Alma 32:2 they began to have success among the poor class of people
"Typically, when the gospel message goes to a nation or city the first willing to hear and accept it are those of the lower social classes. Humility of circumstances and humility of spirit are often found in company together. Writing to the Corinthian Saints, the Apostle Paul observed: 'Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence' (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
"Celsus, the second-century philosopher, is often quoted in descriptions of the infant Christian church. The basic material of his description--the general social level of the converts--is much like Paul's, but the spirit is sharply different. Christians, he held,
"do not even want to give or to receive a reason for what they believe, and use such expressions as 'Do not ask questions; just believe' and 'Thy faith will save thee.'... Their injunctions are like this: 'Let no one educated, no one wise, no one sensible draw near. For anyone stupid, anyone uneducated, anyone who is a child, let him come boldly.' By the fact that they themselves admit that these people are worthy of their God, they show that they want and are able to convince only the foolish, dishonourable, and stupid, and only slaves, women, and little children.... In private houses also we see wool-workers, cobblers, laundry workers, and the most bucolic and illiterate yokels, who would not dare lo say anything at all in front of their elders and more intelligent masters."(Origen, in Contra Celsum 1:9; 3:44.)
"These descriptions given by Paul and Celsus aptly profile the typical Christian convert as seen by believer and unbeliever respectively in the period associated with the New Testament. The most striking thing about such expressions is that they are remarkably similar to the kind of thing we have so often read about the early converts to Mormonism. Nor does the similarity stop there, for it has been echoed by thousands of missionaries who have been the first to open various cities and regions to the teaching of the gospel; in so doing, they have found that the well-to-do, those resting comfortably in their own self-sufficiency, have little or no interest in their message, while those whose conditions are appreciably more humble are often more willing to listen." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 223)
Alma 32:3 they were poor in heart
To be poor in heart is essentially the same as to be poor in spirit. The latter term is used in the Beatitudes, Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3). Therefore, the poor in heart are poor in spirit but not spiritually poor. The term "poor in spirit" means to be spiritually humble, to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. As we learn from Alma 32, this humility and contrition often comes to those who are poor in material things. According to the doctrinal ironies of the gospel, the Lord has blessed them to receive the riches of eternity in a very literal sense. Hence they are to receive the kingdom of heaven. The D&C expresses the same concept as follows: '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' (DC 56:18).
Alma 32:10 do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only?
Houses of worship have their place. However, with the exception of the temple, they are not typically the place where we learn the greatest spiritual lessons. It is on our knees, in our homes and closets, where the greatest worship takes place. It is also here where the greatest spiritual experiences are received. Prophets over the ages have rarely received their major revelations in chapels or synagogues. In the next chapter, Alma tells us of Zenos, who had communed with God in the wilderness, in his field, in his house, and in his closet (Alma 33:4-9). We should expect our moments of greatest worship to be in locations just as personal and private.
Alma 32:13-16 blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble
Alma's teaching that the people would be more blessed if they were humble without being compelled is reminiscent of the interaction between the Savior and Thomas. Thomas would not believe in the resurrection until he had seen the Savior with his own eyes. When this happened, the Savior said, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (Jn 20:29). This concept is repeated when the Savior visits the Nephites, blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am. And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me (3 Ne 12:1-2).
Righteousness is always rewarded with blessings. However, it is more blessed to be righteous when less of a witness is given. There were those who, unlike Thomas, believed in the resurrection of the Lord prior to seeing a witness. There were those of Alma's listeners who were humble without compulsion. And there were Nephites who believed in the Christ at the testimony of others. All of these were promised the greater blessing. Therefore, the greater the leap of faith, the greater the blessing is from the Lord.
During our moments of introspection, we should analyze our motives for keeping the commandments. Hopefully, our obedience comes from desires for righteousness and not compulsory circumstances.
Ezra Taft Benson
"God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble. Alma said, 'Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.' (Alma 32:16.)
"Let us choose to be humble. We can choose to humble ourselves by conquering enmity toward our brothers and sisters, esteeming them as ourselves, and lifting them as high or higher than we are. We can choose to humble ourselves by receiving counsel and chastisement. We can choose to humble ourselves by forgiving those who have offended us. We can choose to humble ourselves by rendering selfless service. We can choose to humble ourselves by going on missions and preaching the word that can humble others. We can choose to humble ourselves by getting to the temple more frequently. We can choose to humble ourselves by confessing and forsaking our sins and being born of God. We can choose to humble ourselves by loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives.
"Let us choose to be humble. We can do it. I know we can." (Conference Report, May 1989, p. 6)
Alvin R. Dyer
"Be humble. One of the crowning goals of being spiritually minded is the human quality of humility, especially if it is self-imposed." (Conference Report, May 1967, p. 110)
Alma 32:15 yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed
Henry B. Eyring
I spoke recently to a young father who has lost his job in the recent economic crisis. He knows that hundreds of thousands of people with exactly his skills are looking desperately for work to feed their families. His quiet confidence led me to ask him what he had done to become so confident that he would find a way to support his family. He said he had examined his life to be sure that he had done all he could to be worthy of the Lord's help. It was clear that his need and his faith in Jesus Christ were leading him to be obedient to God's commandments when it is hard to do. He said that he saw that opportunity as he and his wife were reading in Alma where the Lord had prepared a people to find the gospel through adversity.
You remember the moment when Alma turned to the man who led the people in distress. The man told him that they had been persecuted and rejected for their poverty. And the record goes:
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.
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:
I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye. (Alma 32:6-8)
The scripture goes on to praise those of us who prepared for adversity in the more prosperous times. Many of you had the faith to try to qualify for the help you now need, before the crisis came.
Alma continued, 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. (Alma 32:15)
That young man with whom I spoke recently was one who had done more than put away food and a little savings for the misfortune which living prophets had warned would come. He had begun to prepare his heart to be worthy of the Lord's help which he knew he would in the near future need. When I asked his wife on the day he lost his job if she was worried, she said with cheerfulness in her voice, "No, we've just come from the bishop's office. We are full-tithe payers." Now, it is still too early to tell, but I felt assured as they seemed to be assured: "Things will work out." Tragedy did not erode their faith; it tested it and strengthened it. And the feeling of peace the Lord has promised has already been delivered in the midst of the storm. Other miracles are sure to follow. ("Adversity" Ensign, May 2009, 25)
Alma 32:18 Now I ask, is this faith?
Dallin H. Oaks
"(quoting Alma 32:15-19) There are two lessons here. First, those who acquire knowledge by means of signs have no occasion to develop faith. Without that spiritual development...and without the sustaining strength of faith, they are damned in their progress and remain vulnerable to transgression and to falling away. Second, those who acquire knowledge and then fall away are more cursed than those who, following the pathway of faith, have only come so far as to believe before they fall away.
"Thus, the showing of a sign can work to the condemnation of those who are brought to knowledge by that means. They miss the opportunity to develop faith, and they subject themselves to a more severe punishment for backsliding than those whose spiritual development is proceeding along the normal pathway of developing faith.
"There are other 'condemnations' to those who seek signs without first developing the faith God has required as a prerequisite.
"One condemnation is to be misled. God warned ancient Israel against following prophets who gave signs and wonders and then sought to lead them away to the worship of strange gods. (Deut. 13:1-3.) The Savior taught his apostles that in the last days 'there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.' (JST Matt. 24:23; also see Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22.) The apostle Paul warned that the Savior would not come again 'until after there cometh a falling away, by the working of Satan with all power, and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.' (JST 2 Thes. 2:9-10.)
"In the great revelation on signs, the Lord says, 'He that seeketh signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation.' (D&C 63:7.) President Spencer W. Kimball explained: 'Certainly we should not be interested in signs. Signs are available and anyone, I believe, can have signs who wants them. I believe if one wants revelations enough to crave them beyond the rightness of it, that eventually he will get his revelations-but they may not come from God. I am sure that there can be many spectacular things performed, because the devil is very responsive. He is listening and he is eager to do it. And so he gives strange experiences.'
