Alma 5:6 have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers?
Alma's careful remembrance of the captivity of the Nephites goes far beyond being a good student of history. Alma was specifically instructed to remember the great way in which the Lord preserved his father's small band of saints and the people of Limhi. The angel who had appeared to Alma to correct him from his evil ways emphatically stated, remember how great things he has done for them (thy fathers); for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more (Mosiah 27:16).
This charge from the angel had served Alma well and should do the same for the people of Zarahemla. In fact, every student of the gospel should remember the mercy of the Lord to those who have been in captivity. One of the most quoted events in religious history is the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. The message of these many captivities is clear. If the people will trust in the Lord, he will deliver them from their afflictions and visit them in their trials. He will be the power by which they are freed from bondage, both physically and spiritually.
Neal A. Maxwell
"Remembering and counting our many blessings can humble us by reminding us of all the reasons we have to be thankful to God-not just today's reasons, but those relating to all our yesterdays...If we fail to stir remembrance of blessings received, the human tendency is to say, in effect, whether to one's God or to one's fellows, 'What have you done for me lately?' Indeed, prophets of the Lord have asked directly whether their people had 'sufficiently retained in remembrance' His deliverances and blessings (Alma 5:6-7). It is best to cultivate our 'remembering' capacity now and to be guided accordingly, since at judgment day we will have 'perfect remembrance' (Alma 5:18). The important theme of remembrance occurs in one form or another in the Old Testament well over two hundred times. It appears in the Book of Mormon dozens of times, too. This parallelism is to be expected, since the Israelites in Palestine observed the law of Moses and the Nephites kept it 'strictly' for many years (see Mosiah 13:30; Alma 30:3). Wherever the gospel is, there too is the call to remembrance." (A Wonderful Flood of Light, p. 51)
Alma 5:7 he changed their hearts
The hard-hearted cannot feel the things of the Spirit because the barrier of personal pride does not allow the Spirit in. The scriptures often teach of the phenomenon of the heart being softened, but for most, it takes the exercise of considerable humility before one's heart can even be softened. When the scripture says the Lord changed their hearts, this implies the greatest of all spiritual transformations. All desires that were evil are replaced for righteous ones. All hatred is replaced by charity, and all things carnal are discarded for their spiritual counterpart. They have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually (Mosiah 5:2). This mighty transformation can come about only when the individual exercises faith in the redeeming power of Christ, your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters (Mosiah 5:7, italics added).
Ezra Taft Benson
"Can human hearts be changed? Why of course! It happens every day in the great missionary work of the Church. It is one of the most widespread of Christ's modern miracles. If it hasn't happened to you - it should.
"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp. 77-78.)
Howard W. Hunter
"This is the purpose of teaching. This is the reason we labor so hard, seek the Spirit, and prepare our minds with good things as the Lord has commanded, that we might be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in changing the heart of an individual. Our aim is to plant in the hearts of the children the desire to be good, the desire to be righteous, the desire to keep the commandments of the Lord, the desire to walk in humility before him. If we can be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in bringing to pass this mighty change in the hearts of the youth of Zion, then we have accomplished the great miracle of a teacher. And truly it is a miracle. We do not understand how the Lord changes the hearts of men, but he does. Through a teacher, he can change the hearts of children almost overnight." (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 204)
Ezra Taft Benson
"This is what is meant by partaking of the 'power of God.' You teachers-you who are to teach the power of this gospel-I would ask you, 'have [you] spiritually been born of God? Have [you] received his image in your countenances? Have [you] experienced this mighty change in your hearts?' (Alma 5: 14.)
"A measure of this change of heart is what happens to the motives and desires of the gospel teacher. Enos testified that he 'began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren.' (Enos 9.) Alma, who also experienced this mighty change, said: 'I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste' (Alma 36:24).
"May your motives be likewise as pure. May the welfare of your students be the primary motive to your teaching. May you be converted so you can strengthen your students." (Pamphlet: "The Gospel Teacher and His Message", p. 4)
Alma 5:12 there was a mighty change wrought in his heart
Alma the younger is referring to the conversion of his father. Alma the elder doesn't tell us much about the mighty change which transformed him from a wicked priest of Noah to the sole supporter and convert of Abinadi. The record states that after he was thrown off the court, he hid himself for many days [and] did write all the words which Abinadi had spoken (Mosiah 17:4). And Alma...repented of his sins and iniquities (Mosiah 18:1). This must have been the time of his personal Gesthemane in which he suffered until he had his mighty change of heart.
