Book of Mormon
“The Great Plan of Happiness”
Alma teaches Corianton about death and resurrection.
Alma teaches that after we are resurrected, the righteous will be restored
to happiness and the wicked will be restored to misery.
Alma teaches Corianton about justice and mercy.
A study of this lesson will help us gain a greater understanding of life after
death and the mercy that is available to us through the Atonement of Jesus
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 30 Handout (PDF)
Alma continues to teach Corianton.
"I perceive that thy mind is worried concerning
the resurrection of the dead" (v1).
Alma said there are many mysteries retained by God, "But
I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that
I might know--that is concerning the resurrection." (v3).
Some principles of the resurrection:
There is no resurrection until after the coming of Christ (v2).
Christ brings to pass the resurrection (v3).
There is a time appointed that all shall come forth from the dead (v4).
Only God knows the timeframe (v4).
Alma did not know if there was one time or multiple times that men would
be called forth from the dead (v5).
There is a space of time between death and the resurrection (v6).
The time between death and resurrection.
"Now there must needs be a space betwixt the time
of death and the time of the resurrection" (v6).
WHAT IS THIS SPACE OR TIME THAT ALMA REFERS TO? WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR
SPIRITS BETWEEN DEATH AND RESURRECTION?
President George Q. Cannon: "Alma, when he says
that 'the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal
body,...are taken home to that God who gave them life,' has the idea, doubtless,
in his mind that our God is omnipresent--not in His own personality but
through His minister, the Holy Spirit. He does not intend to convey
the idea that they are immediately ushered into the personal presence of
God. He evidently uses that phrase in a qualified sense."
(Gospel Truth, p.58)
"Then shall the dust
return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who
gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12:7)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Death itself is
an initial day of judgment for all persons, both the righteous and the
wicked. When the spirit leaves the body at death, it is taken home to that
God who gave it life, meaning that it returns to live in the realm of spiritual
existence." (Mormon Doctrine, 402)
Parley P. Pratt: "The Spirit World is not
the heaven where Jesus Christ, His Father, and other beings dwell, who
have, by resurrection or tradition, ascended to eternal mansions and been
crowned and seated on thrones of power; but it is an intermediate state,
a probation, a place of preparation, improvement, instruction, or education,
where spirits are chastened or improved, and where, if found worthy, they
may be taught a knowledge of the Gospel. In short, it is a place where
the Gospel is preached, and where faith, repentance, hope and charity may
be exercised, a place of waiting for the resurrection or redemption of
the body; while, to those who deserve it, it is a place of punishment,
or purgatory or hell, where spirits are buffeted till the day of redemption.
As to its location, it is here on the very planet where we were born."
(Key to Theology, Chapter 14)
As the physical self breaths its last breath the spirit experiences a partial
judgment. Those who have been true and faithful to their trust are received
Alma calls paradise a "state of happiness...a
state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles
and from all care and sorrow" (v12).
Brother Robert L. Millet: "...those things which
burdened the obedient--the worldly cares and struggles, the vicissitudes
of life--are shed with the physical body. Paradise is a place where
the spirit is free to think and act with a renewed capacity and with the
vigor and enthusiasm which characterized one in his prime. Though
a person does not rest per se from the work associated with the plan of
salvation..., at the same time he is delivered from those cares and worries
associated with a fallen world and a corrupt body." (Studies
In Scripture, 8:57-58)
Hell or Outer Darkness.
Those who have been wicked go to this place.
We must be careful to distinguish this situation from the eternal place
where some souls will go following the resurrection.
Joseph Smith: "The great misery of departed spirits
in the world of spirits, where they go after death is to know that they
come short of the glory that others enjoy and that they might have enjoyed
themselves, and they are their own accusers." (TPJS, p310)
Joseph Smith: "A man is his own tormenter and
his own condemner. Hence the saying, They shall go into the lake
that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of disappointment
in the mind of man is as exquisite as the lake burning with fire and brimstone.
I say, so is the torment of man." (TPJS, p357)
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "In reading this
description we should keep in mind that Alma was speaking of conditions
before the visit of Christ to the spirits in prison. The Lord told Enoch
that the disobedient should be shut up in the prison house which he had
prepared for them, and there they should remain in torment until the day
that Jesus should return unto the Father. Yet Christ had pleaded even for
these, and had gained the promise that they should not be left in torment,
if they would repent in that day when he should visit them. (Moses 7:32-40.)
Since the day when the Gospel was declared and the prison doors opened,
this Gospel of the kingdom has been preached in power among the dead."
(The Way to Perfection, p317)
The Doctrine of Resurrection.
Alma sought to inform and inspire his son on this fundamental principle of the Christian religion.
Alma's brief description of the Resurrection:
"The soul shall be restored to the body, and the
body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its
body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall
be restored to their proper and perfect frame" (v23).
