Teenagers and young adults love to be challenged and think at a deeper level than the trivia questions require.
Questions For Discussion Alma 13 Sentences 52-117
Who allowed them to teach in their synagogues? Were there people who were letting Alma and the other missionaries into their homes? Were they teaching anyone who would listen?
And it came to pass that they did go forth, and began to preach the word of God unto the people, entering into their synagogues, and into their houses; yea, and even they did preach the word in their streets.
Why were the poor class of people beginning to listen? Why do people need to wear nice clothes to church? Are the rulers of the churches casting people out of the synagogues? Why? Can this be beneficial to those who are being cast out?
And it came to pass that after much labor among them, they began to have success among the poor class of people; for behold, they were cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel—
Why did the people think they needed a synagogue to worship God? Does filthiness only refer to the clothing someone wears or could it also refer to someone who has ideas and questions that vary from what is correlated? What is dross? DROSS: something regarded as worthless; rubbish. foreign matter, dregs, or mineral waste, in particular scum formed on the surface of molten metal. If the poor class of people were considered as dross, did the wealthy class of people consider themselves as silver and gold? Where did they get the idea that wealth is a sign of God's blessings? Are those who are poor as to the things of this world necessarily poor in heart? What does it mean to be poor in heart?
Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogues to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness; therefore they were poor; yea, they were esteemed by their brethren as dross; therefore they were poor as to things of the world; and also they were poor in heart.
What else happens at Onidah (Alma 47:5)? What prepared these people to even come to Alma? Can I be poor in heart without being poor as to the things of the world? Is being poor in heart the same thing as having a broken heart and a contrite spirit? “But blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs.” D&C 56:18 How are they the same? How are they different?
Now, as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah, there came a great multitude unto him, who were those of whom we have been speaking, of whom were poor in heart, because of their poverty as to the things of the world.
Why were they despised because of their poverty? Do I despise others or worship others because of their material possessions? Why did the priests despise this poor class of people more than the congregation did? Why are they cast out of the buildings they built with there own hands? Does everyone in the congregation contribute to the building of churches, synagogues, and temples? Does everyone have an equal privilege participating in these houses of worship? Why do the priests get to make the rules for who can enter the church when everyone contributes to the building of these houses of worship? Why do we have churches? Where do most of the prophets meet God? In the church? On the mountaintops? In the forests? Why do the church leaders teach I must worship in the building built by men? What was their question? Why is it important that I have questions? Can I be taught without having a question?
And they came unto Alma; and the one who was the foremost among them said unto him: Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men because of their poverty, yea, and more especially by our priests; for they have cast us out of our synagogues which we have labored abundantly to build with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do?
Why did Alma look at these people with great joy? What had humbled them? Are afflictions a good thing or a bad thing? Can I have afflictions and harden my heart instead of letting my heart be softened? What does it mean to be truly humble? Can I be taught without being prepared to hear the word? Can I teach someone who is not prepared to hear the word?
And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.
Why did Alma turn from the other multitude? Does it do any good to teach someone who is not ready to learn? What does it mean “he stretched forth his hand”? What does it mean to be penitent? PENITENT: Suffering pain or sorrow of heart on account of sins, crimes or offenses; contrite; sincerely affected by a sense of guilt and resolving on amendment of life.
Therefore he did say no more to the other multitude; but he stretched forth his hand, and cried unto those whom he beheld, who were truly penitent, and said unto them:
Why are the lowly in heart blessed?
I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye.
Why does Alma ask them to look at the question their brother just asked?
Behold thy brother hath said, What shall we do?—for we are cast out of our synagogues, that we cannot worship our God.
Why does Alma begin teaching them by asking more questions? How does he challenge their belief system? Why is this helpful?
Behold I say unto you, do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only?
How does he continue to get them to think about what it means to worship God? Why would anyone think they must worship God only once in a week? When we build churches and go to them once a week, does it help promote this belief? Why do the people in the church think devotion to God is a once a week thing?
