“Unit 15: Day 1, Alma 5:1–36,” Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2012), 147–49
“Unit 15: Day 1,” Book of Mormon Study Guide, 147–49
When the Church was threatened by wickedness and contention (see Alma 4:9–11), Alma knew that true reform could only come through a mighty change in the hearts of Church members. As the high priest of the Church, Alma began his mission to reclaim the people of Zarahemla by testifying of Jesus Christ and calling on the people to repent. He encouraged them to prepare for the judgment of the Lord by having faith in the word of God and evaluating the spiritual condition of their hearts. As you study the first half of Alma 5, think about how you can apply what you learn so you can experience or continue to experience the mighty change of heart discussed in the chapter.
How much have you changed since you were 8 years old? How much have you changed since you were 12 years old? Think about the different ways in which people may change, such as in their appearance, behavior, or attitude. Ponder what might lead to or bring about some of these changes in people. Then read Alma 5:12, and look for what changed in Alma the Elder. As you study Alma 5:1–13, think about how a person’s heart might change.
Elder Gerald N. Lund, who later served as a member of the Seventy, taught that when the word heart is used in the scriptures, it often refers to “the real, inward person” (“Understanding Scriptural Symbols,” Ensign, Oct. 1986, 25). Consider for a moment how a “mighty change of heart” is different from the other ways in which people may change—including the ways you thought about as you began this lesson.
Recall that King Benjamin’s people experienced a “mighty change” in their hearts, which caused them to have “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). You may want to write the clarification from Elder Lund and the Mosiah 5:2 scripture reference in the margin of your scriptures next to Alma 5:11–13.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “You may ask, Why doesn’t this mighty change happen more quickly with me? You should remember that the remarkable examples of King Benjamin’s people, Alma, and some others in scripture are just that—remarkable and not typical. For most of us, the changes are more gradual and occur over time. Being born again, unlike our physical birth, is more a process than an event. And engaging in that process is the central purpose of mortality” (“Born Again,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 78).
Read Alma 5:3–7, and look for what Alma told the people of Zarahemla to help prepare their hearts to change.
Answer the following question in this manual: Alma told the people of Zarahemla about the conversion of his father and others, as well as their deliverance from captivity. How do you think these experiences helped the people prepare to experience a change of heart?
Read Alma 5:10, and circle the question marks at the end of the three questions that Alma asked the people. Then search Alma 5:11–13, in which Alma began to answer these questions, to find support for this statement: When we believe in the word of God and exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we can experience a mighty change of heart.
Faith in the word of God leads to a mighty change of heart because the word of God teaches us about the Savior. The people of Alma believed in the word of God, delivered to them by holy prophets. They learned about the redeeming power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and their hearts were changed as they developed faith in the Savior.
- In your scripture study journal, explain in your own words how believing in the Atonement of Jesus Christ leads to a mighty change of heart.
- Write in your scripture study journal about how your heart has been changed. If you have noticed a change of heart as you have studied the Book of Mormon this year in seminary, you could describe your experience as part of your answer.
After Alma taught that faith in the word of God helps us begin the process of receiving a mighty change of heart, he asked the people to consider numerous questions. These questions can help us evaluate the condition of our spiritual hearts—the desires and feelings of the inward person.
Read Alma 5:14, and mark the three questions that Alma asked the people to consider about themselves. These three questions describe the change we experience as we exercise faith in the redemption offered through Jesus Christ. Remember from previous lessons (see Mosiah 5 and Mosiah 27) that being “born again” refers to the change a person experiences when he or she accepts Jesus Christ and begins a new life not only as His disciple but also as His son or daughter spiritually (see Mosiah 27:25).
- In your scripture study journal, write about how a change of heart may be reflected in a person’s countenance. In this context, the word countenance means the appearance of a person’s face, which reflects the person’s attitude, mood, or spiritual state. Describe someone you know who has received the Savior’s image in his or her countenance.
In medical practice a cardiogram is a chart that doctors use to evaluate the status of our physical hearts. It helps identify conditions that need treatment. Study the verses from Alma 5 that are listed at the bottom of the spiritual cardiogram below. As you study each verse, mark the box on the chart that best describes how you would answer the question or questions in each verse. (If you would like to keep your answers more private, you may copy this chart on a separate piece of paper or in your personal journal and then complete it.)
Alma 5 Spiritual Cardiogram
Seldom, if ever
Verses from Alma 5
When you have completed your spiritual cardiogram, read Alma 5:21–25. Look for what Alma taught about this truth: By experiencing a change of heart, we prepare ourselves to receive a place in the kingdom of heaven (the celestial kingdom).
- Do the following in your scripture study journal:
Make a list of words and phrases that Alma used in Alma 5:21−25 to describe the condition you would like to be in now.
Explain how you think a change of heart prepares us to receive a place in the kingdom of heaven.
Read Alma 5:33–36, and consider how you feel about Alma’s message. Look for words and phrases that help you answer the following questions:
What is the Lord inviting me to do?
What are the rewards for accepting this invitation?
What do these verses teach me about the Savior?
Read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson that shows how people who have had a change of heart want to live:
“When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed. …
“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. …
“Men [and women] 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.) …
“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.)” (“Born of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 5–7).
To conclude this lesson, underline one idea from President Benson’s statement that helps you think about how you want to live as a person who is experiencing a change of heart. Set a goal that will help you apply what you have felt as you have studied Alma’s teachings about experiencing a change of heart (you may want to write it in your personal journal or on a separate piece of paper). As you continually seek to be born of God and experience a change of heart, you will be prepared to enter God’s kingdom.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Alma 5:1–36 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: