Alma, the Younger, and Faith

Alma, the Younger, and the sons of Mosiah are rebuked by an angel

I have been reading a great book by H. Wallace Goddard called Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage which has really got me thinking about how I need to improve myself in order to make my marriage better.  The premise of the book is that there are basic principles of the gospel (such as repentance, obedience, and humility) which, if lived more completely, improve your marriage.  I like how the author focuses on what I can do and who I can become rather than on how I need to fix my wife.  Most of the self-help books on marriage that I am familiar with focus more on skills that you need in order to make a successful marriage but Dr. Goddard focuses on who we are becoming and our character.

In any case, I really enjoyed the insight that the author shared about faith and Alma, the Younger, and I wanted to share these thoughts with you.  alma, the Younger, is a character in The Book of Mormon who is the son of the prophet yet he goes about persecuting the church with his friends, the sons of Mosiah (Mosiah was the king):

“Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities.

And he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God; stealing away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension among the people; giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them.” (Mosiah 27:8-9)

As you can tell, Alma wasn’t a  very good guy.  His purpose was to actually destroy the church (see Mosiah 27:10)!  In fact, The Book of Mormon calls Alma and the sons of Mosiah “the very vilest of sinners” (Mosiah 28:4).  How familiar, do you suppose, was Alma was with our Savior, Jesus Christ?  In my opinion, he wasn’t very familiar at all. 

As Alma and his gang went about to destroy the church they had a very life-altering experience.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them and, as a result of this encounter, Alma felt the very anguish of soul that came as he recognized the extent of his sins (see Mosiah 27:11-17 ).  Alma recognized he was on a self-destroying path–in fact, when he later recounted this experience to his son, he described the feeling as being “racked with eternal torment” and that his soul “was harrowed up to the greatest degree” (see Alma 36:8-16).

 So what changed?  How did Alma go from one of the vilest of sinners to a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, a remarkable missionary, and a strong leader of the church?  The simple answer is that he exercised faith in Jesus Christ.  as we have already discussed, Alma wasn’t very familiar with our Savior.  He was racked with torment and was unable to escape on his own accord.  In that moment he remembered hearing his father teach about this Jesus,

“And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.” (Alma 36:17-18)

Alma, not knowing who Jesus Christ was, only having heard his father teach about him, but being racked with a torment that he was unable to change himself, called out and put his whole trust in our Savior.  This is a point that, I believe, we all have to reach in our lives: where we have done all that we are able and must rely upon our Savior and the Atonement for deliverance and assistance.  Alma literally was delivered only after he completely trusted in Jesus Christ to help him.  We can also receive the help of our Savior after we do all that we can (see 2 Nephi 25:23), when the burden is heavy or the hour is late.  When we turn wholly and completely to our Redeemer for assistance, He is mighty to help us!

Then what happened to Alma after he exercised his faith in Jesus Christ?  He experienced inexpressible joy:

“And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” (Alma 36:20-21)

Alma had experienced the depths of sorrow when he recognized his destruction and also the heights of joy when he turned to our Savior, in faith.  Have you felt this type of joy?  If not, I know that you can!  This is the change of heart that Alma later referred to when he preached among the Nephites (see Alma 5:14).  How do we come to feel this inexpressible joy?  Through our exercise of faith in Jesus Christ!  This isn’t the logical sort of faith where reason and logic lead you to believe that Jesus Christ is able to redeem us in some sort of theoretical way.  This is actually believing that Christ works on behalf of you, not only to help you with your sins but to help you with your pains, sicknesses, and sorrows (see Alma 7:11-12) and to help you overcome your weaknesses (see Ether 12:27).

I know that we can enjoy the blessings of the Atonement more fully in our lives and I am grateful for the gift of our Savior.  I know that He is powerful to save and that He helps me to do and become better!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy my post on Faith, Hope, and Charity or my post on Faith



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