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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday School - Book of Mormon Lesson 23

Book of Mormon Lesson #23: “More Than One Witness”
Alma 8-12

1. Ezra Taft Benson: In June 1830, Samuel Harrison Smith trudged down a country road in New York State on the first official missionary journey of the restored Church. He had been set apart by his brother, the Prophet Joseph. This first missionary traveled 25 miles that first day without disposing of a single copy of the new and strange book that he carried on his back. Seeking lodging for the night, faint and hungry, he was turned away, after briefly explaining his mission, with the words: “You liar, get out of my house. You shan’t stay one minute with your books.” Continuing his journey, discouraged and with a heavy heart, he slept that first night under an apple tree. So began, in the most inauspicious way, the missionary work of this dispensation through the restored Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. God, Family, Country, p. 188.

2. James E. Faust: [2 missionaries] [Y]ou must know that Lucifer will oppose you, and be prepared for his opposition. Do not be surprised. He wants you to fail. Discouragement is one of the devil’s tools. Have courage and go forward. Recognize that the gospel has been preached with some pain and sorrow from the very beginning of time. Do not expect that your experience will be otherwise. General Conference, April 1996.

3. Wilford Woodruff: I received a mission when I embraced this work; it has never been taken from me yet. … We [John Taylor and I] have been over a great many rough roads [and] traveled hard. … For over thirty years we have labored to preach the gospel. … In my early missions … I have waded swamps and rivers and have walked seventy miles or more without eating. In those days we counted it a blessing to go into a place where there was a Latter-day Saint. I went once 150 miles to see one; and when I got there he had apostatized and tried to kill me. Then after traveling seventy-two miles without food, I sat down to eat my meal with a Missouri mobocrat, and he damning and cursing me all the time. Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, pp. 11-12.

4. Gordon B. Hinckley: Have you really learned to plead with the Lord as if your very life depended upon it? It is necessary because your very life does depend on it, my brethren and sisters – your life as a missionary of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Discourses of Gordon B. Hinckley, vol. 2, pp. 451-52.

5. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [Alma 8:10 – wrestling with God in mighty prayer] [Alma] therefore pleaded with anxiety and with all the energy of his heart for an endowment and an outpouring of divine grace, such as would soften hearts and magnify his poor words to an extent that souls might be one. Alma’s experience is a marvelous example of a pertinent but often painful reality – that the righteousness and personal power of the preacher is only one factor in the conversion of a people. The listeners must open their hearts, be willing to acknowledge and confess their weaknesses, and ponder and pray about what is spoken. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 58-59.

6. Richard J. Allen: When [Alvin R. Dyer] served as president of the Central States Mission, he conducted a mission-wide research poll among all the converts of the mission, asking them to declare when they first knew that the gospel was true. Several thousand participated in the project. Elder Dyer learned that 82 percent of the converts knew the gospel was true the first time they heard the missionaries bear witness of it. Thus in most cases the transforming witness came not after a period of experience with the Church but immediately upon hearing the message for the first time as the missionaries spoke with the Spirit. Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, vol 1, p. 520.

7. George Q. Cannon: [Alma 9:16-17 – Lamanites won’t be destroyed] At the time that the Prophet Joseph Smith translated this Book of Mormon, I suppose the impression was general, as it is today [1884] that the Indians were a perishing race, that they would soon disappear from the face of the land. … Joseph found … that we as a race and the nation to which we belong, should not have power to destroy the Indians. This was a most remarkable statement to make when we consider where Joseph was brought up, and the circumstances surrounding him. Journal of Discourses, vol. 25, p. 123.