"...Manifestly, the performance of miracles and the appearance of signs and wonders are not evidences that those who do these things are servants of God or teachers of truth. In our day, God does not use miracles or signs as a way of teaching or convincing the unbeliever. As a result, we should not ask for signs for this purpose, and we should be deeply suspicious of the so-called spiritual evidences of those who do." (The Lord's Way, p. 86)
Elder Winslow Farr Smith
"It is a strange thing that many of our members are always looking for something absolutely extraordinary...Has it ever occurred to you that perfect knowledge is what the devil himself possesses? Has it ever occurred to you that many men, who fight against God and his kingdom, know beyond the question of a doubt that the Gospel is true. Has it ever occurred to you that in this fighting, the one thing that is lacking in their make-up is that very vital thing, faith in Almighty God? I beg of you to consider this question, weigh it very, very seriously. I have in mind a man right now, whom I met but a few weeks ago, who claims to have had revealed to him the Son of God himself, and yet that man lacks something in his make-up to hold him fast to the Church and to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Something has come between him and the testimony that he had, and instead of being a helper, a supporter of, and a fighter for, the doctrines of Christ, and the missionaries working in his field, he is a hindrance." (Conference Report, Oct. 1919, p. 186, italics added)
Alma 32:21 faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things
"There is a great difference between faith and knowledge. I am told that there is such a country as China on the eastern borders of Asia; but I never have been there; I never have seen that country; I cannot say, most positively, that such a country exists, only on the testimony of others I am informed that such is the case. I believe that testimony, but it is not a perfect knowledge to my own mind, obtained by my own experience. And so in regard to ten thousand other facts or events. We are in many, indeed in almost all, instances required to believe without a knowledge." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 209)
Boyd K. Packer
"(quoting Alma 32:21) In keeping faith I hope you are able to know that there are some things that must be taken on faith; and that, in our insatiable quest for knowledge, always preparatory to and preliminary to gaining spiritual knowledge there is the exercise of faith. As the prophet Moroni said, 'Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith' (Ether 12:6)." (Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, p. 147-8)
Howard W. Hunter
"There are many things which are invisible to our senses and not subject to positive proof. The scientific approach to proof is by experimentation in the laboratory. The result of this scientific method has a greater influence upon our thinking than we realize, because it produces positive proof resulting in knowledge. We cannot overlook the great good this approach by science has upon the lives of persons, but how about those things which lie outside of the realm of positive, tangible proof? This question brings us to the higher law. It is through the assurance that comes from faith.
"The classic example of faith is ascribed to the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews: 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' (Heb. 11:1.)
"This statement does not presuppose a perfect knowledge, but describes faith as that which gives to one an assurance or a confidence in things which are yet in the future. These things may be in existence, but it is through faith they are realized. Faith gives a feeling of confidence in that which is not visible or susceptible of positive proof." (Conference Report, Oct. 1962, p. 23)
Orson F. Whitney
"Perfect knowledge swallows up faith, and removes the opportunity for its exercise: while through the exercise of faith, made manifest by good works, we obtain the spiritual development for which we entered upon this our second estate." (Conference Report, Apr. 1911, p. 48)
Neal A. Maxwell
"It is to be understood, however, that hope is not the same as perfect knowledge. (See Alma 32:21.) Once we have actually seen, said Paul, it 'is not hope.' (Romans 8:24.) Thus hope, like faith, is not quite knowledge. Yet, being at the border of knowledge, we can see through 'glass darkly' enough of the future to affect how we live today." (Notwithstanding My Weakness, p. 42)
Spencer W. Kimball
"The exercising of faith is a willingness to accept without total regular proof and to move forward and perform works. 'Faith without works is dead' (James 2:26), and a dead faith will not lead one to move forward to adjust a life or to serve valiantly. A real faith pushes one forward to constructive and beneficial acts as though he knew in absoluteness. The Prophet Alma gave the near perfect address on faith in the thirty-second chapter of Alma. He gives us: '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.' (Alma 32:21.)
