look to God
Week 30 is scheduled for study July 20-26, 2020. There is only one source of salvation, and that is in Christ. In this week’s lessons we examine some of the things in our lives we need to recognize and take advantage of in order to enjoy the salvation Christ offers us.

Day 1

Alma 36 – I can be born of God as I am humble and repent.

“As you feel the joy that comes from understanding the gospel, you will want to apply what you learn” (Preach My Gospel [2004], 19). Record your thoughts and impressions about how to apply the truths you are learning.

As the manual mentions, it is truly important that we seek after a permanent change of heart so we lose forever our desire for sin. The manual also acknowledges that it is rare to find this change happen as quickly as Alma the younger describes it happened to him. For most of humanity this change is a gradual process that comes as we deliberately seek it out and obey God’s commandments. I think what we are looking for is a life of consistency.

While we are still drawn to our own private sins, it is difficult to live a life consistent with the commandments we have made covenants to obey. It is only when we are able to live a life that is more and more consistent with our covenants that our desires to sin begin to noticeably diminish. This is all part of the process of change. At first we may feel like we are struggling uphill in our efforts to stop sinning, but with practice and constant repentance this becomes easier, and we find that sin becomes more and more distasteful to us.

Eventually, when we have learned to love repenting for the joy that it is, the thought of sin becomes something that troubles our soul. The very thought of doing something that would show disregard for God’s laws bothers us greatly. And watching others choose sin causes our soul to sorrow after them, for we now appreciate the struggle they will have to go through to rid themselves of their spiritual or physical burdens because of their choices.

Does this process of obtaining a change of heart make us perfect? Of course not. We are still human, and as such still make mistakes. But we glory in our opportunity to rid ourselves of our sins. We have hearts filled with gratitude for the opportunity Christ’s atoning sacrifice gives us to be free of our bad attitudes, willfulness, and poor choices in life. Our life goal is to always maintain a state of peace between God and our way of living. This is what is meant when the scriptures talk about being justified. It is living in harmony with the laws of God. It is only when we are in harmony with these laws that we can become holy people, righteous people, covenant keepers that can call upon God at any time and feel confident that we have nothing to fear in our communications with Him. We have repented of our sins. This helps our confidence in our relationship with God increase and strengthen.

The goal we are seeking – obtaining that change of heart – has everything to do with our ability to find joy in our repentance, and in our efforts to live consistent with the laws of God so we feel joy in living Christlike lives.

Day 2

Alma 36 – Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the world.

“As you feel the joy that comes from understanding the gospel, you will want to apply what you learn” (Preach My Gospel [2004], 19). Record your thoughts and impressions about how to apply the truths you are learning.

I am about to say something heretical here. In today’s lesson the manual focuses on the poetic syntax of Alma’s conversion story. Yes, it is a great testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith had revealed to him passages in the book that used the Hebrew poetic form called chiasmus. But frankly, I don’t really care. What I care about is the doctrine of this chapter. Call me a lurker on the fringe if you like, but I am more concerned that I understand what is really going on with Alma’s conversion than anything else.

Honestly, Alma’s conversion story has always bored me. I have always felt completely disconnected from his experience. It is so far removed from my own life’s experience that I have always dreaded having to read this chapter, and I have read it a lot! Well this time through I decided to do something about it. I decided to take my academic reading of Alma’s conversion and find a way to make it feel personal for me. I wrote an article that I published just this morning where I spent the last 24 hours exploring Alma’s experience and comparing it with the experience the general population has with the conversion process. I finally have made it personal. I recommend you read the following article to see what I found. I hope it will help you appreciate in a more intimate way what Alma went through, and to understand the process the rest of us have to go through to achieve the same outcome of repentance.

Day 3

Alma 37 – The scriptures have been preserved “for a wise purpose.”

“As you feel the joy that comes from understanding the gospel, you will want to apply what you learn” (Preach My Gospel [2004], 19). Record your thoughts and impressions about how to apply the truths you are learning.

Since the day Adam and Eve walked out of the garden, scriptures, in any form, were cumbersome and difficult to come by. They had to be copied by hand, which took months if not years to complete. Usually only prophets had access to them, as they were the guardians of the records, and even when they were available in any synagogue, you usually had to just listen to them. Rarely did anyone have them in their own home – they were far too precious for that.

Saints in earlier dispensations had to rely on memorizing vast passages of scripture in order to “take them” anywhere. We are in a most unique period of time. Since the invention of the printing press, and the proliferation of writing in general, the scriptures are now available in so many forms, and are so inexpensive, if not free to anyone, that literally almost anyone on the planet can have their very own set of scriptures. This condition has not existed before in the whole history of the world.

Think about what the writers of the scriptures from the Book of Mormon had to go through to make a record of their prophecies and sermons. Someone had to molten ore and hammer out individual plates to make sets of plates they then had to guard with their lives to preserve them. They had to put them in wagons to haul them from hiding place to hiding place when they were in danger of being destroyed by unbelievers. Anything written on anything other than those inscribed on metal plates decayed and rotted away. And those things recorded on the metal plates had to be hand inscribed into the metal sheets, a grueling and meticulous process. God had to promise that those things on plates would be protected from the ravages of time. This is why they liked to write on gold plates – gold doesn’t rust or corrode.

Creating the scriptures we have today was no easy task. The Book of Mormon took more than a thousand years to compile, then had to be hidden for more than a thousand years, and finally it had to be revealed to Joseph Smith and protected until it could be translated and printed. After it was translated, the Lord took the records back for safe keeping. Wow! A book that took almost two and a half thousand years to produce just so we could have those truths to help guide us in this last dispensation of time.

The amazing thing, to me, is that most of the prophets who contributed to the contents of the Book of Mormon didn’t even know why they were doing what they were doing. They only knew that God had commanded it for a “wise purpose”, so they obeyed. Some would call this blind obedience, but I believe they knew the character of God well enough to know that when the Lord commands something be done, it is for a really good reason. So they were happy to comply and obey His commandments to produce and protect the writings with which they had been entrusted and were commanded to write.

Day 4

Alma 37:6–7 – “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”

“As you feel the joy that comes from understanding the gospel, you will want to apply what you learn” (Preach My Gospel [2004], 19). Record your thoughts and impressions about how to apply the truths you are learning.

Interestingly enough (at least to me) I recently wrote an article about this very topic. I recommend reading it for today’s lesson.

Scripture Study/Family Home Evening

Alma 36:18–21, 24 – Repentance is a joyful experience.

By definition, the chains of hell is defined as believing in the lies of Satan that bind us down in sin. One of those chains, those lies, is that repentance is a source of pain, suffering, and sorrow to be avoided. We are led to believe it causes us unhappiness and creates restrictions in our lives that prevent us from being free and happy. I am sure there are many more lies you have probably heard or been told in your head and heart about how undesirable repentance is. But all of those statements are, themselves, lies.

What is repentance, except the process by which we free ourselves from the bondage of sin? Isn’t any payment or requirement to achieve that freedom worth the price of our freedom from Satan’s rule? The whole point of the atoning sacrifice Christ made for us was to make available to us the ability to repent and find forgiveness, to find joy, to gain the promise of eternal life and exaltation, the privilege of living in the presence of God and Christ for eternity in happiness and peace. Repentance is a privilege, not a punishment.

The trick is recognizing the lies about repentance we have fallen for, and praying for help to overcome our belief or fear that those lies might be true. For only when we recognize a lie for what it is can we overcome it.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

BoM Week 30

(Alma 36-38)