Sunday School Lesson 25

June 29, 2004 | 5 comments
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Lesson 25: Alma 17-22

Though this week’s lesson contains sermons by prophets, they aren’t its focus. Instead, it is primarily an account of part of the mission of the sons of Mosiah, particularly the missions of Ammon and, to a lesser degree, Aaron. This account makes a good story, with its tale of Ammon’s service to Lamoni and his battle with those who wanted to steal Lamoni’s sheep. We often use that story as an illustration of things such as faithful service or doing missionary work by service. Are those the reasons that the story of Ammon and Lamoni is included in the Book of Mormon? How does this story as a whole (not only the story of Ammon, but also that of Aaron and the other sons of Mosiah) fit in the context of the Book of Mormon and what are that book’s purposes for the story? How do the missionary approaches of Ammon and Aaron compare and contrast?

17:3: What does this verse suggest about what it means to preach “with power and authority of God”?

17:11: As I understand it, here the Lord tells us that to be an instrument in God’s hand is (1) to establish his word and (2) to suffer patiently, and it says that to suffer patiently is to be a good example “in Christ.” What does it mean to establish the word of God? Why “establish” rather than “teach”? Why does being an instrument require patient suffering? What does “patient suffering in Christ” or “good example in Christ” mean? How would that differ from mere patient suffering or good example?

17:18: This verse suggests that administering to someone and imparting the word of God to them mean the same. Why do you think the verse uses the verb “administer” rather than “minister”? Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives this definition of “administer”: “to contribute; to bring aid or supplies; to add something.” Its definition of “minister” is “to attend and serve; to perform service in any office, sacred or secular.” Does either of those help us understand this verse?

17:25ff.: Ammon becomes a servant of the king. Is Ammon a type of Christ? Does this suggest something about what it means to be a Christian?

18:1-4: Why who the people who are reporting Ammon’s deeds to the king less sure that he is the Great Spirit than Lamoni is?

18:10-11: For Lamoni, what is the most important proof that Ammon is the Great Spirit?

18:17, 21: Ammon says, “I will do whatever you ask, if it is right.” Lamoni responds, “I will give you anything you desire.” What is happening?

18:22: What is the thing that Ammon desires of Lamoni and that, given what Lamoni said in verse 21, he is bound to give Ammon?

18:36-39: In verses 23-35 Ammon establishes that Lamoni believes in an all-knowing God and Ammon testifies that he has been sent by that God to teach the people. Then, beginning with Adam, he “laid before [Ammon] the records and the holy scriptures” and the history of the descendants of Lehi. Finally, Ammon teaches the plan of salvation. The outline of his method looks like this: (1) establish that there is an all-knowing God, (2) remind Ammon of the sacred history of his people, and (3) teach the plan of salvation. Why is the first step necessary? How would we do that today? Why is a review of sacred history the second step of Ammon’s preaching? What would be comparable for us today? Are the first two steps necessary to the third? Why? How is Ammon’s sermon to Lamoni related to King Benjamin’s sermon in Mosiah 4?

19:12-13: Why do you think King Lamoni was given the privilege of seeing the Redeemer in vision?

19:29-30: Of what significance is it that this miracle is done by a servant woman, Abish, rather than by Ammon?

19:33: What does it mean to have one’s heart changed and to have no more desire to do evil. (Compare Mosiah 5:2.) Is this an experience that people have today? If so, when? If not, why not?

20:10, 13: What explains the animosity of the Lamanites toward the Nephites? What basis in fact does the accusation have? Why would conversion to the Gospel be the only possible remedy for the accusation?

22:3: What is troubling Lamoni’s father? Why would that trouble him? What does that suggest about our own social and legal obligations?

22:7-14: How does Aaron’s sermon to Lamoni’s father differ from Ammon’s sermon to Lamoni (Alma 18:23-39)? How is it different? Can you explain the difference?

22:14: What does it mean to say that no human being can merit anything of himself?

22:15 How does Lamoni’s father understand what it means to be born again? Can you explain what this means in practical, concrete terms?

22:18: What does “I will give away all my sins” mean? Why use “give away” rather than “forsake,” for example?

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5 Responses to Sunday School Lesson 25

  1. Keith on June 30, 2004 at 4:40 am

    Perhaps one way to read the ‘give away all my sins’ is to remember to add the ‘to know thee’ phrase with it. This strikes me as following a pattern of grace for grace. I’ll freely give away my sin both because of the grace already received in the preaching of the word, and the potential grace to be given in knowing God (with all that means). Freely giving away all that sin is his gift given for the gift/privilege of knowing God. This might help some in explaining why ‘give away’ is used rather than ‘forsake’, but it still is a fruitfully puzzling question.

    Additionally, there seems to me to be a sense where giving away sin and knowing God are inevitably bound. Perhaps at some level giving away the sin _is_ coming to know God. But that it reads ‘I’ll give away all my sins to [in order to?] know thee’ seems to indicate that they are not completely the same thing. I might give away my sins, but not yet have developed all of the more positive godly attributes that are part of knowing God.

    Whatever sense we make of this, the passage is one of the most remarkable for showing a man with an open, willing heart before God, and for making clear that knowing God is, to use Kierkegaard’s words, a ‘character task’ more than gathering information.

  2. Jim F. on June 30, 2004 at 2:47 pm

    Keith, interesting reflections. Thanks.

  3. Kingsley on June 30, 2004 at 3:41 pm

    For me the “giving away” language implies that there is real sacrifice involved on the part of the sinner: & that what he is giving up may not be limited to what we typically view as sin: e.g. lying, stealing, unchastity: all the classics. Perhaps Lamoni is referring to subtler, more personal things, things that might not be sinful for x but are sinful for y because they interact with y’s unique & complex personality in such a manner that they negatively influence his relationship with God. So y sacrifices or gives away that thing even though it has not been specifically forbidden him by his church or society, even though x enjoys it without apparent harm. He makes this great, private, perhaps intensely difficult & heartrending sacrifice, because he knows that his Lord is not in the wind, & not in the earthquake, & not in the fire: but in the still small voice: & he is willing to keep that channel free of debris at any cost.

    It is like what W.H. Auden says in his review of The Fellowship of the Ring: we respond to that kind of literature (in part) because, no matter how prosaic & boring our actual circumstances, we each privately, inwardly carry a great burden which we hope to one day cast off after an (to us) epic struggle. Mr. Nobody over there may appear to be going through his usual routine, nothing special, just the daily grind: but perhaps inwardly, owing to some personal & therefore invisible circumstance, he is making a terrible climb.

    So anyhow: it is very romantic & preposterous: but sometimes I interpret Lamoni’s beautiful little soul-cry that way: Whatever it is, Lord, whatever, whatever it is, if it keeps me from knowledge of you, it is sin, & I will gladly give it away, with all my broken heart.

  4. Kingsley on June 30, 2004 at 3:47 pm

    Sorry, it’s Lamoni’s father’s beautiful little soul-cry.

  5. Ian on July 1, 2004 at 9:12 pm

    _How does Lamoni’s father understand what it means to be born again? Can you explain what this means in practical, concrete terms?_

    Not very well.l Aside from the dramatic, its the feeling a clean slate, like that fantasy we all have of rewinding time and doing certian things over is not only possible its happened to us.