And moreover, I would ask, do ye suppose that ye must not worship God only once in a week?
What does Alma think about their being cast out of the synagogues? If I am humble what will I learn? Why is it necessary that I learn wisdom? What brought these people to a lowliness of heart? What brings me to a lowliness of heart? Does life keep working on me until I am necessarily humble?
I say unto you, it is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom; for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren because of your exceeding poverty, that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble.
Will those who are compelled to be humble receive mercy if they choose to change? What does it mean to find mercy? How do I find mercy? Why must I endue to the end after I find mercy? What does it mean to be saved?
And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.
Why am I more blessed if I humble myself because of the word? What motivates me to humble myself because of the word? What does it mean to be humble? What is it about the word that is humbling?
And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?
How can I humble myself? How do I repent? How do I change my mind and come out of the darkness so I can see things in the light? Why am I more blessed when I humble myself because of the word than when I am compelled to be humble because challenges? Can I make greater progress if I come to God when life is good than if I only cry out to God in times of desperation?
Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty.
How is baptism a sign of humility? What makes a heart stubborn? If I need to know something before I will believe, how is my progress stopped? What brings knowledge?
Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.
Why does a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign? Why will they only believe what they can experience with their five senses?
Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.
Can I work by faith if I will only believe what has already been manifested by another being's faith?
Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.
Why am I more cursed if I know the will of God and do not do it than if I only believe and do not do it?
And now, how much more cursed is he that knoweth the will of God and doeth it not, than he that only believeth, or only hath cause to believe, and falleth into transgression?
What must I judge? What is on the one hand and what is on the other hand? What does Alma mean “ it shall be unto every man according to his work”? Why must I work by faith instead of requiring others to work by faith in my behalf? Signs shall follow them that believe (Mormon 9:24). How am I more prepared to be accountable for the sign if I am the one who must exercise faith to bring it about?
Now of this thing ye must judge. Behold, I say unto you, that it is on the one hand even as it is on the other; and it shall be unto every man according to his work.
What am I hoping for? How do I know what is true? Why do I need to have faith to have hope and have hope to have faith? How do these two work together? “Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.” Moroni 7:42
And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
How is God merciful to all who believe on his name? Why is the first step to believe on His word? Can I obtain mercy without believing on His word?
And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word.
Why does God send angels? How is accepting the word of His angels an act of faith? How do I know the difference between a true angel and a false angel? Why do God's words confound the wise and learned?
And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.
Why does Alma call this group of people “beloved”? Why are these people interested in pursuing God even though they have been cast out of they synagogue?
And now, my beloved brethren, as ye have desired to know of me what ye shall do because ye are afflicted and cast out—now I do not desire that ye should suppose that I mean to judge you only according to that which is true—
Can Alma tell the difference between those who have been compelled to be humble and those who would humble themselves in whatsoever circumstances they might find themselves? Do I seek God when life is going great? Or do I only feel after him in times of hardship? Is this the difference between the two groups?
For I do not mean that ye all of you have been compelled to humble yourselves; for I verily believe that there are some among you who would humble themselves, let them be in whatsoever circumstances they might.
Faith lead to perfect knowledge, but where must everyone begin? What does it mean to know of a surety?
Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.
What does it mean to awake and arouse my faculties? Why would these people even want to experiment upon Alma's words? Do they feel he has something to offer? Why is the desire to believe a beginning place for most? Can anyone start with a particle of faith? How can I let this desire work in me? What does it mean to believe in a manner that I can give place for a portion of the word? What do I need to cast off so I can accept God's words?
But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
Why do prophets often use the things in nature to teach me about God? Why must this seed be planted in my heart? Why would I cast out a true seed? What does unbelief look like? Do I know when I am resisting the Spirit of the Lord? What does that feel like? What does it feel like to have the truth swell within my breast? Is this the joy that keeps pulsating in my heart? Can everyone recognize when their soul is being enlarged? Will the truth always enlighten my understanding? What does God's word taste like? Is this something I would like to experience again and again?
