large, powerful, persuasive.

Calling “good evil and evil good.”  Look for similarities to our times:

  1. 4 READ

Pres Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“Because a man has great schooling, is educated according to the ideas of the world, is not sufficient reason why he should be called to take charge of a class in any of the organizations or priesthood quorums within the Church.  Now if he has scholastic ability and training, and along with it has faith in the principles of the gospel and in the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Prophet Joseph Smith, all well and good. . . It makes no difference who the teacher is, if he teaches false doctrine, if he teaches that which has been condemned by the Lord, that is contrary to what is written in the revelations given to the Church, then he should not teach.” 


“. . . he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved.”

Hugh Nibley:  “What is wrong with this upbeat, cheerful religion—this popular messages?  It says, ‘In the end, all men shall have eternal life’—and that’s the whole story.  Everyone is saved, and that is that.  This short circuits and bypasses the whole plan of salvation, which is that this is a time of probation here, accepting salvation the hard way . . . Should we lower our standards to gain converts?  Well, that’s the great thing.  The great Catholic Church historian—not only of our time, but I thin the greatest of them all—was Duchesne.  He said that’s exactly what happened.  The church was able to expand and conquer after the fourth century because it just kept lowering its standards, lower and lower.  Every time it lowered them, it could get more people in.  Finally, everybody was willing to join because they didn’t have any standards at all as fasr as morals were concerned.  This is the thing that happened her with Nehor; he made himself very popular.  He was like a popular evangelist, and this is what people want to hear.”

(Teaching of the Book of Mormon, Lecture 42, p 216-7)

  1. Have you been to the beautiful cathedrals and churches in Europes?  What do they all have in common?  Empty! They require next to nothing—they can’t ask very much of people.

JS: “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things” (Lectures on Faith, 6:7).

  1. 5 READ

(whenever we attend inappropriate concerts, buy or rent unwholesome videos, buy or support any media which promote values which are contrary to the lifestyle of the saints of God, we are, in effect, support Satan and giving him money, just as these people did for Nehor.  David Ridge’s commentary)

v 6 Nehor believes he’s above the law’s of God and the laws of man—taking things into his own hands

  1. 7 READ (Gideon instrument in delivering people of Limhi)

Gideon stood up to him, defended the faith

Nehor kills Gideon—great saint and man of God

Review to v 12

V 12 READ Priestcraft introduced

Priestcraft is defined in 2 Nephi 26:29 as the practice in which men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.

“The Book of Mormon applies this principle (priestcraft) to those who seem to be serving the Lord but do so with a hidden motive to gain personal advantage rather than to further the work of the Lord.  Priestcraft is the sin committed by the combination of a good act—such as preaching or teaching the gospel—and a bad motive.  The act may be good and visible, but the sin is in the motive.  On earth, the wrong motive may be known only to the actor, but in heaven it is always know to God.”  Dallin Oaks

Alma knew “if priestcraft were to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction,” (prophecy)

Nehor—a Popular Counterfeiter:  Dennis Gaunt “Recognizing Satan’s Counterfeits”

Tells of getting a counterfeit bill—looks the same/differences.

Nehor freely used Satan’s method of flattery. Let’s examine him as a case study of a spiritual counterfeiter. Nehor, whose doctrine seemed to embrace the idea of a redeemer, was a popular and charismatic preacher among the Nephites.  Nehor raised up many followers by teaching that “all mankind should be saved at the last day” and “have eternal life” (Alma 1:4).

Can we see why Nehor’s message would be so attractive? He was teaching about an easygoing and relaxed God—a God who, because He loves everyone, will save everyone, no matter what. So go ahead and do what you like, because it’s all good. It’s a seductive philosophy that was embraced as much by the people of Nehor’s day (see Alma 1:5) as it is by many people today. A free ticket to heaven is something people apparently want.

So what was the problem with Nehor’s message? Let’s look at the main points of his argument again:

  • God created all people—true.
  • God loves all people—true.
  • We shouldn’t be afraid of God—true.
  • We should rejoice at the idea of salvation—true.

So far, there are a lot of similarities between what Nehor taught and gospel truths. But remember—just as withcounterfeit money, we need to look for the differences, not the similarities. So let’s look at Nehor’s last point:

  • God will grant everyone eternal life—false!

Now here is the important difference that tells us Nehor is a spiritual counterfeiter. Salvation from physical death is guaranteed to all, but salvation from spiritual death is conditional on our willing repentance. If we repent, then we can receive eternal life (see Jacob 6:11). But there is no free ride.

  1. 23-31:prosper in the land—here comes the pride cycle

“The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God, and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell!  This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty and all manner of persecution and be true.  But my greatest fear is that they cannot stand wealth.”   President Brigham Young

*v 25 PEARL ***even faithful weren’t immune to those leaving the church—very hard for them (family, friends), but they remained STEADFAST AND IMMOVABLE IN KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD and bore with PATIENCE the persecution  heaped upon them.

Alma 2:

V 12 READ –“they were aware of the intent of the Amlicites and therefore they did prepare to meet them; arm themselves

Book of Mormon is a type for our time—our day

Elder Bednar spoke of this scripture in a talk entitled “Marriage is Essential to His Eternal Plan”.


“Lucifer relentlessly assails and distorts the doctrines that matter most to us individually, to our families, and to the world. . .  The adversary’s attacks upon eternal marriage will continue to increase in intensity, frequency, and sophistication.  Because today we are engaged in a war for the welfare of marriage and the home, . . . I paid particular attention to the ways the Nephites prepared for their battles against the Lamanites.  I noted that the people of Nephi “were aware of the intent of (their enemy), and therefore they did prepare to meet them.”  (Alma2:12).  As I read and studied, I learned that understanding the intent of an enemy is a key prerequisite to effective preparation.  We likewise should consider the intent of our enemy in this latter-day war. 

. . . The overarching intent of the father of lies is that all of us would become “miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27), and he works to warp the elements of the Father’s plan he hates the most.  Satan does not have a body, he cannot marry, and he will not have a family.  And he persistently strives to confuse the divinely appointed purposes of gender, marriage, and family.  .  .

Given what we know about our enemy’s intent, each of us should be especially vigilant in seeking personal inspiration as to how we can protect and safeguard our own marriages—and how we can learn and teach correct principles in the home and in our church assignments about the eternal significance of gender and of the role of marriage in the Father’s plan. “

Alma 4:

Alma 4:

This chapter shows how Satan destroys the spirituality of some members of the Church, and how other members remain true and faithful and retain a daily remission of their sins.

Cycle of apostasy continues—humility moves to pride

V 1-5 awakened to a remembrance of their duty—Lord forgives and extends mercy again and again—like Val jean—undeserved but His hand is still extended through repentance

Peace for two years and then it begins again

V 6-10

V 8-10 set their hearts upon riches and vain things of world

PRIDE:  Pres Ezra Taft Benson called pride

“the universal sin, the great vice.  Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion.  The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowman.  Enmity means hatred toward, hostility to , or a state of opposition.  It is the power which Satan wishes to reign over us.  Pride is essentially competitive in nature.  We pit our will against God’s. . . . God will have a humble people.  Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.”      

v 19  READ PEARL—missionary work to do 2 things:

1)stir them up in remembrance of their duty

2)pull down by the word of God—pride, craftiness, and contentions

Q how? *”reclaim them only by bearing down in pure testimony against them”

Joseph Smith said:  “Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.”