CLICK HERE to read Alma 37.
This chapter completes Alma’s talk with his son Helaman (verse 1). Having shared his testimony, Alma now teaches his son to keep good records so that others can learn from his experiences just as he can learn from his father’s (verse 2). Alma shares that these brass plates of genealogy and records since the time of Lehi (verse 3) have been prophesied to be “handed down one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon” (verse 4). This record, we know, becomes what we now call The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
Alma teaches his son how to care for the plates, that they may be preserved, both physically and spiritually (verse 5). He cautions his son to be very careful – diligent, even – in this task, “that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (verse 6). He reminds his son that “by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls” (verse 7). God’s wisdom, he says, in preserving these records is that it enlarges the memory of the people, convinces them of the error of their ways, and brings them to the knowledge of God unto the salvation of their souls (verse 8). The people need the records, the Scriptures, to bring them to repentance, to bring them to knowledge about the Savior, and “to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer” (verse 9).
And who knows, he says, but that these very records “will be the means of bringing many thousands of them… who are now hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities, to the knowledge of their Redeemer?” (verse 10). These “mysteries”, he says, “are not yet full made known” (verse 11), and yet we know by our own experience that it is true, and that we are some of those converted… that we were (are) a part of His plan, and for whom He used these records according to His “wise purpose” (verse 12).
So learning from our ancestors, from those who lived before us, we must remember their experiences of prospering when they are obedient or putting themselves into bondage when they were not. We must remember the commandments, so that we may enjoy His presence (verse 13).
And even though the records were preserved as promise, even all the way to Joseph Smith being shown where they were hidden, we ourselves are responsible also for preserving them by living what we learn. “God has entrusted you with these things, which are sacred…” (verse 14).
But when we do not honor sacred teachings with obedience, those sacred things are “taken away from you by the power of God” (verse 15). But if we keep the commandments, and do the things we are commanded, then “no power of earth or hell can take them from you, for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words” (verse 16). This is another lesson we learn from our ancestors, from the ancients in Scriptures, is that “… He will fulfill all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers” (verses 17-20).
In this way Alma teaches his son to preserve the records of the people, even their history – both from prospering in obedience and choosing bondage from disobedience – so that all of us may learn from their experiences (verses 21-24). All good and evil will be brought to light, and we will see who did repent and who did not repent (verse 25). Those who do not repent will be destroyed (verse 26), but those who do repent and keep their covenants will be saved (verse 27). Our Father in Heaven knows each of us, and loves us, and does not want us to be destroyed, and so provides the records (Scriptures) for us to study and learn from so that we will know how to choose wisely, how to choose to follow the Savior, and so not be destroyed (verse 28). This is why he gives us time to repent (verse 31).
Alma then instructs his son how to teach these things to the people:
Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls (verses 33-34).
So we should remember these things, and learn wisdom, and keep the commandments of God (verse 35).
Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever (verse 36).
We must let Him be the Savior that He is, and converse with Him as one who cares for us. We must counsel with Him, and He will instruct our way (verse 37). When we go to sleep, our evening prayers should include asking for protection “that he may watch over you in your sleep”; when we wake, our morning prayers should include asking that we “shall be lifted up at the last day” (which means being obedient, so that we can righteous, so that we can be made holy, so that we can become the People of Holiness) (verse 37). But this is hard work for us, and impossible without Him. We need the Holy Spirit, whom our Father in Heaven has given to us so that we would not be entirely banished from His presence. This is a gift, and He does instruct, correct, and guide us through the wilderness of mortality (verses 38-40). In this way, we will exercise our faith, and be diligent, and continue to progress (verse 41). If we follow the Spirit, and live by the Savior’s example, we will not stray, or be spiritually mal-nourished, or get lost along the way (verses 42-43). “It is easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point you to a straight course to eternal bliss” (verse 44)… so “shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise” (verse 45).
These are the sacred things of God, by which we must live (verses 46-47).