"Faith is the planting of seeds, the taking of steps. Faith is the child, and when nourished and fed, grows into maturity and becomes adult in deep assurance and perfect knowledge." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 72)
Alma 32:23 not only men but women also
"But not all angels must be male, and not all angelic visits are to men. As Alma said, God 'imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also.' (Alma 32:23.) Moreover, there may be a difference between 'ministering' and 'administering' angels. As stated by President Joseph F. Smith,
"When messengers are sent to minister to the inhabitants of this earth, they are not strangers, but from the ranks of our kindred, friends, and fellow-beings and fellow-servants. The ancient prophets who died were those who came to visit their fellow creatures upon the earth. . . . In like manner our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh." (Bruce D. Hafen, The Believing Heart, p. 101)
"These blessings (priesthood blessings) also include the right to behold visions and receive revelation, for the Lord 'imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also.' (Alma 32:23.) Also included are spiritual gifts such as faith, the testimony of Christ, wisdom, tongues, prophecy, and personal revelations. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks has explained, 'These gifts come by the power of the Holy Ghost and . . . are available to every member of the Church, male and female.'" (Bruce D. Hafen, Belonging Heart, p. 214)
Dallin H. Oaks
"There is a choice example of personal revelation in the twenty-fifth chapter of Genesis. When Rebekah was carrying the twins Jacob and Esau, 'the children struggled together within her.' The scripture says she was troubled at this and so 'she went to enquire of the Lord.' (Gen. 25:22.) Here we see a major principle of revelation. It usually comes in response to earnest prayer. 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' (Matt. 7:7.)
"In this instance the Lord spoke to Rebekah, saying: 'Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.' (Gen. 25:23.) Though she was the wife of a prophet and patriarch, Rebekah inquired of the Lord and the Lord instructed her directly on a matter of great personal concern to her, to the children she would bear, and to generations unborn. After recounting this incident, Elder Bruce R. McConkie concluded: 'The Lord gives revelation to women who pray to him in faith.' (New Era, May 1978, p. 36.)" (Ensign, Sept. 1986, p. 68)
Alma 32:27 awake and arouse your faculties
Gordon B. Hinckley
"Far more of us need to awake and arouse our faculties to an awareness of the great everlasting truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing. We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past, and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities.
We have work to do, you and I, so very much of it. Let us roll up our sleeves and get at it, with a new commitment, putting our trust in the Lord." (Church News, 04/08/95)
Alma 32:27 an experiment upon my words...exercise a particle of faith
Religion and science are often in opposite philosophical corners. Religious faith and scientific knowledge, at times, seem mutually exclusive. Yet, Alma wants to perform an experiment. Even before the scientific method was described, Alma suggests an experimental method to arrive at religious truth. Is Alma confused, or just way ahead of his time? Certainly, the Book of Mormon was written for our day and age. It was written for the time when all universally acceptable knowledge would come through the scientific method. On behalf of all the skeptic scientists of our day, Alma and Moroni (Moroni 10:3-5) provide a scientific pattern for learning spiritual truth.
Let's examine how Alma's experiment on the word follows the scientific method. The scientific method has 5 steps:
- Observe some aspect of the universe.
- Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.
- Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
- Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.
In order to develop real faith, these 5 steps can be applied.
- Observe some aspect of the universe. The observation is that there are individuals who claim to have faith in God which gives them purpose and joy.
- Invent a tentative description or hypothesis. The hypothesis is that the seed is good, or in other words, faith is a hope in something real and true which has the power to bring purpose and joy.