Alma 5:13 a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts
Joseph F. Smith
"What a glorious condition was this! a condition in which the Lord God Omnipotent, by the power of His Spirit, had wrought a mighty change in the hearts of that people, that they no longer had any desire to do evil, but were filled only with a fervent desire to do that which was good. This was indeed a great change, and yet it is precisely that change that comes today to every son and daughter of God who repents of his or her sins, who humble themselves before the Lord, and who seek forgiveness and remission of sin by baptism by immersion, by one having authority to administer this sacred ordinance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For it is this new birth that was spoken of by Christ to Nicodemus as absolutely essential that men might see the Kingdom of God, and without which no man could enter into the Kingdom. Each of us can remember, perhaps, the change that came into our hearts when we were baptized for the remission of our sins...The feeling that came upon me was that of pure peace, or love and of light. I felt in my soul that if I had sinned-and surely I was not without sin-that it had been forgiven me; that I was indeed cleansed from sin; my heart was touched and I felt that I would not injure the smallest insect beneath my feet. I felt as though I wanted to do good everywhere to everybody and to everything. I felt a newness of life, a newness of desire to do that which was right. There was not one particle of desire for evil left in my soul. I was but a little boy, it is true, when I was baptized; but this was the influence that came upon me, and I know that it was from God, and was and ever has been a living witness to me of my acceptance of the Lord." (Conference Reports, Apr. 1898, p. 65)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Disciples are to make for themselves 'a new heart' by undergoing a 'mighty change' of heart (Ezekiel 18:31; Alma 5:12-14). Yet we cannot make such 'a new heart' while nursing old grievances. Just as civil wars lend themselves to the passionate preservation of ancient grievances, so civil wars within the individual soul-between the natural and the potential man-keep alive old slights and perceived injustices, except in the meek." (Meek and Lowly, p. 55)
Alma 5:14 have ye spiritually been born of God?
See commentary for Mosiah 5:2 and Mosiah 27:25.
Ezra Taft Benson
"Would not the progress of the Church increase dramatically today with an increasing number of those who are spiritually reborn? Can you imagine what would happen in our homes? Can you imagine what would happen with an increasing number of copies of the Book of Mormon in the hands of an increasing number of missionaries who know how to use it and who have been born of God? When this happens, we will get the bounteous harvest of souls that the Lord promised. It was the 'born of God' Alma who as a missionary was so able to impart the word that many others were also born of God. (See Alma 36:23-26.)" (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 79)
George Q. Cannon
"You brethren and sisters, who embraced this Gospel in other lands, where did you first feel this love, and how did it come to you? You doubtless can recall the time when a new love took possession of your heart, when feelings you never had known before were aroused in your hearts, and you felt that you had been born again. Your hearts were changed, and you became new men and new women. When did this occur? All of you who received the Gospel in other lands can turn your minds back to the day you heard the Gospel declared by a servant of God for the first time, and how new sensations took possession of you. It seemed as though a veil of darkness had been taken from your minds, so that you could perceive things in a new light. The Bible, with which you had been so familiar from your youth up, appeared in a new light. You understood its contents as you never had understood them before. Then you gave heed to the testimony of the servants of God and their exhortations to repent of your sins, to be baptized for the remission of them, and receive the Holy Ghost, and when you did this, you felt that you had indeed become new creatures. Your hearts were touched, your feelings were aroused, and you became new men and women in Christ Jesus. You were literally born again by the baptism of the water and of the Holy Ghost. A love then entered into your heart for everything that proceeded from God such as you had never known...
"Was not this the time when this love of which I have spoken was begotten in your hearts? I think if you were to have the opportunity today of testifying, you would say, 'Yes, that was the time. It was when I heard the Gospel and obeyed it. It was when I was baptized by a servant of God and I received the Spirit of God through the laying on of hands. It was then that my heart was changed, and I felt that I was born again--born of God, and that a new love had been aroused in my heart which changed my whole being and all my desires.'" (Collected Discourses, Vol.5, George Q. Cannon, August 22, 1897)
Alma 5:14 Have ye received his image in your countenances?
Christianity has claimed that part of being saved is to have the Lord himself to dwell in your heart. Joseph Smith clearly taught that this doctrine is false, the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man's heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false (DC 130:3). Therefore, we may not be able to have the Lord dwell in our hearts, but we certainly can receive his image in our countenances. This phrase may mean many things to many people but here are a few ideas. To receive his image in our countenance is a) to radiate the same kind of light and truth that his being radiates, b) to be such an example to others that they see the righteousness of God in our visage, c) to have all darkness turned to light by having an eye single to his glory, d) to look like the Lord, not in facial appearances, but in attitude and actions, e) to worthily represent the Lord, having taken upon ourselves his holy name at baptism.
"One measure of the new birth is the appearance of the new man. Paul described the process of salvation as obtaining 'the mind of Christ' (1 Corinthians 2:16); that is, learning to think as Christ thinks, believe as he believes, feel as he feels, and do as he would do. Peter described the same thing as partaking of 'the divine nature' (2 Peter 1:4), meaning that we must acquire the attributes of godliness. Joseph Smith explained: 'The Savior most clearly show[ed] unto us the nature of salvation, and what he proposed unto the human family when he proposed to save them- that he proposed to make them like unto himself, and he was like the Father, the great prototype of all saved beings; and for any portion of the human family to be assimilated into their likeness is to be saved; and to be unlike them is to be destroyed; and on this hinge turns the door of salvation' (Lectures on Faith 7:16). As a child learns by imitating and emulating parents and those older than himself, so we learn godliness by imitating others who have set an example in righteousness, especially Jesus Christ. Alma appropriately describes this process of becoming Christlike as receiving the image of Christ in our countenances." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 30)
Alma 5:14-20 Why all the questions?
Alma uses an interesting technique in this sermon. He asks no less than 40 questions in this chapter, and most of them are rhetorical. The effect of these questions is to make the listener examine himself, to remind him of the many possible ways in which he may be in need of correction. And so we see this pattern typified by the following, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? Who can answer yes to a question like this? Any honest individual must say, "no, I am in need of repentance," and this is precisely the response that Alma is looking for. Unless the listener completely ignores the question, he or she is bound to be introspective and humbled by the perspective given by Alma's well worded questions. If a picture paints a thousand words, then Alma teaches us that a question stirs a thousand feelings that a statement would otherwise leave dormant.
Ezra Taft Benson
"We all need to take a careful inventory of our performance and also the performance of those over whom we preside to be sure that we are teaching the 'great plan of the Eternal God' to the Saints. Are we accepting and teaching what the revelations tell us about the Creation, Adam and the fall of man, and redemption from that fall through the atonement of Christ? Do we frequently review the crucial questions which Alma asks the members of the Church in the fifth chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon? Do we understand and are we effective in teaching and preaching the Atonement? What personal meaning does the Lord's suffering in Gethsemane and on Calvary have for each of us? What does redemption from the Fall mean to us? In the words of Alma, do we 'sing the song of redeeming love' (Alma 5:26)?" (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 28)
Marion G. Romney
"I say, no one with the spirit of the Book of Mormon upon him can honestly answer to himself these soul-searching questions without resolving to so live that he can answer them in the affirmative on that great day to which each of us shall come." (Conference Report, Oct. 1970, p. 30)
Neal A. Maxwell
"The Lord has given us all the vital answers we need in order to be saved and to become men and women of Christ; in fact, 'enough and to spare.' But His questions are also revealing, as are the questions emanating from His prophets....Why not, therefore, take full advantage of the answers contained in the tutoring questions and their emerging and instructive one-liners from the Lord? Though asked of others, these questions are full of generic insights and needed directions for us as well as for the actual addressees.
"The questions asked by the Lord also tell us much about the questioner and His substance and style, which we are to emulate. Thus these interrogatories are placed in the holy scriptures to inspire us, to encourage us, and to be pondered by us." (Men and Women of Christ, pp. 110-12)
Alma 5:18 a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness
Alma really lays the guilt on in this verse, and appropriately so. While the wicked go on in life violating the laws of God, they think little of what they are doing. That will change on the great day of judgment. All of a sudden, all of us, wicked or not, will be forced to reckon with ourselves and our own rebellion. The most frightening thing of all is that we will no longer be able to hide behind the protective bliss of a forgetful memory. Rather, every petty act, idle word, and indecent thought will be flooded into our otherwise forgetful minds only to pain us with the reality of our own unworthiness.
