“Unit 20: Day 2, Alma 40–41,” Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2012), 199–202
“Unit 20: Day 2,” Book of Mormon Study Guide, 199–202
As recorded in Alma 40–41, Alma taught his son Corianton important doctrines related to life after death. Alma explained that through Jesus Christ’s Atonement, all mankind would be resurrected. Alma also taught Corianton about the spirit world where the dead, depending on their choices in mortality, wait in paradise or in spirit prison until the resurrection. Corianton learned from Alma that the plan of restoration included not only physical resurrection, but also a spiritual restoration in which we receive the consequences for our actions and desires. Finally, Alma emphasized that central to this plan of restoration is the truth that wickedness can never lead to real happiness.
Imagine that you have a friend who has recently experienced the death of a loved one. Your friend, knowing that you are religious, has come to you with the following questions:
What makes it possible for us to live again? Who will be resurrected?
Where do we go after we die, and what is it like?
What is the resurrection? What is the difference between our mortal bodies and our resurrected bodies? What happens after we are resurrected?
The information in Alma 40 can help answer these questions. This chapter is a continuation of Alma’s teachings to his son Corianton. Corianton had become concerned about the resurrection of the dead.
- Read all three of the following scripture passages. Choose one or more of the passages, and explain in your scripture study journal how what Alma taught answers the associated question. (If you have time at the end of the lesson, you may want to come back and review what Alma taught in the other verses.)
Study Alma 40:1–5. What makes it possible for us to live again? Who will be resurrected?
Study Alma 40:6–7, 11–14. Where do we go after we die, and what is it like? (When Alma taught that the spirits of all men are “taken home to that God who gave them life” (Alma 40:11), he was teaching that after our death, but before our resurrection, our spirits will return to the world of spirits, not to the final destination after God’s judgment. It may be useful to consult the footnotes in verse 13 to understand what Alma meant when he referred to “outer darkness.” Alma 40:14 also helps us understand that this reference to outer darkness is referring to a pre-resurrection state we usually call spirit prison and not to the final or permanent location of those who are damned.)
Study Alma 40:21–26. What is resurrection? What is different between our mortal bodies and our resurrected bodies? What happens after we are resurrected?
Referring to Alma 40:11–12, President George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency explained that Alma “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: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, sel. Jerreld L. Newquist, 2 vols. [1957–74], 1:73).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described some of what we will experience after we are resurrected:
“At the Judgment Day … there will be inclusive objectivity. Not only will we have what the Book of Mormon calls ‘bright recollection’ and ‘perfect remembrance’ of our misdeeds, but the joyous things will be brought forward and restored too. We shall know ‘even as we know now.’ (Alma 5:18; 11:43; see also D&C 93:33.) We shall see ‘eye to eye’ (Mosiah 12:22; 15:29) because of a shared database.
“Among the ‘all things [that] shall be restored’ (Alma 40:23) will be memory, including, eventually, our premortal memories. Consider the joy of being conjoined in mind and heart by the relevant memories of both the first and the second estates.
“What a flood of feeling will come to us then, when a loving God deems it wise that memories be fully restored! This refreshing flood of fact will further increase our gratefulness for how far back God’s long-suffering goes and for the loving-kindness of Jesus’ voluntary atonement!” (Lord Increase Our Faith , 103).
Resurrection is the reuniting of the spirit and the body, with all things restored to their proper and perfect frame. After the resurrection we will each stand in God’s presence to be judged. Read Alma 40:25–26, and find Alma’s description of the final state of those who choose righteousness in this life as compared to the final state of those who choose wickedness. Consider how this passage can affect your desire to be clean before God.
As recorded in Alma 40:16–22, the resurrection Alma spoke of was in relation to earthly time. Jesus Christ was the first to be resurrected, followed shortly thereafter by the righteous who had lived and died from the time of Adam down to the time of Christ’s Resurrection (see Alma 40:16, 20; D&C 133:54–55). This resurrection is what Alma referred to as the “first resurrection.”
Considering the truths Alma taught about resurrection, the spirit world, and the judgment, think about how it might affect a person’s actions if he or she believed the following:
There is no life after death.
After we die, we will be made perfect regardless of whether our works were good or evil on earth.
In the judgment we will be rewarded for our good deeds and punished for our bad deeds.
