"More Than One Witness"
Lesson 23 - Alma 8-12
What if I show you a box and tell you what item is inside the box, but I do not show you the object. Would you believe that such an item is really in the box? What if one of your friends is invited to look inside the box and then tells you what is inside the box. Would you then believe the item is in the box? Why would it be easier to believe that the object was in the box after someone else came and looked at it? As Alma preached repentance to the people of Ammonihah, he was joined by Amulek. This lesson discusses how Alma’s teaching was strengthened through Amulek’s witness.
Alma called the people of Ammonihah to repentance, but they rejected him.
Alma delivered up the judgment seat to Nephihah and began his missionary journeys. These included a journey to the wicked city of Ammonihah. After he established the order of the Church among the people in Gideon and Melek, Alma went to preach in the land of Ammonihah.
Alma 8:8-9 We find that Alma's challenge in Ammonihah was a population who had allowed Satan great hold on their hearts, so they would not hearken to Alma's teachings.
The words in Alma 8:10 describe the intensity of Alma’s efforts in Ammonihah as he "labored much" and wrestled "with God in mighty prayer".
Alma 8:11-13 The people of Ammonihah responded to Alma’s preaching by hardening their hearts, withstanding all his words, reviling him, spitting on him, and casting him out of the city.
Alma 8:14-17 As Alma left Ammonihah and traveled toward the city of Aaron, an angel of the Lord appeared, told Alma to rejoice, introduced himself to Alma as the angel who had delivered the Lord's first message to Alma, and commanded him to return and warn the people of the city again.
Alma 8:15 According to the angel, the reason Alma should rejoice was because the Lord knew that he was faithful in keeping the commandments.
Alma 8:18 Alma responded to the angel’s instructions by returning to Ammonihah "speedily". Think about what you can learn from his response--to do what the Lord commands and Do It Now!
Alma 8:19-32 tells us about how Alma and Amulek met. As Alma reentered the city, he approached Amulek and asked for food since Alma had fasted for many days. Amulek told him that an angel had instructed him in a vision to give food and shelter to the Lord's prophet, which he promptly did.
Alma 8:20, 27; Alma 10:7-11 The Lord prepared Amulek to preach with Alma by witnessing of Alma's holy calling through an angel who visited Amulaek while Alma stayed with him. The angel showed Amulek that Alma's words were true. He had also spent time with Alma for "many days" before they began preaching together. Some ways individuals are prepared to do the Lord’s work include: by association with the Lord's servants, by promptings from the Holy Ghost, by answers to prayers and personal inspiration, by studying the scriptures, and by living a righteous, honest life.
Alma 9:5 The people of Ammonihah continued to reject Alma’s warnings because they were hardhearted and proud.
Alma 9:2, 6 They argued that God would not send just one man with an important message and used that excuse to reject his message.
Alma 9:8-11 Alma said that the wicked people in Ammonihah had forgotten the righteous tradition of their fathers, the commandments of God, and the Lord’s deliverance of their fathers. Their forgetfulness led to wickedness. Some reasons people forget what the Lord has done for them and others include being proud, seeking worldly pleasures, being selfish, and seeking riches, power, or ease. Consider effective ways you have found for remembering the Lord’s blessings to you.
Alma 9:15 Alma warned that if the wicked Nephites of Ammonihah did not repent, the day of judgment would be "more tolerable" for the Lamanites than for them.
Why would this be so? Alma 9:14-24; see also Luke 12:47-48; D&C 82:3 Because the Lamanites were taught false traditions of their fathers and the Lord had promised to be merciful to them and that He would eventually bring them to repentance and faithfulness. On the other hand, these people had had light and knowledge and then rejected it. They had had too many spiritual experiences and heavenly blessings to be excused easily, so the Lord had sworn that if they sinned against the greater light, they would be utterly destroyed. Think seriously about what the Lord requires of those who have received greater light.
Alma 9:16-17 Alma taught about the "promises which are extended to the Lamanites"--that one day they would be saved after learning of the false traditions of their fathers. Ponder how these promises are being fulfilled today.
Amulek preached to the people of Ammonihah.
After Alma had spoken to the people, Amulek stood up and began to preach to them. Amulek was a descendant of Lehi and was a wealthy man "of no small reputation" in the community (Alma 10:2-4).
Alma 10:6 Amulek said that he had been "called many times" but "would not hear" and that he "knew concerning these things" but "would not know". Think about some of the ways the Lord calls to us and why we are sometimes slow to respond to Him. On a personal basis, how can you be more receptive to Him?
Alma 10:7-11 records that Amulek was finally converted when the angel visited him and testified of the truth of Alma's message.
Alma 10:13-16, 31-32 The intent of the lawyers who questioned Amulek was to find some way to twist his words and find fault with him, and, in the end, get gain through their employment.
Alma 10:17 They were unable to deceive him because the inspired prophet could literally perceive their thoughts.
Alma 10:17-21, 27 Amulek rebuked the lawyers and warned that they were laying the foundation of the destruction of the people. How were they laying this foundation? By perverting the legal system and corrupting judges.