- Use the hypothesis to make predictions. Based on our hypothesis, we could predict that a particle of faith given place in the heart of the individual will enlarge the soul just as a seed sprouts and begins to grow. (v. 27-28)
- Test those predictions by experiments and modify the hypothesis accordingly. The hypothetical must be tried in the laboratory. The faith must be exercised; the seed must be planted and nourished. If the seed does grow as predicted, it is appropriate to conclude that it is a good seed (v. 32). Similarly, if the exercised faith does begin to enlarge the soul and enlighten the understanding, it must be a real spiritual phenomenon.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and observation. After the first particle of faith has been exercised, the process must continue in order to continue the spiritual development, now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? 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...And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit (vs. 36-7).
For a prophet who lived over 2000 years ago, Alma was given the light and knowledge to apply scientific techniques to the process of developing faith. Remarkable as this may be, the more important point is that Alma's instruction has been an invaluable source of wisdom which has changed the lives of thousands. By experimenting on the word, as Alma suggests, the spiritually-minded are given power through faith in Jesus Christ. This power is greater than the force of gravity, stronger than the pull of supermagnets, and more influential than the superconductor. Joseph Smith said, "Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation nor existence." (Lectures on Faith, 1:24 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 306)
Dean L. Larsen
"...millions of people have tried the experiment proposed by Alma as it pertains to the gospel that Joseph Smith restored. They and others in increasing numbers throughout the world today bear testimony to the good fruit that the experiment has borne. They have applied the Savior's sure test." (Church News, 06/29/96)
M. Russell Ballard
"...that is all anyone can ask you to do: to 'experiment' upon the words of Christ, to 'give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart' and to not 'resist the Spirit of the Lord.' It is my sincere belief that if you will do those things and ask Heavenly Father in prayer if they are true, He will tell you. That is His promise to you and to all of His children.
"...Please don't let this opportunity to receive personal revelation from God pass. Consider what I've written here. Weigh it carefully. Measure it against the things you believe-and the things you want to believe. Hold fast to all that you know to be true and add to that the fulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Take into account what you've felt as you've read these words. Then put it all to the ultimate test: Ask God. Listen for His answer with your heart, then respond to what you feel." (Our Search For Happiness, p. 123)
Neal A. Maxwell
"The Lord can commence His initial work with us while requiring surprisingly little from us. Alma explained: (quotes Alma 32:27). Imagine, only 'a particle of faith' and 'no more than [a] desire to believe' are actually enough to begin!" (Men and Women of Christ, p. 77-8)
Alma 32:28 it beginneth to be delicious to me
Neal A. Maxwell
"Alma asked of this process, 'O then, is not this real?' He likens reality to light, 'because it is discernible.' Alma even employs the notion of taste. Little wonder an enlightened Joseph Smith on one occasion said of a doctrine and teaching, 'This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. . . . You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given to me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more.' (Italics added.) Alma and Joseph preached the same thing as a result of their trying successfully the experiment of the gospel's goodness. (Alma 32:35.)" (Deposition of a Disciple, p. 65)
Alma 32:34 your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant
Neal A. Maxwell
"Subsequently, by our nurturing the seed carefully and by experiencing for ourselves, belief grows into confirmed faith, and faith grows into knowledge. Personal verification thereby occurs 'in that thing'-meaning, in the principle which is specifically being obeyed and applied. Other principles or doctrines await the same process of personal verification." (Gaining Spiritual Knowledge, p. 102)
Harold B. Lee
"The prophet Alma presents an excellent explanation of the progressive steps by which one proceeds in his search for truth from a desire to experiment upon the words of the Lord to the 'exercise [of] a particle of faith, yea, even . . . no more than [a] 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 the words of the Lord; then by spiritual processes within one's own soul his knowledge and testimony is made 'perfect in that thing, and [his] faith is dormant.... ' (Alma 32:27, 34.)
"As one reads this whole text, he finds clearly prescribed the way by which all may receive a testimony or 'knowledge by revelation' as defined above: first, desire; second, belief; third, faith; fourth, knowledge or testimony." (Stand Ye In Holy Places, p. 194)
Alma 32:35 O then, is not this real?