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
Why would this increase my faith? Is it important for me to know it is a true seed so I can continue to exercise faith in God's word? What is the perfect knowledge that comes from this fruit?
Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.
Why will I say this is a good seed? How will this strengthen my faith? Why must I try and test every every word?
But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.
What does it mean, “every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness”? Do I need to know something about the seed before I plant it? Do I need to have some information about what it is expected to grow into? Weeds grow. Do I want to plant weeds?
And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.
What does growth have to do with the experiment? Why would I want to keep a seed that doesn't grow? Do I want to waste my time with duds?
Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.
What does the experiment to prove? Who planted the seed? How do I know it is a good seed?
And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
When my knowledge is perfect, why is my faith dormant? How do I know the word is good? Do good seeds swell and sprout? What is my experience when my mind is darkened? What is my experience when my mind is enlightened? What happens when my mind begins to expand? How does this feel? Why would I ever want to go back into the dark?
And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.
What is real? Why is it real? Why is light real? Why is light good? How is being discernible related to being good? Is it discernible when it enlightens my understanding,? When brought into the light, will all my questions be answered? Is this why God commands me to ask questions? What does light taste like? Is light expanding, enlightening, and delicious? Who would not want to live in the light? What is perfect knowledge? Can I have perfect knowledge of some things and not perfect knowledge of others?
O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect?
Is there ever a time to lay aside my faith? Does God still work by faith? How is faith exercise each step of the way? What did I learn from the experiment? Why must I know if the seed is good before I patiently nourish it with great care? What if I nourish a dud, will I loose confidence in the power of faith?
Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.
Why must I nourish this beautiful tree with great care? Why do I want to nourish the tree? Is there anything more important than nourishing the tree? Why must the tree get root? After the tree takes root, is it more resilient? How do roots help the tree weather the storms of life?
And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
How do I neglect the word of God? How often do I think about the word of God? How am I not only thinking about it but nourishing it? What must I do to nourish the word so that it takes root in my heart? Is this a consistent effort? What does the heat of the sun feel like? When the sun shines upon a plant that has been watered and well cared for what happens? When the sun shines upon a seed that has been planted in barren, dry, weeded-infested soil what happens? Why would I throw away the withered plant? Would the plant have grown if I had watered and nourished it?
But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
If the seed doesn't grow, does it prove it is a bad seed? What makes my ground barren? Why would I refuse or forget to nourish the tree? Why do I want the fruit of the tree? Do I choose a quick fix and desire momentary pleasure or do I choose to use much care and receive everlasting joy?
Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.
What is an eye of faith? What does it mean to see with my eyes what I saw with an eye of faith? “And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.” Ether 12:19 Why must I continue to nourish the word looking forward to the fruit as if it had already happened?
And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.
How do I nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow? Why is great diligence and patience necessary to have faith? What does it mean to look forward to the fruit? What kind of excitement and enthusiasm do I feel when I am looking forward to it manifesting? If I do these things will it take root in me? What is the tree of everlasting life?
But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
What does it mean to have “patience with the word in nourishing it”? Why would I be impatient with the word? Will the word take root in me if I do not nourish it by my patience, my faith, and my diligence? Will I pluck of the fruit of the tree if I continue to nourish it? What is this fruit Alma is describing? What is the empty space in human souls that seeks to be filled?
And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.1 Nephi 8:10-12
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:35
“That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. Isaiah 49:9-10
And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
Do I always reap the rewards of my faith? Why has the order of faith and diligence been changed in verse verse 41, “ by your faith with great diligence” and verse 43, “the rewards of your faith, and your diligence”? Why do I need to be diligent, patient, long-suffering in order to exercise perfect faith? What does long-suffering mean? LONG-SUFFERING: Long endurance; patience of offense. Why must I wait for the fruits of my faith to manifest? What would happen if I killed the tree by giving up before it brought forth fruit? What do the Gods watch and wait until the are obeyed? What do this have to do with faith? “And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.” Abraham 4:18
Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.