Sterling W. Sill
"That calls for an important ability (to imagine Judgment Day), and the best way to avoid possible tragedy is to focus our imagination upon [Judgment] Day before we actually get there. We can be absolutely certain that we will all want to be a faithful, devoted, hard-working, enthusiastic full tithe-paying member of God's kingdom when we stand before the judgment bar. But we must get the impulse to faithfulness ahead of time; as someone has said that hell is 'truth seen too late.'" (Conference Report, Apr. 1964, p. 16)
Neal A. Maxwell
"At the judgment we will not only have the Book of Mormon's prophesied 'bright recollection' and 'perfect remembrance' of our misdeeds (see Alma 5:18; 11:43). The joyous things will be preserved too-we shall know 'even as we know now' (Alma 11:43; see also D&C 93:33). Among the 'all things [that] shall be restored' (Alma 40:23) will be memory, including eventually the memory of premortal events and conditions. What a flood of feeling and fact will come to us when, at a time a loving God deems wise, this faculty is restored! Surely it will increase our gratefulness for God's long-suffering and for Jesus' atonement! Hence one of the great blessings of immortality and eternal life will be the joy of our being connected again with the memories of both the first and the second estates." (Men and Women of Christ, p. 132)
Alma 5:21-25 there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white
Bruce R. McConkie
"We clean our garments by washing them in water. Filth, dirt, germs, odors, and whatever is unclean and offensive is thus removed; our wearing apparel becomes clean and spotless. A saved person is one whose soul is clean and spotless, one who is free from the filth and corruption of sin; and the prophetic way of describing such a person is to say that his garments are clean. Since the only way a human soul can be cleansed and perfected is through the atonement of Christ, it follows that the symbolic way of describing this process is to say that such a one has washed his garments in the blood of the Lamb, as we have here learned Nephi and Alma did." (The Promised Messiah, p. 251)
The stain of blood is not easy to clean. Yet, the Savior's blood is able to cleanse that which we have spilt through sin, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isa 1:18). Without the power of his redemption, all of us would stand before the bar of God, having our garments stained with blood; yet the Savior would still wear a glorious, white robe. Through the power of his redemption, this pattern is reversed. On Judgment Day, the righteous are arrayed in white robes (Rev 7:13), while the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat (DC 133:48). Why are his garments red? They will be red to represent the day of vengeance when the wicked are justly destroyed because they would not have their garments washed white through the blood of his atoning sacrifice, their blood have I sprinkled upon my garments, and stained all my raiment; for this was the day of vengeance which was in mine heart (DC 133:51).
Joseph Fielding McConkie comments on how the endowment symbolizes the same process:
"This endowment and its blessings of power, authority, and protection were, we are told, also enjoyed by 'Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham [they being representatives of the principle], and all to whom the Priesthood was [has been] revealed' (Abraham, Facsimile 2, figure 3). As the gospel is everlasting, so are its ordinances, and as we have previously seen, those who stand in the presence of the Lord (symbolically the temple) must be properly clothed, and hence have put upon them the garment of the priesthood and the robes of righteousness. This is as much a part of the endowment and temple ritual today as it ever was in ages past. Alma testified that none could enter the kingdom of heaven except they be so clothed and their garments be washed white through the blood of Christ. Of the wicked whose garments would be stained with sin he asked, 'Do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white?' (Alma 5:21-24.)" (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Gospel Symbolism, pp. 202-3)
Alma 5:26 if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
My beloved brothers and sisters, my dear friends, does it not fill our hearts and minds with wonder and awe to contemplate the great plan of happiness our Heavenly Father has prepared for us? Does it not fill us with unspeakable joy to know of the glorious future that is prepared for all who wait upon the Lord?
Alma 5:28 Behold, are ye stripped of pride?
It may not be possible to feel completely stripped of pride. Henry Erying said, "You see, it's hard to feel that you are sufficiently humble. If you did, you might not be." (To Draw Closer to God, p. 57) Our challenge is to continue stripping off the shackles of pride which characterize our society. Moroni saw our day in vision. The first thing he had to say about it was that we walk in the pride of our hearts, behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities (Mormon 8:35-36).
Neal A. Maxwell
"Pride keeps repentance from even starting or continuing. Some fail because they are more concerned with the preservation of their public image than with having Christ's image in their countenances! (Alma 5:14.) Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow. (Ensign, November 1991, p. 31.)
"Just as meekness is in all our virtues, so is pride in all our sins." (Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, by Cory Maxwell, p. 266)
Boyd K. Packer
"Pride is the most deadly spiritual virus." (Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, p. 52)
Dallin H. Oaks
"One kind of pride condemned in the scriptures is synonymous with self-satisfaction. The pride of self-satisfaction is self-righteous. Self-righteousness is 'a condition of soul that assumes and creates an air-tight justification for everything you do simply because you do it' (Norman Podhoretz, "Candidates' Morality Is Not Private," Insight, June 8, 1987, p. 64).