Joseph Smith: "As concerning the resurrection,
I will merely say that all men will come from the grave as they lie down,
whether old or young; there will not be 'added unto their stature one cubit,'
neither taken from it; all will be raised by the power of God, having spirit
in their bodies, and not blood." (TPJS, pp199-200)
President Joseph F. Smith: "The body will come
forth as it is laid to rest, for there is no growth or development in the
grave. As it is laid down, so will it arise, and changes to perfection
will come by the law of restitution. But the spirit will continue
to expand and develop, and the body, after the resurrection will develop
to the full stature of man." (Gospel Doctrine, p449)
The first resurrection.
Alma was unsure about the order of the Resurrection, but he gave it as
his opinion that "the souls and the bodies are
reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension
into heaven" (v20).
According to Joseph Fielding Smith:
There was a general resurrection at the time of the resurrection of Christ.
"It is customary for us to speak of the resurrection
of the righteous at the Second Coming of Christ as the first resurrection."
(Doctrines of Salvation, 2:295)
As a part of the first resurrection, but later than the rest "will
come forth those of the terrestrial order, who were not worthy to be caught
up to meet him, but who are worthy to come forth to enjoy the millennial
reign" (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:296).
The spirits of the wicked "liars, sorcerers, and adulterers, and all who
love and make a lie" will not be raised until the end of the millennium.
The second death.
"But behold, an awful death
cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things
of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit
the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of
the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they
drink the dregs of a bitter cup." (Alma 40:26)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Eventually, all are
redeemed from spiritual death except those who have 'sinned unto death',
that is, those who are destined to be sons of perdition. John teaches
this by saying that after death and hell have delivered up the dead which
are in them, then death and hell shall be 'cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.' And thus the Lord said in our day that
the sons of perdition are 'the only ones on whom the second death shall
have any power' meaning any power after the resurrection." (Mormon
WHY CAN'T WICKEDNESS BRING HAPPINESS?
"...they have gone contrary to the nature of God;
therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness"
Abraham Lincoln: "When I do good I feel good,
and when I don't do good I don't feel good." (quoted by Marion
D. Hanks, CR, Oct 1967)
Elder Marion D. Hanks: "No one can be truly
happy who has a bad conscience, and bad conscience is the inevitable result
of conduct below the level of our understanding.
"'We live in a universe
of moral law. We can choose evil and get what we want right now and then
pay for it afterward. Or we can choose good and pay for it first, before
we get it.' (Fosdick.) So it is with a life of honesty and responsibility,
of sexual purity, of integrity, of selfless service. The blessing is substantial
and sweet and satisfying -- worth everything, worth working and waiting
for." (CR, Oct 1967)
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT SOME PEOPLE WHO LIVE A LIFE OF SIN SEEM TO BE AS
HAPPY AS PEOPLE WHO STRIVE TO OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS?
"But if it be not built
upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of
the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season,
and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the
fire, from whence there is no return. For their works do follow
them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore
remember the things that I have told you." (3 Nephi 27:11-12)
President Ezra Taft Benson: "While
[people] may take some temporary pleasure in sin, the end result is unhappiness.... Sin creates disharmony with God and is depressing to the spirit." (CR, Oct 1974)
HOW WAS IT AN ACT OF LOVE FOR GOD TO SEND ADAM AND EVE OUT OF THE GARDEN
OF EDEN AFTER THEY HAD PARTAKEN OF THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT?
It provided a probationary time for man in which he could grow and be tested.
Man was given time to repent.
It was all part of the eternal plan designed to lead man to eternal life
HOW DID ALMA HELP CORIANTON UNDERSTAND THAT GOD IS JUST IN PUNISHING THOSE
He said that there could not be a law unless their was a punishment attached.
All laws have their consequences.
HOW CAN WE OBTAIN THE MERCY NECESSARY TO SATISFY THE DEMANDS OF JUSTICE,
WHICH CALL FOR US TO BE PUNISHED FOR OUR SINS?
WHO MUST SATISFY THE DEMANDS OF JUSTICE FOR THOSE WHO REFUSE TO ACCEPT
"Therefore I command you
to repent--repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath,
and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore--how sore you know not, how
exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have
suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would
repent; But if they would not
repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the
greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to
suffer both body and spirit--and would that I might not drink the bitter cup,
and shrink." (D&C 19:15-18)
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The Mediator from Book of Mormon
"And now, my son, I desire that
ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins
trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance."
IN WHAT WAYS CAN PERSONAL GUILT BE A NEGATIVE AND
DESTRUCTIVE FORCE IN OUR LIVES?
HOW CAN GUILT BE A POSITIVE FORCE?
After receiving this counsel from his father, Corianton
repented and returned to missionary service. As we follow God's commandments
and repent of our sins, we are able to partake of the mercy that is available
through the Savior's atonement.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the teachings of Alma to his son Corianton. What
insights have you gained from studying Alma's teachings? What meaning do they
have in your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Gospel Doctrine by Joseph F. Smith.
Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of George Q. Cannon.
Key To The Science of Theology by Parley P. Pratt.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Studies In Scripture, Volume 8, edited by Kent P. Jackson.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
The Way to Perfection by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
13 June 2016