8. Henry B. Eyring: The life of Amulek teaches us not only that obedience brings the inspiration of God, but that with that inspiration will come the power to accept the testing and the trials it will take to sanctify us. Amulek could not have foreseen the testing and the sacrifice ahead of him. … He says in his first sermon that the angel’s promised blessings on his house and family had already been delivered. He seemed to think the blessings were delivered and assured … (Alma 10:11). We don’t know what Amulek thought those blessings had been, but we do know what became of his house and his family. He lost them all. We know that after he taught with such power as the companion of Alma in his own city, Ammonihah, his father and kindred repudiated him … (Alma 15:16). Amulek may have lost even his wife and his children. … If they had rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ they would have been killed in the prophesied destruction of Ammonihah. An invading army took the life of every soul in a single day. If Amulek’s wife and children had made and kept covenants of the gospel, they would have been among the martyrs Alma and Amulek were forced to see die in the flames … (Alma 14:10-13). Amulek was delivered by God from the powers of the adversary as a blessing for his obedience, but God would not compel his loved ones to obey. Heroes from the Book of Mormon, p. 109-11.

9. D. Parry, D. Peterson, & J. Welch: [Alma 11 – monetary system]. Mosiah’s system is distinctively binary: each unit of measure is half the size of the next larger unit. Perhaps Mosiah found this binary manner of reckoning somewhere on the plates of brass, which, after all, were written in a type of Egyptian text. Indeed, as became known in the early twentieth century, the units in the ancient Egyptian grain measure were also binary in ratio. Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, p. 350.

10. Bruce R. McConkie: [Alma 11:40 – salvation and eternal life] Since it is the prophetic purpose to lead men to full salvation in the highest heaven of the celestial world, when they speak and write about salvation, almost without exception, they mean eternal life or exaltation. They use the terms salvation, exaltation, and eternal life as synonyms, as words that mean exactly the same thing without any difference, distinction, or variance whatever. The Promised Messiah, p. 129.

11. John Taylor: [Alma 11:43 – a bright recollection of all our guilt] Man … rises … from the dead and goes to judgment; and then the secret thoughts of all men are revealed before Him with whom we have to do. … If a man has acted fraudulently against his neighbor – has committed murder or adultery, or any thing else, and wants to cover it up, that record will stare him in the face, he tells the story himself, and bears witness against himself. … That record … is written by the man himself in the tablets of his own mind – that record that cannot lie – will in that day be unfolded before God and angels, and those who shall sit as judges. Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, pp. 78-79.

12. Joseph Smith: As concerning the resurrection, I will merely say that all men will come from the grave as they lie down, whether old or young; there will not be added unto their stature one cubit, neither taken from it; all will be raised by the power of God having spirit in their bodies, and not blood. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 199-200.

13. Joseph F. Smith: The body will come forth as it is laid to rest, so will it arise, and changes to perfection will come by the law of restitution. But the spirit will continue to expand and develop, and the body, after the resurrection will develop to the full stature of man. Improvement Era, June 1904.

14. Orson Pratt: [Alma 12:6] Second death, What is that? After you have been redeemed from the grave, and come into the presence of God, you will have to stand there to be judged; and if you have done evil, you will be banished everlastingly from His presence, … This is what is called the second death. Orson Pratt Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 288.

15. Bruce R. McConkie: To those devoid of spiritual understanding, it is as though the inspired authors had set out, deliberately and with earnest intent, to sow the seeds of darkness and misunderstanding as to the God or Gods who live and abide and are. … At least to the spiritually sick and to the spiritually dead, who seek God through reason and intellect alone, the scriptures appear to be a compilation of confusion and contradiction. And it was not intended to be otherwise, for salvation is of the Spirit and comes only to those who are spiritually alive and well, those who come to know God, not by reason and the intellect alone, but through the spirit of prophecy and revelation. The Promised Messiah, p. 113.

16. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [Alma 12:34] From the scriptures and the prophets come several definitions of entering the rest of God. A person enters the rest of God whenever he gains a witness of the divinity of the work of the Lord, when he comes to that quiet but powerful assurance that God’s hand is guiding the prophets and Apostles who preside over his Church and kingdom. It is a settled conviction of the truth, a peace that steadies one in a time of trouble and confusion. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 58-59.

Next week: Alma 13-16 “Give Us Strength According to our Faith in Christ”