"But what I call the pride of self-satisfaction goes deeper than mere self-justification. Self-satisfaction is the opposite of humility. A person who has the pride of self-satisfaction cannot repent, because he recognizes no shortcomings. He cannot be taught, because he recognizes no master. He cannot be helped, because he recognizes no resource greater than his own...
"The second type of pride that is condemned in the scriptures is what I have chosen to call the pride of comparison...Materialism is an attitude toward things. In contrast, the pride of comparison is an attitude toward people.
"...C. S. Lewis described the pride of comparison when he said: Pride is essentially competitive. . . . Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. . . . It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Lewis called pride 'the utmost evil' and 'the complete anti-God state of mind,' because this kind of comparison leads men to enmity and oppression and every other kind of evil. This insightful Christian saw that every person should look up to God as 'immeasurably superior' to him or her. He continued: Unless you Know God as that--and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison--you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.' (Mere Christianity [New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1960], pp. 109-11.)" (Pure In Heart, pp. 95-6)
Ezra Taft Benson
"Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right. It looks sideways to man and argues who is right. Pride is manifest in the spirit of contention." (Ensign, May 1986, p. 6)
Spencer W. Kimball
"When one becomes conscious of his great humility, he has already lost it. When one begins boasting of his humility, it has already become pride-the antithesis of humility... Somebody asked me this morning, 'How do you keep humble? Sometimes I am humble and sometimes I am unhumble.' I think there is a formula that will never fail. First, you evaluate yourself...I would be nothing without the Lord. My breath, my brains, my hearing, my sight, my locomotion, my everything depends upon the Lord. That is the first step and then we pray, and pray often, and we will not get up from our knees until we have communicated. The line may be down; we may have let it fall to pieces, but I will not get up from my knees until I have established communication-if it is twenty minutes, if it is all night like Enos...If it takes all day long, you stay on your knees until your unhumbleness has dissipated, until you feel the humble spirit and realize, 'I could die this minute if it were not for the Lord's good grace. I am dependent upon him-totally dependent upon him,' and then you read the scriptures." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 233-234 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 256)
Alma 5:29 is there one among you who is not stripped of envy?
Neal A. Maxwell
"Let us not be drawn off the straight and narrow path of service, as have some new converts to the religion of selfishness, by misplaced envy of those traveling in other directions whose happiness is the mock happiness of selfish lifestyles. How ironic it is to envy someone who has a pretty figure but who is a spiritual cripple. The fleeing and transitory 'advantages' such individuals seem to have dissolve even as the multitude drools over them. Sophisticated selfishness is still selfishness, even when cleverness tries to pose as substance." (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, p. 60)
Thomas S. Monson
"Can we not appreciate that our very business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves? To break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our todays, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to give as we have never given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever-this is the true idea: to get ahead of ourselves." (Pathways to Perfection¸ p. 81)
Alma 5:34 ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely
This doctrine is reminiscent of the ministry of the Savior in two instances. First, in the interaction between him and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. To her the Savior said, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water...whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst (Jn 4:10-14). The metaphor of spiritual bread and water given in endless supply by the Savior is particularly appealing for those societies in which the pursuit of physical food and drink is a perennial concern.
Second, the Savior repeated this doctrine when he challenged those Jews who were following him because he fed them the loaves and the fishes. He did not want to be their king because of his ability to provide for physical food. Therefore, he emphasized the spiritual food which he had to give saying, I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world...Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you (Jn 6:51-3). Remarkably, the Lord tells us that the only requirement needed to partake so freely of the bread and water of life is to simply, Come unto me.