Neal A. Maxwell
"Alma describes the growth of faith and how faith can actually become knowledge with the accompanying intellectual and emotional experiences of the believer. After the understanding of the believer has been enlarged and his mind has been expanded, Alma asks, 'O then, is not this real?' It is real, he says, because it is 'discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good.' (Alma 32:35.)
"The truth of each divine doctrine is actually discernible by us in a system of certification and confirmation that justifies our saying, 'I know!'
"This precious perspective about reality that came from God through his prophets surely tells us about 'things as they really are and things as they really will be' (Jacob 4:13); it is the only kind of perspective that can rescue us from the myopic mortal view we have about the relative importance of things." (Things As They Really Are, p. 10)
Alma 32:37 Let us nourish it with great care
Joseph B. Wirthlin
"To soundly plant good seeds in one's heart requires prolonged, intense, unremitting pondering. It is a deep, ongoing, regenerating process that refines the soul." (Finding Peace in Our Lives, p. 212)
Henry B. Eyring
"It's not hard to see from these examples what you can do to touch someone's life with faith...It won't be enough for them simply to listen to the word of God. They must choose to keep commandments because they feel at least a beginning desire to know the will of our Heavenly Father and submit to it. That feeling of surrender is not likely to come unless they experience some feeling of being loved and some value in their being meek and lowly of heart.
"You can help with your example. If you love them because you feel God's love for them, they will feel that. If you are meek and humble because you feel your dependence on God, they will sense that, too.
"In addition to your example, you can teach the word of God to them in a way that is more likely to give them a desire to repent and to try to live it. They may think they have heard preaching enough. But they must do more than hear the word of God; they must plant it in their hearts by trying it. You can make that more likely if you talk with them about it in a way that helps them feel how much God loves them and how much they need God." (To Draw Closer to God, p. 186-7)
Alma 32:38 if ye neglect the tree...it will not get any root
Alma's parable is so filled with the spirit of prophecy and revelation that it touches on many other scriptural concepts. Nephi asks, 'now my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay...ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ...' (2 Ne 31:19-20). The spiritual novice has a responsibility to 'press forward', to continue to nourish the tree by tilling the soil. Without this diligent care, the soil can be dried by the temptations of the evil one, And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root it withered away (Mark 4:5-7). It should be remembered that the seed which fell on stony ground produced no fruit not because the seed was bad, or because the sower had not done his job, but because the soil was not yet prepared. Had someone removed the rocks, and tilled this stony ground, the result would have been fruit that brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred (Mark 4:8).
Alma 32:39 it is because your ground is barren
Henry B. Eyring
"Just as soil needs preparation for a seed, so does a human heart for the word of God to take root. Before he told the people to plant the seed, Alma told them that their hearts were prepared. They had been persecuted and cast out of their churches. Alma with his love and the circumstances of their lives, which led them to be humble, had prepared them. They were then ready to hear the word of God. If they chose to plant it in their hearts, the growth in their souls would surely follow, and that would increase their faith." (To Draw Closer to God, p. 186)
Alma 32:40 the fruit of the tree of life
Jeffrey R. Holland
"In this brilliant discourse, Alma moves the reader from a general commentary on faith in the seedlike word of God to a focused discourse on faith in Christ as the Word of God, grown to a fruit-bearing tree, a tree whose fruit is exactly that of Lehi's earlier perception of Christ's love, '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 [the gospel of Christ] even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.' (v. 42) Christ is the bread of life, the living water, the true vine. Christ is the seed, the tree, and the fruit of eternal life.
"But the profound and central Tree of Life imagery in this discourse is lost, or at least greatly diminished, if the reader does not follow it on into the next two chapters of the Book of Mormon.
"In Alma 33, Alma quoted Zenos (source for the allegory of the olive tree) and Zenock on the role of Christ in rewarding faith, then focused on the fully developed image of Christ as Tree of Life." (Christ and the New Covenant, p. 170)
Alma 32:41 nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow
Craig C. Christensen
Alma 32:41 by your faith with great diligence, and with patience...it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life
"...a faculty...may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 51)