K.C. and Michelle Woolf

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Book of Mormon Lesson 26

Book of Mormon Lesson 26
“Converted unto the Lord”

I. Introduction
A. Summary of what has happened so far.
1. The sons of Mosiah went to preach to gospel to the Lamanites. Ammon had success with the people of King Lamoni.
2. Aaron taught King Lamoni’s father and converted him.
3. Read Alma 23:1-3. How much influence can one leader have on the gospel spreading?
4. Read Alma 23:5-6. Why do you think these people were so converted that none of them fell away? Is this true with all converts? How does this compare to our retention rates today.
B. They call themselves the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Read Alma 23:16-17. I always thought this was a weird name. It is long. It sounds like the are in opposition to Nephi and Lehi.
1. Daniel H. Ludlow said: “The Lamanites converted by the four sons of Mosiah and their missionary companions took upon themselves the name of ‘Anti-Nephi-Lehies.’ The ‘Nephi-Lehi’ part of the title probably had reference to the lands of Nephi and Lehi (or the people then living in those lands) rather than to the descendants of Nephi or Lehi. However, Dr. Hugh Nibley has found a Semitic and common Indo-European root corresponding to anti that means ‘in the face of’ or ‘facing,’ as of one facing a mirror, and by extension either ‘one who opposes’ or ‘one who imitates.’ Thus the term “Anti-Nephi-Lehies’ might refer to those who imitate the teachings of the descendants of Nephi and Lehi.”

II. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies refuse to take up arms against their enemies.
B. Read Alma 24:1-2. We see that is the Amalekites and Amulonites - apostates from the Nephites, who stirred the people up in anger against the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.
C. Read Alma 24:6.
1. There are many people in the world who criticize the Book of Mormon. I can understand people having trouble accepting the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. After all, this involves believing an angel came down to Joseph Smith and gave him some golden plates and that he miraculously was able to translate them from an unknown language to English. But what I have never been able to understand is how people can say that there is something inherently evil about the Book of Mormon. I have read the Book of Mormon probably a dozen times and can’t think of anywhere where it encourages us to do anything that any logical person would think was wicked. It teaches honesty, charity, faith, and chastity. The only thing I can see that some people might interpret as wrong is its apparent justification of violence. At the beginning of the BoM we see Nephi killing Laban. We see the Nephites continually going to war with the Lamanites to defend themselves. We see Captain Moroni make the Title of Liberty and justify going to war to defend their family and their faith. We even see Mormon leading his people in war even when he knows his people are wicked. If you were a strict pacifist like a Jehovah’s Witness, an Amish, or just a hippy, you might find a problem with this. But then right in the middle of all of this justification of war we have the example of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. They were practicing passive resistance thousands of years before Ghandi. What made their case different? This always seemed strange to me. It almost seemed immoral not to not stand up and defend your friends and family when they are being attacked. Should we have just laid down and taken it when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor or on September 11th? What lesson should we learn from the Anti-Nephi-Lehies?
D. The king of the Lamanites spoke to his people - Read Alma 24:7-11.
1. This is the only place in the scriptures that I can think of where it says that people were forgiven for murder.
2. Read Alma 24:12-15.
3. How hard do you think it is to be forgiven for taking an innocent life?
a. My uncle met a man on his mission who desperately wanted to join the church, but when he was interviewed for baptism they said, "nope." It went to the stake president and eventually all the way to the First Presidency and he still could not be baptized. It turned out he had once been an assasin for the mafia. He continued to go to church and hoped and prayed that someday he would be allowed to join the church.
4. The Anti Nephi Lehies had in some way been guilty of murder and they looked back on this sin with abhorrence. They understood that Christ must have made a huge intervention to allow them to be forgiven of this great sin. They would rather lay their lives down then take the chance of being guily of murder again. It is not wrong in general to defend yourself against violence, but the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were a special case.
E. Read Alma 24:16-18. What does it show that they were willing to bury their weapons rather than just say they wouldn’t take them up again? When we repent do we sometimes leave a back door open for possibly going back someday, or do we cut all ties with our sins?
1. If someone has a problem with internet pornography they may not be able to even have a computor in their house.
2. Alcoholics often need to stay away from all alcohol and even people they used to drink with.
3. What ever our previous sins or weaknesses, we need to do everything we can to avoid returning to them - we need to bury them.

F. The Lamanites come and fall upon the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and kill 1005 of them. It then says that the Lamanites hearts were “swollen” and they repented and stopped killing them. And because of this more people joined the church than were killed.
G. Read Alma 24:29-30. Why is it that people who have once had the gospel and fallen away because the most hardened enemies of the church? Contrast this with the people of Ammon.
1. When a member of the Church in Illinois promised to never cause the Church any harm if he were to leave it, the Prophet Joseph Smith replied: “You don’t know what you would do...Before you joined the Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached good and evil were set before you inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.
2. Thus, it is rare for people to be able to leave the church and leave it alone.

III. Ammon rejoices in his missionary success.
A. Read Alma 26:1-9. Can you think of any greater joy than to be an instrument in the hand of the Lord in bringing people to the knowledge of the gospel and seeing their lives completely change? That is why people say their missions were the best 2 years of their lives. If this brings such great joy, why do we avoid sharing the gospel so much? Fear?
B. Read Alma 26:10-12.
C. The Sons of Mosiah suggest that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies come back to Zarahemla with them to avoid being slaughtered by the Lamanites lead by the Amalekites. On their way back they meet up with Alma and they share missionary stories. Ammon was so happy that he fell to the earth again. (He had the worst case of cataplexy.) The Anti-Nephi-Lehies were given the land of Jershon and the Nephites swore to defend them.

IV. Alma’s psalm
A. Read Alma 29:1-3.
1. Was Alma’s desire a righteous one? If so, why does he say he sinned in his wish? We should be content with what God has given us. Also, many of us would say “Oh that I were and angel,” but don’t do our home teaching. We would say, “Oh that I were and angel” but don’t even go next door to share the gospel with our neighbor. We would say, “Oh that I were and angel” but we don’t have family home evening or read the scriptures with our own family.
B. Read Alma 29:4-7.
C. Read Alma 29:14-16. Are we happy when we see others have success? We should be.
1. My first area on my mission was a town called Rio Grande City, right on the border of Mexico and Texas. I spent 4 months in Rio Grande City and I knocked on every single door in that whole town and did not have one baptism. My last month there a greeny came and was being trained by our district leader. He had been there 2 weeks and they found a golden family and he had his first baptism. I was happy that they found these people, but I can’t say that my joy was so great that “my soul was carried away, even to the separation from my body.” I had to repent of that. We always have to be careful not to feel envious of others when it comes to our work in the church.

V. Summary - Today we have learned.
A. How a truly converted person acts - like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies - willing to die rather than risk returning to their sins.
B. We admire the Anti-Nephi-Lehies for their commitment and their passivism, but it might not be something we should generalize for everyone.
C. People who have once had the gospel but then reject it are worse off than if they had never received it.
D. Ammon and Alma agree that sharing the gospel with others brings great joy.

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