Alma 10:22-23 We see here that only the prayers of the righteous among them had kept the people from being destroyed already. Consider this: Do you think the prayers of the righteous help counter the effects of wickedness today?
Alma 10:12 The people were astonished by Amulek’s words because he furnished a second witness to both their sins and the prophecies that Alma had delivered.
Think about the benefits of having more than one witness when sharing the gospel. We sustain each other in these endeavors when we teach in pairs, such as full-time missionaries, home teachers, visiting teachers, and parents.
Observe through the remainder of the lesson how Alma and Amulek continued to support each other’s efforts by preaching the same doctrines. Doctrines and references are summarized in the following chart.
|| AMULEK'S WITNESS
|| ALMA'S WITNESS
| The Atonement
|| Alma 11:40
|| Alma 12:33-34
|| Alma 11:40
|| Alma 12:24
|| Alma 11:41
|| Alma 12:14
|| Alma 11:41-42
|| Alma 12:24-25
Amulek contended with Zeezrom and testified of Christ.
Chapter 11 begins with a description of the Nephites’ monetary system. Beginning in Alma 11:20 is the account of Amulek being questioned by Zeezrom, one of the most cunning lawyers in the land of Ammonihah.
Alma 11:1, 20 The judges in Ammonihah earned money by having their services required, so they stirred up the people to get more employment as judges.
Alma 11:20 They wanted to contend with Alma and Amulek to get gain.
Alma 11:21-40 contains the dialogue between Amulek and Zeezrom.
Alma 11:21-22 Amulek responded to Zeezrom’s first question by saying that he would only answer questions as directed by the Spirit. (That's a good example to follow, so think about how you can keep your words and teachings in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord.)
Alma 11:34 Zeezrom asked Amulek if Jesus would save people in their sins.
Alma 11:34, 37 Amulek said that we cannot be saved in our sins because no unclean thing can enter into heaven.
There is a difference between the false idea of being saved in our sins and the truth that we can be saved from our sins. If we are unrepentant and remain in a state of sin, we cannot be saved. If we repent, Jesus Christ can save us from our sins.
Alma 11:42-43 Overcoming the physical death and having a resurrection is a blessing of Christ’s Atonement that comes to all people.
Alma 11:40-41 The blessing of forgiveness for sin and the gift of eternal life comes only to those who have faith in Him and keep His commandments.
Alma 11:43-45 Amulek taught about the resurrection and spoke of the reuninting of the body and spirit, never to be separated again, and that all will stand before God to be judged of their works. These truths are important for us to know because they help us understand the reward for faithfulness and obedience.
Alma further explained Amulek’s words and warned against hard-heartedness.
Alma 11:46 After Amulek had answered Zeezrom’s contentions, Zeezrom "began to tremble". Seeing this, Alma began to speak to "establish the words of Amulek, ...to unfold the scriptures beyond that which Amulek had done" (Alma 12:1).
Alma 12:3-6 From Alma’s words in these verses to Zeezrom, we learn about what Satan desires and how he works. Satan often tries to deceive one person in order to bring many people to destruction. Consider how you can protect yourself against Satan’s subtle devices.
Alma 12:9-11 Alma taught that the condition of our hearts affects our understanding of God’s word. If we are humble and hearken, we will be able to understand the mysteries. If we harden our hearts, understanding and light and knowledge will be withheld from us.
Alma 12:10 The blessing that comes to those who do not harden their hearts includes growing knowledge until we know the mysteries of God in their fulness.
1 Nephi 2:16; 1 Nephi 15:11 We develop hearts that recognize, understand, and accept the word of God by obeying the commandments and desiring to know of God.
Alma 12:13-14 Alma taught that people who harden their hearts against the word of God will be condemned by their words, works, and thoughts. The Lord judges according to our thoughts as well as our words and actions because thought is the mother of action. If our thoughts are impure, our actions will eventually follow.
Alma 12:14-18 Alma described the awful state of those who do not repent and thus die in their sins and the torment and punishment that waits for them after the judgment.
D&C 19:16-18 These people will "be as though there had been no redemption made" because the redemption and forgiveness for sin only comes to those who repent and accept Christ.
Alma 12:22-34 contains Alma’s description of the Fall of Adam and the plan of redemption.
Alma 12:24 Alma taught that the purpose of mortality is for us to prepare to meet God. An understanding of this principle can help us live more righteously if we view this life as a test that we want to pass.
Alma 12:32 It is significant that "God gave [Adam and Eve] commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption" because it shows that our first parents knew the challenge before them and how to succeed in this life. An understanding of the plan of redemption helps us keep the commandments because we can understand the reason for the commandments--to help us become like our Father. For us to have a reason to overcome our mistakes and have hope of eternal life, it is necessary for us to know that God has prepared a plan for our redemption. The plan of redemption teaches us that God’s justice and mercy are fair and balanced and that keeping the commandments will be rewarded while penalties for sin will be tempered with mercy as appropriate to our circumstances.
As Alma and Amulek worked together as witnesses of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they strengthened each other and delivered powerful teachings about the plan of redemption. Look for opportunities to strengthen one another in bearing witness of the gospel.