Alma 5:37 ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world
Neal A. Maxwell
"This was all Brigham Young could preach in his last year: 'fast into idolatry, drifting into the spirit of the world and into pride and vanity...We wish the wealth of things of the world; we think about them morning, noon and night; they are first in our minds when we awake in the morning, and the last thing before we go to sleep at night...We have gone just as far as we can be permitted to go in the road on which we are now traveling. One man has his eye on a gold mine, another is for a silver mine, another is for marketing his flour or his wheat, another for selling his cattle, another to raise cattle, another to get a farm, or building here and there, and trading and trafficking with each other, just like Babylon. . . . Babylon is here, and we are following in the footsteps of the inhabitants of the earth, who are in a perfect sea of confusion. Do you know this? You ought to, for there are none of you but what see it daily. . . . The Latter-day Saints [are] trying to take advantage of their brethren. There are Elders in this Church who would take the widow's last cow, for five dollars, and then kneel down and thank God for the fine bargain they had made.' This is the great voice of the economy of Babylon. It does not renounce its religious pretensions for a minute. Many in it think they are identical with a pious life." (Things As They Really Are, p. 334)
Alma 5:40 whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil
At first glance, this appears to be a simple enough doctrine. Yet the implications of its application are almost endless. There are so many things in life which are neither obviously from God nor obviously from Satan. How are we to judge all these? Alma gives us a secret of universal application. Do we have to shun the truth found in Buddhism and Confucianism because they are different from us? Does an activity, book, or institution have to be church sponsored to be worthwhile? Must we limit ourselves to the causes which are obviously associated with the Lord's kingdom on earth, or can we be anxiously engaged in a variety of settings? We can look almost everywhere to see the influence of God in the world. As Moroni said, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God (Moroni 7:16). The converse is also true and is just as helpful in discerning the works of Satan.
Alma 5:45-6 how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
Ezra Taft Benson
"Now, after we teach the great plan of the Eternal God, we must personally bear our testimonies of its truthfulness. Alma, after giving a great message to the Saints about being born again and the need for them to experience a 'mighty change' in their hearts, sealed his teachings with his testimony in these words...(quoting Alma 5:45-46.)." (Conference Report, Apr. 1987, pp. 84-85)
Alma 5:46 Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself
Should we be surprised at the strength of Alma's testimony? Certainly, he paid the price to obtain such a strong witness, for he had fasted and prayed for many days. Oftentimes, we have a tendency to whine saying, "why did the Lord tell him what to do but not me?" Or, "why was this prophet or that privileged to see what he saw, and I have never even seen a miracle?" The attitude is reminiscent of the following story. After a concert in which a virtuoso pianist had displayed his great talent, a member of the audience approached him saying, "I would give half my life to play the piano like you do." The pianist responded, "That's precisely what I did." Our tendency is to want the reward without paying the price.
The same principle applies to the things of the Spirit. Enos would never have received his remission of sins without first wrestling before God (Enos 1:2). Alma would never have had such a strong testimony without fasting and praying for many days. And the sons of Mosiah would never have been so strong in the knowledge of the truth if they had not searched the scriptures diligently (Alma 17:2).
Alma 5:49 this is the order after which I am called
The order after which Alma was called is the Melchizedek priesthood, or the Holy Priesthood, after the Order after the Son of God (DC 107:3).
Alma 5:50 the King of heaven shall very soon shine forth
Alma states that the King will come very soon. Christ is born 83 years later. Apparently, what is "very soon" to the Lord is not always "very soon" to us. It is a matter of perspective, but the implications are important. The latter-day revelation is filled with warnings about the Second Coming, Behold, I come quickly (DC 35:27), the hour is nigh and the day soon at hand (DC 29:9), For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro (DC 88:87). All of these revelations were given over 165 years ago. Yet we are still awaiting the Lord's Second Advent. Alma's prophecy gives us some perspective about how to interpret the timetable of the Lord.
Alma 5:53 ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel
"I've always been taken up with costly apparel. It's so much in the Book of Mormon, and I've read it since I was a little kid. I loathe the costly apparel. I get all my duds at Deseret-all this outfit comes from Deseret Industries-except that I have kids who make me wear other things occasionally. They'd sooner be found dead in a back lot than shopping at Deseret Industries. I don't know why. The only thing wrong with these is the linings sometimes fall out, and the zippers misbehave. But why not, when you get this for four bucks and the pants for three? You can't beat it. But you're not supposed to wear 'costly apparel and [set] your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches.' It summarizes all that here. Here we are again on this theme." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Lecture 47, p. 293)
Alma 5:57 be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things
The Law of Moses taught the Israelites not to touch that which was physically unclean. Therefore, they were forbidden to touch a dead body whether human or animal without becoming "unclean." (Lev 5:2-3, Num 19:11) This doctrine was to teach them the difference between the clean and unclean objects of the physical world. The object was to serve as a metaphor for spiritual cleanliness, to remind them not to touch that which is spiritually unclean.
The scriptures also use the phrase, Go ye out from Babylon (DC 133:5). The Sunday School answer is that were are to be "in the world but not of the world." All of these concepts deal with the same subject. That is that the Lord wants us to be separate from the world and its filthiness. Paul taught almost the identical concept to the Corinthians, Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing (2 Cor 6:17).