In Alma 41 we learn that Corianton was confused by what some people were teaching about the resurrection. Consider marking the phrase “gone far astray” in Alma 41:1, and then read this verse looking for what caused some people to go astray. To help you understand this verse, it may be helpful for you to know that to wrest the scriptures means to twist, distort, or change the meaning of the scriptures.
What concept did Alma say he is going to clarify for Corianton?
Restoration means to bring back again. Alma wanted Corianton to understand that there is a physical and a spiritual aspect to what he called “the plan of restoration” (Alma 41:2). Search Alma 41:2–5, and mark what will be physically restored to us after death and what will be spiritually restored. (Requisite in these verses means required or necessary.)
What is the physical aspect of the plan of restoration mentioned in Alma 41:2?
The spiritual aspect of the plan of restoration described in Alma 40:3–5 is: We will be restored to either happiness or misery according to our works and desires in mortality.
- Suppose that you have been asked to teach Alma 40:3–5 to a Primary class. Write in your scripture study journal how you would explain the doctrine of spiritual restoration in a simple way so that children could understand what Alma taught.
Ponder how an understanding of the doctrine of restoration can and should influence your actions and desires.
As we come to understand the doctrine of restoration, we naturally begin to worry about the consequences that will come because of our sins and wrong choices. Is there any way to change the negative consequences of our wrong desires and actions? Alma offered Corianton a reason to hope. Read Alma 41:6–9, and look for what we can do to have goodness and happiness restored to us even when we have seriously sinned. You may want to mark words or phrases in Alma 41:6–7 that suggest we are responsible for what we receive in the resurrection. Think about the following question: Based on these verses, in what sense are we our own judge?
There are those who think they can return to God without taking personal responsibility for their actions. They often claim that their sinful choices are fun. Sometimes those who engage in sin may even appear to be happy. But read Alma 41:10, and look for what Alma taught about wickedness. (Alma 41:10 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it in the future.)
- In Alma 41:10, Alma testified to his son that “wickedness never was happiness.” Complete the following assignments in your scripture study journal:
Write about why you believe Alma’s statement is true.
Write an example of how Satan might try to persuade us to believe that we can break God’s commandments and still be happy.
Consider writing the following statement from President Ezra Taft Benson in your scriptures next to Alma 41:10: “You cannot do wrong and feel right. It is impossible!” (“A Message to the Rising Generation,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 30).
Alma 41:11 explains why it is impossible to be truly happy when choosing wrong. To help you understand this verse, complete the chart below by matching each scriptural phrase with its meaning. (When you are finished, check your answers with those at the end of the lesson.)
Words or phrases from Alma 41:11 that describe being in “a state of nature”
Now that you have defined these terms, read Alma 41:11 again to identify why it is impossible to be happy while choosing the wrong. Some who choose wickedness may think they are happy at the moment, but their choices will ultimately lead to sorrow and unhappiness.
- In your scripture study journal, answer the following questions:
Why do you think that being in “a state of nature,” or a sinful or “carnal state,” is contrary to the nature of happiness?
What are some examples of why young people may find themselves lacking the companionship of the Holy Spirit, being limited or burdened by their sins, or being ruled by the flesh?
- Imagine speaking to a friend who wants to be happy but is choosing to act in ways contrary to the Lord’s commandments. Using the doctrine of restoration that you have studied today, explain in your scripture study journal why he or she is not experiencing happiness and what must be done to become truly happy.
A boomerang is a tool that was originally used for hunting. Because of its shape, when it is thrown correctly, it returns to the person who threw it. Read Alma 41:14–15, looking for how a boomerang might symbolize the truths taught in these verses. You may want to mark the phrase “send out” in verse 15. Consider a time when you have sent out goodness or mercy or kindness and received it back.
What is one righteous action you would like to send out to others or a righteous attitude you would like others to see in you that you would like to receive back from others? What goal could you set to “send out” one of these attitudes or actions?
- Read Alma 41:10, and write the following in your scripture study journal: If wickedness never was happiness, then will always lead to happiness. Write a word in the blank that best completes the sentence. Now list a number of specific righteous acts that you feel would also fit in the blank (for example, serving others). Write your testimony of how you have seen some of these righteous acts lead to happiness.
It is important to understand that the happiness that comes from righteousness is not always immediate, constant, or continuous here in mortality. However, peace and happiness will always come in the Lord’s way and time to an individual who is in harmony with His teachings and commandments.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Alma 40–41 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: